Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Three Updates

[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.


William L. Anderson said...

It seems that Mike Nifong's rehabilitation tour continues. We are supposed to believe that this guy -- who clearly demonstrated sociopathic (and psychopathic) behaviors throughout the lacrosse ordeal -- was a wonderful, ethical prosecutor who cared only about the "public interest."

As Jackie Brown pointed out many time, Nifong ran for office for one important reason: to be able to get an extra $15K a year on his pension. Furthermore, as K.C. found, Nifong had lent a lot of money to his floundering campaign and was headed for early retirement.

It is not hard to add two plus two, although Nifong's supporters do that and get five. We are dealing with more than just "unethical" behavior on Nifong's part; we are dealing with out-and-out crimes, and we never should forget that Nifong got off easy, very easy.

That Nifong seems to have a gaggle of supporters in Durham and in the DA's office does not exactly speak well of that place.

Anonymous said...

The Vanderbilt administration and Trustees must be awfully proud having Baker as the university's "public 'intellectual' face." Baker almost makes Nifong look like a Mensa nominee by comparison. Incredible.

Anonymous said...

I now understand another aspect of the problem with holding colleges accountable for the behavior seen from Houston Baker and his buddies: financial aid. College costs are so unbelievably high huge percentages of the students are very dependent on financial aid...which leaves parents and students feeling beholden to the college and quite disinclined to hold anyone at the school accountable for anything.

As a dear elderly friend once pointed out to me...thirty years ago yearly college tuition at private institutions was about the same as the costs of a standard new car...around $5000. Now, standard new cars run between $20000 and $25000, but tuition at private colleges is over $50000. How can families manage that? Most can do it only through the grace of financial aid, and then it's still difficult.

And for those who actually are able to foot the tuition bill and send donations on top of that (the folks who could really have an impact)...they have too vested an interest in maintaining the rankings of the school and its status among employers to shake up anything.

So there we are...our morality prisoners of our pocketbooks and our ambitions for our children.


Anonymous said...

It seems Houston Baker is to receive an award:

"At 6:30 p.m. Friday, the Celebration of Black Writing Festival will present Baker with one of its four 2009 Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Church of the Advocate, 18th and Diamond streets."

Perhaps IMHO the Church of the Advocate seems about the right place for him :

" It was the site of several nationally significant events of these movements including the National Conference of Black Power (1968), the Black Panther Conference (1970) and the first ordination of women in the Episcopal Church (1974).


"Reverend Paul Washington’s leadership allowed the church to support rights rallies and protests and also developed what he came to call the Theology of Black Power."

skwilli said...

Stepping into Baker's "race" discussion would be too bold for my tastes. I remember the gentlemen fired for 1)using the word "niggardly" and 2)reading a book critical of the KKK while on break at work. The race-based crowd take offense at everything, including people promoting their own opinions.

Anonymous said...

Houston Baker is a joke, and those in the "academy" should be embarrassed by his race baiting screeds. It is truly laughable that one who is so critical of All caucasians and expects personal and professional entitlements for himself because of the guilt he believes ALL caucasians should feel, now has turned on African American intellectuals and other African Americans who are broadly respected because they haven't "annointed " him as their spokesperson.

What Baker's real problem is that he is very upset that he has not asked to be on national networks because he so obviously angry and wanting to start a race war in America.

Houston Baker is a bully, plain and simple.

What is wrong with our univerrsities who believe that he is worth hiring?

William L. Anderson said...

So, Salena Roberts "outs" herself, and then declares that Jason Whitlock is dissing her out of homophobia. It seems to me that he is dissing her because she plays fast-and-loose with the truth.

skwilli said...

"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?"

Me thinks you have hit the nail on the head!

Art Deco said...

the modern-day equivalent to the white Ole Miss professors who defended segregation in the 1960s.There was a corps of defenders of the status quo in the South ca. 1955 (I am thinking of William Workman, James Jackson Kilpatrick, and James Byrnes) who adhered to a certain standard of civility, as I imagine a college teacher of that era would. I am curious. Who were the equivalents of Sen. Bilbo on the Ole Miss faculty?

Anonymous said...

There are some issues about Nifong I would like to point out. I'm not sure if anyone else has. On page 79of the paperback edition of Until Proven Innocent, there are some facts about Nifong's background.

Born in 1950 (as I was), Nifong registered as a conscientous objector with the Selective Service during the Vietnam era. This means that Nifong considers himself a Great Moralistic Liberal. It also shows that he takes a moralistic stand that is in his own self-interest. In other words, staying out of the army. I knew some men in those years who claimed CO status. I didn't find them to be sincere.

Full disclosure, I had a 2-S deferment and later a high lottery number, which meant I wasn't drafted. Many of my friends went, two died in Vietnam. I would never have claimed to be a CO.

Further down the page, we learn that when married with a young daughter, Nifong entered into a relationship with a married woman, whom he married later after they both divorced. This is an indication that Nifong will satisfy his own desires no matter who else is hurt.

In the Duke Lacrosse Hoax, Nifong tried to send 3 innocent men to prison. One reason was the extra 15K a year in his pension. I also think he wanted to be a hero. Nifong didn't mind hurting other people while seeking fame and profit for himself.


Anonymous said...

Seems like Selena wants to play the victim card now in the Duke case - which is not surprising since that is part and parcel of the stance now taken by those who were "outed" for their lies, deceptions, and illegal activities. Selena Roberts is as much of a victim as Mike Nifong. NOT!!!

Jamal Matsuzaka said...

