Friday, July 18, 2014

Closing Comments

When I first started writing about the lacrosse case, at a joint historians’ blog called Cliopatria, I did so in reaction to the Group of 88 statement. Then (and now) I considered the statement an indefensible betrayal by professors of their own school’s students, an action that contradicted many of the basic values on which American higher education rests.

Absent the Group statement, I doubt I would have noticed the case at all—in spring 2006, I didn’t even know that Duke had a lacrosse team, much less know any of its members. But as I remained interested in the case, the editor of Cliopatria suggested I spin off into a focused blog. When I did so, in August 2006, I envisioned a six-week effort, which would perhaps provide background for people interested in the case from the 60 Minutes broadcast, which I had heard was scheduled for early October. Instead, a flurry of events—the delay of the broadcast, then the November 2006 election, the Meehan hearing, the Nifong ethics charges, the culmination of the criminal case, and the two Nifong hearings—sustained the blog on a daily basis (the blog had more than 1000 posts during its first 14 months) through September 2007.

I stopped daily posts in fall 2007, and since then have averaged only about a post a week. I extended the blog to follow the civil cases, which struck me as likely to establish important precedents. (They did so, though in ways that trouble me—suggesting that in the 4th Circuit colleges have no obligation to enforce the student bulletin or faculty handbook, at least in cases where disfavored groups of students are targeted by powerful faculty interests on campus; and victims have no grounds for a federal civil rights lawsuit when prosecutors and police conspire to frame innocent people, provided the police are internally candid about their lack of evidence and the prosecutor obtains a grand jury indictment.) The civil cases dragged on for much longer than I had anticipated, largely due to Durham’s high-risk, but ultimately high-reward, strategy of filing multiple interlocutory appeals to avoid any discovery.

This delay, ironically, meant that the blog remained active during two unanticipated but important events.

The first came when Duke employed the civil suit discovery process to try and obtainmy private correspondence with confidential sources for the book and blog. For reasons neither the university nor its attorneys ever explained, I was the only person who covered the case to receive such a subpoena; even UPI co-author Stuart Taylor wasn’t targeted by Duke. Thanks to excellent representation from my attorney, Patrick Strawbridge, and assistance from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, I resisted the subpoena. A limited setback before a Maine magistrate judge evaporated in the courtroom of Maine district court judge Brock Hornby, who peppered the Duke attorneys with questions, eliciting the extraordinary statement that Duke would be happy for its professors to live under the same standards the university expected of me. (Unsurprisingly, no member of the Brodhead administration ever informed Duke faculty members of this new policy, which would decimate the freedom to research controversial topics at Duke.) In the aftermath of the hearing, and after the Carrington settlement, Duke withdrew its subpoena before Hornby could render a decision. The magistrate judge’s decision subsequently was vacated.

The second significant event occurred with publication of the revisionist book by William D. Cohan. In his up-is-down opus, Cohan portrayed Mike Nifong as victim, “crucified” by the efforts of an amorphous conspiracy that included defense attorneys, the State Bar, some members of the media, Judge Osmond Smith, the Disciplinary Hearing Commission, families of the lacrosse players, senior prosecutors in the North Carolina attorney general’s office, and Northeastern lawyers whose identities he declined to reveal. Cohan reached this startling conclusion not by interviewing any members of the alleged conspiracy, but instead by speaking to Nifong at length, and then uncritically accepting the version of events offered by his chief source, a convicted liar. The result: a book praised by many of the papers who got the story wrong at the start, and sharply criticized by virtually every reviewer who knew anything about what occurred in Durham.

With the Carrington and Evans lawsuits having concluded, and with the Cohan book consigned (to borrow Judge John E. Jones, III’s recent usage of Ronald Reagans famous line) to the “ash heap of history,” it seems like an appropriate time to bring the blog to a close.

Before doing so, however, allow me to offer three general reflections:

The Academy

Higher education is perhaps the only product in which Americans spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars without having any clear sense of what they are purchasing. Few parents, alumni, legislators, or prospective students spend much (if any) time exploring the scholarship or syllabi offered by professors at the school of their choice; they devote even less effort to understanding hiring patterns or pedagogical changes that have driven the contemporary academy to an ideological extreme on issues of race, class, and gender. At most, there seems to be a general—incorrect—impression that while colleges have the occasional “tenured radical” who lacks real influence on campus, most professors fall well within the ideological mainstream.

But while most outsiders have neither the time nor the inclination to challenge faculty on scholarly or curricular matters, the lacrosse case was different. Here, the relevant facts were public knowledge. The event was high-profile, and the more evidence that emerged, the less likely it appeared that a crime occurred. At the least, it was clear by 1 May 2006 that at least one innocent Duke student (Reade Seligmann) had been indicted.

And yet for dozens of Duke faculty, this evidence appeared irrelevant. Eighty-eight of them rushed to judgment, signing a statement (whose production violated Duke regulations in multiple ways) affirming that something had “happened” to false accuser Crystal Mangum, and thanking protesters (“for not waiting”) who had, among other things, urged the castration of the lacrosse captains and blanketed the campus with “wanted” posters. As the case to which they attached their public reputations imploded, Group members doubled down, with most issuing a second statement promising they would never apologize for their actions. (Only three Group members ever said they were sorry for signing the statement, and two of that number subsequently retracted those apologies.) For months, the Duke administration was either in agreement with the faculty extremists or cowed by them—or some combination of both.

The lacrosse case provided a rare opportunity to glimpse inside the mindset of an elite university—and the look was a troubling one. There is no evidence of any accountability at Duke: the university has the same leadership and the same hiring patterns it had in 2006. Several members of the Group of 88 have gone on to more prestigious positions, their efforts to exploit their students’ distress causing them no problem in the contemporary academy.


In this respect, Duke isn’t exceptional: if the lacrosse case had occurred at another elite university, something like the Group of 88 probably would have formed there, as well. (Hypothetical Groups at other schools might not have been quite as large—the effects of ex-president Keohane and ex-provost Chafe on maximizing race/class/gender hires did have some additional effect.) Nifong, on the other hand, was unusual.

