Saturday, October 21, 2006

Catching Up with the Times

Adopting a standard that no one ought comment until we have access to “all” the information would prevent any comment on the case. To take one example: we’ll never know what Mike Nifong said to his wife in private conversations during the week in late March when he authorized a series of procedural frauds as he plunged his own money into his failing campaign.

What’s striking about the rhetoric that initially emerged on the pages of the Times, however, is the absolute moral certainty with which figures such as Allan Gurganis, Selena Roberts, and Harvey Araton wrote, coupled by their refusal to re-examine the case as mounds of evidence contradicting their initial assumptions has emerged. I’d like to think that, if they had the chance to do so now, they would take back the words below.

Gurganis, April 9, in a column that contemptuously repeated the line “innocent until proven guilty”:

Young male students are apt to take on the nature of their particular sport. One early explorer, after witnessing an Indian game involving hundreds of stick-wielding players, wrote, ‘‘Almost everything short of murder is allowable” . . .

The police report did more than hint. Its allegations of rape and sodomy prove weirdly well written, more gripping reading than most detective novels [as most of the document appears to have been fiction, Gurganus’ remarks were, unintentionally, prophetic]. Its author is anonymous but he might be advised to take a writing class at, well, Duke. Its night school, of course.

‘‘Two males pulled the victim into the bathroom. Someone closed the door and said, ‘Sweetheart, you can’t leave.’ The victim’s four red polished fingernails were recovered inside the residence consistent to her version of the attack” . . .

It would be far too easy to scapegoat one university for allowing boys to be brutes. But in the institution’s hurry to protect its students, right or wrong, it seemed to forget its role of educating and reassuring a community larger than itself.

The university once offered respite from our country’s most rabid competitive impulses . . . Now corporate America, athletic America, Defense Department America form a unified competitive team . . .

When the children of privilege feel vividly alive only while victimizing, even torturing, we must all ask why. This question is first personal then goes Ethical soon National. Boys 18 to 25 are natural warriors: bodies have wildly outgrown reason, the sexual imperative outranks everything. They are insurance risks. They need (and crave) true leadership, genuine order. But left alone, granted absolute power, their deeds can terrify.

The imperative to win, and damn all collateral costs, is not peculiar to Durham -- and it is killing us.
Selena Roberts, in a March 31 column that a subsequent Times correction conceded was founded upon the erroneous Nifong-inspired premise that the players had refused to cooperate with the inquiry; and that a later public editor’s column admitted improperly described a search warrant as a “court document”:

At the intersection of entitlement and enablement, there is Duke University, virtuous on the outside, debauched on the inside. This is the home of Coach K’s white-glove morality and the Cameron Crazies’ celebrated vulgarity.

The season is over, but the paradox lives on in Duke’s lacrosse team, a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.

Something happened March 13, when a woman, hired to dance at a private party, alleged that three lacrosse players sexually assaulted her in a bathroom for 30 minutes. According to reported court documents, she was raped, robbed, strangled and was the victim of a hate crime. She was also reportedly treated at a hospital for vaginal and anal injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape.

Players have been forced to give up their DNA, but to the dismay of investigators, none have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account . . .

Does President Brodhead dare to confront the culture behind the lacrosse team’s code of silence or would he fear being ridiculed as a snitch?
Harvey Araton, in a May 26 column that belittled members of the Duke women’s lacrosse Final Four squad as "gals" for wearing armbands of sympathy for the three men’s players targeted by Nifong; while describing African-American players on the Final Four basketball team as “African-American women”:

The lacrosse gals, 30 of 31 of whom are white, are apparently free to martyr their male lax mates.
Innocent until ? Presumed innocence? Those are sweatband statements that would be more palatable. Even then, does cross-team friendship and university pride negate common sense at a college as difficult to gain admission to as Duke? Has anyone—from the women’s lacrosse coach, Kerstin Kimel, to the Duke president, Richard H. Brodhead—reminded the players of the kind of behavior they are staking their own reputations on? . . .

‘‘I believe in this case, what we are looking at is not so much a gender issue of women supporting men, but of a social class and status that needs to stick together,’’ Kathy Redmond, founder and director of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes, wrote in an e-mail message. ‘‘It’s obvious that the women’s team lacks maturity—and the school should have been quick to remedy that since the parents obviously did not.’’

Jack Shafer was right in using the trio’s newspaper as a template to wonder, “Why is it so hard for newspapers that have climbed out onto a limb in reporting a story to turn back once they hear the wood cracking?” As Shafer noted, “Instead of announcing their errors in judgment, most newspapers reverse course by ignoring the flawed stories in their back pages and taking a new tack—as if those old stories had never been written.”

