Thursday, May 06, 2010

Today Slanders the Lacrosse Players

[Update, 2.41pm, below:}

On this morning's broadcast of Today, host Meredith Viera interviewed "criminal profiler" Pat Brown, on the topic of whether the Virginia killing could have been prevented.

Out of the blue--in a discussion, again, of an accused murderer--"criminal profiler" Brown offered the following insight: "Look at the Duke situation. All these boys did all these things, but were they thrown off the team? No."

Viera offered no correction, but merely thanked Brown for her insights. The item comes at 8.49 of the clip below:

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On another front, I have an op-ed this morning in Inside Higher Ed on the flawed comparisons between the Duke and UVA cases.

[Via Mediate, the phony comparisons continue--this time from CNN's Don Lemon, who referenced the Duke "sex scandal." As Steve Krakauer notes, "Is a sex scandal a sex scandal if it’s proven there was no sex scandal at all?"]

25 comments:

Archivist said...

It is unpardonable when someone who purports to have specialized knowledge in her field is permitted to blithely posit a sweeping slander and isn't even challenged for it.

Newsflash, Ms. Brown: you wouldn't cavalierly disparage the Scottsboro boys for their purported behavior, and you damn well shouldn't do it about Duke lacrosse, either.

Keep holding their feet to the fire, Prof.

Anonymous said...

Is Brown a Communist?

Anonymous said...

And she said it in the context of what the university should have done about behavior that the school claims not to have known about, and without disputing that claim, so I am a little less willing to say, "Well, it was an honest mistake" (even though it is not a mistake she ought to have made).

I'm not even really sure why she was there, though. She didn't seem to have any relevant expertise; I could have had much the same conversation with whoever was next to me in a supermarket checkout line while I was buying a newspaper with a headline about the murder.

That said, and although I know it will not undo the damage, if she issues a prompt statement to the effect that she was wrong and that she is sorry, I'll have more respect for her than I do right now; and if Meredith Viera explains the mistake on air I'll have more respect for her as well.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know or understand why the players did not take on a media outlet? The targets were ripe and vulnerable, e.g., Nancy Grace, Duff Wilson, etc. It is clear that the media can't help themselves -- completeness and accuracy is irrelevant, just sell papers and get viewers. The way to do that is to make escalating outrageous statements. Unless one is held accountable for such libelous and/or slanderous misconduct, they will continue to do so. Make just one pay the price and the rest will get the message.

The mere fact that the Attorney General issues a rather formal declaration of innocence means nothing to the media. Integrity and accuracy do not sell papers or get viewers. Metanarratives to meet a preordained conclusion and view do.

From the media's perspective, no one in their business was held accountable, so they got away with it, and therefore see nothing wrong with what they did. So they will do it again. Crying shame.

-- Haunches

Anonymous said...

Just a "thank you" for all your efforts in not only pursuing this case but for your recent efforts in attempting to correct the media.

Without your efforts, the truth of this would go the way of other poor MSM reporting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying the MSM again!

One Spook said...

Honestly, KC, I do not think Brown's comment rises to anywhere near the level of slander.

The comment of hers you cite is quite vague: " Look at the Duke situation. All these boys did all these things, but were they thrown off the team? No."

If "these things" refer to assault, rape, or kidnapping, then her comment is outrageous, incorrect, and uninformed, but she does not state to which behaviors she refers.

If "these things" refer to minor offenses such as underage drinking, public urination, noise violations, for which some Duke lacrosse players had been convicted, then her statement is true, and truth is the classic and optimal defense against a charge of slander.

However, if Brown believes that those minor offenses for which a good portion of Duke and many college students are similarly convicted, constitute a "profile" that would predict a violent murder, then she is living in a dream world.

Unfortunately, there are reports beginning to come out about the accused in the UVA case, including past violent behavior toward the deceased and toward police which, allegedly, was never reported to university officials.

It is important to examine the reasons why serious, violent behavior by students, regardless of whether they are athletes or not, do not come to the attention of authorities. I'm reminded of a recent murder of a VATech foreign student by a fellow foreign student who had been spurned in his advances by student who was killed. Assaults and murders in our society committed by husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends, and ex-boyfriends are far too common, and aggressive, violent behavior by men in those situations is a huge red flag.

No membership on any athletic team, or any other reason should prevent such red flag behavior from being reported.


One Spook

sceptical said...

