Tuesday, December 11, 2007


With this post, the blog goes on hiatus; if and when Durham ever responds to the civil suit filing, I’ll run a postscript. I’ll also assemble a glossary of posts within the next week.

This concluding post discusses the legacies of the case. The lacrosse case functioned as a kind of funhouse mirror: its events magnified patterns evident, but less clearly visible, elsewhere.

Criminal Justice

1.) Procedure matters. Despite the best efforts of the state NAACP, and journalists such as Bob Ashley and Andrew Cohen—who each downplayed or dismissed the significance of Mike Nifong’s procedural violations—it seems to me this lesson is the case’s most clear-cut.

It is inconceivable at any point in the near future that a prosecutor in a case attracting even a small amount of media attention could routinely flout procedural norms without triggering hard questions as to his or her motives. And Nifong’s fate doubtless has caused other prosecutors to be more rigorous in following procedures in their own work. In this respect, Nifong’s long-term contribution to the U.S. criminal justice system might be a positive one.

2.) Experts can have agendas, too. The advent of groups like the Innocence Project or TV programs like CSI have created great public respect for scientific evidence—as opposed to the potentially unreliable elements of human memory. For the most part, this development is a positive one.

Yet experts can shade the truth as well—as Dr. Brian Meehan and SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy so blatantly revealed. Both were, ostensibly, “unbiased” experts. Meehan would testify about highly technical DNA test results. Levicy would provide the findings of a nurse “specially trained” in sexual assault cases.

Instead, both exhibited biases of the worst sort. Levicy, who never encountered a woman who lied about rape, repeatedly changed her story about what Crystal Mangum told her on March 14, 2006; and what Mangum’s exam indicated. Each time, the shift bolstered authorities’ theory of the case. Meehan produced an incomplete report that violated both his own lab’s protocols and North Carolina law, allowing Nifong to keep exculpatory evidence concealed. That Meehan is now out of a job and Levicy is no longer working in North Carolina is small consolation given their dubious conduct.

The Academy

3.) Existence Proof. Anyone following higher education over the past decade would recognize vignettes about the pernicious effects of academic groupthink. The University of Colorado, where research fraud Ward Churchill became a full professor and department chair through touting his “Native American” heritage and publishing extremist essays. Columbia, where Joseph Massad told one of his classes that Israeli agents were responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics—and where more than 100 professors, including the former provost, publicly attacked Massad’s critics. Most recently, the University of Delaware, which had enacted a required residence hall program proclaiming that non-whites couldn’t be racist and mandating “treatment” for those whose beliefs challenged the preferred approach.

Are these episodes, as defenders of the academic status quo suggest, out-of-the-ordinary developments? The Duke case involved dozens of professors, revealing tenured faculty with “perpetually forthcoming” books or almost comical race/class/gender-oriented research agendas. The Group of 88 and their crusade attracted equally ill-reasoned support from other quarters of the academy—whether the fifteen African-American Studies professors who defended Houston Baker’s racist April 2006 letter or the April 2007 ruminations of Wesleyan’s Claire Potter on how “the dancers were, it is clear, physically if perhaps not sexually assaulted.” And prominent elite universities (Vanderbilt, Cornell, University of Chicago) hired some of the Group’s key members—with tenure (and, in the case of Cornell) a promotion.

The affair is, to borrow a term from mathematicians, an existence proof. Given the documented, public record at one of the nation’s leading universities, it will be more difficult to claim that future abuses at other institutions that attract public attention are isolated examples to be ignored.

4.) Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Mr. Chips is an outdated caricature, but I suspect most parents nonetheless send their children to college expecting that professors will treat their sons or daughters fairly and with dignity.

The lacrosse case, however, featured dozens of professors who were only too willing to advance their personal, pedagogical, or ideological agendas on the backs of their own students. And they continued to do so long after the case to which they had attached their crusade had imploded. For me, the event’s single most haunting quote came from History professor Susan Thorne, one of the Group of 88’s most moderate members. Thorne e-mailed one of her students—who had once looked upon her as a mentor—to say that she not only had abandoned her plans to apologize for signing the Group statement but had decided to publicly announce that she would not apologize. Otherwise, she declared, “my voice won’t count for much in my world.”

The sad thing: Thorne might have been coldhearted, but she correctly analyzed the effects of an individual professor challenging academic groupthink. David Horowitz and other conservative critics of the academy have accused faculty members of bringing their politics into the classroom. But the Duke case suggested that the real problem in academia has nothing to do with professors’ politics. Instead, the concern is the one-sided, extremist pedagogy that too often dominates humanities and (some) social science departments—a pedagogy whose extremism entered public view after March 2006, when its adherents applied its tenets to a case that the public could easily understand.

The Media

5.) Avoid generalities in interpreting the media’s performance. Blogs received much attention throughout this case. Yet media coverage was not a one-size-fits-all story. The case generated some prize-winning or nominated performances from the traditional media: locally, the Chronicle (start to finish the best combination of reporting, news analysis, op-ed pieces, and editorials, culminating in yesterday’s on-the-money column by Kristin Butler); the N&O (breaking story after story about Nifong’s abuses); Aaron Beard at the AP (a remarkable performance for someone who began the case without key local sources); and nationally, ABC’s Law & Justice Unit, CBS’s 60 Minutes, columnists such as Jason Whitlock and Stuart Taylor.

On the other hand, the weak media performances were stunningly bad: the slanted, error-filled Duff Wilson magnum opus and his consistently poor work both before and after; the see-no-evil/hear-no-evil approach of the Herald-Sun’s Bob Ashley; the arrogant moral pronouncements from the TimesSelena Roberts and Harvey Araton; the milquetoast critiques of “public editor” Bryon Calame; the angry, embarrassing commentary of figures such as John Feinstein.

It is difficult to offer an explanation other than the obvious for the records of figures such as Wilson, Feinstein, or Ashley—namely, that this was a story that some in the intelligentsia so much wanted to be true that they blinded themselves to reality.

Academic Administrators

6.) Appease race/class/gender extremists. I suspect that most academic administrators will view the Duke case as a bookend, paired with Larry Summers’ dismissal at Harvard. Summers confronted the “diversity” extremists in his midst—demanding that high-profile African-American Studies professors produce the same level of scholarship as everyone else; terming the Israel divestment effort “anti-Semitic in effect if not intent”; asking (in highly impolitic terms) whether something other than discrimination could possibly explain the gender differentials in science faculty. For such offenses, the Harvard arts and sciences faculty cast a vote of no confidence in him, and he was eventually forced out of his position. The moral: administrators who fail to pay sufficient tribute to the race/class/gender trinity risk their careers.

