Monday, December 01, 2008

Asking Questions

Two figures whose performance in the lacrosse case left much to be desired are taking on-line questions:

  • New York Times sports page editor Tom Jolly (the person who supervised Duff Wilson);
  • NAACP head William Barber (the person whose organization posted the guilt-presuming 82-point "memorandum of law").

I invite DIW readers to submit questions at the links provided above. Jolly previously provided one, vague, comment on the lacrosse case:

As far as our coverage of the case itself, if the essence of your question is whether I feel good about it, the answer is that I very much regret my failure to recognize that we were dealing with a rogue prosecutor and that the university had compounded his bravado by overreacting to the initial reports about the case. I don't recall another instance of a university canceling the season of a team that was a contender for a national championship. Nor do I recall a similar example of a prosecutor launching such an aggressively wrongheaded investigation.

But the bottom line is that I'd do some things differently, and that knowledge gained by hindsight has informed our approach to other stories since then.

Jolly has never revealed what he would have done "differently," nor what specific changes resulted from the "knowledge gained."


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I have a question for both of them: How do you two ass-clowns sleep nights? Just imagine a world in which everyone else was as utterly incompetent in their jobs as you are in yours. Scary, huh?

Debrah said...

I left a question for Barber, even though I didn't really want to register with WRAL.

Whether or not it's put through, who knows?

It was extremely point-blank and candid.

My experience with local news outlets is that they don't allow people like Barber to ever be challenged in any meaningful way.

Last week it was nauseating to see UNC system president Erskine Bowles yield to Barber's race-hustling.

The students that wrote what they did on the tunnel wall at State have received punishment. In no way should an outsider like Barber be telling a university how to handle their business.

What did he do when NCCU students were making death threats toward Reade, Collin, and David?

He was assisting them, that's what, with libel on his website.

Barber is really an unusually disgusting person.

The NYTimes forum is too comprehensive. Jolly is taking all kinds of questions. Not just about the lacrosse coverage.

Since I'm already registered with the Times, I might try a question later.

Anonymous said...


He would do things differently?

Perhaps, in the future, he might pick up a telephone and call the other side to get a balanced version of the events. But, then again, perhaps not.


Anonymous said...

Is Jolly a Communist?

Anonymous said...

Question for Tom Jolly:

Why, when this issue involved a legal issue in a situation where almost all the facts were in dispute and doubt, did you cover it with a *sports reporter* rather an investigative reporter?

It was evident to me, as a former newspaper reporter, that although this story involved a lacrosse team, it was not a sports story. What was needed was a reporter with a relentlessly skeptical mind, a propensity to dig for the truth behind all the self-serving statements, and a willingness to contact ALL parties to the dispute who would talk.

These included the defense attorneys and the police officer who first saw Crystal Mangum and doubted the truth of her accusations.

Sports reporters are mainly writers, not diggers. What this stury required was a digger and an analyzer.


Anonymous said...

What about an apology to the three men so wrongly accused, their families and friends whose lives became a living hell, and Coach Pressler and his family? What about some hard hitting news stories concerning Broadhead and the BOT's decisions in this case - what really motivated them? Those would do for starters.

Gary Packwood said...

All The News That's Fit to Print?

Tom Jolly bought into the worldview narrative espoused by William Barber and other extremists that young white privileged males are the source of all evil.

Tom should know by now that a phony worldview narrative is not news and ...not fit to print.


Because Truth Matters.

Debrah said...

An unusually rational, albeit soft, column by Saunders on William Barber.

Anonymous said...

TRuth is not an issue with this crowd.Power is the agenda.

Anonymous said...

You do not understand what your responsibility is to the rule of law? Do you not? This is what is so wrong with you and your paper and the racist Duke faculty who violated their own rules to become "players" along with the corrupt Nifong . . . all of you were willing to throw the lacrosse team under the bus to vindacate your own bigotry . . . in this, Nifong was coincidental to what already existed in your minds and hearts. You of all people should have held the center.

Anonymous said...

