Amidst a basically content-free attack on people (including
me) who have reviewed his book negatively, author
William D. Cohan conducted a Q&A
with Joe Coscarelli of New York.
Cohan continued his pattern of
becoming more extreme in his statements about the case than he was in his book. The fisk is
below, from what is described as an edited and condensed transcript prepared by
Q: Why bring this case up again now?
COHAN: . . . One
minute the kids were guilty — there was a rush to judgement — and then there
was a rush to judgment to find Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong guilty of
accusing these innocent kids [As he has
consistently done in his press appearances, Cohan continues to infantilize his
targets; does he consider
all male college
students “kids” or “boys
”?] . . . Aside from just being curious, I wanted
to know what happened myself. In the cool light of day, just gather up
everything I could about what happened, talk to anybody and everyone who would
talk to me, and just start at the beginning.
: This refrain is becoming a broken record, but
for someone with a commitment to “talk to anybody and everyone who would talk
to me,” Cohan was remarkably disinterested in finding key people to talk to.
After all, he didn’t even try to interview the defense attorneys. Or the State
Bar prosecutors. Or the criminal contempt trial prosecutor. Or the senior
prosecutors in the AG’s office who oversaw the case. Or members of the State
Bar’s disciplinary hearing tribunal. Or the judge who presided over the case.
As far as can be determined from a book that declined to
provide endnotes, Cohan interviewed five people (Nifong, Nifong’s lawyer,
Steel, Mangum, and McFadyen) on the record, and quoted from one other person he
allegedly interviewed on a not-for-attribution basis. That’s not very
Cohan also continues to posit a comically false equivalence
regarding an alleged “rush to judgment.” In spring 2006, within a week of the N&O
(almost wholly inaccurate) interview
with Mangum, Selena Roberts published a column suggesting the lacrosse players
were subhuman and Cohan’s friend, John Feinstein, went
on the radio to urge that every member of the team be told by Duke
: “None of you is man enough to come forward and say what
happened. You were witnesses to a crime. We’re shutting down the program and you’re all gone.” That
’s a rush to judgment—for which
Cohan has expressed no concern. Indeed, in his book, he deemed Roberts’ column
was “devastating,” and hailed
as a “world-famous journalist” who was “extremely generous” with
It’s true that by the end of the case, opinion regarding
Nifong was extremely negative. But that’s what happens when a prosecutor is
convicted of lying to a judge and held culpable for 27 of 32 ethics violations,
including withholding exculpatory evidence. It’s not clear how Cohan believes
members of the media should
to such proven prosecutorial misconduct.
COHAN: I respectfully disagree with that. I think a lot of
what I reported in the book [is new], from police reports, to medical reports,
to reports that Duke had done, to email traffic, including an email where one
of the players, Matt
, said [after the party] that he “didn’t split dark wood.”
: To walk through these claims:
- “police reports”: Since Cohan has spent much of the past two weeks complaining about how he didn’t
obtain access to the criminal investigation file (unlike other journalists),
it’s hard to imagine what new material Cohan is even talking about here.
- “medical reports”: Surely Cohan is not reviving his easily
disproved claim that no one before him (not Joe Neff or 60 Minutes or ABC’s Law & Justice Unit or Duff Wilson or even me) had
brought to light the report of former SANE-nurse-in-training Tara Levicy?
It’s true that there has been no disclosure of Mangum’s psychological medical
reports—but Cohan outright denies seeing them. So if not the Levicy report and
not the Mangum files, to what other “medical reports” could he be referring?
- “reports that Duke had done”: These documents have been
publicly available since the time the reports were completed, in 2006 or (in
the case of the Campus Culture Initiative) 2007. They were widely reported on; I did 22 posts on the CCI alone, and Stuart and I extensively commented on the Coleman Committee report, the Bowen/Chambers report, and the CCI report in UPI.