At Duke, on the other land, Richard Brodhead bent over backwards to accommodate the extremists in his midst—even when they (a) abused their in-class authority as professors; (b) produced a guilt-presuming statement falsely suggesting formal endorsement from five academic departments; and (c) appeared to violate the Faculty Handbook in their statements and actions about Duke students. Only Brodhead knows whether he did so because he (to borrow Steve Baldwin’s phrase) feared “the wrath of the righteous,” or because he genuinely believed in a one-sided approach to the case. Either way, Brodhead not only survived but received rave reviews from the Trustees’ review committee. The moral: administrators who appease even the worst of the race/class/gender extremists will not risk their employment status by doing so.

The reality, of course, in both cases was more complicated: Summers’ pricklish personality alienated many professors; Brodhead’s obvious intelligence, heartfelt (if belated) apology, and strong support from BOT chairman Bob Steel worked in his favor. Nonetheless, college presidents are like all other ambitious people: they don’t enter their jobs to be fired. Savvy administrators will learn the general lessons from the Harvard and Duke affairs. And so anyone who expects administrators to help promote a less rigid and one-sided U.S. academy will be sorely disappointed.


Perhaps, in time, other legacies of the case will emerge. For now, my thanks to everyone who took the time to read the blog.

Monday, December 10, 2007

For the Record: Group of 88

A central element of attempts to rehabilitate the Group of 88’s statement—which began with Cathy Davidson’s January 5, 2007 op-ed, continued with the Piot article, and has now the Robert Zimmerman blog postings—has been the suggestion that the Group of 88’s statement, unfairly, attracted attention.

In a recent comment, Prof. Zimmerman characterized a Liestoppers analysis as a “flogging” of the Group’s statement. This remark came in a post in which Prof. Zimmerman had hailed a new analysis of the statement by Prof. Brian Leiter, who contended that the Group of 88’s ad didn’t presume guilt by stating that something “happened” to Mangum; by thanking protesters who presumed guilt; or by including lines such “I wonder now about everything . . . if something like this happens to me” and “I can’t help but think about the different attention given to what has happened from what it would have been if the guys had been not just black but participating in a different sport, like football, something that’s not so upscale.” Prof. Zimmerman appeared oblivious to the irony of criticizing one analysis of the Group’s statement as “flogging” in a post that had praised a new analysis that fit his preconceptions of the Group.

The insinuation of Davidson, Piot, Zimmerman, et al: 88 professors, and (allegedly, if, as it turns out, falsely) five academic departments, and ten academic programs issued a full-page ad at a time when the eyes of the local, state, and national media were on Durham—but they didn’t think anyone would notice the document.

Leave aside, for a moment, the all-but-unprecedented nature in the history of American higher education of 88 faculty members taking out a fullpage advertisement denouncing their own students. Leave aside, also, the fact that the ad represented a breathtaking violation of academic procedure—claiming the endorsement of academic departments even though these departments hadn’t voted on the question; and being funded, contrary to Duke rules, out of official departmental funds. And leave aside that both the Chronicle editorial page and defense lawyers almost immediately took notice of the document.

Those elements alone would have ensured that the ad would receive considerable attention.

Leave aside, also, the counterintuitive notion that 88 faculty members would take the time to affix their signatures to a statement that they hoped people wouldn’t see. And leave aside that Wahneema Lubiano solicited signatures by stating that the ad would be “about the lacrosse team incident,” not a generic commentary on racism or sexism at Duke or anywhere else.

What makes the Group revisionism so troubling is that it so directly contradicts the spring 2006 words and actions of the Group itself. Indeed, the Group did everything it could to ensure that people would pay attention to its statement.

After all, the Group members printed their statement in what they themselves considered as “the most easily seen venue on campus.”

They also committed themselves to collective action in the future, promising that they would be “turning up the volume” to advance their agenda.

For those who missed the statement in the Chronicle, the African-American Studies Program homepage linked to the Group’s handiwork for at least 132 days (through August 23, 2006) after the ad appeared. Since the program’s paying for the ad violated Duke rules, linking to the ad on the program’s official homepage likewise would seem to have been a violation of Duke standards.

The ad, moreover, wasn’t buried in a corner of the page: as seen below, the entire homepage was redesigned to highlight the ad, with the top third of the screen redone in solid black. “What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?” appeared in white, accompanied by links to the ad and the list of signatories.

In addition to thanking the protesters for not waiting, the Group rushed the ad into print. In early April 2006, DNA test results that defense attorneys had promised would clear their clients were due any day. It was widely assumed that negative test results would—as Nifong’s office had promised in the March 23, 2006 NTO—end the case.

So Group leaders sprung into action. Then-AAAS chairman Charles Payne told other department chairs that they needed commit to endorsing the ad by 11am, April 4. (Payne, who has since left Duke for the University of Chicago, gave no explanation for the rush.) Wahneema Lubiano gave potential signatories 48 hours to decide whether to sign; as the deadline for the April 6 Chronicle edition neared, she shortened the window of opportunity to six hours. It has been widely rumored that at least some Group members signed off without even seeing a final draft of the ad; the AAAS Department has, to date, refused to release earlier drafts of the ad or a list of when each signatory committed to support the document; Lubiano, in fact, recently released a statement that she will not make this material public.

It’s not hard to see why Lubiano and Payne were so eager to get the ad into print quickly. Two days after the negative test results came back, Lubiano and Group member Thavolia Glymph were part of a panel that held things were “moving backwards on campus” because of the lack of DNA matches.

In short, the Group:

  • Rushed the ad into print, to increase the chances that it would be published while the case was still alive;
  • Placed it in what Group signatories themselves described as the most easily seen venue on campus;
  • Stated that five departments had officially endorsed the statement, a claim that proved to be false but that nonetheless gave the ad additional gravitas at the time;
  • Kept the statement available—in a high-profile fashion—for more than four months on an official program webpage.

I’ve no doubt that as they affixed their signatures to the document, most Group members didn’t think of what would happen when the lacrosse players or their attorneys noticed it. And I doubt they gave much thought to what would happen when those who challenged their race/class/gender worldview saw the document. Perhaps if they had done so, they would have been more careful about what they wrote.

