Friday, April 27, 2007

Assessing the Post

Quite appropriately, the aftermath of Attorney General Cooper’s declaration of the three players’ innocence has focused critical attention on the two newspapers that did the most to uphold Mike Nifong’s efforts: the New York Times and the Herald-Sun. But a third paper also embarrassed itself in how it approached the case. Original reporting in the Washington Post was good though rare. The paper’s opinion pieces, on the other hand, all approached the case through a race/class/gender worldview so extreme as to almost represent a caricature.

First, the good news: Post reporter Anne Hull did two thoughtful, lengthy pieces on social aspects of the case that avoided the clichés common in New York Times coverage. The first, published on May 7, provided a sympathetic portrait of NCCU—but also unequivocally presented the evidence of innocence that had emerged by that time. The second, published on June 10, looked at how several D.C.-area Duke lacrosse parents were coping with the crisis. As in her May 7 article, Hull was sympathetic to her subjects, but avoided cliché.

The Post editorial board published a powerful December 31 editorial demanding that Mike Nifong drop all charges. “It’s been clear for months that Mr. Nifong’s case—to the extent he has a case—is riddled with flaws that raise serious questions about his motives and ethics.” The editors also commented how Nifong “badly misconceives his job as a prosecutor, which is not simply to robotically prosecute claims or seek a conviction at all costs but to make an independent analysis of whether justice would be served by continuing with the case.”

Yet the tone of the Post’s approach to the case came from its opinion pieces. In late June, Ruth Marcus penned an opinion piece admitting that she initially assumed the players were guilty, and making it clear she didn’t think much of the team members. But she was open-minded, and troubled, about the facts of the case: “The paucity of physical evidence; the accuser’s prior unsubstantiated rape charge; her changing stories that night; sloppy and unreliable identification procedures—any of these alone, and certainly all of them together, make it hard to understand why the prosecution is going forward and impossible to imagine that it could win a conviction.” Moreover, she noted, “The confluence of Nifong's political interests and the prosecution is itself another reason for discomfort.”

The Marcus column stood alone among the paper’s coverage. Five other Post columnists published about the case, and all five said essentially the same thing: the accused players were horrible people, probably racists, and were receiving special treatment because they were privileged.

Eugene Robinson started the parade on April 25, 2006. “It’s quite possible,” noted he, “we’ll never have a truly satisfactory answer as top what “really happened that night between a house full of rowdy lacrosse players.” (Party photos hardly showed a “rowdy” group.) Why? Because rape was hard to prove, “especially cases of alleged rape in which the accused can afford top-shelf legal counsel.” So Robinson urged people to focus on the “historical context” (i.e., the metanarrative) “of all the black women who were violated by drunken white men in the American South over the centuries. The master-slave relationship, the tradition of droit du seigneur, the use of sexual possession as an instrument of domination.” No rush to judgment there. A “true hero” of the case, stated Robinson, might be Richard Brodhead—because “he seems to understand the need to deal not only with the specific allegations but with the context and the questions as well.” Of course, Robinson seemed not to understand that successfully dealing with “the context and the questions” depended in part on knowing what actually happened.

Then there was Lynne Duke, who brought her judgment to bear on May 24. Duke employed a writing style more appropriate for a Harlequin novel than the op-ed pages of the Post. Her opening sentence: “She was black, they were white, and race and sex were in the air.” Parroting Robinson’s argument, 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.”

In July, Marc Fisher stepped up to the plate. His thesis mocked Collin Finnerty’s character witnesses by appealing to class prejudice. His conclusion on the case as a whole? “Even if no rape occurred in the Duke case, even if that ugly incident was no more than a raucous party at which a bunch of drunken kids verbally abused a hired performer, it sounds like it was entirely within character for these kids.”

Andrew Cohen provided the worst legal analysis of any figure outside of Wendy Murphy and Georgia Goslee. Like Fisher, he focused on the class angle: in article after article, he suggested that the accused players were receiving special treatment because they could afford good lawyers:

  • In May, he savaged the defense attorneys while lionizing Nifong, who “has generally resisted the temptation to ride the whirlwind of media coverage and duel it out with defense attorneys via the media . . . His only vindication will be at trial, but that must seem these days like a long time coming for him and his star witness.”
  • A June posting claimed that the defendants’ “race and money” had caused the media to raise questions about Mike Nifong’s conduct. Cohen clucked, “We haven’t seen all of the evidence, haven’t examined all of the testimony; haven’t had the privilege of seeing the case unfold at trial the way it is supposed to.”
  • In July, after a post that also improperly described Rule 3.6 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, Cohen had to run a correction after falsely suggesting that defense lawyers had violated a gag order.
  • And even when charges were dropped, Cohen dismissed critics of Nifong, and instead suggested that the accused players’ wealth helped them get the truth out, an option that they would not have had if they were poor. Yet he seemed unable or unwilling to understand that if Crystal Mangum had accused poor, local African-Americans of rape, Nifong would have had no reason to make the case in the first place.

