Monday, May 31, 2010

ESPN: "Questions Remain"

[Update, II, 6/1, 6.39pm: For an example of how a publication committed to journalistic integrity might have handled the connection between the lacrosse case and the 2010 championship, take a look at this moving article on the Loftus family from the Syosset Patch. Brothers Dan and Chris were members of the 2006 team; brother Eddie was a member of the Duke championship squad. Their father, Brian, is a retired New York fire captain (not exactly the elitist image upon which lacrosse critics want to focus) who was one of the most courageous voices speaking out against the media crusade against the Duke players in spring 2006.]

[Update, 6/1, 12.01am: ESPN's onslaught against the falsely accused players and their teammates continues. In a column ostensibly hailing the 2010 Duke lacrosse national championship victory, ESPN's Dana O'Neil claims that since 2006, the members of the team found it hard to wear their jerseys, since they "knew" that "the words 'Duke lacrosse' were viewed more as scarlet letters than banners of pride," that "Duke lacrosse equated to scandal and shame." Even though the players were exonerated, "the stigma still existed."

Why? Because, since 2006, "there was, after all, nothing else to associate Duke lacrosse with [emphasis added, sentence-ending preposition in original]."

Original post below.]

Via NewsBusters, an extraordinary item from ESPN anchor Steve Weissman. Introducing highlights to the Duke-Virginia national semifinals (won by Duke), Weissman made the following observation:

“Two of the top lacrosse teams in the country, dealing with two of the worst stories college athletes have faced in recent memory. Just three years ago, the Blue Devils were involved in a devastating scandal in which three players were charged with sexual assault. All three were exonerated, but the questions remain.”

First of all, the obvious error: the Duke so-called “devastating scandal” occurred in 2006, not 2007, as Weissman claimed. And, of course, the strained comparison: in the UVA case, a player on the team has admitted—according to police—repeatedly banging a woman's head against a wall, which left her dead. In the Duke case, people unrelated to the team—the prosecutor, the police, the media, the professoriate—engaged in wrongdoing. Yet Weissman lumps the two episodes together, as “two of the worst stories college athletes have faced in recent memory.”

But by far the most troubling aspect of Weissman’s commentary came in his assertion that “questions remain” about the players’ exoneration. Weissman, it appears, is dissatisfied with the comprehensive inquiry by the North Carolina AG’s office.

So what questions, specifically, does the ESPN reporter have? I e-mailed ESPN’s press office to ask; I received no reply.

Perhaps Weissman was referring to Eric Adelson’s April 11, 2006 ESPN column citing an “anonymous” source who “was present at the hospital on the night of the alleged incident,” and who claimed that Crystal Mangum (this Crystal Mangum, from a photo taken two days later) was “beat up . . . pretty banged up”; that “there were bruises on her face, neck, and arms”; and that there “were injuries to the woman’s pelvic area.”

There are a lot of “questions” that “remain” about that column—chiefly, why ESPN never repudiated it. (I e-mailed Adelson in 2008; he said he stood by the story. I also e-mailed ESPN’s then-ombudsman about the seeming misuse of anonymous sources; she never replied.) As the Attorney General's report made clear, no evidence exists to corroborate the claims of Adelson's single anonymous source—which, as a thread in the old Liestoppers convincingly argued, was probably former Duke Police Officer Sara Falcon.

Is Weissman’s screed now suggesting that the Adelson column represents ESPN’s party line on the lacrosse case?


William L. Anderson said...

Unbelievable. As I have said before, most national reporters have an IQ of about 6. They are good at what they do, provided they stay within a narrow range, but are incapable of serious analysis about anything.

Chris Halkides said...

Will the smear never end?

Anonymous said...

The best revenge is living well. Congrats to Duke on their national championship, and congrats to the lacrosse team's excellent academic record as well. This is one Duke alum that is incredibly proud of these kids. Too bad I don't feel the same way about the administration and the unrepentant gang of 88. The entire hoax was essentially an assault on excellence. It didn't succeed.

Rick said...

The Durham County DA said that Mr. Finnerty, Mr. Seligman and Mr. Evans were "innocent," instead of just "not guilty." So what questions remain?

Anonymous said...

Maybe he'll somehow manage to get the score of today's game right:

Duke 6, Notre Dame 5 (OT).

Yes, it happened. Duke won the national championship. In men's lacrosse. Lowest-scoring championship final ever, thanks to ND's stifling defense and world-class goalie. But a quick (5 seconds) goal in sudden-death overtime decided things.

Stuart McGeady said...

