Journalism justifies its own existence by the great Darwinian principle of the survival of the vulgarist. — Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)Updated — today's items:
BITTER HACK SPORTS REPORTER
Steve Marcus, Newsday:
Duke: The greatest story never told -- Beware of books promising to tell the "untold story.'' Case in point, "It's not about the truth,'' subtitled "The untold story of the Duke lacrosse case and the lives it shattered.''
Author Don Yaeger, with surprisingly meager contribution from former Duke coach Mike Pressler, does not deliver the promise of the title and breaks precious little new ground in what largely turns out to be a reiteration of what already had been known about the case that captivated a segment of the country for about a year...
Also, one player was quoted saying to a black dancer, "Tell your grandfather I said thanks for my cotton shirt.'' A deplorable line that was left unexamined.
As for Pressler's pre-publication promise to tell the untold story, it doesn't happen here. He is very much a bit player in the book and his role, it appears, is to have provided access to Duke players. Yaeger paints Pressler as heroic, having one former Duke official calling him ``great.'' It just doesn't seem to fit. Pressler said he enjoyed the fact that he players hung out together and didn't think it was his place to monitor their activities off the field. That is his lasting failure as Duke coach. Bet he keeps closer tabs on them now at Bryant College. Yaeger cites Pressler's 100 percent graduation of Duke players as his crowning achievement. Someone, I don't think he'll be remembered for that. It is highly irrelevant to the issue.
The Duke case does not need profiteers (though this book is not selling very well) but an objective looks back by someone, say, of Bob Woodward's ilk. Presumably, he or someone of his ilk would offer a dispassionate rendering of the facts.
There is a blogger out there who has deftly put together all things Duke in an almost obsessional fashion and it goes deeper than anything this book has to offer. However, K.C. Johnson's blog is an often-lopsided ode to the players and his sycophantic devotion to them. Alas, he too has written a book.
comment: The 14 Amazon reviews of the Yaeger/Pressler book have averaged 4 1/2 stars out of 5. The Yaeger/Pressler book certainly made many new revelations regarding Duke University and the mob mentality, like the Chauncey Nartey email, the John Burness (a Marcus source) backstabbing, etc.
verynot surprising to see Marcus take a cheap shot at KC Johnson like he did. Marcus must be a close pal of Duff Wilson. Maybe he wants to get off Long Island and work at the NY Times someday. K.C. Johnson co-wrote his book with Stuart Taylor Jr., who covered legal issues for the NY Times for many years. Mr. Taylor is a highly regarded legal reporter. Marcus doesn't mention him by name.
This might be just a simple case of a "Main Stream Media" guy resenting a talented "amateur" showing-up the "professional" journalists. How dare a blogger show that many of the professional journalists are hacks that could not see the Nifong/Mangum hoax when it was presented to them on a silver platter.
It's hot and we're slow. Figured out why Marcus has an axe to grind with KC Johnson. Prof. Johnson shredded a Marcus hack story back on April 9, 2007:
Channeling Selena Roberts -- Columnist Steven Marcus does his best imitation of Selena Roberts in a column just up on the Newsday website. (This is the same columnist who recently criticized Chaminade High School for having Collin Finnerty as a volunteer assistant coach.) Marcus' column features lengthy quotations from John Burness, plus a brief remark from an unnamed "administrator," with no pretense of balance...
KC Johnson on the many revelations contained in the Yaeger/Pressler book:
On the Bookshelf
On the Bookshelf, II
Until Proven Innocent by Stuart Taylor Jr. & KC Johnson
“Brutally honest, unflinching, exhaustively researched, and compulsively readable, Until Proven Innocent excoriates those who led the stampede—the prosecutor, the cops, the media—but it also exposes the cowardice of Duke’s administration and faculty. Until Proven Innocent smothers any lingering doubts that in this country the presumption of innocence is dead, dead, dead.”
