Friday, April 06, 2007

Today Does Nifong

David Freedman, the attorney representing Mike Nifong in his upcoming ethics proceedings, appeared this morning on the Today show.

Perhaps the most outrageous statement of the piece came from Today host Matt Lauer. Here’s how Lauer described Nifong’s decision to enter into an agreement with lab director Brian Meehan to intentionally withhold exculpatory DNA evidence, followed by unequivocal statements by Nifong to first Judge Stephens and then Judge Smith that no additional exculpatory evidence existed.

“Nifong did not inform the accused right away” about the DNA results, said Lauer. There’s a good example of hard-hitting journalism.

Having dismissed the significance of the DNA issue, Lauer asked no questions about it. The interview thus covered three items: (1) Nifong’s statements; (2) Nifong’s pandering; (3) Nifong’s current approach to the case.

On the statements, Freedman argued that Nifong didn’t do anything wrong ethically, but if he had the situation to do over again, he would not make the statements. (Of course, if he hadn’t made the statements, he almost certainly would not have won the primary.)

We’re still contesting whether statements he made were unethical or not . . . [since the] statements he made didn’t go particularly to any of the defendants themselves. The statements he made were that he believed a crime occurred, and he was trying to solve that crime. He didn’t say that any of the three that were charged actually committed that crime, and most of the statements he made were made before any of the charges were coming forth.

Lauer did not ask Freedman how this argument would cover statements that Nifong knew or should have known to be false—particularly his musings that the “attackers” could have worn condoms as a way of explaining away why the DNA tests Nifong’s office had promised would exonerate the innocent came back negative.

Lauer also did not ask Freedman about why people publicly identified as suspects by Nifong’s own office (the 46 white lacrosse players, including the three people ultimately charged) were not entitled to the protection of the Bar’s ethics code, which prohibits a prosecutor from making statements that heighten “public condemnation of the accused.” Let’s face it: given so much of Nifong’s misconduct has appeared in the public eye, Freedman doesn’t have much to work with on this issue.

On the issue of pandering to the African-American community, Freedman responded, “We steadfastly deny that. At no time did he do those things to pander to the community.” He added that Nifong had served in the prosecutor’s office for nearly three decades and was appointed to the DA’s position (apparently, according to Gov. Easley, with a promise not to run for election).

It’s not clear to me how Nifong’s previous record or the fact that he was appointed explains why Nifong did or did not pander to the community. (Indeed, the latter point provides one reason why Nifong needed to pander--because of his status as an appointee, he had fairly low name recognition before the case broke.) But take Freedman at his word. Lauer might have asked any of the following questions: what legitimate law-enforcement purpose was served by Nifong stating:

  • [Dismissing the case] does nothing to address the underlying divisions that have been revealed. My personal feeling is the first step to addressing those divisions is addressing this case. That is not the kind of thing that you can really assign to somebody else and say, ‘You go do this for me. The future of Durham’s in the balance and I don’t really want to get my hands dirty.’” [emphasis added]
  • I’m not going to allow Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham.
  • There’s been a feeling in the past that Duke students are treated differently by the court system. There was a feeling that Duke students’ daddies could buy them expensive lawyers and that they knew the right people.
  • [His opponents] have endeavored to make this election something it is not: a referendum on a single case that that view as a threat to their sense of entitlement and that they do not trust a jury of Durham citizens to decide: a referendum on a single case that that [sic] view as a threat to their sense of entitlement and that they do not trust a jury of Durham citizens to decide.

Or, Lauer could have asked Freedman—if Nifong did not intend to pander

  • why the district attorney publicly stated he didn’t know that Kim Roberts made the first 911 call (thereby creating the impression that the lacrosse players had harassed innocent black passersby) when, in her statement to police seven days earlier, Roberts had admitted that she did make the call.
  • why the district attorney went to predominantly black NCCU to affirm that “this case is not going away,” rather than simply issuing a press statement.
  • why the district attorney compared the case to a cross-burning—an obvious racial reference.

Freedman concluded by noting that Nifong “has no interest at this point” in the disposition of the case: “He has no personal interest.” Apparently, the DA’s regard for the person he once lionized as “my victim” has diminished.


Anonymous said...

I believe Lauer is a former NYC prosecutor. I guess his soft ball questions could be a form of professional courtesy.

Durham Lawyer

Anonymous said...

No doubt, Lauer is part of the "something happened" crowd. Here we have a case of a DA trying what one prosecutor told me was a "cold-blooded frame," and Lauer permits the interview to be a PR session for a lying prosecutor.