- “email traffic”: It’s true that Cohan
uncovered seven, largely innocuous, e-mails among Duke administrators,
which show the first couple of hours that most of them had heard about the
case. But the only remotely fresh item in the e-mails (which cover a mere two
pages in the book) Cohan quickly rushes over—Dean Sue’s admission that from the
start she, Burness, and Moneta knew that the captains had been “fully
- “including an email where one of the players, Matt Zash, said
[after the party] that he ‘didn’t split dark wood’”: That would be the e-mail whose existence, correctly attributed to Zash, I blogged about on 13
That said: Cohan’s statement about all the new sources he
discovered would be easily verified—or refuted—if he had included endnotes that
listed the specific documents he referenced for quotes or narrative material.
But, of course, he produced no endnotes. Nothing, however, is preventing him
from posting a list of endnotes, as Stuart and I did for UPI
, to his Facebook page or even his twitter account. Will he do
COHAN: I’m not a prosecutor. I don’t have subpoena power. A
lot of records have been sealed, including [North Carolina Attorney General]
Roy Cooper’s records [per North Carolina
law, like all such files, Cohan helpfully doesn’t mention
]. I didn’t seek
to uncover new damning information — I sought to coolly and rationally and
dispassionately tell an amazing story, something that became a national story
on the order of Flight 370 and Bridgegate all combined.
COHAN: . . . Today,
you see consequences of the Duke case. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cy Vance Jr.
dropped the DSK case because of what he saw happened in the lacrosse case.
Maybe there’s some spillover into the Florida State case. It’s a little like
what happened during the financial crisis, like what I’ve said about the crash
of Bear Stearns: Part of the reason it happened was a lack of imagination —
people could not imagine that Bear Stearns going out of business in a week
could actually happen. I think, honestly, I don’t think people could have ever
imagined that this story would have created the passion that exists on all
sides even to this day.
: Cohan cites no reporting to substantiate his
assertions about Cyrus Vance or Florida State. The DSK and Winston cases have
two enormous differences from Duke. First, DSK and Winston have never denied
sexual intercourse occurred; they’ve merely claimed the encounter was
consensual (making for a much murkier case). Second, I’m not aware of anyone
who has claimed that Cyrus Vance or Willie Meggs committed prosecutorial
misconduct in the DSK or Winston cases. Nifong’s prosecutorial misconduct, on
the other hand, is the central element of the lacrosse case.
Q: How is covering Duke as an institution
similar to reporting on Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns?
COHAN: [After describing his work on Goldman Sachs] . . . It
was easier for me to get the cooperation of Goldman Sachs than it was to get
the cooperation of Duke University.
: I’ll take Cohan at his word that he found it more
difficult to report on this case than on Goldman Sachs. (It certainly shows in
his final product.) Perhaps his difficulties stemmed from his scant experience
in reporting on either criminal law or higher education. I’m sure that I would
find it very hard to report on Goldman Sachs, a topic about which I know very
Q: How did being an alum affect the way you covered it?
COHAN: I followed the story where it lead. Unlike others who
have written about it, I spent four years there. I understand some aspects of
the university and Durham — it’s part of my DNA. I understand Duke’s ambition
as a university. I understand what the “work hard, play hard” culture that I
wrote about in the book is all about. I understand that firsthand.
Unlike Cohan, I
attended Harvard, so I would concede that I lack “firsthand” experience
as an undergrad at Duke. But his statement is odd, in two respects.
First, Cohan has gone to great lengths, in multiple
appearances, to suggest he (unlike others, seemingly a reference to Stuart and
me) approached the case dispassionately. Yet this was a case about an
institution that he’s now describing as “part of [his] DNA.” How many people
can cover something that’s part of their DNA—part of themselves—
“coolly” or “dispassionately”? (By contrast,
before the start of the lacrosse case, I had no connection to Duke of any type,
and had been to Durham twice, and Duke once, in my life.)
