In her screed against the lacrosse team in Sunday’s New York Times, Selena Roberts described the prosecution in the following manner:
attorney general’s office—which took over the Duke lacrosse case in the winter from Michael B. Nifong, one part district attorney, one part clueless Columbo—denied any decision [to drop the case] was imminent. North Carolina
How did the AG’s office take over the case? Roberts never says. That the Bar charged Nifong with engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” and conspiring to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence? Roberts doesn’t mention it.
How, instead, does she describe Nifong? “One part district attorney, one part clueless Columbo.” Columbo, played by Peter Falk, “put on a good show of being dim-witted so that the criminals and even his colleagues would be more at ease around him”; he was the “deceptively bumbling” lieutenant who used his appearance as the fool to solve the crime.
So, in describing Nifong as “one part clueless Columbo” and withholding any mention of the ethics charges against the district attorney, was Roberts intending to remind readers that, each week on TV, Columbo deliberately used his “clueless” nature to solve the crime?
Or was she just using a sloppy comparison?