When the charges are dismissed, no doubt Lauer will still try to convince viewers that "where there is smoke, there is fire." Another scintillating performance by the MSM. Get me the barf bag.

Anonymous said...

JLS says....

See professor Johnson if this case goes on long enough you may find yourself become more and more conservative. You see more and more that the MSM does not do a good job of informing you. You see why fewer and fewer of the public pay any attention to them.

Anonymous said...

You are confusing ML with a journalist. You must rather think of him as a panderer to whatever MSM ratings goal that is up at the moment. Obviously here it is just to keep the controversy going for more ratings.
I stopped watching the Today Show when ML was visiting the Effiel tower and asked Effiels very proper grand-son if his grandfather used to take ladies up the Effiel tower and fool around, the grandson was appaled at the impertinence of the question and ML was right out of "The Front Page" school of slimy journalists.

Anonymous said...

I remember a few days ago when the issue 60 Minutes came up and some commenters were aghast that the MSM was not beloved by all. Here is a perfect example of why I refuse to watch that garbage. They are lying weasels with and agenda and refuse to tell the truth - afterall - facts might upset their metanarrative. Lauer and Nifong - two folks who need and support each other.

Anonymous said...

So what else is new with Lauer (or the Today Show, or CNN, etc.)? I guess when show business people are paid that much money, they fool themselves into thinking everyone else must take them seriously, too. IMO, media liberals have a tendency to do that. He is a cliched journalist, if one at all.


Anonymous said...

I believe Matt Lauer was working as a landscaper when he was appointed co- host of "Today"

Anonymous said...

You should remember than ML hasn't followed this story like your regular readers. The interview time limitation didn't lend itself to much more.

I am curious to know why Freedman was on the show at all. I was asked the same question on a radio talk show and I said that I saw disbarment and indictment in Nifong's future.

Anonymous said...

Lauer was never a NY prosecutor. He is not a lawyer. According to Wikipedia, he left Ohio University before completing his bachelor's degree (although the University later awarded it to him anyway -- after he had achieved some prominence -- characterizing his life/work "experience" as independent study credits). NBC hired Lauer as a pretty-boy morning host, not a hard-hitting journalist or an expert legal analyst.

Anonymous said...

No one should anyone be amazed at Lauer's inability to grasp the facts of a serious story.

He is not a journalist in the traditional sense. He's a second fiddle "face" selected to co-host with another "perky" face on a "soft" morning program. He doesen't belong in the same city as anyone that works for 60 Minutes.

Lauer's comments over the years betray neither a well-read, serious or careful man. He is perfectly suited to soft, undemanding stories about spring gardening or leather gloves, but utterly disqualified for anything as serious as this.

This interview is also a cause for regret: in allowing an ineffective showboater like Lauer to handle a story about the most visible abuse of prosecutorial power in years, MSM let down its viewers --once again.

Anonymous said...

"You should remember than ML hasn't followed this story like your regular readers. The interview time limitation didn't lend itself to much more.

I'm taking a wild guess, but I'm guessing they have a few research folks sitting around... if they are not too busy digging up dirt on their "political opponents"... I mean news.

Anonymous said...

Not that any "hard news" outfits have done any better. The New York Times certainly qualifies as a "hard news" entity, yet no news organization, with the possible exception of the Hurled-Scum, has done a worse job in covering this case.

We can be thankful that the MSM was not permitted to direct how this case went, and that we in the blogosphere ultimately were able to help tip the balance. Matt Lauer is bad, but no worse than Duff Wilson or John Stevenson.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that Nifong knows now that the case will be dropped. The MSNBC interview is an attempt to rehabilitate his image.

To say that he has no personal interest is extraordinarily disingenuous. Presumably in December he thought that they were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, an ethical DA would have dropped the charges. Unless there is new evidence, an ethical DA who thought they were guilty would want the case pursued.

Anonymous said...

What (who) motivated the Today Show to do this interview at this particular point in time? It's not ratings.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Today Show doesn't do real news, and doesn't even make much of a pretense of it. Lauer and company would ask softball questions to Oama bin Laden if they could get him on, not for ideological pandering reasons, but simply because that's their format. Their implicit deal with the audience is that they won't upset them, either by raising controversy, exposing tragedy, or calling attention to evil. Smooth morning bowel movements are at stake, after all.

Anonymous said...

KC, you're getting lost in all of this.

Lauer's interview wasn't bad for the context and format. The statements of Nifong are more important because TV viewers have seen them, seen Nifong do the neck hold stunt, him speak out.