Second, for someone with such important first-hand
experience with Duke, Cohan seemed remarkably ill-informed about the
institution as it existed in 2006. In his C-SPAN interview, he said that he had
never heard of stripper parties when he was at Duke; yet as Stuart and I
reported in UPI
, there were 20 of
them at Duke in the 2005-2006 alone. Moreover, Duke’s faculty had dramatically
changed between Cohan’s time and 2006, thanks largely to the efforts of
“diversity” and race/class/gender hires promoted so heavily by then-provost
Q: You quote District Attorney Mike Nifong as
saying that “something” happened to Crystal Mangum in that bathroom. What do
you believe happened at the party?
COHAN: The first thing that has to be said, and it’s apropos
of Errol Morris and his new film about Donald Rumsfeld, is that it’s a known
unknown. Because there was no trial and because Roy Cooper’s investigation was
secret and he’s not making it public, we’re not going to know what happened in
that bathroom. Part of the settlement with Duke was that these three kids are
not going to talk about it.
The question is, do you believe that all of that was made up
and was all a fiction and that nothing even remotely like any of that ever
happened? That it was all just made up and everyone was in on the conspiracy?
Or that, as I like to say, something happened that none of us would be proud
At the blog, UNC-Wilmington’s Chris
had an excellent, almost poignant, response to Cohan’s musings.
Chris wrote, “This is
a standard response to many people who draw attention to a putative wrongful
conviction or accusation, and the nicest thing I can say about the response is
that it is intellectually lazy. How does any wrongful conviction happen? Either
it is the result of one person’s actions or it is the result of many people’s
actions, and it is not as if conspiracies to commit illegal or immoral acts
I would add the following: one of the most chilling aspects
of the lacrosse case is how few
plus an erratic Mangum—it took to sustain a case that could have resulted in
innocent people being sent to jail for most of their adult lives. Nifong, of
course, was the vital actor here, since without his unethical core, the case
would never have proceeded. But the other three people who set ethics aside did
so only in specific instances, and for their own individual reasons (Gottlieb,
the anti-Duke police officer, in consenting to the rigged photo array and
producing the “straight-from-memory” report; Meehan, the lab director on the
make, eager for new business with Durham County, in conspiring with Nifong to
produce a document that intentionally limited the rest results reported; and
Levicy, the SANE nurse who believed accusers never lie, in, months after the
fact, changing her version of Mangum’s story, seemingly to accommodate the
negative DNA tests).
Indeed, the conspiracy theorist in this case is Cohan—who
has wildly hinted at a dark conspiracy uniting the defense attorneys, the State
Bar, and Roy Cooper, helped along by money from “Northeastern law firms,” all
apparently focused on “railroad[ing
the ethically pristine Nifong and lying to the public about what really
happened in the case.
Q: How has what’s happened to Crystal Mangum since
affected how this case will be remembered?
COHAN: [Deep sigh.
] Obviously Crystal proved herself
repeatedly to be not the most reliable witness of what happened to her.
Obviously she suffered something traumatic that night in the bathroom. She was
clearly traumatized. Whether she was able to remember what is unclear. She told
a lot of different stories at first, and then settled down into one version of
the story. Then in December of 2006, she could no longer be sure she was
assaulted by a penis, so they dropped the rape charge. When I saw her five
years later, she told me a different version of events that included the use of
a broomstick to assault her. She’s not the most reliable witness, but she
obviously still believes something happened to her and that she was assaulted
in that bathroom. Again, I am trying to be an unbiased, nonjudgmental,
dispassionate investigative reporter of this incident.
“She told a lot of different stories at first,
and then settled down into one version of the story.” This assertion is nothing
short of astonishing. Given
Cohan’s penchant for whitewashing Mangum’s tales, I had revisited this issue
two days ago.
But until now, he’s never made such a breathtaking claim
about Mangum’s versions of events—essentially repeating the false testimony
that Gottlieb gave to the grand jury. A quick summary: Mangum never told the
same story twice. She never came close to telling the same story twice.