Prosecutorial misconduct is a blight on the American justice system, but few prosecutors violate quite as many ethical rules in a single case as did the disgraced former DA. Of course, Durham’s particular circumstances accounted at least to some degree for the extent of Nifong’s perfidy: he had to violate ethical guidelines to create “evidence” of a “crime” that never occurred; and then he had to violate more ethical guidelines to create “evidence” to point to the “perpetrators” of this non-existent crime.

It’s worth remembering, however: lots of people seemed quite untroubled with Nifong’s actions. He did, after all, win the primary election—the day after Durham voters saw on their TV screens a video of Reade Seligmann at an ATM machine at the time Nifong claimed a rape was occurring. And he did win the general election—even after Durham voters were exposed to massive evidence of his ethical improprieties, thanks to reporting from the N&O and 60 Minutes. Moreover, Nifong almost managed to bring the case to trial. The State Bar vote to go ahead with the prosecution before the end of the case passed only by one vote, with the chair of the relevant committee casting the tie-breaking ballot. If not for the brilliant cross-examination from Jim Cooney and Brad Bannon, plus the inability of Dr. Brian Meehan to carry off the conspiracy, would the Bar have acted when it did?

Despite his apologists’ best efforts to rehabilitate his reputation, Nifong’s behavior might have had one salutary effect: he now personifies the position of rogue prosecutor. Journalists, legal commentators, and the public at large now have a reference point when they hear defense attorneys speak of the importance of due process, or caution against prosecutors violating ethical norms. And DA’s inclined to ignore ethics to advance their political careers will (hopefully, at least) recall Nifong’s fate.


Excellent coverage of this case came from some quarters of the traditional media—from the 2006-2008 staff of the Duke Chronicle; from Joe Neff at the N&O; and nationally from 60 Minutes and ABC’s Law and Justice Unit. But the terrible traditional coverage—from the New York Times, the Herald-Sun, op-ed commentators such as Selena Roberts and Eugene Robinson, and other outlets in the early stages of the case—was terrible indeed.

The bad work suffered from two problems that reinforced each other. The first comes from the media’s general ideological biases. While not as left-wing as the typical elite school’s faculty, the media obviously leans left, especially on issues of race and gender; and in spring 2006, the facts offered by Nifong seemed for too many too good to be false. So rather than challenging Nifong’s presentation of the case, the Times, the H-S, and politically correct commentators and authors served as de facto stenographers for the prosecutor, uncritically passing along whatever version of events he happened to be offering at the time.

The second general problem exposed by the case was the media’s poor coverage of procedure and procedural issues. It’s no coincidence that the best reporter on this case—Neff—was comfortable with procedure, and that the worst—Duff Wilson and self-described “serious investigative journalist” William D. Cohan—appeared clueless on procedural matters.

For the media as a whole, covering procedure can be difficult—it’s often technical, and it doesn’t exactly sell newspapers. But as the lacrosse case demonstrated, explaining the role of procedure in policy and legal matters is a critical role that journalists play in society. And while there’s been some progress in this regard (consider, for instance, the Washington Post partnering in its blogs with Volokh Conspiracy or Radley Balko), as a whole, the media tends to do a poor job at illustrating procedural matters. Jim Fallows’ laments about the mainstream newspapers’ frequent failures to explain the Senate’s filibuster process is a good example of the broader problem.


DIW was a blog of a particular time and place. If the lacrosse case had occurred a few years earlier, the blog likely never could have been launched. In the initial months, I relied heavily on primary source material posted by others (the N&O and WRAL for discovery documents; the State of North Carolina for various ethics and election items; Duke and electronic resources for academic matters). As recently as the late 1990s, this type of material often was not available online, so initially covering the case from New York or Maine (as I did, most of the time) would not have been possible—meaning that I never would have developed the local sources whose willingness to answer questions from me (and not infrequently provide me with tips) helped the blog to break stories.

If the lacrosse case occurred today, on the other hand, the blog’s reach almost certainly would have diminished; the blog’s biggest readership days (over 100,000 each day) occurred during the live-blogs of the Nifong ethics proceedings; most of that information would now be communicated via twitter, not through live-blogs, which have become passĂ©.

It might well be—as any number of commentators have contended—that blogs, at least of this type, will be much less common in the future. (I’ll still be writing on higher-ed matters, at the Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus, and readers can follow me on twitter; obviously my academic work is still on my homepage.) That said, many of the strengths of a blog—namely, the sense of community from readers and commenters—aren’t easily replicable on twitter or in other forms. Moreover, the structure of the blog certainly aided me; over the course of the case, I learned a lot about criminal procedure, legal ethics, the nature of journalism, and North Carolina issues, courtesy of exchanges with readers, commenters, and other bloggers.

To DIW’s readers and commenters, my thanks.


Anonymous said...

And from the readers, those interested in reforming abuses of the justice system, and in reform of academia, our thanks.

This blog has managed to maintain high standards for reliability and factual reporting, which is what gave it continued credibility. It has set a standard.

There may not be many blogs like it in the future; but there were also not many like it when it was around.

Well deserved Kudos.

Unknown said...

Thank you, KC

Tricia Dowd said...

KC, you have been our hero. There is no way my family can ever repay you for the countless hours you have spent, exposing the truth of this travesty of justice. In our darkest days, you were our light. You gave us strength to continue in our fight and helped us understand that even though many of the Duke faculty did not care about the truth, justice or the innocence of our sons, there are individuals of character, kindness and courage in this crazy world we live in. You are a true example of selflessness. We are eternally grateful to you.

I have also learned,intellectually, the Duke faculty pale in comparison to you. You have taken them on as they have attacked us and you, and dissected their lies with truth and supporting evidence.

I consider it a honor to know you. You will forever hold a special place in my heart for the support you gave us during this most difficult time. It is a privilege to call you my friend.