In the case of the Times: Since the remarks quoted above, Araton has commented only once on the case, to dismiss those who criticized his May 26 column. Selena Roberts hasn’t been heard from on Duke since late April. Gurganus hasn’t re-appeared on the op-ed page. I guess the trio hopes that if people only read Duff Wilson’s “reporting,” no one will realize how misguided were the Times’ early columns.

59 comments:

Luke said...

Harvey Araton wrote: "Has anyone—from the women’s lacrosse coach, Kerstin Kimel, to the Duke president, Richard H. Brodhead—reminded the players of the kind of behavior they are staking their own reputations on? . . ." One could ask if Arthur Sulzberger reminded Mr. Araton of the same.

Anonymous said...

The performance of The New York Times has been sad.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the first writer criticizes Duke for hurrying to protect its students, right or wrong, and that the lacrosse team supporters have been criticizing Duke for not doing enough to protect them.

Anonymous said...

Name one thing that Duke did to protect the students. Try it.
What did Duke do? They threw them under a bus.

Anonymous said...

Your latest focuses on one more aspect of this mess that has far-reaching implications: the mass print (reporters and opinion writers, both) media's failures. There were failures in the initial reporting, as minutely detailed again recently, and there were failures by the op-ed pundits, who fed off the falsities of the police spin in March in order to fit the lacrosse case into their neat novelized version of "reality." And now both fail again, as almost none of the media enablers to the Nifong Hoax have the professional and personal integrity to acknowledge their initial errors, and apologize for their rush to judgment.

TombZ said...

The NY Times treats its readers as if they were children. As a result the NY Times has fewer readers and a shrinking business.

Convergence of the Internet, hyperlinks and bloggers makes it impossible for the NY Times, and others like them, to hide dishonesty and mistakes made in pursuit of political agendas or sensationalism.

Save a tree. Don't read the NY Times.

Anonymous said...

The Times hardly ever gets anything right. They have an agenda that pervades virtually every article they write.

Anonymous said...

If 3 black Duke students were accused of raping a white sex worker and the DNA tests came back showing no matches, Araton and Duff and all the rest at the Times would be loudly proclaiming their innocence.

Anonymous said...

As a retired academic, what strikes me about the mainstream media's response when they screw up is very similar to how academia responds to a serious problem with a tenured faculty member. The attitude is "Let's just shut our eyes and hope the problem goes away."
Keep up the good work KC.

Anonymous said...

There are two forces combining here that lead to the terrible job being done by almost all print media. On the one hand, you have the political agenda that has been mentioned. In the NY Times case you can call it PC, or liberal, or leftist, it amounts to the same - a bias towards any story that will continue to lead the paper to overreport some facts/stories, and underreport others.

But the other element that works hand in hand with political bias is economic bias. Right or wrong, all of the "news" media, print and TV, have found that they make more money when they move away from true journalism and reporting towards entertainment. This pendulum between straight fact reporting and fictionalized descriptions based on real events is not new. It is, in effect, pandering to the crowd to curry favor. The Romans did it two thousand years ago, and did it well.

But as the 20th century has moved into the 21st century, the information age has made the marketplace for news ultra-competitive, and this has pushed the pendulum farther away from true fact reporting and closer to entertainment than ever before, because it's hard to have an edge in facts these days. Without the edge, there is no market advantage, and consequently no profit.

The NY Times has prided itself on being a standard by which journalists should judge how well they hold to the "news" side of the spectrum. Perhaps their conceit and inability to recognize how far they have fallen makes them an even more annoying example than other media outlets.

But the NY Times is not alone. We all buy our facts through the prism of our choice, because there are seemingly infinite ways to see every story now. Recognition that you HAVE a bias, and effort to document and support very carefully your themes, are the only ways to stay closer to the news side. I applaud KC for doing just that in this case. By linking to many, many sources, KC allows all readers to do what the NY Times tries to do for you - think. Think about what he is writing, and decide for yourself if you agree. The NY Times has already decided for you, and is trying to present what they believe YOU should believe in the most captivating way - so that you don't look to CNN or (gasp) Fox News instead of the Old Grey Lady.

To go back and post corrections would be counter to their business model. After all, no one else is admitting they were overzealous in their coverage. Why lose market share by admitting mistakes that are not supposed to happen? So don't hold your breath looking for NY Times corrections, retractions, or even a new prism applied to this story. Short of a Jason Blair situation, that sort of change will not happen. They will just move on to the next entertaining story of the day. It's not "fun" to talk about being wrong...and it doesn't sell well.

Another Duke mom said...