The ESPN announcers just could not shut up about it all weekend.

skwilli said...

I'd send him my second copy of "Until Proven Innocent" if I thought it would do any good. It won't, so I won't. My reply to ESPN can't be reproduced on your blog.

Quasimodo said...

"Will the smear never end?"

It might, if the federal court will ever permit
testimony to be taken under oath as to how the Duke hoax was attempted.

Anonymous said...

While I wish that Crystal and Mike were still in jail, I hope they got to watch the game today.

Gary Packwood said...

Stu Daddy 5/31/10 6:19 PM said...

...The ESPN announcers just could not shut up about it all weekend.
I think you probably hit the nail on the head.

These TV people are 'announcers' playing the lottery in hopes of advancing themselves up into the profession of sports journalism.

But as you said, they are just announcers.

Never Whip a Carousal Horse.

The juice is not worth the squeeze.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised, KC, that you couldn't at least have a single post that simply congratulated the 2010 team on their impressive accomplishment. Is this the only post that's going to reference the championship?

It's another measure of character, you know?

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 8.03:

I don't have future posts plotted out right now, though I'd be surprised if this were the only post that referenced the championship.

Unknown said...

I watched the entire championship game and although there were several references to the cancelled 2006 season, the discussion was very light on details and not once did I hear the words "innocent", "exonerated", or anything of the sort. It is truly a shame that someone without prior knowledge of the hoax could have watched the game and been left with the impression that "something" did indeed "happen"!

Congratulations to the team for a well-deserved championship!

Anonymous said...

I had a bumper sticker made up for my car a long time ago. It reads:
Proud Duke "Hooligan" and shows crossed sticks. I will add another line soon that reads: Proud then, proud now!
Yes, the guys did something stupid and tasteless in hiring strippers and engaging in underage drinking. Yes, some few of them acted like MANY college students....drinking, carousing and being boorish. I do not overlook, condone, or accept that sort of behavior from anybody....including the Dukies. However, the CRIMINAL behavior in 2006 was not in that house and was not committed by the Duke guys.
Someday, Broadhead, the administration and the 88 will get theirs. What goes around, comes around.......and it will.
Hooray for the 2010 CHAMPS!!!

Quasimodo said...

More proof that the lies of 2006 are still damaging the players' reputations:

Baltimore Sun, May 27, 2010

"On sport's biggest weekend, lacrosse again on defensive"
By Jeff Barker


A Duke faculty committee concluded nevertheless that team members had a history of committing "socially irresponsible" acts while drinking — an issue that has also arisen with the Virginia men's team. Many Duke players said they entered the 2007 Final Four at M&T Bank stadium trying to prove to the world that it was wrong about them. . . "

(I don't think this is how the media would write about the Scottsboro boys a few years after their exoneration.)

And this again shows why testimony under oath is so necessary to the complete restoration of their reputations.

Topher said...

To the 8:03, I can't speak for KC, but as I see it this blog is about the case, not the team per se.

It's not a cheerleading blog for the team (although the accomplishments of the team are certainly worth noting) so following the team's schedule, when very few of the current players are related to the case, takes a deserved backseat to KC's logging the continuing smears levied by the media at the 2006 players.

jay said...

A great article by Steve Politi from the NJ Star-Ledger on May 30. Somebody has it right:

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 6/1/10 8:03 AM said...

...I'm a little surprised, KC, that you couldn't at least have a single post that simply congratulated the 2010 team on their impressive accomplishment. Is this the only post that's going to reference the championship?
...It's another measure of character, you know?
Before Anger Studies professors and their friends turned the English language into mush, I placed a considerable amount of value on the concept of character.

Not any more.

The term 'character' when offered up nowadays is a diversion meant to fire up group-think and move the discussion away from the topic at hand and towards those who can scream and holler the loudest for their politically correct agenda.

I'll wait for the Group of 88 and their friends to attempt a 'Top-Kill' of the 2010 NCAA Lacrosse Champions by inserting character into the mix.

My focus is locked on the pending lawsuits and discovery process to include the legal implications for other universities and their host communities.

Anonymous said...

Is Weissman a Communist?

Stuart McGeady said...

The key ESPN sportscasting team was Sean McDonough and Quint Kessenich, who was an All-American and champion goalie for Johns Hopkins. These guys do good work and are knowledgeable veterans.

So it's very clear it was the voice in the earphones telling them to repeat the talking points, especially McDonough who sounded like he was hypnotized into droning a mantra.