I will miss your blog and the light it has shed upon so many injustices. You are an inspiration!!


Tricia Dowd and Family

Charles Wolcott said...

KC... thank you again for all that you have done. You have been a Godsend to those suffering terrible injustice.

Time and again, we have marveled at the clarity, expanse and supreme wit of your writings. Such skill and superb touch with the written word is extraordinary.

We know you to be humble, but in our eyes, you are a giant among men.

It has been a privilege knowing you, and we wish you all the best in the future.

Anonymous said...

"That said, many of the strengths of a blog—namely, the sense of community from readers and commenters—aren’t easily replicable on twitter or in other forms."

And yet, the marketing fraudsters and chattering class deem these things to be "social". They're the exact opposite, by design. Too many people communicating with each other on the internet, something had to be done.

Anonymous said...

In this time, in this place, in this case, you were a godsend. Those of us who followed events daily, literally hung on your every word, and, waited in the weeds to see where you would lead us. Let's not forget that you led this "campaign" from an open position anchored right in the enemy camp of academia.

That's courage.

The term..."hero" used too loosely these days for those who score the winning goal, or cross the finish line first. You literally saved lives. The designation rightly fits you.

None of us who followed this debacle, or cared immensely about this case, can imagine..."what might have been" without Durham in Wonderland and KC Johnson.

None of us who followed this debacle, or cared immensely about this case...can let this Blog close without saying....thank you.

Joan Foster

Anonymous said...

Amen to the above comments. As ones who have a personal interest but were on the periphery of the case, your blog has been an invaluable source of information and comfort.

You and Joe Neff stand tall as bastions for truth. And you are in the company of several outstanding attorneys who made a huge difference in the outcome of this case.

You have also opened our eyes to a problem in academia of which we were unaware.

Our undying gratitude for your interest, courage and intellectual honesty. The world is a better place because of men like you.

Very best wishes to you for the future.

An old Duke lacrosse grandfather.

Anonymous said...

Incredible work over a sustained period. Thank you so much for your insight and dedication to this topic. Ave atque vale.

skwilli said...

Thanks, KC. You opened a whole new world for me.

Anonymous said...

Agree with all the kind words for Professor Johnson.

Most of the time, the Nifongs of the world will eventually be caught, and one wishes it was earlier in the course of events so damage can be held to a minimum.

What worries me a lot are the Cohans of the world. This is NOT an attack on free press. I'm thinking along the lines of intelligent criticism of "revisionist history" accounts that don't even attempt to refute basic points that were previously established. I worry about the fawning reviews "The Price of Silence" received in some mainstream publications. Lastly, I worry about the seeming abdication of editors (and publishers) of their job. How did Cohan's book ever get out of the starting gate in its published form? Hello, Scribner.

Regarding this latest episode, I'm thankful to Johnson and Taylor, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Mark Wylie and numerous others on Amazon and other outlets. I am sad, however, that there weren't many more providing intelligent critique, even if they took a different view than mine.

Professor Johnson, thanks for this great blog. I do wish it could be kept in a "caretaker" status even if there were only a couple of posts a year.

Anonymous said...

High praise and lots of it, KC. If there's a better example of high-impact media criticism in the last ten years, I can't think of it. Your integrity and tenacity are a true inspiration. Here's hoping that even a small handful of your readers pay it forward by becoming citizen journalists and media critics themselves. Sadly, there's far too many cases of agenda-driven media attacks that could use the treatment.

Cheers, Jim McCarthy

Anonymous said...


Thank you for a truly stunning body of investigative scholarship. Your fidelity to getting the facts right, to clarity, and to justice for the innocent are inspiring.

The collection of posts, along with your book, belong in the Pantheon of those who exposed the Dreyfus Affair.

In appreciation and admiration,

Duke Prof

Tim G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim G said...

Agree with the comments, this was an amazing blog.

I was a father of a men's soccer player at a different, much smaller university. So I viewed this blog with concern as to how much a university and surrounding community can do to an unsuspecting student's life on campus and future career prospects.

Again thanks for your contribution and I continue to follow your contributions in other venues.

Jay Knott said...

Bye, KC, and thanks so much

Duke Alum said...

Thanks for a job well done.

The actions by many of the Duke faculty and administrators in this case continue to stick in my craw. Have these people no sense of decency, honor or shame? That President Brodhead remains on the job is disgusting.

I stopped sending them money a long time ago, and they'll never get another cent from me. Sometimes people who know I graduated from Duke ask me about sending their kids there. I always discourage them.

Anonymous said...

Terrific example of non-profit, intellectual public service, KC.

The only place to triangulate and find truth regarding the Duke Lacrosse matter was on your blog.

Thanks for your service.

I concur with the comments here, particularly those critical of Brod Dickhead and his absolute lack of concern for truth and justice. That he is employed as the leader of our University is truly a sad commentary on how far we've fallen from the days of Governor Sanford.

Your observations on the American academic scene are spot on.

Onward and upward, KC !

Godspeed to thee.

Anonymous said...

Bravo. Individuals willing to stand up for the truth have always been a rarity in history; hopefully your example will serve as an inspiration for all of us.

Anonymous said...

I echo all the sentiments expressed in these comments.

There were several true heroes in this matter. Some of them were paid (and hopefully paid well) to do the outstanding jobs they did. I am not detracting from those heroes for this reason, because one could still be paid and roll over without seeing justice done.

But you, professor, performed your work selflessly, without additional pay (I can't imagine your outstanding book was a real money maker, no matter how excellent it was), and with very noble goals. Kudos for that.

I hope you take some real satisfaction with you through life in knowing that your actions played a huge part (perhaps the largest part) in creating the circumstances that allowed our PC society to step back, see what was happening, and in turn saved these young men and their families from all the potential yet unknown horrible consequences of the prison system.

I've been dreading the day you would close the blog, but appreciate so much all the work you did. I am pleased, as you indicate in this comment, that you were still posting during the Cohen book tour, to hopefully put the last nail in the coffin of any attempts to resurrect Nifong's legacy. The case has been emotional throughout, and your goodbye is surprisingly emotional as well.

