Monday, June 01, 2009

Selena Roberts' National Mendacity Tour

Selena Roberts appears have concluded her appearances to promote her new book on A-Rod—interviews that doubled as a National Mendacity Tour regarding Roberts’ writings about events at Duke and Durham. As the Mendacity Tour comes to a close, I thought it would be useful to compile the range of Roberts’ distorted, misleading, and outright false statements about her work on the lacrosse case.

A note: Selena Roberts penned a book whose key assertions rested almost entirely on anonymous sources. Evaluating that book, therefore, requires exploring whether Roberts had, in past high-profile instances, (a) invented evidence; or (b) excluded evidence that didn’t fit her preconceived thesis.

Roberts did both in her writings on the lacrosse case. Perhaps more troublingly, Roberts did both in her 2009 interviews about that writing—in the process revealing a journalist who has what could charitably be described as a loose relationship with the truth.


The Roberts Mendacity Tour featured the following seven principal items:

1.) Falsely suggesting that she had only critiqued the team’s “culture,” and had never linked this critique to a position on the “crime.”

2.) Refusing to admit that she had changed her central critique of the team’s “culture” from a concern with the players’ allegedly “anti-snitch” tendencies to their alleged sexism and racism. (She did so after DNA reports strongly suggested that no crime occurred, and then invented evidence to sustain the critique of the team’s “culture” that she ultimately made.)

3.) Falsely suggesting that she had criticized, in print, Mike Nifong’s misconduct.

4.) Suggesting that because her false statements came in a newspaper column, she was under no requirement to run a correction.

5.) Portraying herself as a victim in the case.

6.) Benefiting from a press corps that seemed disinclined to challenge her assertions, even when she was outright lying to them.

7.) Electing—incredibly—to extend her savage, if evolving, critique of the team’s “culture” to Reade Seligmann.


1.) The “Culture,” Not the “Crime”

The one consistent talking point in the Mendacity Tour, raised by Roberts in every interview that touched on her writings on the lacrosse case: that she merely analyzed the team’s alleged “culture,” and made no judgment one way or the other about the “crime.”

In addition to several newspaper interviews, Roberts made this assertion to WEEI:

And to Jim Rome:

And to Deadspin:

This repeated claim is a lie—and Roberts’ willingness to lie (over and over and over again) about what she wrote has to raise questions about whether anyone should trust anything else she has said or written.

Roberts’ first column on the lacrosse case, which appeared on March 31, 2006, left little doubt about her feelings on whether a “crime” had occurred. She wrote that “something happened” when, “according to reported court documents [sic],” Crystal Mangum “was raped, robbed, strangled and was the victim of a hate crime [sic],” since Mangum had “vaginal and anal [sic] injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape [sic].” Roberts also hailed protesters who had—among other things—urged the captains’ castration and flooded the campus with ‘wanted” posters containing the players’ photos, celebrating such behavior as the “heartening” indignation of “Durham residents and Duke students [who] have rallied on behalf of sexual-assault victims, banging pots and pans.”

After framing the crime as all-but-certain, the column articulated its basic thesis: that the team’s culture explained why none of the players had cooperated with authorities. “Players have been forced to give up their DNA, but to the dismay of investigators, none [sic] have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account . . . why is it so hard to gather the facts? Why is any whisper of a detail akin to snitching?”

The premise on which Roberts based her portrayal of the team’s alleged culture was demonstrably false. As they had revealed three days before Roberts wrote the words quoted above, the three captains had given detailed “eyewitness accounts,” including DNA samples, which they provided voluntarily; and the players’ attorneys were begging Mike Nifong to meet with them so they could show him the evidence that proved no crime occurred. To this day, the Times has never run a correction of Roberts’ false statements, nor has Roberts explained why she elected to ignore the captains’ statements that they had fully cooperated with authorities.

In her March 31, 2006 column, Roberts’ attack on the team’s alleged “culture” focused exclusively on the claim that the players’ “culture” prevented “snitching” and thereby explained why the crime hadn’t yet been solved.

Roberts’ description of the team’s alleged culture contained no mention of the players’ alleged (a) misogyny; or (b) racism.

Incredibly, in a section of her interview with Deadspin that reporter Drew Magary did not flag in his post, Roberts appeared to defend her March 2006 column’s false description of the team’s alleged “culture”:

2.) Racists & Misogynists

Another regular pattern of the Mendacity Tour involved Roberts making a renewed character attack against the lacrosse players, suggesting they were racists, sexists, or both.

