Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Duke Case — Feds May Probe

Feds May Probe NifongToday's items - updated:

Anne Blythe / News & Observer:
AG asks for federal investigation of lacrosse case -- The state attorney general has asked federal prosecutors to help conduct a criminal probe into former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong and other government officials involved with the Duke lacrosse case, according to a lawyer representing one of the three exonerated players.

Charlotte lawyer Jim Cooney outlined the request in a three-page letter sent to three high-ranking U.S. Justice Department administrators.

The letter was copied to Jim Coman, a special prosecutor for the state who led the criminal investigation that led to the exoneration of the three lacrosse players, Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann."

On behalf of Reade Seligmann and his family, I respectfully request that the government of the United States grant the request of the North Carolina Attorney General and participate in a joint investigation into the events of this prosecution," Cooney wrote in his Oct. 9 letter.

The letter was addressed to Craig S. Morford, acting U.S. deputy attorney general in Washington; Christopher J. Christie, U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey, and Anna Mills Waggoner, U.S. attorney for the middle district of North Carolina.

In January, Seligmann and his father filed a complaint with Christie, according to Cooney's letter. [...]

KC Johnson:
Cooper: Joint Federal-State Investigation Needed

LieStoppers blog:

AG asks for federal investigation of lacrosse case
-- Liestoppers has stopped the clock. Time it has taken Roy Cooper to start a criminal investigation:
131 Days, 11 Hours, 45 Minutes, 28 Seconds.

John in Carolina:

LieStoppers forum:
AG asks for federal investigation of, lacrosse case

Federal help sought in Duke case

Tamara Gibbs / ABC11-TV:
Federal probe considered in Duke LAX case -- There could be new trouble for former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. There's word state Attorney General Roy Cooper wants federal prosecutors to launch an investigation into the Duke Lacrosse case. [...]
Clarence Page / book review/ Daily-Journal [IL]:
Nifong's misconduct in Duke lacrosse case -- When Mike Nifong reported to jail last month to serve a 24-hour sentence in Durham, N.C., a small band of die-hard supporters carried signs that said, "We believe in your integrity and goodness." I wonder if they believe in the tooth fairy, too.

Every wicked man is right in his own eyes, the Book of Proverbs says. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us should cheer him on.

Nifong is the former Durham County district attorney who brought the notoriously bogus rape case against three Duke University lacrosse team members, a rape case that turned out to have no rape.

So far, the only person to be convicted of anything is the prosecutor. A breathtaking list of procedural abuses led to his disbarment, resignation and prosecution. The abuses included the withholding by his office of DNA evidence for more than nine months that proved the three athletes' innocence. [...]
Tony Soprano/ LieStoppers Forum:
** Nifong thanks his supporters! **
Firstzenmaster / YouTube:
Nifong thanks his supporters; Wind Beneath his Wings [3:43]

Queen Bee Melanie Sill: no royal hoaxHoax Queen Bee lands in Sacramento. Workers start making royal jelly.

Dale Kasler / Sacramento Bee:
Melanie Sill is named The Bee's new top editor -- The Raleigh, N.C., journalist stresses the need for change. -- Hailed as a risk taker who will push the newspaper further into the Internet age, North Carolina newspaper editor Melanie Sill was named editor and senior vice president of The Bee on Tuesday. [...]

Sill was in the thick of one of the most explosive stories to hit North Carolina in recent years, the accusations of rape against a group of Duke University lacrosse players.

After the players were eventually exonerated, the national media were roundly criticized for taking the rape allegations at face value. The News & Observer's public editor said the paper did a far better job than most of digging beneath the surface but committed some "serious missteps" in the first few weeks, including making references to the accuser as "a victim."

Sill said Tuesday the Duke case was "one of the hardest stories I've ever worked with," but her paper's coverage stands up well. "Our news reporting was pretty straight," she said. [...]
Duke Chronicle:
  • Angie Rhoads / Letter:
    Duke needs change, better leadership -- Dear Presidential Review Committee: As a member of a Duke family (father, Erwin Baumer, '57; sister, Adrienne Baumer Port, '90; brother-in-law, Chris Port, '90; husband, Thomas Rhoads, '92) and a recent returnee to the Triangle, it goes without saying that the events of Spring 2006 were quite distressing.

    I was saddened by the allegations, but horrified by the University's response. Duke's administration was so utterly concerned with being "politically correct" that they were an embarrassment to the entire Duke community. The whole situation was a mess, exacerbated by President Richard Brodhead and the faculty. My husband and brother-in-law were student athletes at Duke and could not fathom how the University could abandon those boys in their hour of need. How isolated they must have felt (and probably still do)!

    In my humble opinion, the president and the 88 faculty members are no less accountable than former Durham district attorney Mike Nifong himself. It is time for a change! The inadequacy of President Brodhead's leadership has been on display to the world, must Duke University continue to be cast in the shadow of this underwhelming person?

    Angie Rhoads
    Trinity '92

  • Anna Lieth:
    4 express interest in DA position -- Several candidates will seek Mike Nifong's old job in the 2008 election for Durham County district attorney-all of whom served on his staff.

    Three candidates-Mitchell Garrell, Freda Black and Tracey Cline-declared their intention to run Monday. A fourth possible candidate, Steve Monks, said he will consider running if he is not elected to the Durham City Council next week.

    David Saacks currently holds the position after taking over for interim district attorney Jim Hardin in September. After the 2008 election, Saacks will step down and has said he does not intend to stand for the post. [...]

  • Bringing athletics to Allen
  • Profs speak on enhancement plan
Forum topics of note:
Steel Gets Free Ride -- So little is written about Steel's role. Even the substantial energy of KC exposing wrong doing rarely mentions him, yet Steel probably developed Duke's strategy to give the students up. Indeed, in his 10/4 post on FODU, Jason Trumpboux said STEEL TOLD HIM THE ADMINISTRATION WANTED THE CASE TO GO TO TRIAL [...]

Jon Ham / LieStoppers forum:
Proof lacrosse saves lives, Poignant story from the Great North -- As anyone know who has been around the game, lacrosse has the ability to grab hold of kids and not let go. In the case of the little town in northern Canada, it is actually saving lives.
Another Wrongly Convicted Story

Ann Zimmerman / front page Oct. 30th / Wall St. Journal [subscription req.]:
A Convict Freed By DNA Evidence Tries to Find a Life -- After 24 Years in Prison, Mr. Williams Needs Help; A Stranger to His Family -- Michael Anthony Williams took a road trip through the Southeast recently, looking for a place that felt like home.

For more than half his 43 years, Mr. Williams had lived in the infamously tough Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He had been convicted of raping and beating his school tutor when he was 16 years old. Only his family believed him when he said he was innocent.

DNA testing finally exonerated him, and he was released in March 2005. But since then, Mr. Williams has lived in a different kind of prison. After 24 years of estrangement, he says his six brothers and sisters want nothing to do with him. He has little education, no job skills and few friends.

"It's been lonely," he says. "Very lonely."

Mr. Williams is one of a growing number of convicts - more than 200 so far - who have been freed from prison after DNA testing proved them innocent. [...]

