An astonishing statement from sportswriter John Feinstein about Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans Friday on radio station KNBR:
I think they’re probably guilty of everything but rape.
His evidence for this assertion, which, taken literally, suggests that the sportswriter believes they were guilty of sexual assault and kidnapping (which certainly fall under the heading of “everything but rape”)?
I didn’t see any regret on their part that they were an out-of-control team for a long time.
Feinstein apparently missed the Coleman Committee report, which showed that team members had a disproportionately high rate of citations for minor alcohol-related offenses—behavior not atypical of many Duke students. It also noted, “By all accounts, the lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined, and respectful athletic team . . . Their reported conduct has not involved fighting, sexual assault or harassment, or racist behavior.” The committee praised the team’s record of community service and strong academic performance. Hardly the picture, it would seem, of an “out-of-control team.”
I haven’t seen anybody say, “You know what, maybe we acted badly.”
Feinstein apparently missed the March 28, 2006 statement by the captains in which they apologized for “having the party on March 13 which has caused so much anguish for the Duke community and shame to our families and ourselves.” He also apparently missed Dave Evans in the first 60 Minutes interview similarly apologizing.
To review: in a radio interview, John Feinstein made a stunning allegation--that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans were “guilty of everything but rape.” The only evidence he had for this allegation was that he had not heard an apology (even though the players repeatedly apologized). Nor, it appears, did he ever read the Coleman Committee report. Why let facts gets in the way of the argument?
“At least express,” Feinstein continued, “some regret over the behavior that might have led to this disastrous evening. And I really don’t want to hear that they’re victims and martyrs, and that their lives have been ruined. Because a lot of conservative white America will jump on them and make them into heroes now. They’ll do just fine.”
In other words, because the three players received support from “conservative white America” (surely an unusual description of people like Jim Coleman or Jeralyn Merritt) all is OK in the end.
Feinstein mentioned at the start of the interview that he was speaking to the host over the telephone from Camden Yards, where he was watching an Orioles game with his daughter. I wonder if he would be similarly cavalier if a race-baiting prosecutor decided to nifong his daughter.
Feinstein did criticize both Nifong and Duke, as he had in his Washington Post article. But in the end, he held to a position so characteristic of people in this case: “I don’t think I’ve been proven wrong.”
Does that mean that Feinstein continues to believe—as he stated in March 2006—that Duke should immediately revoke the scholarship of every member of the lacrosse team, an over-the-top reaction exceeded only by Group of 88 stalwart Houston Baker’s demand that the entire team be immediately expelled from the school? Apparently so. He decided not to bring up his own rush-to-judgment reaction in his KNBR interview. After all, “I don’t think I’ve been proven wrong.”
Hat tip: Bob in P.