Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rabinowitz Eviscerates Author Cohan

In the Monday edition of the Wall Street Journal, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dorothy Rabinowitz has thoroughly taken apart the arguments of author William D. Cohan, as expressed in both Cohan's book and his myriad interviews. In addition to winning the award, Rabinowitz also had been a Pulitzer finalist for her extraordinary commentary on prosecutorial misconduct and the conviction of the innocent. That honor came from her work examining (and exposing) the false sexual abuse charges associated with the the 1980s and 1990s day-care cases.

In reviewing Cohan's oeuvre, Rabinowitz concludes:
In Mr. Cohan's fair-to-everyone tome, spoiled white males, arrogant athletes, the entitled affluent all prevailed against the forces of light. Against this golden-oldie pack of villains stood Mr. Nifong, a man of honor unable to succeed in his search for justice thanks to the deep pockets that paid for sharp lawyers. He wrote this book, the author told his WAMC interviewer, as a way of having the trial that was never allowed to take place.
To Mr. Cohan, apparently, true justice is served by allowing a prosecutor oblivious to ethical constraints to bring a groundless case in the hopes of winning a jury conviction. And by the writing of his book attempting to restore the taint of guilt and suspicion on three young men who had been cleared despite all Mr. Nifong's fraudulent effort. Mr. Cohan's grim refrain, "We will never know what happened in that bathroom"—a faithful image of the substance Mr. Nifong brought to his case—stands as a perfect tribute to that predecessor.
Given how thoroughly Rabinowitz eviscerates Cohan's work, a reader might be tempted to show a smidgen of sympathy for the embattled author. Might be tempted, that is, until the reader recalls that Cohan wrote a book, and has spent the last month-plus on a publicity tour, seeking to cast aspersions on falsely accused people as he aggressively attempted to rehabilitate the reputation of a prosecutor whose ethical misconduct was notorious.

[Update, 1.15am: Indeed, Rabinowitz's column was quite timely. In his most recent press appearance, Cohan offered perhaps his most extreme commentary yet, telling CNN that "there is an incredible amount of evidence that something untoward happened in that bathroom . . . Who did it, when they did it, what they did is absolutely just still not clear." What this "incredible amount of evidence" might be must, it seems, remain a mystery, and CNN's Jake Tapper did not press him on the bizarre nature of this assertion, or why this mystery evidence didn't appear in the AG's report.

When Tapper asked whether the case was one of "misconduct" by Nifong, or "mistakes," Cohan replied, "Mistakes." Nifong's conviction of 27 of 32 counts of ethical misconduct apparently doesn't count to Cohan; and Tapper didn't challenge Cohan on this point. Indeed, Tapper didn't mention the specifics of Nifong's ethics charges at all. Did he even know about them?

Cohan also repeated his incorrect claim that each of the falsely accused players received $20 million from Duke; Tapper, reflecting his . . . hard-hitting . . . approach to journalism, responded to this assertion not by questioning it or asking for Cohan's source, but by near-exclaiming, "Each one got $20 million?!" The non-curious Tapper then expressed puzzlement as to how Duke did anything at all wrong--not mentioning Tara Levicy, or the Group of 88, or the administration's early response. An embarrassment of an interview, even by the low standards we have seen on the Cohan tour.]


Anonymous said...

Tar Feathers

Anonymous said...

Is Cohan a Communist?

Anonymous said...

The autopsy on Reginald Daye was not fraudulent. The only one who claimed it was fraudulent was Sidney Harr, referred to some as a former physician or distinguished physician.

The truth is, Sidney has had minimal training(internship 0nly, no residency) minimal experience judging from a recent article in the Independendent Weekly( Sidney Harr does not have the qualifications to determine whether or not the autopsy was fraudulent. In fact an expert retained by the Defense, Dr. Christena Roberts reviewed the autopsy and supported Dr, Nichols' findings.

KC Johnson said...

The 9.27 comment, which accurately summarizes the Mangum case, was a response to a deleted comment (in violation of blog comment rules), from the same person who has made this point over and over and over again, on posts that had nothing to do with the topic.

As I've noted on several occasions in response to this poster, Crystal Mangum is a convicted murderer, serving a sentence of up to 18 years.

William L. Anderson said...

I'm glad to see the WSJ run the Rabinowitz piece after the paper had that awful review of Cohan the Barbarian's book by David Shribman.

