Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hard-Hitting Journalism from "Morning Joe"

Author William D. Cohan has argued that despite the findings of the AG’s report and the massive amounts of exculpatory evidence, “something happened” in the bathroom; and despite Mike Nifong’s myriad ethical misdeeds, he was unfairly targeted by the Bar and the North Carolina justice system. Given the aggressively revisionist nature of Cohan’s thesis (and the paucity of new information that he uncovered in researching his book), it might be assumed that members of the media would express at least some skepticism about the book’s claims.

Such an assumption would be wrong.

Cohan’s highest-profile appearance was on “Morning Joe.” Here’s a transcript of the . . . hard-hitting . . . questions and commentary that came from co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and MSNBC news-reader Thomas Roberts. (I have already discussed Cohan’s troubling assertions on the program.)

Here is a link to the audio, with a transcript below of the co-hosts.

Joe: This was an absolute mess—chaos—when it came out. And now looking back, it looks like it’s even more of a mess. You look at the main players: the accuser, in jail for murder; the DA, bankrupt, disbarred, jailed for a night; the Duke lacrosse players end up getting $20 million [sic]. This party, you say, cost Duke University [sic: the “party” cost Duke nothing—Duke’s misconduct did] $100 million [almost certainly wrong, unless Duke spent more than $75 million in legal fees].

Mika: Oh!!

Joe: Talk about it...

Joe: Why did they [Duke] do it [settle]?...

Mika: Mmm…

Joe: Right...

Joe: No good guys here, you say? The Duke lacrosse players who were framed—certainly sounded framed, in the media—you say they weren’t white knights or angels either, and there’s a cautionary tale here, with an e-mail...

Joe: What’s the verdict [of Cohan’s self-description of his book as the “trial that never happened”]?...

Mika: Wow!...

Mika: Don’t give the ending [of the book]!...

Thomas Roberts: So, Nifong, who you find to be credible; the rest [he appears to be referring to Mangum and Steel here] not so much honest brokers. What are the other details that really surprised and shocked you?...

Roberts: Correct...

Mika: Right...

Mika: You call it the trial that never happened. It looks absolutely fascinating. [Is she admitting that she didn’t read the book before the segment?]

Joe: You’re not going to be giving any commencement speeches at Duke anytime soon?

Mika: There you go...

Mika: Good for you!

Joe: Williams! [Cohan said his kids went there.]  Go Ephs!

To reiterate: in the entire appearance, Cohan was asked five questions, none of which dealt with his opinions on Nifong or what grounds the author had for his remarkable decision to set aside the findings of the AG’s report and the students’ exculpatory evidence. Instead, the “Morning Joe” team asked:
  1. No good guys here, you say?
  2. Why did they [Duke] do it [settle]?
  3. What’s the verdict [of his book, as the alleged trial]?
  4. What are the other details that really surprised and shocked you?
  5. You’re not going to be giving any commencement speeches at Duke anytime soon?
You can see the full video of this episode in journalism here.

34 comments:

Mike Lee said...

Just more hard hitting journalism from the folks at MSNBC. And the fact is that Morning Joe is the network's best offering.

I guess we can look on the bright side- Cohan could have appeared on the Al Sharpton show or been interviewed by the queen of grievance TV Melissa Harris Perry.

MSNBC is truly pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, folks.

'Cause these are pruh-fesh-ee-null jurr-noo-lists!

Anonymous said...

Is Joe Scarborough a Communist?

Anonymous said...

Is Mika Brzezinski a Communist?

Anonymous said...

What can one expext from a cable news channel which has Al Sharpton as a commentator. He persists in telling people something happend to Tawana Brawley.

PuzzledReader said...

Hello KC,

I am very new to this blog. Back in 2006, I was dimly aware of the Duke case via the national media, but I recently picked up Cohan's book after reading a review in the NYT.

