Did James O’Keefe catch Rutgers University education professor Bruce Baker agreeing to accept payment for a study with a predetermined, pro-union conclusion? That is the big question after O’Keefe released a video of Baker saying that he would “play with the data first to see if it would undermine [the proposed study].”
I do not buy Baker’s claim that he found his phone and email exchanges with O’Keefe to be “disturbing,” “strange,” “twisted,” and the like. Additionally, I am skeptical about Professor Baker contention that he was “playing along” and suspected “that this whole thing was a sham.” If he was aware that the whole thing was a set up, why didn’t Baker confront O’Keefe?
Baker also argues that it is common for researchers to “vet the data.” I suspect that this is true, but “vetting” data is not the same as “playing” with it. It may have been a case of poor word choice, an argument that I would have been willing to entertain. Indeed, word choice would have been a much better defense than his chosen strategy – conflating the two concepts. Obviously the latter suggests manipulation, whereas the former suggests evaluation.
Update: RiShawn Biddle of Dropout Nation has a must-read piece on Bruce Baker.