It is sad to see Cohan getting away with outright lies during the book tour. The man has no integrity, so it is no surprise to me that he is drawn to a pathological liar like Mikey Nifong.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Cohan's latest appearance on CNN. It's his worst yet.

The interviewer said "Nifongs misconduct or mistakes?" Cohan answered "mistakes."

So Nifong just made a few "mistakes." Actually it was an obvious attempt to prosecute three innocent men for political reasons.

And people like the CNN host above won't call Cohan on it.

Trial Junkie

Anonymous said...

"there is an incredible amount of evidence that something untoward happened in that bathroom . . . Who did it, when they did it, what they did is absolutely just still not clear."

And just how can there exist an 'enormous amount' of evidence with no indication about who, or where, or what?

Anonymous said...

I renew my prior appeal (nay, desperate plea) for someone to create a Wikipedia entry on The Price of Silence --a summary of the book, links to interviews, and links to both favorable and critical reviews.

While the Bibliography section of Cohan's entry at Wikipedia lists (and links to entries on) his three prior books on Wall Street, there is only a passing mention of The Price of Silence at the close of the Books section.

Sorry, but I just don't have the skills to create a Wikipedia page for The Price of Silence.

Do you have the time and skills, or can you convey this request to someone who has the time and skills, to create a Wikipedia page for The Price of Silence?

Anonymous said...

Tapper fell far short of his usual high standards here, and worse -- he didn't even do a half-assed job.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Sowell hits the bulls-eye once again when he briefly mentions the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case in his recent NRO column "Sexual Assault on Campus: Contra Eric Holder, rape cases should be handled by the criminal-justice system."

Sowell writes: "Have we already forgotten the lynch-mob atmosphere on the Duke University campus a few years ago, when three young men were accused of raping a stripper? Thank heaven that case was handled by the criminal-justice system, where all the evidence showed that the charge was bogus, leading to the district attorney’s being removed and disbarred."

Anonymous said...

Students Accused of Rape Can Fight Back // Court OKs Suits Against University, Employees, and Female

Anonymous said...

It looks like someone updated Cohan's wikipedia entry to include the new book. However the actual entry for the book needs to be created or requested on wikipedia.

Scot Foley said...

One would reasonably think that if an "incredible" amount of evidence truly existed, then Cohan wouldn't be asking what exactly happened, who did it and when . A so-called "incredible" amount of evidence is normally sufficient to answer such basic questions.

Cohan at this point is as delusional as Nifong in his heyday was. This has to be a coincidence but I've lately been struck by the fact that the two men even somewhat resemble each other.

Every time I see Cohan on television I keep getting a Jaws 2-esque "Just when you thought it was safe" thought running through my head.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but so good to read:

What Ever Happened To The Former Duke Lacrosse Coach?

Read more:


Jim In San Diego said...

Dorothy Rabinowitz's review of "Price" has created quite a buzz today. On Amazon alone, 14 new "one-star" reviews hit since this morning.

Ms. Rabinowitz's credentials cannot be ignored. Three times Pulitzer Prize finalist, and winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize.

Ironically, and importantly, a substantial reason for her Pulitzer Price selection was her reporting of the unjust prosecution and conviction of child care facilities workers based on fantastic, untrue stories four to six year old children were coached to tell; coached by parents, child psychologists and, yes, prosecutors.

So, an obvious question please:

Why did the WSJ select David M Shribman to write the review of Price of Silence, when Dorothy Rabinowitz was already on staff? Mr. Shribman's review, as noted here earlier, is an embarassment of poor reporting.

Shribman reported, without basic fact-checking, that "hurling of racial epithets was not contested", and "[the Lacrosse Players']worst impulses were played out", as he fulminated about Cohan's "meticulous research" and "even-handed tone".

This is clearly a man who did not follow the case closely, and did not have a clue.

Cohan's medicine man tour has gained such momentum it will be difficult to slow its momentum, I am afraid.

Evil will prevail when good men (and women) do nothing.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see "name" people like Rabinowitz chiming in with her considerably more than two cents worth. I lament, though, that even more Rabinowitzes won't convince the pro-Nifong, those-boys-did-something crowd.

I didn't seem the Tapper/CNN interview, but, from what's been posted, my somewhat good opinion of Tapper has been lowered quite a bit. What are the chances he read Cohan's book? What are the chances he has read or even heard of "Until Proven Innocent" by Johnson and Taylor.

