Academic 'superstar' professors who sell out to tyrants

Ed Lasky
The professorial class has a lot of sway in America. Not only do professors play a role in deciding what our elites know and how they think, but their counsel often is taken for gospel by the media. What if these professors are in the pay of tyrants?

The Boston Globe has an interesting story about the Monitor Group (a consulting group that has several academic superstars on its payroll or available for hire on an independent contractor basis). Farah Stockman describes one of Monitor's products:

It reads like Libyan government propaganda, extolling the importance of Moammar Khadafy, his theories on democracy, and his "core ideas on individual freedom.''

But the 22-page proposal for a book on Khadafy was written by Monitor Group, a Cambridge-based consultant firm founded by Harvard professors. The management consulting firm received $250,000 a month from the Libyan government from 2006 to 2008 for a wide range of services, including writing the book proposal, bringing prominent academics to Libya to meet Khadafy "to enhance international appreciation of Libya'' and trying to generate positive news coverage of the country...

Yesterday, Monitor Group acknowledged in a statement that its paid work included helping Khadafy's son Saif with his doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics.

One would think that academics would at least avoid plagiarism and provide help for college students trying to get good grades. I just watched the comedy "Back to School" starring Rodney Dangerfield as a wealthy businessman who returns to college and who pays people such as Kurt Vonnegut to write "his" papers. It was funny fictionally; it is pathetic in real life.

However, it is also instructive.

For years, colleges have been receiving millions of dollars from overseas autocrats to endow chairs and departments in Middle East studies. Their neutrality and credibility have been called into question for good reasons. This story of how a group of well-regarded professors have prostituted themselves for money is an important lesson to remember when we read or hear professors extolling how progressive or moderate this or that tyrant may be.

The firm highlighted in the Boston Globe article justifies its work by saying it was part of a process through which it hoped to bring about change in the regime.

But that view is undercut by their proposal to Khadafy's son Saif (last heard of promising to mow down Libyan rebels with machine guns) for help while he attended the London School of Economics:

In 2007, Monitor wrote a proposal seeking about $2 million in expenses and fees for the Khadafy book, according to the memos.

Did the Monitor Group at least guarantee an A?


The professorial class has a lot of sway in America. Not only do professors play a role in deciding what our elites know and how they think, but their counsel often is taken for gospel by the media. What if these professors are in the pay of tyrants?

The Boston Globe has an interesting story about the Monitor Group (a consulting group that has several academic superstars on its payroll or available for hire on an independent contractor basis). Farah Stockman describes one of Monitor's products:

It reads like Libyan government propaganda, extolling the importance of Moammar Khadafy, his theories on democracy, and his "core ideas on individual freedom.''

But the 22-page proposal for a book on Khadafy was written by Monitor Group, a Cambridge-based consultant firm founded by Harvard professors. The management consulting firm received $250,000 a month from the Libyan government from 2006 to 2008 for a wide range of services, including writing the book proposal, bringing prominent academics to Libya to meet Khadafy "to enhance international appreciation of Libya'' and trying to generate positive news coverage of the country...

Yesterday, Monitor Group acknowledged in a statement that its paid work included helping Khadafy's son Saif with his doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics.

One would think that academics would at least avoid plagiarism and provide help for college students trying to get good grades. I just watched the comedy "Back to School" starring Rodney Dangerfield as a wealthy businessman who returns to college and who pays people such as Kurt Vonnegut to write "his" papers. It was funny fictionally; it is pathetic in real life.

However, it is also instructive.

For years, colleges have been receiving millions of dollars from overseas autocrats to endow chairs and departments in Middle East studies. Their neutrality and credibility have been called into question for good reasons. This story of how a group of well-regarded professors have prostituted themselves for money is an important lesson to remember when we read or hear professors extolling how progressive or moderate this or that tyrant may be.

The firm highlighted in the Boston Globe article justifies its work by saying it was part of a process through which it hoped to bring about change in the regime.

But that view is undercut by their proposal to Khadafy's son Saif (last heard of promising to mow down Libyan rebels with machine guns) for help while he attended the London School of Economics:

In 2007, Monitor wrote a proposal seeking about $2 million in expenses and fees for the Khadafy book, according to the memos.

Did the Monitor Group at least guarantee an A?