Roberts, in fact, started viewing the case through these prisms only when she penned her second column on the case, which came two days after reports that all DNA tests were negative. These reports, of course, strongly suggested that the crime Roberts was so certain had occurred on March 31, 2006 had, in fact, never taken place. Rather than issue a mea culpa, Roberts decided to double down and shift her line of attack against the players—quite like the Group of 88 was in the process of doing at Duke. By the time she wrote her final column on the case (March 2007) she was attacking the earlier version of herself, or people who had claimed that “the alleged crime and culture are intertwined.” The Selena Roberts of 2007, unlike the Selena Roberts of 2006, claimed to be interested only in a high-minded critique of the team’s culture—such as, she wrote, the fact that “apparently, no player could hold his own beer because public urination was an issue.”

That “critique” required Roberts to ignore the only comprehensive investigation of the team’s “culture” that had occurred. The report of the Coleman Committee all but completely refuted Roberts’ claim that the lacrosse players exhibited a “Lord of the Flies” regime in Durham. Is it Roberts’ standard journalistic practice to ignore evidence that contradicts her preferred thesis, or did she just follow this course in her writings on the lacrosse case?

While the Mendacity Tour ignored evidence that contradicted Roberts’ revised cultural critique, Roberts was equally busy inventing evidence to sustain the critique. She claimed, for instance, that the players had made “racial slurs” against Mangum and Kim Roberts—when, in fact, one player responded with a racial slur to Kim Roberts’ racial taunt, outside the house, at a time when most of the team had already departed and when Mangum was passed out in Roberts’ car. Even Selena Roberts can’t claim that one racist in a group of 47 people can justify labeling the entire group’s culture “racist.” So she simply invented evidence, which she then labeled “indisputable,” of multiple players using racial slurs, directed at both women.

But Roberts’ most preposterous assertion, made here to Jim Rome but also made in her Deadspin interview:

Anyone listening to Roberts would believe that the lacrosse players—as part of their “Lord of the Flies” culture—established a website to post titillating photos of Mangum. The photos, of course, were released by defense lawyers to the mainstream media only after Nifong had refused to look at them; and the photos (which were hardly titillating) were released to establish a definitive timeline showing that Mangum’s allegations could not be true. That the media then broadcast the photos, rather than simply describing them or showing the time-stamps, is an indictment of the media’s culture, not the players’.

One other, obvious, point: these “pornographic” pictures hadn’t been released anywhere when Roberts wrote her March 31, 2006 column asserting that the players had engaged in conduct “that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.” So whatever prompted that stunning, craven claim, it wasn’t “pornographic” photos that so concerned Roberts on her Mendacity Tour.

3.) Roberts as a Latter-Day Critic of Nifong

In a new discovery for anyone who followed the case, Roberts presented herself as someone who had used her standing as a powerful national columnist to call Mike Nifong to task. Here was Roberts at WEEI, speaking of the “thousand times” in which she wrote critically about Nifong.

And here she was, even bolder, in an interview with Deadspin:

Unfortunately, Deadspin interviewer Drew Magary didn’t ask Roberts where she had written that Nifong was “awful” or “terrible.” Roberts would have struggled to answer such a question—because she never wrote such words about Nifong, or anything close to them. In print, Roberts mentioned Nifong by name only once, in her March 2007 column, in which she labeled him as “one part district attorney, one part clueless Columbo.” Since Columbo was a TV character who purposely acted in a “clueless” fashion to solve the crime, it’s hard to see this passage as even a mild criticism, much less a description of Nifong as “awful” or “terrible.”

In Selena Roberts’ world, college students who attended a tasteless spring break party “threaten[ed] to belie their social standing as human beings,” while a man who broke myriad rules in trying to send three innocent people to jail for 30 years for a crime that never occurred can be described as “one part district attorney, one part clueless Columbo.” Talk about distorted priorities.

4.) Factual Accuracy? They Were Just Columns!

Responding to on-target criticism from Jason Whitlock—if she made factual errors she refuses to admit in her Times columns, why should we trust her anonymously sourced assertions on A-Rod?—Roberts offered this remarkable excuse:

In any event, as she informed Deadspin, Roberts believes that she had no obligation to run corrections for the factual errors in her columns, since other articles—published at some other point in the case, elsewhere in the New York Times—accurately described the facts that she had gotten 100% wrong.

This is a breathtaking assertion of journalistic (non-)accountability.

5.) Roberts as the “Victim”

In several interviews, Roberts described herself as someone who takes strong positions in her writings, and therefore is perfectly willing to accept strong criticism.

In fact, over and over and over again, she presented herself as a victim—often making unfounded attacks on her critics in the process. Her most insulting such claim came when she accused Jason Whitlock of “homophobia” because he posited an ideological motive (her beliefs as a “strong feminist”) for her errors of fact and interpretation on the lacrosse case.

Meanwhile, here Roberts was in the Deadspin interview, using a tried and true tactic of the Group of 88:

I asked Deadspin editor A.J. Daulerio if Roberts had mentioned filing any police reports about this alleged harassment; he said he didn’t know. (In the interview, Deadspin columnist Drew Magary allowed Roberts to make the assertion without requesting corroboration.)