It is so sad that Vanderbilt bent over backwards for Houston Baker. As those who are strong in mind and will continue to pull themselves up from situations that were thrust upon them by unjust circumstances, I wonder if people like Houston Baker will continue to sink below the occasion by continuing to push their intellectually bankrupt agenda on a segment of society that is becoming ever smaller and ever more delusional. Hitler succeeded in rallying the German people because they utterly demoralized from the aftermath of WWI (Yeah, that's right. I'm drawing parallels to Hitler and WWII. People who aren't intelligent enough to follow along, please, PLEASE, start some reactionary rant....NOW....PLEASE). Anyway, the American people aren't demoralized. Disadvantaged people all over the USA are working their way out of less-than-ideal situations every day. The vast majority of them aren't looking for Houston Baker to tell them who to blame. So, who is Houston Baker talking to? He's talking to stupid people and people that are afraid of having it seem that they're not 100% "non-racist" and certified by Houston Baker's Nonracist Underwriter's Laboratory Inc.As always, we are heading towards a great future in the USA. I hope Houston Baker can join us.

Also, "he's just criticizing me because I'm" gay/black/Serbian/Jewish/white/12feet-tall/etc isn't any sort of rebuttal. It just isn't. If you said that 5+5=37 and I said you were utterly incorrect, saying that I hate homosexuals doesn't refute my point that 5+5 DOES NOT equal 37. This is all so ridiculous that I can't really believe it's happening.

Anonymous said...

"3.) Nifong was, perhaps the only person alive who got the case more wrong than Group of 88 stalwart Houston Baker."

I am very pleased to see you recant your position that Nifongs actions were a deliberate frame.

Progress, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really care about Ms. Salena Roberts' sexual preferences? I certainly don't. What I care about is fixing a system that allows one to proimulgate outright lies that do harm to multitudes without penelty.

Anonymous sources? Ruthless attacks on the LAX players, failure to admit any error in reeporting. How do people like Roberts get their National Enquirer-brand of journalism printed in books and distributed?

And she thinks those of us who will forever remember her for her error filled attacks on these young men and Duke University care one iota about her private life?

How arrogant.

Anonymous said...

Was Selena publically known to be a lesbian prior to the DeadSpin article? If not, is this the counter-attack from Alex Rodriguez? If I had a couple hundred mil in the bank, I'd lease an army of private detectives to "out" everything bad about Roberts. By the way, what is Roberts talking about? Is she implying that lesbianism is a bad thing? I would tell her its not a bad thing, but more than I ever wanted to know.

KC Johnson said...

To the 7.19:

I have no idea what you're talking about. If you interpreted that sentence to suggest that I have in any way changed my interpretation of Nifong's motives or conduct, please consider yourself corrected.

Also, from a commenter: Ms. Roberts is quite the woman of the "people.":

In case you want to contact Selena here's the town of Westport listing from when she bought her house.

File 3295 Book 2615 Page 139
Conveyance Tax $1,837.50
Selling Price $735,000.00
Date Filed 10/25/2005
Deed Date 10/21/2005

Anonymous said...

Come on now we are not interested in Selena's financial situation. I may be living in a much more comfortable home than Selena albeit one that is not nearly as expensive. Do we need to know the purchase price of every commentator on this blog to determine their peopleness quotient? (my home 215K) Selena has a enough negative values to discuss related to her work without putting her on a scale from Mao to Queen Elizabeth II.

Anonymous said...

To the 7:19 --

Getting things willfully wrong is still getting them wrong.

Anonymous said...

Westport is a rich town with few people Roberts pretends to champion. She is a man-hater who will use race and anything else to write her book.

Anonymous said...

"Come on now we are not interested in Selena's financial situation."

Ummm. Yes we are, and for at least a couple of reasons. First, it shows Roberts' hypocrisy in attacking the "elite" lax players. Roberts wrote the following: "At the intersection of entitlement and enablement there is Duke University,..." Did she stop there? No! She added:

"Duke's lacrosse team, a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings."

Please ignore the rush-to-judgment aspect of the quote and focus on the classest aspects, including the phrases "fine pedigree" and "group of privileged." As it that wasn't enough, Roberts went on to discuss how Duke would "nurture the enitlement."

Secondly, there is the hypocrisy of Selena Roberts claiming to fight the culture war -- when she's living in a 3/4 of a million dollar house in a lily-white neighborhood.

I totally disagree with you, Anonymous at 11:49, as the information provided by Professor Johnson is essential to fully understanding the depth of this person's hypocrisy. MOO! Gregory

Debrah said...

I'm sure the last thing on Jason Whitlock's mind is the sexual preferences of Selena Roberts.

How grotesque that this ultra-liberal journalistic beast who carries Tyson-esque plantation tales around inside her Southern belle melon would accuse an ethical black journalist of being homophobic.

This woman is beyond belief.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic, but KC have you seen the decision in the Guilani case? Seems likely to set a precedent for lacrosse. The magistrate determines the student handbook (despite your interesting analysis) is not a contract because it can change without notification of the parties. This seems a hurdle that is pretty substantial. And it doesn't bold well for the lacrosse decisions regarding faculty conduct.
Looks like you got this otherwise really interesting reasoning really wrong--or do you think there's still a chance?

KC Johnson said...

On the Giuliani case:

This decision clearly is of no assistance to the lacrosse players.

I don't think it's much harm to them, however, either. Even if the passage I highlighted in Love never was written--or, say, the Love judge had added an equally unsupported assertion that bulletins were contracts--the Giuliani case still would have been tossed, since, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there was no "there" there.

Jenna said...

I know this post is old but I have to defend Judge Brown. He's a good man. I worked for him in 1996, driving him to work when his blindness set in, and babysitting his two little girls, Brooke and Lauren. He was always kind, gentle, and fair minded. Its fair to say he knows far more about Mike NiFong and what went on that most, so cut the man some slack.