I sent to following to the NY Times:


I was at Baylor School when you were there (I was two years ahead of you). My question is about the Duke Lacrosse Case and why your coverage not only was abysmal, but actually dishonest. Why were you so unwilling to look at the evidence when it was clear from the very start that the "facts" as being portrayed by Michael Nifong were inaccurate? After all, the Times in other cases has seen fit to ask the tough questions, but it seems that in the Duke case, you took a powder?

Has your coverage become so Politically Correct that you no longer are willing to take a hard look at things?

I know these are not pleasant questions, but thanks in large part to people like you and Duff Wilson, these families had to go through real hell as their children were falsely accused of a crime that never was committed. Why could you not even have asked basic questions in this, as opposed to being a cheerleader for a corrupt and dishonest prosecutor?

Bill Anderson

Debrah said...

Bill's letter to Jolly is an excellent one.

I think I'll let it speak for the way I feel as well.

However, someone should ask why Jolly does not write an extensive article looking back on the lacrosse case complete with all the mea culpas he can muster.

Tim G said...

THe NYT will not issue mea culpa's until they are forced to by legal ramifications.

Imagine how explosive a legal case would be against NYT by the falsly accused players or their teammates?
This is a lawsuit whose time has not yet come, but would be ripe when the current proceedings have ended. Every word the NYT reports (or not reports) about the entire episode and lawsuits would then be available for review. said...

Here's my question to Mr. Jolly...Hello Mr. Jolly,
Because of family connections I followed the Times coverage of the Duke lacrosse situation very closely. I was shocked and saddened by the guilt presuming coverage of the Times. Has any thought been given to apologizing to the students and their parents who were treated so shabbily? Have you made any changes is your policies relative to reporters editorializing in news stories?
Best Regards,
W. David Price

Debrah said...

Duke lacrosse suit lawyers scoff at city immunity claim

By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
Dec 3, 2008

DURHAM -- Lawyers for most of the members of the 2005-06 Duke University men's lacrosse team are disputing an attempt by the city to assert governmental immunity against possible state-law liability to the players.

The city-filed dismissal motion rests on "circular reasoning," a misrepresentation of the wording of the city's insurance policy and a disregard for state court precedent, lawyers for exonerated lacrosse players David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann said in a response just before Thanksgiving.

Lawyers for a group of 38 other players also filed paperwork before the holiday disputing a similar motion from the city.

The city's attorneys have contended the players can't collect on negligence and other claims based in the common law because Durham's $5 million insurance policy includes a $500,000 deductible.

Under recent court doctrine, they argue, the deductible's existence lets the city off the hook for state-law claims asserting negligence and other harms stemming from Durham Police Department's investigation into stripper Crystal Mangum's false claims of rape.

Governmental immunity in North Carolina shields cities from lawsuit except when they've purchased insurance, courts say.

Durham's lawyers say that because taxpayers rather than the city's insurer have to pay the deductible, the city can never be held liable under that doctrine.

But the Evans/Finnerty/Seligmann legal team is urging U.S. District Court Judge James Beaty Jr. to brush that argument aside.

In their filing, they noted that city officials said in August they'd already received $1.2 million in legal bills.

As the city's policy counts legal bills against both the deductible and the coverage limit, the city has already dipped into its insurer's resources and is thus liable, the players' team contends.

Moreover, North Carolina appellate courts "have consistently held" that the mere existence of a deductible isn't sufficient to establish governmental immunity, the lawyers said.

The players' legal team also argued that city lawyers in their dismissal motion omitted a comma from a quotation of the insurance policy's wording.

The omission changed the meaning of the policy in a way favoring the city's immunity claim because it made it appear the insurer, the American International Group -- AIG -- would pay only if the city was unable to elude responsibility for the deductible.

It also brought the apparent wording of Durham's policy in line with that of the policy in another case that one of Beaty's fellow judges decided in favor of Greensboro's government earlier this year.

The debate over the extent of Durham's immunity is focusing only on state-law liability because the two sides have addressed federal-law claims in a different set of filings.

Many of the federal claims involve alleged civil-rights violations that the immunity doctrine doesn't apply to.

Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann want Beaty to assess monetary damages against the city, but they've also asked him to put the Police Department under the supervision of an independent monitor for 10 years.

Anonymous said...

"...but they've also asked him to put the Police Department under the supervision of an independent monitor for 10 years."

