Monday, April 14, 2014

Thin-Skinned Cohan Attacks Stuart Taylor

Today author William D. Cohan appeared on the Diane Rehm show, on NPR. During the broadcast, Stuart Taylor called in to ask Cohan a couple of questions. [Update: the full transcript is now here.] Stuart prepared the resulting transcript below; I have some comments thereafter:

Stuart Taylor: Thank you Diane, and hello Mr. CohanI’ll try to be brief. I’ve written a book, I’m not disinterested but I am well informed. It’s called Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape. It strongly argues that the players were innocent. My coauthor is KC Johnson.

My question for Mr. Cohan is whether any of the three following three comments are wrong.

Number one, this book adds not a single piece of significant new evidence to that which convinced then-North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and virtually all serious analysts by midnight [sic] 2007 that the lacrosse players were innocent of any sexual assault on anyone, . . .

Diane Rehm: Ok.

Stuart Taylor . . . unless one considers as new evidence Mr. Cohan’s stunningly credulous interviews with three far-from-credible participants in the drama -- Nifong, Crystal Mangum, . . . .

Diane Rehm: You’re going to have to be brief, Stuart

Stuart Taylor  . . . and Robert Steel. Lastly, what Mr. Cohan just said about being the first to get the report of the sexual assault nurse, Tara Levicy is clearly false.  Dozens of reporters including me have had it since 2006. Mr. Cohan could have found it prominently displayed in our book. Thank you.

Diane Rehm: All right.

William D. Cohan: Well, I guess Stuart Taylor, who wrote his book with KC Johnson in 2006, it was published in 2007, clearly does not want to take into account of the new information that has come out in terms of the police reports, in terms of yes, Tara Levicy’s report, obviously doesn’t care or want to hear what Mike Nifong would have to say, or Crystal Magnum, or Bob Steel.

Basically, I have tried to present all sides to this fairly and dispassionately, but the - the - the haters like Stuart Taylor don’t want anything to do with a fair and dispassionate assessment of this case. They are so wedded to their point of view of the fact that these kids were railroaded and were declared innocent and therefore must be innocent. They don’t care about the fact that Roy Cooper, the Attorney General of North Carolina, will not make his investigative material public. I’ve had to sue him in North Carolina under a Freedom of Information Act Request to try to get access to that information. He declined all my requests to be interviewed. If these kids are quote unquote so innocent why wouldn’t Roy Cooper be the first to talk to me and why wouldn’t he be the first to make his investigative material available publicly?


This is an interesting exchange.

First, and most important: Cohan doesn’t answer Stuart’s first question—what’s the new evidence to corroborate his assertions that the people Mike Nifong targeted were not innocent; or what could be called Cohan’s “something-happened-but-I-won’t-you-what” thesis. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out why Cohan didn’t answer Stuart’s question.

Second: Cohan falsely asserts that Stuart “wrote his book with KC Johnson in 2006, it was published in 2007.” Cohan doesn’t explain how a book written in 2006 could have described events that occurred in 2007—unless he believes that Stuart and I are clairvoyant. In the event, the book was written over a several-month period in 2007; it was published (on an accelerated schedule) in the same year. It was revised and extended in late 2007 and early 2008, and a second (paperback) edition was published in 2008. It was extended in 2013 and a third edition was published late that year. I do not know why Cohan chose to falsely state that the book was written in 2006.

Third: Cohan’s claim about “Tara Levicy’s report” is false. As I notedbefore, the report was cited in the N&O, 60 Minutes, the New York Times, UPI, and at the blog; I believe that ABC’s Law & Justice Unit also had a copy. Perhaps other reporters did as well. I do not know why Scribner’s, in its publicity material, falsely asserted that Cohan’s book would be the first to reveal the Levicy report, or why Cohan today repeated the misleading claim.

Fourth: I have no idea what Cohan’s talking about regarding new “police reports.” Based on their reporting, it was clear that the N&O, 60 Minutes, Stuart and I, and likely ABC’s Law & Justice Unit all had access to the entire discovery file; the New York Times claimed that it had such access, although its reporting did not confirm the claim. Cohan’s book produces no evidence from previously unrevealed “police reports” advancing his “something happened” thesis.