“Deep sigh?” Has Mangum become Cohan’s “victim,” as she
once was Nifong’s
? Perhaps Mangum still does believe something; and perhaps
the answer to why she so believes lies in her psychological records.
Q: Is there a racial aspect to
these cases when the athletes accused are white men, as opposed to black men?
COHAN: I don’t know whether it’s
a white or black issue. The more dispositive fact here is that, for better or
worse, these defendants, these three players, were able to afford incredibly
skilled attorneys. Their attorneys did an incredible job. They exploited every
opening. They took advantage of every mistake that Mike Nifong made, and he
made them. And every twist and turn in the Crystal Mangum story, and she
provided plenty of fodder. These attorneys earned every penny they got. But the
justice system is not supposed to be able to be subverted by clever, well-paid
attorneys. The system is not supposed to work this way. I’m not saying the
outcome of this is wrong; I’m saying the diversion of the process can’t be a
Over at Volokh Conspiracy, Jonathan
Adler had an excellent post
on a repulsive Republican Governors’
Association ad targeting Vince Shaheen, a trial lawyer who’s the Democratic
nominee for governor in South Carolina. Cohan’s comment above channels the
RGA’s criticism of defense attorneys for simply doing their job. I suspect that
(much like the RGA spokesperson quoted in Adler’s piece) if Cohan were ever
arrested for a crime that he didn’t commit (much less never occurred!), he’d
have a quite different take on the role played by defense attorneys in the
That said, Cohan’s absolutely correct that “the system is
not supposed to work this way.” The system is not supposed to feature a prosecutor
who makes a string of ethically improper statements—that continued over the
course of many months—whose chief purpose, as the Disciplinary Hearing
Commission concluded, was to advance his political interests. The system is not
supposed to feature a prosecutor who joins with a lab director and, in
violation of two provisions of state law, fails to produce a report that
delineates any DNA test results. And the system surely is not supposed to
feature a prosecutor who lies to a judge in open court.
By the way, because of the nature of bankruptcy law, the
prosecutor who engaged in this misconduct continues to collect a monthly pension—financed by the
taxpayers—that exceeds what many sole-income households in North Carolina gross
in a month.
But defense attorneys who exposed the prosecutor’s
misconduct, in Cohan’s mind, are subverting the system. Simply amazing.
Q: Nifong is quoted heavily throughout the book,
but some have said the statements, his first since his career crashed and
burned, were left “unchallenged.” Do you think you let him off too easy
COHAN: No, I don’t at all. I have to laugh to myself when
Joe Neff wrote that at the News and Observer
. Obviously he covered the
case extensively. I don’t think Nifong ever talked to him — maybe he was
frustrated that Nifong didn’t talk to him but talked to me. It’s a 600-page
book; 580 pages of it are a condemnation of [Nifong’s] behavior and his
decisions and his judgements along the way.
Then there are a bunch of pages when he’s finally given a
chance to talk. He came across to me as an honorable man, somebody who just
wanted to do the right thing. Did he make mistakes? Yes, he did, and I think
he’s paid for them dearly. I don’t see how it’s anything but fair to give him a
chance to defend himself. Good for him for agreeing to speak to me. Good for
seems rather thin-skinned in his response to Neff. Let’s review: previously,
Cohan denounced as “pathetic” Neff’s early reporting on the book—only to see
Neff’s description of the book prove accurate once the book appeared. Plus, Neff’s
reporting eviscerated one of the book’s more dubious claims—that the
innocence announcement had “blindsided” senior prosecutors in the AG’s office.
I’m not a journalist (I’m
a historian). But it was my understanding that journalists attempt to speak to
all sides, especially when they’re making claims sourced to a credibility-challenged
figure like Nifong. Neff has done that throughout the case; his articles
constantly reference attempts to reach Nifong, and during the case quoted from
Cohan, on the other hand, seems to have a different
definition of journalism—in that, once the protagonist gives the writer a “scoop,”
the writer doesn’t even try to interview anyone who tangled with the source in
court, lest talking to them destroy the “scoop.” Readers will look long and hard in the Cohan book for attempts to
interview the defense attorneys, the State Bar prosecutors, the criminal
contempt trial prosecutor, the senior prosecutors in the AG’s office who
oversaw the case, members of the State Bar’s disciplinary hearing tribunal, or
the judge who presided over the case. Why ruin a good story?
