Yesterday, someone who calls himself “Prof B in LA” accused Fox News contributor Michelle Fields of going “full retard.” Fields said the person who made that statement is her former professor, Russell Burgos of Pepperdine University:
Today, a new Twitter account claiming to be Professor Burgos says Fields wrongly accused Burgos. The tweeter says the person who slammed Fields — “Prof B in LA” — is named “Burgess” not “Burgos.” Here are some of the tweets posted by the new account last night:
Fields, however, isn’t backing down. On the contrary, she is accusing Burgos of trying to cover up what he said:
There are at lest three possibilities here:
1) the tweeter claiming to be Prof. Russell Burgos isn’t actually Prof. Russell Burgos, [Editor’s note: It’s him. See updates below.]
2) the tweeter claiming to be Prof. Russell Burgos is Prof. Russell Burgos, and he is lying when he denies calling Fields a retard, and
3) the tweeter claiming to be Prof. Russell Burgos is Prof. Russell Burgos, and he is telling the truth.
Sounds like a challenge for Twitchy’s research department!
Let’s start with this cached page. It’s a blog that was written by a liberal professor named “Prof B.” Now, this is important: “Prof B” has the same avatar as “Prof B in LA.”
Here’s “Prof B in LA” who accused Michelle Fields of going “full retard” last night:
And via the Wayback Machine, here’s “Prof B,” the liberal blogger who authored Kaffeeflatsch of Civilizations:
See the similarity?
Now let’s look a little more closely at “Prof B” of Kaffeeflatsch of Civilizations…
We already know that his last name probably starts with the letter “B.” A Google cached image seems to indicate that his first name is “Russell.”
The Wayback Machine tells us that “Prof B” is a “UCLA and USC freeway faculty member” and “Iraq veteran.” On March 8, 2013, “Prof B” wrote on his blog that he had 10 weeks of teaching left at UCLA.
Meanwhile, this article, written on May 2, 2013, says professor Russell Burgos, a lecturer in UCLA’s Global Studies Interdepartmental Program, served in the U.S. Army for about 20 years. The article says his last lecture at UCLA was to take place the day the article was published, i.e., on May 2, 2013. Burgos’ Pepperdine bio lists that speech.
It seems really, really unlikely that there are two different international relations professors named “Russell” in the Los Angeles area who are liberal, served in the U.S. military, worked at UCLA until May 2013, and whose last names begin with the letter B.
But there’s more.
Also, information cached by Google seems to indicate that the blog in question was copyrighted by Russell Burgos.
“Prof B in LA” also makes appearances on the Kaffeeflatsch of Civilizations blog:
And, as Michelle Fields pointed out (see her tweet above), Burgos is listed on this Ventura County writers’ website as the author of Kaffeeklatsch of Civilizations. Hmm. Ventura County. That’s where “Prof B” is from. What a coincidence!
Finally, this YouTube video, posted by Kaffeeklatsch of Civilizations, is hosted by Russell Burgos:
So now we have evidence linking “Prof B in LA” to “Prof B,” evidence linking “Prof B” to Russell Burgos, and evidence linking both “Prof B in LA” and Kaffeeklatsch of Civilizations to Russell Burgos. It’s a circle of friends!
In case you were still wondering about the possibility of a misspelled name being the cause of some kind of mix-up, a Google search for “Russell Burgess” “prof B in LA” came up empty. Draw your own conclusions.
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All of which brings us back to the @RussellBurgos62 account. Is it the real Prof. Burgos or is it an overzealous defender who seems really, really eager to defend Burgos’ reputation? Again, draw your own conclusions. (Editor’s note: Burgos says it’s him. See our update below.)
Whoever it is (and Twitter presumably has his IP address) disclosed Michelle Fields’ grade in Prof. Burgos’ class. (Editor’s note: Fields disclosed her grade prior to Burgos’ tweets. See update below.) Here are those tweets again:
We doubt Pepperdine professors are supposed to disclose students’ grades on Twitter.
Twitchy has reached out to the real Professor Burgos via email. We’ll let you know if we hear back.
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Update, 1:05 p.m. eastern:
We have received an email from the real Burgos stating that “RussellBurgos62 is a Twitter account I set up yesterday to try to deal with this issue…”
I can’t make out the exact sequence, but someone either twittered or posted on twitchy.com (or both) a screenshot of what appears to be a blog posting using an internet pseudonym Prof B. At some point, the story went from being a “professor” to being a “Pepperdine professor” to being me (presumably because my last name starts with a “B” and I teach at Pepperdine). For the record, Ms. Fields was enrolled in just 1 of my classes (in her senior year, I think) and she received one of, if not the, highest grades in the class (I think academic record privacy rules limit me from saying what it specifically was).