I am continually impressed with the writing that appears on the blog sites (Liestoppers, Durham-in-Wonderland) regarding the LAX case. What is surprising, though terrific, is the quality of the comments on both sites. There are a few pot bangers but most posts are well organized and make valid points. 10:53 today is such an example: concise (despite its length), objective, and insightful.

Anonymous said...

6:24 AM, at a time when the LAX players were being lynched by the media, Brodhead went in front of television cameras again and again and declared that the facts have not yet been established, there are differing versions of the central events, the players are innocent until proven guilty, and we know that some of the players were not even at the party. In their zeal to demonize Brodhead, the LAX players and their supporters do not like to acknowledge this, but the fact is that in the early days of the LAX mess, Brodhead was just about the only person in the country who was defending the LAX players other than their own parents.

KC Johnson said...

To the 2.42:

I'm not sure if you've posted on this issue before, but, if not, I would invite you to take a look at either of these posts for an analysis of what Brodhead did or didn't do.

Obvious points of comparison would be to the recent actions of the administrations at Yale and Miami (Florida). In both of these instances, the administrations made unequivocal defenses of due process, and the media, unsurprisingly, reported their responses accordingly.

When, as was the case with Brodhead, 3-5% of the text in his major statements on the case had anything to do with due process--and even then in extremely weak terms--while large amounts of a president's statement condemn the players based on what's turned out to be wildly incomplete information, it's little wonder that the media highlighted the key points made by the president.

Most people, when they write, devote the most space to the items that they consider the most important. Perhaps--as you suggest--Brodhead really did want to be "just about the only person in the country who was defending the LAX players other than their own parents." If so, he was incompetent in the statements that he produced. And though I've been critical of Brodhead (and increasingly very critical of him), I do not in any way consider him an incompetent scholar. I believe he's perfectly capable of saying what he means, and meaning what he says.

madder than a hornet said...

to the 2:42 pm poster.....Are you Dean Sue or Burness? Brodhead yielded to the reverse racist within himself and the Gang of 88. It is now well documented how Brodhead's actions emboldened Nifong. Start your own blog please, maybe call it Administration Members Legal Defense Fund

Anonymous said...

2:42 PM

How can your perspective be so different from most everyone else? Are you a member of the Duke administration?

KC and others have analyzed every public statement made by Brodhead regarding the Duke lacrosse incident. By their count, less than 3% of Brodhead's text can be viewed as even remotely supportive of the important principle of the presumption of innocence.

It wouldn't be surprising that in Brodhead's world, surrounded as he was by radical faculty members of the scurrilous "Gang of 88", he must have seen himself as the stalwart of moderation. But before the public, and the media, and the student body, he was not.

I would like to challenge you to provide one single quote from Brodhead during his early public statements on this case (prior to the release of the DNA evidence) in which he stressed the importance of the presumption of innocence... not in some abstract statement regarding the principle in general... but in a strong statement encouraging the presumption of innocence for the specific men in queston, students of Duke University all.

I will be waiting here at my terminal for your answer.

Anonymous said...

To KC: when you say that large amounts of the statements issued by Brodhead condemn the players what are you referring to exactly? I am not aware of any statements in which he has condemned the players. I am aware of statements such as the sentence in his statement of March 25 saying that sexual assault is unacceptable in any setting and certainly has no place at Duke, but that is not a condemnation of the players, it is just a truism. I mean does anybody seriously disagree with that statement? I am also aware of his statement that the allegations against the players, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties, but that is also just a truism. I do not think you want to hold Donna Shalala up as an example of how Brodhead should have acted because the two situations are completely different. Shalala is a radical feminist, and if she had been president of Duke, she would have been among the first to condemn the LAX players and never would have spoken up on their behalf. The episode at Yale was also completely different, just a fight between a football player and a hockey player, not a racially charged situation with allegations of rape, so that episode does not really serve to prove that the Yale Administration would have acted differently than the Duke Administration if presented with a similar set of facts.

KC Johnson said...

To the 4.32:

I provided links, above, to my two longest posts on this question, which I invite you to look over.

Perhaps, as you say, Shalala, or the Yale administration, would have done even less to defend the students' due process rights than Brodhead did in this instance. But, based on their actions in the events I cited (the arrests of Yale athletes, the aftermath of the Miami-FIU fight), there is no evidence to substantiate that claim. And, in any case, they weren't in charge of Duke this past spring: Brodhead was.

In recent days, Shalala went out of her way to proclaimn that she wouldn't throw her players "under the bus." I'm sure that few people in Allen Hall were in doubt about whom Shalala referred.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead needs better spokespeople.

Anonymous said...

