Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Taylor leaves Times no place to hide

The New York Times is suffering another one of its increasingly frequent embarrassments.

This one's caused by“Files From Duke Rape Case Give Details but No Answers” (Aug. 25), a 5,800 word story the Times assured readers was about “a body of evidence to support [Durham DA Mike Nifong’s ] decision to take the matter to a jury.”

But the “body of evidence” is 33 pages of single space, typed notes which the lead investigator in the Duke Hoax case, Durham Police Sergeant Mark Gottlieb, prepared months after the events he investigated.

The Times didn't explain why Gottlieb waited so long to create his notes when standard police practice is to write notes at the time of the events being investigated or very shortly (hours, maybe a day or two) thereafter.

The Times failed to explain how Gottlieb developed such an extraordinary memory which, in every detail “recalled,” appears to support the wildly improbable story DA Nifong has been telling the world.

The Times swallowed Gottlieb’s “body of evidence” without so much as a “grain of salt” and passed it on to readers.

Many bloggers have ripped to shreds the omissions, half-truths and contradictions in Gottlieb’s notes and the Times' “Go Nifong” bias. They've dubbed the story “The Gottlieb Files.”

Raleigh News & Observer reporter Joe Neff joined the bloggers with an excellent “Gottlieb Files” analysis in his paper’s Sunday (Aug. 27) edition.

Now America’s most respected legal journalist, Stuart Taylor, examines “The Gottlieb Files” in a Slate article that’s will get a lot of attention in many quarters, including at the Times, where Taylor served as a reporter and Supreme Court correspondent (1980-1988).

Slate's headlines let you know just what Taylor thinks of the Times' "Gottlieb Files" :

"Witness for the Prosecution? The New York Times is still victimizing innocent Dukies."
Taylor leads off:
Imagine you are the world's most powerful newspaper and you have invested your credibility in yet another story line that is falling apart, crumbling as inexorably as Jayson Blair's fabrications and the flawed reporting on Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD. What to do?

If you're the New York Times and the story is the alleged gang rape of a black woman by three white Duke lacrosse players—a claim shown by mounting evidence to be almost certainly fraudulent—you tone down your rhetoric while doing your utmost to prop up a case that's been almost wholly driven by prosecutorial and police misconduct.

And by bad journalism. Worse, perhaps, than the other recent Times embarrassments. The Times still seems bent on advancing its race-sex-class ideological agenda, even at the cost of ruining the lives of three young men who it has reason to know are very probably innocent.

This at a time when many other true believers in the rape charge, such as feminist law professor Susan Estrich, have at last seen through the prosecution's fog of lies and distortions.
That's just the beginning.

Here's a sample of Taylor's treatment of the Times' "body of evidence" :
The Times treats as established fact [Gottlieb's] memo's less-than-credible claim that the sexual-assault nurse told him on March 21 that the accuser had been subjected to "blunt force trauma" consistent with a sexual assault. The piece also glosses over the contradiction between her supposed statement to Gottlieb and her own report. Under "Describe all signs of physical trauma," she listed only nonbleeding scratches on the accuser's right knee and heel.
A few thoughts -

Much of the ground Taylor covers will be familiar to readers of blogs which have taken the lead in shredding the story such as Durham-in-Wonderland, Liestoppers, Betsy Newmark, Johnsville News, William Anderson and JustOneMinute.

But there's reporting in Taylor's article that's important and new, at least to me.

The article also mentions police speculation that the lacrosse players might have slipped the accuser a date-rape drug to incapacitate her. And Joseph Cheshire, Evans' lawyer, noted in a recent e-mail exchange with me that the prosecution "has suggested to the media numerous times in the past that the accuser had been given such a drug." Another deception? "A toxicology report that the defense was informed of last week was negative for any date rape drug in the accuser's system," Cheshire tells me.
That advances the story. Thank you, Stuart.

And this:
Gottlieb had drawn fire before the alleged Duke rape—perhaps unbeknownst to the Times—as a Dukie-basher who reveled in throwing kids into jail for petty drinking infractions, noise violations, and the like, sometimes with violent criminals as cellmates.
I wish Taylor had named his source(s). That report deserves follow-up.

Also deserving follow-up is Taylor’s suggestion that he thinks the police ID photo lineup procedure Nifong and Gottlieb collaborated on may have violated Constitutional protections. Is it time for the feds to step in? I hope so.

What most impressed me about Taylor's article is the directness and meticulousness with which he exposes and labels the Times for just what its been on the Duke Hoax story: an enabler of the injustices committed by Nifong, Gottlieb and very likely others.

Taylor has left the Times no place to hide.

More about Taylor and the impact of his article tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I guess we're lucky it didn't place 17 year old GWB at the scene!


Anonymous said...

Write letters to the board of directors of The New York Times Co. Not all family members are pleased with the stewardship of Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger. Send Taylor's article, as well as those by professor J.C. Johnson (Durham in Wonderland). Be polite, accurate and informative in your letters.

Anonymous said...

Should be K.C. Johnson.

Anonymous said...

This is why I don't buy the New York Times.

Anonymous said...


It has come to my attention that you tried to email me on August 16. I searched my computer and did not find your email or any reply, suggesting i never got it.
I don;t have an email address for you, so I am posting this comment with my email address (no secret): GaynorMike@aol.com.

JWM said...

Anon "I guess we're lucky it didn't..."

A good reminder the NYT can usually do even worse than it does.

Anon "Write letters to the board ...'

Good advice. Thank you.

Anon "Should be K.C. Johnson"

People who fix their errors are not all that common. Hats off to you.

Anon "This is why I don't ..."

Lots of others aren't buying the Times. Then there are those who like its crossword puzzle or its obits.

To each his/her own.

But I'm with you although I subscribe to Times Select because I sometimes need "background" for blog comments.

Anon "John, It has come to my ..."

I responded.

To all you Anons,

Thank you.