[Update, II, 6/1, 6.39pm: For an example of how a publication committed to journalistic integrity might have handled the connection between the lacrosse case and the 2010 championship, take a look at this moving article on the Loftus family from the Syosset Patch. Brothers Dan and Chris were members of the 2006 team; brother Eddie was a member of the Duke championship squad. Their father, Brian, is a retired New York fire captain (not exactly the elitist image upon which lacrosse critics want to focus) who was one of the most courageous voices speaking out against the media crusade against the Duke players in spring 2006.]
[Update, 6/1, 12.01am: ESPN's onslaught against the falsely accused players and their teammates continues. In a column ostensibly hailing the 2010 Duke lacrosse national championship victory, ESPN's Dana O'Neil claims that since 2006, the members of the team found it hard to wear their jerseys, since they "knew" that "the words 'Duke lacrosse' were viewed more as scarlet letters than banners of pride," that "Duke lacrosse equated to scandal and shame." Even though the players were exonerated, "the stigma still existed."
Why? Because, since 2006, "there was, after all, nothing else to associate Duke lacrosse with [emphasis added, sentence-ending preposition in original]."
Original post below.]
“Two of the top lacrosse teams in the country, dealing with two of the worst stories college athletes have faced in recent memory. Just three years ago, the Blue Devils were involved in a devastating scandal in which three players were charged with sexual assault. All three were exonerated, but the questions remain.”
First of all, the obvious error: the Duke so-called “devastating scandal” occurred in 2006, not 2007, as Weissman claimed. And, of course, the strained comparison: in the UVA case, a player on the team has admitted—according to police—repeatedly banging a woman's head against a wall, which left her dead. In the Duke case, people unrelated to the team—the prosecutor, the police, the media, the professoriate—engaged in wrongdoing. Yet Weissman lumps the two episodes together, as “two of the worst stories college athletes have faced in recent memory.”
But by far the most troubling aspect of Weissman’s commentary came in his assertion that “questions remain” about the players’ exoneration. Weissman, it appears, is dissatisfied with the comprehensive inquiry by the North Carolina AG’s office.
So what questions, specifically, does the ESPN reporter have? I e-mailed ESPN’s press office to ask; I received no reply.
Perhaps Weissman was referring to Eric Adelson’s April 11, 2006 ESPN column citing an “anonymous” source who “was present at the hospital on the night of the alleged incident,” and who claimed that Crystal Mangum (this Crystal Mangum, from a photo taken two days later) was “beat up . . . pretty banged up”; that “there were bruises on her face, neck, and arms”; and that there “were injuries to the woman’s pelvic area.”
There are a lot of “questions” that “remain” about that column—chiefly, why ESPN never repudiated it. (I e-mailed Adelson in 2008; he said he stood by the story. I also e-mailed ESPN’s then-ombudsman about the seeming misuse of anonymous sources; she never replied.) As the Attorney General's report made clear, no evidence exists to corroborate the claims of Adelson's single anonymous source—which, as a thread in the old Liestoppers convincingly argued, was probably former Duke Police Officer Sara Falcon.
Is Weissman’s screed now suggesting that the Adelson column represents ESPN’s party line on the lacrosse case?