Note that Cohan does not
respond to a single substantive item raised in the Neff review. Personal
attack, rather than issue-based defense, appears to be his preferred approach. In the event, since Cohan failed to speak to all sorts of key people that Neff interviewed (including most recently Jim Coman), presumably by his standards, he has conceded a jealousy of Neff.
For Cohan to assert that 23/24ths of his book consists of “condemnation”
of Nifong can only be described as an erroneous statement. (It would be a
little like me saying 23/24ths of DIW has been devoted to defenses of the Group
of 88.) The claim is so transparently absurd that even Cohan, who
has displayed a habit of being fast and loose with key facts
, could not
have meant what he said.
Q: What did you make of the reactions of Stuart
Taylor and KC Johnson, who wrote their own
book exonerating the players, and each wrote a very
COHAN: I’m not surprised that they had the reaction that
they had to the book. They have a vested interest in their version of events.
My version is much more complete than their version. I wasn’t writing a
polemic. I wasn’t trying to prove that these kids were innocent, as they were.
I’m not surprised at all by their viewpoint. What I was surprised at was that a
reputable publication like The New Republic
allowed Stuart Taylor to review my
book, or whatever he did — destroy my book — and reputable publication like Commentary
allowed KC Johnson to do the same
Note, for the record: neither the questioner
(what an odd question, asking Cohan what he made of the reactions instead of
asking him to address any of the specific concerns raised by Stuart or me) nor
Cohan cited a single item from either review that they challenged.
That said: I can understand Cohan’s preference for reviewers
who know little or nothing about the case. As a fascinating
Washington Post item from Radley
, reviews of the Cohan book have divided across a deep chasm.
Those reviewers who closely followed the case have been extremely critical of
the book, for many of the reasons outlined in the blog over the past couple of
weeks. On the other hand, reviewers who approached the book with little or no
knowledge about the case—and with, perhaps, a comforting politically correct
worldview—have been fawning in praise, even though none have embraced the
book’s defense of Nifong’s misconduct and only one (Newsday)
has appeared to accept the “something happened” thesis.
Cohan’s is the unusual book that appears to play better with people who are wholly ill-informed about the events that the book purports to describe.
Cohan’s claim of “more complete” depends on the definition.
Cohan’s book certainly has many, many more one- or two-paragraph summaries of
the work of other journalists than does UPI
As a result, it’s a longer book. On the other hand, Stuart and I had access to
more documents than did Cohan (who by his own admission failed to gain access
to the discovery file); because the book had second and third editions, we were
able to add material from the civil suit filings as the cases developed. We
interviewed many more people than did Cohan. We had far more comprehensive
coverage of the academic side of things. And because we personally covered many
of the key events in the case (Cohan covered none), we were able to supply our
own personal observations. But I concede that Cohan includes much more of other
figures’ work, especially daily journalists or commentators in one- or two-paragraph summaries, than Stuart and I
Cohan’s description of UPI
purpose—“trying to prove that these kids [sic] were innocent”—is nonsensical. The
original manuscript was finished several months after AG Cooper made the
innocent declaration, at a time when even Nifong (under oath!) conceded that
the falsely accused students had not committed the crimes of which they were
charged. Why would Stuart and I “try to prove” something that was already
proven? In this comment, Cohan appears to be clinging to his false statement that the book was written in 2006
Book review editors at the New Republic
not need me to defend them from Cohan’s barbs. But to the extent Cohan is
implying that there’s something untoward when experts in the field write book
reviews, his standard is an odd one indeed. Apart from UPI
, I’ve written four books and an extended research paper
written reviews on all five topics, including a review of the only competing
biography of Alaska senator Ernest Gruening.
