Few journalists performed as poorly in the lacrosse case as Samiha Khanna. Virtually every statement in her N&O interview with false accuser Crystal Mangum turned out to be wrong. Khanna seemed not to have even bothered to do a basic reporting task—checking her interviewee’s name in the N&O database—which would have uncovered not only Mangum’s criminal conviction but would have proved that Mangum had lied to Khanna in claiming that she was a newcomer to the world of exotic dancing.
Perhaps most problematically, Khanna conceded that she was approaching the case through a far-left ideological prism: "I think Tim Tyson taught readers Sunday about a history not many were aware had occurred. Durham is a place of many new residents, people who may not have the institutional knowledge of the university's history in the community. We are trying to explore these notions as we follow up on the story in the coming weeks. In response to your specific question about Mr. Tyson’s piece—I haven’t seen an equivalent piece in other publications. Many people have spoken out about a history of sex crimes on college campuses, but not issues of race and gender on the Duke campus specifically. These are keys to thorough follow-up stories that we are working to document." [emphases added] Liestoppers correctly termed Khanna’s reporting on the case “irresponsible and willfully misleading.”
Khanna was downsized from the N&O in 2008 and spent nearly a year outside the journalism industry (as a “public relations specialist”). That’s no surprise: with the financial difficulties that journalism is currently experiencing, good reporters are having trouble getting jobs—to say nothing of figures such as Khanna.
Incredibly, however, she’s back working as a reporter—though at an entity where the sort of ideological bias she demonstrated in the lacrosse case is a job requirement. Khanna is now a beat reporter for The Independent, which formed a critical element of the Nifong base of “true believers.” Khanna’s brand of “journalism” is exactly what people expect from the Indy.
Jesse Jackson managed to insert himself back into case-related news last week. In an interview with the Greensboro newspaper, Jackson gave his take on the case:
“The good news is those boys’ parents paid to get the proper legal representation and get them vindicated. So often, young black youth and youth who are poor, don’t have legal protection. That’s why you have 2.3 million Americans in prison.”
That’s a very different interpretation than Jackson originally offered. First, of course, Jackson stated that his organization’s donors would pay Mangum’s college tuition, even if (as ultimately occurred) it was proved that Mangum had lied. Second, he published a column riddled with false assertions: that “this was the first time [Crystal Mangum] had been hired to dance for a party”; that “the one African American on the team wasn’t there”; that “we know that the two women were abused”; that “the Duke players are maintaining a code of silence”; that “it shouldn’t take the brutalizing of a mother of two” to “lead colleges across the country to hold searching discussions about racial and sexual stereotypes, exposing the myths that entrap so many.”
And a year after writing those words, the Rev. Jackson maintained, “I didn’t make a mistake.”
Of course he didn’t. And now he’s on the scene to preach “the good news.”
A couple of follow-up items from the comment thread regarding other experiences with the Duke fundraising arm:
I’ve had a similar experience to that of “ES Class of 1990.” For 3 years now I’ve responded to solicitations from Duke by saying that the funds I would otherwise give are “on hold” until the civil suits are resolved, because I believe the university should not be spending donor money on legal fees supporting the defense of various administrators who were not acting in the best interest of the institution and who made serious (and entirely avoidable) mistakes in judgment. This year, the student who placed the call had “talking points” about how the annual fund could not be spent on legal fees. (As if the annual fund couldn’t be spent on other things that could then free up funds from other accounts to pay legal fees!) In any event, Duke annual giving is prepared to encounter resistance from alumni who are questioning whether the institution is deserving of their largess given the current state of leadership.
The telephone exchanges I’ve had with Duke students dialing for dollars, once or twice annually, have been nearly identical to the one reported by ES Class of 1990.
Generally, the talking points for cheerful, optimistic, true blue Dukies seem to be along the line: The lacrosse affair was a long time ago, it was an unfortunate isolated incident not indicative of what’s great about our wonderful university, President Brodhead made an eloquent apology (have you seen the video?), and all that’s behind us now.
I usually ask about the status of the ongoing lawsuits, and why have several members of the Group of 88 professors been rewarded with positions of leadership and increased responsibility.
That’s where the conversations abruptly end.