"Exonerees are like torture victims or political prisoners, given the psychological trauma they've suffered," says Vanessa Potkin, as staff attorney with the Innocence Project [...]
Michael Anthony Williams exonerated by DNA evidencerelated:
Why do eyewitnesses identify the wrong person? -- After being misidentified by a rape victim who saw him in the moonlight, 16-year-old Michael Williams (right) was convicted by a Louisiana jury and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He served 24 years before DNA testing proved his innocence. Learn how misidentification has led to 77% of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA. [...]
Every time a story like that of Michael Williams comes up, it is a shameful reminder of the of NAACP's hypocrisy in the Duke lacrosse rape hoax.

Run over by the NAACP - The Johnsville News

Save the Cheerleader

The cheerleader is okay, she is just bruised. She was interviewed on Good Morning America.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Duke Case — Oct. 30, 2007

Today's items - updated:

John Drescher / Melanie SillCraig Jarvis / News & Observer:
N&O names new executive editor -- John Drescher, the managing editor of The News & Observer, became the newspaper's top editor today. He succeeds Melanie Sill, who was named editor of sister paper The Sacramento Bee.

The announcements were made simultaneously in the Raleigh and Sacramento newsrooms late this afternoon and took effect immediately. Both newspapers are owned by the California-based McClatchy Co.

Drescher, 47, becomes the newspaper's seventh executive editor. He also became a Senior Vice President of the News & Observer.

"I cannot think of anyone more qualified to lead our newsroom," N&O president and publisher Orage Quarles III said in a prepared statement. "He brings all the necessary skill sets needed to help us navigate through the challenging environment that we face."

Quarles said Drescher has a passion for investigative reporting, public service and local news coverage. Sill, he said, would be missed.

"There are few people who have the passion and commitment that she brings each day to our newspaper," he said.

"I always knew it was a possibility we could lose Mel someday, or John for that matter," Quarles said in an interview earlier in the afternoon. "Now that day has come." [...]

John in Carolina:
N&O’s Hoax Editors Promoted
-- The McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer “broke” what was then called “the Duke lacrosse rape story” with a front-page "news report" on March 24, 2006 that repeatedly told readers the then anonymous Crystal Mangum was the “victim.”

The N&O followed that the next day with another front-page "news report" about what it said was “an ordeal” that ended in “sexual violence.”

The N&O withheld from that story the critically important news Mangum had given the N&O: Directly contradicting what Mike Nifong claimed, Mangum told the N&O the other dancer at the lacrosse party had also been raped, but didn’t report it for fear of losing her job.

The N&O sat for thirteen months on that news, disclosing it only the day after the NC AG had declared the players innocent. [...]

John in Carolina:
N&O Ignores Suggestion, Questions --
Just a few years ago the N&O made what it said was a sincere apology for its long history of race-baiting. The N&O promised readers it would no longer race-bait.

But soon after that, the N&O launched its deliberately false, racially-inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage.

By withholding relevant news and promoting the lie that white lacrosse players hadn’t cooperated with police, the N&O helped bring about the indictments of three innocent white men. [...]

LieStoppers forum:

N&O names new executive editor
, Melanie Sill flees to Sacramento, CA

comment: So, Drescher has a passion for investigative reporting, public service and local news coverage. Melanie Sill did not have a passion for investigative journalism. The Duke rape hoax was christened, launched, and allowed to drift at sea on her watch.
Michael Cassidy / Docuticker / Boston College Law School Faculty Papers:
The Prosecutor and the Press: Lessons (Not) Learned from the Mike Nifong Debacle -- Using the Mike Nifong disciplinary case in North Carolina as a focal point, the author examines the disciplinary rules pertaining to public speech by attorneys during the pendency of a criminal case. In light of the Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, the author argues that certain of the provisions of Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules 3.6 and 3.8, may violate the first amendment, at least as applied to an elected prosecutor speaking during a political campaign. While former District Attorney Nifong made several statements to the media during the so-called “Duke Lacrosse” investigation that were clearly overzealous and impermissible even under the narrowest reading of the ethical rules, other public statements that he made and was later disciplined for may have been protected by the first amendment.
Full Paper (PDF; 24 pages, 168 KB)
Michael Gaynor /
Duke Case: Sure Sam Hummel Sure Was Wrong -- THAT man, Sam Hummel, was insistent that Duke lacrosse players had raped false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum.

The date was Sunday, March 26, 2006.

As midnight approached, Sam, then Duke's Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, sent out a group email on a Duke email account:

The subject line of that email read: "MONDAY: SPEAK-OUT in response to recent rape".

NOT alleged rape!

Sam was soooo sure, so skilled, so passionate. [...]
KC Johnson:
LieStoppers forum:
Candidate Cline's Extraordinary Assertion, or "I know nothing! nothing!"
Samantha Harris / Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [FIRE]:
In Response to Pressure, Duke President Richard Brodhead Folds Like a Lawn Chair -- This week, we continue the exploration begun last week (here and here) of Duke President Richard Brodhead’s deplorable actions in violation of his students’ rights and welfare in the Duke lacrosse rape case. These stories are taken from KC Johnson’s and Stuart Taylor’s book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. [...]

President Brodhead demonstrated throughout the Duke lacrosse case that his moral backbone is nonexistent. He’s willing to take whatever actions are necessary to secure favor with the politically correct faction on campus, no matter the amount of damage to Duke students’ well-being.
spineless creatures: Patrick Starfish and Richard BrodheadNews & Observer:
Cast the Duke Movie -- When word got out earlier this month that HBO had secured the rights to blogger K.C. Johnson's book about the Duke lacrosse case, the inner casting director came out in all of us. Who should portray Mike Nifong in the film version of "Until Proven Innocent"? What about the defendants? The accuser? The lawyers?We asked for suggestions on our online forum, and you responded with some interesting choices. Here are some of the best reader picks, along with a few of our own. Have other thoughts? Join the "Cast the Duke lacrosse movie" discussion at

* Former Durham D.A. Mike Nifong
John Travolta (in his "Primary Colors" gray hair)

* Accuser Crystal Mangum
Jennifer Hudson of "Dreamgirls"

* Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers
Bernie Mac
comment: Created by asexually fragmentation - Richard Brodhead and Patrick Starfish
Prof. Tom Sears / Oneonta Daily Star:
On The Right Side: Duke team still lacks apologies -- Everyone knows about the out-of-control district attorney who has fortunately been required to resign and has been disbarred.

After all the lawsuits are over, he will probably be reduced to selling pencils on a street corner somewhere. It will be a fitting conclusion to a dishonorable career and it will serve him right.

More worrisome are the three remaining lynch mob characters. These are the media, Duke's president and the ultra-liberal segment of Duke's faculty, all of whom's behavior was reprehensible. [...]

The faculty is too petty and arrogant to even consider an apology. Not one of the 88 signers has asked to have his/her name removed from the original ad, and one professor said "she would sign the petition again in a heartbeat."

Anyone with a brain could see they had tried and convicted the entire program, yet they feel they were misunderstood.