But, again, I have no doubt that Cohan would have preferred
to see the book reviewed exclusively by those with little or no knowledge about
Q: What have you learned about how our society
treats the accusers in these cases? In the New York Times exposé on
the FSU matter and in countless other examples, there’s a lot of people in
authority positions asking these women, Are
you sure you want to do this?
COHAN: This is part of the epidemic. I don’t know why this happens.
I can’t imagine that if the [Duke]
players had been black instead of white, and the victim had been white instead
of black, that it would have happened the same way.
[emphasis added] We’ll
never know. It’s really part of the epidemic, and it’s not getting better at
all. We have not seen any advancement in our ability to deal with this.
Just a few items earlier, when asked whether
there was a “racial aspect” to charges against white athletes as opposed to
black athletes, Cohan replied, “I don’t know whether it’s a white or black
I suppose that, much like his book’s protagonist, it’s
sometimes hard for William D. Cohan to keep his stories straight.
I wonder if Cohan would dare to appear on the O'Reilly show where the questions wouldn't be so 'softball'. I haven't seen him on Fox&Friends promoting his book...yet. Once again, a liberal being interviewed by a liberal doesn't ruffle any feathers. Why hasn't he been asked when was the last time that he cried?
Cohan says that Crystal was the most reliable witness in the case. Earlier he said Crystal was not a very reliable witness. In this interview he again suggests that because Crystal believes she was traumatized we should believe her.
I say again: HUH!!!!
"How do you feel..." is a terrible way to start any sentence in an interview. Apparently "How do you feel..." is the Left's version of Snoopy's "It was a dark and stormy night..."
To the 4.18:
It's worth noting that by far the toughest interview Cohan faced (and one in which he did very poorly) was with the generally liberal Frank Stasio of WUNC--who asked him specific, detailed questions about the factual basis (or lack thereof) for his assertions.
Knowledge about the case, rather than ideology, seems to be the dividing point in the Cohan interviews. Those who know little or nothing about the case accept his often-wild assertions at face value; those like Stasio (who know something about the case) can easily see through these statements.
KC your responses to the Cohan interviews have been nothing short of magnificent. You have become his worst nightmare. Cohan went to Durham with an agenda and it flows through all 600 plus pages of his book. As often stated, the facts didn't start getting in his way until this book came under the microscope of those who followed this case closely in 2006-07.
As to putting Cohan on O'Reilly, I doubt that Bill would be much of a challenge.
It is easy to imagine that those most accepting Cohan's thesis are the same people prone to join the rush to judgment against the Duke lacrosse players, all due to the race/class/gender content of the story.
By now fawning over Cohan's book, they can at least look at bit less foolish for having once been gullible to accept as fact the fantastic lies of the disgraced, disbarred and pathetic Nifong, and the criminally convicted murderer Mangum.
To the 12.00:
I suspect you're correct. It would be interesting to poll those who have written positive reviews too see what their views of the case were in, say, late April 2006.
KC wrote: "I would add the following: one of the most chilling aspects of the lacrosse case is how few people—four, plus an erratic Mangum—it took to sustain a case that could have resulted in innocent people being sent to jail for most of their adult lives."
Actually, it's five. The Group of 88 and sundry administrators (especially the spineless, guilt-presuming Brodhead) are the fifth.
Early in the case, a single, strongly worded, public statement by Duke would have stopped the case in its tracks:
"Duke University believes that every individual is innocent until proven guilty. We bear a solemn responsibility to ensure that our students are protected by this principle. And we will use our ample resources -- our money, moral authority, and well-connected alumni network -- to hold all parties to that principle. We will not allow our students to be used a pawns to satisfy political or politically correct agendas.