But to describe the record above as the behavior of people who were not eager for their words to attract attention defies both common sense and logic.


Q: How difficult was it to maintain a timeline/deadline while writing the book given the constant new developments in the case? It seemed that things continued to change and develop right up until the publication. Was it difficult to format the book given the swings in the case?

A: This wasn’t as much of a problem as it might have seemed at first glance. The book involved considerable research beyond the blog, so many of the shifts in the case I could anticipate in advance. That said, this was a case that always had more than its share of surprises, and both Stuart and I were working very hard keeping up with things right up until the book went to press.

Q: Just how much more could be written with what has developed since publication? It almost seems as if a second edition is possible…ie Nifong disbarred, Meehan fired, City Council vote to investigate the case, Durham insurance company threat to drop them, the bogus initial responses from DPD and Baker, the civil suit, the feds deferring to the state of NC, Gottlieb, Himan, Chalmers fade that is currently DPD, appeals, proposed changes in Durham, where Crystal wound up? etc.

A: Comparatively little, in the grand scheme of things, because—for purposes of length—any item added would needed to have been complemented by a subtracted item. There were a number of items from the Gottlieb and Himan depositions that I would have liked to have included in the text—but they’re in the notes (as extended notes). We have the disbarment and the Baker/Chalmers report in the epilogue, which was most fortunate: the book would have been incomplete without mentioning those events. All told, I would guess that the post-book material would have entailed around 5 pages of additions.

Q: Whose idea was it to write the book?

A: Stuart’s.

Q: How did you and Stuart end up working together?

A: I had never met Stuart before this case—though I was a regular reader of his columns. I e-mailed him after his first column on the case, and we had regular exchanges after that. Once it became clear in December that the case was moving toward a rapid conclusion, he asked if I wanted to co-author the book, and I said yes.

Q: And how did you allocate the work?

A: Mostly on the basis of who did the original research. For instance, Stuart attended the DC trial, so he wrote the first draft of that section. I had done most of the research on the medical (Levicy) issues, so I wrote the first draft of those sections. The book went through 10 or 12 drafts, however, and our writing blended as each draft proceeded.

Q: After further reflections are there any changes that you would make to UPI?

A: The book had three errors of fact (which we corrected in the notes); obviously, it would have been better had those not appeared in the book.

The only other issue I might have changed (and this applies to the blog as well) is to have comprehensively examined the alcohol section statistics of the Coleman Committee report. Two sources whose judgment I very much valued repeatedly pressed me to look at the figures that the committee used (which were supplied by Dean Bryan), on the grounds that they were weighted against the lacrosse players. I didn’t do so, because the issue struck me as irrelevant—I always considered the report an exoneration of the assault on the players’ character. Had I anticipated that Coleman would have, more than a year later, taken a far more aggressive public stance on the issue, I would have done more to examine the statistics behind the report.

Q: Did you and Stuart Taylor disagree about anything in regards to the writing of UPI? How was it resolved?

A: We didn’t disagree on anything of consequence. There were lots of issues that we discussed; in each case, we reached consensus, usually by e-mail discussions.

Q: Based on what we have learned to date about the Duke lacrosse rape hoax, would the creation of faculty Truth and Reconciliation Committees at universities across the country be an appropriate effort to protect students, prevent abuse and promote faculty/student communication?

A: Yes. Which is why, unfortunately, figures like the Group of 88 will adamantly oppose any such move, or anything that shines a spotlight on their teaching or research practices.

Q: The central theme of your book is the threat to justice (and therefore to all of us) from mindless "political correctness". Is there anything further you wish to add to the theme now, 18 months later?

A: To me, the most striking elements of the case came after it was clear that Nifong and Mangum had perpetrated a fraud. Yet even then, not only could the Group of 88 not apologize, but they continued to offer absurd defenses (“drunkenness” happened, the Piot article) of their behavior. Similarly, people like Bob Ashley or Byron Calame provided bizarre rationalizations of their papers’ approach to the case. That record suggests an extreme closed-mindedness that should concern anyone who cares about the academy or the media.

Q: Many of us are dissatisfied with the discovery, through your help, of the danger our children face from the world of injustice thriving on many of our campuses. Not much has changed, not even on the Duke campus. Is there any follow up you would recommend?

A: One easy answer: the situation is not going to get better on its own. One purpose of the Group Profile series was to provide a sense of what passes for “scholarship” in many disciplines, with an eye toward pointing out that such professors control future hires as well. The academy, in short, is likely to get more extreme: if this case occurred in 2016 rather than 2006, with the likely hiring patterns at Duke over the next decade I suspect we would have dealt with a “Group of 188” rather than a Group of 88.

The response, therefore, needs to come from other stakeholders in higher education: trustees, alumni, and parents. Bob Steel has made it clear—for whatever reason—that he has no problem as Duke BOT chairman with a faculty whose personnel policies produce figures like Wahneema Lubiano. Hopefully, future Duke trustees will look differently on the situation. Engaged alumni can influence enormous impact on a university environment—as has occurred, most recently, at Dartmouth.

Parents, however, tend to be passive on academic matters—in part because that’s the way it’s always been, in part for practical reasons. Higher education is a seller’s market—every elite university has far more applicants than it can accept. So it’s my sense that most parents are grateful that their sons or daughters get into a good school, and don’t rock the boat. (In this respect, the Dowds are among the heroes of the case—rather than quietly going away, they stood up for principle, and won.)

I hope that, at some point, a group of parents will start approaching higher education from the standpoint of consumers—perhaps by asking why they should spend nearly $50,000 a year to have a university employee call their children “secret racists” (Farred); or suggest without foundation that their children advocated genocide against Native Americans (Wood); or disseminate information about their children that the professor either knew or should have known was false (Holloway).

Such pressure, right now, doesn’t exist. But it’s not hard to imagine even small, media-savvy groups of parents (20-30) exercising considerable influence.

Q: If you had it to do over again, would you? Are the results you have seen worth the effort you have put into it?

A: Yes; and yes.

Q: Did Duke, or anyone acting on its behalf, threaten you with litigation for any of your postings?

A: Yes, a threat arrived several months ago from one member of the Group of 88. It claimed that the blog had said defamatory things about her that the blog, in fact, had not said.

Q: Did Jim Coleman ever respond/apologize to you and/or Stuart for his letter to the Chronicle?