Fifth: Stuart and I very much “want[ed] to hear” what Bob Steel had to say—that’s why Stuart interviewed him for the book, and why Stuart reached out to him again after Cohan launched his publicity crusade. Given that it was Cohan who misrepresented Steel’s beliefs, it appears that it’s Cohan who doesn’t want to hear what Steel had to say.

Sixth: I have been very interested in hearing what Nifong had to say—that’s why I’ve done several blog posts on it. Where I differ from Cohan is viewing a convicted liar as “quite credible” and uncritically accepting Nifong’s wild assertions.

Seventh: Cohan spends most of his response to Stuart on a filibuster complaining about North Carolina law, which (like the law of virtually every other state) does not consider police investigative files to be public records. Cohan has every right to spend his money filing as many lawsuits as he likes; but if he truly believes that all investigative files should be public records, why doesn’t he lobby Congress, or the various state legislatures, to create the change?

Eighth: I do not know why Cohan considers Stuart to be among “the haters.” That Cohan appears to equate a willingness to challenge his uncorroborated claims with hatred speaks volumes as to the mindset he has brought to this project.


William L. Anderson said...

Having listened to the show, I will say my blood pressure now is in the stratosphere. It was the first time I had heard Cohan and I was stunned -- no other word will suffice -- to hear his claims, especially regarding Reade Seligmann's calling a cab and leaving the party.

While he says that Seligmann was not guilty, nonetheless he claims that Seligmann's having the cab pick him up at a nearby house was "strange" behavior. (My guess is that the Buchanan Avenue house had cars everywhere and it was more convenient to meet the cab elsewhere.)

Then he says that Reade used an automatic teller and noted that Reade knew that he would be recorded on camera, and then went to a restaurant where there would be digital evidence he was there. Yes, everyone, all of us use outdoor tellers so we can get our photo in a bank camera. I usually do it do get money or make a deposit. Gee, hoodathunkitt that Reade was crafting an alibi.

At least the cat is out of the bag. Cohan is lying -- yes, lying -- about the "new evidence" that is not evidence at all. And he then makes the claim that since DNA was not used in the past when dealing with rape cases, then DNA does not matter.

Really? Then why the heck does anyone use DNA at all for such cases if it is irrelevant?

I could go on and on, but this guy really is something. He is devious and dishonest, and I can see immediately why he and that pathological liar Mike Nifong took such a liking to each other. And, no doubt he fell in love with Crystal, too. Maybe they should get together and she can give him the same treatment she gave her last boyfriend.

Chris Halkides said...

I'd like to know who the "haters" are and what there agenda is. Does Mr. Cohan think that everyone who supported the DL players has disreputable motives for doing so? That is beyond strange.

P said...

@ Chris,

I think there is a sense that so-called "conservative" critics of progressive academic groupthink have latched onto the Duke case and continue to use it, years after-the-fact, to rile resentment against liberal academia generally. There are blogs devoted specifically to criticizing this blog, and that seems to be their view. Hence, "haters."

So if Cohan shares this view, it wouldn't be because he thinks everyone who supported the players had ulterior motives. He would be arguing that some people hatefully (or, at least, with noticeable animus) have attempted to capitalize on the Duke case in order to make a political point.

Anonymous said...

" It does not take a PH.D. to figure out why Cohan didn't answer Stuart's question." but at Duke it does take a Ph.D. to not figure out where the truth lies. My point is that the Group of 88 have not with one exception acknowledged the falsity of their position. This whole exercise is Cohan's way of drawing a line in the sand for those of his mindset to rally behind and proclaim whatever they want and for those credulous unquestioning polite stalwart liberal media types to sit with him and tut-tut about the terrible past and the audacity of those who will not support the vacuum filling 'something happened' meme. 'Oh my' Also his book is kind of like a reset button to the liberal mindset of never admitting a mistake, as practiced in the corridors of power in Washington DC and in the media. Never admit a mistake and never bring up the question of admitting a mistake. NC AG Cooper crossed the liberal-Oz omerta line by his declaration of innocence. This must have stuck in the craw of all those invested in the infallibility of Duke and the quest of social justice. It will be amusing or blood pressure rising to see how many echo chambers Cohan appears in on his pot-bangers tour.

skwilli said...

Has anyone Fisked anything else Cohan has written? I doubt that his rather loose-with-the-facts style is an aberration in this case.

P said...

@ skwilli,
He's written award-winning, best-selling exposes of some entities that have large litigation budgets. Surely he would have been sued for defamation if his work characteristically contained major factual errors.

KC Johnson said...

To the 3.41/3.50:

I'm not in any way a financial expert. It's possible that Cohan was this . . . misleading . . . with facts in the past; but it's also worth noting that this is his first book totally outside his area of expertise (the financial industry). It's clear, for instance, he has no basic knowledge of legal ethics or norms of prosecutorial behavior. I assume that at the very least he knew what he was talking about in his earlier books.

An additional point: he has been far more extreme in his public appearances/interviews than he was in the book itself (where mostly--but not always--operated by inference). I don't know if he followed the same approach in his earlier publications. But book libel suits usually come from the wording of the books themselves.

Anonymous said...


Seriously, "haters"?

That's about as mature as "poopyheads". And about as meaningful.

William L. Anderson said...

Notice that Cohan tries to make it look as though Cooper is hiding something, just as he tried to make it look as though Reade Seligmann was guilty because he went to an outdoor bank teller.

This guy is FUNDAMENTALLY dishonest. He proved it in the NPR talk show and in his response to Stuart Taylor. No wonder he and Nifong got along so well.

William L. Anderson said...

Hey, skwilli, I was at the NCAA championships at LSU in 1973 when Charlie Maguire of Penn State won the six-mile. I especially remember the finish because he had a big lead and Ted Castaneda of Colorado made a big rush at the finish and almost horse-collared him.

I ran the half-mile but did not make the finals.

Anonymous said...

I've read the book and listened to this program. Cohan started out by complaining that there was no trial. He then said his book is "the trial."

Cohan complains that athletics are overemphasized at Duke. Has he ever heard of the Southeastern Conference?

He rails about "bad behavior" by Duke LAX players. I nearly fell out of my chair when Cohan described Nifong as "an honorable man" who was trying to find out what happened.

Cohan said the "haters" don't want to hear from Nifong and won't be satisfied until Nifong is dead.

Cohan repeated Nifong's assertion that the defense attorneys were all powerful and orchestrated his disbarment.

Cohan is angry about the "$60 million payout." He sees sinister forces at work here.

Cohan claimed poor black athletes wouldn't have had the money for a defense. If Mangum had accused three black Duke basketball players with the same (lack of) evidence, the case wouldn't have lasted 30 minutes.

Cohan said the idea that Nifong seized on the story to win the election was "total rubbish," and "unfair." Cohan noted approving that the Gang of 88 still believe.

Cohan chuckled when a caller mentioned Nifong's prosecution of the cab driver who backed Reade Seligmann's alibi.

Overall Cohan inferred that Mangum was assaulted by the accused players. He did so more strongly than in the book as KC says.

The above is from notes I took while listening.

Trial Junkie

Anonymous said...

I believe the Lacrosse Case will forever be a terrific litmus test. Just ask someone what they think about it and their response will reveal more about their thinking and character in just a few minutes than any other topic I can imagine.

Chris Halkides said...

P., I don't disagree with your assessment of some conservative pundits with respect to this case. I don't think that Ann Coulter has learned any more about our criminal justice system from this case that Mr. Cohan has (she still uses it as a club with which to beat the political left). But (and I know that you did not say otherwise) some of the criticism of Duke's faculty and administration came from liberals, such as the chemistry department's Steven Baldwin.

Anonymous said...

What is William Cohan's book about?


P said...

Oh, clearly criticism of certain faculty (especially criticism leveled back in 2006-07) was well-deserved and came from non-partisan quarters, too. But when Cohan uses "haters" in the interview, I think what he's saying is that he lumps KC and Taylor toward the Coulter end of the continuum.

Anonymous said...

Is Cohan a Communist?

KC Johnson said...

To P.,

Anything's possible, I suppose. I don't (ever) listen to Ann Coulter, but it's not my sense she's said much in the last six years about the lacrosse case--or at least not much passes the news filters I have on the case.

Since Cohan never says what he means by "haters," we're left to guess.

Anonymous said...