Professor, with all due respect, I really do not understand your point here. You seem to be trying to suggest that Donna Shalala and the Yale Administration are standing up for their players and doing things right while Brodhead and the Duke Administration are doing things wrong, and there is an implication in there that if Shalala or the Yale Administration were running Duke, they would have handled the LAX situation differently from and better than the way in which Brodhead has handled it. But the facts of the other two cases are so different from the facts of the Duke case that there is really no way you can get to that conclusion. Indeed, in the case of Donna Shalala, there is good reason to believe that if she had been President of Duke, she would have condemned the players outright and not stood up for them at all. I think it is highly likely that the only reason why she spoke up on behalf of the foootball players is because football generates an enormous amount of money for the University of Miami and she wanted to protect the money.

Anonymous said...

3:59 PM, I hope I have not kept you waiting at your terminal too long. I can provide such a quote from Brodhead very easily. All you have to do is look at the statement he issued on March 25, which is posted on the Duke website, in which he said that (1) the facts are not yet established; (2) there are very different versions of the central events; (3) no charges have been filed; (4) in our system of law, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty; and (5) we know that many members of the team, including some who were asked to provide DNA samples, did not attend the party.

Anonymous said...

One has to think of the possibility this hoax went further from Durham

AMac said...

I wrote Mr. Gurganus on the subject of his Op-Ed piece at the sole email on his website; a reply from his assistant proved that the address was good. Excerpts:

Date: Sun, 24 Sept 2006
To: info@allangurganus.com
cc: Brian Calame public@nytimes.com

Dear Mr. Gurganus,

...In the course of interpreting events and explaining your reactions to the Times' readers, you made inflammatory assertions of fact in that Op-Ed piece. Given the tenor of early-April coverage by the Durham Herald-Sun and other media, they presumably seemed justified at the time.

Interestingly, the NYT... set the record straight on two minor points you got wrong, concerning past ownership of the Buchanan St. house, and Duke's housing policy for its athletes.

Those two issues are insignificant in comparison to other assertions that you made in your Op-Ed. Here are two quotes, each contradicted by the record of the case as it was known by mid-Spring:

"[Lacrosse] bred loyalty among players, a solidarity demonstrated by the code of silence among Duke's party attendees."
The "silence" of the Duke Lacrosse Team was a fabrication of the District Attorney. The evidence shows that players were fully co-operative from the onset of the police inquiry.

"Of the 40 or so players required to give DNA samples, nearly one-third showed previous arrests for under-age drinking and public urination."
Every member of the team save one was asked to donate a DNA sample. Each person granted this request, in the absence of compulsion [this passage was corrected in a follow-up email, noting that none of the players contested the warrant that was, in fact, issued]...

Your Op-Ed includes other passages that malign the Duke players. For example, the penultimate paragraph ponders:

"When the children of privilege feel vividly alive only while victimizing, even torturing, we must all ask why. "

However misleading these statements may be, they are matters of opinion and of context, and thus in a different category from outright untruths.

Reading "Blue Devils Made Them Do It" at five months' remove makes me curious about how the NYT and its authors handle misstatements of fact in Op-Eds. In particular, I wonder...

-- Had you requested that the two serious factual errors I outlined above be noted and corrected? Had the Editorials Page editor flagged these problematic quotes and requested that you address them, in light of what was known by mid-Spring?

-- In light of what is now known about the case, do you plan to ask that such corrections be appended to the TimesSelect online version of your Op-Ed, or to write another opinion piece to set the record straight?

Sincerely, AMac


To date, I have received no response from Mr. Gurganus.

Anonymous said...

By the way, you ask how can my perspective be so different from most everyone else's. My perspective may be different from most everyone else who posts on this website, but there is no evidence to support the idea that your perspective represents the majority view of all members of the Duke community. Also, as long as we are on this point, let me add one more thing. I often see comments on this website urging the board of trustees to remove Brodhead as president of the university on the ground that he has not been sufficiently aggressive in speaking out on behalf of the LAX players. Have you noticed that the trustees also are not speaking out on behalf of the LAX players? Obviously, Brodhead and the trustees have made a decision that it is not appropriate for the university to try to inject itself into the criminal justice process in Durham and that they should instead let the lawyers handle the legal defense of the players and the challenges to Nifong's procedural abuses. Does anybody seriously think that the trustees are going to remove Brodhead from office just because he acted in accordance with the agreed upon policy?

KC Johnson said...

To the 6.30:

I am not stating that either Shalala or the Yale administration would have handled this information differently than Brodhead. They might very well have done the same thing. In the case of Shalala, I strongly suspect not, for the same reason I suspect Terry Sanford would have handled this situation differently. A president with political experience like Shalala or Sanford could very well have had the courage to stand up to Nifong, who, at the end of the day, is best characterized as a bullying local politician.