A: He did not apologize, nor did he supply evidence to substantiate his claims. He has, however, come under attack for similarly overblown rhetoric in another post-case development.

Q: Are you considering a second book that details your blog experience and the responses to it?

A: No. In this respect, the blog stands on its own.

Q. Looking at the current status of this case as an historian, do you think this has been a significant historical event, and by that I mean do you think this case and its aftermath will produce significant changes outside of Durham, and/or will be a topic in history textbooks in years to come?

A: I’m going to post some closing thoughts tomorrow about the historical legacy of the case, and will discuss this question then.

Q. Although there have been many comments about racial factors that fueled these events, do you think any longer-term systemic changes resulting from these events will benefit one race more than another?

A: To the extent that this case leads to due process-friendly changes in the North Carolina criminal justice system, such changes would disproportionately benefit minorities, who are disproportionately criminal defendants. This fact, of course, makes the pro-Nifong stance of the state NAACP in the case all the more inexplicable.

Q: Who was the nexus between Duke and the DPD during the early phase of the hoax investigation, supplying information to the DPD that could only have been accessed by University personnel?

A: The answer is unclear. The State Bar depositions suggested a closer relationship than Duke had previously acknowledged. Duke has, of course, never provided a full accounting of the DPD’s performance in the case (beyond the embarrassing Bowen/Chambers report), and it’s unlikely the University will ever do so.

Q: Who provided Ryan McFadyen's email to the DPD? And who released it to the public?

A: This is one of the great unanswered questions of the case. Based on the information now available, it appears as if someone at Duke is the most likely culprit, but there’s no hard evidence one way or the other. Had a federal investigation occurred, this question might have been answered. Absent one, however, I suspect we’ll never know.

Q: How did the pressure brought to sign the original and subsequent statements from the faculty manifest itself? It would seem to ripple out from a few ring-leaders.

A: That is my sense. The ringleaders were Lubiano, Karla Holloway, and then-AAAS chairman Charles Payne. Not every faculty member on campus was asked to sign: Lubiano appears to have solicited signatures only from departments and professors she considered ideologically predisposed to back the statement’s agenda.

Q: Given that both the blog and the book contain information that could only have come from Duke faculty, without naming names and citing specific information, what was the nature of the cooperation you received from Duke faculty after your prominence in the case became known?

A: I developed a cooperative relationship with many sources, including quite a few people at Duke. Many of my sources were in a difficult position: they were outraged by the Group of 88's conduct, but at the same time, publicly criticizing the Group could expose them to retaliation--on the job front for those without tenure, in future events on campus for those with tenure. I wholly understood their dilemma: if this case proved nothing else, it was that the Group of 88 couldn't be counted on to behave in an ethical or a professional manner.

Q: What type of reactions (negative or positive) did you receive from Duke faculty?

A: It ran the gamut. With one (private) exception, the Group of 88 followed the lead of William Chafe, Alex Rosenberg, and Charlie Piot. On the other hand, I had positive reactions from 40 or so Duke professors who wrote me at various points in the case. I also had a perfectly professional relationship with the Duke administration, especially John Burness, even though I grew increasingly critical of Brodhead's decisions as the blog progressed.


Blog-related questions:

Q: What first aroused your interest in the case enough to start this blog? Did you ever think your work would bring so many readers?

A: The Group of 88’s ad stimulated my initial interest in the case—it struck me at the time, and continues to strike me, as a betrayal of the signatories’ duties as professors, and I can’t think of a similar document (where so many professors rushed to judgment and in the process increased the vulnerability of their own students) in the history of American higher education.

I initially estimated that the blog would attract 100 readers a day; I would have considered a 1000-viewer week well beyond expectations. As it turned out, since 8-28-06, the blog has had just over 3.5 million unique visitors and just over 6.2 million hits.

Q: What motivated you to keep posting every night at midnight?

A: Pragmatic concerns. I believed (correctly) that the only way for the blog to develop a consistent readership was through consistent posts. I settled on the 12.01 idea by imitating the Times and Washington Post, which always do their first daily editions on-line at midnight. I had been a regular reader of both for some time.

Q: Did you interview or attempt to interview Crystal Gail Mangum?

A: I never interviewed her. I tried to contact her, though I didn’t expect a positive response, and didn’t receive one. That said, I doubt an interview would have been productive. This is a woman with deep psychological problems who spent a year constantly changing her story—and therefore anything that she said, on any issue, wouldn’t have had a shred of credibility.

Q: Did you ever get a response, comment or threat from Nurse Levicy?

A: No, no, and no. I did make several attempts to interview Levicy; she repeatedly did not respond.

Q: How important do you think DIW and UPI have been in putting things right in the public eye?

A: That’s not a question I can really answer. The fact that both the blog and the book received positive reviews, however, is an encouraging sign.

Q: What is Gaynor’s problem?

A: No comment . . . :)

Q: Why do you think they promoted Cpl. Addison?

A: Because the DPD still hasn’t come to grips with the fact that it spent months in a conscious attempt to frame three innocent people and send them to jail for 30 years.

Q: Do you think North Carolina was ripe for such a hoax, or was it just a “perfect storm?”

A: I don’t think this was a North Carolina issue—this is a state, after all, which has very good procedures on many criminal justice issues (open file discovery, emphasis on good lineup techniques). Duke and Durham, however, were ripe for such a hoax; indeed, it would be hard to imagine more fertile grounds.

Q: Have you enjoyed DIW?

A: It certainly was an interesting experience. I learned a tremendous amount—both about criminal justice issues and about media matters. In this respect, the experience will be a great help to me in the classroom, as well.

Q: What was the most frustrating issue in this case for you and how did you deal with it?

A: The most frustrating issue was seeing the far left (Piot, Robyn Wiegman, a few Group members) imitate the O’Reilly/Limbaugh argument and suggest that stray, extreme, anonymous comments reflected the viewpoint of the blog author. In part, this criticism came from a Luddite perspective—a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of blogs. In part, the criticism suggested a bankruptcy of ideas from the far left on this case.

I resolved the problem, of course, through comment moderation, which I imposed with greatest reluctance.

Q: Do you believe that discovery in the civil case will be so incriminating that the feds and/or NC Atty. Gen. will no longer be able to pass the buck on an investigation?

A: Unfortunately, no. I would be amazed if Durham doesn’t settle before the discovery process gets going fully—for this very reason.

