Monday, March 02, 2009

A Difficult Task

A few weeks ago, I posted my recent article from Law and Contemporary Problems. The article was part of a special issue, drawn from presentations at the September 2007 Duke Law School conference.

As often occurs at academic conferences, a few presenters offered contrarian viewpoints. The most extreme came from BC Law School Dean Michael Cassidy, who criticized portions of the disbarment ruling against Mike Nifong. Cassidy’s thesis: Nifong’s status as a candidate for election gave him a First Amendment right to utter many of the public denunciations of the lacrosse players that the DHC had ruled unethical.

Cassidy’s thesis certainly challenged conventional wisdom. But the dean’s proposed “candidate exception” to the Bar’s ethical canons has attracted scant, if any, support.

Another LCP article, penned by George Washington professors Robert Entman (a former Duke faculty member and parent of a recent Duke graduate) and Kimberly Gross, also challenges the majority view on an element in the case. As Entman summarized for me, the article contends “that, ironically, just as the coverage created misperceptions about the alleged crime, the coverage itself has been subject to distortion and selective memory. The media did not persecute the lacrosse players, at least not for very long, and there is no evidence in this case or more generally that ‘political correctness’ leads to more negative treatment of white than black defendants, or more credulous treatment of black than white accusers.” Entman added that his piece represents “the only systematic analysis of media coverage on this explosive case.”

Previous publications by Gross and Entman reflected prevailing academic assumptions on race-based issues. Gross, who teaches a course entitled “Race, Media, and Politics,” has published articles concluding that “there is a specific racial cast to [local TV] coverage – significant attention is given to black perpetrators while black victims are undercovered.” Entman’s 2000 co-authored book, The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America, posited “a subtle pattern of [media] images that, while making room for Blacks, implies a racial hierarchy with Whites on top and promotes a sense of difference and conflict.” (The book received an approving mention from Mark Anthony “thugniggaintellectual” Neal.)

The scholarly framework of Entman and Gross cannot easily explain an event in which—amidst at first considerable and eventually massive public evidence of actual innocence and prosecutorial misconduct—most coverage first presumed the guilt and then minimized evidence of innocence of wealthy, well-educated white defendants accused of a crime by a poor African-American woman.

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In their article, Entman and Gross analyze three newspapers (the N&O, the New York Times, and USA Today) and one television network (NBC), based on a search for words or phrases that implied guilt, innocence, or positive/negative judgments. (They do not code the cable news shows, on the grounds that such figures aren’t real journalists.) They conclude that while a media rush to judgment did occur, it was motivated not by political correctness or journalists’ presumptions that women who claim rape must be telling the truth, but instead the normal press bias in criminal justice cases, which favors the prosecution. In this respect, they contend, “most pretrial publicity is predictably prejudicial, and media behavior in the Duke lacrosse case was not unusual but typical.” Some people might consider such things as a fullpage Newsweek cover and massive coverage in the New York Times atypical in crime cases, but such editorial judgments don’t factor into the Entman/Gross schema.

Moreover, Gross and Entman cite a consistent coverage of the players’ possible, or even likely, innocence—an approach that grew stronger as the case progressed. Finally, their data reveals little difference between the local coverage of the N&O and the national coverage of the New York Times, other than expected gaps on most news stories between more nuanced local outlets and national publications that focus more on metanarratives. In any event, they deny that political correctness motivated either publication (or USA Today).

Some of the Gross/Entman conclusions confirm, rather than challenge, conclusions in both the book and blog. For instance, neither the blog nor the book ever contended that (apart from Samiha Khanna’s brief moment in the sun, early in the case) “political correctness” motivated the N&O’s coverage. Indeed, I strongly praised the N&O’s journalism, some of its editorials, and most of its op-eds. Yet a reader of the Entman/Gross article (which is framed, in part, as a critique of DIW and UPI) would have assumed just the opposite.

Indeed, consider this quote: “Over the entire period editorials were more likely to contain paragraphs emphasizing only innocence than they were to contain paragraphs emphasizing only guilt . . . This finding offers another indicator that neither a ‘politically correct’ nor a liberal editorial agenda was driving the coverage.”

That evidence sounds like a strong critique of UPI and DIW—until realizing that most of the editorials and the op-eds in the Gross/Entman study came from the N&O, which both the book and the blog had praised. Moreover, a central critique of the Times editorial page was not the content of the editorials it did run (zero, in all), but its decision not to weigh in on the case when all other major newspapers did, in late December 2006.

Or take footnote one of the Entman/Gross article cited both UPI and a DIW post as among the critiques “that trace media derelictions to ‘liberal bias’ or ‘political correctness.’” But neither the blog (in any of its 1300 posts) nor the book ever used the phrase “liberal bias” in this context—and the blog argued that political ideology provided no guide to predicting how actors in the case would behave. In response to an e-mail query, Entman conceded, “We have liberal bias and political correctness in quotes not meaning to attribute them as exact quotations of you or other authors. We meant them in the ‘so-called’ sense. It was probably unnecessary to have done this.”

So, Entman and Gross established that the N&O’s coverage was basically fair; that most editorials published in the N&O leaned toward stressing innocence; and that a “liberal bias” doesn’t explain coverage. Since neither the book nor the blog challenged these arguments, on these matters, Gross and Entman are arguing against straw men.

A few other conclusions are a bit on the vague side: take, for example, Entman’s assertion that “the media did not persecute the lacrosse players, at least not for very long.” Leaving aside the fact that neither DIW nor UPI ever used the verb “persecute” to describe the media’s handling of the case, the clause contradicts itself: either the media “persecute[d]” the lacrosse players, or the media did not do so. The first half of Entman’s clause takes one position on the question (the media did not persecute the lacrosse players); the second half takes a completely different position (the media did persecute the lacrosse players—but “not for very long.”)

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The Gross/Entman data model had two serious drawbacks, one avoidable, the other not. First, the avoidable item: the decision to bypass the Herald-Sun, which published more articles on the case than any paper except perhaps the N&O and whose editorial page read as if penned by Nifong himself. When asked about the thinking behind this decision, Entman explained, “We picked the N&O because it is a more influential paper in the Triangle and NC, though probably not in Durham proper. Also as you have suggested (and I as a resident of Durham off and on for 40 years have said), the Herald is a lousy paper and performed up to that standard in covering the lacrosse case. Yet it’s never been in those 40 years liberal editorially, indeed often endorsed a Jesse Helms view of the world, and therefore the Herald illustrates our basic argument that journalists’ worldview was only one among many factors shaping the coverage.”