Bill Anderson described the paper’s “party line” as follows: “Yes, they were innocent of the charges, but they had a party where strippers were paid to dance, and there was drinking, and the air was filled with racial slurs.”

The Post’s most recent opinion piece, from yet another columnist, John Feinstein, took the exact same approach to the story that every other Post columnist did.

  • Feinstein ridiculed critics of Nifong as “the defenders of the right and the white.” (I guess people like Jim Coleman and Jeralyn Merritt don’t count.)
  • The suspension of the team’s season was justified to send “a message that accusations of rape would not be taken lightly” (even though Brodhead didn’t give this as a reason).
  • The three accused players “were still part of a group of kids that was out of control and never have they shown any remorse for anything other than the fact that they were facing rape charges. No one from the lacrosse team has ever said, “okay, maybe we went too far with our partying at times.’” (Actually, the captains apologized publicly and privately on multiple occasions for holding the party—but why let the facts get in the way of a good argument?)
  • “Remember one team member was also accused of a gay-bashing crime in Washington and another sent out a hateful, threatening e-mail in the wake of the arrests.” (It would be hard to “remember” the first incident, since it never occurred; as to the second, no one has described the McFadyen e-mail as “threatening” for months, and, as a commenter points out, Feinstein appears unaware of either the context or the time in which the e-mail was sent.)

Anderson concludes that Feinstein’s observations contained “little more truth than a story from Pravda in the heady days of the former Soviet Union.” As has usually occurred in the case, Anderson is on target. And the Post should be ashamed for offering such extreme, consistently one-sided, commentary on the case.


Anonymous said...

McFadyen's stupid e-mail wasn't in the "wake of the arrests," but after returning from the party. Is he referring to something else, or did he not bother to verify any of the facts?

Anonymous said...

Can somebody explain John Feinstein's obvious animus towards Duke? Did the Alumni Association mistreat him in some way? Did the University misspell his name on his diploma? What’s going on? He normally writes intelligently, but becomes a blithering idiot when it comes to his alma mater.

Anonymous said...

Feinstein was a dissapointment - never cared for his his writing - for the most part he can't think past his own preconceived meta-narratives - as KC says, why let facts get in the way

Anonymous said...

Send Professor Johnson's analysis to Post CEO Don Graham. Ask any questions you'd like to ask. Be polite. He will probably respond. Wonder if the same editor was involved in choosing the five similar-themed op-eds?

Anonymous said...

We are past shame, KC. Shame no longer applies to these WaPo folks and others. They are and will forever be entirely unashamed. Shame only occurs when one has an accurate moral compass. The reference to Pravda is woefully correct. This wave has been building gradually over several decades and has now broken over us like a tsunami. Its effects extend way beyond the Durham miscarriage.
I am trying to avoid inflammatory language here, but we may as a society be too damaged to defeat the totalitarian, thought-policing, lying, destructive adversarial force we have let mature among us, like a cowbird egg in a songbird's nest.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has never been to college nor held a job of any "esteem", and always assumed the more notable jobs in life were held by those with a degree of intellect and intelligence beyond my own, it astounds me (and genuinely disturbs me) to learn how genuinely stupid some of these newspaper "journalists" are. So many of them can't think. They react. They parrot. They just.....make up things.

M. Simon said...

You see what the papers have done to the Duke case.

How can you trust them on anything you can't cross check yourself?

M. Simon said...

joe t.,

I have read that J-school attracts the low end of the college pool.

The capable people become rocket scientists.

Chicago said...

Feinstein is the worst type of Duke fan in my opinion. He cares about one very small aspect of the school, Duke Men's basketball because Krzyzewki is his buddy. Feinstein is the same clown who demanded all players be stripped of their scholarships at the beginning of the case. Additionally, Feinstein stated that Coach K would never allow something like this to go on in his program. Well, it was later revealed the hoops team had a party with strippers just weeks before, as did many other teams and groups.

JWM said...

I've just left the following letter at WaPo's John Feinstein's comment thread:

Dear John Feinstein:

I'm a Duke alum and I hate to ask this question but aren’t you also a Duke alum?

I hope not, given what oozes from your April 16 column. But I’m afraid you are.

We can all agree Imus should never have said what he said about the Rutgers Women. He deserves our scorn.

But who, other than racists and hypocrites, agrees with your silence last May when Reade Seligmann, his parents and his then attorney, the late Kirk Osborn, were subjected to the most vicious racists threats, including death threats, as they walked to the courthouse in Durham, NC?

