Saturday, August 25, 2007

Duff's Anniversary

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Duff Wilson’s egregiously slanted 5600-word New York Times magnum opus.

The article, billed as a major reassessment of the case, used as its spine the “straight-from-memory” Gottlieb report, which the sergeant subsequently admitted was produced months after the fact based on “contemporaneous” notes that were erased from his dry-eraser board. The Times has never acknowledged the flawed basis of its source material.

The article’s thesis: “By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong’s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.” As the Attorney General made clear when he dismissed the case and declared the players innocent, Wilson’s conclusion was factually incorrect: there was no “body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.”

One year later, the Times’ official version of the case file is that everyone “agreed” that racial slurs were used before 12.04am, or when Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were at the party.

Its official version of the case file is that Kim Roberts told police that Crystal Mangum was “clearly sober”—a direct quote—when Mangum arrived at the party.

Its official version of the case file is that Kim Roberts told police on March 22 (the date of her statement contradicting all important aspects of Mangum’s story/stories) that Mangum’s allegation was a “crock.”

All three of the above are factually incorrect, unsupported by the discovery file that Duff Wilson purported to review. (Though the article claimed that Wilson had read the entire file, he also made the peculiar request of one defense attorney—the night before the article appeared—for a full copy of the discovery file, supposedly for the purpose of “re-reviewing” it.) All three of the above items have never been corrected by the Times. The paper, apparently, would prefer to leave intact an incorrect record rather than admit that it made factual errors.

Wilson’s article had one other important effect: it unintentionally if dramatically increased the influence of the blogs’ role in the case. In recent weeks, an op-ed by journalism professor Michael Skube touched off a debate about the value of blogs; Skube had “the uneasy sense that the blogosphere is a potpourri of opinion and little more. The opinions are occasionally informed, often tiresomely cranky and never in doubt. Skepticism, restraint, a willingness to suspect judgment and to put oneself in the background -- these would not seem to be a blogger’s trademarks . . . Something larger is needed: the patient sifting of fact, the acknowledgment that assertion is not evidence and, as the best writers understand, the depiction of real life . . . But what lodges in the memory, and sometimes knifes us in the heart, is the fidelity with which a writer observes and tells. The word has lost its luster, but we once called that reporting.” As several prominent bloggers have pointed out, Skube’s op-ed was appallingly researched, almost an embarrassment to journalism.

Good work, proclaimed Skube, “demanded time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, perseverance. It’s not something one does as a hobby.” Yet if nothing else can be said about the blogosphere’s reaction to the lacrosse case, the better blogs committed themselves to “time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, perseverance.”

The reaction to Wilson’s story proved the point. The article appeared on the Times website just after midnight, August 25. At 3.20am, Liestoppers posted a remarkably comprehensive critique—one that’s worth rereading. Unlike the Times article, the critique wasn’t rife with factual errors. And, unlike the Times article, the critique has stood the test of time.

The Liestoppers critique—and similar ones published at this blog and elsewhere in the following 48 hours—were possible only because a number of bloggers had committed themselves to “time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, perseverance” in approaching the case. Wilson’s seemingly Olympian, neutral tone concealed a bias that revealed itself more clearly the more the reader knew the facts of the case.

Perhaps Skube wouldn’t consider the Liestoppers August 25, 2006 post original reporting. I suspect most fair-minded readers would disagree.

47 comments:

bill anderson said...

Good job, K.C. Indeed, the blogs were extremely important in this case precisely because the mainstream press simply was craven. The original set of stories in the N&O are so biased and so factually wrong that I doubt the writers could have made more mistakes had they deliberately been trying to be wrong.

Skube thinks that news reporters are more careful than bloggers, but I sure did not see that in this case. Remember, the NY Times is called the "newspaper of record," and yet its coverage simply was awful. Newsweek had its disgraceful moments, and the Hurled-Scum decided it would go down with The Story.

That the Times has refused to correct any of its errors tells me that despite what its editors claim, ideology drove its coverage. If it were not the pursuit ideology and the trying to fit the square pegs narrative into the round holes of truth, the editors would have been glad to issue retractions.

Instead, they have insisted that "we stand by our story," which is that there was a rape, and it was committed by Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans. The Times never did back off that claim, at least in spirit.

Anonymous said...

Journalism professors hate blogs and bloggers because they show up journalists, and the journalism "profession" itself as nothing but a giant fraud. Attitude and self-righteousness combined with a megaphone and nothing else.

Almost all of Skube's complaints are projection in its purest form.

Debrah said...