I was merely pointing out, in reference to a comment made earlier, that the two situations provide concrete examples for anyone who wants to see an administration response that prioritized due process and the rights of the students above all other concerns.


To the 7.06:

You make a good point. At this stage, from everything I gather, it would be far more accurate to speak of the Brodhead/Steel administration, rather than simply the Brodhead administration. As I posted here, the trustees have abrogated their fiduciary duty in failing to protest a situation where local authorities have set up a system of separate and unequal procedures for Duke students and in which the faculty have attempted to venture far beyond their proper role in shared governance.

Anonymous said...

to 3:59 and the others who think no one supports Brodhead:
It's interesting that you would ask someone who showed a minimal level of support for Brodhead (or really, just a lack of condemnation of Brodhead) how their "perspective could be so different from everyone else's." The fact is that anyone who dares to stand up for the administration on this or related blogs is immediately excoriated by those of you who absolutely detest the administration. So I think some people tune out, stop visiting these sites, or at least stop posting (all which seem to be what the anti-Brodheads want, although not in the best interests of fighting this hoax)....I wouldn't draw conclusions about the sentiment of Duke alums or parents from the percentage of pro-Brodhead and anti-Brodhead sentiment on this site. Just as I think it's not really accurate to try to analyze Brodhead's position by calculating the percentage of words dedicated to defending the lacrosse players. It takes very few words to say "innocent until proven guilty" but far more words to address whether racism exists on campus, the relationship Duke and the Trinity Park neighbors, or some of the other issue the community has demanded he address. A statistical analysis of words probably is irrelevant--it might be more relevant to look at the position of the statement within a speech (i.e., when he discusses the lax issue, is the "innocent until proven guilty" statement or the "there are different versions of the events" one of his first points???)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am sure Brodhead can go on and on discussing whether racism exists on college campuses. In fact, Brodhead has this amazing ability of going on and on discussing various subjects while not saying anything of substance.

Anonymous said...

As for innocent until proven guilty-isn't that a given?
I guess Brodhead is getting points from you for stating the obvious.

Anonymous said...

to 9:55--How many times have you actually heard Brodhead speak? I have heard him many times, and IMO his speeches are actually extremely thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating and well-crafted. I haven't found them to be overly wordy, and I have found them to be on-topic and interesting. And I'm an engineer, not an english major.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic NYT even went after women for supporting the men. How sickening.
Truly disgusting.

Anonymous said...

10:10 PM, I very much agree with what you had to say about Brodhead. I have listened to him speak on two or three different occasions and have even read the transcripts of a couple of his speeches. I also find them to be extremely intelligent and thought provoking. The post by 9:55 PM is just a cheap hatchet job by a fanatical LAX team supporter with nothing to back it up and is typical of the cheap shots that people on this website love to take.

Anonymous said...

My personal impression of Brodhead's speech is that he said nothing of substance. I do not see how that makes me a fanatical LAX team supporter.
In fact I am totally indifferent to sports.

Anonymous said...

9:59 PM, brilliant post. So if KC features a message on his website from one of the LAX team parents saying that Brodhead has all but declared the LAX players to be guilty of rape (which KC did), and someone from the audience responds by pointing out that Brodhead has stated that the facts are not yet established and the players are innocent until proven guilty and that this hardly amounts to declaring them guilty of rape, you would respond to the responder by saying that Brodhead does not deserve any credit for those statements because he is merely stating the obvious. This is just one more classic example of the intellectual dishonesty that permeates this website.

Anonymous said...

To 12:18
I am not a Dukie, I barely know where it is. But to this cowboy, the elephant in the room is Brodheads continuuing silence over the past few months as evidence of Nifongs misconduct, extremely damaging to his students, has piled higher and higher.
Watching 60 minutes, I felt a twitch of sympathy when he said that a high public official had bluntly declared the guys guilty and so what was he to think? But the moment of sympathy passed very quickly when I recalled that all of that had happened 6 months ago. What has been his excuse eversince?
If he tries to say that he is not sure about the scale and significance of Nifongs violations of proper proceedure then he is lying.

Anonymous said...

It is really, really funny you should be talking about intellectual dishonesty. I was describing Brodhead's recent statement to 60 Minutes as having nothing of substance in my view. However, Brodhead had a lot more to say in the past, and it was highly negative about the students... “If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.” Does that ring a bell? Read Brodhead's past statements. Read them here.
http://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com/2006/08/dissembling.html
And then pretend Brodhead was always fair toward the accused (sarcasm intended).

Anonymous said...

In fact, Mr. or Miss "intellectual dishonesty,"
try to defend this statement by Brodhead
“If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.”

Does that sound like Brodhead was saying the students were innocent until proven guilty? Brodhead flat out said that whatever they did was "bad enough." Sounds like it did not matter to him what they did or did not do, they were guilty of something, just the same.
So, who is being intellectually dishonest here?