How about this? One professor issued this statement. "We had a long discussion about what the word regret' means (very Clintonesque), and professors weighed in and we had a whole range of very detailed discussions in terms of the etymology of specific words. We were disappointed people did not understand the intention _ it was never to rush to judgment, it was about listening to our students who have been trying to make their way in a not only racist and sexist campus, but country."

A year later and this was the best they could come up with? Imagine trying to stay awake in that professor's class. Sorry prof, everyone understood exactly your intentions, which is why you and your gang still have egg on your faces. Fortunately, these professors have few if any majors, and their courses are not required for a degree.

One blogger hit the nail on the head when she said, "One of the more depressing, yet enlightening aspects of this case is that the response of the Gang of 88 reflects a mentality of the hard left that is prevalent on many, if not most, university campuses today. The most elite' universities also are the repositories of the worst of these kinds." [...]
John in Carolina:
The Chronicle Blogger:
Alumnae discuss Women’s Initiative -- Duke invited female alumnae back to campus this weekend to discuss issues of women’s health. President Richard Brodhead was present at Friday afternoon’s luncheon to introduce keynote speaker Kimberley Jenkins.

Before introducing Jenkins, Brodhead spoke about the nature of the weekend itself.

“Whenever Dukies gather, women gather among them,” Brodhead said. “When we have reunions, men and women come. At games men and women come. At career programs we have both women and men. But there are occasions when it is good to gather just the women of Duke together.” [...]
Herald Sun reprints Gang of 88, Karla Holloway's heckling of Bill Cosby. She will be teaching a heckling course in the spring of 2008. Her next 'forthcoming' monograph will be entitled "The Heckler as Agent of Social Change." She will explore how the heckling of actor Michael Richards by blacks helped find a "perfect racist." Scholarly publishers are lining up.

Karla FC Holloway / Guest Columnist / Herald-Sun
How Cosby's stories reinforce stereotypes
David Copperfield May be Getting the Nifong Treatment
-- Sounds like Copperfield may be getting the Nifong in this case as a Grand Jury investigates the claims and evidence presented by the district attorney in Seattle. [...]

Monday, October 29, 2007

AIDS virus invaded U.S. from Haiti in 1969

Will Dunham / Reuters:
AIDS virus invaded U.S. from Haiti: study -- The AIDS virus invaded the United States in about 1969 from Haiti, carried most likely by a single infected immigrant who set the stage for it to sweep the world in a tragic epidemic, scientists said on Monday.

Michael Worobey, a University of Arizona evolutionary biologist, said the 1969 U.S. entry date is earlier than some experts had believed.

The timeline laid out in the study led by Worobey indicates that HIV infections were occurring in the United States for roughly 12 years before AIDS was first recognized by scientists as a disease in 1981. Many people had died by that point. [...]

Brian McMurphy / Six Meat Buffet:
Clearing Cheeta's Good Name

Blogger's Photo Sampler


Pete / Blogger Buzz blog:
Blogger Play: Watch the blogs go by -- Shortly after Blogger launched photo uploading two years ago, one of our engineers whipped up a web page that would show us the pictures that were being uploaded in real time. The result was fun, often beautiful, but above all, compelling. We couldn’t stop watching.

Over the years we’ve kept this photo scroller as part of the Blogger offices, on a monitor or projector, as an interesting (distracting?) slideshow, and a reminder of the diversity and vivaciousness of Blogger blogs. The fame of the scroller spread within Google, until one day we were asked, “so, when are you launching this?”

“Um...,” we replied. But we knew a good idea when we heard one. We got our UI people to come up with buttons and fadey effects and we got our engineers to make the whole thing fast and robust. A bit of work later, and now we can share it with all of you:

Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs.

above photo by Ricardo Cunha / Cunha Studio / Brazil

Duke Case — Driving a Stake Thru the Heart of the 'Something Happened' LBJers

Mr. Pointy - Duke lacrosse civil lawsuitToday's items - updated:

KC Johnson points out today that a group of "Something Happened" lazy bones journalists (LBJers) is still circulating the bogus rumor that something very unsavory may have happened during the Duke lacrosse party.

The LBJers, as is their ilk, are still amazingly getting the Duke story wrong despite the Johnson/Taylor book about the rape hoax (Until Proven Innocent) and the North Carolina Attorney General's minute-by-minute report of the incident. Maybe a HBO docu-drama based on the book might straighten out this truth-challenged minority, maybe not. Any how, that's a ways down the road.

Also sending all these "something happened" folk a copy of the book Until Proven Innocent and asking them to read it (a remedy tried here at Johnsville) is not a valid option, given the fact that many of them apparently don't read very much. Asking them to read a book, would be like asking them to climb Mount Everest. They only ingest sound bites.

The only remaining remedy is that the City of Durham has to set the record straight. The lacrosse players civil suit against Durham needs to be settled in their favor so that they can completely clear their reputations. Durham must substantially pay up and publicly kill the 'Something Happened' hoax. Because, until this done, the LBJ'ers will keep feeding their garbage to a public that includes a gullible group, who are willing to believe this junk.

KC Johnson:
Why the Civil Suit Matters -- Rooney's comments serve as only the latest example of the “something happened” crusade. Recall, for instance, the stunning immediate post-exoneration assertion of another figure of considerable national prestige, sports columnist John Feinstein [...]

Since “everything but rape” included the other false charges (sexual assault and kidnapping), Feinstein, like Rooney, was asserting that the Attorney General and the State Bar had engaged in some sort of cover-up to prevent the “truth” from coming out.

In the end, nothing can prevent figures such as Feinstein or Rooney from allowing personal biases, prejudices, or simple journalistic sloppiness to override the facts. But the continued willingness of prominent media personalities to engage in the “something happened” charade has direct bearing on the three players’ civil suit against Durham, Nifong, and DSI. The comments of figures such as Rooney and Feinstein show the continuing harm to the three players that Durham’s improper actions caused. [...]

Only a small fraction of the public accepting the Rooney/Feinstein version of events would mean that millions of people would occupy the “something happened” contingent. The responsibility for that outcome is Durham’s and Durham’s alone.

LBJ Alert

Michael AraceMichael Arace / The Columbus Dispatch:
Recognition helps former Duke coach move on -- If Mike Pressler's name is only vaguely familiar, it is because he is more commonly known as the coach in the Duke lacrosse case. He is an unreal figure, which is a shame.

Saturday night, Pressler and his wife, Sue Collins Pressler, were among 11 former athletes and coaches inducted into the athletic hall of fame at Ohio Wesleyan. Each was deserving. Collins Pressler coached the men's and women's swimming teams in the 1980s, building the programs in a notoriously tough league. Four times, she was conference coach of the year. [...]

Pressler couldn't even get an interview for another job until Bryant University hired him in August 2006. The Presslers can almost breathe now. Smithfield, R.I., isn't unlike Delaware, Ohio, and Delaware is where they began together. Saturday night, former Ohio Wesleyan lacrosse players and swimmers came to the campus center in force to cheer their former coaches. It was a good day. They're starting to have more good days. [...]

