GW law professor Jonathan Turley never could have predicted the course his life has taken in recent months.
He has been one of the preeminent talking heads in the daily saturation commentary on President Clinton’s scandal.
He has appeared on countless political talk and news programs – 39 appearances between January and mid-August by one count.
And just recently, he became the father of a baby boy.
But unbeknownst to Turley, he also became the protagonist in one student’s ploy to demonstrate that his newfound media fame has made him unresponsive to students’ academic needs.
The brains behind the whole scheme was Mark Glaze, a third-year Dean’s Fellow at the Law School. He said he placed a call and left a message with Turley’s secretary, asking to meet with the professor.
Glaze said he mentioned in the call that he was not a student of Turley’s.
Thirteen minutes later, Glaze’s roommate called the same number posing as an ABC television representative.
While Glaze waited for Turley to call back, the professor returned the call to the student he thought was ABC 32 minutes later.
Glaze, who admits he strongly disagrees with Turley’s view of the president, said his motivation for making the phone calls was not political.
“It is a known fact that Turley does not respond to students,” Glaze said.
“A student of Turley’s who works with me asked for a letter of recommendation and never got a response,” Glaze said. “And I’ve heard plenty of other complaints.
“He says Clinton isn’t doing his job because of all the distractions, and I wanted to show that Turley is guilty of the exact same thing,” he said.
Glaze contacted The Washington Post, hoping it would run a story illustrating Turley’s alleged indifference to students.
Turley was contacted by Post reporter Ann Gerhart, who told him of the true nature of Glaze’s telephone calls.
Glaze’s story was reported in The Washington Post by staff writer David Segal Oct. 5.
Turley responded with a letter to the editor of The Post, and subsequently, Glaze and Turley have corresponded by phone and through letters.
In a phone interview, Turley expressed both frustration and concern about the recent attacks.
Turley said he never received the initial call made by Glaze and has no record of such a message. He said he made the effort to promptly return the ABC call because he was expecting a call from ABC about a case he was handling.
Turley said Glaze is not, and has never been, one of his students.
The week Glaze claims to have made this phone call was the week Turley’s son was born and he was often away from his office to be with his newborn, Turley said.
After initially failing to get The Post to publish a piece, Turley said, Glaze again made falsified telephone calls, this time posing as a reporter for the GW Law School newspaper Nota Bene.
Turley said he left two messages with Glaze and left a note in his mailbox. The following day, Turley said he received highly insulting messages from Glaze, who asked for Turley’s resum?, other documents and an immediate interview.
Glaze said he asked for Turley’s resum? because other law school professors had mentioned that his curriculum vitae falsely describe Turley’s background in constitutional law.
“(Law professors) told me confidentially that Turley’s resum? was inflated and bordered on complete lies,” Glaze said.
Glaze said he does not blame Turley for accepting offers to be on television but feels students are being forgotten.
“He ignores everyone but Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson,” Glaze said.
Glaze, who said he plans to get his story published in Nota Bene, maintained that Turley has a reputation for being unresponsive.
But Law School Dean Michael Kent Young said that if anything, Turley has given all indications of being above-average in his responsiveness to students. On a five-point scale, Turley earned a 4.5 for “accessibility to students” in student evaluations of his environmental law and torts courses, Young said.
“When in my office on the corner of the first floor, Turley is one of the professors I see pass by most often,” Young said.
Young did not admonish Glaze for his actions, however, and said he does not wish to inhibit students’ free speech.
Turley sent a final correspondence to Glaze, asking him to stop calling and writing.
“I have no interest in your view of my commentary, my credentials or my credibility,” Turley wrote.
“I fully understand that you consider me to be a fraud, a liar and an abuser of academic position,” he wrote. “You would be much better warning others about these dangerous propensities.
“Little can be done for me, Mr. Glaze. Save others.”
But Turley said he sees no need to stop appearing on television. He was under the bright lights again Wednesday night, talking to a guy named Larry King.