— John Grisham
The Husaria blog:
Duke 88 (or Group of 88) = “Duke Heil Hitler” -- “88″ is white supremacist shorthand for “Heil Hitler” (H being the eighth letter of the alphabet). As an example, if a white supremacist writes “14/88″ he means “The Fourteen Words” (a white supremacist slogan) followed by “Heil Hitler.” This can be verified from the Anti-Defamation League’s Web site. We have seen some very nasty material on YouTube by individuals who use “1488″ in their identities...
Obstruction of Justice -- The recently released Order of Discipline against Nifong makes clear that the crimes suggested by Kennedy merit investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice...
If [Attorney General Roy] Cooper was genuinely looking to the State Bar for guidance before addressing criminal charges of obstruction of justice, it would appear that he now has the answers he was waiting for. In light of the DHC’s findings that indicate clearly that the defrocked DA committed felony obstruction of justice, Cooper now has no excuse for delaying a decision on pursuing criminal charges against Nifong. Given his public suggestion that the possibility of criminal charges remained up and the more would be known about whether charges are warrant upon conclusion of the State Bar investigation and hearing, the AG must now either commence a criminal investigation or explain why he has decided, after waiting for findings which clearly indicate that charges are warranted, to give Nifong a pass for his felony.
As with AG Cooper and the pass given to Nifong on felony obstruction of justice charges, the Department of Justice remains silent on federal charges despite the clear outline presented by the DHC...
The Nifong Sexual Assault Wall of Shame -- Dear UNC-Wilmington Board of Trustees:
Several years ago, I made a funding request for a new Men’s Resource Center (MRC) at UNC-Wilmington. This was largely in response to the establishment of a Women’s Resource Center (WRC) here on our predominantly female campus. Back then, I made the request on the grounds of Equal Protection. Today, I renew my request in light of recent attacks on male college students in North Carolina – all at the hands of dangerous sexual predators.
As you all know, Mike Nifong recently helped an emotionally disturbed woman levy a false rape accusation against some innocent college students at Duke University. This was done in order to win votes and sympathy from the black community in Durham, North Carolina. His decision to prosecute a demonstrably false rape case in order to gratify his own political desires - even if his misconduct causes permanent psychological damage to his victims – renders him morally equivalent, in many ways, to an actual rapist. For that reason I will hereafter refer to Mike Nifong as a sexual predator.
Because Mike Nifong is a sexual predator who has, as of this writing, managed to escape criminal prosecution, I think it is important to make his name known to innocent male college students who may not be aware of the danger he poses to people who are not, in fact, sexual predators. I plan to do this by establishing a thing called the “Nifong Sexual Assault Wall of Shame” at the UNC-Wilmington MRC. This can only happen if you will consent to fund the center and, hopefully, place it in close proximity to the WRC...
Exonerated Duke suspect awaits fresh start at Brown -- Reade Seligmann '09 is sitting in a Starbucks a block away from Times Square, talking about some of the students he knows at Brown, when a woman with black hair, heavy, dark-blue eye shadow and an "I Love NY" shirt approaches the table.
"Would you care for a psychic reading?" she asks.
Seligmann looks up at her, unfazed, and quickly smiles.
"No thanks," he says. Then he adds: "I think I know where I'm going."
It seems like a bold statement for Seligmann, who admits he couldn't say that a few months ago, when he was one of three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping an exotic dancer at a team party in March 2006.
But this evening, Seligmann looks relaxed, if a little tired after 11 hours of work at Bear Stearns, the New York investment bank where he is an intern. He is wearing a white Oxford shirt with an orange tie. His sleeves are rolled up.
Tonight, all Seligmann wants to talk about is Brown, where he will enroll this fall as a transfer student and lacrosse recruit. He asks several questions about the open curriculum, the faculty and the history department, where he will be a concentrator. He says, half-jokingly, that he would quit his internship on the spot if he could start the semester the next day.
After a nightmarish year spent in the national spotlight, hounded by the media and the thought of spending the beginning of his adult life in prison, the 21-year-old Seligmann now has a destination, and he's ready to be a college student again.
He knows he'll get stares when he introduces himself on the first day of class. He knows that, as a top varsity athlete, he'll have to fight the dumb jock stereotype he says he tried to overcome at Duke. He knows he'll meet skeptics who still think something happened at that party...