Victim Roberts also suggested her critics were cut from the same cloth as obnoxious Duke basketball fans, who taunt their opponents during games (without ever explaining, of course, how that interpretation could be reconciled with how many at Duke not only never defended the players, but acted as if the players were certainly guilty; and how many of her critics, like me, have no connection to Duke at all):

And a final example of the Roberts-as-martyr rationalizations, a suggestion that this conspiracy of pro-Duke activists had made her a "chosen one" while letting off the hook other journalists who behaved irresponsibly:

In fact, I suspect that if Duff Wilson, or Andrew Cohen, or John Feinstein, or Samiha Khanna wrote a book relying almost exclusively on anonymous sources, commenters would call into question their credibility based on their error-prone reporting on the lacrosse case. But, since the end of the lacrosse case, none of those “journalists” have written such a book.

Demonizing critics rather than addressing their specific complaints was a consistent tactic in the Mendacity Tour.

6.) MSM: Giving Roberts a Pass

Perhaps one reason why Roberts lashed out against Jason Whitlock is that Whitlock stood apart from the crowd in the MSM. For the most part, Roberts interviewers either ignored the credibility problems posed by her performance in the lacrosse case (Bob Costas, Dan Patrick) or lobbed up softballs to her, as this post from Craig Henry discussed.

Unfortunately, this pattern even carried over to the blogosphere. At Deadspin, Drew Magary brought up the fact that Roberts’ March 2006 column had contained the false claim none of the players had cooperated with police. Incredibly, Magary then threw Roberts a lifeline (which she eagerly grabbed), suggesting that she was only relying on the statement of the DA. The only problem with Magary’s excuse: three days before her March 2006 column appeared, the captains had released a statement with this information, and their statement had been reiterated by their lawyers the next day. Was Magary really suggesting that it was OK for Roberts either not to have noticed the captains' statement; or for her to have willfully ignored the information?

For good measure, at another point in the interview, Magary described the members of the lacrosse team as “assholes.” No push-back to Roberts’ ever-shifting cultural critique would be forthcoming from him.

7.) Slandering Seligmann

Finally, perhaps the most extraordinary element of the entire Mendacity Tour came in Roberts’ interview with WEEI. In her talk with the Boston radio station, Roberts—as she had on several other occasions during the Tour—declined to apologize for anything she had written.

The host then asked Roberts about whether she at least felt regret for including Reade Seligmann in her campaign of character assassination. Surprised that anyone could think she might have been interested in such a fact, Roberts quickly interjected that she “didn’t write about” the fact that Seligmann was shown on an ATM video at the time of the alleged “crime.” But, she added, she had no problem with what she did write about the members of the team—including Seligmann. She claimed that quotes from her columns had been taken “out of context,” but refused to say how:

One thing the National Mendacity Tour clearly established: Selena Roberts has no shame.


roper said...

Does S. Roberts still carry a Sports Illustrated by-line? If so, all should contact S-I with a refusal to purchase any S-I product until S-I has dissociated itself from the despicable Roberts.

Under our system, Roberts has the freedom to write whatever slime her preconceived prejudices compel, but she has no reason to expect protection from boycot by those appalled by her repugnant behavior.

And neither should her sponsors, including S-I, expect customers to condone continued association with the odious Roberts.

I have already written Sports Illustrated with my views and encourage others to follow suit.

William L. Anderson said...

Roberts really has become a caricature of herself and the New York media. These are mediocre people, the "Salieris" of journalism who protect each other and are full of self-congratulations.

I remember someone referring to "The New York Review of Each Others' Books," and thinking that was spot on. One reason I stopped subscribing to Sports Illustrated was that the writing had become so self-righteous and mediocre that it no longer was worth the money. Roberts fits in perfectly with that crowd.

jamil hussein said...

Good rule of thumb is that "if you read it on newspaper, it must be false".

journalism in this country is dead. It consists of like-minded Gang88-like narrative based activists. This is hardly a surprise, given what is taught in academia.

For example, British newspapers are today the ones you should read for news relating to politics. US newspapers are basically just a branch of current political party in power and its far-left wing.

Luckily, various "fairness doctrines" cannot ban UK newspapers (or at least it would be difficult to block the IP addresses) from the US.

Gary Packwood said...

This posting is a good way to teach youngsters how to spot someone is who both intellectually lazy and untruthful.

First you point out Selina Roberts borrows from the Burger King Mini Burger advertising play book where she then creates a narrative about 'culture' which ...she repeats over and over and over...just like the Mini Burger commercials.

But you have to see her actually do it over and over to really 'get' what she is doing.

Thanks KC for providing the opportunity for us to see her spreading the propaganda time after time after time. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Just imagine all the True Believers across the country adjusting their 'narrative' to fit what Selina Roberts and others spew forth day after day after day on cable TV.