Well.....I suppose I should have checked out Liestoppers more often than I did throughout.

That was a really quick dissection of the Duff masquerade.

Anonymous said...

So Michael Skube is a journalism professor. Incredible.

Anonymous said...

Journalists can't stand the idea that a community of smart people with computers can replace them.

Anonymous said...

A decade ago, a NYT reporter called me about some research I had done. She asked me tough, detailed questons. After an hour's converation I was confident she thought I was legit and that my research was as honest as I could make it.
Her published story was excellent, offering insights I had not thought of.
Perhaps I should send her name to Mr.Duff.
Had my reporter been given the Duke assignment she would have exposed all there was to expose.
Why did the NYT choose Mr. Duff k? Surely, the NYT editors had some clues about Mr. Duff's lack of rigor and in-attention to detail.
JLJr

Anonymous said...

Despite what Skube posits, news reporters today are incredibly sloppy, superficial, and (most of all) biased toward the leftmost part of the political spectrum. There assuredly are bloggers who assume, presume, and otherwise act like news reporters, but the most influential blogs involved with the Nifong Knifing (DiW, Liestoppers, John in Carolina are noteworthy) conducted themselves as professionally as news reporters used to do when I worked closely with them on the streets of Chicago in the 1960's. The Duff Wilson amateurs seem to have gained ascendancy today which explains the state of journalism and the impending death of many once-great newspapers. If Wilson were even half as thorough as KC, he might stand a chance of one day becoming a grown-up newspaper reporter.

Michael said...

I have been trying to find a picture of Duff Wilson to
no avail. Could someone please tell me if he is white?
Thanks!

The reason I ask is my observation that all the major
players who made this case happen and who kept it
going (exploiting it for their own self-serving purposes)
were white (other than Precious): Nifong, Levicy, Gottlieb,
Himan, Linwood Wilson, Selena Roberts, Nancy Grace,
Tim Tyson. But I haven't been able to find a picture
of Duff Wilson.

Anonymous said...

1:50PM, JLJr
Oops, make that Mr. Wilson. I guess I was hung up on the eponymous possibilities of the Duffer. JLJr

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wilson is an investigative reporter, it is claimed, not the sports writer I thougt. For a pic, go to Google image search. Mr. Wilson apears in the first row with goatee. If the same Mr. Wilson as Duff, he also worked in Seattle.
JLJr.

Anonymous said...

Please add this to the blog research regarding Mr. Whichard:

In a 1994 reported case (Herman Best v. Duke University), Justice Whichard wrote for the majority of the NC Supreme Court. The Whichard opinion found that the plaintiff (a Duke student) was arrested with probable cause by the Durham Police Department even though the dissenting opinion by Justices Frye, Exum and Mitchell pointed out that at the criminal trial a jury of twelve, after considering the evidence in the case and weighing the credibility of the plaintiff and the officers, found that the defendant (presumably Duke, Durham or Durham County) instituted criminal charges against the plaintiff with malice and without probable cause. In this case, it appears Justice Whichard went with the whitewash and in effect overruled the finding of the jury at the criminal trial. This finding, of course, significantly limited the liability of the defendants and probably further emboldened the DPD to act without much fear of not being protected by the NC judicial system. Hopefully Mr. Whichard's committee reviewing the DPD will look at the current case with an objective eye. Based on the facts presented to date, the DPD needs a thorough house cleaning and those who perpetrated the hoax on the innocent Duke lacrosse players need to be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

There is a demonstrable left-wing political influence throughout the journalism profession.

This is reflected, at a minimum, in the overwhelming majority of campaign contributions to the Democratic party by journalists. Other indicators are the incredibly slanted coverage in many mainstream media outlets.

There is also demonstrable market demand for non-left leaning coverage. Note the talk-radio phenomenon (most right-leaning, failure of left-wing attempts), ratings for Fox News, and the majority popularity of right-wing blogs.

Blogs are busting the monopoly that journalists have enjoyed for decades. Left-wingers don't like market forces, partly because it removes their ability to manipulate to their own advantage. Note the recently failed attempt to revive the so-called fairness doctrine.

Expect the media business shakeup to dampen the influence of the left. And expect the decentralization of media control to expose the duplicitous left (as its doing already).

Anonymous said...

2:34

google images

Debrah said...

I don't think KC will be able to go to Tel Aviv.

He might have to postpone the trip to Israel indefinitely.

There's still so much left to report and investigate.

Three more books should do it.

LOL!

JWM said...

