Recently on CBS, Bob Schieffer generously bestowed a Harvard degree on actor Ben Afflack--a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, no less. This would be a surprise to Mr. Affleck because the actor attended a small college, never got a degree, and certainly never attended Harvard.
During a tease spot on Thursday, Schieffer told Norah O'Donnell how "serious" Afflack was and then ballyhooed about his "Harvard degree."
He was here to talk about, he has this organization called Eastern Congo Initiative where he's tried to do something. He appeared yesterday before the House Armed Services Committee to talk about some way to make things better over there... He's a very committed – a very serious person. You know, he went to Harvard and majored in Middle Eastern studies.
Apparently all one needs do to be considered a "serious person" is to appear in a movie about something.
Still, this "degree" does not exist. Ben Affleck never got a degree in Middle Eastern anything. He didn't go to Harvard, either. He did briefly attend the University of Vermont and he played around with a few classes at Occidental College in L.A. when he moved west to become an actor. But he never graduated and got a degree from these institutions.
Affleck has been a full-time actor since his early 20s and has had little time for college. There is certainly nothing wrong with this acting success, of course. But let's not bestow "serious personhood" on him merely because he acted in a movie, Mr. Schieffer.
This odious assumption that an actor should be a spokesman for a serious issue is one of long standing in Hollyweird, unfortunately. Remember back in 1989 when actress Meryl Streep appeared before Congress to testify that the chemical Alar sprayed on apples was giving everyone cancer? Everyone believed her because, why, she was a "serious person." Of course, it turned out that it would take 5,000 gallons of alar treated apple juice a day to give someone cancer. But Streep was a "serious person," nonetheless.
Bob Schieffer would do better to have real experts on his show if he really wants to talk about the Congo. For Ben Affleck? He can talk about movies.