Burgos states that our earlier post is incorrect:
It states as a matter of fact that the original blog entry came from a Pepperdine professor. Other than an inference based on the unsubstantiated claim by the blogger, there’s nothing in the original post to bear that out. As I have said to people who sent e-mail, I’m sympathetic to their concern about the language used in that blog post. I do understand it comes from a popular movie and is part of the cultural lexicon, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be repeated. Thank you again for writing.
We will update our earlier post with Burgos’ denial along with a link to this post.
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Burgos, who earlier said “I dont do blogging or tweeting” and “I am not a blogger” and “that blogger is not me” (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) now appears to acknowledge that he used to blog using the account referenced by Michelle Fields:
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We don’t want to let this fall between the cracks. In his email, Burgos stated that federal privacy rules preclude him from revealing Fields’ grade in his class. Yet he tweeted out her grade twice. We have sent Prof. Burgos an email asking him if he regrets tweeting Fields’ grade. As always, we’ll let you know of any developments. (Editor’s note: Michelle Fields disclosed her grade prior to Burgos’ tweets. See our update below.)
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Burgos has sent us a new email. It is reproduced below, verbatim:
Hi Jesse- Sorry for the delay. Was having a tree cut down and had to supervise. Below you will find responses to what I think were all your questions. I would appreciate it if you would reproduce them VERBATIM rather than summarize them.
1. On the class grade: Ms. Fields mentioned her class grade herself in a tweet.
2. On blogging: I stand by the statement that I do not blog as Prof B in LA. It is true that I did so in the past, but as you have shown that blog is no longer active — and was inactive before this incident. I retain the domain name.
3. On the blog account: I no longer have access to this account. I cannot state why this is as I do not know nor will I venture a guess as to why.
4. Tweeting: You’ve made a good point: technically, I do in fact tweet on the account set up last night. The original statement that I do not tweet was responding to a statement that I had “tweeted” the post in question. Likewise, the original statement that I do not actively blog was made in response to a statement that I “blogged” it.
5. On my politics: A number of commenters have pointed out that I am politically liberal. That is true. I make no excuses for that. As a former registered Republican and a veteran, I think I earned the right to my own political beliefs.
6. A number of commenters have suggested I want to “punish” Ms. Fields for her ideological beliefs. For the record, I completely support the right of students to their own political beliefs, for the same reasons stated in #6 above. Arguably, if I wanted to punish Ms. Fields for being a Libertarian I would have done so when I actually had the opportunity. Her grade suggests otherwise. I fully support the right of all Americans to their own political beliefs. That said, I do disagree with her evaluation.
7. On language: I concur with your commenters that use of the term “full retard” is offensive. I understand it comes from a movie and is available on YouTube, but that does not make it less hurtful.
8. On earlier answers: My only response to your question is that it was very late, and I was trying to reply in real time on both tweets and email.
9. On the controversy: This has been an excellent lesson in the power of social media. As a commenter and email correspondent named Adam G[__] has stated, one should always do the right thing, and I certainly agree with him. On the original post, I can only restate my point of view on the matter. I certainly regret any hurt this situation has caused Ms. Fields or her fans, especially those with developmentally disabled family members or friends, and I have no qualms about apologizing for the fact that it has come up in the first place.
10. On tolerance: Your many commenters, and those who have e-mailed or tweeted to me, have made very good points about tolerance — particularly tolerance of those with different political views. I have taken those comments seriously and thank the many people who have sent them for taking some time out of their days to do so.
We find this to be rather confusing. He acknowledges that he used to blog as “Prof B in LA” but says he no longer does so. That, of course, does not preclude the possibility that he posted the “full retard” insult on Facebook or in the comment section of a blog. (Posting a comment on a blog or on Facebook is not considered blogging.) He apologizes for the fact that this situation arose even though he fails to take responsibility for the “full retard” post. He is correct, however, that Michelle Fields tweeted her grade in his course.
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Update and correction: We have modified this post to reflect the possibility that the original “full retard” post may have been posted somewhere other than Facebook. At this point, we are unclear where it was originally posted.
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It is worth noting that, according to Michelle Fields, this professor has posted insulting information about her previously:
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According to Michelle Fields, who responded to us via Twitter direct message, the original “full retard” comment appeared not on Facebook but as a comment on a post at Crooks and Liars, a liberal blog. She states that Burgos “has been commenting about me since 2011 on liberal blogs.” Note that in his email to Twitchy, Professor Burgos has denied blogging the “full retard” comment: “I stand by the statement that I do not blog as Prof B in LA.” He did not, however, deny that he posted the comment in response to a blog post written by a third party. Posting comments to blog posts generally is not considered blogging.
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In his latest email to Twitchy, Burgos denies posting the “full retard” comment on a blog.
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Fields has more to say about this: