Monday, August 11, 2008

Airbrushing

When asked for an anecdote of why history is important, I usually cite a story from March 1948, shortly after a coup that installed totalitarian rule in Czechoslovakia, when the Czech Communist Party (KSČ) convened a celebratory gathering in Prague’s Old Town Square. Tens of thousands braved chilling temperatures to hear KSČ leader Klement Gottwald speak. The new communist foreign minister, Vladimír Clementis stood beside Gottwald on the podium, and gave up his fur hat to shield the prime minister’s bare head from the cold.

Four years later, a wave of anti-Semitic show trials occurred throughout the Eastern Bloc; Czechoslovakia experienced the most spectacular purge. In late 1952, the government denounced Clementis, KSČ first secretary Rudolf Slánský, and twelve other prominent Communists as “Trotskyite-Zionist-Titoist-bourgeois-nationalist traitors, spies, and saboteurs.” Eleven of the fourteen arrested leaders were Jews. All were found guilty in show trials; eleven, including Slánský and Clementis, were executed.

The trials’ outcome required creating a new, politically correct, version of the past. Propagandists eliminated the executed party members from communist history books. Clementis, for instance, was airbrushed from the photograph at the Prague demonstration hailing the coup. In the KSČ’s version of history, all that remained of the former foreign minister was the cap that he had placed on Gottwald’s head.

The true story of Clementis and his fur cap comes from the opening of Czech dissident Milan Kundera’s novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. To one of the novel’s characters, the tale showed how “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” For historians, Clementis’ fate illustrates the willingness of totalitarian regimes to alter the past to align with their contemporary political interests; and, from the other side, the need for scholars to resist such efforts.

In the lacrosse case, the Group of 88 most blatantly imitated the Czech propagandists. Beginning in late 2006—as the case to which they had attached their cause began to implode, and the African-American Studies Department had removed the ad from its homepage, where it had been posted for 183 days—we witnessed a furious attempt to create a new, politically convenient, meaning of the ad.

Airbrushed out was Wahneema Lubiano’s e-mail soliciting signatures for the ad. In its stead, Group apologists described the ad as a general commentary on society. Airbrushed out was the overwhelming, guilt-presuming early media coverage. In its stead, Group members deemed the ad a necessary corrective to the anti-black stereotypes and defenders of the lacrosse players that allegedly dominated the early media coverage. Airbrushed out was the way in which the unequivocal statement that something “happened” to Crystal Mangum took a position on the case. In its stead, Group members affirmed that the line was merely a commentary on Mangum’s public “drunkenness.”

Alas, unlike Gottwald and his propagandists, the Group and its apologists can’t remove the many documents and images from the time of the ad. As a result, their attempted airbrushing has only made the Group look worse.

A more subtle type of airbrushing has occurred in the media, and in commentary about the media’s role in the case—as three recent items bring to light.

1.) From the Q&A session of the recent SEALS panel: the media coverage of Mike Nifong’s abuses, and in particular the 60 Minutes broadcast. The basic line: attention to the players’ exoneration proved the media’s class bias, since poor black victims of prosecutorial misconduct don’t usually get interviewed by 60 Minutes.

It’s quite true that poor black victims of prosecutorial misconduct don’t usually get interviewed by 60 Minutes. Prosecutorial misconduct often isn’t revealed until the post-appellate stage; covering it well requires reporters who both understand and can explain procedural developments, and it rarely makes for exciting television. Given this roadblock, why did Nifong’s misbehavior attract attention?

It could be that the players benefited from their class. Far more likely, however, are other explanations that advocates of the new narrative have airbrushed out.

(1) 60 Minutes detected a good story, in that a massive amount of initial coverage not only presumed guilt, but made deep moral judgments from the presumption of guilt, and was stoked by Nifong and his enablers. Most “normal” cases of prosecutorial misconduct attract little or no initial media attention, and certainly not the tens of thousands of articles that occurred in the first two months of this case.

(2) The 60 Minutes team—the late Ed Bradley and producer Michael Radutsky—don’t exactly have reputations as defenders of white privilege.

2.) Courtesy a recent post by Lead and Gold’s Craig Henry:

I’ve posted a lot on the Duke lacrosse fiasco. many of those posts have focused on the News and Observer whose reporting did much to launch and prolong the hoax.

One might expect the paper to learn their mistakes. They have not. The latest proof is this bizarre post on perp walks.*

Dan Barkin writes:

There is a good chance that the perp being walked today will never see the inside of a prison cell when all is said and done.

The feds know this, in the back of their minds, which may be one big reason for the handcuffs and the cameras. Because even if the accused [white collar criminals] win in court, they’ll still have to live down the images of being perp walked being seen on CNN by everyone who went to high school with them.

The N&O still hates the presumption of innocence when it comes to politically correct defendants. Just like the “privileged white athletes” in the hoax frame, rich white businessmen can never be truly innocent to the N&O. That makes it OK to ruin their reputation before the trial and after an acquittal.

* I first wrote about perp walks long before the lacrosse case. See here.

One of the most distasteful examples of media behavior came on the day that Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were arrested—the breathless coverage of their (arranged) “perp walk” followed by journalists all but clawing the Durham County Sheriff for a copy of their mugshots (we have a photo of the latter in UPI.) How can any newspaper that covered that event continue to justify covering “perp walks,” which serve no purpose other than humiliation?

[Update, 1.27pm: After an e-mail from an astute reader, a couple of points of clarification.

(1) I didn't mean to imply that the N&O had unfairly covered the lacrosse case perp walks, although my language didn't at all make that clear (the "that event" to which I meant to refer was the arrest of Seligmann and Finnerty). In fact, the troubling "perp walk" coverage in the lacrosse case that remains in my mind was from CNN/Headline News and MSNBC. I apologize for the confusion.

(2) I would have liked to have seen a commitment by Barkin not to use "perp walk" photos, but the post does not mean to suggest that the N&O's record in using such photos is unusual. Indeed, as any regular reader of the Times could attest, the Times' record in this regard is appalling.]

(3) Perhaps the clearest case of media airbrushing, however, came in an AP article that from a couple of days ago. The headline “Race sometimes a problem in eyewitness IDs.” The article discussed a North Carolina case of a white woman who was raped by a black man, Ron Cotton, and then identified the wrong man in the lineup. DNA testing freed the man, but only after he spent a decade in jail. (A rape did occur in this case.) The victim and the man she falsely identified are now writing a book, Picking Cotton.

The article discusses how DNA exoneration of wrongly convicted people often (more than 75% of the time) involves cases where convictions were obtained in part through mistaken eyewitness IDs. From the AP article: “Of those, nearly half, roughly seven dozen, involved a person of one race wrongly identifying someone of a different color.” The article discusses the increased danger of cross-racial IDs, and contains a quote from Barry Scheck about the particular dangers of white IDs of black people.

Then came this item:

This year, North Carolina became the first state to standardize identification procedures. That includes preventing the police officer who is investigating the crime from conducting photo identifications with witnesses and requiring that lineup photographs be shown one after another rather than in groups of six.

What case provided the final impetus for this change? The AP doesn’t say—the lacrosse case gets airbrushed from history. (If anything, the article implies that the Picking Cotton case brought about the change.) This editorial decision was particularly odd given the lacrosse case demonstrated the dangers of cross-racial IDs, most notably when Crystal Mangum twice stated with 100 percent certainty that she saw Brad Ross at the party, even though Ross could provide unimpeachable electronic proof that not only did he not attend the party, he wasn’t even in Durham County that night.

It seems that the lacrosse case doesn’t fit into the article’s framework that one type of cross-racial misidentification is where the media should confine its attention.

What makes the items above particularly depressing is that the AP and the N&O joined the Chronicle as the top performers among the print media in the case. And while, as Craig Henry points out, political correctness appears to be behind the N&O’s approach to perp walks, it’s hard to characterize the AP as a paragon of political correctness. Indeed, the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor, as Talking Points Memo has detailed convincingly.

There is, in this respect, a difference between the media airbrushing—which, it seems, comes more from a subconscious worldview—and that of the Group of 88, which obviously stems from more malevolent intent. But in the end, the result seems to be the same.

52 comments:

Debrah said...

Such a powerful post.

No one else can bring the elements of an issue together quite this way.

Everyone should be steaming right now.

What is it going to take for the lacrosse players to get true unadulterated justice?

Will the treatment they endured EVER be acknowledged?

jamil hussein said...

"it’s hard to characterize the AP as a paragon of political correctness. Indeed, the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor, as Talking Points Memo has detailed convincingly."


Sorry, KC. This must be the most absurd statement from you so far (unless it was meant to be a joke). Are you seriously claiming that AP is not the paragon of PC and it favors McCain?

OMG.
AP's bias towards The One is almost as bad as in Obamaweek (I mean Newsweek). btw, some AP reports indicated that Spitzer was a republican, its Iraq reporting (including atrocities according to Police Captain Jamil Hussein) was total BS, it used Al-Qaida and Hezbollah agents as its reporters in Lebanon and Iraq, in Lacrosse Hoax case it was a paragon of political correctness and lies.

I just have to assume that someone hacked into the website and edited this. I can't believe anyone could claim this with straight face.

bill anderson said...

In my opinion, modern perp walks are this society's equivalent of the stocks that some of our ancestors used to employ in order to humiliate others. The purpose is (1) to make someone look guilty, as people who are "innocent" would not be wearing handcuffs, and (2) to humiliate the person who is charged.

Don't forget that Nifong wanted to have these kids arrested while they were in class, just to humiliate them further. And we might want to remember the spectacle of the news media being at the police station when the lacrosse players came to talk to police and give DNA swabs.

Debrah said...

I had never seen this website before.

These comments are from last fall when everyone thought we were going to just let KC leave us.


"The elite appeal of a blog like this can never, in other words, replace traditional storytelling journalism.

Johnson's passion about truth and justice sometimes got far too steamy for my tastes."


I love it!

Anonymous said...

I have almost given up reading the AP byline stories that appear in our small regional newspaper with their politbureau style editorial "news" stories. Maybe I need to pay attention but I agree with 8:45 on this one. Josh Marshall with TPM always seemed to be a hack to me, and a believer of conspiracy theories, this AP thing being one.

Anonymous said...

The humiliation of the perp walk can be seen as a prosecutorial and police weapon because it is something that the person who endures it is left with forever. It is there on the nightly news, in video archives, indelibly etched in the minds of friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and in the psyche of the individual involved. In other words, whether the person is innocent or guilty of the crime for which he was accused, the guilt of the perp walk remains forever.
Spitzer made great use of the perp walk in his celebrated cleaning up of Wll Street. Many of his cases were of dubious nature but he quickly realized that he could instill fear (and perhaps cooperation) if the white collar types faced a searing public humiliation of the likes that they had never seen - how better to do that then to arrest and notify the media so that there would be a gauntlet of photographers flashing away and the major news networks with their cameras and mikes thrust into the faces of those led away to central booking.
Why wasn't Nifong able to arrest the falsely accused lax players in their classrooms? My guess is that even for the spineless Broadhead, that was too much and the remote chance that there might be no substance to the charges would come back to bite him big time if the police were allowed to invade the classroom.
cks

One Spook said...

Oh my .... this was an excellent post until you reached a most bizarre conclusion at the end ... O'Henry would be proud of you, KC.

Many of us who are passionate about the wrongs in the lacrosse fiasco have, for the most part, quietly tolerated your conflating the issues in the case with gratuitous plugs for your preferred presidential candidate.

Of course, it is your blog, and you can co-mingle this case with whatever cause you prefer.

Permit me to apply a bit of erudite KC Johnson logic to your statement, to wit: “Indeed, the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor, as Talking Points Memo has detailed convincingly.”

The talking points memo details a very liberal writer’s interpretation out of context of an e-mail conversation between a presidential staffer and a single AP reporter.

How this single conversation in 2004 with one single reporter has “almost laughingly tilted” the entire wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign, KC doesn’t say.

It is beyond ridiculous to arrive at such a conclusion even if we all agree that this particular reporter is chummy with any political party member.

How about the hundreds of other wire service reporters who file stories daily that are more than laughingly tilted in favor of ANY Democratic Party candidate in any race in America? Even the most cautious estimates of the political preference of mainstream media reporters indicate that this preference is Democrat in over 80% of the newsroom reporter and editors in America. How these facts square with the entire wire service’s coverage, KC doesn’t say.

How about the frequent charges from the other main Democrat contenders (even before ANY Republican candidate made that charge!) that Obama has been given a “Free Pass” from the press? KC doesn’t say.

How is it that Obama’s “free pass” has suddenly and mysteriously been given to McCain because of one reporter’s chummy chat four years ago with a key White House aide who has no role in McCain’s campaign? KC doesn’t say.

Asking your readership to believe this convoluted logic is tantamount to asking us to believe that suddenly and mysteriously all of the Black people in America now recognize and firmly believe that this entire lacrosse hoax was a lie; that nothing happened to dear Crystal; and that no crime of any kind was committed in the lacrosse case --- all because KC Johnson said so.

Where is KC Johnson and what have you done with him?

One Spook

Robert said...

"Indeed, the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor, as Talking Points Memo has detailed convincingly."

KC

This statement shocks me no end. My faith in you and my admiration for you just took a big hit.

Gary Packwood said...

Yearning for Chairman Mao's Little Red Book
::
It is remarkable how many of us yearn so strongly for the Little Red Book - the final word from above ...about the Duke lacrosse rape hoax.

Historians do have a difficult job.

On the one hand they are being pushed and pulled by those of us who yearn for the Little Red Book of truth yet on the hand other hand they are pushed and pulled by those of us who wish to write and revise that Little Red Book in our own minds and hearts...with the help of historians.

It really never occurred to me to be disappointed in what a historian writes because of my own yearning to search out another point of view as a result of what I have read.

And I don't expect to ever find the absolute and whole truth about the Duke lacrosse rape hoax...just the opportunity to search for the truth with the help of scholars such as KC.

But I have a better understanding now...why some folks need that Little Red Book.
::
GP

Debrah said...