The fact that the paper was conservative before Paxton Media bought the H-S and installed Bob Ashley as news and editorial page editorial editor is irrelevant to analyzing the H-S position on the lacrosse case. (The H-S editorial page tilted well to the left in 2006 and 2007--its positions often mirrored those of The Independent--and, of course, it endorsed Nifong protégé Tracey Cline in 2008.) Since Entman and Gross wanted to challenge those who portrayed the media as “politically correct,” it’s hard to understand why they analyzed the local outlet whose performance was widely praised as not motivated by political correctness—while ignoring the local paper whose articles and editorials were attacked as drenched in politically correct tenets.

Second, the article’s unavoidable problem: no statistical model can address editorial decisions that were key to any understanding of the media’s role in the case—such as Newsweek’s running a full-page cover with mugshots of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, under the title, “Sex, Lies, and Duke.” (The only “lies,” of course, came from Mike Nifong and Crystal Mangum; there was no “sex” at all.) Nor can the Entman/Gross model shed any light on what accounted for the editorial choices made by the New York Times, ranging from the critical decision to replace Joe Drape with a reporter more inclined to accept Nifong’s claims, to the August 2006 assignment of Duff Wilson to write an article that supposedly would reconsider the point of view offered in his own earlier articles, to the refusal to run corrections on the factual errors in that August 2006 article, to the more general decision to place such a high priority (more than 100 articles or columns in all) on a crime story in North Carolina.

Entman maintains, “There is no evidence in this case or more generally that ‘political correctness’ leads to more negative treatment of white than black defendants.” Yet editorial judgments shown in contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous cases suggest otherwise.

For instance, the lacrosse case wasn’t the only instance of high-profile college athletes being accused of sex crimes (USC, Cal-Berkeley, Oklahoma State) or an allegation of a racially motivated gang rape by college students (VUU/Richmond). Yet none of these cases—in which either Hispanic or black students were the accused, and in which a white woman was the accuser in at least two of the cases—attracted a media firestorm characterized by heavily moralistic coverage, or generated much coverage in the New York Times, or resulted in a guilt-presuming Newsweek cover, or received much attention on cable or network news.

Likewise, in 2006-7, the lacrosse case wasn’t the only high-profile, racially charged event in the criminal justice system. It coincided with events in Jena, Louisiana, in which African-American students were accused of attacking, without provocation, a white fellow student. In covering Jena, the national media, led by the same New York Times, stressed allegations of possible racial bias in the decision to prosecute, and presented the accused students in largely favorable terms. Only when it came out that the ringleader of the attack had previous convictions for assault (of other African-Americans), followed quickly by the ringleader’s guilty plea, did the media narrative somewhat change. The volume of coverage also dramatically declined.

None of these developments would have been predicted by the model that Entman and Gross present.

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Even though Gross and Entman can’t analyze editorial decisions, their article, despite the superficial neutrality associated with a “statistical” analysis, employs some of its own editorial judgments—all of which seem to tilt toward one direction. For instance, in trying to explain why the media didn’t greet as conclusive proof of innocence the April 10, 2006 negative DNA tests, Gross and Entman bend over backwards to offer a neutral justification: “Because this DNA evidence did not mark an unraveling of the case for the prosecutor, journalistic routines and norms ensured that it did not mark an immediate unraveling of the case for journalists. Rather, reporters and editors apparently assumed that Nifong had other good evidence for proceeding with the indictments, and this colored their reporting.”

Yet in this specific case, the prosecutor’s office itself had, only seventeen days earlier, obtained an extraordinary court order—backed up by several Nifong public statements—that stated without caveat that the tests would provide conclusive evidence of either guilt or innocence. Most of the time, journalists show at least a smidgen of skepticism when government figures display an on-the-spot, 180-degree reversal of a previously held, public, position. Moreover, contrary to the expected performance in the Entman/Gross model (that journalists tend to be faithful to government sources they need), the paper that increasingly challenged Nifong was the local one (the N&O), not the national one (the Times), even though the Times, presumably, had no need to cultivate a permanent journalistic relationship with the Durham DA’s office.

Or take a passage, discussing the DNA evidence, describing a “second test on the accuser’s fingernails that had a match with the third player indicted.” Of course, no such “match” existed. The discredited Dr. Brian Meehan claimed that Dave Evans’ DNA, along with the DNA of two percent of all the males in the United States, couldn’t be excluded as a possible match, even though the State Lab had made no such judgment, using the same sample.

Or take a more subtle form of bias: Gross and Entman’s decision to reference by name, in the footnotes, the falsely accused Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann, even as they declined to identify Crystal Mangum. When asked why the duo pursued this strategy, Entman replied, “We didn't make a conscious decision not to name her. We probably should have.”

This sympathy for Mangum appears to have carried over into some of Gross and Entman’s coding decisions. Take, for instance, the following paragraph:

The damaging nature of certain keywords such as “single mother” and “stripper” must also be considered in any calculation of the balance between coverage of the defendants and coverage of the accuser. And this is a good example of the complexity of trying to decipher the polysemic nature of the coverage and its effects. It is unclear, for example, whether denunciations of the lacrosse players as hooligans caused any more damage to their reputations—no matter how subjectively painful these characterizations may have been to the players and their families—than being labeled as an unmarried mother and stripper damaged the reputation and credibility of the accuser.

There’s only one problem with this argument: Mangum was, in fact, an unmarried mother whose sole source of income came from stripping (or prostitution). The media, obviously, couldn’t falsely describe Mangum as married, nor could journalists falsely claim that she had another profession—say, computer programming. The accused lacrosse players, on the other hand, were not “hooligans,” unless the word is defined to apply to any college student who ever engaged in underage drinking or attended a tasteless spring break party—which would render the epithet all but meaningless.