I'm puzzled that you cast Cohan as a defender of Nifong or as anything but sympathetic to the players. The book tells Nifong's backstory and presents him as more than a one-dimensional villain, but he's still clearly a villain. Cohan's book has really been my only detailed dive into this case, and after reading it I came away loathing Nifong, Houston Baker, the despicable professor who flunked Kyle Dowd, jack-booted thug Gottleib, et al. It was googling the names of the above-referenced villains that brought me to this blog.

Cohan doesn't depict the players as choirboys, true -- but to do so would be inaccurate. They still come off as basically decent kids who were unjustly railroaded by a corrupt prosecutor and abandoned by their university. And when I read the scene depicting Pressler's resignation, I was practically in tears.

The "full-throated defense of Nifong" that you decry on your blog seems totally alien from the book I actually read. Are you just threatened by Cohan's book because previously you were the preeminent chronicler of this case?

KC Johnson said...

All true about Sharpton, about whom the less said the better.

But recall that Scarborough is a former Republican congressman from FL: the show is generally seen not as liberal but as reflecting the cultural biases of the NY-DC elite/conventional wisdom.

RighteousThug said...

Note that Cohan wasn't able/willing to reveal any 'new' information that he may have gleaned in his copious research.

My favorite Al $harpton clip:

Thankfully, Rev. Al Sharpton No Longer Addresses His Detractors As "Punk Faggot"

Anonymous said...

KC, in all your documentation of the case, at any time did you consider that the people Ms. Mangum came in contact with at Duke Hospital could have distorted and/or misinterpreted the evidence as it was assembled on the 'first' night of the case to better align with their agendas? I say 'first' not to mock in any way that might be apparent in context of your previous post, but as an inference to the possibility that the basis of the case might have been on the bucket list for ways to get more political votes for future elections before the night of the party.

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.31:

I don't understand your question. I've been quite clear on my belief that Levicy was motivated by an agenda--which she essentially admitted to defense attorneys--that she never encountered an accuser who lied about rape.

To the 9.31:

If you take a look at my CV (http://kc-johnson.com/cv/) and do a little googling, you’ll notice that every book or extended research paper I’ve ever published has subsequently been challenged. It’s the nature of the profession—new material emerges, new perspectives develop with the passage of time. Before the appearance of the Cohan book, I’ve only been critical of one of these publications, and my criticism there reflected a longstanding debate as to whether Ernest Gruening should be viewed primarily as a national or an Alaska figure. Such challenges are in no way threatening to me (or anyone else); they're a routine aspect of academic life.

That said, I’ve never encountered a situation in which an author, on a topic about which I had written, used evidence in a misleading and sometimes malicious way, as Cohan does.

Since you don’t point out any specific area in either DIW or UPI where you consider Cohan’s portrayal of Nifong more persuasive than that of the book or blog, it’s difficult, in turn, to respond you specifically. It appears, therefore, that our disagreement is over what constitutes a “full-throated defense.”

In the context of this case and Nifong, it seems to me that such a defense constitutes an author describing Nifong (a convicted liar) as “quite credible.” It constitutes an author agreeing with Nifong and a convicted murder that “something happened” (both of them argue something criminal happened), when the AG’s report and mounds of exculpatory evidence suggest otherwise. It constitutes an author withholding the provenance of the Gottlieb report, and instead misleadingly using it to describe a critical element of Mangum’s recollections; and an author not explaining that Tara Levicy modified the key condom story months after the fact when Nifong’s DNA theory had been challenged. It constitutes an author minimizing Nifong’s ethics violations even as (to the best of my knowledge) not a single law review article or legal publication since 2007 has suggested that the Bar operated improperly or that the withheld DNA evidence “didn’t matter.”

From an editorial standpoint, a “full-throated defense” constitutes an author allowing the book’s protagonist to make unrebutted claims about the defense attorneys, the State Bar figures, and Judge Smith without the author even attempting to contact any of them for comment. A “full-throated defense” constitutes an author allowing the protagonist to float a defense for one element of his unethical conduct (his pre-primary publicity barrage was actually him trying to scare up witnesses) by not including in the book his unethical statements that occurred after indictments, and the need for witnesses, had passed. And a “full-throated defense” constitutes the author (as occurred here, regarding the improperly withheld DNA evidence) offering a more aggressive defense for his protagonist’s misconduct than even the protagonist and his defense lawyers(!!) offered before the Bar.