Is Pressler the purest of saints in all of this? That is a much-debated question in Durham, where he has vehement detractors beside his legions of supporters. Personally, I'm withholding judgment until the case is heard.
comment: Until the case is heard? The above critique about lazy bones journalists was written before we got to read the last paragraph of Mr. Arace's article. Talk about a falling off your chair example of a lazy ass journalist. Exhibit one is Michael Arace.

LieStoppers blog:
Sue & Mike Pressler inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame --
Mike and Sue Pressler were both individually inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame on October 27th. [...]
David Davis / interview / SportsLetter:
Stuart Taylor, Jr. discusses "Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case," his recent book co-authored by KC Johnson.

SL: When you first wrote about the case, did you think that a rape — or something — had happened?

ST: In my initial story, I think I wrote that I was 85 percent convinced that it was a fraud. I wrote something to that effect in late April of '06 [for the National Journal], which I think was the first such article that anybody in the national print media wrote. It seemed to me that the case was falling apart at such warp speed at the time I was writing it, I was afraid that the whole world would figure out it was a fraud during the 36 hours between when we went to press and when it was published. It turned out, of course, that the whole world just rushed past all the evidence that seemed so compelling to me. Most of the media and many on the Duke faculty continued to trash these kids as guilty. It was after watching that spectacle for a while that I began to think, "Man, something interesting and sick is going on here, and maybe it's worth a book." [...]
Michael Gaynor:
Duke case: Dukeblues44 and Impersonator -- "Dukeblues44" is the person who anonymously forwarded Ryan McFadyen's infamous e-mail to the Durham police, thereby permitting the prosecution to release it and pretend that members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team were monsters, even though the e-mail was, in the words of Stuart Taylor, Jr. and KC Johnson in Until Proven Innocent, "a play on revolting course material assigned by Duke professors" and that was readily ascertainable by the police, the prosecution and, of course, the Duke administration.

"Impersonator" is the person who sent an email to team members in the name of one of them that was designed to induce recipients to go to the Durham police and give evidence against teammates.

Are "Dukeblues 44" and "Impersonator" the same person?

Will anyone in the know say so? [...]
Duke Announces Lacrosse Schedule; Will Face Finnerty -- Nine home regular-season games and a trip to play Loyola, where former Duke player Collin Finnerty transfered, highlight Duke's 2008 men's lacrosse schedule released on Thursday by head coach John Danowski.

The Blue Devils open the 2008 campaign with a four game home stand and will face Maryland in their ACC opener on March 1 and remain at home to welcome former Blue Devil All-America and assistant coach Kevin Cassese and his Lehigh squad on March 4.

Duke travels to Baltimore to take on Loyola [Kevin Finnerty's team] on March 8. [...]
Forum topic(s) of note:
Bill Anderson / LieStoppers:
Satanic Nancy Grace, Saw her on video again -- I have watched this video again, and I can say that I am glad that I don't have TV reception, so I don't have to watch Nancy Grace.

This woman truly is evil, and I mean absolutely without any redeeming qualities at all. Of course, after seeing this video, I am not surprised that she was dishonest when she was a prosecutor.

As we look back at what happened, it is a wonder that these families survived at all. What an enormous hatefest that they faced, and that people in Durham and at Duke University and elsewhere gleefully threw at them.

Presidential Review Committee, Post your letters here

Locomotive Breath, The Video
Other items:

Ray Gronberg / Herald-Sun [reg. req.]:
Lacrosse case questioned as root of racial violence -- Local leaders asked whether the Duke lacrosse case could have triggered racial violence in the spring of 2006 talk more of undercurrents than actual threats, but insist it was something they had to guard against.

Mayor Bill Bell has acknowledged that he urged police to complete quickly what turned out to be their ill-fated investigation of a stripper's false rape allegations, partly because he was worried about the possibility of unrest.

But he hasn't pointed to a specific threat, save for the possibility that the media firestorm that began soon after police gathered DNA samples from 46 of the Duke team's 47 players might have touched something off.

"It could have gone entirely different from what it did," Bell said late last month. "And I'm convinced the reason it didn't was because key community leaders didn't let it."

The mayor -- who's running for re-election and on the campaign trail has claimed credit for helping "defuse what could have been an explosive event" -- is among those who say there were hints that violence was a possibility.

"You heard some rather off-handed remarks about what should be done -- 'taking justice into our own hands' -- but they were muted to a certain extent and you didn't hear a lot of that said publicly," he said.

Other sources close to the situation say officials took the possibility of violence seriously from the outset, and that it figured in the meetings Bell and school President Richard Brodhead had with leaders of the black community twice in the early stages of the Durham Police Department's investigation.

At the time, Bell publicly downplayed the possibility of violence. [...]
John Stevenson / Herald-Sun
Lawyers express interest in DA job -- Three lawyers with extensive prosecutorial experience already say they will run for district attorney in Durham next year, all claiming to have learned insightful lessons from the Duke lacrosse scandal that destroyed the career of their former boss -- Mike Nifong.

They are Chief Assistant District Attorney Tracey Cline, Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Garrell and former assistant prosecutor Freda Black, who was dismissed by Nifong two years ago and now is in private practice.

A fourth person, lawyer Steve Monks, said he might run for the top prosecutorial job if not elected to City Council in the interim. He was an unsuccessful write-in candidate for district attorney in 2006.

The district attorney's chair has been warmed by three people in the past four months.

Nifong occupied it from April 2005 until June of this year, then resigned and lost his law license for mishandling the Duke lacrosse case, in which three athletes were falsely accused of raping an exotic dancer during an off-campus party.

Former District Attorney Jim Hardin Jr., now a judge, came next.

He returned to his old job on an interim basis until September, when longtime assistant prosecutor David Saacks received a gubernatorial appointment to hold down the legal fort until next year's election.

But Saacks has made it clear he will not seek to become Durham's permanent district attorney. He isn't eligible because he lives in Wake County. [...]
John in Carolina:
Mike McCusker / Crystal Mess:
What A Disgrace --
"I have known Mike Nifong for 16 years. When I began my career in the District Attorney's office in 198, Mike was my mentor. He was the most experienced, knowledgeable, ethical Assistant District Attorney in the office. For 27 years, Mike has devoted his professional life to the justice and safety of Durham. As the interim DA, Mike has surrounded himself with a remarkable staff of 37 lawyers and professional who work tirelessly in our traffic, district and superior courtrooms. Now as election day approaches, the stakes for Durham's District Attorney race are too high to remain silent. The Code of Judicial Conduct permits me to endorse a candidate in this race. Without hesitation, I urge the voters to keep Mike Nifong as Durham's District Attorney." -- Marcia H. Morey, District Court Judge
Morley Swingle / STLtoday:
Until Proven Innocent -- Professional boxers were aghast when Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear in one of the most unprofessional acts ever committed in a boxing ring. Reputable prosecutors and other true crime aficionados will feel similar disgust as they read the behind-the-headlines details of former prosecutor Mike Nifong's shameful performance in his unsuccessful effort to convict three members of the Duke University lacrosse team of rape.

There are many villains and cowards in "Until Proven Innocent" by Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson. Unfortunately for the prosecutor, he tops the list. [...]