It didn't work well at Duke University however as undergraduates at Duke come from families that reject the 'culture' of lies and are the antithesis of intellectually lazy.


But, Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister, would have loved Selina Roberts and the availability of cable TV for HIS many narratives.

Anonymous said...

GP: Spot on.

Goebbels operated on the belief that if you told the people the same thing often enough, it would be believed whether it was the ruth or not. This is the same manner in which Selena Roberts operates - though she is by no means the only one who subscribes to this credo. And, when caught out, Ms. Roberts and others then again in the default position - revisionist history of the worst kind. Though the Public Editor did admit that there were problems with the NY Times reporting of the Duke case - that was as much as a rebuke that the Grey Lady was willing to give. Thus, there will be those (Ms. Roberts and her supporters) who will continue to spout their version of the events and their (the reports) reporting of said events.

Anonymous said...

You guys just don't get it. Ms Roberts would never lie, so whatever she said must be true. She's one of the "good" people whose motives are pure (Like sell more books) So don't be so judgemental. And stop with those pesky facts, they get in the way of a good narrative.

a Nice NJ Guy said...

Clearly, Ms. Roberts is the Queen of Hearts - "The words mean exactly what I choose them to mean" (Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll).

But, to be fair to the woman, we must be sure to read her condemnations of the other dozen and a half Duke groups that had strippers perform. Only then will we have a fair evaluation of Ms. Roberts' insight and honesty. Certainly, no honesty is evidenced in her reporting of the Lacrosse Hoax.

becket03 said...

The whole "team culture" argument as Roberts presents it has always been specious. The "Lord of the Flies" take on the attitude of team members towards each other is ludicrous.

Some may remember that I took a particular interest in the case and eventually found my way to DIW because my sister lives down the block from the Finnertys. I have a pretty good grasp of the dynamics that become operative when a crisis hits such families.

The first response is a panicked, but focused, assessment of the LEGAL situation, an analysis of how best to position the family member to protect him in the criminal justice system, which calls for reaching out to legal counsel. It's absurd to suggest that these kids would place a higher value on team tribal loyalties than on the advice and entreaties -- and demands -- of their parents. It never happened that way.

Roberts seems to confuse studious jocks at an admittedly tasteless and tacky party with hardcore gangbangers just out of lockup. She has a poor understanding of American culture in general, and middle class culture in particular. She needed to find a way to assign "arrogance" and "unwarranted privilege" to these kids, and chose "team culture" as the vehicle. It's just florid rhetoric with no foundation in the underlying facts.


Big Daddy Drew said...

You're right about all my failures to follow up on some of the answers Roberts gave me when I interviewed her. I did the best I could to query every way I could about her writing on the case, but I didn't know enough about the case to rebut her at every turn, as you have here. (I, of course, am whatever the opposite of a journalist is.) Even if I had, I'm betting that probably wouldn't have caused her to change her opinion. But I did try my best without getting downright dickish to her about it.

For the record, I still enjoy making fun of lacrosse players. That'll never change.

Anonymous said...

I wrote to the editors of SI asking why Ms. Roberts still has a job. They sniffed that they would refer my inquiry about one of their "senior writers" to the editorial board (or something). It's gonna take more than me, fellas!


Jim in San Diego said...

re: several commentators analogy with Goebbels' propaganda tactics:

One advantage authoritarian regimes have, and need, is a monopoly on the sources of information. Goebbels had it. Selena Roberts and her ilk, do not.

We must be very, very grateful for this blog, and others like it, monitored by dedicated reporters obsessed by those "pesky facts that get in the way of a good narrative"

This is the future, thank goodness. It gives us a reason to hope.

Jim Peterson

Debrah said...

I'm tired of Selena.

And using Goebbels is a grotesque analogy.

Similar to a few analogies made recently about other subjects.

Selena Roberts doesn't possess personal power.

Her power is the media machine on which she rides.

Anonymous said...

Who would even buy the book? It is a piece of fiction. This is a display that are media is controlled by a few people, just based on the facts she was able to get so much airtime on sports radio. I would figure many hosts wanted nithing to do with her but were powerless to blackball her.

Anonymous said...

The Goebbels analogy is hardly false. Goebbels "perfected the Big Lie which is the principle that a lie, if audacious enough and repeated oftedn enough wil be believed by the masses". (Wikipedia). Selena Roberts is just one of a number who repeated lies about the lacrosse team and about the three men accused. It was the constant repetition of such lies (that the team had to be forced to give their DNA; that they were hooligans; that they constituted a thin blue line that refused to countenance a snitch; that they engaged in repeated racial epithets, etc) that ratcheted the atmosphere in Durhan that March, April, and May. The antisemitism that existed in Germany in the 1930's was manipulated by the cartoons, newspapers, signs that all were encouraged by Goebbels. While Selena Roberts does not have the position of Information Minister of the US, as a lead writer at first The New York Times and now Sports Illustratedgives her a wide audience to influence. The books tours that she participates in gives her a platform (and I would argue one in which she is little challenged for her comments) to further spew her view of the lacrosse issue.