KC Johnson: Seligmann in Brown Daily Herald
LS forum: Reade Seligmann on the LAX Case, Brown University, Lengthy Interview in Brown Daily Herald
TalkLeft: Exonerated Duke suspect awaits fresh start at Brown
John in Carolina: This Made Me Smile
Craig Henry, Lead & Gold blog:
The Duke perp walk -- It was a piece of videotape that was replayed hundreds of times on television. Reade Seligmann and Colin Finnerty arriving for their arraignment, handcuffed, and in the back of police cars. Look, the pictures said, the DPD chased down two dangerous men.
It was one more lie in a case founded and perpetuated by lies. A story in the Brown Daily Herald tells us what really happened:He and fellow sophomore Collin Finnerty, who was also indicted the day before, drove to the back of the Durham County jail, where they had arranged to meet officers. (Team captain David Evans, who held the party where the rape was said to have occurred, would be indicted a month later.) They were handcuffed and then driven 15 yards to the front of the jail, where camera crews were waiting, Seligmann says. He believes Nifong orchestrated the whole thing to maximize media attention.
Why don't lawyers hold each other accountable?
Another issue that arose after Mike Nifong's ethics hearing was how lawyers judge each other's misconduct, or lack of it.
"For a panel of lawyers to strip another lawyer of his license to practice law is a rarity indeed. This is the legal equivalent of a unicorn sighting," said former prosecutor Susan Filan on MSNBC.
"I don't know of a single case of discipline against a prosecutor who engaged in misconduct that produced the wrongful conviction and death sentence, and many of the cases involve serious misconduct," said Law Professor Samuel Gross of the University of Michigan, quoted by in The New York Times on June 24.
If lawyers hold doctors, CEOs, and everyone else, even the president of the United States, responsible for their misconduct, then why do lawyers not hold fellow lawyers responsible for their misconduct? Isn't engaging in serious misconduct that assists in sending an innocent person to death a more serious crime than involuntary manslaughter; especially in a constitution that takes very seriously in protecting the innocent?
Why are lawyers evading these hands of justice that they put others through, but keep themselves above the law? How can a nation safeguard democracy?
Durham---------Bias freely admitted
I wholeheartedly admit, especially to Nancy McCaffrey [Letters, July 9] that, yes, I do have a bias. This could be the reason I submitted my bias/opinion to the opinions page. I welcome all opinions, and I am grateful to The Herald-Sun for publishing not just my opinion but all other opinions, including yours. This, I'm sure you may know, is what Jurgen Habermas coined the as public sphere.
In fact, if you have read any other of my biased letters, you may have observed the predilection for things that are fair and just. By design or coincidence, I noticed that you failed to mention that I considered former district attorney Mike Nifong's methods "reprehensible." I also observed that you chose not to challenge the facts I presented via ESPN nor take a position on the sexist and bordering on racist slur hurled by Rush Limbaugh.
If we can, lets sidestep opinion for a bit and come back to some simple facts. These boys have a history of throwing wild parties and underage drinking. These boys ordered up an exotic dancer for delivery. Do these behaviors personify mature college students?
W. RUSSELL ROBINSON
Duke, NCCU collaboration takes root with STEM -- As the Duke lacrosse case played out and the nation saw Durham as a city divided along racial and class lines, students and faculty at Duke and N.C. Central universities quietly reached out to each other.
There was a festival, a charity event and a night out at a Durham Bulls game, all efforts to illustrate that these two universities -- just a few miles between them but worlds apart in many ways -- could get along even as the sordid details of the lacrosse case were laid plain on the nation's front pages.
But deep inside science labs at Duke and NCCU, new working relationships are also taking root.
Monty Reichert hopes the project he is helping spearhead will lead to more joint work between researchers at the two universities. And although he's excited about the work that will be done once the initiative -- dubbed the STEM Project -- gets under way, he says the research itself is secondary.
