Harvard Extension School student Jonathan Eliot Morgan '92 has become the subject of widespread national media attention since alleging this week that City University of New York (CUNY) professor Leonard Jeffries threatened his life.
Morgan, a staff writer at The Harvard Crimson, said that the threat came during an interview for the What Is to Be Done?, The Crimson's weekly magazine. According to Morgan, Jeffries--who has been charged with making anti-semitic remarks in the past--demanded Morgan's tapes and issued the threat when he learned that many of The Crimson's top editors are Jewish.
Morgan is Jewish, but said that Jeffries did not know his religious affiliation during the interview.
Earlier in that interview, Morgan has claimed, Jeffries called Henry Louis Gates, the chair of Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department, a "punk" and a "faggot." Jeffries confiscated the tapes containing those statements and threatened to kill Morgan if he used the quotes in his story, Morgan said.
Morgan appeared on television and radio shows in New York yesterday, and the story appeared prominently in many newspapers across the country. The incident also garnered a full front-page headline in The New York Post.
Morgan said he originally told Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz about the interview. The press learned of the incident after Dershowitz alluded to Morgan's story during a public appearance in New York, accord- ing to several reports.
"Dershowitz didn't do anything wrong," Morgan said. "He didn't use my name. Reporters investigated and discovered I was the one doing the story."
Morgan said he is taking Jeffries's death threats seriously, but plans to write about the interview in next week's issue of the What Is to Be Done?
Since Morgan's story first appeared in Tuesday's New York Newsday, a flurry of newspapers, wire services and talk shows have covered it.
"Every major network and wire service has called," Morgan said.
At midnight Tuesday, Morgan was the guest on Gene Burns's radio phone-in show on WOR-AM in New York.
According to Morgan, about 70 percent of the callers supported him, but others felt that he was wrong to have spoken to the press about the interview.
"A lot of the callers were saying that even if what I said was true, because I'm Black I should not have reported it." Morgan said.
Morgan said that one caller suggested that his tuition was paid by the FBI, and that several people compared him to Anita Hill, the University of Oklahoma law professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
Yesterday Morgan was flown to New York, where he appeared on separate talk shows on WWOR-TV and WNYW-TV.
"[On the WWOR show] I spoke for about 20 minutes alone, then was joined by Michael Levin, a professor at CUNY who has Jeffries-type views about Blacks," Morgan said. Levin is a City College professor who is often compared to Jeffries because of his views about genetic differences between Blacks and whites.
Morgan was joined on Ray's talk show by three Jeffries supporters and Jeffrey Resnick, who represented "Response In Kind," an anti-semitism watchdog organization.
The New York Post's front page headline yesterday read, "Jeffries Does It Again." A smaller headline read, "Calls Harvard prof a faggot and a punk,' threatens reporter."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Jeffries denied all of Morgan's allegations, and accused Morgan of conspiring with his enemies in an interview on WNYW-TV's "Good Day New York."
Morgan said he plans to file a formal complaint against Jeffries with Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau's office. Morgan said he called Morganthau's office late yesterday afternoon, but was told to call back today to register his complaint.
Morgan said he is not sure how he feels about his newfound popularity.
"I haven't had time to think about how I feel about the instant celebrity," Morgan said.
Morgan said he has not thought about possible outcomes of the situation, but would like to see his version of the incident accepted as truth.
"I would like [Jeffries] to relinquish those tapes so the world can see that Leonard Jeffries is a liar," Morgan said