An important point about the suits, and one which the media is likely to overlook (perhaps deliberately), is that they are NOT just about punitive payments; they are about
getting at the truth, and about
institution reforms so that future prosecutions of this sort can't take place.

And that battle is as much Durham's and North Carolina's as it is the Plaintiffs'...

Anonymous said...

Re: Bill Anderson

The answer to your question is obviously yes, but getting an answer from these peopole is impossible. Political correctness as defined by these people has permeated almost every aspect of thes media's ability to discuss or react to anything . . . think the war on terror, and the medias' rationalization of motive . . . they cannot do it without interjecting their version of events even when the terrorists could care less about them or what they have to say . . . read Martha Nussbaum's explaning terrorism . . . if they only had jobs and weren't discriminated against . . . ad infinitum.

One Spook said...

Anon @ 9:54 AM writes:

"they [the players' lawsuits] are about getting at the truth, and about institution reforms so that future prosecutions of this sort can't take place.

The realist in me suggests that "getting at the truth" may be a valid goal in a civil suit, but I do not think the pleas in the lawsuit for institutional reforms will survive.

While I agree that such reforms in Durham and NC are needed, it is easily arguable that a lawsuit is not the proper arena for instituting institutional reforms in government.

Such reforms are more properly sought in the political process.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

Harvard's endowment drops 22% in 4 month

$8,000,000,000.00 in loses...more than the endowments of all but six other colleges.


Brodhead's endowment email

Richard Brodhead's 10-23-2008 email suggests that everything is fine. But notice that he doesn't discuss the most recent quarter and instead bleats on about the 2nd Quarter results. That should raise extremely loud alarm bells.

Why hasn't it?

"...For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, the endowment recorded a 6.2 percent increase in market value – this at a time when many comparable funds actually declined in value. Indeed, though the past few months’ results have not been positive, over the past ten years the Duke University endowment has grown at an average annual rate of 15.6 percent, which places it among the top performers of all university endowments..."

Why doesn't he disclose the 3rd quarter results like the other schools? The lack of transparency is misleading and the presentation of dated facts borders on being dishonest.

How much did they lose?

How much will that loss impact operations?

If they mirrored Harvard in investment approach they likely got hammered because size does matter.

Why aren't the alumni, Chronicle, or others questioning this lack of transparency?

How Brodhead and Steele retain their positions at Duke is amazing.

Anonymous said...

The silence regarding the DUMAC performance, especially since other colleges are being candid about their loses, should be of concern.

Why the lack of transparency?

DUMAC Investment Performance

"DUMAC's primary long-term benchmark is the composite of 70 percent Russell 3000 Index and 30 percent LB Aggregate Index (70/30). The Russell 3000 Index represents the broad domestic equity market while the LB Aggregate Index represents the domestic bond market. This mix between equity and bonds was chosen because, historically, a 70 percent exposure to equity investments has achieved the university's 5.5 percent real annual return objective over the long term..."

Russell 300 Index

It appears that 70% of the endowment was invested in the Russell 3000 which has dropped from around 800 at the end of June to just under 500 today.

Toward the end of October when Richard Brodhead wrote his email espousing the historic returns the Russell had already dropped to around 550.

That is about a 30% loss.

Again, why aren't the Duke alumni interested in the DUMAC performance?

Why are they and the press allowing Brodhead to get away without learning the recent results of the fund?

Anonymous said...

DUMAC board of trustees:

Edgar Barksdale
Richard Brodhead
Edward Gilhuly
Jean Hoysradt
Bruce Karash
Lanty Smith
Tallman Trask III
Neal Triplett
James Zelter

"...DUMAC is controlled by a nine-member Board of Directors, comprised of the president and executive vice president of Duke University, the president of DUMAC, the chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees, and five other members appointed by the Board of Trustees' Executive Committee"

Why isn't Bob Steel listed?

Brodhead and Trask in any leadership capacity should be of concern.

DUMAC Investment Managers and Board

Debrah said...

A superb column from Martinez in the N&O.

It really puts Barber on the hot seat.

Debrah said...

More prosecutorial drama in Durham.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Duke has a goal of 5.5% annual return? That's pretty low compared to Harvard and other Ivies. It's not unusual for those schools to get double-digit returns. Even in a bad market, e.g., the crash of 1987, Harvard made money. A lot of it.