"Any Duke University faculty, staff, or administrators who even imply publicly a presumption of guilt will be immediately suspended or fired. The players, their friends and families, coach Pressler and his family will be treated by the Duke community with the respect accorded any innocent individual. The season will continue as planned, and we wish them great success."
Nifong is a bully. (This was well-known at the time.) There are only two proper ways to deal with bullies: not at all or strongly. Once Nifong realized that the very institution whose responsibility it was to protect its students was instead throwing them under the bus, then (like any wild beast), he sensed that his prey was defenseless.
Early in the case, Duke could have hired one, half-competant private investigator who would have discovered quickly that the case was a pack of lies and contradictions, concocted to sacrifice innocent students to satisfy evil desires.
In the rungs of hell, Duke is lower than any of the four that you mentioned.
Add your name and Stuart Taylor's name to the long list of people not interviewed. This interview is more of the incredible parallel universe aspect of this latest revisionist history. This is unusually depressing. The only glimmer of hope I see is the scorecard of the 1-star reviews on Amazon that one of the posters periodically provides.
When I hear an author constantly patting himself on the back for being "unbiased" and "objective" and "dispassionate" and so on he is, it is a huge warning sign for me. Such judgments are for informed readers to make, not the author.
Add "they could have hired an historian from Maine" to "discover quickly that the case was a pack of lies and contradictions, concocted to sacrifice innocent students to satisfy evil desires."
No one, including Nifong and Mangum, knows more about this case than KC. Cohan is probably behind many of us readers of DIW in that regard.
I have wonder how many of the people pushing the falsehood that "something happened" are democrats (or liberals). Researching and reading about the 88 it appears all of them are liberals... and many are not just a little left. This moron is very left:
I suspect his other books are filled with the same crap supported by puff reviews by his friends.
The only one of Cohan's previous books I've read was "The Last Tycoons," his book on Lazard Freres. For that book, he seems to have done pretty solid reporting--he interviewed many of the major players in the story and provided over 40 pages of endnotes. There was a lot of interesting information in the book but, as I recall from reading it several years ago, it was long and I found myself getting bogged down at times.
Duke Prof: How I wish your proffered statement had been made by Duke, but of course, in the world of PC universities, the opposite occurred.
I would ask how Brodhead survived this debacle, but I guess my previous sentence explains it.
Tragically, the "opposite" did occur, and Brodhead did survive, because the powers that be among the trustees, administrators, and faculty did not consider it a "debacle." They deemed it a success. In their worldview, it was a faithful application of their race/gender/class ideology (which KC has amply documented and explained). If a few "privileged," "white boys" had to be sacrificed in the process -- well, that means they've achieved their ends. (See Steel's infamous comment about that.)
Early in the hoax, right after the Group of 88 went crazy, I was privy to a private meeting among some wealthy Duke donors and high-level administrators. Those donors who were from the business world (many of whom were alumni) were furious at the administrators for not reigning in the errant faculty. They said that if their employees behaved that way, they would fire them on the spot.
The administrators were genuinely shocked at the outrage and the suggestion. Why, in effect, would they punish (let alone fire) those faculty who they considered the stars and darlings of their institution? (Since the hoax, a number of the 88 have enjoyed career advancement and have received lucrative perks. One of the worst is now chair of the department of Sociology.)
In reality, it was, of course, a “debacle.” But to be considered so, and to keep such debacles from happening in the future, we need to change the ruling ideology of the universities. Toward that end, it would certainly help if people would remove their sanction from Duke by, for example, refusing to donate money.
In February you wrote, "Himan admits that he assisted Cpl. David Addison in the Crimestoppers poster. But he denies that he 'colluded' with Addison. What’s the distinction, given that the poster was both inflammatory and inaccurate?" We might include Addison as a fifth person who participated in fitting up the Duke three. I think that this case falls toward one end of a spectrum: people with different agendas which happened to coincide. But I also think that once a leader makes it clear in which direction he wishes to proceed, his underlings don't need to be told specifically what to do. Everyone goes along to get along.
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