Monday, May 03, 2010

Linkage

[Update, 4.13pm, below]:
[Update, II, 4.27pm, below]:

[Update III, 11.31pm: The Washington Post, admirably, has now modified its language, noting that the falsely accused lacrosse players were "exonerated," that the case itself was "controversial," and omitting the incorrect inference that the falsely accused of racist behavior.]

[Update IV, 12.22pm, 5/4: An important point from the comment thread: "Stories about this case are constantly linking it with the Duke case; and these comparisons are evidence of how those false accusations continue to damage the reputations of the Duke lacrosse team members."]

[Update V, 5.39pm, 5/4: A most unfortunate item from Emily Friedman of ABC: "The prep school is no stranger to controversy. Several of the Duke lacrosse players who were implicated in the 2006 rape scandal were also alumni." No mention that the charges were false. How can a "rape scandal" exist in a case in which no rape occurred?]
Original Post:

A horrifying story from Charlottesville, where a member of the UVA men's lacrosse team has been charged with murdering a member of the women's lacrosse team.

The Washington Post has linked the matter back to the lacrosse case. Here's how the Post describes the case: " . . . shortly after allegations of sexual assault and racist behavior were made against members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team . . . All charges against Duke's team members were dropped." [emphases added]

The charges were "dropped"? Actually, of course, the players were declared innocent--a rather significant difference. And the wording of the Post's passage conveys the impression that "allegations" of "racist behavior" were directed against the three falsely accused players.

[Update: The Post formulation has appeared--essentially verbatim--in the New York Daily News. In what appears to be a case of journalistic plagiarism, the News' Teri Thompson writes, "Huguely attended the Landon School in Bethesda, where he also played lacrosse. He was interviewed by the Washington Post in 2006, shortly after allegations of sexual assault and racist behavior were made against members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team. Five of Duke's players that year had graduated from Landon. All charges against Duke's team members were dropped."

Here, again, is the item from the Post: "Huguely attended the Landon School in Bethesda, where he also played lacrosse. He was interviewed by the Post in 2006, shortly after allegations of sexual assault and racist behavior were made against members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team. Five of Duke's players that year had graduated from Landon. All charges against Duke's team members were dropped."

The two passages are identical, with the sole exception that Thompson inserted a "Washington" ahead of the "Post."]

[Update, II: ESPN has the charges being "dismissed"--no mention of innocence, but at least a slightly more accurate formulation than the Post. The ESPN article also wildly claims that the accused Virginia player attended the same high school as did Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty (who, it's worth noting, didn't even attend the same high school themselves, and neither attended Huguely's high school): "By coincidence, Huguely attended the same prep school as the Duke lacrosse players who were accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a team party. The charges later were dismissed."

ESPN has now modified its article; below is the screenshot.

]

11 comments:

skwilli said...

What are journalists taught today? I do more fact checking on my meaningless (and I do mean meaningless!) blog than members of the press do on even the largest and "most respected" news sources. To throw such lines out as "charges were dropped" means they don't even care to bother to get it correct. In 9th grade journalism class, the teacher would have flunked me for such an offense. I always figured I didn't have what it would take for a career in such a field. Man, was I way off!

Anonymous said...

KC,

First time poster/long time reader here. What is interesting to me is that the initial headlines/stories aren't "student charged in classmate's murder" or "former boyfriend charged in student's murder," but rather "lacrosse player charged in slaying"...which of course evokes/reminds us of one and only one thing.

But why? I can certainly understand how the media's simplistic minds love to highlight the "irony" here in their first submissions, and I suppose that's ok and we just have to live with it. But this situation appears to be quite different from initial perceptions of the Duke matter in that there does not appear to be even ANY relation to a formal or informal team activity, just the coincidence of the suspect's and deceased's pasttime. So, what will be interesting to me as this matter progresses is whether we will continue to be told that it is the "lacrosse murder" or whether it becomes the "UVA murder". If the former, I think it's fair to question whether it's the writer's laziness or perhaps...some other agenda.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends, and here's to hoping that they identify, arrest, convict, and punish the (right) perp.

Quasimodo said...