Thank you again for your tireless, selfless work and the sacrifices you no doubt endured while doing what was right in this matter.

/A Duke Grad.

Anonymous said...

As a Duke alum and big Blue Devil fan, I've been an avid reader of the blog and your other great work, including UPI. Thanks so much for all of that and I echo the other praises in these comments. It's with a combination of great pride and trepidation that I send my son to Duke as a freshman in the fall. You've helped to educate me on a few things to warn him about. Best regards.

Anonymous said...

Thank you KC for your valuable work over the past 8 years. You've provided a tremendous service. I will delete my bookmark for Durham-in-Wonderland and replace it with Minding the Campus.
Don in New Orleans

Anonymous said...

It would be a fresh spark of hope to see the lacrosse players forgive whatever harms Ms. Mangum has caused against them in this political charade they were all forced into by Duke. This could be in the form of applying their available legal resources they seem more able to employ than many citizens of NC to assisting citizens of NC in standing against the corrupt justice system that is the Duke / Durham / NC justice when involved in cases against Duke and/or their affiliates and/or Duke agenda driven identities, as they themselves are just the tip of the iceberg of victims that are treated similar or worse as them by Duke, et. al.

It is hard to watch the Innocence Commission do it's current work in Durham while also watching crimes of the same degree of corrupt injustice committed by the current system that they do or say nothing supportive to stop. They could make a positive difference for ALL in NC for the better by helping to end the corruption that continues unabated in present day that affects all. Even when the corrupt injustice occurs in cases against Ms. Mangum, since there it may be more likely to see the harm and the threat that Duke's corruption poses to all more clearly. Many innocents will continue to pay their price for them otherwise, as often happens in history.

Thanks for letting me say that KC on your blog and for your wise consideration.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for following through thoroughly! Your column has meant a great deal to me: I wish all the best for you and that all you have done will inspire others!

Jim In San Diego said...

Stuart Taylor recently said in an interview that you were a "force of nature".

He pointed out you were able to author this amazing seven years' blog as an aside, in your spare time - while teaching your classes, teaching overseas, and researching and writing your professional work.

The quality of this blog has changed the way blogs are viewed as sources of relevant and reliable information. Have you noticed, for one example, how your blog is now accepted as an authoritative source on Wikipedia? This was not true in the early years.

You have also set the standard for those who attempt to follow you in the future: quality research; logical conclusions drawn from verifiable facts; and, all applied with high intelligence.

On a personal level, I wrote here years ago that you are one of the few people I know I would pay money to talk to over a cup of coffee. If I am ever up your way, I will try to bother you enough to say hello - coffee on me.

I wish we could persuade you to maintain this blog, with its reputation, in caretaker status (What will happen to the irreplaceable DIW archive??).

The issues you outline in your farewell message are still live. We all await the next Cohan, or Group of 88, or major media hysteria.

However, none of us has the right to ask you to do more than you have. Thank you very, very much.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

"This could be in the form of applying their available legal resources they seem more able to employ than many"

They already carried the water for legal reform in NC; they sought to have a federal monitor for the DPD for ten years; mandatory taping of all police interrogations; a strict chain of command for the DPD; etc.

NO ONE in NC supported these requests.

NOT ONE law school, or rights group, has joined with the supporters of the lax team to ask for mandatory Grand Jury transcripts, an absolute right to a probable cause hearing for ALL accused persons, and a Speedy Trial law.

Evidently the ONLY ones fighting for these reforms were out of state players, who would never benefit themselves from such reforms.

Ask Irving Joyner and the NCCU law faculty, and the Duke law faculty,
and the rights groups, why they have never supported such reforms.

Durham elected Nifong twice, and then Cline after him. If Durham really wants reform, it has to show that by its own actions. It has the power to overturn the present corrupt system; it just has to do so at the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

I've followed this case and your blog from the beginning and am still trying to digest the whole affair.

What bothers me the most is my conclusion that too many people seem to have increasing difficulty separating fact from opinion.

Those who are unwilling to do so occupy too many positions of power, authority, and influence. Those who are unable to do so are the products of an educational system that does not stress independent critical thinking.

As I type this Putin is blaming the murder of 298 people on the Ukrainian government; let's hope there are more people like you who are willing to separate fact from opinion and let the chips fall where they may.

Anonymous said...

To the 7:35 PM poster:

It is not as simple as voting, since first there has to be someone to elect that is not corrupted. And then how do you expect that elected noncorrupt person to function in the corrupt system? Is it possible? Good question.

Reform is a four letter word in NC meaning whatever Duke and their croonies insist on changing to screw over the entire state and it's citizens (again).

NC needs lawyers willing and able to fight the corruption, even if it is a case by case battle - at least NC citizens and visitors would have a fighting chance. Right now the entire system is a joke, and 'they' are still laughing.

Lee J. Cockrell said...

Thanks for a fantastic blog, and a ray of truth when many would have let evil prevail (or even aided it!).

It is dismaying just how many were not held accountable for their words and presumption of guilt.

No Justice, No Peace said...

K.C. thank you.

You changed the way I think.

You changed the way I view the world.

You may be the last true liberal standing.

Several years ago I left a lecture by Li Lu who was one leader involved with the Tiananmen Square student protests. Mr. Lu had come close to liberating a quarter of the world's population. One person can indeed make a difference.

You are cut from the same cloth. Your efforts are inspirational.

For that I am grateful. I shall miss this blog.

Jim In San Diego said...

@Joan Foster


If you are reading this, I would like to communicate with you.

My email is Please send contact info, if you wish.

Jim Peterson

Rick said...

"All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Thanks for doing something.

Hershel Parker said...

KC, Stuart called LieStoppers an amazing performance of journalism on the fly. Your blog has been an amazing performance of history on the fly. All honor to you, Sir.

Anonymous said...

Is KC a communist?

Stuart McGeady said...