"This statement shocks me no end. My faith in you and my admiration for you just took a big hit."


Why should this surprise anyone?

Talk about partisan.

Just because I am an Obama supporter, the Diva has been the receiver of silly rants and almost comical distancing-from-previous exchanges by those who have come to this forum for months, or years now.....

.....and have enjoyed KC's unmatched work.

Even if I didn't like Barack Obama, I would not make an issue of KC's VERY INFREQUENT allusions to the political stage.......

.......simply because someone like KC is entitled to the respect he has given his work and readers on this forum.

BTW, if anyone wants to witness pure seething partisan politics 24/7, nonstop, just pay a visit to a few of the other blogs who were also interested in getting justice for the lacrosse players.

I have disagreed with KC on some occasions, but deep down I know that 99% of the time he is right.....and the fact that he is not afraid to allow others their views---unlike most blog authors---gives him even more credibility in everything that he does.

KC's intellectual sophistication and purity are unmatched.

Are the media tilted toward McCain?

Are the media tilted toward Obama?

Everyone knows that the media are mostly Obama supporters---by their own admission. However, are we not to believe that there are also journalists who tilt coverage toward McCain?

What is wrong with pointing that out?

But you guys can continue on with this....."Oh, I don't like what you said! You are not the same person you used to be! I don't like you now! Boo Hoo!"

KC Johnson said...

A very quick reply to a few of the above comments:

I included the AP item only to point out that there was clearly more doctrinaire news organizations than the AP (the Times comes to mind), and I'm not sure, therefore, that a general response of "left-wing bias" could explain the AP's conduct.

On the issue of the AP tilting toward McCain since Ron Fournier took over the AP Washington bureau in early spring--that doesn't strike me as a terribly controversial statement, just as stating that MSNBC has tilted in favor of Obama wouldn't be considered terribly controversial. For more, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Anonymous said...

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press. It stops at sensational formulas.

--Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Harvard address, 1978.

Solzhenitsyn was the historian who preserved the truth about the Soviet Gulag, when the rest of the world had forgot.

dave in l.a.

Anonymous said...

"Almost laughably tilted" is strong language, KC. And, even if true (which I dispute), where is your strong language against the outrageous pro-Obama tilt by the rest of the mainstream media?

Your pro-Obama stance calls your judgment into question for lots of your readers; not your scholarship, your judgment as an historian.

Jim in San Diego said...

KC,

It is unfortunate you feel the need to drop your view of this years presidential race into an otherwise excellent analysis of "airbrushing" in history.

In terms of your theme, the reference to media coverage of candidate Obama was pretty much a gratuitous stretch.

For some reason, other Hoax bloggers have done the same (see JinC, for example, who supports the other candidate, and who has on occasion similarly inserted his partisan political views into his Hoax coverage).

I have written to John in Carolina, and I write to you, that most of us are here because of a deep interest in the injustices revealed by your fabulous reporting, not because of our political views.

It seems a great mistake to turn the Hoax issues into party politics. You are absolutely guaranteed to alienate exactly half of your audience by straying into party politics on your blog.

Since we, your disciples, appear to be a minority anyway, this would be sad and counterproductive.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Is Obama a Communist?

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Professor Johnson's point.
The one paragraph mentioning a journalist who favors McCain just isn't that controversial.

What is all the fuss about?

lpj

Anonymous said...

"For historians, Clementis’ fate illustrates the willingness of totalitarian regimes to alter the past to align with their contemporary political interests; and, from the other side, the need for scholars to resist such efforts."

And who might these scholars be?
Would the group of 88 define themselves as Scholars? Would the silent Duke faculty define themselves as Scholars? Are there no historians in these two groups?
Stalin did the same thing with photos. It rumored that he was assassinated by that great Scholar Laurenty Beria. Now that's resistance.

One Spook said...

KC writes: I included the AP item only to point out that there was clearly more doctrinaire news organizations than the AP (the Times comes to mind), and I'm not sure, therefore, that a general response of "left-wing bias" could explain the AP's conduct.

Thank you for that clarification. And, as KC might say, "I urge you to reread my comment."

What you posted was (and what you have now cited in seven more links to the uber-liberal Talking Points Memo Blog) is that one AP editor is being accused by one ultra liberal writer of favoring McCain.

From this, you conclude that " ... the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor, ..."

You do not conclude that one editor's coverage is "tilted" but rather, the "wire service's coverage" is tilted. The entire "wire service."

That conclusion is absurd.

Any reasonable person can and should expect some level of bias in the media.

I don't even waste my time reading some of the ultra conservative blogs that continually co-mingle their coverage of the lacrosse hoax with political opinion.

And I agree with GP above who writes, And I don't expect to ever find the absolute and whole truth about the Duke lacrosse rape hoax...just the opportunity to search for the truth with the help of scholars such as KC.

