Last Friday, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer expressed her shock and disbelief that Arizona State University would not award President Barack Obama an honorary degree since he was their commencement speaker.
However, over the weekend, the University announced it would instead name "their most important scholarship" after Obama - instead of awarding the president an honorary degree.
"Here's the statement from ASU President Michael Crow: ‘We never felt an honorary degree was the only or event the best means of honoring his tremendous service to our country,'" Brewer said. "‘Naming the scholarship program after President Obama that will affect the lives of thousands of students is an honor befitting, not only the president's exceptional achievements, but also his value as an individual.'"
That didn't impress Brewer, responding on MSNBC in a segment on April 13. "Whoop-dee-do! That's my reaction," Brewer said
Also appearing in the MSNBC segment was A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill. She pointed out that they seemed to be fine with not offering the honorary degree to Obama, and the president seemed to be fine with it - but ASU changed course and went to "Plan B."
"They made it very clear when they invited him and made the decision not to give him an honorary degree - that they were fine with that decision that he had not been in his position long enough, had not achieved enough in his career and that they thought he was worthy of the commencement slot, but not of the degree and they were fine with that. They said we are an outstanding university. Every university has its own traditions and policies and they were fine. All of a sudden they decided it was a media creation and that there was much quote, unquote, ‘confusion' and they obviously came up with this Plan B."
But there's one significant detail Stoddard neglected to point out. According to Dawn Teo of the Huffington Post, ASU faculty members were receiving threats and hate mail over the decision not to award the honorary degree to Obama, which might have changed the University's tact on the matter.
Still, Brewer continued to openly express her disapproval.
"I just, I can't imagine, I can't imagine the logic that goes into that when - for instance Arizona State University has awarded honorary degrees to Erma Bombeck. She's the sort of humorist, the author. Steve Allen, an actor, Jerry Colangelo, who's the CEO of the Phoenix Suns. And all of these people accomplished in their own right, but they certainly didn't reach the status of the Oval Office and I just can't imagine anyone putting up their hand in the meeting and saying, ‘You know what, let's not give the president and honorary degree.'"