Beryl Greene said...

I don't know about the amount of evidence that "something (nefarious)happened" in the bathroom but I would wholeheratedly agree that is undeniably incredible.

Anonymous said...

I am a former newspaper reporter. The embarrassment of the wretched journalism noted here by K.C. Jonson -- and the glaring contrast to the superb journalism of Dorothy Rabinowitz -- continues to rankle me.


Gus W.

Anonymous said...

Cohan just published a piece at Huffington Post whining about the bad reviews his book is getting at Amazon. His solution?

Curb free speech. No wonder Cohan found Nifong to be a kindred spirit.

Trial Junkie

Anonymous said...

"His solution?

Curb free speech."

Other folks' free speech, of course, not his own. He's still free to insinuate that three former lacrosse players are guilty of a nefarious unspecified something.

Anonymous said...

Kindred spirits indeed.

Just for the record, I posted a review and some comments on Price of Silence at Amazon. I am an ordinary American mother who doesn't approve of what was done to those innocent young lacrosse players at Duke. So I spoke up, as did others there, on Amazon, about this book that I felt portrayed the innocent in a false light, and the guilty in an undeserved favorable light. I have no ties to any other reviewers and saw no evidence of any organized effort to sandbag the book. There seems to be a lot of people out there who care not to have repeated the injustices of the Duke case. In sum, the negative reviews are evidence of a spontaneous Happening and of that I am proud. America will be ok as long as the information that matters can somehow get through.

Jim In San Diego said...

Someone is trying to persuade Amazon to remove comments critical of the gaseous "5-star" reviews. Amazon is proving somewhat receptive.

More to come, possibly. I am trying to communicate with Amazon.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

re: "Cohan just published a piece at Huffington Post whining about the bad reviews his book is getting at Amazon"

Here's the article: "How Much Freedom of Speech is Too Much?" For those haters too busy to read it, here are WDC's gems:

- " increasing number of ordinary Americans are wondering if there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone's reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living."

- "...authors whose books appear for sale on Amazon and then quickly get reviewed by an increasingly large army of people who seem to have nothing better to do with their time."

- " extremely passionate group of reviewers began posting one-star reviews on the Amazon page devoted to the book ... a well-organized group ... no way any of them had read the book ... [which] is a tightly wound 621 pages devoted to a balanced assessment of a complex event ... haters, who were determined to poison the well."

- "...Amazon ... doesn't much care how authors are treated ... these these thoughtless reviews hurt authors' ability to make a living ... slanderous reviews hurt book sales...."

I then wondered if he lapsed into a moment of self-reflection and humility with an apology to the falsely accused Duke LAX players for his book The Price of Silence which was:

- "...unvetted and unfiltered ... justified concerns of those whose reputations can be torn asunder unfairly by it."

Nah, he was still wallowing in his pity puddle. :~)

Jim In San Diego said...

Just read Cohan's 5/19/2014 Huffington Post Piece. It is entitled "How Much Freedom of Speech is Too Much".

His theme: "...there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone's reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living"


The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife. This is a self proclaimed "investigative reporter" asking for limits on criticism of [himself, naturally].

How about putting limits on investigative reporters who, "say whatever they please to sully someone's reputation with impunity", such as William D. Cohan has done with his new book, and has done for six weeks on his sales tour?

Then, in a burst of intellectual ignorance, Cohan attacks Amazon reviewers of his book. He does so in the time honored way of dishonest debaters: he chooses a straw man as his target, then argues from the particular to the general on the basis of the straw man.

He picks on one of the poor one star reviews, a reader who acknowledges not reading the book, then generalizes that all negative reviews are similar.

This of course is nonsense. My suggestion to anyone interested in the argument is: read the reviews.

There are about ten "1 star" reviews, signed by authors with their real name, that go into dozens of specific instances of bias, errors, and just plain dishonesty in "Price of Silence"

For those with little time or interest, I recommend they read just one review: That of Hershel Parker, Pulitzer Prize finalist non-fiction author. Professor Parker lists, WITH PAGE CITATIONS, several dozen examples of Cohan's bias and inaccuracies, and concludes, "This is a book that never should have been published".

If Mr. Cohan were intellectually honest, he would address and respond to Professor Parker's review, not some carefully selected straw man. Or, those of at least half a dozen others.

Of course, not a chance.