Thank you for this blog, Professor Johnson, and to all the excellent commenters who assisted over the years. I have rediscovered my appreciation and pride for my halcyon days as a player for the Duke Blue Devil lacrosse team.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When I first read of the false rape I though how could these students do that. I quickly realized, in no small part to you, this blog and UPI how wrong I was.

I also came to understand if a corrupt DA was confident he could get away with convicting students with resources and families who knew how to fight this injustice how many poor uninformed (mainly black) males were probably unjustly convicted over the years.

You made a big difference!!!! God for you

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much.

My family lives in Durham. My wife and I were in China adopting our eighth child when we read the first reports of the case. When we returned to Durham, I stayed up all night reading the papers.. In the morning, I said to my wife that I was 90 % plus certain that nothing happened.

I needed a source to rely on in interpreting events and analyzing the issues and developments. That was you. I am extremely grateful for the efforts that you put into covering the case. Your work was first class, you never tired and all right thinking people appreciate your accomplishments.

Again,,thank you for an astonishing body of work.

C. Thomas Kunz

Anonymous said...

Having started and maintained (with others' assistance when delayed) the "Is ____ a Communist?) -- trademark, I can definitely state that KC's work is clearly NOT communistic.

I can only presume that the above questioning (not by me) as to KC's polital inclinations were in fact made in recognition and admiration of his superb work.

KC at last now knows my identity.

Thank you,

Captain Hate said...

Well if the anonymous person asking it ______ is a communist has been ID'd I guess the blog can be closed. Kudos for the work you did, KC, every step of the way. If you'd done nothing else in life but this blog, which I know is far from true, this would identify you as a person of great integrity.

Best to you and the regular commentors.

Anonymous said...

From a former Duke Student:

"As of today, Durham is no longer in Wonderland. I owe deep gratitude to KC Johnson who for almost a decade was a key part of the intellectual vanguard that gave hope to me and many fellow Duke students/alumni in the face of the University's response to the rape allegations made against members of the Duke Lacrosse team."

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

KC - thank you for the blog. Hard to believe that it's been 8 years. Guess I'll finally have to bookmark "minding the campus"

thanks again :

Chris Halkides said...


The high level of reporting and civility at DiW are praiseworthy. Your blog and commenters are a model for bloggers everywhere.

Anonymous said...

You deserve as many thanks as you get. And more. So let me add this one:

John Primmer said...

In this day of presumed guilt and lack of due process in campus prosecutions, it is essential that there be a strong, steady voice in support of the crucial standards and procedures that must be applied to determine guilt or innocence, and to render justice. You have provided that voice in this case, and we are all very much in your debt. Well done!

Michael K said...

Thanks from another parent who has had children in college as this case progressed. Fortunately, they were girls but the abuses in education affect them, if not in the threatening manner that they affect boys. My sons escaped the worst of this as they were in college 30 years ago. My grandchildren, one of whom is a boy, are at risk and maybe you helped to prevent the worst of these abuses in the future.

Thanks again.

Gregory Koster said...

Dear Professor Johnson: If you don't mind,I think you have one more job to do: making sure a reputable organization, say the Hoover Institution, has a copy of this blog, and of your unpublished working notes. This should be available for future study. It should also have a guardian, ready to defend its existence from the Ministers of Truth at Duke and other such frauds who would gladly see it destroyed so they could claim nothing ever happened.

These days, the mantra of the press is that journalists should "make a difference." They had a chance to do so in the lacrosse case, and generally failed. You didn't. You made a difference in a way that such quacks as Eugene Robinson or New England Law School Wendy, didn't and couldn't.

many thanks.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Anonymous said...

But would the blogger vote for the same leftists that gave us the University and faculty? If yes, nothing was learned.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your excellent work on the website and the book especially! Good luck with your future endeavors!

ZimbaZumba said...

Although coming to a close, this blog will become a significant historical document for future generation to learn the lessons that the mistakes of the past can teach.

Anonymous said...

It would be one more excellent service if the news stories run by the MSM could be reproduced into a short book.

As I recall, the NY Times was about the last rag to give up the ghost. But, it would be a great stocking stuffer for my liberal friends.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, KC, you vote democrat? Are you a communist?

Yeah, I am going to miss this place, but given the popularity of communism in this country, we will need more of these blogs, rather than fewer, but given that you are part of the problem, it's probably just as well that you are quitting.

Anonymous said...

It was quite a run. Great work and good luck.

Anonymous said...

We know that KC Johnson's work helped the Duke fake rape case unravel and called us back to values violated by the Duke 88, Duke administrators, the prosecuting attorney and other aider and abettors in Durham. It did much to restore the reputations of the innocent. Continuing as it did for 8 years, this blog and Johnson's contributions elsewhere prepared us to fight Cohan's re-write of known facts. Contributors here also helped just by being themselves: by standing for truth and justice against equivocators who would have us believe principles, values, laws are just for show and the truth doesn't matter much if it gets in the way of predator's goals. So, thanks to all contributors here. You've made a difference. As long as there are people like you I feel confident, all shall be well.

When I ask anyone their views on the Duke lacrosse case, they 'get it'. They know what it means to be Nifonged, they disapprove of the betrayals by Duke professors and administrations, the students are innocent and deserve our support. The evidence supports the conclusion that some of the so-called great universities' leadership and teachers are susceptible to corruption and betrayals of purpose. We have evidence of that, for example, in the support for Brodhead and the hiring of Group of 88 professor/perpetrators. But there are good guys in every system, some more than others. They are the ones who push back.

In sum, thanks to KC Johnson, co-author Stuart, and contributors here, for making our world better.


Kirk Parker said...

This is not just an ending, but also perhaps a beginning. You may be just going into a (well-deserved!) blogging retirement, but if not: where else might you be writing for public consumption?

Anonymous said...

