Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Independent: "The Price of Silence Adds Nothing New to the Case or Our Understanding of It"

As Radley Balko has presciently observed, the pattern in reviews of author William Cohan’s book has been straightforward: overwhelmingly negative reviews from any reviewer who followed the case closely, coupled with glowing reviews from those who knew nothing about the case and appeared willing to uncritically accept Cohan’s musings without even wondering about the merits of using a convicted liar as the book’s chief source.

(The sole somewhat-exception to the pattern: Susannah Meadows, whose review admitted that Cohan had failed to provide evidence for his something-happened thesis but nonetheless praised Cohan for producing new findings that either weren’t new or weren’t true.)

Confirmation of the Balko pattern comes now from a most unexpected source, The Independent.

As noted below, few publications did more to uphold Nifong’s fraudulent efforts; the paper endorsed him twice and aggressively slanted opinion coverage during the case in his favor. Yet reviewer Stephen Deusner has nothing good to say about the book in which the paper’s one-time hero serves as chief protagonist.

Reflecting the IndyWeek mindset, Deusner seems eager to embrace Cohan’s message. He opens his review in the following way: “When President Obama recently issued new guidelines for reporting and investigating sexual assaults on campus, he signaled his intention to curb violence against women and to confront a toxic culture that is deeply entrenched in higher education. Triangle readers might view these policies as a delayed response to the Duke lacrosse controversy of 2006, where a racially charged rape allegation made by a stripper against members of the Duke men's lacrosse team later proved unfounded.”

While this remark accurately captures the politically correct approach to the issue of campus sexual assault nationally, it raises the obvious question: how would Duke, a rape that not only never occurred, but an episode exposed as an instance of massive prosecutorial misconduct, provide justification for a policy that eviscerates the due process protections of accused students?

Nonetheless, even a reviewer who seems as highly sympathetic to Cohan’s ideological perspective can’t stomach the book. “Even Jon Stewart could barely hide his skepticism in a recent Daily Show interview,” Deusner correctly notes. (As Stuart Taylor and I commented in our RCP piece, Stewart was about the only interviewer, along with WUNC’s Frank Stasio, to in any way challenge Cohan: and Stasio, though his program leans to the left, clearly was knowledgeable about the case.) Deusner observes, again correctly, that critics “have not been kind in their assessments, nor should they be: This very long book is short on insight or purpose.”

Deusner wonders about the book at a structural level, noting that “Cohan regurgitates seemingly every last shred of information from his files . . . persistently confusing summary with analysis and failing to shape the facts into a coherent or accessible narrative.” He also expresses doubt about Cohan's willingness to rely so heavily on “Nifong, who is perhaps not the most credible witness.”

Cohan's apparent sympathy for Nifong, Deusner reasons, might be “the unintended consequence of the author's lack of access to other testimonies and to his own mishandling of the narrative.” In the end, the reviewer concludes, neither Cohan nor Nifong are able to provide any “new perspective” on the case.

Again: all of this comes from a paper that twice endorsed Nifong and whose editorial slant seems highly sympathetic to Cohan overall.

I suppose Cohan can hold out hope for a positive review from the Herald-Sun? But unless one is forthcoming, the Price of Silence will conclude its reviewer season as an extraordinary example of a book about which no one who knew anything about the case could find anything positive to say.


Anonymous said...

Charles J. Rector
343 Amazon Reviews :
of which
2 for 2009, 2010 combined
0 for 2011, 2012, 2013
9 for May 4,5 2014 (including Price of Silence)

So, of his 343 amazon reviews, there are 11 in the past 6 years
of which 9 (N I N E) are in the past week.

Charlie Rector also posted reviews of PoS on KC Johnson's blog (durham in wonderland) and a one star amazon review of Johnson's 2007 LAX Hoax book "Until Proven Innocent ".

Making a total of 11 reviews in 2 days, after a hiatus of 6 years.

KC Johnson said...

It's good to see that Mr. Rector has suddenly (and at such a convenient time) rediscovered the value of reading :)

skwilli said...

"Reading is FUN duh mental."
Paraphrasing Mr. Rector.

Anonymous said...

Rictor is just a low life ...can there be any other conclusion.

A Duke Dad said...

@ 11:05

res ipsa loquitur

. . . . . the thing speaks for itself

William L. Anderson said...

From now on, I will refer to him as Charles Rectum.

Yeah, I know. Not exactly appropriate, but neither are his posts.

skwilli said...

To the brilliant William L. Anderson, "Rectum! Practically killed him!" is one of the best punchlines ever. Sometimes you don't even need the rest of the joke to get a laugh...

Anonymous said...

I am re-reading the paperback edition of "Until Proven Innocent." On page 89, we learn of Nifong's March 27 meeting with Gottlieb and Himan. He learns there is no evidence of rape, causing Nifong to say:

"You know we're f*****."

Nifong then went on a series of media interviews and press conferences. He claimed to have solid evidence to a "racially motivated" gang rape.

This character is what Cohan calls an "honorable man."

Trial Junkie

One Spook said...

I have noticed quite a few references to Cohan's book using the abbreviation, "POS."

This ubiquitous abbreviation is seen in social media and texting, and is defined in the Urban Dictionary as, (1) Piece of Shit.


One Spook

Anonymous said...

Is Charles Rectum a POS?

Anonymous said...

I've also seen Cohan's book shortened to TPOS. No doubt, the T stands for total, thorough, or maybe teeming.