Why did you decide to remain silent when Reade Seligmann , his parents and attorney were attacked? Why have you remained silent for the last year?

What should fair-minded people conclude about you?

John in Carolina

Anonymous said...

There are no words for the dishonesty - Not that they care and apparently will support these clowns until they go out of business, but have Emaiied donny Graham and Bo Jones again. Mrs Graham would have never allowed this stuff.

Anonymous said...

"I have read that J-school attracts the low end of the college pool.

The capable people become rocket scientists."

I don't buy that. Writing can be hard for even the brightest students, and majoring in journalism means a lot of writing. It's not an easy major. On top of that, the job market is ridiculously competitive at top tier publications like the Washington Post and the New York Times.

But the fact that these very smart people go into journalism, a field notorious for its long hours and abysmal pay, is interesting. Anyone who can write well enough to report for a respectable paper can probably write well enough to go to law school and make a lot more money. And for that reason alone, I think journalism tends to attract a disproportionate share of ideologues (kind of like being a university professor).

Anonymous said...

Feinstein has lost all credibility with me. He is a radio announcer for Navy football and openly supported Navy over Duke during a football game. In a very telling moment, Duke scored a touchdown, but Feinstein screamed on air "F***ing Ref!!" because he thought the Duke receiver pushed off before catching the touchdown. He was taken off the air for a while, but the episode indicates his "support" for Duke.

His commentary on the lacrosse story was inflammatory, arrogant,
sanctimonious, PC, and dead wrong. He has an axe to grind since his buddy Tom Mickle was not made athletic director. Bottom line, he is a jock sniffing, self-important weenie.

Anonymous said...

LOL huesofblue. I resemble that remark: "Anyone who can write well enough to report for a respectable paper can probably write well enough to go to law school and make a lot more money."

But for the most part, the other commenters are right: I once checked and the SAT of the average journalism major was above only those for home economics (back when that was a major) and forestry majors. And yes, reporters make up stuff. There are a lot more Jason Blairs than you think. In fact, one of the ironies of the news biz is that the best reporters don't go to work at the NYT; they go to work for the National Enquirer. I kid you not.

Btw, in my defense, in my 8 years in the newspaper business I was never once accused of falsifying a quote, quoting out-of-context, or quoting misleadingly. If I said they said it, then they said it.

Anonymous said...

first suits gainst 88 in prep. to be filed shortly after June trial of Nifong. One or more 88 assisting tonight.

Anonymous said...

h-s harvesting bloggers email addresses. no need to help them.

Anonymous said...

I usually find your analysis remarkably tight but disagree here:

Yet he seemed unable or unwilling to understand that if Crystal Mangum had accused poor, local African-Americans of rape, Nifong would have had no reason to make the case in the first place.

I would have thought so as well - before knowing that Nifong personally knew Mangum's family. I think there is a likelihood Nifong would have reacted much the same way had Mangum accused blacks. It's hard to say for sure, since the siren call of the campaign also locked him into a position and that would not have resonated as well.

Nifong's intransigence in the face of unrelenting evidence of innocence is inexplicable. One wonders how widespread this phenomina is among those less able to prove their innocence. This nonsense would no doubt still be in play were it not for both the good luck of having high quality alibis and a disturbed, self contradicting, accuser.

Anonymous said...

J. J. Redick mentioned to D. Flannery on 15 March, "we had the same stripper party 11 March two days before yours".

Anonymous said...

Ruth Marcus also wrote a column on the case for the Post, along the lines of Nick Kristof's early piece for the Times, recognizing that the case was a fraud. Like some of the other columns/articles cited by KC, she also found it necessary to make a gratuitous reference to what she took to be the players' character, though otherwise the column was right on. One of the saddest aspects of this case is that the false rape charges have created legal license for journalists to render public judgments about the character of young men whom they have never met and about whose character they know very little if anything.

Anonymous said...

Then there was Lynne Duke, who brought her judgment to bear on May 24. Duke employed a writing style more appropriate for a Harlequin novel than the op-ed pages of the Post. Her opening sentence: “She was black, they were white, and race and sex were in the air.”

How did she know? Lynne Duke singlehandedly predicted Mangum's "I was raped while being suspended in midair" version of the events 9 months before it was released by Mangum to the SPs(could Duke's editorial have given her the idea).

With her demonstrated ability in extra senory perception, Duke is obviously wasting her time and talent as a WaPo columnist. She could do much better on the Psychic Hotline (1-900-IMAFOOL).

Anonymous said...

Damn, K.C.! I sleep a little late today, and find that you have written nice things about me!

Thanks. It always is nice to read nice things about oneself in the morning than bad things. Mikey is not having good mornings, as we know, because he wakes up and the pummeling begins.