At the time the book went to press, Nifong had resigned and had been disbarred. The authors predicted the three falsely accused teammates would sue Nifong for violating their constitutional rights. The prediction came true this month. But even the authors did not foresee that Nifong would be jailed for contempt of court for hiding the DNA evidence, as he was last month. Indeed, in this sordid episode of crime and punishment, the only miscreant who went to jail was the ear-biting prosecutor.

Morley Swingle is the prosecuting attorney of Cape Girardeau County and the author of "Scoundrels to the Hoosegow: Perry Mason Moments and Entertaining Cases From the Files of a Prosecuting Attorney."
Bull City-in-Wonderland:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fox Nixes Free Speech

So fair, so wise,
So wisely fair.
Fox's brain dead move makes conservatives despair.
Jeff Jarvis / Buzz Machine:
Fox fights free speech -- Incredible. Fox goes after John McCain’s campaign to cease and desist use of a clip from the last debate that has the Fox logo on it. It would be shocking enough for Fox to go after a citizen who put this online — and we should all fight for that citizen’s right to do so. It’s all the more shocking that Fox is going after a presidential candidate.

It’s triply shocking that Fox is going after Republican McCain.

This precisely why we have been fighting for the networks to assure that they would make debate footage available to all of us. When I spoke with FoxNews about their policy in May, they said they would abide by fair comment and use. Well, as Stanford’s Lawrence Lessig has pointed out often, this is the problem with fair use: you can argue about it (and have to hire attorneys to do so).

McCain, to his credit, is telling Fox to shove it. [...]

The commercial in question:

PC Police Now Patrolling College of William and Mary

911 for name calling?

Stanley Kurtz / The Corner / National Review Online:
East Germany Hits Virginia -- I’ve heard of speech codes, but I’ve never heard of anything quite like this: a mechanism to anonymously report "bias related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected conditions" to the university administration, for possible action against the perpetrator. This system has been set up at William and Mary, and a website protesting it can be found here. Is this something new, or at least rare, or is it perhaps more common than I realize?

Eugene Volokh / Volokh Conspiracy:
Anonymous Complaints -- A bit of further looking led me to a page that might be occasion for more worry:

What is Bias?

A "bias incident" consists of harassment, intimidation or other hostile behavior that is directed at a member of the William and Mary community because of that person's race, sex (including pregnancy), age, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. A bias incident may be verbal (whether spoken or written) or physical.

If you are not certain whether an occurrence meets the above definition, please report the occurrence under this protocol and allow the College to make the determination.

If you wish to report an incident of bias, you may do so by contacting the Chair of the Bias Reporting Team. Please, if this is an emergency, contact Campus Police at 911.

more discussion:
Stanley Kurtz / The Corner / National Review Online:
Bias Reporting Debate

Will the President of William and Mary be the person responsible for apologizing to anonymous fake 911 bias emergencies?

Duke rape hoax flashback
Durham, NC / March 14, 2006 / 12:53 AM:
911 DISPATCHER: Durham 911. Where is your emergency?

CALLER: I don't know if this is an emergency, but I'm in Durham and I was driving down near Duke's campus and it's me and my black girlfriend and the guy, there's like a white guy by the Duke wall and he just hollered out (BEEP) to me and I'm just so angry. I saw them all come out like a big frat house and me and my black girlfriend are walking by and they called us (BEEP). I'm not going to press the issue I guess, but I live in a neighborhood where they wrote KKK on the side of a white station wagon and that's near right where I'm at. They didn't harm me in any way, but I just feel so completely offended.
Presidential apology to anonymous (convicted felon, Kim Roberts) fake 911 caller
Duke University / March 29, 2006:
Statement by President Richard H. Brodhead on 911 Tape -- At the news conference I was asked about the 911 tape involving a racial slur, which only became known late yesterday. I have now had the opportunity to listen to the tape. It is disgusting. Racism and its hateful language have no place in this community. I am sorry the woman and her friend were subjected to such abuse.
Water buffalo incident -- The "water buffalo incident" was a controversy at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. Student Eden Jacobowitz was charged with violating Penn's racial harassment policy. He had shouted, "Shut up, you water buffalo," out his window to a crowd of mostly black Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters creating a ruckus outside his dorm. Others had shouted at the crowd, including several who shouted racial epithets, but Jacobowitz was the only one charged. [...]

Mortgaging Your Ghost

Ilya Somin / Volokh Conspiracy:
Property Law and Belief in Ghosts -- In my introductory Property law class, I recently taught Stambovsky v. Ackley, the famous 1991 New York appellate decision which ruled that the seller of a home had a legal duty to reveal to the buyer the fact that the house was widely believed to be haunted by ghosts. The court famously opined that the house was "haunted as a matter of law," though the more prosaic basis for the decision was the fact that a reputation for being haunted could damage the resale value of the house even if there weren't really any ghosts there.

Interestingly, a recent AP survey reveals that 34% of Americans believe in ghosts and 23% claim to have actually seen one. A 2006 poll found that 37 percent believe that a location can be haunted.

Arguably, these poll results strengthen the case for the court's ruling in Stambovsky. If belief in ghosts and hauntings is widespread, a reputation for being haunted could seriously depress a home's value, and potential buyers have a legitimate interest in knowing about it before deciding to purchase [...]

Duke Case — Mike Pressler is the Man!

Today's items - updated:

Former Duke lacrosse coach is busy collecting awards and accolades.

Mike Pressler is the Man!Mike Pressler will be inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan University Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 27th. During his 5 year tenure at OWU from 1986 through 1990, Mike amassed a 69-16 record, four NCAC conference championships, five visits to the final four NCAA National Championships, three NCAA Division III championship game appearances, 29 - All-America selections and five NCAA players of the year. His contributions to the OWU Lacrosse program made him the winningest coach (.812) in the University's 50 year lacrosse history and represents 20% of OWU's 25 year participation in the NCAA Playoffs.

Hall of Famers to be Inducted During Homecoming:
Ohio Wesleyan University will induct nine former Battling Bishop standouts [...]

Mike Pressler coached men’s lacrosse from 1986-90, compiling 69-16 mark over his five seasons. His winning percentage of .812 is the best of any men's lacrosse coach at Ohio Wesleyan.

Mike Pressler To Speak at McGuire Foundation Awards BanquetFrank McGuire Foundation:
The Frank McGuire Foundation recognizes greatness in high school coaching --
Mike Pressler To Speak at McGuire Foundation Awards Banquet --Mike Pressler, the head men's lacrosse coach at Bryant University, will deliver the keynote address at the Frank McGuire Foundation's 9th Annual Awards Dinner.

In honor of Coach Pressler's steadfast support of his team during his 2006 season at Duke University, the Foundation is proud to initiate the 1st Annual Mike Pressler Award Plaque. When the university, the media and the city succumbed to outside pressures, Coach Pressler's strength of character and his courage prevailed.