Or take the following passage:

There is some support for the claim that early coverage contained information that reinforced impressions of Duke lacrosse players as spoiled, privileged, and loutish. There are references to prior misdemeanor charges, quotes from neighbors and professors, and discussions of the team’s collective reputation that can be characterized as undermining the individual defendants’ reputations . . . Although our analysis does not comprehensively evaluate this dimension of the coverage, some suggestive evidence comes from a search for the terms “record,” “criminal,” “violat[-e, -ing, -ion, -or, -ed],” or “assault” . . . Viewing this particular dimension as a frame contest, the score would be eight to forty against the defendants. On the other side, however, the news also offered many positive character witnesses testifying to the decency of these young men and relatively few testimonials to the character of the accuser. [emphasis added]

Again, the media can’t produce items wholly out of thin air: the fact that virtually no one who knew Mangum, including her fellow students at NCCU, had anything positive to say about her meant that journalists couldn’t offer positive testimonials to Mangum’s character. (From the start of the case, the NCCU campus paper, the Khanna period at the N&O, and national magazines like Vanity Fair tried to find people to say good things about Mangum.) The inability of most people in the media to find anyone willing to praise Mangum doesn’t explain data containing far more references to the players’ (minor) alcohol-related arrests than to Mangum’s arrest for robbery and trying to run over a police officer.

Indeed, even as the duo faults the media for not using the case to explore the more general problems of the criminal justice system, Entman and Gross essentially give a pass to the faculty “activists” and civil rights groups that might have been expected to have advanced such an argument at the time. “The apparent story of privileged whites victimizing a black woman,” they write, “fit larger cultural narratives, making it almost inevitable that third parties would insert themselves into the struggle over media framing. The use of this high-visibility case as a platform for advancing more-general political agendas is also nothing unusual and, leaving aside the particulars of the case, is not even undesirable. After all, we are constantly being told that the United States enjoys a vigorous marketplace of ideas, so there is nothing wrong with spokespersons for various ideological points of view seizing on big news stories to promote their political interpretations and preferences. What was obviously problematic in this case was that these spokespersons tended to treat the defendants as guilty and used that conclusion as a basis for their larger political arguments about white racism and privilege. The weak factual basis of this particular case does not in itself logically preclude the possibility that their arguments to the more general points were valid. [emphasis added] A large body of evidence supports the view that white privilege and white racism do continue to oppress African Americans, particularly poorer African Americans. And there is a sound basis in this particular instance for suggesting that Duke University is a relative bastion of white privilege in a city where many working-class whites, blacks, and Latinos struggle to make ends meet and to receive adequate educations, job opportunities, health care, and other privileges that most Duke students (and professors) take for granted. In the context of increasing income- and wealth inequality nationally, and of continued black–white disparities across an array of indicators, the Duke lacrosse story, as it first seemed to be, was a reasonably compelling symbol.”

Perhaps I’m naïve, but it seems to me that when a preconceived worldview causes someone to erroneously rush to judgment and make highly public, moralized condemnations of innocent people, it’s time to ask what faults in that preconceived worldview caused such a misjudgment. Yet there’s no evidence that any of the Group of 88 (or similarly-inclined figures in the media) have engaged in any such critical self-reflection.

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At its heart, though, the fundamental problem with the Gross/Entman article comes in its pedagogical approach: in the lacrosse case—an instance in which, ultimately, there were not “two sides” to the story—statistical analysis can obscure as much as it illuminates. Take the example of Duff Wilson’s August 25, 2006 New York Times article. According to Entman, “The stories were coded at the paragraph level: 23 grafs coded as containing info suggesting guilt only, 26 coded not guilty only and 14 coded as both being present in the paragraph. This may appear more balanced than it would using a qualitative approach, but that's what the data say. Nonetheless, there's no disputing that such balance is problematic given that it appeared long past the point at which there should have been much credence to not guilty claims. However this piece was exceptional in this respect, not typical, as our data reveal.”

Recall that this nearly 6000-word, front-page, article:

  • contained four outright errors of fact, each of which made the players look “more guilty”;
  • purported to have examined the transcript of the photo ID lineup, but didn’t mention that Mangum had positively identified at least two people who weren’t in Durham the night of the party, or any of the other inconsistencies in the session, mentioning instead only that she correctly identified the lacrosse player who paid her, the only correct ID in the entire session;
  • did not mention the fact that Nifong was facing a challenger in the Nov. election, and desperately needed an overwhelming black vote to prevail;
  • did not mention that Jim Coleman (a figure with impeccable credentials on issues of race) had publicly branded Nifong unethical;
  • did not mention how the police photos didn’t show bruising of Mangum, despite leading the article with Sgt. Mark Gottlieb’s “notes,” which purported to recall bruising at the photo session;
  • and, perhaps most important, saw its central thesis—“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”—deemed false in a subsequent public announcement from the state’s Attorney General.

The fact that, in the Entman/Gross coding system, this article is classified as stressing more the players’ likely innocence suggests that the coding system doesn’t help us much in analyzing the media’s response to the case.

This coding system, alas, leads Gross and Entman to offer the following conclusion: “Interestingly, The New York Times, which received substantial criticism for its purportedly pro-Nifong and anti-accused coverage, actually more disproportionately favored ‘not guilty’ inferences than the other sources . . . Certainly these figures do not portray a media homogeneously attacking the lacrosse players.”

Even Times executive editor Bill Keller and Times sports editor Tom Jolly aren’t making such claims; both have apologized for the paper’s downplaying the evidence that supported innocence. In this respect, Gross and Entman have positioned themselves as more royalist than the King, minimizing errors in coverage that the paper’s editors no longer defend.

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In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a historian of Congress, a topic dominated by political scientists, most of whom employ the kind of quantitative analysis used in this article by Entman and Gross. In the course of writing three books on Congress and foreign policy (two published by Harvard University Press, one by Cambridge University Press), I have found that quantitative poli-sci literature on Congress obscures as much as it illuminates. So in general terms, I’d be unfavorably inclined toward this article’s research approach.

That said, I’m disinclined, for the reasons presented above, to adopt the thesis presented by Entman and Gross. To conclude with a question directly related to the article’s thesis: virtually everyone closely involved in the case—from Nifong on one side to the defense attorneys on the other—believed that the Times and the N&O offered dramatically differing portraits of what occurred in Durham. What does it say about the merits of the Entman/Gross coding system that their model assigns comparable scores to the two papers?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the excellent analysis, KC.

You said, "At its heart, though, the fundamental problem with the Gross/Entman article comes in its pedagogical approach."