Anonymous said...

It has been said before, but the "whatever they did was bad enough" referred to the party, the stripper, the underage drinking and the racial slur. Those things were "bad enough" to warrant disciplinary action (which they were--even if it was not the first time those things had been done by a group at Duke.) He didn't mean they were bad enough to warrant crinminal charges. You have to view those statements in the context of the entire speech and in the context of the facts known at the time the comment was made.

Anonymous said...

More "intellectual dishonesty" from you. The students faced decades in prison on rape charges, and Brodhead was saying that whatever they did was bad enough.

Anonymous said...

I've just gone through and reread all of the statements by Brodhead (you can access them through the Duke.edu site.) If you read them with consideration to what was happening at the time, they all seem very reasonable--and virtually all of them begin with some statement about there being different versions of the events that night, or about the players being innocent until proven guilty. Some of the statements address the very real criticism at the time that the administration didn't react quickly enough (and the implication was they didn't react to condemn the lax players quickly enough.) And several of them specifically say that, while we don't know all the facts regarding the allegations, the university does have the responsibility to deal with certain aspects of the situation: the party with underage drinking and the accusations that the lax team had a history of poor behavior--an accusation which was refuted by the committee appointed to investigate. I can't find too much fault with all of this. I also couldn't fine the specific quote "whatever they did was bad enough" and would appreciate a link, or at least the date and location of the speech (was it before or after the 4/18 indictments?) The link provided by the 1:25 AM post doesn't work....

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a recent Duke grad (no lax affiliation) I initially had some sympathy for Brodhead's approach, feeling that Duke and he were, to some extent, victims of Nifong's misconduct and the media tsunami (though obviously to a much lesser extent than the lax players). As events have unfolded, however, the Duke administration's insistent neutrality becomes increasingly hard to accept as previous posters have noted. Still, it may make sense for Brodhead not to challenge Nifong's conduct while the election is pending, as Nifong's strategy from the beginning has been to run against Duke and criticism of his behavior by Duke's president might only help his election. But after the election there will be no excuses of this sort,and if Brodhead watches the prosecution grind on to a "Durham solution" without speaking out against the prosecutor's misconduct then he will surely deserve the scathing judgment that history will deliver.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead, Ashely, the reporters from the New York Times should read the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Brodhead has been only been concerned of self-preservation, not what is right and just. The reporters who condmended and continue to condemn these innocent young men, also refuse to look at the truth, evidence and Nifong's prosecutorial misconduct. These people have no integrity and have twisted, distorted thought processes to justify their articles, whether written to meet a personal agenda or to just sell papers. The stupidity and ignorance of the comments made by these reporters is mind boggling. These articles outright lie. Criticizing the womens lacrosse team for wearing arm bands for their boys lacrosse team? And then blaming their parents for their behaviour. Their parents should be proud of their daughters. Those young women should be applauded for having the courage to stand up for what is right. They are the leaders of the future, not people like Brodhead who are weak and spineless making excuses to save his job, ..... just like Nifong.
Reade, Colin, Dave and the girls lacrosse team have more integrity than Brodhead, Ashley and the pro-Nifong reports put together. Let me guess, none of the anit-sports supporters ever played a college sport. Instead they think that makes them more intellectual than "jocks". I think they are just jealous that these young athletes can do it all. They can be honor roll students, and play Division I sports. Jealousy is an ugly monster just like them.

Anonymous said...

Read Kristin Butler's article in the Chronicle (dukechronicle.com)on Friday entitled "Fight, Blue devils, Fight" for some insight into why some students may resent the athletes. I don't think they're jealous that the athletes can "do it all" but there could be some resentment that they get accepted with far lower SAT scores, they get preferential scheduling (which means the athletes, and pretty much only the athletes, can get into the easier classes), they get unlimited tutors, and then some people try to extol their academic prowess! That certainly doesn't mean they deserve to be falsely charged with a terrible crime, but it does explain some of the reactions early on. It also means we should be careful not to brag too much about what fine students the athletes are.

Anonymous said...

The link does work. But for people who can't get it to work, Brodhead said his famous "whatever they did is bad enough" on April 20th, after the indictments. So, I suggest some of you do not hide under "intellectual dishonesty," and stop claiming Brodhead was just talking about the party. At that time, two students were already indicted and faced decades in prison (and they still face decades in prison), and Brodhead was saying that "whatever they did is bad enough."
Here is a copy of KC's blog for those who can't get the link to work.
"Perhaps Brodhead’s single most inexcusable comment during this affair came in an appearance at a Durham Chamber of Commerce meeting on April 20, two days after the indictments of Reade Seligmann and Colin Finnerty. WRAL-TV quoted the president as saying, “If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.”"