To be honest, the only reporter who consistently has pushed for the truth is Joe Neff. One reason for this, I believe, is that Neff is good at developing multiple sources, while many journalists covering this case stuck with just the government sources.

Again, thanks much, K.C.!

Anonymous said...

See what 88 member takes this Friday off.

Anonymous said...

Newspaper editors/publishers are first and foremost interested in selling newspapers that day.

Columnists/reporters are interested almost exclusively in meeting today's deadline to produce a column/story that many folk will read.

Both of the above groups know their markets.

For example, the New York Times (NYT) folk almost certainly view urban lefties as their core audience. As such, they pander to that demographic and aim their stories/coulmns at them because they are the ones who pay for copies of the NYT.

The NYT folk are totally uninterested in inconvenient facts that detract or get in the way of a story that would otherwise interest their core readership. Similarly, there is a financial dis-incentive to be balanced. If one must include balancing material, give the agenda crap prominent headlines and play on A-1 and bury the rest where the story continues on A-28. The LA Times is particularly notorious for this tactic, as Paterico always demonstrates.

If the NYT needs 25 stories for an edition and there are 100 stories on the wire about corruption, voter fraud, Iraq results, the NYT can always be depended upon to choose the 25 that best suits the agenda of their core.

Anonymous said...

KC, that is a flat-out distortion of what Feinstein said.

For your readers who didn't follow the link, here are some excerpts:

"The Duke players were victims of a prosecutor, Mike Nifong, who was either overzealous or incompetent or both. They were also the victims of their school's leadership, which completely ignored an escalating situation, then threw the entire team right under the wheels of the bus in order to save itself."

"Only Mike Pressler, the coach, who according to Duke's own report was the one adult on campus who took some action after the report, was fired." (The "report" here refers to a report on lacrosse players' misbehavior two years prior to this case.)

"But once all 46 players had been DNA-tested and no DNA from any of them showed up on the accuser's body, Brodhead should have allowed the season to continue."

"Now, of course, the defenders of the right and the white are screaming that the lives of the three indicted players have been ruined. Surely, they were treated unfairly by Nifong and by Duke. Just as surely Duke -- which is so flush it has more money than it knows what to do with -- should pay every penny of their legal expenses." (Note that the "defenders of the right and the white" term is decidedly NOT a blanket statement on Nifong critics!)

Twisting the words of people tangentially connected to the case does nothing to further the cause of justice. It only smacks of groupthink, which is what you should be crusading against.

The three kids were innocent. A lot of us knew it all along. And Duke is far from the racist backwater as portrayed in some of the media a year ago. And yes, the Group of 88 is a rather hysterical group, at least when it comes to their hand-wringing over trumped-up racism and sexism.

But KC, you're starting to fire wildly in all directions now. Stay focused on the target, and you'll be a lot better off.

I've yet to see any indication, though, that you're willing to engage any of your critics, even those of us who are predisposed to thinking you're doing good work here overall.

Please, KC. Clarify this point and let us know you're not just going on a wild character-assassination spree here.

Gary Packwood said...

huesofblue 1:38 said...
...Writing can be hard for even the brightest students, and majoring in journalism means a lot of writing. It's not an easy major. On top of that, the job market is ridiculously competitive at top tier publications like the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The job market is so ridiculously competitive because so few people read what they write.
Few customers = Highly competitive job market.
What KC is doing here may allow for a dramatic increase in customers for writers if we can improve the Blog template that is used.
I for one am amazed what I learn reading what KC has to say; the opinions of others and how opinions are formed and moved along by our reading/writing community.

Anonymous said...

An odd thought just occurred to me regarding the demands of the African American community to see a trial as the way to decide truth and give the accuser her "day in court." This same community would also see an African American woman dismantled, humiliated, and possibly charged with perjury in a courtroom setting. Why would they want this for her, and for the African American community? Would this "event" not set back progress, or at a minimum make fools out of those who endorsed such a spectacle? Where was the benefit to African Americans? Did they conceive vindication, partial or otherwise, for history? In the end, I think African Americans cared little for CGM.

Anonymous said...

Feinstein has had issue with Duke ever since Joe Alleva got the AD job over a friend of his. He has, basically, been nothing more than a hoops fan ever since in hopes of the program failing so miserably that Alleva gets canned. That may or may not happen but the level of pettiness Feinstein has shown over the years is childish beyond belief. When I heard him blasting the ENTIRE lacrosse team on the Jim Rome show and Rome right there with him, I decided right then I would never read another of his books and never listen to Rome again. The exchange made me sick. If '9:10' wants to make Feinstein look like he cared about these boys, fine, go right ahead. I believe Feinstein showed his hand long before...the man is a mean-spirited, self-serving ass with agendas galore.