No justice, no peace said...

I've spent the past three years decoding the Duke University mission statement and believe this is very, very close...

"What a blessing it would be if we could open and shut our ears as easily as we open and shut our eyes!" - G. C. LICHTENBERG

Anonymous said...

Is Roberts a Communist?

No justice, no peace said...

inre; 2:00 p.m. Beckett03

"...The first response is a panicked, but focused, assessment of the LEGAL situation, an analysis of how best to position the family member to protect him in the criminal justice system, which calls for reaching out to legal counsel..."

Of course Duke administrators agree with your assessment. This is what makes Duke leadership's actions so egregious. They told their own students NOT to call their parents. They proactively counseled them not to secure legal counsel. Aren't some of them attorneys? Wasn't it the Dean of Students, Sue Wasiolek, who instructed them not to contact their parents?

Can someone please remind me about something? Didn't they have some or all of their very own Duke students meet with an attorney that was presented in a neutral fashion, but who if fact was paid by Duke?

Why anyone would send a child to Duke is beyond me. Astonishingly, even if ALL of the leadership was replaced there is absolutely no guarantee or evidence that supports the position that they are capable of hiring anyone better.

Anonymous said...

While comparing phoney personalities, how about the likenesses of R. Brodhead and S. Roberts? Both have a mission to change the :culture". Both lie without remorse. Both travel extensivelyin attempts to sell themselves as worthgy of our attention. Neither can tell the same "tale" in the same way becausae they cannot seem to remember which falsehoods they have told to which individuals.

Both play the role of "victim". Unfortunately, they play this role rather poorly.Neither is sypathetic. Both are sadf human beings.

Each has "outed" him/herself. S. Roberts wants us to know she is a lesbien. R. Brodhead wants us to know that he is inexperienced with complex situations.

Both are pathetic.

No justice, no peace said...

Ward Connerly never met Selena Roberts..."...As the percentage of Asians has skyrocketed, there is no question that UC administrators and social engineers on the UC faculty have become increasingly alarmed and feel a sense of obligation to do something to reverse the direction of UC's rapidly growing Asian student population; and, clearly, the only way to reduce the Asian presence is to place less emphasis on academic achievement...,"

"..There is one truth that is universally applicable in the era of "diversity," especially in American universities: an absolute unwillingness to accept the verdict of colorblind policies. Until that fact changes, UC and other American institutions will continue trying to fix that which is not broken, to achieve their arrogant version of "diversity," by discriminating against those "dull" Asians, such as two of my grandchildren whose mother is half-Vietnamese..."

If you've never heard or read Ward Connerly you should. He's the president of the American Civil Rights Institute and a former University of California Regent. He get's it and realizes the damage done when one plays the victim card.

By the way, the reference that Connerly never met Roberts harkens back to a Will Rogers claim that he never met a man he didn't like. At the apex of the Texas/Oklahoma rivalry, when Darrell Royal and Barry Switzer were coaching, a bumper sticker emerged that said, "Will Rogers never met Barry Switzer".

Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant dissection of Roberts' journalism by Professor Johnson. How does Roberts continue to get away with this? Sports Illustrated should be ashamed.

gwallan said...

"There's glory for you!"
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,' " Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
"The question is, " said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty. "which is to be master—that's all."

Tim G said...

This is another example of what I have believed for months now. The libel and slander charges against the media will not go away because of the statute of limitations. They will not be able to resist repeating their story, therefore slandering them again.

One Spook said...

I've just returned from a long trip abroad and missed most of May, so I greatly appreciate the update.

And, I'm pleased to see KC use his great skills to parse the deceitful arguments of Selena Roberts who, along with Wendy Murphy and a few others, are poster children for most all of what is wrong with American journalism and media today.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not believe that any media company or any columnist or reporter is a defendant in lawsuits arising from the lacrosse hoax. This is unfortunate, but there has been discussion here about how difficult it is for anyone to sue the media for slander or libel.

That sad fact makes it even more important that a careful and accurate "on the record" analysis of the patent dishonesty in Robert's reporting on the lacrosse hoax be accomplished; thank you for that KC!

And was anyone surprised when, at the moment she came under scrutiny for her lies and deceit, Roberts immediately played the "lesbian card?" As pathetic and cowardly as that move was, it is entirely consistent with the same "protected class" behavior exhibited by The New York Times in its treatment of Jayson Blair --- granting him a "free pass" and immunity from criticism and sanction by an editor who wrote that Blair "should not be writing for the Times."