I argee, but the pedagogical approach was to start with a conclusion that supports their preferred world view, and then to fabricate evidence to support that conclusion. It is fundamentally a dishonest attempt to rewrite history.

They prove the old adage - There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

-RD

Anonymous said...

Any "statistical" analysis which uses subjective, non-random sample selection as the basis of it's conclusions is by definition, "statistically" flawed.

It seems our researchers wish for us to not only abandon all logic and common sense, but to also bow to their Clintonization of statistical theory.

They could have just as easily asked the editors if their decisions/reportings were based on political correctness and simply reported the responses as statistically definitive.

Long article K.C. but well worth the read. If I were you though, I might have double quoted "statistical analysis" a bit more often.

DM

Anonymous said...

In our days when progressives dominate the academy, we should expect "research" like this.

On the one hand, the individual is ignored in the rush to count by groups. The collective is always going to be more important to the liberal than any individual or any collection of individuals as persons. By their ideology they only care about groups.

Second, we will get research that purports to show as true what any reasonable person knows is manifestly untrue. The mark of a true shill. The only debate is whether the problem is the inadequacy of the research or the integrity of the researcher.

Anonymous said...

"...the media behavior in the Duke lacrosse case was not unusual but typical". They really cannot be serious? How can pseudo-scholars, like Entman and Gross, expect anyone to buy such a ridiculous thesis? Typical? As compared to what?

Their structure is to carefully select those media that prove their improbable thesory, exclude all other print and electronic media on the rest of the planet, and there you have it...scholarly analysis. Absurd!

No justice, no peace said...

"...They do not code the cable news shows, on the grounds that such figures aren’t real journalists.)..."

Defining study parameters to determine an outcome, whether intentional or not, is not good.
Regardless the authors are, or sorts, utilizing directional selection.

"A population may find itself in circumstances where individuals occupying one extreme in the range of phenotypes are favored over the others."

Directional Selection

As an example, "Many species of moths in the British Isles began to become darker in color in the 19th century.

The best-studied example is the peppered moth, Biston betularia. The moth gets its name from the scattered dark markings on its wings and body.

In 1849, a coal-black mutant was found near Manchester, England. Within a century, this black form had increased to 90% of the population in this region.

The moth flies at night and rests by day on tree trunks. In areas far from industrial activity, the trunks of trees are encrusted with lichens. As the photos show, the light form (circled in red) is practically invisible against this background.

In areas where air pollution is severe, the combination of toxic gases and soot has killed the lichens and blackened the trunks. Against such a background, the light form stands out sharply.

The moth is preyed upon by birds that pluck it from its resting place by day. In polluted woods, the dark form has a much better chance of surviving undetected.

When the English geneticist H. B. D. Kettlewell (who supplied the photos) released moths of both types in the woods, he observed that birds did, indeed, eat a much higher fraction of the light moths he released than of the dark.

Since pollution abatement programs were put in place after World War II, the light form has been making a comeback in the Liverpool and Manchester areas."

This type of "study" beoomes even more suspect when you consider black swan events. Even if they had considered all media sources, one upside/downside event could dispropotionally impact the analysis. Had Duke administrators forcefully come out and defended their student's civil rights the media treatment may have been substantially different - it may not have ever been a major news story.

The larger question is what is motivating these scholars? Maybe it's the PC pollution that has irreperably altered and harmed the environments in Durham, Duke, and other Universities.

Anonymous said...

Debrah recently posted a link to an article about the current controversy about former-Sen. Robert Kerrey’s leadership at the New School. I wonder if anyone else recognizes the name of the author of the article, John Silber.

John Silber and I both grew up in South Texas, though about three decades apart. He became famous in 1970 when, while dean of one of the most important colleges at the University of Texas at Austin, he was fired after a power struggle with legendary Board of Regents chairman Frank Erwin, partly over his leftwing views (Erwin famously called Silber “a Bolshevik”). When I enrolled at the University of Texas a few years later, this “Clash of the Titans” was still the talk of campus.

Silber was soon hired at Boston University. I suspect KC is familiar with his record there, but many here probably are not. Silber discovered that a Texas leftwinger is a “fascist” in what one of my law professors (himself a magna cum Harvard Law grad) always called “the Godforsaken commonwealth of Massachusetts”. (1) Silber says he was hired because the Marxists who were a majority of search committee were fooled by the fact that he was so conversant in Marxist philosophy.(2) From the start, he made life Hell for the Marxists on campus while turning Boston University from an academic backwater into a superior university. Even his most spiteful critics confess that Silber performed administrative miracles; their main complaint is that he was “autocratic” – meaning that he would not allow the Marxists to use their numbers to control his decisions.

Thus, when I saw his name at the top of Debrah’s article, it made me wonder: If John Silber had been in charge at Duke University in 2006, how would he have handled it? I wonder if he has ever been asked about it. While I like to think he would have reacted in a way true to his South Texas roots, does KC think the question worth exploring?

RRH

(1)When finally one of my classmates bravely asked why he always used this phrase, the professor explained that in Massachusetts, where he began his law practice, the typical citizen is one who fervently believes he has the fundamental, God-given, Constitutional right to silence 24 hours a day and he lives in an apartment next door to another citizen who has an equal conviction that he has the fundamental, God-given, Constitutional right to play 800 decibel punk-rock music at 3 o’clock in the morning. In other words, Bay Staters were people who were unwilling to distinguish between their unrealistic and anti-social desires and their “fundamental, God-given, Constitutional” rights.

(2)Many people think Texans are ignorant of Marx’ writings. We’re not. It’s just that we think he’s an idiot not worthy of shining the shoes of his mentor, Georg Hegel, who in turn is not worthy of shining the shoes of his mentor, Immanuel Kant. The period of decline in German philosophy is shown historically by the leadership of Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great in the 18th century and Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler in the 20th.

Debrah said...

I must add that I vehemently disagree that the N&O's editorial pages were fair.

They most certainly were not.

But compared to the Herald-Sun's editorial pages?

This is a case where the only question is.......Compared to what?

bill anderson said...

I must admit to a lot of head scratching when I read about a paper like this. First, you did a great job of pointing out the inconsistencies and outright howlers that this paper gives us. Second, if there ever was a "garbage in, garbage out" piece of work, it is the Entman and Gross paper.

I think we have to remember that many in academe had a serious investment in what Nifong was doing. If these young men actually had done what Nifong and Mangum claimed, then many of the campus radicals as well as many radicals who now dominate our "elite" law schools would have been vindicated.