To me, that’s a “full-throated defense.” You, obviously, disagree. All I can say is that I hope if I ever get in trouble, you’ll come to my aid, since I’d love to see what you consider to be a “full-throated defense.”

Anonymous said...

If the agenda was to create credibility for Duke's work with the DNA samples with a non-credible DNA sample, than her statement would match that agenda as well. I am not saying this is what happened, i am simply pointing out that you admit her actions were agenda driven, but maybe the agenda and thus her actions or others at the hospital were more nefarious than you realize or imagined. In any case, with your added information and insights, anyone could begin to distrust anything and everything that was done with this case in general and thus find no reason to believe any of it altogether.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous@ 1:13:

Perhaps aliens from outer space were also involved.

Gregor Samsa said...

The April 12 Wall Street Journal has a kid-glove review of Cohan's book.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.13:

Levicy is, I agree, a potentially quite malevolent figure.

That said: it does appear that Dr. Julie Manly, who conducted the portions of the rape exam that Levicy couldn't b/c she didn't have her certification, appears to have been fair.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but fair with what and who?

What was the agenda? All the doctors, etc., were probably aligned to it some way or the other.

A Duke Dad said...

There are 27 reviews on amazon.com.

The five 5-star reviews are orgasmic -- and ALL are by people who have just this ONE book review.

21 reviewers gave it ONE start... the lowest. Comments include:
• TWISTED JOURNALISM
• absurd insinuation; No analysis;
• Dishonest, disgraceful marketing
• Perpetuates Injustice
• Neither Magisterial or Authoritative
• don't waste your money
• A Silly Suck-Up to Progressive Politics
• A dishonest piece of work

Anonymous said...

You forgot written by a dookie.

KC Johnson said...

To the 8.21:

When Mangum entered the hospital, there was no known connection between Duke and her. I don't see what their "agenda" would have been.

I suppose it's possible there was some sort of grand conspiracy of misconduct by hospital employees. But I certainly never saw any evidence of it. Nor did a host of others (Neff, Wilson, 60 Mins) who covered the case from a variety of different perspectives.

Anonymous said...

Why would they reveal aspects of the case that highlighted how the media is used to manipulate the masses and politics since they are the corrupted manipulators and aligned with Duke in professional practice and agenda? Or that provided fuel for the removal of their professional licenses? Or that ended their own charade and games designed to manipulate the masses?

KC Johnson said...

To the 9.08:

I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm sorry.

As someone who saw the entire discovery file apart from the Mangum psychological files, and someone who spoke quite a bit to people associated with the case, I saw nothing unusual in the conduct of Duke Hospital figures that evening apart from Levicy, and can't fathom what the behavior would have been.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you'll have to think about it a bit then I suppose. You have to open your mind a bit to the inferences perhaps? I mean, your detail is in-depth, but many times people with skills of the type in-depth analysis do not always see the bigger picture, and vice versa. That's just the way people are, so it takes all 'kinds' to truly see perhaps. Just a thought.

KC Johnson said...

To the 9.44:

Many thanks for your comment, but I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

That might be because it doesn't fit your agenda exactly KC, but that's ok. Thanks for you input too, I have learned a lot and dealt with the evil duke troll gang that rules the blog neighborhood dealing with these cases, which is another eye opener to how abusive duke truly is indeed. I am saying perhaps 'they' planned the whole thing in theory before it actually happened in part and in possibility. Sadly, that does happen at that level of political games in this nation these days. Wonder what can be done about that, but I'm sure you will say you do not understand that either if you can't, which is part of the picture of course. Hard not to see it for many though.

KC Johnson said...