A dishonest, unprofessional hack like Selena Roberts should not be writing for Sport Illustrated or any legitimate publication, anywhere.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

One Spook

Your comment about the media and their seeming exemption from scrutiny about their negligence and probable malice all stems from Hugo Black.

One of the many evils visited on us by lawyers is Black's doctrine that "public figures" are not protected by the traditional law of defamation. And just who is a "public figure"? About anyone who is newsworthy as defined by "journalists," that is, paid and partisan hacks with an ax to grind and a prediliction for sensationalism. And what is the standard applied to a "journalist" when writing about a "public figure"? Nothing must be written that is "knowingly false" or "in reckless disregard of the truth."

It is almost impossible to prove that someone wrote something that was "knowingly false" or "in reckless disregard of the truth" when written. Black and his kind created a privilege for journalists to lie with virtual impunity about everyone else. This shows contempt for the intention of the Founders, who saw no conflict between freedom of the press and the traditional law of defamation. (When the Founders did want to carve out an exemption from the traditional law of defamation, they created a privilege clearly, as when they wrote that a member of Congress speaking in Congress cannot be held answerable in "any other place," meaning any court of law.)

For those reading this blog who are not as aged as I, the traditional law of defamation imposed responsibility on a reporter AFTER PUBLICATION for the forseeable effects of his or her writing if untrue. Truth, however, was an absolute defense by anyone against a claim of defamation by anyone else. A reporter was not given special latitude to lie, and the rest of the population was not at the mercy of every deceitful reporter's skill in providing a patina of plausibility to lies. Before Black, a reporter was protected only by reporting truthfully. After Black, the onus is on the victim of journalistic abuse to prove that the partisan hack "knowingly" lied. Selena Roberts is precisely and forseeably the kind of yeast infection attracted to reporting as a result of this inane legal decision.


Debrah said...

"Selena Roberts is precisely and forseeably the kind of yeast infection attracted to reporting as a result of this inane legal decision."............

Please stop employing this kind of misogynistic dialogue if you ever expect to convince the MSM that they are in error.

I'm certainly no rabid feminist.

May I offer as proof that I still believe that the man should be the major breadwinner for a successful relationship?


Just don't resort to Selena's old "victim and abuser" narratives.

Debrah said...

This is a Selena interview with Bob Costas.

Anonymous said...

I am 51 years old and have been reading Sports Illustrated since age 10.

I recently did not renew my subscription. Why? Selena Roberts.

gwallan said...


Roberts has used both her gender and sexual preference as a shield against rightful criticism. She has engaged in extraordinary misandry over a long period of time.

Lost in amongst all the race related angst of the Duke farce is an extroardinary sexism.

As one of the primary peddlers of this sexism she has lost any right to the form of protection you would offer her.

Debrah said...

TO "gwallan"--

I know.

I shouldn't be so sensitive should I?


Anonymous said...

Sexism is at the core of Roberts writings. To ignore the misandry is to miss the world view from which she writes.

Anonymous said...

To 1:38AM: Mighty fine idea. I have just cancelled my subscription to Sports Illustrated and for the same reason, Selena Roberts.

Having listened to her attempts to justify her lies in the various segments provided by Professor Johnson and the segment on the Bob Costas Show, I am convinced that she cannot discern truth from falsehood and/or she simply refuses to be truthful in order to promote her new book.

She refers frequently to a "litmus test" she says she used on her ananymous sources in the A - Rod book. Has anyone asked her to define or explain the "litmus test" she used when she decided to to "convict" the LAX players from the gitgo in her NYT articles?

a Nice NJ Guy said...

Two points on Ms. Selena Roberts :

1) The Amazon reviews show 21 5-star and 35 1-star ratings, plus 7 more in the middle.

Spot checking the 5-star, it seems the reviewers have ONLY commented on this one book. Many of the 1-star reviewers are regulars.

The 1-star reviews are generally "I hate A-Rod, but this book is crap".

The 5-star reviews follow "this is the greatest literature since Guttenberg invented the printing press".

2) Sure, it's worthwhile to have her YouTube lies linked, especially with the rapier KC commentary on them. BUT, is it truly necessary to show the image of her lying face on each and every one? Can't we just skip the photographs ?

jamil hussein said...

Anybody familiar with this book?

The Duke Lacrosse Case: A Documentary History and Analysis of the Modern Scottsboro (Paperback)
by Randolph Parrish (Author)

Product Description
History and social analysis of the Duke lacrosse case, retold in part from original documents; compared and contrasted with the social history of the Scottsboro trials.

Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (May 28, 2009)

JMF said...

This is my first time on the site. You just owned her. Ouch!

In other news, no one is talking enough about what the whole scandal means in the larger context - seriously.

Anonymous said...

"The Duke Lacrosse Case: A Documentary History and Analysis of the Modern Scottsboro " (Paperback)

This book was researched and written by a very knowledgeable author. Believe it will be well-worth the time to read it.