Anon @ 3:32 commented concerning the NC Supreme Court decision in Herman Best v. Duke University. Justice Whichard wrote for the majority.

Anon @ 3:32 said in part: "In this case, it appears Justice Whichard went with the whitewash and in effect overruled the finding of the jury at the criminal trial. This finding, of course, significantly limited the liability of the defendants and probably further emboldened the DPD to act without much fear of not being protected by the NC judicial system."

The court's majority and dissenting opinions can be found here.

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/nc-supreme-court/oct0694/dukeuniv

I hope some of you who are attorneys or who, like KC, have expertise regarding law will take a look at the decisions and share your opinions as regards what Anon @ 3:32 says.

To KC, Great post on the Duffer; and Liestoppers sure did a great job shredding as did you and Stuart Taylor.

John in Carolina

Debrah said...

Look at the very first sentence in Wiki on Mikey for all the world to see.

Sad and brutal. So sorry Mikey.

Trivia shows he's got a birthday coming up.

A disbarred-bearded-guitar-playing-Virgo.....with a bohemian smile.

Michael said...

To 3:15 and 3:39 , thank you!!

Yep, Duff Wilson is white just as I suspected, just
like the overwhelming majority of the other major
players who exploited the hoax for self-serving purposes
and ideological reasons.

One Spook said...

jwm @ 4:30 writes:

Anon @ 3:32 commented concerning the NC Supreme Court decision in Herman Best v. Duke University. Justice Whichard wrote for the majority.

I'm going to channel the great Libertarian Capitalist Professor Horwitz in going a bit against the grain, as it were, on this comment.

I think it is a really poor idea to comment on this blog or any other to speculate, before they have hardly even met or even come close to making any report, what kind of a report or findings the Whichard Committee might render, given the results of a case decided years ago about which Judge Whichard wrote an opinion?

That case may have had an entire different set of law and facts as the DPD activities now before the committee, and for anyone, including attorneys, to speculate about this as having any bearing on the Whichard Committee is ridiculous and silly.

There are a lot of "bogey-men and women" out there, folks; why invent more?

If you want to talk about the Whichard committee, why don't you probe their schedule and why they haven't met?

Given the information we've read here about potential lawsuits against the City of Durham, do you think that has any bearing on the Committee's activities and schedule?

Do you think the City of Durham might have realized that by continuing to meet and uncover facts about the activities of the DPD, they're about to shoot themselves in the head, if not the foot?

Do you think the committee will ever meet again?

One Spook

Anonymous said...

To One Spook,

Maybe you don't bet the ponies (gambling is in the news these days), but track records drive some bettors and some follow charts in making investments. Anonymous did not speculate on the outcome of the Whichard committe, he/she only asked that they be objective. Please be accurate in your comments.

Michael said...

Debrah: thanks for the link to the Wikipedia entry for
Mikey. It's pretty good -- not sure I could have written
it any better.

In particular, I like the fact that the Wikipedia entry
specifically attributes Nifong with intimidation of
witnesses. Linwood Wilson said in his deposition
that he didn't initiate anything on his own -- he
strongly implied that Nifong gave him the marching
orders on everything that he did.

When Linwood got canned, his lawyer said "he was
just doing his job" which I assume meant taking
orders from Nifong ...

Anonymous said...

KC Johnson said:

"Wilson’s seemingly Olympian, neutral tone concealed a bias that revealed itself more clearly the more the reader knew the facts of the case."

You may never become a conservative, but at least you know how it feels for us often when we read the NYT.

Debrah said...

To Michael--

Yes, the Wiki entry is extraordinarily comprehensive.

I still marvel at the number of people handling this case and who took orders from Mikey.....never questioning anything.

Nifong, no doubt, had been operating this way for years...while working with Jim Hardin.

The fact that Hardin recommended Mikey for the job says all one needs to know about Hardin.

Debrah said...

To Anonymous (7:26PM)--

KC has a clever writing style.

Understatement with a soft sarcastic flair.


If someone knew nothing about this case at all, the fact that both George Will and Michael Kinsley gave the book glowing reviews is all you need to know.

It's quite rare that those two are in agreement on anything.

AF said...

The Slimes, like many reporters, will never admit to factual inadequacies. Nevertheless, they are there for anyone who can read and do research. The MSM is accustomed to having blind loyalty (not to mention deaf and dumb).
Maybe Duff should be this years recipient of the Jayson Blair Accuracy in Reporting Award.
So many of these guys deserve each other. As for the Whitewash Committee, can anyone give a basis for hoping to have an open and honest investigation? Somehow, I just don't hold a lot of hope. Like the Herald Scum, there is just too much under-the-table good old boy politics at work in Durm.
Reason for optimism? Oh well.....