Q: Do you believe that Judge Smith telegraphed a message to the Atty. Gen and the Feds when he opined in the Nifong contempt hearing that he did not believe a conspiracy had taken place between Nifong and other parties.

A: No. It’s worth remembering that at the criminal contempt trial, Meehan offered what was at least the fourth distinct version of his interactions with Nifong. Smith, therefore, was operating from a contradictory evidentiary base. And Meehan wasn’t on trial, so a finding against Meehan would have been gratuitous.

Q: Have your conversations with the attorneys in the case led you to believe that Nifong made his first mistake (so far as the alienation of the legal community goes) when he "asked why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and has done nothing wrong."

A: Yes--there were two particularly egregious Nifong statements, remarks that cut to the core of the legal profession. This was one; the other, uttered during the campaign at a time when the Grievance Committee was considering whether or not to bring immediate charges against him, had the then-DA claiming that community disagreement over the merits of a case in and of itself was a reason why a case needed to go to trial--effectively rationalizing political trials.

Q: What has been your most thrilling experience while working on the lacrosse case?

A: In the courtroom on Dec. 15, 2006, hearing Brian Meehan say "yes" when Jim Cooney asked if the lab director and Mike Nifong had entered into an intentional agreement not to report all of the DNA test results.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Update: Gottlieb "Reassigned"; Details Top 50

The N&O is reporting that Sgt. Mark Gottlieb has been "reassigned"; a Liestoppers discussion thread finds that the sergeant appeared unavailable for phone calls. This news would not bode well for Gottlieb's long-term employment status at the DPD.

The Details "Power 50," of men under 45:

36 // The Exonerated
Reade Seligmann, David Evans, and Colin Finnerty
Sure, we all thought they did it. It was a closed case: The three Duke University lacrosse players accused of raping an African-American stripper, we all agreed, were guilty as charged. We could see it in the privileged jocks’ faces. Wrong. Not only were they innocent, they triumphed over an unethical D.A. who suppressed evidence and, ironically, became the only person to be jailed over the whole affair. The way the accused players conducted themselves during last year’s prosecutorial witch hunt defied everything we instinctively believed to be true about them. They proved us wrong—making us reexamine our knee-jerk reactions to stereotypes—and they proved our justice system right.

Barry Lenser on UPI

"Until Proven Innocent is a police procedural, a courtroom drama, a social commentary, a correction of spurious history, and most simply, an engrossing story of heroes and villains. Sadly, the book becomes most meaningful when you realize it never should have been written in the first place." Read the entire review here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Updates; Book Q&A

The N&O is reporting that U.S. Department of Justice has rejected Attorney General Roy Cooper's request for a joint state-federal inquiry into allegations of civil rights violations by Mike Nifong and the DPD.

In an unusual rationalization, given that the state had requested federal intervention, Justice Department spokesperson Peter Carr said, “Well-established principles of federalism and comity discourage federal intervention when the state has the primary interest and the state is taking remedial action.”


New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, from a recent address:

We are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda.

That approach is admirable. It’s also difficult to reconcile with the paper’s coverage of the lacrosse case, especially its August 25, 2006 article—which clearly manipulated and misstated relevant facts, while offering a thesis that the Attorney General’s April 2007 pronouncement would show was untrue.


Early in the case, a couple of pro-Mangum trolls at the TalkLeft boards spent weeks maintaining that the April 4, 2006 lineup respected Durham procedures (five fillers per suspect) because two or three of the lacrosse players didn’t attend the party, and thus could be considered fillers. This assertion, of course, was absurd, for reasons that, most recently, the Robert Mosteller article explains.

The latest manifestation of this pattern has come in a Liestoppers discussion thread in which Michael Gaynor continues his quixotic defense of Dr. Brian Meehan. Gaynor most recently suggested that North Carolina state law, which requires subjects of an NTO to receive a report of all tests results from that NTO, did not require Meehan to issue a report detailing all test results. The former lab director could have, suggested Gaynor, given the test results orally. (This theory does not explain why even Meehan himself never offered this rationalization for his behavior.) Leaving aside the fact that a partially oral/partially written report would have violated the protocols of both his own lab and the lab’s accrediting agency, Meehan, to my knowledge, has never claimed that he gave all test results to Nifong orally—a briefing that presumably would have taken several hours to complete, given the marginal scientific knowledge of Nifong and his DPD sidekicks.

The argument recalls a joke once told by President Kennedy, after he had decided to appoint his brother as attorney general. Knowing that the selection would be controversial, the President quipped that he might open his front door in Georgetown one morning at 2 A.M. and whisper, “It’s Bobby.” Perhaps Meehan can claim that he upheld North Carolina law by opening his door one morning at 2 A.M. and reciting the test results to the darkness.


Next Monday’s post will be a Q&A on the book. If you have questions about Until Proven Innocent, please ask them in the thread below; I will pick out the more intriguing ones for a response. General or specific questions are welcome.

With the November election, the first serious law review articles about the case, and the last gasps of Group of 88 defenders having come and gone, the DOJ decision leaves only the city of Durham's response as among the loose ends that necessitated the blog's epilogue. That response has been delayed yet again, and is now not due until January 15. Accordingly, the blog will go on full hiatus after Monday's post; if and when Durham produces a response, I'll comment on it in a conclusion to the blog.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mosteller on the Case

A few months ago, I posted on the disappointing early coverage of the case from law reviews. The most recent Fordham Law Review corrects the problem, in a lengthy article by Duke Law professor Robert Mosteller. He astutely argues that the lacrosse case shows the insufficiency of ethical rules requiring prosecutors to do justice and to not prosecute cases without probable cause, and concludes with some sensible recommendations to make ethics rules more likely to protect the innocent.

Mosteller opens bluntly: “Often a full examination of the facts of a notorious case reveals that events were ambiguous and the reality is not as bad as early reports suggested. This case does not fit that pattern; it gets worse on inspection.” Indeed, he contends, “The Duke lacrosse case is extraordinary both in the clarity of its facts and in the violation of the prosecutor’s fundamental duty to do justice.”

The Duke Law professor also has no doubt as to the identity of those responsible for the fiasco: Mike Nifong and Crystal Mangum. He writes,

Mangum’s story of rape and kidnapping was a total fabrication—either a hoax or a false allegation based on delusion. Mangum’s separate conduct does not diminish Nifong’s responsibility as the public prosecutor controlling the case, and, indeed, it made his ethical duty to do justice even more important. Instead, Nifong either vitally aided a hoax or caused an unfortunate delusion to have serious societal and legal ramifications.

