This week featured DIW’s version of March Madness, with brackets including the worst of: op-eds; Duke faculty publications; “news” articles; and soundbites. But, just as in the real March Madness, “bubble” selections exist—items that just missed the cut despite their impressive levels of vitriol, or their gleeful rush to judgment, or their indefensible analysis, or their blatant hypocrisy. Below, then, are the 16 selections for the case version of the NIT.
6) “Physical trauma. You’ve got possible vaginal, anal bruising and tearing. Torn clothing. Torn clothing indicates an attack. Contusions, which is a big word for bruises. Tears, broken nails, which we know we have in this case. She also said in the affidavit that she scratched one of the perpetrators’ on the arm. Look for DNA under that nail, people! Emotional trauma, change in her demeanor, the outcry she makes to the first person. That would be in the Kroeger parking lot.” Nancy Grace, in an April 5 broadcast of her Headline News program, detailing the evidence that she said already was on the books proving rape. Of all the items listed, the only ones that actually existed were “tears” and “change in her demeanor.” Everything else was invented by Grace.
5) “The police and the prosecutor will scrutinize this evidence in exquisite detail, and if they find something is askew, that something doesn't fit in the alibi evidence, they will not hesitate to charge Seligmann with yet another crime. That would be obstruction of justice.” cnnsi.com legal “analyst” Lester Munson, dismissing the revelation of Reade Seligmann’s airtight alibi. Liestoppers subsequently revealed that legal “analyst” Munson voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law in
4) “My initial thoughts were, ‘Wow, what a bunch of ignorant, pompous, misguided young ladies’ . . . It is this type of same condescending and arrogant mindset and sense of entitlement that led to the trans-Atlantic slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and ultimately to Washington Duke being one of the biggest tobacco tycoons in the South.” WNCU radio host (and Orin Starn invited guest) Hanif Omar, on the decision of the women’s lacrosse team to wear armbands expressing solidarity with the three players targeted by Mike Nifong.
3) “In the moment when the ad came out, I did not hear from one colleague that there was something wrong with the ad.” Group of 88 leader Wahneema Lubiano, unintentionally demonstrating the “groupthink” atmosphere prevalent among too many quarters of the Duke arts and sciences faculty.
2) “We had to stop those pictures [of the players practicing]. It doesn’t mean that it’s fair, but we had to stop it. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think it was right—it just had to be done.” Board of Trustees chairman Bob Steel, explaining to the New Yorker why the school canceled the lacrosse season.
1) “Burn it down.” Victoria Peterson, soon to be Nifong citizens’ committee co-chair, outside 610 N. Buchanan, during the New Black Panthers’ May campus rally.
4) Robert Bliwise, “Spring of Sorrows,” Duke Magazine, May/June 2006. The administration’s “official” version of the springtime events. Bliwise quoted from only one Duke student—an African-American male who, from all accounts, was not representative of student opinion as a whole. He then quoted from four Duke faculty members—Paul Haagen (appropriately, as chairman of the Academic Council) three of the most outspoken opponents of the lacrosse team (Houston Baker, Orin Starn, and Peter Wood).*
3) Wahneema Lubiano, “Whatever Happens, ... What People Are Asking Is That Something Change,” N&O, May 7, 2006. The Group of 88 leader demanded that Duke immediately institute “targeted teaching” (sounds eerily like a “re-education” program) to expose “the structures of racism and the not-so-hidden injuries of class entitlement in place at Duke and everywhere in this country, and without regard to banal and ordinary sexual harassment,” since “we don’t have to wait for working class or poorer students to be targeted by fraternity ‘theme’ parties or cross burnings on the quad or in dorm halls, or for sexual assaults to be attested by perfectly placed witnesses and indisputable evidence.”
2) Karla Holloway, mass e-mail, January 3, 2007. “I will share with you what I have not previously shared publicly . . . It is legally hearsay, but nevertheless speaks volumes to what I think are the intricacies of the event that deserve a legal hearing . . . So what does it mean to readmit students with an indictment for violent acts, without an internal investigation of our own regarding the event? I think it is a choice the institution has made. And it has led to my own that I cannot work in shared good faith at a time when principled conduct matters less than polls and parents pleas.” In her mass e-mail, sent to dozens of colleagues around campus, the then-chair of the CCI’s “race subgroup” passed along fifth-hand, unsubstantiated, slanderous gossip about Duke students. Some might wonder how such a figure could have a prominent position in a committee designed to produce a more tolerant Duke campus.