Anonymous said...

"There aren't too many people who have come out of the current Duke controversy looking good, but there are two that have performed about as well as possible, it seems to me, under current circumstances. The first is the editor (and by extension, the reporters) of the Duke student newspaper, the Chronicle, whose coverage has been first-rate....
The second is Duke's president, Richard Brodhead. He--quite appropriately, it seems to me--suspended and then cancelled the lacrosse season; based on the most benign interpretations of their actions, many of the lacrosse players were guilty of conduct unbecoming university students and gravely embarrassing the school. He's reached out to students and administrators at NCCU. At the same time, he's avoided any rush to judgment--unlike a handful of Duke professors, led by Afro-Am studies professor Houston Baker, who essentially advocated dismissing the lacrosse students from school."

Anonymous said...

2:18 PM, I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

To 2:18
How many parties involving strippers were held by Duke students in 2006? I have heard the number 20.
How many Duke students engage in underaged drinking? Don't be silly.
Explain again why the LAX party was uniquely embarassing to the school.
The "racial" dimension of the story was so delicious for some that they believed every bad allegation without seriously questioning it.
It was the made up story that was embarassing to Duke. Rather than wait for the true story, Brodhead chose to distance himself and the school from the LAX guys.
If their guilt had become obvious, or even possible, that rsponse would have remainded tenable. But things have not gone that way and Brodhead has not changed course. That is what we find shameful and cowardly.

Anonymous said...

My son feels his fraternity is often unfairly targeted by the Duke administration. He feels they are often punished for things other fraternities (and, in the past, groups like the lax team) were allowed to get away with. While his evidence seems to support that, my answer to him has always been that, just because another group gets away with something that is wrong does not mean the university shouldn't punish you for doing it. Tha fact that others hired strippers and participated in underage drinking does not mean that the lax team should have gotten away with it. Their behavior was wrong, and was embarrassing to the university--and I don't think they deny that. If anything, athletes should be held to the highest standard as they represent the school very publicly, and often before a national audience. No one deserves to be falsely accused of a crime, but the team did deserve consequences for the behavior for which they were caught--even if others have done it before.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would react the same way if your son's "punishment" for having a party consisted of him being randomly picked from a line up, indicted, his mug shot printed everywhere, proclaimed to be an alleged rapist, and having to go on trial that can put him in prison for decades.
Something tells me you would be singing a different song then.

Anonymous said...

To 4:23
Suffering some "consequences" for holding that party has what, if anything, to do with extremely serious felony charges being brought against the 3 LAX players?
And when it is blindingly obvious that nothing remotely criminal happened at that party why has Brodhead ignored the blatant misconduct of the DA?
Folks who started off believing the worst about the LAX guys often seem to go thru a transition stage on the way to being outraged at Nifong. It is called "But they were not perfect". Then the concept of 30 years in prison seeps starts to come into focus.
Porportionality.

Anonymous said...

To 4:36...Why is it that many people can't read an entire paragraph before drawing (false)conclusions about a writer's point? I SAID they did not deserve to be falsely charged--Of course I would be upset, as the lax parents were, by everything that went with these false charges (brought by the DA!) I was addressing ONLY the comment that there have been 20 strippers hired by groups at Duke, and that other groups have participated in underage drinking--and the implication that Duke should not have punished them for that.

And, by the way, I've had some personal experience with very devastating false accusations. I know it's very hard not to blame those you feel could and should have stood up for a loved one, especially if they are in a position of authority. In our case we tried to accept, if not understand, that the person in authority had many priorities--some of which had nothing to do with the well-being of the child who was falsely accused.

Anonymous said...

To 4:53
I did not say that the LAX guys should not have been punshed for breaking the rules. I said, or tried to say, that the embarassment suffered by Duke and that created pressure to react was based on a runaway, made up version of events.
The LAX party, seen in its proper light, should not have led to cancelling the season, firing, the coach, libelling the players, wanted posters, facilitated death threats, 100s of thousands in legal bills, etc.
Not all of that was Brodheads fault, by any means. But he did nothing to stop it either and he had lots of opportunities to do so, even after the real story was well known.

Anonymous said...

Watch the "60 Minutes" out takes of the Brodhead interview. I felt a little less critical of him when I saw that. I DO think he believes the boys are innocent and I believe that he feels Nifong has abused his power. But I think, given his position and his feeling that the university should stay out of the legal process, he doesn't think he can say that directly. But he suggested that, if it is shown that these were false charges, the boys will have suffered a miscarriage of justice, and those who committed a fraud should answer for it.