Particularly annoying was McDonough reciting how Coach Danowski was the right man at the right time to settle and rebuild a Blue Devil team in disarray following the scandal and cancelled season, and on and on!

What a cheap shot at Coach Pressler, who was an easy scapegoat at the outset in 2006!

Quasimodo said...

Meanwhile, in other noteworthy news, the NC House has passed a bill to require collection of DNA from arrested persons.

"This is a positive step forward to solve cold cases and exonerate the innocent, but we still have more legislative hurdles to clear," [AG] Cooper said after the vote.

No one mentions the 800 lb. elephant in the room--that DNA evidence meant absolutely nothing in NC when the accused were Duke lacrosse players.

Even Cooper, who could--and should--have immediately dismissed the charges against the lacrosse players after he took over the case, on the basis of the DNA evidence alone, still took months to decide to do so--and did not mention the DNA evidence as a reason.

Shouldn't the preface to any bill of this type include a paragraph of apology to those innocent defendants whom NC did not permit to be cleared by DNA?

Topher said...

Stu Daddy,

I don't entirely agree. Pressler got a totally raw deal, and there was talk of killing the program entirely. When the smoke cleared, the school was still being run by the inmates and was not going to hire Pressler back.

Given those facts, I don't see anything anti-Pressler about praising Danowski. He's done a great job stepping into some very difficult circumstances for an incoming coach. In that climate, it would have been easy to "play dead" as a coach, sucking up to the school and not pushing for top achievement. Danowski deserves credit for getting down to business and keeping the expectations high.

Jon Burness is an ass. But Sean McDonough is not Burness.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to all of the Duke Lacrosse players.

Listening to the ESPN reporters droning on, likening Duke's falsely accused former players, and by innuendo all lacrosse players, to the Virginia player who murdered his girlfriend, thus calling them hooligans, makes it clear that either ESPN's reporters are very dim-witted or they don't consider college football, which sports a long list of bad-boy players, to be a collegiate sport.

I'm reminded of an old joke about UNC fans that can be tweaked: what do ESPN reporters call graduates of Duke's lacrosse program? Answer: boss.

Again, congrats.
SC Mom

Anonymous said...

And CONGRATS to the Blue Devils!


Anonymous said...

Geez, I miss you guys. At least Mr. Meehan managed to get the DNA testing correct...if only he had reported it properly.

I am linking to halides1 blog. He has a great post about forensic science and Christiana in the comment section has a link to a terrific Slate article on the same subject: the lack of checks and balances and the HUGE problem with bias in forensic science.

halides1 on forensic error

In case we haven't mentioned it the Amanda Knox case is a stunning miscarriage of justice...worthy of anyone's time and concern.


Anonymous said...

Just as main stream media types dream of Tom Wolfe's Great White Defendant, ESPN and the sports media long for the Criminal White Athlete. Evem better when they can combine the two.

Anonymous said...

More proof of the continuing damage and injury to the Lacrosse players at Duke.

No Justice, No Peace said...

The Pulitzer Prize wining writer, Dorothy Rabinowitz, who also received the 1997 Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for her writing on false sexual abuse charges and who wrote "The Michael Nifong Scandal" has published something today that helps connect some dots.

Her article below compares the injustice of the Duke false charges to the child abuse case.

"The Michael Nifong Scandal"

"...The accused Duke students can be grateful that the case against them has collapsed, and that Mr. Nifong now confronts a serious ethics complaint filed by the North Carolina State Bar. They will never have to face anything like the malignant force which descended on the happy and ambitious Amiraults in 1984, and turned their lives to dust. But Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty have this year had a look into an abyss that has claimed many others, and that is never less than terrorizing. It is a piece of their Duke education they are unlikely to forget."

Ms. Rabinowitz now helps connect the dots and explains why, like alumni distancing themselves from Richard Brodhead, Americans are distancing themselves from Barrack Obama. More relevant she also unintentionally explains why the Klan of 88 and the administration at Duke have shown no remorse or contrition to the false charges they abetted back in 1996.

The Alien in the White House

"...The beliefs and attitudes that this president has internalized are to be found everywhere—in the salons of the left the world over—and, above all, in the academic establishment, stuffed with tenured radicals and their political progeny. The places where it is held as revealed truth that the United States is now, and has been throughout its history, the chief engine of injustice and oppression in the world."

A very good read, by a very insightful writer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, ESPN is all about manufactured consensus not "journalistic integrity".
Repeat the lie,
repeat the lie,
repeat the lie,
repeat the lie ...
and sooner or later you'll have the majority lock stepped into believing.
So what else is new?