Her insinuation: the lacrosse players were behaving like gang members engaged in an anti-snitching campaign. “To the dismay of investigators,” she wrote, “none have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account [sic]. Maybe the team captains are right. Maybe the allegations are baseless. But why is it so hard to gather the facts? Why is any whisper of a detail akin to snitching?”
Roberts turned to the director of the Women’s Center at John Jay College for a guilt-presuming quote: “The idea of breaking ranks within a team is identified as weak. The bottom line is, your self-esteem is more valuable to you than someone else’s life.”
Of course, as we now know, two of the defense attorneys—Joe Cheshire and Bob Ekstrand—went to Mike Nifong in the days before Roberts penned her column saying their clients were willing to talk with the ex-DA. They did, in short, exactly what Roberts demanded.
Nifong’s response? The players could plead guilty, or identify the “attackers.” But if they wanted to give—to borrow a phrase—a “whisper of a detail” that didn’t support Crystal Mangum’s myriad, mutually contradictory stories, he wasn’t interested in what they had to say.
[Roberts' false suggestion, meanwhile, that “to the dismay of investigators none have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account” received a pass from the Times’ milquetoast ex-public editor, Byron Calame, who proclaimed that she “had ample reason for her recent concern about a ‘code of silence.’”]
In her column for today’s Times, however, Roberts takes a far different view of “snitches.” Her commentary deals with the Michael Vick case, and the parade of friends or relatives of the quarterback cooperating with the government—or, in Roberts’ parlance, “snitching.”
How does Roberts describe their behavior?
Vick’s cousin was “the first to fail” him. Then a friend with whom he had a falling out, Tony Taylor, was “the first to flip” on him. And finally, another old friend, Quanis Phillips, who pled guilty to dog-fighting charges on Friday, was “the latest to betray” Vick. [emphasis added in each sentence]
Fail him? Flip on him? Betray him? What happened to Selena Roberts, the arch-crusader for justice, who argued that friends and teammates needed to “come forward to reveal an eyewitness account,” and smash the culture in which “any whisper of a detail [is] akin to snitching?”
Last spring, Roberts described the lacrosse team as “a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.” How does she describe Vick? As a person of “disarming charm” who “employed friends and housed pals.” He has, she laments, been “abandoned, left to contemplate a plea deal that could imprison him and ruin his N.F.L. career.”
How should the NFL deal with the Vick situation, according to Roberts? “There has to be,” in words that would make the Group of 88 proud, “more dialogue, as in real discussion about race relations and trust.”
No guilt-presuming quotes in this article. Indeed, Roberts goes 180 degrees in the opposite direction. She turns to Cris Carter for the observation that “the league is still run by Caucasian males. What’s engrained is mistrust. So guys hold tight to friends who always had their back.”
Vick’s problems, Roberts implies, are the fault of a racist society. Or maybe, she suggests, Falcons owner Arthur Blank deserves the condemnation, for coddling Vick. And, of course, his friends are to blame (for failing and betraying him).
As a fierce advocate of “diversity” (except for herself), Roberts surely couldn’t be suggesting that people of different races should be held to different standards. So, the question now is: Will Selena come clean on what caused her “snitch switch”?