Furthermore, there would have been an outpouring of new policies on campuses that would have permanently enshrined what these radicals have tried to do for years. Thus, when the entire case was exposed for the fraud that it was, the Entmans and Grosses and Bakers and Holloways of academe had to go into their Plan B modes.

The last thing any of them were going to do was to admit the obvious: a prosecutor lied, journalists gleefully jumped on the charges, and the radical academics saw this as their opportunity to "storm the Winter Palace." That their attempts were stymied in part by K.C. Johnson, who already had stood successfully against the PC crowd at his own college, made it even worse. Here was someone who really knew these people for the frauds that they were and was not afraid to name names.

I would look for more "revisionist" history on this case. The radicals took a beating here, but they don't like to be on the losing end of things.

Anonymous said...

IIRC the fact that she was a "single mother" was used to piant CGM in a positive light. People would say this is a single mother working to take care of her kids etc. what a women! Therefore, not sure I can agree with the premise of "damaging nature of certain keywords such as “single mother” and “stripper” "

In fact the website promoting her book she writes "I define myself as a mother, student, and daughter before all else."

Certainly some people view single mother as damaging but many who supported the frame/CGM used "single mother" to describe her as she has herself.

Are we to beleive that she is using damaging words to define herself???

xutag77 said...

"...the media behavior in the Duke lacrosse case was not unusual but typical". They really cannot be serious? How can pseudo-scholars, like Entman and Gross, expect anyone to buy such a ridiculous thesis? Typical? As compared to what?

The problem is that the statement was correct. The media behavior was not unusual but typical. The problem id that this usual and typical media behavior does not reflect any journalistic standards.

Anonymous said...

K. C. Johnson wrote: Entman conceded, “We have liberal bias and political correctness in quotes not meaning to attribute them as exact quotations of you or other authors. We meant them in the ‘so-called’ sense.”

In other words, Entman and Gross put the words in quotation marks to indicate that they were not quotes. That usage seems backwards.

David

Jim in San Diego said...

I attempted to re-read the Duff Wilson article applying the Entman/Gross coding system. I was unable to replicate the Entman/Gross statistical results.

This is almost certainly because I bring a different value system to the article than do Entman/Gross. However, scientific results should not be subject to wild variation based on the value system of the observer. So, this is another warning to be very cautious about trying to make poli-sci conclusions from hard to specify, and hard to measure, statistics.

That I do not get to the same conclusion of fact as Entman/Gross is significant, because it is the factual conclusion which does, or does not, provide support for the premise that reporting was relatively balanced. Whenever an experiment cannot be reliably replicated we are warned to be careful relying on the methodology of the experiment (remember Cold Fusion?).

I noted a second problem with the statistical methodology used.

Facts differ immensely in their weight. For example, I assume a paragraph which mentions a general presumption of innocence counts as an "innocence" data point. However, a paragraph reporting that the alleged victim has basically told a consistent story, would count as one "guilty" data point.

But, a witness' ability to tell a consistent story of an event they observed is considered a prime indication of credibility of the story in court. On the other hand, a witness' inconsistency on an important point often, by itself, destroys that witness' credibility.

That Wilson inaccurately reported Mangum had basically told a consistent story when she had not is not a small issue. The (factual) report by Wilson that the witness had never told the same story twice, would have instantly changed most readers' perception of what happened in Durham. It would have the weight of a dozen "not guilty" data points.

The Entman/Gross methodology reminds me of a comment made by my faculty adviser years ago when I submitted a major paper on "The Spread of Anomie Among Voters" (Yes, I know - what in the devil is 'anomie' - which is sort of the point). His gentle comment was that often data in poli sci just cannot be reliably measured. And, too often, such data are just a reflection of the value system of the data gatherers.

Jim Peterson

One Spook said...

Bill Anderson writes @ 10:45 AM

"Thus, when the entire case was exposed for the fraud that it was, the Entmans and Grosses and Bakers and Holloways of academe had to go into their Plan B modes."

Brilliant!

And the "Plan B Mode" used here is to postulate that it is somehow possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

This faux-scholarly writing and "statistical analysis" is absolute rubbish.

The very frustrating element of all of this type of revisionist writing is that it ignores one very simple truth: There is wrong in this world.

Prosecutor Nifong; The Durham Police; Duke Administration and Certain Duke Employees; The Group of 88; and the majority of the Media were WRONG. They made serious mistakes that are a matter of record, and no amount of sugar-coating, "relativist" writing can change that.

This is not an event that happened 100 years ago where extant records are few ... it happened right before our eyes and the record is extensive and painfully clear.

Any argument to the contrary, such as this garbage, is utter nonsense.

One Spook

Gary Packwood said...

...Previous publications by Gross and Entman reflected prevailing academic assumptions on race-based issues. Gross, who teaches a course entitled “Race, Media, and Politics,” has published articles concluding that “there is a specific racial cast to [local TV] coverage – significant attention is given to black perpetrators while black victims are undercovered.”
::
I suspect Gross is correct if for no other reason the TV stations have run out of their allotted air-time for the crime segment.

There are only so many minutes in a TV news program and the police do request help from the citizens to find the - shooter - man with the knife - or - rapist. There just isn't enough time to roll through all of the Crime Stoppers photos and provide adequate coverage of the victims.

Both Gross and Entman should know that TV stations can't pour a quart of news into a pint jar.

Perhaps the NAACP or Urban League would like to sponsor additional minutes of local TV news so we hear and see the victims in all their misery.
::
GP

craig said...

I have to say that i'm really intrigued by this part of footnote 1:

"A number of sources provide qualitative analysis of selected media coverage. See, e.g., TAYLOR & JOHNSON, supra (focusing mainly on coverage that suggests a bias against the defendants); David J. Leonard, Innocent Until Proven Innocent, 31 J. SPORT & SOC. ISSUES 25 (2007) (reaching a different conclusion by focusing on efforts to exonerate and defend the students)."

It appears that someone wrote a paper arguing that not even the truth is protection against charges of bias or racism.

Anonymous said...

Is Cassidy a Communist?

Is he related to Hop-Along Cassidy?

Anonymous said...

I am a true crime junkie and follow the news in this area. I followed the Duke Hoax from the start.

