Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wilson v. Bradley

In late August, the Times published what it purported to be a comprehensive review of the case. As it turned out, the piece was riddled with factual errors, all of which tilted toward the prosecution.

  • Reporter Duff Wilson incorrectly claimed that on March 16, Reade Seligmann was one of four players the accuser identified as attending the party. In fact, while she did identify four players with 100% certainty, Seligmann was not one of them; she was only 70% sure she even saw him.
  • Wilson incorrectly claimed that Kim Roberts labeled the accuser’s version of events a “crock” on March 22, suggesting that this day represented the only time Roberts denied the allegations to police. In fact, she uttered the word on March 20, and then denied the allegations again on March 22.
  • Wilson incorrectly claimed that Kim Roberts stated to police that the accuser was “clearly sober.” In fact, Roberts never used those two words in her statement.

The fourth, and in many ways most serious, error: Wilson stated that everyone “agreed” that a racial epithet was used sometime before 12.04—or when Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were still at the party.

Here was Wilson’s description:

The women, wearing see-through outfits, started dancing about midnight. A photo taken by one player shows two women together on the floor surrounded by seven young men, many holding drink cups. A few minutes later, one of the men said something about using a broomstick in a sexual manner. The dancers stopped. An argument ensued. Using a racial epithet, someone yelled that they had asked for white dancers, not black ones [emphasis added].

That much is agreed. It was 12:04 a.m. March 14. The question is, what happened in the next 30 to 50 minutes?

Wilson, it appeared, never interviewed Kim Roberts for his story, perhaps explaining why he incorrectly characterized her statement. He also didn’t interview any of the captains, perhaps explaining why he incorrectly characterized their statements. In fact, the only three people who appear to “agree” on the version of events presented in Wilson’s story are Wilson, the accuser, and Mike Nifong.

Ed Bradley did interview Kim Roberts. Here’s how Roberts described the night’s conclusion:

As Roberts prepared to drive away with “Precious,” she described one ugly final encounter with a lacrosse player who made a rude comment about Roberts’ appearance.

Asked how she responded, Roberts says, “I don’t know if I can say that on 60 Minutes.

“I called him a little [expletive] white boy,” she recalls laughing. “And how he couldn’t get it on his own and had to pay for it. So, he was mad. And it ended with him callin’ me the n-word. And it echoed, so you heard n….. once, and then you heard, n….., n….., n….. .

Roberts acknowledges that her taunting provoked that remark but tells Bradley, “But when I think about it again, I say he could’ve said black girl. You know what I mean? He could’ve said black girl. He didn’t have to go that route.”

A neighbor also told police he overheard a player yelling in Roberts’ direction “Thank your grandfather for my cotton shirt.”

At the time, the Times refused to run a correction on Wilson’s incorrect assertion regarding the statement “that much is agreed” that Seligmann and Finnerty were present at the time of the racially charged argument. Kim Roberts has now repeated the version of events she gave in the March 22 police statement that Wilson mischaracterized in his article.

Will the Times now, finally, run a correction?


Anonymous said...

Once again, a great post. Will the Times make a correction? Quite unlikely! Ironically I find that the blogs focusing on the Duke fiasco are more than willing to make corrections when there are factual mistakes. A segment of the mainstream media seems to think that they are infallible. Their cover up is worse than the initial mistake.

Daddyx4 said...
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Daddyx4 said...

kc: great point. i personally wouldn't hold my breath. time and again, we have seen the msm deny any duty to correct or retract in their earlier pronouncements and inaccurate reporting.

in a related story - our friend, cash, is back on the scene. this time, he is taking a position i find pretty interesting:


most interesting to me is his characterization of the cbs spokesman. he definitely wants us to believe that there is some hidden story there, that 60 minutes was trying to hide the other side. no, they did not include joyner - maybe that would have been an interesting person to have on. however, equating joyner with coleman is simply inaccurate. coleman is not being put on as a black man, a professor, or a person with interest in the community. he was put on primarily due to his chairing of the committee that looked specifically into this matter on duke campus and issued the report in june - so ignored by broadhead and the community. however, like i said, i believe it would have been interesting to hear joyner have to actually articulate factual answers to some of bradley's questions. so far, michaels and joyner have only done the "there is hidden discovery" and "just wait until you see all of the great important evidence" dances, without any substantiation to back these theories up. of course, neither even pretends to care that nifong should NOT be withholding such crucial, devastating evidence - especially not at this stage - but no matter.

kc: thoughts?

kcjohnson9 said...
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kcjohnson9 said...

I'm planning a lengthier comment on the Michaels article tomorrow.

A quick reply for the moment. I can see where he could criticize 60 Mins for, say, not putting on Joyner, but disagree with his conclusions.

The Joyner/McSurely line has consistently been: "Wait till the trial, there must be something in the file."

CBS looked at the file. From the content of its report, it clearly found nothing there. So it would be pretty irresponsible journalism to put on someone to say something that CBS has established, through its own reporting, to be untrue.

Anonymous said...

In case you are unaware KC - Cash is responding directly to questions on Talk Left. check it out.

Anonymous said...

On another board, Cash also said that Victoria Peterson should have been interviewed...

Anonymous said...

Don't waste time sending complaints to Duff Wilson or the editor or the so-called public editor or the publisher. Send your complaints and comments to the family members of the Board of Directors of The New York Times Co.

Anonymous said...

KC: Nifong's and the DPD lies and deception have been revealed. Yet something still has not been investigated or even questioned by the press. Who sent that e-mail from the players computer, saying he was going to go to the police and tell all. At the time the Durham police were all over the dorms, sticking their feet in the doors to get in. Duke security were giving them free access as well. The police were questioning kids. And then this e-mail is sent to other players. The student whose computer it was sent from was in class at the time. If the DPD snuck into his room without a warrant and sent an email pretending to be someone else, isn't this criminal beahvior. This was the time Nifong was trying to play head games with the team and coerce a confession from one of the players. Then he went on t.v. talking about a "wall of silence". Can they check the time the email was sent and check survailance cameras around the dorms. I wouldn't be surprised if this computer was confiscated by the DPD and the email was erased to cover their tracks. This loose thread really bothers me.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as "deleting" an email anymore. Stuff you trashed ages ago can be found through high tech searches. I have seen many legal cases where emails were key. Methods are very sophisticated and thorough. Of course, if you spend all day writing a term paper and it is lost in a computer crash, it's gone forever. ;-D

Anonymous said...

re: 10:46 comment--Very good point!! There are a few very loose ends that keep getting forgotten but could be very important, and the source of the mystery email is at the top of the list (another is the AV's missing money and shoe.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for interesting article.