1) Houston Baker, e-mail, December 31, 2006. The mother of a former lacrosse player e-mailed former Group of 88 leader Baker (now at Vanderbilt) laying out the new developments in the case, and asking if he would reconsider his decision to sign the Group’s statement. His complete response:
LIES! You are just a provacateur [sic] on a happy New Years Eve trying to get credit for a scummy bunch of white males! You know you are in search of sympaathy [sic] for young white guys who beat up a gay man [sic] in Georgetown, get drunk in Durham, and lived like “a bunch of farm animals” near campus.
I really hope whoever sent this stupid farce of an email rots in .... umhappy [sic] new year to you ... and forgive me if your [sic] really are, quite sadly, mother of a “farm animal.”
6) James Zou, “Do Not Vote,” Chronicle, October 20, 2006. After tepidly conceding that Nifong isn’t “the ideal district attorney to serve the
5) Claire Dines, “CNN’s ‘Journalism’ is a Fool’s Paradise,” Atlantic Free Press, January 19, 2007. An invited guest on Paula Zahn’s Duke-case special, Dines subsequently complained that she was on only one rather than several show segments—in an essay riddled with factual errors, thereby showing why she didn’t receive more airtime. She did, however, manage to produce one of the most (unintentionally) humorous lines of the case: “I appeared as not just a gullible fool, but even worse, a gullible fool with a feminist agenda.” Hard to argue with that analysis.
4) Lynne Duke, “The Duke Case’s Cruel Truth,” Washington Post, May 24, 2006. The opening sentence read like a bad romance novel rather than a serious legal analysis: “She was black, they were white, and race and sex were in the air.” The columnist then fantastically revealed “the brutal truth”: “It is that the Duke case is in some ways reminiscent of a black woman's vulnerability to a white man during the days of slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow, when sex was used as a tool of racial domination.” She has subsequently stopped commenting on the case.
3) Al McSurely, “Defense of Lacrosse Team Overlooked Much,” N&O, June 3, 2006. The head of the NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee previewed his error-filled August “memorandum of law” in informing N&O readers that “within five minutes [of their arrival], the men threatened the women with racial and misogynist verbal assaults . . . Some men were caught with their macho entitlement views hanging out and, to save themselves, they have banned together to blame the survivor of their verbal assaults.” McSurely concluded his piece by incredibly asserting that “the NAACP stands for fair play for all parties . . . for justice and community.”
2) “Voters Divided on Lacrosse Case,” Herald-Sun, Nov. 9, 2006. “It appears,” the editorial conceded, “that many more voters than we suspected, and perhaps more than Nifong suspected, have taken issue with the way he has handled the case.” But then H-S editors, ignoring Nifong’s misconduct, asserted that “the best course for all concerned is to continue down the current path to trial. Then, in a truly astonishing statement, the editors asked readers to believe that they now have the interests of the accused players at heart. Since “an upcoming trial . . . is sure to draw major media attention, it would be better for the players to have an opportunity to prove their innocence at trial.”
1) Bob Ashley, “Has the Lacrosse Case Induced Insanity?,” Herald-Sun, July 23, 2006. In retrospect, this op-ed, penned by the H-S editor, served as the launching point of the paper’s decision to extend its editorial bias against the lacrosse players to the news division as well. After hailing the embarrassing op-ed of Andrew Cohen, Ashley insinuated that Nifong had strong evidence hidden in his files” “We’ve tried to consistently remind that all the facts aren’t out, and that the defense attorneys are releasing just what fragments of the total evidence they choose to make public.”
Of course, all the facts weren’t out—Nifong and Dr. Brian Meehan had made sure of that. But Editor Ashley and his ace reporter, John Stevenson, would be asleep at the switch on that story.
*--modified from original