KC, one of your initial shocks very early on in your coverage of this case was that you expected a "dispassionate examination of the facts" surrounding this lacrosse incident from, among others, professors and the media.

I (and I know other loyal DIW readers who would agree with me) do not find your gratuitous references to the Obama campaign as constituting a "dispassionate examination of the facts."

One Spook

Anonymous said...

FYI - Zack Greer Will Use 5th Year At Bryant With Pressler

http://chroniclesports.wordpress.com/2008/08/12/zack-greer-leaves-duke-enrolls-at-bryant-for-pressler/

Debrah said...

TO Jim Peterson--

You are really stretching to draw any kind of comparison between KC and the other blog.

I mean, really.

For me, I am personally experiencing a bit of outrage from the attacks over mention of something inside one paragraph.

I just don't have KC's calm restraint.

This is his blog and once in a great while why on earth doesn't he express a personal point of view?

Or one that most of the commenters don't share?

How selfish and insular to read these subtle threats of blog retreat.

LOL!

This post is so fantastic. Last night I just fell off my Diva chair from the vibe of its ingenious construction.

This illustrates the ocean of historical events housed inside one mind.

One Spook said...

lpj @ 3:16 writes:

I must agree with Professor Johnson's point.
The one paragraph mentioning a journalist who favors McCain just isn't that controversial.

What is all the fuss about?


I would ask you to please reread my posts.

The point is that, because of "a journalist who favors McCain" KC concludes that the "the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor."

Many of us remember that KC took a female Duke professor to task for suggesting that, because a few students openly supported the lacrosse players, thus the entire Duke campus supported the lacrosse players.

KC's logic in the pentultimate paragraph of this posting is precisely the same tortuous logic that the Duke professor advanced in her lame argument.

That's what the "fuss is all about."

One Spook

Anonymous said...

Is Lubiano a Communist?

KC Johnson said...

To O.S. 5.17/5.27:

Fournier is editor of the Washington bureau of the AP--the position essentially that Tim Russert had at NBC. He is in charge of the wire service's coverage of the campaign. To whom else would one look to determine the AP's approach to the campaign, especially since Fournier has been quite aggressive in calling for the AP to abandon its traditional just-the-facts approach in covering presidential politics?

I admit I fail to see the relationship between Fournier's role and my taking "a female Duke professor to task for suggesting that, because a few students openly supported the lacrosse players, thus the entire Duke campus supported the lacrosse players." No one ever asserted (even Prof. Chin) that the students who openly supported the lacrosse players were the boss of the Duke campus, or that it was their job was to set Duke's approach to the lacrosse case, or, indeed, if even if they desired to do so, the students had the power to shape Duke's policy.

To reiterate, again: I don't consider my comment--a very minor element in the post, inserted only to suggest that the AP is hardly a paragon of "left-wing media"--particularly controversial, just as it wouldn't be controversial to assert that MSNBC's coverage is tilted in Obama's favor. I haven't seen any examples in the comment thread to suggest that the AP's recent coverage has been tilted in Obama's favor, or, for that matter, has reflected the AP's more traditional just-the-facts approach to covering campaign matters.

Anonymous said...

KC
I believe that R. Cotton was the AA man wrongly picked in the line-up, the post seems to suggests he was the rapist.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Spook, I admire your vast reserve of details concerning this case and what KC has written. I also admire your enthusiasm and your ability to present your arguments well.

I just don't see a relationship between this one paragraph being discussed and the example of the professor.

People who disagree politically are making a big deal about this for that reason only. If Fournier has a high level position any coverage will likely be tilted his way.

Nothing controversial about mentioning that. Professor Johnson never tried to say that the MSM is not tilted toward the left, generally.

I am struck by some of these angry comments.

lpj

Jim in San Diego said...

Debra,

Your reaction to my plea proves my point. Here we are, you and I, arguing amongst ourselves over political issues.

It is not just you and me. Look at the reaction of other regulars. We are at each others' throats, figuratively speaking.

You have been one of the single most productive contributors with your on-the-spot reporting and research of the Hoax issues.

I have less frequently but equally fervently contributed in reaction to discovery in Durham and elsewhere a world of injustice, conceit, and deceit revealed, largely, here.

So, what do we have to argue about? Party politics? Who cares?

I am not here, in time or energy, because of party politics.

We are so few, let us not be divided by issues not central to why we are here.
\
Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

This is the most "Tweedledum vs. Tweedledee" election since 1976 (Ford vs. Carter). The best reason to vote for either McCain or Obama is to preserve divided government -- keeping one party in control of each end of Pennsylvania Avenue. For those who would cite judicial appointments, may I remind them that Pres. Ford appointed John Paul Stevens who was for years (and may yet be) the most liberal member of the Supreme Court.

