Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The Roethlisberger Case
One item from the case is especially notable. As far as I can tell, and despite the heavy media interest, the district attorney, Fred Bright, has made only one public comment. Here it is: "The investigation is ongoing. It would be premature to make any announcement at this time. When the facts are in and a decision is made, we will let you know."
Contrast the tone and contents of that remark to Mike Nifong's pre-primary publicity crusade in 2006. Three days after taking over supervision of the police investigation, and minutes after receiving his first detailed briefing on the facts of the case from the police officers now working under his direction, Nifong was off and running.
He gave interview after interview to local, state, and national media--expressing his certainty that a crime had occurred (as he privately admitted, "We're fucked"), and making racially inflammatory remarks as he began his surge from third place to first among black primary voters. He discussed how he had read the report of SANE-nurse-in-training Tara Levicy--the report that mentioned false accuser Crystal Mangum had claimed her "attackers" hadn't used condoms. He even gave a demonstration--on live TV, no less--of how the false accuser had been "choked" in the commission of the "crime."
During that time, few prominent commentators or members of the media expressed any skepticism about the propriety of Nifong's remarks--TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt stands as a significant exception. That said, it's hard to think of a DA in a comparable case (much less a DA six weeks from a primary election that seemed certain to result not only in his defeat but in the new DA firing him) behaving anything like Nifong did.
Bright's comment provides a reminder of how "Minister of Justice" Nifong should have conducted himself in spring 2006.