Anonymous said...

"I've yet to see any indication, though, that you're willing to engage any of your critics . . . . "

9:10: you need to pay better attention. Apparently you missed (among other things) the recent tv panel discussion of the case with KC, Irving Joyner (of the much-criticized-on-KC's-blog NC NCAAP), and Cash Michaels (journalist and creator of one of the pro-Mangum websites). If you're going to make accusations, better make sure you have the facts to back them up. Otherwise I'll have to conclude that you are the one going on a "wild character assasination spree here."

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 2:58 said...
...I think there is a likelihood Nifong would have reacted much the same way had Mangum accused blacks. It's hard to say for sure, since the siren call of the campaign also locked him into a position and that would not have resonated as well.
Don't you imagine that DA have two 'results' columns on their annual performance reviews.

The first column is the tally of bad people taken off the street and the second column is the tally of actions taken to meet the expectations of voters with respect to maintaining community standards...whatever that means.

If all politics is local...then it is important that Duke University NOT find itself in the second column as a target.

The next President of Duke should keep his fingers firmly on the pulse of the community to insure that the next hoax involving Duke gets a 'no bill' from community leaders.

Anonymous said...

Maybe,university's should hand out booklets for incoming students,"The dangers of hiring strippers".

Anonymous said...

AG's report to be released today:


Gary Packwood said...

Chicago 12:53 said...
Additionally, Feinstein stated that Coach K would never allow something like this to go on in his program. Well, it was later revealed the hoops team had a party with strippers just weeks before, as did many other teams and groups.
That is good to know.

Would it be possible for the fans to help the players understand that every community has their Boogie Men and Boogie Women who should NOT be included on the play list for their next party?

Anonymous said...

9:33 -- I'm just saying KC is presenting a rather selective reading of Feinstein's piece and distorting it. If you want to make the case that Feinstein is wrong is still off base in what he says about the lacrosse team, fine. But why distort Feinstein's piece? That just weakens the argument.

Gary -- Actually, the funny thing is that more and more people are lining up for journalism jobs even as the Net chips away at newspaper readership (as radio and TV did before them). Everyone wants to write. No one wants to read. The jobs seem a lot more glamorous than they are. And I think what we'll see is an erosion in journalism jobs that pay enough to support a family. Papers smaller than the Post and Times generally pay OK if you're 28 and single, but as you get married and have kids, you have to find other employment or be lucky enough to marry someone who makes more. (Or live in a cheap area.) The Post and Times pay a good bit better, but a lot less than the same people could be making if they'd gone to law school instead of paying dues at smaller papers.

My fear in the long run is that journalism -- both in the MSM and the blogosphere -- will be the exclusive realm of the independently wealthy. They'll be the only people who can devote so much time to something with such little financial reward.

Anonymous said...

"I was raped while suspended in mid-air"

that's a visual.

If she had said this early on it would have been interesting to see Nifong demonstrating how it was done(a la choke-hold).

Anonymous said...

Marc Fisher is a truly lousy person of very low moral character. He piled on and piled on hard. Wolves in Blazers indeed. Sounds more like a description of the WP screed scrawlers than our lacrosse team.

Having read the Post and NYT closely for many years, and having carefully followed the facts of this case, I know now, NEVER, to believe any reporting or assertion made by these organizations based exclusively upon their "journalism."

sic semper tyrannis

Dave said...

Last night, I wrote to the Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz urging him to write more about the coverage of the lacrosse hoax. He has written that the coverage was horrible and apologies are owed. But he hasn't gotten into the specifics of the horrible coverage and I urged him to do that.

He has also focused on the angle of the players as "not choirboys", whatever that is and whatever that means. Many of the commenters on his media notes discussion focused on the evils of college students drinking beer and hiring strippers. I sent him the Delbarton link and pointed out that at least one of them may qualify as a choirboy.

As a daily reader of the Post, I thought the news coverage of the case, apart from the opinion columns that KC cites, was shoddy. During their fall coverage, they repeated innuendo and untrue assertions that had been disproven months earlier. But their news stories did not challenge Duff Wilson's league leadership in bad writing.

Anonymous said...


AG's report to be released today:


Anonymous said...

Feinstein is one of the most obnoxious ,self-promoting people I have ever encountered.Several years ago,I took my wife and son to Cameron from Florida for a BBall game.I have had season tickets for about 15 years but usually gave them away because we lived far away.This was his first trip to see duke play at home .My son was excited to see the championship crystal basketballs,so we went to Cameron considerably before the game started and before the doors were open to regular folks like us. Staff and sportswriters were entering through a set of doors, so we went to the far right doors so I could hold up my son to see the magnificent crytals through the small door windows. We had barely stood there for 10 seconds when Feinstein ambled up (all puffed up with self-importance)and crowded us to insist upon entry when clearly staff and reporters were entering via the doors to our left. He signalled someone who opened the seldom used door and brushed by us.My wife ,who is a thoughtful,considerate person, asked who the rude person was. I did not tell her because I was ashamed that someone from Duke who got a great start in life because of Duke was acting so boorishly.I have heard other stories about him. I do not know if he is a jock-sniffer, but I can tell you he was among the most un-athletic looking persons I saw that night.Obviously, given his arrogance, he had some image and security issues as a youngster.