I don't want to vote for a knave or a fool (take your pick as to which is which -- strong cases can be made both ways). I'll probably vote for Bob Barr.

RRH

Anonymous said...

Since references have been made to "airbrushing" its a bit amusing to me that no reference is made to the mainstream media's "airbrushing" of the John Edwards story even though abundant evidence existed for several months.

Even the NY Times ombudsman admits that the NYT did not try hard enough to verify the story.

""I think The Times — like The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, major networks and wire services — was far too squeamish about tackling the story. The Times did not want to regurgitate the Enquirer’s reporting without verifying it, which is responsible. But The Times did not try to verify it, beyond a few perfunctory efforts, which I think was wrong.""

The LA Times, after initially forbidding its bloggers from discussing the story, assigned an intern rather than a seasoned investigative reporter.

Anonymous said...

Airbrushing occurs in many forms - either out right removal of people from pictures (the Russians were quite adept at that though they are by no means the only ones who employ photoshop) or in my particular favorite form - revisionist history. We see it at work right now in the N&O's story about their "coverage" of the Edwards story. It is still being employed in the Duke case as well - one has only to look at the language that is sued in the court filings by Gorelick and company.
THe duty of a free press, and why so many constitutional exceptions have been afforded the media, is that they do serve as the watchdog of what goes on and they have the duty to report in a non-partisan way and to dig as aggresssively as possible (within the confines of the law) to get at the truth - as much as one is able. Unfortunately, the msm spends more of its time today complaining about the low regard (justified) in which they are held, the elimination of resources so that they can cover the news, and how people will not cooperate with them thus the reason that they cannot cover the news (that, in essence is the reason why the Edwards story,according to the N&O, was not covered as it should have been). There seems to be the desire for glory (to be a Woodward and Bernstein) without the necessary hard work to get the story - the National Enquirer aside. I find it interesting that Clark Hoyt basically stated that the NY Times couldn't verify the rumors with either Hunter or Edwards so therefore they decided not to air the allegations. They didn't bother to see that in fact a police report was filed after the altercation in the hotel involving NE reporters. However, they did not talk with either Crystal Mangum or attempt to really check out the evidence that showed that the three lax players were innocent - instead, they relied on the lies put out by Nifong and the DPD. In both cases, there was an overrriding narrative or fiction that had to be maintained. In the former that John Edwards is a caring, devoted family man who could no more cheat on his cancer stricken wife than he could fly to Jupiter. In the latter, that white, northern, priviliged, male athletes were exercising the plantation mentality that they could have their way with colored women and that this would not go unpunished.
cks

Debrah said...

TO Jim Peterson--

I don't think it's such a bad thing that commenters disagree on some things.

Friction, for lack of a better word, is good. Why do you think Wonderland became so popular in the first place?

There has always been something going on.

I just don't feel like I'm "home" unless I come to Wonderland. It's always at the top of the list of "history" on my computer......from which all Diva activity springs!

On some of the other blogs---who, btw, most often turn to KC for the real analysis of this case---I have been really quite shocked by the muzzling of differing opinions that goes on by the authors of the blogs.

I enjoy arguing. It's one reason why these fora exist in the first place......so I would not censor anyone just for presenting bombastic opinions which don't align with mine.

In this vein, I wish KC would reveal more about himself. I'd like to know what his personal opinions are on lots of issues.

Although, he's been devilishly wise not to present them here earlier because doing so with frequency would have been a distraction.

KC has allowed the rest of us, within reason, to have our say on many things on the periphery......so why would anyone be upset when he posts how he feels about something?

Always-distant-detached-cut-and-dried-KC-all-the-time makes for a very dull boy.

LIS!

Anonymous said...

I also disagree with the idea that the press is tilted towards McCain - the media is what I perceive an incompetent snake-oil salesman like Obama in the incredible position of being a shoe-in in the White House.

However, I believe that Prof. Johnson has demonstrated in the last two years such bravery, such a fair mind, such a devotion to truth, such a willingness to submit to the dictates of reasoning, that we who disagree on something shouldn't pick on him unproductively. He is entitled to his own political opinions and analogies.

For what is worth, my opinion of Prof. Johnson is EXACTLY the same as it was, no matter what he says about other matters ( :.

Anonymous said...

From today's _Chronicle of Higher Education_:

"2 U. of Missouri Professors Named in Lawsuit Resign

Two tenured faculty members at the University of Missouri at Kansas City have agreed to resign to avoid disciplinary action, one year after the university paid $1.1-million to settle a lawsuit alleging rampant sexual harassment by those professors."

Good thing the G88 _only_: lied, defamed innocent students, engaged in grade retaliation, violated numerous policies in the Faculty Handbook, were complicit in the attempt to frame innocent students for numerous felonies, aided and abetted the firing of a successful and innocent lacrosse coach.