Mr. Cohan is a very dangerous man. He has a position of influence, and a following, and no moral compass. Such men have caused a great deal of damage throughout history.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

"He picks on one of the poor one star reviews, a reader who acknowledges not reading the book"

... neglecting to mention, of course, the five-star review from a 'reader' who also admits not reading it, but gives a thumbs-up to amazon for delivering it promptly.

Hershel Parker said...

My comment in the Huffington POST on Cohan's complaints about "free speech" on Amazon
Hershel Parker · Top Commenter · Northwestern University
As Dorothy Rabinowitz says in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Cohan wrote a dishonest book and compounded his folly by embarking on a Media blitz in which he has made increasingly reckless false claims about the falsely-accused Duke lacrosse players. He may turn out to have said actionable lies. The WSJ on 11 April had already published a puff piece by David M. Shribman, one of many ignorant incompetent puff pieces that welcomed THE PRICE OF SILENCE. Cohan was the beneficiary of the corruption of reviewing in the mainstream media. I have a vested interest here because the President of Duke University (as he is now), Richard H. Brodhead, lied about me in the NEW YORK TIMES in June 2002, saying that only I in my "black hole" had ever heard of the book Herman Melville finished in 1860 and called POEMS. That is, the Dean of Yale College defamed me as a biographer who merely "surmised" rather than worked from documentary evidence. Of course, everyone had known about POEMS since 1922. I became interested in the non-rape case because I knew of Brodhead's dishonesty in the NEW YORK TIMES, and then became appalled at the behavior of the Gang of 88 at Duke. I have written about this at some length in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE (published January 2013). Now, I am one of the Amazon reviewers of Cohan's THE PRICE OF SILENCE. I have also made several comments on other reviews of the book. If you go to my (admittedly long) review on Amazon you will find detailed criticism of the incompetence and even viciousness of Cohan's book. I dare to hope that Rabinowitz's review will be a turning point. This may be the time when the amateur reviewers in Amazon push the mainstream media toward honesty. Here is a comment I posted this morning on the comment by carla4515:

What's most encouraging is that the WSJ corrected itself. Someone assigned a review to someone who ought to have been responsible, David M. Shribman, boss at the Pittsburgh POST-GAZETTE. That review, published 11 April 2014, was an incompetent puff piece. So the WALL STREET JOURNAL had to look at its own mistake and decide to protect its new reputation as the most serious national reviewing newspaper (much better now than the NEW YORK TIMES) even if it meant repudiating its own review. Don't look for more reviews by the shamed Shribman in the WSJ! All this speaks very well for the seriousness of the Book Review editor at the WSJ and the integrity of some members of the editorial staff, particularly Rabinowitz herself, who paid attention to what Cohan was doing on his Media Circuit Circus as well as the falsifications in the book. I regard Rabinowitz's review as a turning point in the long-term fate of Cohan's very bad book, but I am optimistic enough to see it as just maybe a turning point in reviewing, the point where the corrupt mainstream media meets the Great Waters of the Amazon. How can I be so optimistic at almost 80? Well, I'll tell you--I'm optimistic after reading so many intelligent one-star reviews of William D. Cohan's THE PRICE OF SILENCE here on Amazon.

I will keep using the image of GREAT WATERS OF THE AMAZON in celebrating the best hope readers have of fighting the ignorance and incompetence of the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

It really seems like someone or some group said, "hey, it's been a good interval since the Duke LAX case was in the public, Until Proven Innocent (UPI) was published, Nifong was disbarred, etc, let's get some revisionist history out there and make a big splash". Nobody will remember any of the details. William Cohan was certainly a willing participant, if not the leader, of this effort.

I certainly hope Mr. Parker is correct and Rabinowitz's review is a "turning point" in consigning "The Price of Silence" to oblivion. I am heartened by all the "pans" on Amazon, but it sure would help if more "names", in addition to Dorothy Rabinowitz, provided reviews in other fora. I would make it mandatory, though, that each reviewer read or have a grounding in Johnson's and Taylor's UPI.

Jim In San Diego said...

This is curious:

I sent an email to Amazon 36 hours ago asking:

1. Why Amazon was beginning to remove comments critical of the 5 star reviewers, when the comments were civil, factual, but critical?

2. Who, specifically, complained about the comments, and what was their specific complaint?

I received the pro-forma notice that someone would respond within 12 hours.

That did not happen.