Anonymous said...

I have read Feinstein's entire piece, just as you have, even though I would rather pissed blood. He wrote the very things KC pointed out and seemed to mean them exactly how KC presented them. He did, also, say the things you wrote and on them I generally agree. No distortion from what I can see by KC. But good work in actually finding something of merit in JF's writings.

Anonymous said...

A New Jersey Lawyer. I agree with miramar. I generally like John Feinstein's writings and his commentary on NPR. However, he blew it with the Duke lacross case. In addition to the factual problems noted above, Feinstein apparently did not read the Coleman report on the Lacrosse team which paints a very different picture, not of a train wreck waiting to happen. The team was not a bunch of out-of-control vandals, but generally treated the people with whom they interacted as a team with respect (not sexism or racism). In fact, the Coleman report reflects (as does the CCI report) that many of the accusations hurled at the team could be hurled at Duke students (as well as students at most other colleges)in general. Feinstein also doesn't seem to realize that the racist comments of some Lacrosse players, while reprehensible, were made in response to racially-charged comments by one of the dancers. But, hey, why let the facts get int he way?

Anonymous said...

You want to talk about "almost a caricature"? How about this "Letter" to the "Editor" of the Herald-Sun, published today:


Proud of our city

I was sick and amazed at the grandstanding by the defense attorneys and the lacrosse players during the press conference held after charges against them were dropped. Instead of the cry of justice, they cried injustice. I heard not only a cry for District Attorney Mike Nifong to be strung up for doing his job, but they also accused the Police Department, the Grand Jury, leaders in our community and The Herald-Sun. For what?

We should be proud of the first-class professionalism this case received from the beginning. This case was just one among many cases in our great city and our great state handled day in and day out. Why should this case have been any different?

If a rape happened to you or someone you know, whether the case was founded or unfounded, I would want a DA such as Nifong to try to get to the truth. I am appalled at the unprofessional behavior of the defense attorneys and their cry for division, after there was such a coming together in the beginning to keep the city of Durham in a civil state of peace and to let justice prevail.

This was only possible because of the community, its leaders, the DA, our police department, and our great colleges, Duke and NCCU, working together. The nation saw that, and I was proud to be a citizen of this city.

This all started from what some believe to be a lie told to the police. Sad, but it happens a lot more than people know.

April 27, 2007

Just how stupid, and how ignorant and wrong, can one person possibly be?

Hey Judy:

Tell us how Nifong "tried to get to the truth". Was it when he refused to even listen to exculpatory evidence? Was it when he failed and refused to interview the accuser, or to contact any of a dozen other important witnesses? Or was it when he rigged the lineup? Or maybe when he conspired to suppress DNA evidence?

You're right about "such a coming together" of potbangers and other pinheads and bigots -- for the purpose of lynching the white boys, not to "get to the truth". You see that now, don't you? Of course you don't -- there are none so blind as bigots who will not see.

Tell us all about the "first-class professionalism" that this case received "from the beginning". If you mean it was a professional attempt at framing innocent people, I agree with you.

Meanwhile, you say it's the defense attorneys who were unprofessional -- what a laugh. Tell us: Who was right, and who was DEAD WRONG? Who saw to it that justice prevailed, and who is it that's facing disbarment and possible imprisonment? In short, when justice prevailed, who won and who lost?

I'm pleased you are so "proud" of your DA's and PD's performance. Everyone with a live brain cell knows that this was the biggest digsgrace brought upon our city in living memory.

I hope you enjoyed embarrassing yourself, and the whole city, in your letter.

Anonymous said...

Hugh Grant is collecting libel money from three newspapers - can this happen in America? If so - lets go,

Chicago said...

Feinstein loves Duke Men's Basketball, that is it. Speaking even outside of the Lax coverage and statements by him, he is the exact type of fan we DO NOT need or want. In a nut shell, as a Duke fan of all sports, these folks are bandwagon whores. A Bandwagon Whore is basically someone like Feinstein who loves front runners. Such a fan of Duke Basketball alone would also be a fan of the Yankees, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, etc. Basically anyone who dominates as Coach K has. The moment Coach K leaves Duke Feinstein will likely turn on the basketball program as well. Feinstein's allegiance to basketball only is sickening, especially when Duke is his aluma mater. I can not stand when people tell me how much they love Duke and then can not even tell me the name of our football coach, baseball coach or how we are doing in certain sports.