Duke Prof

jamil hussein said...

My nickname (Jamil Hussein) was inspired by the ridiculously fabricated AP stories coming out of Iraq: AP had a mysterious source - local police captain JH who was everywhere confirming atrocities and destroyed mosques. However, when the actual reporters (such as M. Totten) actually went to see and take pictures of the "destroyed" mosques the next day, they were intact. The purpose of these AP fabrications was to help leftists view that Iraq was in a civil war and war is lost - politically motivated fabrications.

AP is one of the most politically correct left-wing media sources ever. Its selection of headlines is pathetic. How anybody can claim that AP is actually the opposite is beyond me. This reminds me that KC wrote that (before Duke Hoax) he believed New York Times was honest, quality newspaper. AP and NYT had identical policies (and biases).

I just have to assume that people can do proper scholarly work in one area and be totally blind in other areas (religion, politics).

Debrah said...

Let me make a suggestion to all who want a place to debate the political issues.

Try visiting this site.

I strongly urge you to do so.

This woman has all the hot-button topics right there every day. And to top it off, she is in Durham and works for Duke.

This place is where you will have people with whom to argue. The author of this blog will even be in Denver covering the upcoming convention.

I had a pleasant exchange with her and have no reason to create discord for that reason; however, I sense that she has very strong opinions about the Lacrosse Hoax. I was amused by the way she glossed over my questions as if all this had never existed in Durham. (Legally, she can't discuss the lacrosse case openly because she works for Duke.)

FWIW, she has been on CNN and some other news shows along with Mary Katherine Ham.

She's a hardworking lightening rod and I admire her tenacity for her cause; however, knowing who her relatives in Durham are, I might as well have been talking to Bill Chafe.

If you guys really want to debate, visit sites like that one and stop whining.

Anonymous said...

So... anyone seen Ms. Peterson's questionnaire yet?

dave in l.a.

Debrah said...

NC is within striking distance

I would give it better odds.

Anonymous said...

The fact that supporters of both Obama and McCain can unite over their opposition to Mike Nifong's actions may explain why liberal PACs in Durham aren't so eager to attack Victoria Peterson, Nifong's chief supporter, despite some of her illiberal attitudes.

"Politics makes strange bedfellows," and all that.

Ken Duke

Anonymous said...

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=C1100&goButt2.x=10&goButt2.y=7&goButt2=Submit
Books, Magazines & Newspapers: Long-Term Contribution Trends
Contributions to Democrats 78%
Contributions to Republicans 22%

Tilt

Anonymous said...

To 6:06 Well now KC can see the inconvenient little thing called "facts" that you dug up. And now you can clearly see the media tilt and bias towards the Democrats. KC please don't get brainwashed by the Obama rock star show driven by the MSM agenda.

Anonymous said...

Debrah,

I decided to click on the link you provided in your earlier post and found myself at "Pam's"- haven't been there since Amanda Marcotte was named John Edwards' blogger (an hysterical irony in light of current events). Sorry, but I'd rather go to Huffington than either one.
ME

Debrah said...

A follow-up on NCCU's latest fiasco on Bull's Eye:


NCCU's Atlanta campus - again

Submitted by eferreri on 08/14/2008 - 11:24

I've been writing a lot about the satellite campus in Georgia that N.C. Central University recently shuttered after running into accreditation problems.

But not quite everything makes the paper; thus, here are a couple bits and pieces from my notebook. (Throughout this post, you'll find links to everything I've written on this issue)

Lucy Reuben, a Duke professor who was NCCU's provost when the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church program was being created, responded to an e-mail question I asked her late yesterday and said she had nothing to do with approving the program at trustee Eddie Long's Lithonia, Ga. megachurch.

"As Provost, I did not approve the proposed program at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church; thus, I did not move to the process of recommending it to the Board of Trustees. I cannot address actions that occurred after I left the position of Provost in 2004 or actions that may have occurred in subsequent years."

Reuben's response makes things a bit murkier, since it is still not entirely clear how this collection of programs - hospitality and tourism, business administration and criminal justice - came about. The chancellor at the time, James Ammons, said Wednesday he doesn't recall the specifics of the program but suggested the proposal came from the University College, NCCU's division responsible for distance education programs, and not from Bishop Long.

Beverly Washington Jones, who was the University College dean at the time, said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday she worked on the academics of the New Birth program but bore no responsibility for actually signing off on its creation.

Ammons addressed questions Wednesday in a conference call attended by about a half-dozen reporters. He said repeatedly that he always assumed the program had received all proper authorizations.

He also took a question on whether housing a public university campus in a church created a church/state conflict.

"It is common for universities to have programs all across the world," Ammons responded. "This isn't anything novel, to have programs outside your service area."