Mosteller summarizes the case, Nifong’s withholding of DNA evidence, the DA’s ethically improper statements, and the Bar’s prosecution of Nifong. But he focuses his article on the most disturbing element of Nifong’s conduct—the DA’s decision to prosecute without probable cause, to attempt to try people who were demonstrably innocent. Mosteller notes that the Bar—correctly—did not charge Nifong with violating Rule 3.8(a), which states that “[t]he prosecutor in a criminal case [shall] . . . refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.”

The language of that rule, Mosteller suggests, makes a violation almost impossible to prove. How, in effect, could the Bar prove that the prosecutor “knew” that the case lacked probable cause—especially in a state like North Carolina, where the prosecutor could argue that a grand jury indictment proved that probable cause existed?

Mosteller reasons that if Nifong couldn’t have been prosecuted under the rule’s provisions, it’s hard to imagine a more egregious case anytime soon. (“The attorney general’s lengthy list of reasons to question the accuser’s version of events,” he writes, “makes objectively based belief in guilt quite difficult. Indeed, it appears that the attorney general’s report makes an effort to avoid overstatement and thus may be modest in its presentation. When one examines the mass of questions regarding the accuser’s reliability presented by the defendants’ motions to suppress identification, objective belief in guilt becomes even less supportable.”) Therefore, he concludes, the current ethical rules requiring prosecutors to “do justice” are “completely inadequate,” and the Bar needs to find ways to address the issue in other ways.

Mosteller is particularly penetrating in his discussion of Nifong’s March 31, 2006 to order the police to run a third lineup—only this time, to be confined to lacrosse players. Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, who presided over the affair, went out of his way to tell Mangum that she would be shown photos only of people the police believed attended the party. He ridicules as “weak” the various excuses that the DPD leadership, Gottlieb, Det. Himan, and Nifong offered for the “outrageous” April 4 procedure.

According to Mosteller, “A prosecutor with ‘a mindset of the true skeptic, the inquisitive neutral’ would not have organized the procedure that was utilized. Regardless of whether it was suggestive, it provided the investigation with no real test of the accuracy of the accuser’s identification. Furthermore, it did nothing to rule out a hoax or delusion.” Indeed, by creating a lineup with no real fillers, “it enabled the hoax or delusion to proceed.”

Mosteller engages in a long and interesting discussion about the unreliability of current legal doctrines to guard against witnesses who are either delusional or intent on perpetrating a fraud. Courts, he notes, are extremely reluctant to suppress in-court ID’s, even if they came from outrageously suggestive procedures.

The lacrosse case, in this respect, is yet again an exception—he argues that the “masterful” defense motion to suppress the lineup, by concentrating “on the shifting versions given by the accuser of the events and the strong reasons to doubt a rape took place at all,” powerfully suggested “that the story, which includes the identification, is simply not reliable.” As Lane Williamson did at the Nifong ethics hearing, Mosteller argues that Judge Smith would have suppressed the lineup at the never-held February hearing, which would have ended the case.

Mosteller concludes his discussion of the lineup with a powerful point:

Regardless of its aberrant facts, the Duke lacrosse case teaches an important lesson regarding identification procedures: more than just actions that relate to the due process standard can deny justice. I assume that prosecutors generally do not violate their most basic duty to “do justice” and accusers do not often attempt to perpetuate frauds or suffer from a total and persistent delusion, and it should be rare that both happen simultaneously in the same case. But here we have one such case.

He praises the legislature’s decision to impose uniform lineup standards throughout the state, and to give judges authority to instruct juries on the potential unreliability of identifications when police or prosecutors violate the procedures. But Mosteller adds that judges and legislators should seriously consider how suppressing any identification, including in-court ID’s, might be the only way to “do justice” when identification processes are sufficiently flawed.

All in all, the article is a fascinating read, and I recommend it highly.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Group of 88 Rehab Tour Continues

Since January, Group members and their sympathizers have aggressively, if unsuccessfully, attempted to rehabilitate the Group from its rush to judgment in spring 2006. The Group of 88 Rehab Tour has followed a long, and torturous, path.

The tour began on January 5, when Cathy Davidson penned an N&O op-ed terming the Group’s statement a justified response to “rampant” racist defenses of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans “on the campus quad.” Of course, during the period in which the statement was written (March 29-April 6, 2006), virtually no one was defending the lacrosse team on the “campus quad,” much less using racist rhetoric to do so, and certainly no one was defending Seligmann or Finnerty, who were not (for very good reasons) considered suspects.

That same day, Group stalwart Karla Holloway offered another line of defense. In a mass e-mail, she suggested that the Group’s character assault on the lacrosse players might be justified, since a secret witness might exist who would attest to rampant racial slurs early on at the party. Of course, no such witness existed. Despite the Faculty Handbook’s requirement that she treat all Duke students with “respect,” Holloway apparently has never been disciplined for disseminating highly negative information about Duke students that she either knew or should have known was untrue.

In mid-January, dozens of Group members issued the “clarifying” statement—in which they defiantly refused to apologize for signing the original ad as they stood “by the claim that issues of race and sexual violence on campus are real.” Two of the signatories (Susan Thorne and Alberto Moreiras) attracted attention, having previously apologized for signing the ad to lacrosse players and their families. They gave no advance warning of their plans to publicly retract their apologies. Meanwhile, none of the roughly two-dozen new signatories explained how they could speak of the Group signatories’ intent if they hadn’t signed the original Group statement. When asked about this conundrum, new signatory Kerry Haynie replied, en toto, “Get a freaking life! Quote me!”

The Rehab Tour continued in February, at the “Shut Up and Teach” forum. There, Charlie Piot compared me to (unnamed) West African dictators, while Wahneema Lubiano rationalized the Group’s conduct on the grounds that “Black Studies” professors had a special right to deal with political issues as part of their job.

Holloway, meanwhile, tried to a new line of defense: she admitted that the Group’s statement said that something “happened” to Crystal Mangum, but suggested that the professors weren’t talking about rape. Rather, declared Holloway, “drunkenness” happened to Mangum. If the Group took out a full-page ad every time Mangum was incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, the Chronicle’s advertising budget would have been overflowing for years.

