Ethics Dunce: University of Missouri

Robert Todd Lincoln would have refused this gig...

Robert Todd Lincoln would have refused this gig…

All right, I know this is the lowest of low-hanging fruit, but come on.

The University of Missouri at Kansas City just opened a Women’s Hall of Fame and sought an appropriate female leader to speak at the gala luncheon launching it. It not only chose a non-leader, non-accomplished, non-much of anything except lucky rich kid Chelsea Clinton, but also paid $65,000 for her to speak (she’s also a non-professional speaker) for only ten minutes, and then to answer questions—which carefully crafted limitations on the questions—for another 2o minutes.  The money goes to the Clinton Foundation, which makes no difference to the ethics of the transaction, which are revolting in many ways:

1. $65,000 for a ten minute speech—that rate is about 11 thousand bucks a minute— is outrageous unless the speaker is Abe Lincoln. It is virtually impossible to say anything in ten minutes that is especially valuable, and unlikely to the vanishing point that Chelsea Clinton is one of the rare people who could accomplish it.

2. Any college or university that cannot find a better legitimate educational use of $65,000 than this is too inept to stay open.

3. The school says that Clinton’s fee was funded by private donors, meaning that $65,000 worth of donations that could have gone to, say, scholarships were diverted into the Clinton Campaign and Influence Peddling Slush Fund.

4. This is an insult to the women who the Hall of Fame supposedly honors. Clinton would be an appropriate speaker at the opening of the Mediocre Sons and Daughters of Famous People Who Get Hired Because Of Their Last Names and The Identities Of Their Parents Hall Of Fame, though George W. Bush would be a much better choice, and probably cheaper, too.

5. From Jonathan Turley:  “The University of Missouri reduced the history of female struggle to a cheap photo op with the daughter of a famous couple. They might as well have gone with a Kardashian and left it at that.”


6. Turley again: “Universities are supposed to be places of substance and intellectual honesty. While UMKC is not the first to take celebrity appeal over substance, this is not some Friday night concert or sports celebration. This is supposed to be a new university component honoring women who struggled and made real contributions to this world. UMKC reduced that moment to a ten-minute celebrity photo op. “

There have been some well-positioned offspring who refused to cash in on these kinds of bias-based benefits…the ones with self-respect and integrity. Robert Todd Lincoln fought hard his whole life to avoid any honors or advantages that he suspected sprung from admiration of his father. Mariska Hargitay intentionally avoided taking advantage of her mother’s fame. Stephen King’s son sent his first novel to publishers under a pen name. Chelsea’s willingness to sponge off her parents’ power and influence marks her as exactly the opposite of the kinds of women the new Hall is supposed to honor.

23 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: University of Missouri

  1. Come on, Jack. She’s a Stanford grad and is married to a Goldman Sachs alum whose claim to fame is that he ran the Bill Clinton desk there and now (implausibly) runs his own hedge fund even though he’s the son of a former politician who had some legal and ethics issues himself, I believe. Truly women’s hall of fame stuff. Marry a rich guy. Hahahahahaha.

    • Truly women’s hall of fame stuff. Marry a rich guy.
      And stand by your man when he cheats on you, since they originally wanted Hillary. What kind of women’s hall of fame IS this?

      • Let’s see. Progressive. Enlightened. On the right side of history. University sponsored. Elite, relatively speaking. Diverse. Forward thinking. Liberal. Democratic. Left-leaning. You choose.

        • Funny you said that, because it’s literally true, they courted Hillary first, but Hillary’s price tag was $270,000 which the university balked at, Chelsea was their second choice.

          • Because paying $270,000 for an ex-First Lady, Senator, Sec. of State, and Presidential candidate to give a canned speech for an hour is outrageous, but paying a failed journalist who has done nothing of import besides having a baby $65,000 for speaking for ten minutes is a deal

  2. Ugh. This is depressing. I may be a liberal but this story makes me angry. It also makes me wonder which “illustrious” women the UMKC found worthy to include in their Women’s Hall of Fame…

  3. “They might as well have gone with a Kardashian and left it at that.” This statement actually insults the Kardashians. It’s a misguided popularity, but those girls were the center of their show.

  4. I must confess that I became more interested in Robert Todd Lincoln rather than Chelsea Clinton who belongs more in People Magazine than on stage at a University giving an unimportant speech for a lavish fee. Robert Todd Lincoln actually accomplished something useful in his life following the tragedies of his great father’s death and mother’s drift into insanity. He was Secretary of War in two Presidential cabinets. In addition, besides being at his father’s deathbed, he witnessed the assassination of President Garfield and was in the immediate vicinity when President McKinley was assassinated. The man truly lived a hard life.

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