In fact, New Birth Missionary has relationships with two other universities that offer programs at the church. But those universities, Beulah Heights University and Life Christian University, each have religious affiliations.

Eddie Long, the pastor whose megachurch is at the center of this story, hasn't responded to requests for an interview with the News & Observer. He did issue a lengthy statement earlier this week in which he expressed his hope that the New Birth program can be resurrected.

The problem with that hope, however, is that NCCU has scrapped the program and is now in discussions with an accrediting agency over what to do with the students in the program and those whose degrees may not be accredited.

One thing is certain about Long - he's been generous with his money.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know what KC thinks of this story, which may be another case of a prosecutor run wild:

Perversion of Justice

Debrah said...

Yes, I'm sure that Marcotte is an expert on the subject of rape.

Debrah said...

TO 9:02 AM--

I don't participate there, myself. I occasionally check it out after having read an article on the place.

It's a very rabid location for sure.

A place that rivals Marcotte's way of writing.

Too bad the author works for Duke because I know that she would be a huge Gang of 88 enabler and would provide a daily throw-down on the lacrosse players.

I think she does a good job with the site, however. It's an interesting format.

(BTW, I used to use her uncle's travel agency when I needed a flight somewhere. He is the most low key and docile man I've ever met. Graduated from the Wharton School of Business and was on Wall Street before moving back to the Triangle.)

I suppose out of respect for him I have chosen not to get into her hornet's nest.

Anonymous said...

To the long term posters:

I can't believe you all missed the joke.

Does anyone who has been a fan of KC believe he didn't know what he was doing when he stuck the phrase
"has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor" into his post? The man has shown himself to be an expert on his selection of words. This just was a last minute filler? Never in a million years.

He dangled the bait and everyone took it hook, line and sinker.

Good one, KC:-)

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

Sir:

I respect your writings and enjoy your commentary. You have been a powerful voice in the Duke case.

that said, im going to take you to task in an effort to get you back on message.

You have previously written you supported Barrak Obama, and that's certainly no one other than your's decision to make.

When you make assertions that the MSM is tilted "laughably" to McCain however, your judgment is opened to question.

Stick to the Duke case where you are a strong voice of objective analysis. Based on your comments with regard to the media's treatment of the two candidates, Id say your so willfully oblivious to actual reality that your other analysis and writing becomes open to question.

Sir get back on topic where emotion doesnt cloud your judgment.

Patrick Durkee said...

I would argue that the Group of 88's airbrushing of history stems from the increasing prevalence of Gnosticism in today's culture. Its view of history is typically that history doesn't matter - instead, what actually matters (according to them) is our inner-experience. What that really leads to is sort of a combination of humanism/spirituality - which isn't all that uncommon today, particularly in academia. Not to excuse the Group of 88's airbrushing of history, that is their brand of thinking's m.o.

Patrick
http://www.theologyofomaha.com

Anonymous said...

Laughably tilted in John McCain's favor?

Dr. Johnson, youre kidding right?

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.35/1.41:

I never said anything about the mainstream media; my comment was about the AP's coverage of the presidential race.

Anonymous said...

JLS says....,

I have not read this thread so sorry in advance if someone else has had this comment, but Professor Johnson but you are dead wrong on a key point.

Mangum's IDs have nothing to tell us about cross-racial IDs. She was simply lying. She was not trying to identify anyone based on memory. She was just picking out people at random and had no interest in whether she had really ever seen them before or not. She was just answering questions and she would have made just as outrageous picks had the group in question be any other race including her own race.

The key problem with the lineups presented to Mangum is that they did not include any fillers to test her story. That Mr. Ross was an accidental filler was due to sloppy police [or should that be framing] work.

Debrah said...

Excuse me, but I have to add to my previous post.

Can anyone believe this:

"Mangum's IDs have nothing to tell us about cross-racial IDs. She was simply lying. She was not trying to identify anyone based on memory. She was just picking out people at random and had no interest in whether she had really ever seen them before or not. She was just answering questions and she would have made just as outrageous picks had the group in question be any other race including her own race."

You have missed the fundamental cause of the whole Duke Lacrosse Hoax.

You have missed the fundamental reason why it was able to have been sustained by those who wanted to push the PC agenda---race, class, and gender.

Mangum accused three other men of rape a decade before; however, no one pursued it with fervor.

You see, the men she accused that time were black.

I honestly don't know where you've been for the past two years.

Have you learned nothing?

Anonymous said...

K.C.

***********

Indeed, the wire service’s coverage of this year’s campaign has been almost laughably tilted in John McCain’s favor, as Talking Points Memo has detailed convincingly.

************

Really? I find something laughable here but not how the coverage has been tilted in favor of McCain (a candidate I have no use for). What I find laughable is someone who would take a second hand report by Media Matters for America seriously.