As poster Abb at Liestoppers pointed out, stories about this case are constantly linking it with the Duke case; and these comparisons are evidence of how those false accusations continue to damage the reputations of the Duke lacrosse team members.

If the truth about the Duke case had been allowed to come out in testimony, these kinds of comparisons could not be made.

Judge Beaty, why the endless delays getting to the truth? Delay is only further harming those who were wrongly accused. They need the full vindication that the truth can give them; and the present press coverage is proof that they needed it before now.

Anonymous said...

The press coverage of this very sad incident, the murder of the UVA coed, is simply atrocious. After watching an NBC reporter tie the suspect's affiliation with "lacrosse" and the "Landon School" to the Duke LAX fiasco, I would expect the next "journalist' to make the following ridiculous leap:

"The suspect is the son of Mr. and Mrs.----- of Chevy Chase, MD and, therefore, he is related, by noun, to David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, who was convicted of murdering six people in New York City many years ago".

Or, perhaps, "The suspect is a male student and is, therefore, related, by gender, to a number of other male students who have been accused of committing crimes against women students".

I would expect such amateurish writing of newly minted press workers. But, these folks(NYTimes, Wasington Post, NBC) are supposedly the cream of the crop.

Ridiculous.

Gayle Miller said...

There's a reason it is called "Pravda on the Potomac" by most of us who live in the area! The National Enquirer is rapidly becoming one of the most reliable newspapers around - which is a sad, sad commentary!

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Setting aside for the moment the reopening of old wounds for the Duke LAX players, this knee jerk instinct on the part of the press and media to try and link that case with the current one in VA is not one I would welcome were I the DA. All but the daftest corners of our society who either spend most of their time on another planet or are utterly impervious to facts and reason know that the Duke players were the victims of a terrible perversion of justice. No DA contemplating the prosecution of a young good looking white LAX player with what sounds like an impeccable background is going to want to have anyone thinking about the Duke case. It of course goes without saying that, while maintaining a strict presumption of innocence, there are immediate and obvious differences between these cases.

Prayers for the family of the young woman now deceased as also the family of the young man who are also victims here.

Stu Daddy said...

This Washington Post article from April 2006 has been near the top in hits over the last few days.

Duke Scandal Hits Home

Now alleged murderer Huguely came across then as a sober and sensible:

"Some expressed surprise at how quickly the players have been judged.

"I sympathize for the team," Huguely said. "They've been scrutinized so hard and no one knows what has happened yet. In this country, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. I think that's the way it should be." "

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness that their reporting on Obama has always been accurate and fair. We would be in trouble if they had made any errors or overlooked anything important in his background.

redcybra said...

Dave Evans said that his obituary would read "David Evans, accused of rape in the Duke lacrosse scandal, died today..." Very sad but true.

Anonymous said...

KC -- For a long time, I thought the players made a mistake in not taking down a media outlet for libel or slander. There were plenty of ripe and vulnerable targets: Duff Wilson of hte New York TImes, Nancy Grace, most of the MSNBC lineup, the local Durham newspapers, etc. The purpose of such a lawsuit would be to send a clear message that "metanarrative" falsehoods could result in loss of livelihood, reputation or ghastly sums of money. For example, Nifong is ruined and will likely spend the remainder of his days professionally disgraced and paying the players. Every prosecutor now knows the potential price of lying in court, concealing evidence and whipping up a public frenzy over false allegations. If it results in one prosecutor refraining from Nifong's shenanigans, the lawsuits are worth it from a public policy perspective.

Unfortunately, the press has never learned this lesson. As far as the media is concerned, they got away with it, while at the same time promoting itself and increasing its ratings. Since there is no price to be paid, they would do it again tomorrow. All it would really take is seeing a former NYT reporter, ESPN analyst, or cable news talking head flipping burgers at McDonald's with no other future to make the media approach sensational allegations cautiously and professionally. Alas, the players decided not to pursue that route, so the media continues to feel free to make things up to get the most sensational headline.

-- Haunches

Benjamin Opipari said...

The Washington Post has a rather slanted take today on the history of the UVa lacrosse team's alcohol violations:

http://bit.ly/cIVcc1