Friday, July 22, 2005

Christianity Today Cites Reform Club. . .

I recently used the TRC blog to publish my speculations about whether the story about a private investigator claiming to work for "rich and powerful people" (get the guy a better script next time, people) had been hired to successfully dig up dirt on Baylor interim President Bill Underwood. To my surprise, Christianity Today picked up on the story and what I thought about it. (Never assume you are blogging into obscurity, friends.)

Here's the relevant part:

The "Battle for Baylor" has more than its share of intrigue, not to mention ample opportunities for tea-leaf reading and code cracking.

The story took a turn to the ridiculous last week as the Waco Tribune-Herald reported (and editorialized) on a private investigator who claimed to be hired by "rich and powerful people" to dig up dirt on interim president Bill Underwood. Former Baylor insider Hunter Baker thinks it's a hoax—or that the investigator was actually hired by Underwood supporters in an attempt to "make Underwood look like a victim of evil conservative Christian types and let him ride into the presidency full time on a righteously indignant sympathy vote."

The rest of the article is worth reading, too, particularly for those watching the bold experiment still taking place in central Texas at the intersection of I-35 and the Brazos River.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's I-35 and the Brazos River.

Hunter Baker said...

I'm fixing it!

Lurker said...

Hunter, it's bad enough that you come up with some crackpot conspiracy theory on your blog. But then CT picks up on it? I hope this is just an error in journalistic judgment from CT -- I always thought they had higher standards than this.

And a "Baylor insider?" You're a grad student, for heaven's sake. And you're not even in Waco, anymore!

S. T. Karnick said...

Actually, Lurker, Hunter was indeed a Baylor insider until his recent move out of town. Of course, you could not have known that, perhaps.

James Elliott said...

He was on double-super secret insiderness.

Lurker said...

Actually, S.T., Hunter was (and is) a grad student. If that makes him an insider, then there are about 14,000 other "insiders" at the graduate or undergraduate level.

The reality of Hunter's circumstances is that he had a lot of close ties to a failed regime, and as a result he appears more inclined to believe foolishness about the private investigator than to believe the most obvious explanation.

S. T. Karnick said...

Hunter also had a job with Baylor, and it was that which qualified him to be called an insider.

Lurker said...

Hunter was a T.A. Yes, that's a "job," but not an insider one.

He worked for a particular professor, who had some ties to some other professors who were all devoted supporters of Robert Sloan. While it is perfectly plausible that these professors' support of Robert Sloan was genuine and principled, there is certainly also evidence to suggest that their support for Sloan helped to feather their own nests.

Hunter was no insider. He was T.A. for a guy who fancied himself an insider. But even Hunter's prof was at best an insider in a single faction that composed at best 1/4 of the faculty and more likely closer to 15%.

Moreover, the CT people show little sign of truly wanting to know what brought Robert Sloan down and why his "vision" was not a "bold experiment" (as many, including Hunter, have labeled it) but rather an unrealistic set of contradictory goals whose "boldest" components had no chance of being achieved in 10 years.

S. T. Karnick said...

In addition to being a T.A., Hunter Baker had other work at Baylor. This work did indeed qualify him to be described as an insider. The CT article was correct in its description.

Lurker said...

Since you insist on being super-duper secret about it, maybe Hunter will enlighten us as to his other "inside" work.

Lurker said...

And let's not allow this little debate over what constitutes an insider to distract us from the really silly idea of Hunter's that Underwood supporters hired the PI in order to make it look like he was the target of the bad old fundies. Robert Sloan and his ardent supporters have a record of ham-handed actions utterly lacking in subtlety. As said by one fellow who is quite sympathetic to the Sloanista agenda said, "They've been like bulls in a china shop."

Given the record of the Sloanistas, I'd say it's most likely that the PI was hired by some non-regent with the knowledge of a few Sloanista regents, and that the PI was basically an idiot.

Hunter Baker said...

Lurker, I did have a job with Baylor, which I disclosed in my last two articles for National Review and Christianity Today. I worked in university relations as a communications/networking (of the political kind) consultant. I was/an am still a grad student in a Ph.D. program. I also have friendships with many of the most prominent players. So, yes, I am an insider or at least a former one as the CT account indicates. Good to see you were so sure of yourself when you actually know nothing.

Hunter Baker said...

Lurker, I'm sending a scan of my business card to lurker@getacluequick.com. Do you think that it's just possible Christianity Today might know me?

Lurker said...

Hunter,

Thanks for clarifying your status. I never doubted that the CT people knew you, but I suppose people can disagree over what constitutes an "insider." It's your website, and I have no desire to behave badly in someone else's house, so I'll leave it at that.

I too know a number of "prominent players" on both sides of the divide, and I'll stand by my claims that (1) CT has willfully stayed uninformed on issues related to the Baylor controversies, and (2) your theory that the PI was really an Underwood supporter scheme to generate sympathy for him is far less likely than the alternative.

I'll be waiting for the e-mail, but I haven't used that address in quite a while . . . .

Hunter Baker said...

Send your real email to my real address and we can talk, Lurker. I certainly don't claim any insider status in the kill Sloan camp, but I was absolutely well-connected within the administration. It would be impolite and presumptuous to tell you who I know how well and how much time I spent with that person on the phone or in their home.