BTW,the fund manager for Harvard started her job July 1, 2008. Nice timing, huh?

Anonymous said...

Inre: my 9:43 I say it appears they "invested" in the Russell 3000...should read benchmarked against...

Jim in San Diego said...

re: Debra's post of the N&O column about Mr. Barber's proposed ban on "hate speech".

It would be droll to debate the definition of "hate speech", to be "banned".

Is it hate speech to advocate convicting white males who are innocent of crimes, because they are white? (as was suggested on a UNC campus in 2006).

Is it hate speech to claim white males have a special propensity to do awful things to black women?

Is it hate speech to claim publicly that "white innocence is black guilt", as was done by a certain professor at Duke?

Is it hate speech to suggest that sexual violence is a particular proclivity of white males, as was done on the Duke campus?

One could smack one's intellectual lips over the opportunity to "ban" genuine hate speech.

Jim Peterson

Debrah said...

Durham city and county have won finance and budgeting awards.


They are going to need them.

Anonymous said...

"However, someone should ask why Jolly does not write an extensive article looking back on the lacrosse case complete with all the mea culpas he can muster."

The NYT should also run an analysis of the current lawsuits and why they are important to everyone.

For example, Jamie Gorelick is now falling back on the assertion, that civil rights laws basically are not written for white citizens, but only for those who have been previously deprived of some rights. And ergo, these protections cannot be made to apply to them.
See her brief in the case (wildly assertive and non-factual, in the opinion of many familiar with the case and court filings thus far),

[pages 15-19]

asserting :

"Indeed, both courts [The US Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit, where the lawsuits are being heard] have expressed substantial doubt that § 1985 [of the US Code] protects any class other than African-Americans."

This echoes Mary Frances Berry, Chairman, former US Commission on Civil Rights : "Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them."

This 'belief' is broader in some sections of the US community than might be thought; and it apparently is affecting some court decisions.

If this is sustained, we are back to Dread Scott, and unequal application of the US constitution, and the exclusion of some classes of citizens from its protections.

Anonymous said...

How lucky can Duke be? Really? Lanty Smith Chaired the Wachovia Board and he proposed his friend, Bob Steele, as Wachovia's "savior". We all know what Lanty and Bob did for that venerable financial institution. No wonder incompetents like Brodhead continue to ruin Duke with the likes of Bob Steele and Lanty Smith as supporters and defenders.
It gets sicker by the day.

Anonymous said...

OneSpook said...
"While I agree that such reforms in Durham and NC are needed, it is easily arguable that a lawsuit is not the proper arena for instituting institutional reforms in government.

Such reforms are more properly sought in the political process."

That never stopped Judge Barefoot Sanders here in Texas, nor has it deterred many other federal judges in the past forty or so years.

Chris Halkides said...

I left one for each:
NAACP attorney Al McSurely is the agent for the firm that is publishing Crystal Mangum’s book on the Duke lacrosse rape case. He is also the author of a memorandum of law in August 2006 on the same matter. Does his dual role call into question the objectivity of the NAACP in this case? If he profits from the book, is this a conflict of interest?

In a column on 26 May 2006 Harvey Araton belittled the Duke women’s lacrosse team, calling them “gals” and claiming that “cross-team friendship and university pride negate[d] common sense.” He pilloried he Duke women’s lacrosse team for wearing bands that said “innocent” and implied that bands that said “innocent until” would have been only slightly better. Clearly the women laxers knew what they were talking about, and Mr. Araton did not. In a subsequent interview, Mr. Araton cited an error-filled column by John Feinstein as support for his position ( Shouldn’t an editor have reprimanded Mr. Araton for his insults and bias, or asked him to apologize to the team?


One Spook said...

SULax88 writes @ 8:29 PM

"That never stopped Judge Barefoot Sanders here in Texas, nor has it deterred many other federal judges in the past forty or so years."

If I had a name like "Judge Barefoot Sanders," (or for that matter, "Judge Roy Bean") I'd be pretty unstoppable as well.

But, I might agree with you ... like I said, it's easily arguable.

One Spook