One Spook said...

jamil hussein writes @ 2:04 PM:

"The Duke Lacrosse Case: A Documentary History and Analysis of the Modern Scottsboro (Paperback)
by Randolph Parrish (Author)"

Randolph Parrish appears to be the person who has been a longtime commenter at Liestoppers, posting as "Quasimodo."

See this URL:

He also wrote an article on the Duke case here:

And, he wrote an early (Dec '07) Op-Ed about the case, here:

One Spook

One Spook said...

Jeff M @ 8:02 PM writes:

Selena Roberts is precisely and forseeably the kind of yeast infection attracted to reporting as a result of this inane legal decision." ---

Well said and not even remotely misogynistic, given that yeast infections do not discriminate by Race, Class, OR Gender.

And while I respect your astute argument about the impact of "Black's doctrine," Jeff, I tend to favor legal opinions that err on the side of protecting the freedoms of those who write and report news (freedom of the press) and those who teach under a concept of what is often termed "academic freedom."

That said, I also believe it is incumbent upon the media and the academy to do a better job of "policing their own" in selecting, supervising, and promoting their own, and then, effectively sanctioning the miscreants among them.

To me, this is where the media and the academy have failed, and it is that failure that has contributed to the decline of both professions.

Imagine for a moment if Selena Roberts had to face a sanctioning body of her professional peers armed with the information KC Johnson has compiled about her, as Nifong had to do in his bar hearing?

Although the Nifong hearing was a rare event even in the legal profession, I think we all agree that such hearings should happen more often, and similar peer hearings need to be a part of the media and the academy as well.

That would be change I could believe in ...

One Spook

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 6/3/09 11:33 AM said...

...Has anyone asked her to define or explain the "litmus test" she used when she decided to "convict" the LAX players from the gitgo in her NYT articles?
I suspect she used the eight-eight infamous expect gang known as 'some-say' and their friends at Duke and Durham as her litmus test.

Some say they had been waiting in the shadows a very long time planning to catch a group of privileged white males on their wrong foot.

And that JMF is the larger context that people don't want to talk about. There are other groups of Some-Say folks at other prestigious universities waiting not-so-patiently to catch another group of privileged white males on their wrong foot.

Support FIRE!

Anonymous said...

@ One Spook

Thank you for your kind comments. As you pointed out, I was certainly not trying to insult yeast, female or otherwise, who seem remarkably unbigoted. Indeed, I am quite uncertain whether or not yeast are sexually differentiated. Nor, as other have said, was I the one to introduce Ms. Roberts's gender or sexual preferences into a discussion of her trustworthiness. I find liars highly distasteful, whatever their creed, skin color, income level, education level, national origin, sex, or erotic inclination.

Now you do raise an interesting argument: should special privileges that do not pertain to freedom of speech pertain to freedom of the press? If you follow Black's argument, then libel and slander should not pertain to what anyone says because freedom of speech is just as much a constitutionally protected right as is freedom of the press. And what about the common law protection of ordinary human beings like the LAX boys to be protected from unwarranted scorn and obloquoy? (Spelling? My, I am lazy) Black's argument is that the protections of the common law, the result of centuries of experience just as the provisions of the Constitution are the result of centuries of experience, simply do not exist unless specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

This is, I fear, simply bad history and bad construction. Indeed, Black had no need to go there because the Bill of Rights as originally written pertained to federal law, not state law. The question of how far the 14th Amendement was intended to extend the bill of rights to the individual states is hardly clear cut.

Admittedly, the preceding argument can be construed as legalistic (though I am obviously no lawyer) or, even worse for many, antiquarian. The US Constitution may be as living a document as the British, and its words consequently mean nothing: the Constitution means whatever the government enforces, and the Constitution is a fig leaf for nothing but the power that grows from the barrel of the government's gun. True enough, but is that as it should be?

Perhaps there is a middle ground: the words should be attended to, but with a care to ensure their relevance to contemporary issues and experience. The common law did provide a middle ground: truth was an absolute defense, whether words were spoken or printed. and (with the exception of slander per se) the remedy was for actually provable damages, not the modern fashion for any damages that you can happen to persuade a jury are necessary "to send a message." You suggest a different middle ground: those with special privileges must police the use of those privileges to prevent abuse. But of course, under Black's doctrine, no one has any legal power to act as the police over journalists, not even their siblings of the press: the privilege is absolute. The result is, inevitably, Roberts.


jamil hussein said...

Great article, related to the previous post about race quotas in academia.

June 2, 2009
"Study, Study, Study" - A Bad Career Move

By Ward Connerly
"As I listened to his proposal, I asked him why he considered it important to tinker with admissions instead of just letting the chips fall where they may. In an unguarded moment, he told me that unless the university took steps to "guide" admissions decisions, UC would be dominated by Asians. When I asked, "What would be wrong with that?" I got an answer that speaks volumes about the underlying philosophy at many universities with regard to Asian enrollment.