Additionally, Feinstein is of the mind set that Coach K can do no wrong, this was very obvious last April when he stated that Coach k would never let something like this happen.

As a former Durham resident, I could tell you more than a few things Coach K players have done that have not been reported that would leave a lot to be desired. I am not saying Coach K approves of such things, but they went on and were not reported. In a nutshell, Feinstein feels Coach K can do no wrong and that is where it ends for him.

Anonymous said...

I'll take the Post's sterile reporting and the December editorial. Even with the slew of idiot columnist, the glass is over half full.

Anonymous said...

To anon 11:06: That's a pretty amazing letter from Judge Judy, but I guess she remembers Nifong's words from the NCCU meeting. He noted that some people thought he should be moving faster, and others that he should be slowing down, but then concluded: "The fact is that this case is proceeding the way a case should proceed." That's an exact quote that I jotted down from a video, by the way. What he meant to say is "this case is proceeding the way a case should proceed in Durham, with the DA withholding evidence, lying in public, pandering to voters, and asking the accuser to pick three perps, any perps." But what the heck, something must have happened in there, right?

Anonymous said...

K.C. did NOT engage in distortion. Feinstein clearly was engaged in character assassination, not to mention he got his damned "facts" wrong. It was something like "yeah, Nifong was out-of-control, but this was a bunch of bad actors and gay-bashers and the like."

In other words, it was another of the "yes-but" comments we have seen from the state, somehow saying that a college party and a prosecutor using the vast powers of the state to frame innocent people somehow were morally-equivalent acts.

I have not cared much for Feinstein, but always believed he had some credibility. No more.

This was not journalism; it was character assassination.

K.C. defended me, and now I defend him. For those who don't like it, they can lump it.

Anonymous said...

This is somewhat off-topic but I'd like some help please.

Can anyone tell me where I can locate the photos of CGM leaving the lacrosse house with the shaving kit?

Thanks much.

Hey said...

Doesn't the Post demonstrate "actual malice" and "willful disregard" for the truth? I believe that the Post is but another paper that will be engaging a rather large number of its lawyers' time facing Mrs. Evans.

Don't any of these writers actually know the rules that they work on? You're untouchable, as long as you don't demonstrate malice. All these columnists and reporters could do was to wring every last bit of bile out. Idiots.

Anonymous said...

Bill -- Wow, what a brilliant response. Now I will take your critique that much more seriously.

Come on, folks. Let's drop the absolutism here. Feinstein presented the atmosphere around the case as a complex one, with a couple of people doing outright wrong and a couple of imperfect people making bad decisions.

I don't think I agree with everything Feinstein wrote, but at least he's not just doling out knee-jerk putdowns of everyone who doesn't toe the D-i-W/JIC/Bill party line.

It IS a complex situation. (Not the criminal case itself -- there's simply no defending anything Nifong did -- but the ramifications among the media, the players and the Duke administration.) Admit that, THEN start passing out judgments on what transpired.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Good post, but who is "Bill Anderson". The name is dropped in with no context or identification?

Anonymous said...

I wrote to Lynn Duke after her ridiculous article and asked her if she would print a retraction when her fantastic, silly article was proven inaccurate. Here is what she said back in July 2006:

"Unfolding developments in an ongoing news story do not require correction.
The next time we write about the case, we will update our readers about it.
That is how the news business works."

Lynne Duke
Staff Writer
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071

I guess we all learned a lot about how the news business works. I have yet to see a retraction or apology from Lynn Duke...

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Judy Parker's letter to the Herald Sun hotly defends Nifong: "We should be proud of the first-class professionalism this case received from the beginning." There was "such a coming together in the beginning to keep the city of Durham in a civil state of peace and to let justice prevail."

Hmm. Judy must have hit her head on the ceiling one too many times as she levitated in the bathroom of 610 Buchanan. How else to explain how 'something happened' to her brain?

Anonymous said...

WRAL reports AG report has been RELEASED!!!

Anonymous said...

Alex Makowski.... There is a link
for William L. Anderson on the DIW blog site.

His post always add depth to the comments.

Waiting, waiting... I hope the AG report is really released today. The ACC lacrosse tournament is at Duke and starts tonight.

Anonymous said...

In response to the earlier query as to Bill Anderson------He is a very smart professor who figured out early on that the case was a hoax. He is a fine writer.People interested in due process and constitutional rights should thank him as well as K C, J in C, Liestoppers, et al. Check his blog site:

Anonymous said...

from a non-lawyer / retired professor: Off the subject, but WRAL is reporting that the NCAG's report by Cooper has been released. It should make for interesting reading (apparetnly a 21 page report).