Coach Pressler will present the award to honorees chosen by our Selection Committee for their Character and Courage in the Face of Adversity. Coach Pressler is co-author of "It's Not About The Truth" with Don Yaeger. This year's Mike Pressler Awardees are Coach Jack Moran, Lacrosse, Chaminade High School, and Coach Chuck Ruebling, Lacrosse, Delbarton High School. [...]
LieStoppers forum: New Pressler Award for high school coaches

Mike Pressler spoke to Drexel students, Oct. 23rdMike Mazzeo / Drexel Univ. /
Ex-Duke lacrosse coach Pressler speaks to students -- Exactly 19 months and 10 days from the scandal that changed his life forever, current Bryant University Head Lacrosse Coach and ex-Duke Head Lacrosse Coach Mike Pressler came to speak to students in Professor Mike Kelly's Leadership in Sports and Society classes Oct. 23.

Pressler's former Duke lacrosse team made headlines in March 2006 when a stripper named Crystal Mangum accused three white members on Pressler's team of raping her at a party held in the house where three of the team's captains lived. [...]

"The only crime the students committed was stupid college behavior," Pressler said.

Pressler felt like people could take a lot from his experience.

"There's a lot of positive things [that came out from my experience]," Pressler said. "When you say you believe in someone you stand by them."

Pressler also touched on issues of leadership, credibility and ultimately vindication. [...]
Good Reviews

Sean Collins / Book Review - Until Proven Innocent / [UK]:
PC in the dock -- Why did so many leap to the conclusion that white lacrosse players at Duke University must have been guilty of gang-raping a black woman? This disturbing book reveals how political correctness led to a disastrous rush to judgement.

most of the national media bathed the Duke affair in the light of a modern-day PC morality tale. On one side were white, privileged, racist, drunken, arrogant jocks at the ‘Harvard of the South’ [...]

On the other side was a poor African-American single mother working hard to advance through a local community college. The case was presented as personifying broader social problems of sex and race in the United States. [...]

This is not ‘PC gone mad’ – rather, all cultural institutions now share basic PC assumptions [...]

If there is a redeeming feature of the Duke story, Taylor and Johnson find it in the response of the Duke students. Although some were against the players early on, many reserved judgment, and, as the facts emerged, campaigned for the accused students.
henwy / Book Review - Until Proven Innocent / dreams that cannot be blog:
Duke Lacrosse Case --
They're fools at best and monsters at worst - and neither fools nor monsters are much troubled by attacks of conscience.
That pretty much sums up many of the people involved in persecuting and prosecuting the Duke Lacrosse team during the rape hoax. I finished Until Proven Innocent yesterday and I was wrong about how little new information there would be. It was fasinating to see everything laid out step by step and to have the added behind-the-scenes recounting of meetings and statements that were never released to the media. If anything, I'm left feeling even more outraged at the entire incident and worse, the sure knowledge that many of the most pernicious racists and demagogues have gotten away scott free. The actions of many of the Duke faculty and administration were appalling. These people should have been knocked down off their pedastals, branded as the cowardly hatemongers that they are, and then tossed out into the sewars. That they still hold exalted positions as educators is as offensive as finding out that David Duke or Louis Farrakahn were teaching courses for credit at Harvard. [...]

More on the Corpulent Weasel, Burness -

John in Carolina:

The Chronicle’s Burness Gush --
The Chronicle has editorialized in response to the announced departure next June of John Burness, Duke’s senior vice president for public affairs and government relations. [...]

The Chronicle’s wrong: Everything isn’t “almost said and done.”

There’s a great deal we need to hear from Burness regarding his role and that of others in the University’s bungled and shameful response to the Hoax. [...]

Burness is a very talented man who’s done some good things for Duke. I’ll be posting soon concerning a few of them with which I’ve had first-hand experience.

But The Chronicle’s gushing doesn’t obscure in thoughtful people’s minds some very important questions.

Those questions concern Burness’ actions during the attempted frame-up and his actions to date as Duke’s leadership has tried desperately to avoid disclosing and explaining just what it did and didn’t do during the time President Brodhead said “whatever they did was bad enough” and “the facts kept changing.” [...]
KC Johnson:
Updates: Burness, Group in the News
-- A first-rate editorial from the Chronicle on John Burness’ retirement; as usual, the editorial page hits all the right points. Elliot Wolf offers his personal reflections on the op-ed page. Both columns are worth reading in full.

Several Group of 88 members are back in the news, providing concrete examples what Group defender Prasad Kasibhatla has termed the “mainstream voices of reason” on Duke’s campus. [...]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Citizen Journalists Report SoCal Fires

CNN iReport
David Zurawik / Baltimore Sun:
Citizens offer a new image of journalism -- From dramatic cell phone camera images of flames as they choked off neighborhood escape routes to chilling online narratives of evacuation, citizen journalists covering the wildfires in California this week gave new meaning to the concept of reporting a natural disaster from the ground up.

"I'm not knocking what we do in the mainstream media, but citizens are bringing the highly personal, close-up nature of these fires home to viewers in a way that traditional reporting just doesn't do," said Nancy Lane, senior vice president/editorial at CNN. [...]

As of 2 p.m. yesterday, the cable channel had received about 2,000 submissions of personal videos and photos, of which about 300 were approved for use, she said. While the fires covered a wide area, the numerous submissions might also suggest the escalating rate at which citizen journalism is catching on. CNN received 619 submissions after the Minnesota bridge collapse in August and 600 in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in April. [...]
iReport / CNN:
Your images of raging California wildfires

Santa Clarita Fire Photo Essay

Duke Case — Recruiting for the Gang of 88

new recruit wants to join the Duke Group of 88


Gang of 88 member and Cosby heckler, Karla "Mumbles" Holloway: Come on Bill, shut up and just be a funny Black man.

Karla Fc Holloway / Orlando Sentinel:
Come on, Cosby: Lay off talk about race -- Bill Cosby made his career earning our laughter, but his recent "call-out" to black communities --- in which he blames the multifaceted perils of black children (whom he has called "dirty laundry") on their parents'lack of interest in their success -- only serves to solidify our biases about privilege, potential and race.

Cosby is on a book tour with his co-author, Harvard psychologist Alvin Poussaint, to promote Come On People, which continues the focus of his 2004 series of town hall meetings during which he chastised his mostly black audiences for parenting failures and for being poor models for their children. [...]
John Rosenberg /
Group of 88 Leader Chastises Cosby -- Holloway thus equates criticism of blacks by a black with race treason, because it “validates the associations” of all those who do not think the criticism specious. Oddly, and wholly unpersuasively, Holloway here attempts to argue that a large part of what is “problematic” about Cosby’s “storytelling” is that he makes too much of race. [...]
Great Pumkin wants to join Group of 88Great Pumpkin wants to join Group of 88 too.

Jon Ham / / Right Angles blog:
Group of 88 prof touts witchcraft’s benefits -- In the spring of 2006, as a member of the infamous Group of 88 tenured radicals at Duke, Prof. Anne-Maria Makhulu was trying to put the curse of “white privilege” on the Duke lacrosse team. Now she’s telling the world, with the complicity of the Duke News Service and The Herald-Sun, that witchcraft can help change the world, in a lefty, collectivized direction, of course. At least that’s the way I read this quote:
"When people say they believe in magical forces, they believe in magic that can make the world equal and just in circumstances where it’s not,” Makhulu said. For some, “witchcraft is about recuperating what is ethical, just and moral.”