Except it leaves NC citizens and visitors in even more of precarious position due to the ignoring and blocking of other serious issues in the Duke driven justice system that can have a detrimental effect on any and all, including himself and all other esteemed commentors to this site, that KC choose to 'delete' from the reality he puts forth on his blog. What harm that might cause in the future to innocents is yet to be fully seen. It's not like the dragon and the devil are dead, or anythang. In fact, one might assume that they are even more pissed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:34-----from what I've read, there is always this type of aftermath to an historical event when good has triumphed over evil. There is always future harm to innocents. There is always support for old, bad ways long after the evil has been exposed. I've come to accept this as part of the human condition. I ask you, does it matter that some battles were fought and won by the righteous? I think it does. I'm sorry for what Durham is left to suffer from small and possibly corrupt minds, but in my opinion, this is the way of the world. The way things played out there, the response from ethic's boards, the truths that emerged, the issues that were exposed, are part of the public's consciousness, this awareness makes us better able to respond to future evidence of wrong-doing. What's left there is in my opinion among the facts of life. Some people never change their views or alter their way of doing things---even as many of the rest of us move forward, and even as underlying bedrocks of professions and institutions are preserved----because of the acts of the righteous.

We aught ask no more from the righteous, in my opinion.

I wish you the best and hope you can appreciate past what is immediately before you.


Curtis said...

Thanks KC. Best wishes for your current and future endeavors.

Anonymous said...

Maria that pious bs wouldn't hold a ounce of reassurance and absolution from the quilt of letting others suffer even more because those whom now see the evil and harm and do nothing to stop further harm enables and empowers the 'evil doers' to harm even more, including you and yours and all other innocents. What does it say in history about that?

Anonymous said...

History says there are fools everywhere who tear at the best they've got for not doing even more...though what the best has done far surpasses the contributions made by almost anyone else.

Woe are the leaders/contributors who depends on others for accolades. He/she will never have done enough. Some will always want more and complain when they don't get if their expectations were reasonable, their wants do-able. Wishing is reasonable, expecting is disrespectful.

Why would you assume that individuals who contribute magnificently in one way are suited to contributing magnificently in a completely different way---because you want them to?

Anonymous said...

Because they spawned the harm to come, and ignore the harm that happened whilst they turned a deaf ear and silent pen?

Anonymous said...

With any upheaval there are aftermaths that have to be dealt with. The upheavals have to happen. The people who facilitate change may not be positioned or have the aptitude to deal with fallouts that aren't central to their effort. They did what they do best, better than anyone else. They likely will not be best suited to do something completely different, especially if it would undermine what they set out to accomplish and it is clear society has benefited from their accomplishment.

I would not have pestered Michelangelo to turn out art like Picasso (or my Uncle Fred...). Michelangelo did what was in him to do, and it was magnificent. A book and a blog like this are works of art and scholarship...unlike any other.

Corky Boyd said...


Thanks for your excellent coverage. You stopped a steamroller with the truth. In this day and age that's a tall order. You risked your academic career in doing so. Silence is the easy way out. You spoke out. And you won.

Anonymous said...

not if it spawned harm that scholarship readily available and demanding attention were ignored and denied - then it is what it is

Anonymous said...

I am a former Duke scholarship athlete whose faith in Duke was shaken to the core by the lacrosse incident. Then again, I attended Duke when Terry Sanford and Ken Pye were in charge, and well, no matter whether one agreed with them, they instinctively knew that taking care of the welfare of young people was an integral part of the job. This is not the case any longer at Duke. Professor Johnson, a heartfelt thanks for paying homage to the truth.

One thing I often find to be the case is that bright people such as Professor Johnson who "own" the facts and care about detail end up "more right" on issues than anyone could have guessed. Take, by way of example, Crystal Gail Mangum. The police knew from the get-go she was trouble, a serial fabricator with a felony record. The community knew she was trouble, too. But she was a caused who needed enabling, not a troubled person who needed boundaries and the criminal justice system. But now she sits in prison, a convicted murderer, allowed to spin for years like an out of control amoeba. This was the person the Group of 88 and legions of other apparatchiks lionized? Could they have chosen any worse?

Ditto for Nifong. As awful as his conduct was in the lacrosse case, well, now comes along the Darryl Howard decision. Could Professor Johnson been any more "right" about Nifong? Could William D. Cohan be anymore "wrong"? As as aside, it always bothered me that Nifong, a prosecutor in a town with many intelligent academics, well, isn't very bright, and coupled with a flawed ethical core, well,he reflects so badly on Durham it cannot be described.

The sad thing is that the Group of 88, the legions of enabling apparatchiks, and Durham won't learn from these incidents. The narrative is more important to them than the facts. I am grateful to people at Duke for what they did for me; I don't however, think are nearly as many principled and productive people at the school as there were in my day. Duke should hire Professor Johnson in a nano-second.

Frank Dobbs said...

Dick Brodhead was in seminars with me freshman year at Yale. It was clear that he was hard working, organized and talented, but he seem self-absorbed and never contributed to the common discussion. I'm sorry he never learned integrity and humility from the great works of we read together.

Make no mistake, we live in a time when anyone can be indicted and imprisoned if a prosecutor is so minded. We have created a machine of such power, and so little accountability, that King George himself might wonder why we ever bothered to rebel.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he wonders why we don't rebel even more, you just never know.

David Spence said...

Thanks from a NC career state prosecutor! Best wishes on you future endeavors! David Spence, Beaufort,NC

patriarchal landmine said...

the betrayal of the students starts with every woman who allowed this to happen without protest.

women wanted to watch a group of innocent men get hurt by a false accusation, to justify their own paranoia and victimhood mentality.

by far, the worst rapists to ever live, are women.

Anonymous said...

yeah right - not when those in charge of the betrayal and false accusations were men - how do you now blame it on all women and falsly accuse them without stepping on your own patriarchal landmine?

oh yeah, and then there are the patients with tubes stuck down their throats - yeah - they should've been protesting loud and clear cuz lord knows someone needs to hear

Anonymous said...

Haters gotta hate. It's really as simple as that. If you hate young white males from well-off families so much, what in God's name are you doing at Duke?!

It's like all they really care about is "high pay" and "high prestige"!