Anonymous said...

The Attorney-General's report is here:

Summary of Conclusions

Anonymous said...

Question for John Feinstein:

If the words in the "hateful,threatening email sent out in the wake of the arrests",did not originate with McFadden, but instead from a movie, (known as a quote), should the movie writer, producer and actor who also uttered these very same words be labled hateful and threatening?

Should the 2 professors at Duke who use this film, American Psycho, in their classes also be labled hateful and threatening for allowing these words to be heard?

For a country founded on freedom of speech (no matter how offensive) how have grown men ever come to a place where they allow words to threaten them? This is emasculation of society! Whatever happened to "sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never harm me?"
(Note to self: Add American Psycho quotes to the long list of ever- growing words we are no longer allowed to say in America)

Anonymous said...

RE: AG report
They must have interviewed Nifong.....
Are they going to charge him with criminal misconduct (coaching the witness).


Anonymous said...

Initial media deference to prosecutors confidently asserting that a rape happened is predictable and understandable.
No one wants media assuming that every prosecutor is lying.

WaPo should be commended for its news stories and its unequivocal editorial blasting Nifong. They tolerated some odd opinion pieces, but they didn't lose their soul.

WaPo is also the ony big paper that slammed the motives for the Libby prosecution, demonstrating a rare non-partisian show of common sense, fairness and appreciation for what these prosecutions do to government in the long term.

Contrasting WaPo's coverage with the near reverential treatment by our LA Times and the NYT shows that the Post did quite well. A shame we can't have their reporters here.

Dave said...


Lynne Duke's explanation of how the news business works is only true if another story is being written for the next day. Then she could write that, contrary to previous reports, race and sex weren't in the air. She didn't do that.

But if she wasn't writing in close time proximity to the original article, then, as soon as possible, she should write: "Due a reporter's mistake, the Post reported that race and sex were in the air at the party hosted by the Duke lacrosse players that resulted in false accusations of rape. The Post has subsequently learned that race and sex were not in the air. We retract the original statement and we apologize for the error."

That's really how the news business works.

Anonymous said...

Anne Hull of the Post is, hands down, one of this nation's finest newspaper journalists. Her reporting is exhaustive, her writing is clear and detailed, and her reputation is impeccable. Anne's work has won her dozens of journalism awards, and is often cited in university newswriting classes as the standard to which all professional news organizations should aspire.

Anonymous said...

So typical of the trash in Durham. They live like trash, then they try to trash others, and will not admit when an even trashier rogue like Mike Nifong embarrassed them all over America and the world!
Go suck an egg, JUDY. You idiot!

Anonymous said...

I hope that a blogger with the skills, can email the report to all the reportes who crucified these boys and were so unjust.

Anonymous said...

Earth to Brodhead: Call for Nifong's resignation to protect Duke students, dummy!
Here is what a professor of law had to say today about protecting Duke students from Nifog. Time to act now ,Brod, 'cause the facts are in!

Duke should also consider publicly calling for the resignation of Nifong to protect its students, argues Banzhaf. Here we have a rogue prosecutor who, if he didn't have a clear animus against Duke students before, certainly has reason to have an even stronger one now. Since he argues
to this day in his disciplinary proceeding that many of his acts did not constitute either a violation of ethics or of law, he is even more likely to repeat this sorry performance if another complaint against one or more Duke students is received.

"A DA with a clear grudge against Duke, who probably would like nothing better than to try to vindicate himself in the eyes of many of the voters by bringing a successful criminal proceeding against one or more Duke students, and who has shown a willingness to violate their legal and constitutional rights if necessary to do so, is a clear and present danger to every student on the Duke campus, and a risk that Duke can ignore only at its peril," says Banzhaf.

"Many feel that Duke let its students down terribly in this situation, but its excuse is that they did not have the facts at the time to know how wrongful the charges and Nigong's conduct was. Now that they have the facts -- from both the North Carolina Attorney General and the North Carolina Bar Assocation -- it remains to be seen if they will refuse to stand behind their students again by not even attempting to both sue Nifong and remove him from office. Nifong hurt Duke and all its
students, and Duke is in a unique position to take effective action if it has the courage to do so."

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School

Anonymous said...

You can't get any more knee-jerk than when Feinstein suggested that Duke3 supporters were racist with his "the defenders of the right and the white" comment.

There can be no basis to question support for somebody who is being railroaded, racially profiled, vilified, and used as a political pawn.

It was an irrelevant and predictable shot in passing, and saying it puts him in the same category as twerps like Aranton and the Westport Wonder.

Anonymous said...

Falling Short on Fairness, brDeborah Howell, Washington Post Ombudsman