And interviews are often a little "twisted" so the interviewee will show up - it's not a news conference. I'd like to know what the lawyer said.

Anonymous said...

While Nifong steadfastly maintained all his statements were made before the idictments, he is retreating from that position with "Most of the statements were made before the indictments." Gotta love Frieman for doing his job. "My victim" - I think Nifong is profoundly depressed and probably does noat care about much,

Anonymous said...

3:56 - That is exactly what has happened to me. Anne coulter is looking brillant and Peloski should be arrested for treason, Joe Lieberman must be happy he is an independant.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 4:41 said...
...What (who) motivated the Today Show to do this interview at this particular point in time? It's not ratings.
You jest!

Three nice looking guys that every Mom would claim as hers; a famous university; money and ...PRECIOUS...the walking, talking ...Petri Dish.

This is called tilling the ground in preparation for the big interviews coming soon to your living room... replete with 5 second reminders starting two days before the morning of the interviews.

The cost of a TV ad just before and after the interview will come close to the annual budget for the Women's Studies budget at DOOK!

Folks, NBC is in business to make money.

Let the Bloggers do news!


Anonymous said...

Matt Lauer -- like most of them -- is a talking head. Nothing more. Those who watch on a regular basis are what network execs refer to as the "lowest common denominator."

Anonymous said...

The Today show probably wanted to do a story about the Lacrosse Hoax and noone else with credibility would comment about it this week i.e. Cheshire, Bannon, Smith etc.

Anonymous said...

Matt- What were you thinking? You should have read Freeman's prior quotes slamming Nifong's actions to him.

Anonymous said...

When there was an uproar over the Lewinsky allegations, Hillary chose the Today Show with Matt Lauer as the ideal place to finally come out in public and speak about it.

With the servile Lauer's help, Hillary successfully used that inerview to shift the media direction on the the matter, and by extension, public opinion.

Then came the blue dress, and the uproar returned with a vengeance, and Hillary would be ridiculed for the "vast right wing conspiracy" charge. It was back to the drawing board for the PR effort.

Had it not been for the dress, however, the Today interview would have been looked back upon as the point where media coverage and public opinion turned back in the Clinton's favor.

Likewise, Nifong's lawyer obviously thought he could use Lauer/Today to help rehabilitate Nifong. Lauer is politically compatible with Nifong, and he's too shallow to investigate and ask the tough questions.

The only guest I ever saw Lauer go after was Ann Coulter. But he was way over his head, and he got his ass handed to him.

Softball interviews are all he's good for.

Anonymous said...

How hard would it have been for somebody at the Today show to go ask Dan Abrams about the case? He is the General Manager of MSNBC, a lawyer and a Duke Grad, beside the fact that he has done some of the best reporting of the case. And also works IN THE SAME BUILDING!

Anonymous said...

"I guess when show business people are paid that much money, they fool themselves into thinking everyone else must take them seriously, too. IMO, media liberals have a tendency to do that."

What, and media conservatives don't? Your sins of omission shouldn't make this into a partisan issue.

Anonymous said...


You are absolutely correct - we should be as even-handed as NBC or the NYT. Oh, that's right - we are, we just fundamentally disagree on right and wrong in this matter.

Anonymous said...

North Carolina needs a trial to expose Nifong for the lier he is, and everyone connected with this hoax to take the witness stand.

Anonymous said...

Was Freedman wearing a pirate shirt?

Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

Matt Lauer is just a "pleaser" . If he hadn't been a journalist he could have taken up massage therapy.

Anonymous said...


What on earth are you talking about? I actually 100% agree with the right and wrong of this case and 100% agree with everything people here have said about Nifong, Magnum, the Gang of 88, etc.

I was questioning why absolutely no media conservatives are capable of "fool[ing] themselves into thinking everyone else must take them seriously." I don't see how it's such a big deal to wonder about that.

Unknown said...

April 19 Abrams Report .DAVID FREEDMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: "Well, that everything has been mishandled from the start. You had a district attorney coming out and making potentially unethical statements, saying he believed a crime occurred, which he should not do. He should not be commenting on the evidence. He took an adversarial position from the start."

This is so unbelievable crazy! How can your lawyer, Freedman, defend you when he condemned you early for exactly what he’s defending you for? Can Freedman’s comments be quoted in court? Freedman and Nifong seem to be the same type of lawyers it appears, only concerned for their own interest when money concerned. Cold hearted Sycophants.

