[A fourth update, Wed., 12.17pm: Selena Roberts continues her National Mendacity Tour with a stop at Deadspin. She suggests, with her typical disregard for any evidence, that Jason Whitlock's criticism of her is caused by "homophobia."
Roberts states that she is a lesbian in the interview, although I can recall no mention by her of her sexual orientation in her Times column. It's not clear how she would characterize my opposition, then: perhaps I'm head of the Homophobes for Gay Marriage Coalition? Or is she suggesting that lesbian sportswriters should have a special license to rush to judgment, write error-prone columns, and then refuse to issue corrections or apologies?
And here's Roberts playing the victim card:
I also ask Roberts about the voluminous criticism she continues to get from Duke lacrosse supporters. She argues it's her job as a columnist to take hard stances, and she accepts any criticism she gets in return. She also says she wasn't the only one to criticize the Duke program right from the outset (she's right), but that people have made her the face of the enemy.
Well, not exactly. First of all, as one Deadspin commenter notes, "'She argues it's her job as a columnist to take hard stances, and she accepts any criticism she gets in return.' I must have missed her retraction and subsequent apology somewhere." I must have, as well. As someone who has followed this case very closely, not only has Roberts refused to correct the factual errors in her March 31, 2006 column, she has subsequently lied (a word I do not use lightly) about its contents.
Second, I suspect that if Duff Wilson, or Andrew Cohen, or Sal Ruibal, or Samiha Khanna wrote a book relying almost exclusively on anonymous sources commenters would call into question their credibility based on their error-prone reporting on the lacrosse case.
Third, I agree with Roberts that it's a columnist's job to "take hard stances." But it's also a columnist's job to be factually accurate.]
1.) For those who missed it, the Duke men's lacrosse team will be heading back to this year's Final Four, after defeating UNC in the quarterfinals. This year's team is the last one in which several key members were at Duke at the time the case began; the list of stars includes Brad Ross, whose ability to show that he never was even in Durham the night of the party played such a key role in demonstrating Crystal Mangum's lying ways.
2.) In the category of truth is stranger than fiction (at least in Durham, North Carolina): Durham District Court judge Craig Brown--an ethically challenged figure even in the land of the ethically challenged--is penning a book.
Brown is including a chapter on none other than disgraded ex-DA Mike Nifong. His thesis: “The media it seems to me missed the good points. He had quite a lengthy career in Durham County prior to being appointed district attorney.” Sure, suggests a sitting judge, Nifong might have violated myriad ethics rules, and withheld evidence, and lied to a judge, and tried to send three demonstrably innocent people to jail for thirty years to advance his political career. But the media deserves fault for focusing on this behavior and at the expense of the many “good points” from Nifong's time handling the mean streets of Durham Traffic Court.
Brown further told WGME that people had overlooked Nifong's achievements. I think not: those who followed the case have looked long and hard at Nifong's achievements in securing indictments without any evidence, and employing such effective demagoguery that he used an evidence-free case to capture primary and general election victories.
3.) Nifong was, perhaps the only person alive who got the case more wrong than Group of 88 stalwart Houston Baker. The then-Duke professor penned a public, racist screed days into the case; asserted that Crystal Mangum had been harmed for life; wildly suggested, in writing, that previous lacrosse players had committed previous rapes; and called Patricia Dowd the mother of a "farm animal." Baker is an embarrassment to my profession, a race-baiter who serves as the modern-day equivalent to the white Ole Miss professors who defended segregation in the 1960s.
The Vanderbilt "distinguished professor" was in the news yesterday, lecturing "black intellectuals" for not listening to . . . him. Their refusal to reduce everything to race and racism (which, of course, has a particular appeal to the intellectually lazy, since it provides a custom-made response to every issue) constitutes a "betrayal" of the "race."
The June 2007 settlement was in the best interest of both the falsely accused players and of Duke. But there would have been an element of justice in seeing, had the lawsuit gone forward, Houston Baker being deposed by some of the best lawyers in the country, going line by line through his myriad vile statements about the students whose tuition dollars helped pay his salary.