A big part of the abuse suffered upon all of NC during and because of the case, the majority of whom were completely innocent of the entire event and had nothing to do with it what-so-ever, was avid abject hatred that was pallitable and broadcast to all coupled with a focused targeted harm from Duke and it's affiliates on many if not all of NC's citizens, even to the point of death for some.

Chris Halkides said...

KC, I believe I linked to one of Ms. Coulter's essays about a week ago, in which she mentioned the DL case in passing, as part of her excoriation of liberals as being on the wrong side of every criminal case. She managed to get the facts wrong with respect to both the Central Park Jogger case and the Amanda Knox/Raffaele Sollecito case. That is why I said that she has not learned anything.

Anonymous said...

That is a big part of what many have noticed about that case, and stemming from that - your followers and supporters KC, how you seem to not realize the hatred that is pushed on all from this case, especially on those residing in NC, and especially in the form of on-line trolls and bullies, and the media and duke supporters aligned to many of the agendas found here and stemming from that case, much of it focused on protected groups of people by law.

Most want it to stop since people have and are dying and/or are harmed from it, so I am sure you will understand that and provide positive leadership for consideration of all here on your blog and otherwise KC.

The harm caused is criminal, abusive, constant, and needs to stop immediately for the well-being of all.

William L. Anderson said...

I agree with Chris on Ann Coulter. She has attacked the Innocence Project and her point regarding the Central Park Five -- that their confessions MUST have been authoritative, so DNA is irrelevant -- tell us that she has no idea of what happens in police interrogations.

Coulter's overriding theme is: The liberals were wrong on Duke Lacrosse, and they also are wrong if they think that other people who are convicted of crimes might be innocent. She often cites her confidence in police and prosecutors, as they are symbols of law and order and all good conservatives love law and order, and liberals want to destroy it.

Coulter is not one of my favorite people and I don't spend time reading her books. The one time I glanced at a few pages while in a bookstore, I realized that she and people like Michael Moore have the same style: producing stream-of-consciousness rants.

In fact, a lot of so-called best-sellers these days seem to follow that same model. (I do not follow Sean Insanity or Glenn Beck or Rachel Mad Dog or any of the other pundits on TV these days. )

RighteousThug said...

Anonymous at 11:29 said...

much of it focused on protected groups of people by law.

Eric Officeholder, is that you? It's surprising that Maya didn't proclaim Nifong the 'first black Durham DA'.

Most want it to stop since people have and are dying and/or are harmed from it,

You can remove your criminal DAs only so fast in the Tarheel State. 2 in a row in Durham...

The harm caused is criminal, abusive, constant, and needs to stop immediately for the well-being of all.

Jeff said it best:

"Hey! You know, we left this England place 'cause it was bogus; so if we don't get some cool rules ourselves - pronto - we'll just be bogus too! Get it?"

Your 'protected peoples', along with their Angry Studies enablers, couldn't (and still can't) see the forest for the trees, choosing to champion a drug-addled lying prostitute at the expense of convenient-yet-innocent 'non-protected' targets.

How much better for all citizens of NC had Rev Porkchop Barber and others worked instead for reforms of NC's legal system that would actually protect the folks who are disproportionately affected by the system. A short list of 5-6 changes would protect everyone, but the 'protected peoples' wouldn't hear of it because it would have implied that Nifong (and Cline) wwere wrong.

Remember, if Crazy Tracey Cline hadn't gone all cray cray on OHud she'd still be withholding evidence, lying in Court, and otherwise abusing and harming 'protected' (colored) peoples.

skwilli said...

(Off topic, sorry KC) Mr. Anderson, I have enjoyed this blog (and your comments!) over the years and it was the impetus for me to start my humble PSU Track Alumni blog. Charlie Maguire was the toughest runner there ever was, and I had the privilege of a few miles with him over the years. We all miss him very much. Thanks for the comment. It's nice to see my inane comments are read by at least one!

Anonymous said...

I work at Bloomberg and am truly embarrassed that Cohan is associated with our newsgathering organization. Too much BTV airtime was provided to him to promote the book, and the way in which Bloomberg anchors bought his story is a shame.

The only reason to reference this story is (1) in the context of university mind-think, and more importantly, (2) in the context of victim and accused rights.