Anonymous said...


thank you, thank you, thank you.

you have shown a spotlight on many issues beyond the lacrosse case. the academy, media, the judicial system, etc.

i will continue to follow you thru other venues.

kudos to you !!!!!


Mary said...

I am going to miss DIW! It's the same feeling I get when the last page of a great book gets turned. My gratitude for YOUR integrity and writing clarity!
Thank you, Mary Hill

Mark said...

Dr. Johnson, I salute you:


Vox Clamantis In Desert said...

KC, thanks so much for your excellent blog, and your tireless dedication to liberty and justice for all.

All too few lawyers these days take "the oath" as seriously as you do.

Please continue to fight the good fight whenever and wherever truth, fairness and justice come under attack.


Jim In San Diego said...

[OK, We'll try one more time to tempt you....]

Just this month the Innocence Project, on the back of the exoneration of Darryl Howard, has called for a complete legal audit of all of corrupt former DA Mike Nifong's convictions.

The current Durham DA has - hold your breath - objected to the idea of an audit. [many of us expect such an audit could not ultimately be limited solely to Nifong - this is, after all, Durham in Wonderland]

So, the war for justice in Durham continues. A new and glorious battle is joined. The armies are choosing their positions, and marshaling their resources.

There is no single research resource on this planet more useful in this new battle than DIW. Within the yellowed pages of the archive are facts, analysis, and reporting which exist nowhere else:

We find there DA's Michael Nifong and Tracey Cline and others; the culture of injustice; the police participation; the politicians; the indifference of those who should be paying attention; the players.

A remarkable corpus of both reporting, and history. Probably irreplaceable.

Just some random thoughts, KC, from someone who admires you and what you have accomplished.

"ave atque vale"

Jim Peterson

William L. Anderson said...

KC, I only wish there were a mechanism by which I could produce a standing ovation in these comments. This is the best I can do, but if we can imagine that you are the professor and we are the students, I think this fits what you have done these past seven-plus years:

Anonymous said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you. As another parent of a male collegiate athlete at a North Carolina college at the time of the hoax, I had nightmares time and again that what befell RCD could so easily have happened to my son and his teammates.
Your efforts along with those other journalists "on the fly", JinC,Liestoppers, and the inimitable Duke Fact Checker determined that truth rather than a politically correct narrative would triumph. However, there were many months where those efforts seemed almost hopeless - yet you led the charge and provided the impetus for others to do, each in their small way, a way to destroy the gender/race prism through which many sought to view this case.

Like others, I am sad to see this blog come to an end but will bookmark Minding the Campus where I look forward to your trenchant comments on the issues that affect the groves of academe.

Thank you, again.

Catherine Schildknecht

Anonymous said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you. As another parent of a male collegiate athlete at a North Carolina college at the time of the hoax, I had nightmares time and again that what befell RCD could so easily have happened to my son and his teammates.
Your efforts along with those other journalists "on the fly", JinC,Liestoppers, and the inimitable Duke Fact Checker determined that truth rather than a politically correct narrative would triumph. However, there were many months where those efforts seemed almost hopeless - yet you led the charge and provided the impetus for others to do, each in their small way, a way to destroy the gender/race prism through which many sought to view this case.

Like others, I am sad to see this blog come to an end but will bookmark Minding the Campus where I look forward to your trenchant comments on the issues that affect the groves of academe.

Thank you, again.

Catherine Schildknecht

Anonymous said...

Is William Anderson a Communist?

Anonymous said...

KC, your dogged work has proven that facts can indeed triumph over lies, when they are carefully researched and clearly (repeatedly) presented. I am deeply grateful to you for your excellent work in pursuit of the truth, and I wish you well in whatever you turn your hand to do.

- David

Anonymous said...

KC, thank you so much for your Herculean efforts in running this blog. I've lurked from the beginning, fascinated with your insightful analysis. I bought your book and am looking forward to reading it. Again, thank you so much!


Anonymous said...

I still remember sitting on my front porch reading the N&O's inflammatory Sunday article that initially broke the story. I told my wife that morning that I thought the whole thing was a fabrication, because I refused to believe that the quality of the young men on the team would be so low as to allow the alleged rapes to take place. It seemed obvious that the reporter believed something happened. Thanks, KC, for being a force for truth and good with your blog. The thing that appalls me now is that Brodhead was not fired along with other key administrators/professors. Coach K, for being the "Leadership guru" showed no leadership in this sordid affair, and my opinion of him dropped. Since he has been the de facto face of Duke, he could have slowed the rush to judgement if he had stood up. Cowardly.
Thanks again, KC, great work on your part.

Anonymous said...

Many in this country including many lawyers will miss this blog and what is stands for. Thank you.

RighteousThug said...

KC: "an action that contradicted many of the basic values on which American higher education rests"

Inigo Montoya: "Boss, I do not think that word means what you think it means"

IOW, the "basic values on which American higher education rests" [now] are well represented by the Group of 88.

Your idea is a fable.

KC, it's been a blast, and a helluva journey. Thank you, and well done!

Anonymous said...

Coach K's leadership guruness just got a black man tased reportedly four times after the cops had the man down and hands ready for cuffing. Seems only Coach K is allowed to curse in public in NC without the threat of murder by cop, since the only thing the guy was doing was cursing on a public street in a crowd of other cursing people. Good ol' politically correct NC.

I wonder what caused more of a public disturbance, the man cursing in a crowd of other cursing people, or the cops who penned him to the ground and then tased him repeatedly because they think they can. What do you think Coach K would say about that?

Michael Beckerman said...

Reading this blog has been one of my great pleasures this year. I read also all the relevant books, including Cohan's of course, and the thoughtful approach and commitment of the blogger and the commentators was a great inspiration to me.

The sad fact is that while you can sometimes prove that "something happened" it's much harder to prove that "nothing happened." So when various forces are aligned innocent people can suffer terribly.

Anyway, thanks for all your work on this project. I'm in NY. Come and visit.