Anonymous said...

5:06 PM, do you seriously believe that Brodhead has the power to stop Nifong from pursuing his case against the LAX players? If an army of highly trained and highly paid criminal defense lawyers and an avalanche of criticism from the national media have not convinced Nifong to drop the case, what makes you think that Brodhead can convince him to drop the case? If anything, he would probably just tell Brodhead to get lost because he seems to hate Duke.

Anonymous said...

5:33 PM, I agree that Brodhead comes across much better in the 60 Minutes out takes than he does in the tiny piece of the interview that they showed on TV, which makes me wonder why they edited the interview to show only that tiny piece.

Anonymous said...

To 5:42
Brodhead cannot make Nifong stop pursuing this case. He never could, but that is not the point. What he could have done, and still could do, is insist that his students be treated by the legal system in ways that are no worse than how other groups are treated and by what is specified in the U.S. Constitution.
Or are we going to hear that a University should "never interfere" with the legal system by speaking out against abuses?

Anonymous said...

I agree with 5:42--I have defended Brodhead to a certain extent, and I don't believe he could have done anything to stop Nifong. But I would like to see the university take a stand on the civil rights of its students. I would like to know more about the supposed advice to not tell parents or hire attorneys. And I would like to see Duke take a stand on the differential treatment of students charged with minor offenses. I think FODU could mount a constustuve effort to affect change in these areas.

Anonymous said...

12:19 PM, please tell me you are kidding. That article by Kristin Butler is an excellent example of the lack of coherent thought behind so many of the positions taken surrounding this lacrosse case. What is her theme? Her take away message? And would it square with her other thoughts on how the admissions process should be run at Duke? Read the comment by Trinity '92 on that article - Ms. Butler speaks without thinking. And if her view of athletes drives what you think of as general student anger towards athletes on Duke's campus, then there is a serious problem with Duke's students. After all, the engineers should be angry with all the low math SAT scores of the Trinity enrollees, and vice-versa for verbal SAT scores. "How dare they poison the purity of Duke's intellectual community as defined by..." what ever group the speaker belongs to.

What a self-centered view of the world.

Anonymous said...

When Brodhead wants to stop a trial, he sure tries. When Duke student was facing a trial in Armenia, Brodhead wrote a letter to Armenian president asking to not put that student on trial. But I guess Brodhead is not afraid to interfere with foreign governments, while ignoring things going on under his very own nose.

LearnedHand said...

interesting read tonight. i especially enjoy the fact that each and EVERY time a defender of broadhead chooses to "prove" his support for his students, h/she picks the SAME quote. is ONE quote all you can muster? especially when it is THAT weak, neutral, obvious statement? where is a statement like: "in this country, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. the duke students who have been indicted in this case have just as much right to this presumption as anyone"? or, how about making a statement TODAY showing some SPECIFIC support for these duke students - who, after all, are still presumed innocent?

i do not profess to have any inside information regarding broadhead, but i would be willing to bet that he doesn't like what is going on with these kids. he is extremely intelligent, a great speaker, and has a very good standing in the academic community. however, he has just begun his tenure at duke and, so far, he is off to a very shaky start. moreover, these credentials are EXACTLY why many (myself included) believe that he has a duty to say MORE. he HAS the ability, the position, the intellect and the inside knowledge to make a POWERFUL statement - so where is it? why not? and please don't say he has no need because he has already said the "innocent until proven guilty" tripe back in may. please. where is his leadership when it is truly needed?

on the other hand, i do have much information about other things at duke and can tell you that duke's annual giving is feeling the effects of this episode this year. whether our defenders of broadhead's position are willing to accept this or not, the fact is that broadhead is going to be judged on his fund-raising and his support from the board (who rely much on the alumni for views).

also of importance here - how many of the broadhead-defenders have pointed anyone to a statement from broadhead addressing the SERIOUS and TROUBLING statements by the durham police department regarding their unbelievable group-targeting of duke students? intresting - i may have missed it - but i don't think i can remember any.

lastly - please stop with all of the hyperbolic statements about community relations between duke and durham. obviously, there are, and have been, tensions, problems, etc. for decades. however, as many excellent writers, scholars, and even jay bilas (at the "round table" on friday) have pointed out, the relationship between duke and the durham community if much more positive and supportive than many today would have you believe.

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson, contrary to what is stated in the first paragraph of your article, I believe that Huston Baker was publicly reprimanded by Provost Peter Lange in an open letter response to Baker's open letter attack on the LAX players and the university. Also, I thought Peter Wood was captain of the LAX team at Harvard. If so, I would think he would be very sympathetic to the LAX players. If he had some of them in class and is not sympathetic, maybe they gave him good reason not to be sympathetic.