“We need enchantment in our lives because our world has become disenchanted,” Makhulu said. “We need faith that promises something bigger and better than what we have.”
Imagine a college professor saying, “We need Jesus in our lives.” Nope. That would be insensitive.
Duke News Service / Herald-Sun:
Witchcraft: Serious business in the past -- Halloween is a time for children to dress up as witches, ghouls and goblins, but historically witchcraft was serious business, according to a Duke University professor. [...]

Duke Case — Oct. 25, 2007

Today's items of interest -- updated:

Elliott Wolf / Duke Chronicle:
The minister of truth -- Upon the announcement that his [John Burness] departure from the University will roughly coincide with my own, while The Chronicle and various news outlets are reflecting on his publicly documented accomplishments, I must thank him for putting up with me for the past three years. [...]

But now the conspiracy theories surround him. Comments on various blogs and The Chronicle's Web site suggest (without any evidence) he is being fired for his handling of lacrosse. For what it's worth, during an interview with me two years ago, prior to lacrosse, he indicated that he would likely retire by the end of this year.

And many more comments argue that this is a positive development for the University. Despite our various disagreements and the recent controversy over the handling of the lacrosse case, I cannot agree with that assessment.

What matters is what John has done for the University, and his exploits have been well documented since the announcement of his retirement. The unfortunate fact is that relatively few students have frequent contact with him, and those who do are largely concentrated in The Chronicle, Duke Student Government and the Community Service Center. Most don't understand exactly what he is responsible for and by extension how hard it will be to replace him.

But believe me, it will be.

comment: Minister of truth? In some alternate universe.

TJN: Corpulent Weasel Communicator, John Burness, Was No Chubby Choirboy
Zach Smith was a linebacker at Duke during 2004 and 2005 but sat out 2006 with an injury. He's now at Cal.

Ted Lee /
Three degrees of Zach Smith -- The far bigger story at Duke was the issues surrounding the men's lacrosse team. In April 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped charges against three Duke lacrosse players who were accused of rape. In a story that inflamed Durham's town-and-gown relations, polarized the campus, and had commentators across the country weighing in, the case fell apart under conflicting testimony from the plaintiff, unimpeachable alibis by two of the defendants, and prosecutorial misconduct that resulted in a criminal contempt conviction for the Durham County District Attorney.

Although the case was dropped, it was not without a cost. While the incident took place in March 2006, there was a period of 13 months when the future of several people awaited resolution. Additionally the remainder of the Duke lacrosse season was suspended, the head coach resigned, and the gravity of the incident was felt by all Duke students, not just student-athletes.

"Everybody who had a connection with Duke was affected by what went on with the lacrosse team," said Smith. "I had friends on the men's and women's lacrosse teams, and as everything transpired, I'd get calls from them about the pressure they were feeling. Some people had their cars keyed if they had a lacrosse bumper sticker on it. All of the players were demonized. Those are my friends; those are people that I go to class with, and it had an effect on me. If I didn't realize it earlier, I came out of it realizing that we are college athletes, and everything we do is scrutinized, and you have to be careful about who you hang with, where you are, and not let yourself get painted into a rough situation." [...]

More than six months have elapsed since the case was ended, and in the eyes of many, the story is over. But for others, the process of rebuilding their lives will go on, quite possibly forever. "

I think a small part of the public understands (the seriousness of what happened) and those closest to the university know," said Smith. "But most people don't understand the impact. Those guys had to leave school. They had to postpone their educations and not play sports. Reade Seligmann's a good friend of mine. His girlfriend was at school, but he wasn't allowed to be around campus. Anytime somebody's accused of something there's always going to be some doubt, regardless of what the outcome is. They're always going to be known as the accused lacrosse players, and it's something they'll have to carry around a long time. [...]
Gang of 88 member and Cosby heckler, Karla "Mumbles" Holloway: Come on Bill, shut up and just be a funny Black man.

Karla Fc Holloway / Orlando Sentinel:
Come on, Cosby: Lay off talk about race -- Bill Cosby made his career earning our laughter, but his recent "call-out" to black communities --- in which he blames the multifaceted perils of black children (whom he has called "dirty laundry") on their parents'lack of interest in their success -- only serves to solidify our biases about privilege, potential and race.

Cosby is on a book tour with his co-author, Harvard psychologist Alvin Poussaint, to promote Come On People, which continues the focus of his 2004 series of town hall meetings during which he chastised his mostly black audiences for parenting failures and for being poor models for their children. [...]

Parenting is a considerable challenge under most circumstances. I remember writing letters to my own children during the '90s, one who was at Princeton, the other in prison. The circumstances of our pride and of our loss were deeply intimate and isolate. To consider the success and troubles of our children through the filter of race encourages us to dismiss the complex social realities that construct each child's potential in favor of the ease of racial judgment. This is true whether we measure their success, their potential, their failure or our heartbreak. [...]
News & Observer:
Duke critics speak on lacrosse case -- Stuart Taylor, co-author of "Until Proven Innocent," a book about the Duke lacrosse case, will speak at Duke University on Nov. 2.

He will speak at 7 p.m. at Love Auditorium, after a book-signing at 6 p.m.

Taylor and his co-author, K.C. Johnson, were critics of Duke faculty, the Duke administration and members of the media throughout the case, in which three former lacrosse players were accused of raping an escort service dancer last year.
KC Johnson:
Update: McClain--Duke's De Klerk? -- Last week, Group of 88 stalwart and current Academic Council chairperson Paula McClain spoke to the University Faculty meeting. After framing events at Duke in terms of the history of South Africa, she quoted Nelson Mandela: "'The time for healing of the wounds has come.... The time to rebuild is upon us.'" [...]

In this respect, McClain might have been better served had she chosen to quote not Mandela but F.W. De Klerk; indeed, her current situation resembles that of De Klerk in the early 1990s. The last president of apartheid South Africa, De Klerk presided over a movement that had been discredited by events and that had proven itself bereft of ideas. Such a description certainly could apply to the Group of 88. [...]
Nifong, Durham Get More Time to Respond to Lawsuit -- Former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong and the city of Durham will get more time to respond to a civil lawsuit.

The three former Duke lacrosse players are suing Nifong and several others in federal court. They claim their civil rights were violated.

On Wednesday, the players' attorneys agreed to give Nifong and the city of Durham an extension for their response to the suit. Originally, the response was due next week, but they now have until Dec. 10.
Lazy Bones Journalism

Craig Franklin / Christian Science Monitor:
Media myths about the Jena 6 -- A local journalist tells the story you haven't heard. -- By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.

There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning. [...]
John in Carolina: Jena’s Myths & the Duke Hoax
Terir O'Brian blog: Here’s A Real Shocker: The Media is Politically Motivated and Lazy!
True North blog: The Sad State of Journalism Today

Jeff Angelo / God, Politics, & Rock & Roll blog:
The 'Jena 6' case--and the facts
-- I once attended a speech by Wall Street Journal writer John Fund where he told the conservatives present that their number one challenge with the national media was not bias but laziness.