Anonymous said...

you guys are really going for the red herring. this case has only a little bit to do with nifong. this case is about race plain and simple.

my first proof, the second duke rape case. i have heard nothing about this case at all. for some reason blacks, despite their near animalistic behavior have taken on some sainted position in this society.

it really defies logic. its too bad that we didn't get convictions in this case. i believe that it will take such drastic demonstrations of "diversity" to persuade people that we should be separate from those people.


Anonymous said...

Durham Lawyer said "I believe Lauer is a former NYC prosecutor."

However, anon at 4:15 says, "Lauer was never a NY prosecutor. He is not a lawyer."

It appears that 4:15 is right. Sorry for the error.

-- Eating Crow, a/k/a Durham Lawyer

Jamie said...

How'd you like to be Nifong's lawyer, asked was Nifong pandering to the AA community?

I mean, seriously. Could Nifong have pandered more? It's really hard to imagine any pandering to the AA community he didn't do.

What does Freedman say? “We steadfastly deny that. At no time did he do those things to pander to the community.”

And what's Freedman's evidence for this remarkable, even astounding, denial? Why, that Nifong served in the prosecutor’s office for almost 30 years, and was appointed to the DA’s position by Gov. Easley.

Translation: hell yes, he pandered! But blame Easley; next question.

Anonymous said...

lauer is a fag

Unknown said...

Professor Johnson,

I would respectfully suggest some cleanup at 10:07 p.m. and 11:02 p.m.

Again thanks for your consistently informative work.

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me when I think of how many people in this country get their "news" from hacks like Lauer on TV shows like the Today Show, Good Morning America, and The View ... and then go vote.

Scary, truly scary.

Anonymous said...

My goodness!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Alex, also 5:25 (I don't have a clue what Nancy Pelosi [not Peloski] has to do with this discussion.)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Huh?! This is about correcting irrelevant content. Correcting spelling is a secondary issue.

What are you trying to prove with your statement?

KC, please delete both this and the statement being referred to.

Anonymous said...

Whinner!!!!! Need Mommy to help you out with your problems.

Anonymous said...

Let’s take Nifong and his lawyers statements as true what does this mean?

1.Nifong states a brutal kidnapping, sexual assault, rape has occurred.

2.Nifong’s lawyer on the Today Show states that Nifong’s statements not directed at the three lacrosse players.

Thus; Nifong knows that the three accused players where not the rapists.

So now the question is why did he knowingly prosecute three innocent boys?

1.To get reelected? His lawyer on the Today Show states no.

2.To protect the real rapists?

3.Something else?

If the answer is #2 who is he protecting? Who is the real rapist?


2.Members of the Durham Police force?

3.The Judge in the case?

We have the DNA time to start testing!

Tom E.

Anonymous said...

Durham Lawyer (4/6 3:40 PM)is incorrect. Matt Lauer is not a former prosecutor. Lauer attended Ohio University, but left four credits short of graduating in 1979. His work experience is entirely in broadcast media. In 1997, Ohio University awarded him his remaining credits by counting his journalism experience as "independent study" towards his degree. He was also the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony.

Anonymous said...

Dear Talk Show Hosts:
I would love to see the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer's President, Martin S. Pinales interviewed about Mike Nifong. Maybe throw in his counterpart, the national district attorney's representative. Now that would be an interesting show.
Trying to Be Helpful in Durham

Anonymous said...

Lauer is a dues-paid member of the Perpetual Fraternity of Airheads. As such, he made a perfect foil for The Perky One.

Freedman was invited by the backroom Liberal programmers and said what he was supposed to. Lauer responded like the windup Ken doll he is. All is well at the network. Moving along...

joe sweet said...

Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, who has preached at length about mainstream media bias, has few good words to say about Matt Lauer, other than tagging him with the nickname "Hair-in-a-Can".

I expect we'll see many more of these softball interviews, as the MSM steps up to continue on with their self-appointed role as Nifong's personal PR machine. Predicted next stop: The View. Pass the barf bag, quick!

Since when did idealogy replace truth and justice in the way MSM now pedals garbage as "news" through their ideological prisms to a very gullible public? When did that change occur? Their non-coverage of the recent double torture/murder in Knoxville, a true hate crime if ever there was one, while saturating us 24/7 on the Anna Nicole Smith non-event is a telling case in point.

It makes me thank God that there are other sources of news and information, such as DIW, that tell us the REAL truth.

Once again, thank you KC and your Partners-in-Truth (e.g. John in Carolina, Liestoppers, FODU, to name a few) for your dilligence and persistence. You give us hope, and please keep up the great work!