"The relationship is the bigger deal than the science in this particular case," said Reichert, who teaches biomedical engineering at Duke.
In the lacrosse saga, Reichert and Saundra DeLauder, an NCCU chemist, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the public statements from both universities professing close relationships and an interest in collaboration.
They called their universities on these claims, securing $100,000 in funding through Duke's provost's office. The result: a two-year initiative joining Duke and NCCU faculty members and an NCCU graduate student in the sciences, in the hopes of furthering minority achievement in the STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Faculty collaboration between the two schools isn't common, Reichert said, but the STEM Project offers benefits to both...
More Compare & Contrast -- It’s worth remembering that the AP’s Aaron Beard (below) entered the case without an extensive background in criminal justice issues—his regular beat is North Carolina sports. Nor did he begin the case with the kinds of sources that Joe Neff or reporters from the Chronicle would use effectively.
In this respect, he started at the same point as the key reporters (Duff Wilson) and columnists (Selena Roberts, Harvey Araton) with the New York Times. Beard’s ability to work hard, do his job, and produce a consistent stream of quality reporting makes all the more troubling the Times’ poor performance on the case...
Hailing the AP -- the case-related reporter published in the most newspapers was the AP’s Aaron Beard. Indeed, with the possible exception of Duff Wilson in the New York Times, more people read about developments in the lacrosse case from Beard than from any other print journalist.
Because Beard doesn’t write for a specific newspaper, it’s easy to overlook the quality of his work: most people commenting on the case (including me) have been more comfortable in identifying coverage by the newspaper in which it appeared—i.e., the Times, or the Chronicle, or the N&O, or the Herald-Sun.
Beard, however, managed to combine reporting excellence with an ability to break a variety of stories on the case...
Laughter through tears for Marlette -- Friends celebrate the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who died in an auto accident -- Kathleen Parker, a Washington-based columnist, friend and one of 10 eulogists who spoke Saturday, said Marlette was the backbone of an "irreverent band of fellow truth seekers." Perhaps the closest of Marlette's kindred spirits, famed novelist Pat Conroy, also spoke Saturday...
Conroy lambasted Gurganus and other Hillsborough writers for their attacks on Marlette's work. He weaved in a short account of the disdain he and Marlette shared for knee-jerk reactions to the Duke lacrosse affair.
"Doug and I hated what happened to the Duke lacrosse team and the lynch mob that pursued them because of the stupid group of 88," he said, referring to an alliance of Duke professors who denounced team members following unsubstantiated allegations of rape.
But most of Conroy's eulogy was filled with humor and, in the end, warm sentiment."What do you do when your heart breaks and you can't call Doug Marlette to fix it?" ...
KC Johnson: Doug Marlette -- ...who produced some of the best--and most biting--cartoons on the case..
Doug Marlette laid to rest -- Those who knew him best gathered for a funeral service Saturday afternoon to say goodbye to Doug Marlette.
A large crowd gathered at the Walnut Grove United Methodist Church in Hurdle Mills to honor and remember Mr. Marlette, a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, novelist and playwright.
Speakers included political writer and novelist Joe Klein, who wrote "Primary Colors"; Tulsa World Editor Ken Neal; and political writer Bernie Reeves, as well as novelist Pat Conroy, who called Mr. Marlette his best friend...
Speakers at the funeral talked about Mr. Marlette's accomplishments, including winning the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in The Charlotte Observer and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1988.
They spoke of a man who was often controversial, who had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, who loved his wife and son above all else and had a fierce love for the small-town America he illustrated in his comic strip "Kudzu," which was syndicated worldwide and appears in The Herald-Sun.
"He loved mutiny," said writer Will Blythe. "He enlarged one's sense of life. He made us all co-conspirators in the battle against mediocrity." ...
The H-S on Marlette -- The H-S covered the service in an unusual fashion: though Marlette had penned several cartoons on the lacrosse case, had specifically taken on the Group of 88, and had his work on the Group referenced by Pat Conroy (who the H-S describes as Marlette's "best friend"), Conroy's remarks about the Group passed unmentioned in the H-S.