Anonymous said...

It isn't just Duff Wilson, the Olypian arrogance of the New York Times is horrible, as is that of the Duke Group88. Just make a pronouncement of guilt. The facts will take care of themselves. Niforn thought this way. It is almost impossible to challenge these asses of power, and yet, it was done. Thank God.

inman said...

There is a problem with the First Amendment protections afforded the fourth estate.

When those protections abridge, contravene or otherwise limit the protections afforded individuals, protections of their civil liberties or their civil rights, then the Constitution is burdened with a contradiction that requires adjudication in favor of the individual. Otherwise government assumes a definitional role greater than the individual, a role that any but the most egregious interpreter of the Consitution and the Declaration of Independence would find abhorent. Surely the guarantee of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" afforded each person requires that a proper interpretation of the Constitution must allow that individual freedom, due process and civil liberty trumps, supercedes and vanquishes the right of the fourth estate to irresponsible, damaging statements of fallacy and fantasy.

I further suggest that the ramifications of power granted the press requires self-regulation, due diligence and discretion; and the penalty for failure to adhere to adequate standards should not be economic.

False testimony in the press relating to crimes of violence, when confronted with substantial and documentary contra-evidence, should be of a nature similar to punishments imposed for crimes of violence, absent a mitigating statement of remorse and retraction.

Truth should always be allowed free reign. False testimony should receive substantial punishment.

Otherwise, the inherent contradiction in the Constitution remains extant.

Anonymous said...

Michael said...

Yep, Duff Wilson is white just as I suspected, just like the overwhelming majority of the other major players who exploited the hoax for self-serving purposes and ideological reasons.
-----------------------------------

As opposed, perhaps, to people of color like Karla Holloway, Wahneema Lubiano, Thavolia Glymph, Houston Baker, Mark 'TNI' Neal, Victoria Peterson, Chan Hall, Selena Sebring, Manju Whatshername, Grant Farred, Chauncey Nartey, the New Black Panthers, the Durham NAACP, Cash Michaels and so on ad nauseam, who were all models of restraint and scrupulously refrained from exploiting the situation?

What does the color of Duff Wilson's skin matter? What matters is that he wrote scandalously wrong-headed stuff and the Times refuses to correct it.

Anonymous said...

Michael, Wikipedia is a notoriously bad source of info.

I doubt KC would allow it as a source on a student's term paper.

One Spook said...

Anon @ 7:14 writes:

Anonymous did not speculate on the outcome of the Whichard committe, he/she only asked that they be objective. Please be accurate in your comments.

This is what anon said: This finding, of course, significantly limited the liability of the defendants and probably further emboldened the DPD to act without much fear of not being protected by the NC judicial system. Hopefully Mr. Whichard's committee reviewing the DPD will look at the current case with an objective eye. Based on the facts presented to date, the DPD needs a thorough house cleaning and those who perpetrated the hoax on the innocent Duke lacrosse players need to be held accountable.

Here's a tip for you: Few who comment on this Blog would be unable to connect those dots, Anon.

Why don't you just spell it out so everyone can see this "bogey-man/woman under every rock" type of thinking? Whichard's years ago finding limited the liabillity of previous defendants; HE BETTER BE OBJECTIVE AND NOT LIMIT THE LIABILITY OF THE DPD IN THE COMMITTEE REPORT!!!!!"

I'll promised to accurate in my comments if you promise not to assume that commenters and readers here are a bunch of idiots.

Oh, and I LOVE how you're now the "Anon" referring to the other "Anon" in the third person." Hahahahahaha!

Give all of us a break, will you?

Spook

KC Johnson said...

To the 9.25:

You're correct on both matters!

Anonymous said...

As a former Wikipedian, I must say that Wikipedia can sometimes be an excellent source of information but must never be counted on for it.

As an example, look at how many commenters have praised Nifong's Wikipedia entry, calling it "extraordinarily comprehensive" and the like. I look at it and I see large sections that were obviously written in December 2006 and have not been updated since (for instance, saying "The defense argues that the accuser has given at least a dozen different accounts of the incident". It's no longer something "the defense argues", it's something the NC Attorney General's office states outright as a fact in its Summary of Conclusions. I cannot find any place where the article makes any untrue statements -- but obviously, "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" is not a standard that this article meets. And sadly, from what I know of Wikipedia, even if someone with knowledge and ability invested the time necessary to fix it, it would be later "unfixed" by someone with some other agenda -- not even necessarily a potbanger, but perhaps just someone with a completely unjustified esteem for their own writing style who's sure that they can correct everything "wrong" with the article.

