The New York Times continues to go out of its way to present the case against Duke lacrosse players in the worst possible light.
The latest example came in yesterday’s sports section, and was the subject of an excellent critique in Times Watch. The article, by Peter Thamel, featured comments from
was quick to point out the complexities in the Duke case, which he predicted could be glossed over if the team were to make a run to the national championship. The Duke players hired strippers for their party and were heard by neighbors making racist remarks that night. Reports later surfaced that 15 team members had been arrested in the three years before the party in March 2006.
“Were heard by neighbors making racist remarks”? In fact, one player was heard by one neighbor making one racist remark—which, as we know now, came in response to a racial taunt from Kim Roberts. Of course, Duff Wilson (in his August 25 article), Mike Nifong, and Crystal Mangum have disputed this version of events, but none have too much credibility at this point.
“Fifteen team members had been arrested”? The Times neglected to mention that hundreds of other Duke students were arrested for the exact same offenses. And, as we know now, these arrests came as part of an official policy of the discredited Durham Police Department to arrest Duke students for offenses for which all other
The Times also gives two paragraphs to—of all people—Shadee Malaklou, treating her as a credible source. This is the same Malaklou who contended that “very rarely are the Duke lacrosse players not partying or drinking.” (She later admitted that she had only her own personal experience to substantiate the claim.) And the same Malaklou who asserted, after the AG dropped all charges and declared the players innocent, “In truth, even though the case has now been dropped, the events (and potential culprit) are still unclear.” At some point, it would seem to me, people who make repeated unsubstantiated or inaccurate statements cannot be treated as credible figures, especially since the Times article makes no mention of Malaklou’s past inaccuracies.
A final point of irony in the article. The headline notes that with its march to the Final Four, the team is the “focal point again.” Unsurprisingly, the article contains no mention of how the Times sports section helped make the team the “focal point,” through slanted and factually inaccurate stories and columns.
Obviously, all papers need balance in their articles, and any article on the team will mention allegations about the team's behavior. But given the paper's record in inflaming public condemnation of the team throughout most of 2006, is it too much to expect now that the Times will at least be accurate in its condemnations of the team, or quote from critics who have a minimum amount of credibility?