Once again the "lacrosse culture" is being blamed:

http://www.sbnation.com/2010/5/6/1459030/george-huguely-yeardley-love-uva-lacrosse-murder

"Murder At UVA: George Huguely, Yeardley Love, And Lacrosse's Worst Case Scenario

In the wake of this week's terrible tragedy at UVA, many people will wonder how this could happen, and they'll blame lacrosse's reckless culture. Or, they'll defend lacrosse, and call George Huguely a monster, or an aberration. The truth, says SB Nation's Andrew Sharp, is somewhere in between."

This is a thoughtful article, as well as some of the comments. However, the author does not address the vital question of whether the incidence of any misbehavior is more prevalent among lacrosse players, college athletes palying different sports, or students at elite schools in general.

William L. Anderson said...

I have to agree with Haunches, although the media problem is institutional. How many times have we seen these people run over the cliff with a story, and then promise "We will never do it again."

Yeah, we heard after Janet Cooke and "Jimmy's World" in 1981, "We'll never do it again." Then there was Jayson Blair, the Duke case, and Lord knows what else. The same refrain,"We learned our lessons, we won't do this again," still rings, and, yes, they really, really mean it this time.

Anonymous said...

It has to be frustrating that essentially nobody reads your blog.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason for any one at NBC or any network to fear lawsuits. The players and their families have plenty of friends and supporter throughout the media. Dan Abrams (NBC) and CBS both carried plenty of water for them. I defy someone to provide a citation of a network the defamed the players. Particular guests on some programs may have but they haven't been pursued either. There is a reason for that.

The continued comparison to the Scottsboro Boys of the lacrosse players is completely out of line. The only people who supported those poor black men were the Communist Party and what civil rights groups that existed at the time. The ultimate end of the Scottsboro case has NO resemblance to Duke.

There is nothing the lacrosse families will say about any of the comparisons being made. Some of them are spot on and some are a stretch. Either way, why would they want to get involved with the UVA case? The answer is they don’t and they won’t.

Anonymous said...

Brown and her ilk did not make a "mistake." This fradulent behavior has been pruposeful from the very beginning. To paraphrase, "What's truth got to do with it." It is and has been the same old song about the Duke lacrosse team from the very beginning no matter what the facts. The invocation of the Duke situation has been done shamelessly and purposefully for power. The point of view of people like Brown is to present something as seamless and unarguable and accepted as "see I told you so," and it is doubly horrible in the wake of real tragedy.

Quasimodo said...

KC gets some props:

http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/07/bias-in-reporting-same-old-lacrosse-player/#ixzz0nFxOSbhu

"Bias in reporting: Same old lacrosse player"
By Anchorman

(snip)

The media frenzy of bad reporting in the Duke hoax might never have been stopped, were it not for the work of one blogger, K.C. Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College who documented day by day, the absurdities of the prosecutions case.

(snip)

The Duke community may never get over its delusion that their lacrosse players were guilty, no matter how much blogger K.C. Johnson hits them over the head with reality. There was never any punishment for student protestors who called for castration of the players, nor for the scores of faculty members who intimidated and harassed lacrosse players with threats of bad grades, nor for University President Richard Brodhead , a true coward who caved to political correctness and continues to, to this day.

(snip)

KC Johnson said...

To the 7.25am:

Indeed: "essentially no one" reads the blog except for the blog's 4.778 million unique visitors, according to the latest SiteMeter report.

To O.S.:

I quite agree on your comments re UVA and Huguely: I would assume (and would support) that UVA will conduct a full investigation of the athletics structure to examine why his violent behavior wasn't identified; and will examine why a student being tasered while being arrested never got reported to the university's disciplinary structure.

On Brown: There are, it seems, two possible explanations for her comments: that she slandered the falsely accused players by leaving the impression that they did something criminal; or, as you suggest, she's simply incompetent--a "criminal profiler" who went on national TV to suggest that the roughly 1000 Duke students caught up in alcohol offenses derived from Durham's "separate-but-equal" enforcement policy have behavior that could be relevant in discussing profiles for an alleged murder.

Duke1965 said...

It's unlikely that the lacrosse players could successfully sue the media, particularly in light of New York Times vs. Sullivan. You would not only have to show slander, you would have to show "malice" as well, a very high hurdle.

What continues to amaze me about all of this is the attempt to link boorish college jock behavior with the potential for criminal behavior. If you know anything about the lacrosse "culture", you know that there is indeed an "Animal House" aspect that's well known; especially at Duke, the lacrosse players were known for their rowdy behavior, as was documented in the Coleman report. However, as was also well documented in the Coleman Report, there was absolutely no evidence of serious criminal behavior, in fact just the opposite was found.