That month, William Chafe joined five colleagues in penning a Chronicle op-ed demanding that all “move forward,” lest people attempt to examine the arts and sciences faculty’s springtime rush to judgment. (For good measure, Chafe quoted an anonymous alleged student who maintained that “we are all guilty because we have never called to account those people who have engaged in date rape or sexual assault.”) Imagine how Chafe and his colleagues in the Group would have reacted had Mike Pressler penned a Chronicle op-ed in early April 2006, announcing that it was time to “move on” and any investigation of the lacrosse players would be unacceptable.

In April, eschewing Chafe’s advice to “move on,” Group member Grant Farred publicly asserted that one or more unnamed lacrosse players had committed perjury. His talk, meanwhile, was advertised through a photoshopped flyer showing a yellow crime-scene tape outside the lacrosse field, with several members of the team, identifiable by their uniform numbers, in the background.

Later that month, Chafe—eschewing his own advice to “move on”—identied the real villains in the lacrosse case: the dozen or so blogs who had criticized the Group. He wrote to the Chronicle, “I am appalled at the way that bloggers who have targeted the ‘Group of 88’ have put words in our mouths, denied our individuality and [used] racist and violent language to attack us—including sending us e-mails and making phone calls wishing our deaths and calling us ‘Jew b-’ and ‘n-b-’.” When asked for evidence that any of the dozen “bloggers who have targeted the ‘Group of 88’” had engaged in such behavior, Chafe could not supply any. I contacted every significant blogger that ran posts critiquing the Group; all categorically denied calling any Group member, ever; most had never e-mailed any Group members; and those who had e-mailed said they had done so only if requesting comment on a post.

Then, in October, Charlie Piot produced a lengthy attack on DIW. He argued that the Group’s statement had nothing to do with the lacrosse case, even though its author, Wahneema Lubiano, had solicited signatures over an e-mail declaring it was a response “to the lacrosse team incident.” And he asserted that the Group’s statement thanked not the guilt-presuming protesters who had carried “castrate” banners or blanketed the campus with “wanted” posters, but instead other guilt-presuming protesters, who wore T-shirts reading “Men’s Lax Come Clean”; posted writings condemning the players’ presumption of innocence; and asserted, “If these three culprits get away with it, it will prove to me that Duke does not honor the black woman’s body.”


Intellectual consistency, in short, hasn’t been a hallmark of the Rehab Tour. Group defenders have veered wildly between:

  • rationalizing the ad as justified because the lacrosse players might have committed a crime;
  • reinventing a past that never existed to suggest that the ad was necessary to counteract the pro-player public opinion from late March 2006;
  • claiming that, despite the explicit wording of Lubiano’s cover e-mail, the ad had nothing to do with the lacrosse case;
  • issuing furious attacks on those who have deigned to criticize the Group.

The latest stop in the Rehab Tour, a series of posts by Duke Music professor Robert Zimmerman, combines the third and fourth of these tactics. In a recent post, Zimmerman criticized DIW for having engaged in “insidiously polarizing,” “irrational,” and “anti-academic” behavior—extraordinarily strong charges to level against the work of a fellow academic. A few days later, he followed up with a post ascribing my criticism of the Group of 88 to a desire “to blot all the stigma off his side and spread it on the other.” Since, as Zimmerman concedes, my initial comments about the Group of 88 came at a time when I not only had no connection to anyone at Duke but had taken no position on either the criminal case or the issue of the lacrosse players' personal character, it's not entirely clear what “side” I had, much less why I would have wanted “to blot all the stigma” off of this non-existent “side.” Zimmerman, unfortunately, offered no illumination on what my “side” was when I initially criticized the Group's statement.

What, meanwhile, caused Zimmerman to reach his conclusion about the “insidiously polarizing,” “irrational,” and “anti-academic” of DIW? He wrote that I had deliberately ignored “efforts when the [Group of 88’s] ad was written to make much different points in a much different way than the protestors.”

In his post, Zimmerman presented no evidence for his claim, which seemed, at the least, counterintuitive. If the Group’s intent were to “make much different points in a much different way than the protestors,” it’s hard to understand why they would publish a statement—“in the most easily seen venue on campus”—saying, “To the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.”

Accordingly, I e-mailed Zimmerman to ask if he had any evidence to corroborate his claim about the Group’s statement. He replied by contending that I had misinterpreted an April 13, 2006 essay penned by Wahneema Lubiano, which was published one week after the ad appeared. In a subsequent e-mail and then post, he suggested that my chief fault was suggesting that the Group’s ad could be interpreted as suggesting that the sole message of the potbangers’ March 26 rally was the “castrate” banner.

Yet neither this nor any other case-related blog has ever suggested that that the “castrate” banner was only aspect of the March 26 protest. On both DIW and in UPI, I have taken note of other banners from that heavily covered protest, such as “Sunday Morning, Time to Confess”; “Get a Conscience, Not a Lawyer”; “Measure for Measure”; and “Real Men Don't Protect Rapists.”

Unlike other protests, the potbangers’ rally received coverage from all four* local TV (WRAL, WTVD/ABC, News 14, NBC-17) stations and local newspapers in the days before the ad appeared. Is Zimmerman suggesting that the contemporaneous press coverage of the potbangers somehow might have fooled the Group into believing that the potbangers were worthy of the Group's salutation for not only making “collective noise" but for “not waiting”? Or, perhaps, is he instead implying that the Group members were so reckless that they thanked protesters through a high-profile public statement, even though they had no idea what the protesters were doing or saying?

Even the “clarifying” letter, ironically, didn’t try to disprove a connection between the Group's statement and this heavily covered protest rally. Indeed, it appeared to give an after-the-fact endorsement to the potbangers—and to the protesters who engaged in the other high-profile protest in the days before the ad was issued, blanketing the campus with “wanted” posters. It stated, “We appreciate the efforts of those who used the attention the incident generated to raise issues of discrimination and violence.” The potbangers’ stated goals: addressing “issues of discrimination and violence.”

To date, Zimmerman has not produced any evidence for his original allegation that DIW had ignored “efforts when the ad was written [between March 29, 2006, and April 6, 2006] to make much different points in a much different way than the protestors.” Nonetheless, he suggested that I should apologize to Lubiano for misrepresenting her essay.