In local news, black street criminals are covered on the nightly TV news. As another commenter said, time runs out before all of the victims can be shown. National crime news, such as what Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren cover, is usually stories like Caylee Anthony, missing girls, or the latest white middle class spousal murder. These TV shows rarely cover crime by black street criminals. An exception is if the victim is something of a celebrity. Examples are UNC student body president Eve Carson and newscaster Anne Pressly. These stories are not usually followed up however.

The New York Times does not cover local crime that heavily, but published dozens of stories on an alleged rape in Durham, NC. The idea of "rich white men" raping a black woman appealed to the New York Times as much as it did to campus radicals.

The torture-murder of two white college students in Knoxville TN by black street criminals has been heavily covered locally (and on the internet). Nancy Grace and Van Susteren will not go near it.

In Los Angeles, it is said that for a crime to get media coverage, either the suspect or the victim must be rich, a celebrity, or good-looking. These rules largely apply for a crime to be publicized nationally.

DN

Anonymous said...

The Entman/Gross analysis of the media work on the case ignores Juan Williams' role. He carried more personal imprimatur than any other journalist involved (until Ed Bradley) as well as his employer's imprimatur, and he bungled it just like the rest of them, and likely for the same reasons.

Jamie said...

“The apparent story of privileged whites victimizing a black woman fit larger cultural narratives, making it almost inevitable that third parties would insert themselves into the struggle over media framing. The use of this high-visibility case as a platform for advancing more-general political agendas is also nothing unusual and, leaving aside the particulars of the case, is not even undesirable.”

Sheesh! Gotta love that little disclaimer about the “particulars of the case” tossed in airily, just before the end: a minor qualification, hardly worth mentioning.

Essentially, you know, aside from the fact that that they were completely wrong, the potbangers et al. were pretty right.

Unfortunately, the particulars of the case were poison to the cultural narrative. In fact, once the narrative had been tied to them, the particulars of this case turned that narrative inside out ... and as one watched the “cultural narrators” squirm, avoiding those nasty particulars at every turn – as one witnessed their fierce refusal to acknowledge the gulf between their narrative and these facts, well, let’s just say that the ol’ cultural narrative did not gain credibility.

Anonymous said...

One Spook said:

"This is not an event that happened 100 years ago where extant records are few ... it happened right before our eyes and the record is extensive and painfully clear."

Yes, but that's exactly the point of this exercise in revisionism. Get the disinformation out there in enough contemporary books and articles so that when memories have faded and people are looking this event up 50 years forward in time, it's these articles they find, telling their version of events. KC and Stuart's book will be in the minority, drowned out by the sheer volume of the revisionist books and articles, which of course, will be cited ad nauseam by subsequent like-minded commenters. The lazy researcher's shortcut to finding other articles on the same subject is, of course, to scrounge through the first bibliography they find, and the more often one sees a work cited, the more the naive researcher will tend to lend it credence.

These people aren't stupidly defending the indefensible. They're very aware of what they're doing -- they're papering over this embarrassing hole in their world view for posterity.

This is called playing the long game.

- JackWebb
Trinity '93

Debrah said...

Brodhead on ice

Anonymous said...

If you would like to take a look at the bland, phrase-making smiley face on the delearningification movement in American university academe I would commend to your attention this reprinted (at Minding The Campus) speech by Dr. E. Gordon Gee entitled 'A Call for "Intentional Upheaval"'

http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2009/03/a_call_for_intentional_upheava.html

All y'all may recall that Dr. Gee is the chap who lured Dr. Houston Baker, the noted Upheavalist, to Vanderbilt while he was president there.

a Duke Dad said...

Except for the facts, the Duke Hoax proves the metanarrative of the Gang of 88.

The Gross/Entman statistical analysis is based on highly biased and inaccurate designation of the data points. Once again proving: GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)

Anonymous said...

There are so many wonderful comments above me -- in particular by RD, DM, bill anderson, Jim in San Diego, and Jamie -- that I will try to drop in my two-cents without being repetitive.

Entman and Gross try to prop up the Marxist narrative – what they call the “cultural narrative” – that holds, inter alia, that “media coverage of black crime causes black crime, rather than the other way around.” The authors say that media coverage of “persons of color” engaging in “traits, behaviors, and values generally considered undesirable, inferior, or dangerous” results in “a circular process” leading “persons of color” to engage in “traits, behaviors, and values generally considered undesirable, inferior, or dangerous”. Yes, they say, media coverage of crime causes crime, not the other way around!

The reader will notice that their complaints about media coverage of crime, which they characterize as – surprise! – “racist”, nowhere includes the realities of racial crime. They present the equivalent of a report complaining, for example, that “In media coverage, men are three times more likely than women to be portrayed as perpetrators of violent crime”. Well, wouldn’t this be evidence of “sexism” if the authors hide the evidence that – in fact -- men are several times more likely than women to be perpetrators of violent crime?

As KC rightly points out, this case was unlike any other because after April 10, 2006 – when the DNA evidence was released, no person of good will could believe the stories being told by Mangum and Nifong.(1) After April 10, it was no longer a case of “what she said vs. what he said”, it was a case of “what she said vs. what the forensic evidence said”. And here we are leaving aside the evidence provided by the closest neutral parties to the case – the second dancer, Kim, and the officer who arrested Mangum for public intoxication – which was uniformly and emphatically contradictory to Mangum’s tale (“That’s a crock!” said Kim; “She’s lying!” said the officer).

All in all, this law review article(!!) is a waste of paper and ink. One that might be worthwhile is one which explored how many law review articles blame black crime on black criminals versus how many blame black crime on “white racism”.

RRH

(1) I have shown, over at reharmonizer’s blog, why no intelligent person of good will could have believed the story even before April 10. It is after the April 10 release of the DNA evidence that even the unintelligent person could no longer believe it. Obviously, in suggesting that after April 10 persons of ill will might still believe, I am saying that they only pretended to believe – pretended to believe because, as Entman and Gross admit, the pretense would further the ends of a false and malicious “cultural narrative”, a narrative which Entman and Gross themselves continue to champion against all the evidence!

Anonymous said...

Is Cassidy a Communist?

Is he related to Hop-Along Cassidy?

You allow this?
You're a fraud.

One Spook said...