The omission confirmed yet again the approach of Ashley's editorship: "We conceal, you decide." ..
David Whitley, orlandosentinel.com:
When PUSH comes to shove, Jackson turns into a sideshow -- Baseball needs to brace itself. Jesse Jackson has found a new victim.
Jackson was at the all-star game Tuesday night, claiming the sport has been unfair to Barry Bonds. His comments were preposterous, but that never seems to matter when Jesse's Circus hits town...
I'm astonished Jackson kept a straight face through his speechifying. Surely he knew that when he started complaining about unproven allegations, rushes to judgment and due process, critics would point out how he was Selig Squared in the Duke lacrosse fiasco.
"It's like there is no innocence until proven guilty," Jackson said. "In American justice, evidence matters."
Evidence? You mean like airtight alibis, negative DNA tests and a psychotic accuser? None of that mattered to Jackson when it came to the three Duke lacrosse players.
He zipped into Durham, N.C., and fought with Al Sharpton to see who could whip up the largest protest and get the most TV time. Jesse won that round of demagoguery by promising to pay for the alleged victim's college education.
As everyone now knows, the woman actually perpetrated the crime. Hopefully the players are not waiting for Jackson to apologize.
Being Jesse means never having to say you're sorry. His activism was productive many years and countless shakedowns ago...
Prosecutor Mike Nifong a scapegoat in Duke LaCrosse case -- What the Group of 88 and the race zealots fail to tell you in their rush to sound more righteous than everyone else by making accusations of racism and sexism is that this case wasn’t about either. Sources close to the parties say the feud developed because the LaCrosse team hired strippers for a party, weren’t impressed by the strippers, and didn’t want to pay them, so one of the strippers wanted revenge. This situation could have happened to anyone who hired strippers – the strippers could have been white and male; their gender and race was irrelevant. Now that several boys’ lives have been ruined and the accuser has been shown to have lied, the race-baiters who stirred it up and made things worse egging on Nifong and the media are getting off scott free. The only positive outcome in this case is that the Duke LaCrosse players should have some really good book deals in the future, and maybe a lesson will be learned all around regarding hiring strippers for entertainment. However, don’t expect the “Group of 88” or their race-baiting media opportunists friends like Jackson to suffer. They’ll probably also enjoy book deals from it and additional spots on TV as “experts.” ...
INNOCENT: Is Whichard in a jam? --
Raleigh News & Observer
To the Editor:
Willis P. Whichard, chair of the Duke Lacrosse Investigative Committee, is in a jam. His problem is whether to roll over and participate in a cover-up of the Duke Lacrosse frame or do the right thing by helping expose the Durham Police Department’s complicity. Mr. Whichard is a former State Supreme Court Justice and member of the NC Senate and House. By all accounts, he’s reputable and has an admirable public service record. At age 67, his legacy would seem secure.
One hopes Mr. Whichard doesn’t throw away what he’s earned by not doing his duty. Recent revelations from depositions made for Mike Nifong’s bar trial seem to show a conspiracy between him and the Durham PD. Mike Nifong didn’t frame those three young men by himself - he obviously had help from some in the police department. The public needs to know who it was and why it was done.
Duke lacrosse lawyers overcome a 'rush to judgement' -- “The most frightening thing that can happen to human beings . . . and it’s happened throughout recorded history, is a rush to judgment. We saw and suffered a rush to judgment and luckily we overcame it. If we had been representing poor, indigent people, we would have never overcome it.”
North Carolina attorney Joe Cheshire was speaking to a hushed audience at the American College of Trial Lawyers dinner June 28 during the Bar’s Annual Convention in Orlando. He was talking about the recent notorious Duke lacrosse case, where he had represented Dan Evans, a team captain and one of three players charged with raping, sexually assaulting, and kidnapping a stripper hired for a team party...
“What’s happened is we have developed a culture in this country where winning is more important than seeing justice is done. Winning and statistics are more important than seeing that justice is done.”