The section in dispute from the Lubiano essay reads as follows:

I understand the impulse of those outraged and who see the alleged offenders as the exemplars of the upper end of the class hierarchy, the politically dominant race and ethnicity, the dominant gender, the dominant sexuality, and the dominant social group on campus. Further, this group has been responsible for extended social violence against the neighborhood in which they reside. In short, by a combination of their behaviors and what they represent in terms of social facts, and by virtue of their relation to the alleged victim, for those who are defenders of the victim, the members of the team are almost perfect offenders in the sense that [critical race theorist] Crenshaw writes about.

Many months after penning these words, Lubiano explained that she was merely analyzing the situation—that she didn’t consider the lacrosse players “perfect offenders,” because, evidently, she couldn’t be considered either a strong defender of the “victim” [sic] or among those who “see the alleged offenders as the exemplars of the upper end of the class hierarchy, the politically dominant race and ethnicity, the dominant gender, the dominant sexuality, and the dominant social group on campus.” I made note of Lubiano’s rationalizations, both on the blog and in UPI (p. 161). I also made clear I found her after-the-fact revisionism unconvincing.

This is, after all, the same Wahneema Lubiano who:

  • Joined Houston Baker and Peter Wood in offering extremist anti-lacrosse rhetoric at the March 30, 2006 faculty meeting, at which Lubiano demanded more aggressive faculty action against the team on the preposterously grounds that the Brodhead administration was overly sympathetic to the lacrosse players;

  • Coordinated the writing and dissemination of the Group of 88’s ad, which she explicitly described as a response to “the lacrosse team incident”;
  • Appeared at an April 12 forum which suggested that things were “moving backwards” on campus because the first DNA test results had come back negative;
  • Unequivocally stated that the lacrosse players were guilty of “extended social violence against the neighborhood in which they reside” and unequivocally labeled Mangum “the victim”;
  • Dismissed those who argued that the April DNA test results should, as Nifong had promised, result in a finding of innocence, claiming that they were making a “demand for perfect evidence on the part of the defenders of the team”;
  • Published a May N&O op-ed demanding that Duke respond to the lacrosse case by immediately instituting a program of “targeted teaching” to expose “the structures of racism and the not-so-hidden injuries of class entitlement in place at Duke and everywhere in this country,” 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.”
  • Was described by an ESPN reporter who had interviewed her in spring 2006 as fully aware that “some would see the [Group of 88] ad as a stake through the collective heart of the lacrosse team.”

Zimmerman, it seems, not only disagrees with the blog’s portrayal of Lubiano and her essay, but has effectively suggested that it is “irrational,” “anti-academic,” and “insidiously polarizing” to label as a defender of Mangum the person whose behavior was described above. That argument is more than a bit far-fetched.

Zimmerman offered one additional defense for the Group’s handiwork. “The central message of the ad as I see it doesn’t need a reference to protestors and doesn’t require the rape allegation to be true, so I don’t think either line is necessary as written.” In other words, if the Group just hadn’t unequivocally declared that something happened to Mangum; and hadn’t said thank you to protesters for making collective noise and not waiting, their ad--what Wahneema Lubiano described as a response to “the lacrosse team incident”--would have been so much better.

Why not take that logic one step further? If the Group had just included a line demanding that Mike Nifong treat all Duke students fairly, they would have undermined all criticism of the statement.

But, of course, rewriting a statement 18 months after the fact isn’t a particularly effective line of defense.


Perhaps, it could be argued, Zimmerman is simply the sternest of taskmasters, a figure inclined to deem “irrational,” “anti-academic,” and “insidiously polarizing” anyone whose behavior he in any way criticizes?

Not exactly. Zimmerman has become the first Group defender to publicly criticize the potbangers—a major development for which he deserves praise. But were the potbangers’ motives “irrational,” or “insidiously polarizing,” or “anti-academic”? Quite the contrary: he bent over backwards to deem their motives benevolent.

“I don’t at all discount,” wrote Zimmerman, “the genuine concern for victims of sexual assault–a terrible, debilitating crime–that motivated most if not all the protestors. I expect that some of the outrage came from brutally real personal experience of assault, something that far too many women have to live with. I can only go on what I can see and read, though, and in that the action is represented not only as a denunciation of the team but also righteous support for the woman alleging rape and for other assault survivors [sic, Mangum was obviously not another ‘assault survivor’].”

Perhaps, then, could it be argued that Zimmerman only applies his over-the-top attack style to professors? Leaving aside the fact that at least two Duke faculty members, Timothy Tyson and Faulkner Fox, attended the March 25-26 potbangers’ protests, there’s little evidence for this argument either.

As noted last week, Wesleyan professor Claire Potter published an April post in which she stated, in direct contradiction to the evidence, that “the dancers were, it is clear, physically if perhaps not sexually assaulted” and that “the ethical culture of this lacrosse team was so out of touch that many players who were not involved in this incident, and who did not do anything wrong, still refused to speak about what had happened, in the misplaced belief that loyalty to one’s friends is a higher virtue than treating people who aren’t on your team with respect.” After her post, myriad commenters on her blog pointed out Potter’s factual errors. Potter has refused to run a correction or to supply evidence to substantiate her allegations against the lacrosse players. Instead, she has repeatedly lashed out at her critics, while making additional unsubstantiated allegations.

Did Zimmerman suggest that Potter was “irrational,” “insidiously polarizing,” or “anti-academic” for publishing, under her own name, the above statements about college students at another school?

“It seems to me that some of Potter’s original comments were in fact,” wrote Zimmerman, . . . “excessive.”

Actually, of course, they were not “excessive”—the two quoted above, which were leveled at students from Zimmerman’s own university, were demonstrably false and arguably defamatory. He then excused Potter for not printing a retraction or supplying evidence to substantiate her allegations, on the grounds that she had been criticized by people who were “huffing and puffing” or “more or less smug and/or self-righteous and/or ignorant and/or hypocritical.” (This analysis, by the way, came from the same person whose own words some might consider smug, self-righteous, or even “anti-academic.”)

Perhaps Zimmerman’s next stop can be the Bush White House. By his rationale, President Bush didn’t need to admit error or provide evidence for his unsubstantiated WMD claims—since, after all, Bush was attacked by people who were “more or less smug and/or self-righteous and/or ignorant and/or hypocritical.”

In the meantime, no doubt, the Group of 88 Rehab Tour will lurch on, with the next participant offering yet another new and unconvincing rationale for why the Group’s statement was an appropriate, necessary, or innocuous academic endeavor.

*--The NBC-17 website does not contain links to its spring 2006 broadcasts.