Thursday, April 24, 2014
Stuart Taylor on Cohan
My colleague Stuart Taylor appeared this morning on the Imus program. He talked about the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, and then offered some comments on author William D. Cohan's work. You can listen to Stuart at this link.
And here was Stuart on CSPAN:
And here was Stuart on CSPAN:
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I am a first time visitor to your blog and ironically enough came to it through the Cohan book. I am a Durham native, no longer residing there but still with family in the area...I am retired etc. etc. I really am puzzled...I am about half way through the book (I have read Taylor's book) and frankly, in my view I find the characterization of Nifong and other Durham authorities, including Duke totally reprehensible, so I am anxious to see how once I finish the tome that Cohan manages to rehabilitate him and/or Mangum, at least in my eyes...I consider myself reasonably educated...multiple degrees up to and including a Phd...lived in various foreign countries etc. etc., but before actually picking up the book to read I only skimmed the review in SALON. I am now just at the time when the first two players are arrested...so, what follows will be interesting...but I am curious as to just how, other than just saying it is so ("something despicable happened" and Nifong was just doing his job)...this commentary can be read by anyone as other than a tale of disgusting justice run amok...against the players. I am over 70, so maybe early dementia has set in...cheers.
Cohan relies on many contemporary media accounts, which means, that like the hyped media accounts of the time, he gets a lot of things wrong.
For example, unlike the accounts of the party in the book (a wild debauch), many of the players didn't know there were going to be strippers hired; not all of the team members drank (some were teetotal); there were no chants of the "N" word; etc. The players were not stereotypes of bad boy college kids--but the "story" reads a lot better if they were.
Moreover, there is no doubt whatever, that DNA proved none of the players had contact with Mangum. The case should have ended when those test results were returned--and that was before anyone was arrested in the case.
Letting Nifong fantasize about how there still might have been a crime committed--somehow--is like giving Prosecutor Knight of Scottsboro, and Scottsboro accuser Virginia Price, pages and pages to
claim that there really was a rape in Alabama in 1931--
and then publishing a book without footnotes, without a bibliography, without thorough sourcing, and saying, that "We'll never know what happened, maybe there was a rape".
That's the false foundation of Cohan's book.
To the 1.18:
The Cohan book is oddly structured--100s of pages derive from material likely prepared by a research ass't, which simply summarize what occurred ad nauseum--though with a few minor adjustments, where Cohan either includes or excludes material, always in a favorable way to Nifong's case.
He then moves abruptly to writing in his own voice--interviews from Nifong--in which Nifong's version is accepted uncritically.
A very careful reader of the book likewise will get the accurate story & ignore the Nifong apologia. But you have to be a careful reader to do so: the book is designed to mislead the casual reader to advance Cohan's "something happened" thesis.
Cohan is quoted as saying Crystal was not the most reliable witness. Then he says she believes she was traumatized and concludes she must be believed.
There are scammers who use eBay. One way they try to lure their targets is to arrange to have positive feedback posted about themselves.
After seeing all the Amazon reviews for Cohan's book, I am left wondering. Just about all the positive reviews have been written by people who have never reviewed a book on Amazon before. Is Cohan arranging for these people to post positive reviews. Is he paying them to do so. Could he be writing the reviews for them.
This is just speculation. I say it is more logical speculation than the speculation in which Cohan indulges in his book.
"Could he be writing the reviews for them."
But then again there are far far more politically-correct true-believers than positive reviews for TPS, so I'll go with Mr. Occam until proof emerges to the contrary. Does it matter? The positive reviews are pure delusion.
KC, you have kept the fight since 2006 and despite the efforts of lesser bloggers, you have given your readers the most unemotional and factual outline of the Duke Lacrosse case. I commend you for not taking the credit you have so well deserved. Others in the blog world have felt that their poems and emotional diatribes have significantly changed public opinion and perhaps to a lesser extent they have, but your critical eye and attention to detail without rancor or emotion has put your voice front and center in the expression of truth in this case. Don't be modest. You and Stuart have done a remarkable job preserving the definitive truth and facts of this case. You can take a bow whenever you deem it appropriate.
Stuart Taylor speculated toward the end that one of William Cohan's motives may be a TV movie deal. He said that after obtaining the rights to "Until Proven Innocent," HBO wanted to change the story and the project fell through.
I hope we don't see Cohan's book made into a movie that makes Nifong a hero.
Great job, Stuart Taylor! I still despair that the Cohan book is, in some cases, put on par with "Until Proven Innocent". I despair even more that it has gotten decent reviews from certain media outlets I usually like.
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