Jack Webb writes @ 1:14 AM:

"These people aren't stupidly defending the indefensible. They're very aware of what they're doing -- they're papering over this embarrassing hole in their world view for posterity."

Excellent point, Jack.

I suppose we can only hope that there remains a preponderance of "Primary Sources" years from now so scholars can accurately describe these events.

The again, when one observes a current "senile scholar" like Group of 88'er William Chafe viewing the lacrosse case in the context of the Emmett Till murder, one has fear for the future.

One Spook

One Spook said...

In the news report that Debrah linked above (Thank you, Debrah!), Brodhead, in commenting on the current financial crisis, wrote, "We have entered a world very different from the one we have grown used to in recent years,"

We can only hope that Brodhead's words are more prescient than even he realizes.

This is after all, purportedly the era of "Hope 'n Change."

Hopefully, Duke will enter a world without Brodhead and without an obsessive, warped focus on race, class, and gender being the dominant ideology and pedagogy in Humanities and Social Sciences at Duke.

We can only hope, but I'm not holding my breath ...

One Spook

Debrah said...

This book coauthored by Entman and published in 2001 sets the stage for his brand of analysis on such matters.

The Black Image in the White Mind (Media and Race in America)

"Living in a segregated society, white Americans learn about African Americans not through personal relationships but through the images the media show them."

What world is this man living inside? !!!

"Entman and Rojecki interweave such astute observations with candid interviews of White Americans that make clear how these images of racial difference insinuate themselves into Whites' thinking."

How utterly condescending!

The problem is always in the thinking of non-black oppressors.

Was this drivel actually written as recently as 2001?

Debrah said...

This book coauthored by Entman and published in 2001 sets the stage for his brand of analysis on such matters.

The Black Image in the White Mind (Media and Race in America)

"Living in a segregated society, white Americans learn about African Americans not through personal relationships but through the images the media show them."

What world is this man living inside? !!!

"Entman and Rojecki interweave such astute observations with candid interviews of White Americans that make clear how these images of racial difference insinuate themselves into Whites' thinking."

How utterly condescending!

The problem is always in the thinking of non-black oppressors.

Was this drivel actually written as recently as 2001?

Debrah said...

So many of the people who allegedly analyzed the case objectively have or had ties to Duke.

Here's a webcast from the 2007 Duke conference with Kimberly Gross on the panel.

Number 10.

The language employed by these people is really quite revolting.

And don't forget that former N&O "public editor" Ted Vaden was being paid by Duke to teach a little class there while he was assessing the paper's coverage of the case.

Incestuous networks which render their opinions worthless.

Anonymous said...

Just an outstanding piece rebutting that article, really outstanding.

Reading the Entman and Gross article, you know there is someting "wrong" as it counters your impressions. It smells of pseudo scholarship but like so many such pieces, who has time or a searchable data base to rebut it?

Normally, an article like theirs would be cited by the new York Times and others to support even more distortion.

Excellent, just excellent!

Anonymous said...

As a physical scientist, I am always amused at those in the social arts who try to apply rigorous mathematics to the analysis of political issues. There are no statistics that can determine fact or truth based upon the prevailing opinion without raw data...and counting uninformed and biased opinions in the local "newspapers" does not count in my book.

I always wonder if these folks try to use actual mathematics because they have an inferiority complex because the couldn't hack it in the sciences...

Just a guess. As a real thinker and social commentator, I do not think that KC suffers from this malady.

ES Duke 1990

maltesse3 said...

This is such an extraordinary post by KC. Debrah is always excellent, but RRH and Spook bring in depth views to each topic. I thoroughly enjoy reading them.
It's easy to see that all involved including those who write articles about the case know what really happened.
Seems an entire group of people who are supposed to stand for truth and knowledge took this case and have tried to get some mileage out of it by
altering the facts to their benefit.
It's the same way that Tim Tyson has done in his book which is now set to be a movie. "Primary sources" are nothing more than lies.
But those people are used to not being questioned. Before there was no one like KC to lay it all out for the public.
How do regular people fight such a machine?
I sure wish Spook, RRH and Jack Webb didn't live so far away.
I could certainly use their brain power on my website
Here to fight Tyson!

Maltesse3

Anonymous said...

Wow, it must have been "Opus Day" in Brooklyn! You're a real mensch for researching allah this great and informative material, zen writing a cogent rebuddah, Professor Johnson.

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

Gross and Entman’s article treats its readers as stupid or uninformed. The stupid would never pick up on the "bait and switch" tactic of ignoring the Herald-Sun, and the uninformed would not know that the paper existed and was the most politically correct and shrill of the lot. It would be like leaving out Connecticut in determining the number of fatal chimpanzee attacks in 2009 in the United States because it's such a small state.

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

I especially love Gross and Entman’s "coding decision" to use "single mother" as a derogatory term. It was obviously used by the Herald-Sun and Khanna in the N&O in an attempt to garner sympathy for the false accuser.

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

Although I may get flak for this comparison, Gross and Entman remind me of Fox News' claim to be "fair and balanced." As entertaining as Fox News is, it is as fair and balanced as a wedding day flat tire. MOO! Gregory

kay said...

To Anonymous, 9:22am, 3/2/09

Excellent suggestion. John Silber's response would have differed markedly from Brodhead's miserable response. It would be fascinating to hear from John how he would have handled Crystal's accusations.

It would be even more fascinating to ask him how he handled those types of cases on his own campus and how he managed to keep the information from the local newspapers. IIRC there were some foreign students who were accused of sexual assault and a couple of well known faculty members. It was all swept under the oriental rug in his palatial office.

Anonymous said...

kay said...
To Anonymous, 9:22am, 3/2/09

Excellent suggestion. John Silber's response would have differed markedly from Brodhead's miserable response. It would be fascinating to hear from John how he would have handled Crystal's accusations.

It would be even more fascinating to ask him how he handled those types of cases on his own campus and how he managed to keep the information from the local newspapers. IIRC there were some foreign students who were accused of sexual assault and a couple of well known faculty members. It was all swept under the oriental rug in his palatial office.