That statement echoes in my head today as a local journalist is asserting in the Christian Science Monitor that the national media got the "Jena 6" story wrong.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Duke Case — Corpulent Weasel Communicator, John Burness, Was No Chubby Choirboy

John Burness: Corpulent Weasel CommunicatorToday's editorial by Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, is dead wrong when it wrote that Duke's "John Burness will go down in the books as something like the Brett Favre of college communications."

That is an insult to Brett Favre. Because, John Burness, Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, will instead go down in the history books like the Rafael Palmeiro of college communications — a person of dubious character and integrity.

Rafael Palmeiro was the Major League Baseball player with a career spanning 20 years, who ruined his reputation and potential hall of fame career by lying before Congress about his use of steroids. And when he was caught taking steroids he tried to blame another teammate. Nice guy.

The Chronicle's notion that Burness will be remembered as a guaranteed hall-of-famer, like Favre, does not square with the truth about his slimy actions during the eighteen month long Duke lacrosse scandal.

KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor documented some of Burness's lying and character assassination about the Duke lacrosse team in their book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.

page 68: The parents had already been infuriated by John Burness's comments on local television stations the night before [in late March '06] to the effect that if the rape charges were true it would be deplorable - without much emphasis on the possibility that the charges were lies. "I said, 'You have to shut up Burness,'" Bruce Thompson [lacrosse parent] recalled later. "This guy is a disaster. He's out there just ripping into us.'"

page 71: Lacrosse parents also circulated reports of a succession of negative comments about their son's characters over the ensuing months by Burness, and by Duke board chairman Bob Steel, in private conversations with people at Duke and elsewhere. Burness also ran down the lacrosse players in off-the-record comments to news reporters. (Some of the reporters repeated these comments to others, who in turn repeated them to the authors; there were striking similarities in the Burness language reported by these different sources.) Bruce Thompson, father of cocaptain Bret Thompson, quoted one such journalist saying that Burness had motioned him to turn off his tape recorder and then launched into an attack on the team, saying: "These are bad guys, be careful about them," while offering no specifics beyond the usual compaints about lacrosse players being big drinkers and loud partyers with what some other students saw as an arrogant swagger.

pg 132: In early April, a lacrosse team parent called John Burness and offered a briefing in which defense lawyers would tell Burness and others at Duke everything they knew, including an already substantial body of exculpatory photos, timelines, witness statements, and more. This evidence, the parent told Burness, would show all team members to be innocent and Duke should see it before doing anything rash. The parent, who took notes, recalled Burness rejecting the offer out of hand, saying that "I know everything I need to know" and launching into a "diatribe" against the team by asserting that what had happened was all their fault and that their bad behavior over the years had made people believe the charges. When the parent said the "bad behavior" involved things like open beer can violations, Burnesss said (according to the parent) that this was not true and there were "two or three real bad actors on that team." Burness provided no specifics. Not then. Not ever.

page 289: Burness repeatedly stressed to reporters that the players "were not choirboys" and cautioned against portraying them in an unduly favorable light.

page 350: As the attorney general pondered what to say in dismissing the charges Duke took one more shot at the lacrosse players. In a lengthy interview with Newsday's Steven Marcus that appeared on the paper's Web site Monday afternoon, April 9, John Burness and an unnamed senior administrator attacked the players' character, implied that Mike Pressler had condoned bad behavior, and vowed that Duke would never apologize for its handling of the case. People had asked him, Burness noted, whether anyone at Duke would say they were sorry. "I said," Burness replied, "'For what?'" A senior administrator added that Evan, Finnerty, and Seligmann were "no choirboys." And Marcus added approvingly, that "Duke as an institution has a reputation to repair and that is paramount over clearing the names of the players involved in last spring's party."
Like Palmeiro, Burness's entire career is now placed in question, capped off by his woeful lacrosse scandal behavior. Burness's vile denigration of the lacrosse team and their former coach went on for over a year. John Burness really deserves to go into a Hall of Shame.

Editorial / Duke Chronicle:
A loss, looking beyond John Burness -- Now that everything is almost said and done, John Burness will go down in the books as something like the Brett Favre of college communications.

During his soon-to-expire 16-year stint at the University, Duke's gray-haired senior vice president for public affairs and government relations has dazzled us with his footwork, thrown a remarkable number of touchdown passes and-most recently in the Duke lacrosse case-tossed his fair share of interceptions as well.

Now, Burness says he'll finally be able to smoke a few good cigars and put his feet up. It will be a much-deserved break. [...]

Chronicle comments:
Duke Alum: Are we putting the cart before the horse here? Did Burness make Duke great or did the caliber of students and most of its faculty and its renown from its basketball team? Seems to me he was lucky to be at the University when he was. Not a tough job until the Duke Lacrosse hoax.

What exactly were the accomplishments developed and guided by Burness? Setting up committees without any identifiable effects is hardly an accomplishment. Certainly it is fairly evident that the Duke/Durham committee did little good in relations when Duke could exact no influence in curbing racist behavior against its own students.

Excuse me for asking for the details, but it would appear that his position would require one to have handled the Duke Lacrosse travesty with aplomb, not like a bungling .... "Behind the scenes" activities by Burness during a period of relative peace and prosperity by the University apparently had little effect during the crisis and is hardly worth congratulations.

He failed the big test whether because of an unwillingness to buck the Trustees and Brodhead or an inherent inability to deal with crisis.
roper: Burness may be responsible for many fine accomplishments during his tenure at Duke. But in my opinion he betrayed a serious character flaw when he chose, apparently, to put protection of the Duke "brand" ahead of a much needed defense of the civil liberties of Duke students, members all of the Duke community.
LieStoppers forum comments about Burness:
Baldo: What an ass! He is consistent to the end. There is a story going around of him sitting in a cafe last summer overheard telling of how he wants to write a book about the Lacrosse case and that the girls around the Lacrosse were lacrosstitutes, as he said.

He just can't say these guys were prosecuted for a crime that didn't happen.

Haunches: I cannot recall a single instance of Burness having a kind word to say about anyone except his bosses. He was a master at attack PR; a lucrative skill, I suppose but amoral to the bone. It was pretty well known that if a reporter wanted negative information about the lacrosse players, Burness was the go-to guy. Duke treated the hoax as a public affairs nightmare, nothing more, and Burness would say anything to try to get better press in the next news cycle; concepts like truth, justice, honesty, and accuracy meant were only relevant insofar as it got him through the next news cycle.

As an alum, I am hopeful that this is the first of several quiet retirements leading to a major housecleaning.

duke09parent: He failed miserably in crisis management, though. The other admins failed, too, but he should have been the leader, or at least the best at it if he wasn't respected, in this aspect. Turns out he was one of the worst. He took personally the damage those rascal lacrosse team did to the image of Duke he helped create. He evidently forgot, as many others did, that Duke was (or should be) in the kid business.
Michael J. Pressler, Plaintiff, v. Duke University, Defendant. [TJN]
Duke Case — More on Mike Pressler's lawsuit against Duke University [TJN]
Duke Case — Flotsam and Jetsam [TJN]

Twitter | Ukraine World

Twitter | Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Ukraine President)

Twitter | Euromaidan Press

Twitter | The Kyiv Independent

Twitter | Ukraine Weapons Tracker

Daily Reckoning