Anonymous said...

Is Wilson a Communist?

Anonymous said...

10:16 Is your inquiry concerning Linwood Wilson or Duff Wilson?

Steven Horwitz said...

Is anon at 1016 a communist?

Manabu Weinstein said...

I am a communist.

And people like the G88 give us a bad name!

When you think "communist," think of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Hoxha...but don't impugn the ideology by associating it with Lubiano, Holloway, Thugniggaintellectual, and mIRIAM cOOKE.

Thank you, comrades.

Anonymous said...

The only body of evidence in this case is that Duff Wilson is a terrible reporter who libeled the lacrosse players and that the New York Times, under its current CEO, is a mere shadow of the newspaper once edited by Abe Rosenthal. Disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

Is anon at 1016 a communist?

8/25/07 10:36 PM

--------------------------

Good one. But it pains me to admit Im beginning to look forward to the "communist questioner"

mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mac said...

Wilkson should have run the 1,850 pages by an attorney - an attorney-friend, if he had one (a friend, that is.) Considering the weight of the story, it would have been worth getting the assistance.

Debrah said...

TO Anonymous 9:25PM--

Such a spoiler you are. My Wiki-on-the-run tendencies are now to be dashed?

I think it's common knowledge that almost everything on the web--like cable news--is a moving target and subject to updates and/or corrections.

My extraordinarily comprehensive remark was actually referring to some of the trivia about Mikey as well as the details of his post-university early career. Things most people would not have known or cared about.

Whether or not the tenses of verbs were written to your liking--allowing for things covered or not covered months ago--is something I should think you'd want to bring to the attention of the people of Wiki since you say you were once associated with them.

I go to Wiki for the same reason I have been a Vanity Fair subscriber for years. There's lots of provocative and interesting information about many people and many topics.

Pop culture.

If I need to write a term paper in the near future, then I'll talk to you. LOL!

Yesterday, August 25....and now today, August 26....have been memorable days. Diva innocence has been eclipsed by the white light of the fact-checker-from-hell.

LOL!

I'll leave to your imagination what grand female threshold is marked by August 25.

:>)

Anonymous said...

OK , If Durham City has only 5 million dollars in liability coverage,where is the other 10 million dollars coming from ????

These 3 lads deserve at least 5 million each for a lifetime of crap from the "Something Happened Brigade" !

Will there be a local tax increase to supplement the lack of Durham city funds ?

Michael said...

To 9:13 pm: you're right -- you make good points.

Jan 2007 article about Kara Holloway:
http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_6857.shtml
(sorry you have to cut & paste in browser --
if someone could tell me the appropriate html
commands, I'd appreciate it -- thanks :)

Speaking of Carla Hallaway, there's an interesting
article from January 2007 at the link above/below.
Unbelievably she potrays herself a victim of ...
you guessed it ... the bloggers :)

Amazingly, she states that the administrations'
support for the students was not extended to
faculty -- what a totally warped sense of reality.
Holloway's arguments are "way hollow" lol

http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_6857.shtml

Anonymous said...

Here's the html:

<a href="http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_6857.shtml">Jan 2007 article about Kara Holloway</a>

That HTML markup results in:

Jan 2007 article about Kara Holloway

Incidentally, it is best not to paste a long URL also into the section for the link-bearing text which actually appears to the reader (where I inserted: Jan 2007 article about Kara Holloway). A long URL may fail to wrap around and may play havoc with a Webpage's paragraph widths.

Debrah said...

“We must work together to restore the fabric of mutual respect,” said Duke president Brodhead in a recent letter addressed to the Duke community. “One of the things I have most regretted is the way students and faculty have felt themselves disparaged and their views caricatured in ongoing debates.”

This guy really needs to be slapped.....hard.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the "a" is not supposed to be on a different line than the "href," it's just breaking that way here. Don't create the break on purpose, i.e., don't push the Return or Enter button there. If you do, then the link probably won't work. For info generally, do a search on html.

Michael said...

To 4:32 pm, THANKS! Thanks for the tip too!

Debrah: for sure!


--thanks again, Mike

AMac said...

Following in 6:34pm's footsteps, a Google search for html tutorial anchor tag will bring up a number of guides to the use of the anchor tag.

The use of http://www.tinyurl.com is another alternative.