3/4/09 1:33 PM


Ironically, I found this hate-piece written about Silber in the 1979 Harvard Crimson by future The New York Times reporter, Nicholas Kristof. Among other things, it says,

"Now Silber is fighting hard to win his biggest confrontation yet. Next month he will preside over a faculty assembly that will debate a resolution calling for his dismissal. Twenty-five professors are active in a committee working to oust him, and the student forum of the college of liberal arts voted recently to demand that he be fired. Six-hundred professors from M I T, Harvard, and other Boston-area universities have signed a petition calling for Silber's removal and have pledged to withhold administrative courtesies--such as advice on promotions--from B.U. as long as he is president."

If Silber was undaunted by this agglomeration of academic bilge, I don't think the Kampus Kulture Klaqueurs at Duke would have caused him more than brief amusement. (Btw, note to Nikki Kristof: If Silber was indeed such a tough professor at The University of Texas that he "frightened some students to tears", I can vouch that, at least in this regard, the University wasn't changed much by his departure.) While I would love to know for sure, it is my guess that if Silber had been leading Duke in March, 2006, then the infamous ad of the 88 KKKers would not have ever been contemplated, much less written, and not even dreamed of being published. More directly to the point, a passage in the article suggests that Silber would have paid for, or at least led fundraisers for, the legal defenses of the accused lacrosse players:

"Silber's belligerence melts as he recalls a previously unreported incident that is at odds with his reputation for callousness. A year ago he hired an attorney with his own money to defend a young cab driver charged with murder. The cabbie's brother, a security guard at B.U., had told Silber of the situation: the court-appointed attorney was trying to convince the defendant to plead guilty in exchange for only a 20-year sentence. Outraged at this, Silber retained a different attorney and the man was later acquitted. The second attorney, George V. Higgins of Boston, says Silber paid a fee of more than $15,000 from his own pocket.

A more pleasant daydream for me would have Silber's bete noir, Frank Erwin, at Duke in 2006. I think Erwin might have ordered that loaded pistols be laid on 88 desks with notes that read, "Now do the honorable thing."

Btw, kay, a google search failed to find any sexual assault cases handled by Silber at Boston University (or anywhere else) in the manner that you suggest. In fact, it found none at all. There were a few articles where Silber expressed his belief that such crimes should be handled by the judicial system rather than to university tribunals because he feared the latter would be more likely to be biased toward either the complainant or the accused.

RRH

hman said...

I was a student at UT Austin during the latter part of Silbers tenure. I took his famous(infamous) Philosophy 610Q course. I was very impressed by the guy. He was totally brave. Once he fired an Asst Prof named Larry Caroline. Some controversey ensued. So Silber invited the guy to a live, unfiltered debate on the Mall.
As to Philosophy; he was very much a Kantian. He was intolerant of BS to the point of harshness but if you had an argument he would listen with complete seriousness. I truly believe that he cared a lot, in his own way, about old fashion truth but of course he was extremely ambitious from the start. And regardless of what he said, the arm missing messed with his emotional balance.
I will just say that my guess is that he would have done everything the exact opposite of R.Brodhead.
I simply loved UT Austin. A long term, intense, thoroughly requited love affair. It was normal to lose 40 % of the freshman class; no one held your hand, but if you hustled you could find yourself as a sophomore in a class of 10 with a full Prof.
Austin/ the Hill Country in the springtime is insanely gorgeous. The rest of the year it is merely very, very pretty.

Locomotive Breath said...

I'm a local subscriber to the N&O. KC, I have to differ with you. Their early hysterical and inflammatory coverage firmly affixed the "story" in people's minds. Once pigeonholed very few people go back and revisit their original conclusion. I meet people in Raleigh who still believe that the lacrosse players "got away with something".

One flaw in the study you did not mention is the placement of items in the articles. It is well known that most people read the headline and the first paragraph and very few make it past the jump. I recall reading the N&O's articles and all the incriminating stuff was up front. All the stuff that might argue for innocence was buried at the end of the article. This was CYA "safe harbor" reporting that the study methodology would not pick up and was not controlled.

No justice, no peace said...

John Silber Gets the Last Word - U.T. Alcade

An interesting article but chicken-shit on whole because, of course, Frank Erwin isn't able to defend himself.

There was a wonderful letter to the editor in a subsequent issue from Mr. Erwin's son that provided some needed balance.

Regardless, just about anyone could have managed the Duke hoax, and financial meltdown in a more honest, transparent, and honorable way than Richard Brodhead and Bob Steel.

When people act as if they have something to hide, it is reasonable to assume that they are hiding something.

hman, you are so very right about Austin, except you left out the parts about the coeds, and the beer specials, and the music, and the BBQ, and the coeds,...

hman said...

Last count showed that in Austin there were around 150 live music venues, with most acts doing original music. Zero pollution. Crystalline blue skies, translucent lakes, dark green hills with wild-flowers everywhere. The economy is based on I.T. (like Dell Computer) UT, and State government.
And coeds, yes there are some of those, just like most schools except that at UT none of them are fat because everybody walks miles a day. It is the opposite of a commuter school.
My first visit to Barton Springs was memorable for two reason. Any resident knows what I mean here: 1.The water is shockingly cold 2. Going topless has always been perfectly OK at an Austin City pool. Coeds, indeed.
I am not capable of being objective about the quality of various Academic Departments there except they worked for me as an undergrad. Politics at the top of the Institution were & are I assume no different from the usual sausage-making.
However, UT Austin is a much bigger, less centralized affair than Duke. Party-Lines are not necessarily followed. Also, the bulk of the UT endowment has come from oil rights in West Texas, the alums matter but it is subtly different.
It is quite different than a place like Duke in another respect. There is no trace of single social hierarchy. For decades UT has taken in cheer-leaders and jocks, geeks, bookish misfits (cough), religious conservatives from small towns and generally everybody finds a large & comfortable niche - without much caring what other circles are doing. Feeling excluded from the "Right" groups does not come naturally when swimming in the upper reaches of Barton Springs with some formerly shy West Texas ranch girl.

Anonymous said...

hman and Njnp,

Ix-nay on the eauty-bay of ustin-Ay. Don't forget the Texans' Third Nightmare.

RH-Ray

inman said...

Gregory @ 2:38AM

For the record, the chimpanzee attack was/is not yet fatal. It did however provide a new benchmark against which one can measure the phrase "...rip your face off..." ...

or ... against which one can evaluate the phrase "...bite the hand that feeds you."

The extent to which homo sapiens sapiens mimic the behavior of their primordial ancestors in metaphorically extending the application of these phrases continues to stun me.

But then, political economy has to be good for something.