To the 10.51:

Again, I have no idea what you're talking about. It is not even clear to me who the "they" or the "whole thing" are in your statement.

In general, however, I shy away from conspiracy theories.

In the event, thanks for commenting, and I apologize I could not be more helpful.

guiowen said...

KC,
I don't think the 10:51 actually believes what he's saying. He's just trying to get your goat.

Anonymous said...

Actually I do believe what I'm saying since I've had the unfortunate opportunity of watching this case 'first hand', and what has happened with it, and who was harmed, and why.

Ya'll just have agendas, and you don't seem to think about all who are harmed with your agendas, which is sad to watch as well to say the least.

Your bullying and trolling of your agendas to anyone who doesn't believe or fit your agenda is just another example of how duke operates and doesn't make any of your agendas real or right and you know it, but YA'LL can't handle that anyone sees that or anything but your agendas either.

We will all just keep watchin' this sad sad tale even though it may include witnessing Duke's abuse and all the harm of all the agendas since that is all it is and ya'll insist on continuing to do 'it' since that seems to be part of the agenda.

I wasn't trolling like you always do guiowen, but how trollish of you to think I was when I already had to point out that I wasn't since your agendas were in question and ya'll naturally immediately attacked and screamed wrong and troll and ... whatever

what bs as usual



RighteousThug said...

Calling Oliver Stone

PuzzledReader said...

I haven't read UPI, DIW or other accounts at length, and I read Cohan's book with the passing interest that I bring to bear on most books picked up on a whim after reading a Sunday NYT review. So, you're right -- I'm not prepared to identify minute details that differ between your account and Cohan's, let alone construct an argument as to why his account is more credible. But as an uninitiated reader with a fairly fresh set of eyes, Cohan's account does not come off as pro-Nifong or leave me favorably disposed toward Nifong. It's clear reading Cohan that while Nifong may present a credible demeanor in an interview setting and may not be an entirely evil man, his actions here amounted to sleazy, unconscionable political pandering at the expense of justice.


Also, I did not find anywhere in the book the assertion by the author that "something happened." Is this something Cohan said in an interview? The initial account Cohan gives of the party is through the lens of Kim Roberts' initial statement, and he never gives us reason to believe any other account is more credible.

What I did find in the book, though: Cohan explaining that the Gottleib report was written months after-the-fact, at Nifong's prompting; Cohan noting that Levicy initially reported (per Mangum's statements at the time) that no condoms were used, but later backpedaled and opined that condoms could have been used, explaining the lack of DNA; etc.

Cohan's account doesn't read like an advocacy piece, but it doesn't need to. When you give a comprehensive summary of the evidence and give a voice to both "sides," the facts ultimately speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

To 8:17 AM

Kim Roberts began lying the minute she started the whole sad affair with her first 911 call. She subsequently changed her mind from her original statement about "what rape?" to something more in line with Nigong's "something happened" theory, only have some of her "legal issues" were made to go away.



To use Kim as anything near a credible source would be delusional IMO

DM

PuzzledReader said...

@ 8:17, How do we know she was lying on her first 911 call?

Roberts' is one of a limited number of firsthand accounts of what happened that night. At the time she gave her initial statement, Roberts had no personal vested interest in the outcome of the investigation. Her timeline comports with the later timestamped photos and is more or less consistent with what we heard from the players. I'm inclined to believe her (at least her initial statement).

Anonymous said...

To 12:15 PM...

The 911 call starts out like this:

"Hi, I don't know if this is an emergency or not, necessarily, but I'm in Durham, and I was driving down near Duke's campus, and it's me and my black girlfriend, and the guy -- there's like a white guy by the Duke wall -- and he just hollered out 'n-----' to me. And I'm just so angry I didn't know who to call."



It then goes downhill from there



DM

P said...

@ 3:36,

Do you also think she came up with the "cotton shirt" line? I doubt she is that clever.

Anonymous said...

To 12:15PM...

For more help try here: The Johnsville News Kim-Roberts

Greg Allan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.