The UC administrator told me that Asians are "too dull - they study, study, study." He then said, "If you ever say I said this, I will have to deny it."

becket03 said...

Here's a video ( that's all the rage on campus. The rap is a mega hit and the kid Roth a god. It seems debauchery in college "culture" wasn't invented by the LAX kids, and it didn't end after Selena Roberts weighed in to condemn it.

Anonymous said...

I dumped SI about a year ago, after being a subscriber for around 2 decades. The last straw was Roberts' getting the last page column, formerly written by actual sportswriters. I just let my subscription run out, and they didn't even put in a token effort to get me back. Oh well.

Comparing a current issue of SI with one from past decades - how the mighty have fallen....

Gary Packwood said...

becket03 6/3/09 :: 11:41 PM said...

...Here's a video ( that's all the rage on campus. The rap is a mega hit and the kid Roth a god. It seems debauchery in college "culture" wasn't invented by the LAX kids, and it didn't end after Selena Roberts weighed in to condemn it.
Having twenty plus years behind me working with college students please allow me to offer an interpretation of that video within three grouping of undergraduate students ...for the sake of brevity.

Group # 1: Third/Fourth Generation Successful College Students:

The video is a superb high level statement of irony and sarcasm mocking Anger Studies professors and naive campus ministers who actually believe such behavior is common or real or representative of anything. The video very nearly moves Irony up to an art form as did Prince Harry when he appeared in the Nazi uniform.

Group # 2: Students who are 'grinds', shy or citizen of a country which is not a member of the European Union.

The video is either rubbish or hyperbole and they are not sure which...and don't much care as no one is going to clean up after such a party in the first place. {flash back} Same was true for campus Mozilla (oil) parties many years ago. They were far and few between.

Group # 3: College students who struggle with college math, English and writing and are usually first generation college students.

The video is TRUTH but apparently underground as they can't find such a party even after looking for six months. After all, they say... Anger Studies Professors talk about such parties as do the secretaries and the people who work at the Women's Center and the main office of campus Student Affairs. And besides...The Campus Cultural Initiative and Selena Roberts are opposed to such parties. KEEP LOOKING and TALKING. We'll find it sooner or later.

For parents and faculty who are reading this, do you embrace Seinfeld type Irony and Sarcasm as a legitimate form of communication? If so, you broke it and now get to FIT IT!

And for college students reading this, are you familiar with the following lyrics from a song by Saosin? Look closely at the line ...The Lies She's Been Fed!

She's just like him. Spoiled rotten, confused by the lies she's been fed. And she's searching for no one but herself. Her eyes turn to green and she seems to be happy, but she is hurt.

People who work with undergraduate students on any campus need to have some understanding of undergraduate college students, one can only hope. And that is especially true if you are going to try and tease out truth about the campus culture in this post Seinfeld age of Irony and Sarcasm.

Enough with Irony, Sarcasm and Clever Claps!

I vote for Common Things.

Trust and Commitment.

Debrah said...

Admissions scandal report mentions Duke, among others.

Chris Halkides said...


Anyone who thinks that RCD were part of a 'Lord of the Flies" culture should read Collin's essay on cloning, which may still be posted at Duke. I am not saying that there are any new ethical insights in it, only that it puts to rest the noting that Collin was a wolf "in blazers and Khakis."


Chris Halkides said...

oops, typo: "noting" should be "notion."

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Anonymous said...

From my memory of the original Duke University case this "Jayson Blair" used the case to get a guy who stood up for the Lacrosse players sacked and she replaced him on the TV show. Now if it were a white man doing this then liberals would get their knickers in a twist.
If you know more with citations that can be found on the internet edit her wikipedia page because it is a hagiographic piece of crap which does not reflect what this drittsekk did.
This is being read over my shoulder and I am told how she got known in Europe.
Pierre van Hooijdonk was called a "Black Bastard" by an opponenet who played for the sports journalists favourite team. Nomention.
A Nigerian player was called a "Fucking Nigger" by an opponent. "Noa I a did a not a" said the racist scumbag. So the press went with the denial. It was revealed it was picked up by an effects microphone. "Itsa alla righta hesa Nigeriana" was the excuse offered and accepted by the press.
Then when English players get jeered in Madrid it is an absolute horror. How can people behave like this they asked and were disgusted by the actions. Not that disgusted when it was their lot doing it.

Picked up 3 talk show bans (one the same show twice! What a pile of worthless muppets!) asking one particular piece of monkey crap to explain himself.

51 year old 40 year former subscriber above is correct. Tell SI was you are cancelling your subscription and they might take action.

They might love their affirmative action assholes but they love $$$ more.