Mike Beckerman

Anonymous said...

A truly outstanding blog KC!!!!

I also found a synopsis of the villains at:

This synopsis puts this in perspective and hit the nail on the head for me. These people are just plain evil and, without a doubt, disgusting human beings.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to 10:18 PM (7/27/14) for the link to the list of Duke LAX malefactors. I had not seen it, and it clarified the roles of some of the "names" and brought out a couple that somehow I had missed.

As for # 1 on the list, I have often wondered how Ms. Levicy escaped any kind of punishment from the courts. The most distressing thing regarding the list is that most of these people still have their well-paying jobs, and, in some instances, better ones.

And thanks again for the umpteenth time to Professor Johnson along with Stuart Taylor and the many commenters of the Durham-in-Wonderland blog.

Anonymous said...

To all the Duke alums who get those annoying fund raising as so many of us....send them 88 dirty pennies every year.

Anonymous said...

88 pennies? Sounds like an excellent idea. We aren't Duke alum but what happened at Duke hit close enough to home (we have GWU alum)...that we will send 88 pennies anyway. I suppose we could roll them around in dirt to make our point.


Anonymous said...

Henry Adams said, "A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence ends." Just so KC Johnson. Your influence widens over time...

With great affection and admiration from the family of one of the Duke Lacrosse players


Thom Mayer, MD

Jim In San Diego said...

A last hurrah:

Decided to peruse the DIW Archive. Spent an hour. Could have spent half a year.

1682(!!!) blog posts. Each and every one with a point; the vast majority with something new and vital to report. Not one to be ashamed of, even in retrospect.

There are several history books here.

Thumbed through just a few posts at random:

- The Meehan Transcript (Dec 2006);

- the Group of 88;

- Nifong's assertion to the New York Times that, "If she says yes, its them, or one of them, I have an obligation to put that to a jury";

- The report from the N&O that, "the accuser told a different story to every single police officer or medical personnel who interviewed her";

- The Kathleen Parker column, inventing the new verb, "to nifong"..........

Dozens, and hundreds, and ultimately nearly two thousand (!!!) such posts over nearly eight years. All written with genuine journalistic integrity, and high intelligence.

Nothing like this has ever been accomplished before. No documentary, no reportorial series, nothing. Not ever.

The Pulitzer Prize Board asserts in its Prize criteria, that, "The Pulitzer Board seeks to recognize journalistic excellence in whatever format best conveys the excellence".

But, there is a caveat - no blogs invited. Must be a US newspaper which publishes at least twice a week.

The Pulitzer Prize criteria were written long ago. They suited a different time. They have become antiquated. They should be rewritten for the age we live in.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

"The Pulitzer Prize criteria were written long ago. They suited a different time. They have become antiquated. They should be rewritten for the age we live in."

The MSM will never recognize the competition. Ergo, let's just create such a prize ourselves--

I nominate KC Johnson to be on the board. A few other suitable names come to mind (mainly from FIRE, but a few others).

Annually they will accept nominations, and declare winners in various fields.

These will be announced to the press.

We might even call them the "Johnsons".

Bloggers who have won such awards will be allowed to display the emblem of the organization.

All it will take is writing up the criteria, and contacting those willing to serve.

The future prestige of the awards will be based on the quality of the work done by the recipients.

IE, in due course, such work may become recognized (and hence, the value of the award will be recognized).

Anonymous said...

Is Herschel Parker a Communist?

Focko Smitherman said...

The very model of a forensic blog, and of a man with a passion for real (not social) justice. Thanks, KC. And I'll still check back here from time to time, just in case.

Anonymous said...

Dear KC,

I followed this case from the beginning mostly via the Liestoppers blogs. After a time I added this blog to my favorites and it was my first internet visit of the day for many years even after your updates became infrequent. I still cannot bring myself to remove it as a favorite. I want to thank you. Thank you for all that you have done.

Best Regards,
QuadDog Hooligan

Lou M said...

Well done, sir. Thanks from a Dukie who was horrified at what happened, and thankful you exposed it so well.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how the new budget director for NC who is replacing Art Pope and who is the current President of the Duke Alumni Association will express his opinions about the 88 dirty penny alumni donation idea?

hman said...

I took that day off from work, April 11, 2007, because I did not want to break down and cry in front of my patients - which I knew would happen - when the Lax guys were vindicated.
I paid this story little attention at first. My only connection to Duke was that I had deliberately chosen to rotate thru UNC Chapel Hill instead because it was a public institution for non-rich folk.
But when Nifong actively avoided learning the facts about this case; especially, refusing to hear RSs story and following up on CGMs cell phone, I was all-in. I could not help myself.
Thanks, KC.

Anonymous said...

From Duke Chronicle - "Faculty talk Ferguson in town hall forum"

Wahneema Lubiano "We are going to have to do some things that push us past civility"

She is good at that, should have not a problem with that!

Duscany said...

You said when you first read the Group of 88 statement, you considered it a terrible betrayal by those faculty members of their students. I suspect the Group of 88 would never consider it a betrayal of any kind since they apparently never thought of white male students as "their" students anyway.

Anonymous said...

Reading these final comments has been fun and, KC, I hope you enjoyed them as well.

Sir, I am proud that a person of your stature, your dedication, and your excellence is my countryman.

Thank you for all of your efforts.

I remain,
Proudly Unaffiliated

hman said...

Hey.. It has always been 100% yur blog...
The truth is expensive to handle. Always.
Maybe sometimes the real price is only deferred...

Anonymous said...

Time to dig in to the UVA matter.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Late to the party, but would like to check in with the observation that by this blog, KC Johnson has demonstrated what the gold standard of a university professor is. Simply by rigorous inquiry, analysis and exposition, he has instructed us all, and serves as a strong model of how an educated human should behave.

It's rather frightening that so many other professors, including and beyond the Group of 88, appear devoted to an Orwellian negation of said gold standard.

Many thanks, Dr. Johnson.

M. Simon said...

It was an honor and privilege to participate.