Cheshire added that the Duke case “has shone this light on the entire country to what we need to do to change our criminal justice system to make it better. What Americans have said finally — and I think very firmly — is we want tough justice but we want justice to be fair.” ...
Sunday News -- Stefanie Williams, a columnist for the University of Maryland newspaper, had a first-rate post last week in the Liestoppers forum, explaining her activism on the case. It’s reproduced below, and is a useful reminder about the absurdity of using caricature, as so often occurred over the past 16 months, in discussing events in Durham..
Mike Pressler ... LieStoppers/“Wisdom of Mike” ... Peter McDougall letter in the Wall Street Journal on the Group of 88...
Hoping Lopez says yes to chief's job -- It looks like City Manager Patrick Baker has offered the job of police chief to Hartford, Conn. Assistant Chief Jose Lopez, and that Lopez will spend the weekend touring Durham with his wife and discussing details of the job with Baker.
We're keeping our fingers crossed that the Lopezes like what they see and hear and make the decision to come to Durham.
The job was down to a choice between Lopez and Ron Hodge, the longtime Durham officer who served as assistant chief under retiring Chief Steve Chalmers.
Hodge had plenty of good qualities to recommend him, but we were pleased that Baker decided to reach outside the DPD to a candidate who can bring a fresh perspective to fighting crime in Durham.
It sounds like Baker made the right moves before offering the job to Lopez, visiting Hartford in June to interview city officials and residents and waiting until a background check into the candidates was completed.
Hodge had the benefit of being well-known in Durham, but that's a sword that cuts two ways. He wasn't helped by what is widely viewed as a mishandling of the infamous lacrosse case, or by one of his answers in a public forum, that he couldn't recall any major mistakes the department had made...
Interest in news wanes among young -- I doubt anyone in my line of work is surprised any more by studies that indicate young people are less likely to read a newspaper than their elders.
That fact, documented repeatedly, has become a harsher truth for us in recent years.
Most newspapers, this one included, have struggled mightily to reverse or at least slow that trend, partly out of a sense of survival and partly because most of us in newspapers really do believe we perform an important function in informing citizens.
But a new study out last week not only adds new and, I must confess, discouraging weight to that analysis. It also bodes ill, I think, for civic participation and discourse generally.
The study, "Young People and News," found that young adults are increasingly disengaged from news, especially what might be considered "hard news" of politics and civic affairs.
John in Carolina:
Cross Burnings, Seligmann & The H-S’s Double Standard --
Dear Editor Ashley:
Your column today was a missed opportunity to consider why so many Durhamites, regardless of age, are turning away from the Herald Sun.
Yes, most newspapers are experiencing circulation declines, but some are experiencing increases.
In the last two years few newspapers in America have been more favorably placed to experience a circulation increase than the H-S...
I think a major reason is that you so often spin and suppress news rather than just straight out report it. Another is that you don’t have an even-handed editorial policy...
Women at risk of sexual assault, education and support needed -- "Duke case affecting others?" read a headline in The Herald-Sun on July 10. Please allow me to enlighten readers with a response that doesn't come with a law degree, badge or journalist's view. My view is one of survival and triumph without closure from our criminal justice system. My response entails all that I've learned as a sexual assault victim -- then a survivor.
To answer the question: Sure, the Duke case is affecting others -- if they allow it. I am lucky enough to have chosen a support system in addition to and beyond the criminal justice system.
I passed the Orange County Rape Crisis Center so many times on my route to work in Chapel Hill. Thank God I knew where to go for support, because my county didn't provide a support system. I live in a less progressive county (Person County). There is no SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) at Person County Memorial Hospital. That is, until I started writing letters and screaming about the horrors of what 1 in 5 women are dealing with in our state. I've seen statistics as high as 1 in 3. I do believe someone listened. Thank you.
Person County is my home and heritage. I am able to drive a short distance to the cemetery where the last six generations rest in peace. There isn't a more beautiful place on earth to me. Though at times, I've felt it easier to leave the county, I've felt it safer to be somewhere more progressive. Yet I am making the choice to stay, to keep writing letters and screaming until other women have more options and an acceptable support system...