Contemporaneously, in his absolutely amazing Huffington Post article, Cohan fulminates about holding Amazon legally accountable for those critical of his masterwork!!

So, this is the connection we have been missing. Picture what we are viewing: an investigative reporter, calling for censorship of criticism of him, and threatening Amazon with legal action for posting reviews and comments critical of "Price of Silence".

Is anybody in journalism taking notice of this? Isn't there a great story here, even an expose?

I don't have the training, the ability, or the platform, or I would be there myself.

Thankfully, Huffington Post commenters are not buying into the idea of censorship of Amazon reviews.

Jim Peterson

Jim In San Diego said...


My mistake.

Amazon did respond to my email; just a Different email account.

However, Amazon did not acknowledge deleting the comment I asked about, even though I see it on my screen as "Removed by Amazon".

So, will investigate further. As anyone can see, reviewing the "comments" sections on a number of the 5 star reviews, that Amazon HAS deleted several comments,without explanation.

Will try to get to the bottom of it.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Cohan's wikipedia entry is substantially updated with links to the positive and negative reviews and the HuffPo piece.

Anonymous said...

Where did you find "Thankfully, Huffington Post commenters are not buying into the idea of censorship of Amazon reviews" this information/discussion? Thank-you

Anonymous said...

@ 3:57 I might be a little dense ...but what are you trying to say??? ..or anyone?

Jim In San Diego said...

Anonymous 4:55

From reading the first 15 or so comments. A couple of exceptions, of course.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Where is the "discussion" at the huffington post? ...Link??? ...not to Cohen's absurd pity piece (there are no comments allowed there).

Jim In San Diego said...

anonymous @ 6:51

Here is the link:

As of a few minutes ago, there were 22 comments.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

To: 5:42
Sounds like your talking about Obama, i.e., he's (read: the Administration) silent about scandals and then, when he can't ignore them anymore, he claims (through a spokesperson) that he was never informed about the problems and blames those that 'should' have informed him.

Big Al

RighteousThug said...

We can see from the Tapper 'interview' that, after 6 weeks, Cohan has his paws dug in and is fighting for his career. His whining screed on HuffPo regarding Amazon reviews shows how scared he is.

He's sticking to his tired sound bites, and seems to have a real fetish for Rumsfeld's 'unknown unknowns'. 'Nifong made mistakes', 'something we would not be proud of', 'we'll never know' have become little more than verbal ticks.

And continues his gossip about $60 mil and $100 mil, and the misdirection about AG Cooper 'not allowing him to see the investigation file'. He just tosses aside the AG office' 3-month (or 4 month at one point in the interview) investigation as meaningless.

New in this piece (I think) is that Cohan doesn't even know that RCD did indeed file suit against Duke; he describes the settlement as 'preemptive, not tied to a particular lawsuit'.

Joan Foster has posted some comment/reviews of his Wall Street books; it seems that he's taken a similar tack when writing those:

Cohan's Other Books; Interesting comments

Jim In San Diego said...

The standard suggestion to anyone who is puzzled as to the overwhelmingly negative reviews of "Price of Silence" on Amazon, after all the glowing reviews in the major media, should be:

Please read them. All of them.

Do not carry any opinion at all into your reading.

Just read them.

After you read them, you will have formed your own opinion, whatever it might be. It will not be someone else's opinion.

Just read them.

Jim Peterson

Jim In San Diego said...

Joan Foster on Liestoppers has answered the question no has answered yet, including especially William D. Cohan:

Why would a business writer decide to write a (long) book about an 8 year old rape hoax?

Answer: It is Cohan's formula to:

(1) pick a target which can easily be made a symbol of populist rage (rich, privileged white athletes abusing a black working woman; Bear-Stearns, Goldman-Sachs)

(2) Use his skill at using innuendo and unattributed quotes ("it was known on the street"), to fan his targeted audience's pre-existing prejudices.

(3) Reward sources who will speak to him; punish those who will not.

(4) Sell books. No other goal. Certainly not a balanced perspective on the factual history of which Cohan was writing.

Hershel Walker long ago conjectured this was his MO, in Hershel's excellent (1-star) review on Amazon. Hershel has the talent and experience in the publishing business to smell out a rat much quicker than we did.

Jim Peterson

Jim In San Diego said...


Hershel Parker, of course.

Hershel Walker played football, I believe?

Jim Peterson

Hershel Parker said...

Jim in San Diego: And who is to say HP doesn't play football?