Amazing.

Quasimodo said...

"The continued comparison to the Scottsboro Boys of the lacrosse players is completely out of line."

The false accusations in Scottsboro needed a town to give them credence. The completely baseless charges wouldn't have held up for five minutes before being dismissed from a court in New York or Chicago.

Likewise, the false accusations in Durham needed a town to give them credence. The false Duke charges would have been tossed in five minutes from a court in New York or Chicago.

Preachers in Durham saying that God struck Ed Bradley down because he took money to defend the Duke players; and a state press which calls for vigilante action against persons declared innocent by the attorney general, gives you an idea of the prevalent mindset.

The "Scottsboro 1931-Durham 2006" comparison is very apt.

One Spook said...

KC: I certainly appreciate your view that Brown "slandered" the falsely accused players, but the standard to win a slander suit against the media is a bar set necessarily high.

It is not unlike the high standards for free speech, to wit, we may not like the speech or expression (like say burning the American flag), but the standard for speech that is not permitted is quite high.

If you honestly believe that Brown has "slandered" the players, you would have to convince a judge or jury that, in your words, Brown's comments were "leaving the impression that they did something criminal" and I would submit that no judge or jury in America would accept that argument as anywhere near proof of slander.

I believe that most of your readers would agree that Brown's comments about the player's "criminality" referred to their convictions for minor alcohol offenses, her point being if the players, or at least the team captains, actually feared meaningful reprisals (beyond running laps) from their coach or the university they may have thought twice about hiring the strippers.

In the past I have commented here that I wish the players had included the media as defendants in their lawsuits. I still believe that, but I think that the reason they did not is simply because, as I argued above, it would have been extremely difficult and costly to prevail in such a suit.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a recent murder of a VATech foreign student by a fellow foreign student who had been spurned in his advances by student who was killed.

The two had met only two weeks before the murder. The man had been at Tech for at least a semester; the woman had arrived in this country less than two weeks before. The man was apparently looking for a mate and told the woman he wanted to marry her; she told him she was engaged to someone else. As far as I know, there was no violence until the murder.

This was an extremely bizarre episode.

Blacksburger

sceptical said...

More smears against the Duke lacrosse team, this time taking the results of the Coleman Committee out of context. The columnist sugggests that UVa should make the same mistake Duke did-- shut down its men's lacrosse team.

http://kevin-blackistone.fanhouse.com/2010/05/07/in-light-of-murder-investigation-virginia-should-shut-down-lacr/

Anonymous said...

And where is that sitemeter these days, KC? I see your thin skin is on display once again.

Anonymous said...

This may sound lame, but I cannot thank you enough for this blog.

The MSM narrative has been unrelentingly inaccurate and biased. The facts-the truth-have been available only here and in your book.

And now only a few years later, the MSM continues to smear the reputations of the lacrosse players. From ignorance? From an aversion to the facts? I don't know and don't care: what I can see is that THEY don't know or care. Thank you for being honest and caring.

Anonymous said...

The theme of Tom Wolfe's novel, "The Bonfire of The Vanities," was the search for the Great White Defendant by a district attorney who needs nonwhite votes. The MSM also wants the GWD to take attention from the garden variety criminals who are on the local TV news every night.

The sports media, such as SI and ESPN, look for the Criminal White Athlete to deflect attention from the numerous black basketball and football players who get arrested for violent behavior.

This is why SI and ESPN were so eager to play up the Duke Hoax. They thought tbey had the perfect CWA's. "Rich white athletes sexualy assaulting a black woman" was too good to be true. It turned out that it was. That it turned out to be a hoax in no way lessened the desire for this scenario.

Now, with the Virginia story, the MSM has the Great White Defendant and the Criminal White Athlete. They don't care anything about the young woman who is dead.

Renegade said...

Michael Gaynor has finally drawn a great parallel between the way Tyson slandered the lacrosse players and with the fabricated story in his book which he has used all his life.

The media will never let a sensational story go and will always label people, even with exaggerations and lies. But the media and Tyson are never held accountable.

Many people have been harmed by Tim Tyson's way of life and his fabrications.

KC Johnson said...

To the 3.21:

Here it is. Thanks for asking!!

Anonymous said...

KC -- Don't give idiots like the 3:21 commenter the satisfaction of a response. They are just gadflies who live to irritate and draw energy from knowing that they have irritated. They contribute nothing. -Haunches