"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
For months Duke’s President, Richard (“The facts kept changing”) Brodhead, has been traveling around the country hosting dinner events at which he puts forward Duke’s “best face” in the form of selected faculty and students, and then engages in a brief Q&A.
The last of the currently scheduled dinners was held Tuesday, June 5, in Philadelphia. Citizen journalists Buddy and Lazierthanmost were there and reported on the event at Liestoppers.com. I’m relying on their reporting for the following commentary.
It appears the event was a disaster for Brodhead, “Dick’s team,” and those trustees who’ve worked so hard to cover up the University’s response to Crystal Mangum’s wildly improbable hoax.
Brodhead was ensnared by simple, fact-based questions concerning the witch hunt targeting the Duke lacrosse team, and the attempted frame-up of three of its members.
Asked, for example, why he didn’t meet with the lacrosse parents on campus the weekend of March 25 when the story “broke,” Brodhead said “events were moving fast.”
The report called that “a non-answer.”
Yes, it was “a non-answer,” but it was a very revealing one.
Put in the best light possible, Brodhead was saying he had other, higher priorities than meeting with a group of Duke parents whose sons had just been ordered by a court to submit to police DNA testing and photographing as part of an investigation involving multiple felonies, including gang-rape.
Brodhead’s “non-answer” answer surely didn’t go over very well with those in attendance, since when the question was asked, it was greeted with applause.
There was also applause in response to other questions suggesting skepticism or outright disagreement with Brodhead and Duke’s response to the Hoax. No wonder Brodhead appeared uncomfortable when answering such questions.
I would guess for Brodhead and his supporters the worst part of the evening had to be when a 1970s-era lacrosse alum got up to speak. As reported:
A 1970s-era lacrosse alum noted that every e-mail from [Board of Trustees Chair Robert] Steel says Duke has handled this well and its time to move on. (The Duke theme is “time to move on-nothing to see here, folks.”) This gentleman basically said progress can't be made until the issues of last year are dealt with. He also received applause as well.Steel, Brodhead & Co. have been working for the last year to convince everyone there’s nothing to see anywhere except way up yonder there in the future out past where the sun sets.
And here at the last of a series of dinners which were planned for Brodhead to “spread a little sunshine” and then send alums and others toddling off contentedly into the night, an alum tells him he doesn’t buy Steel’s email messages.
And what happens then? The audience responds with applause.
When Steel, Brodhead and others planned the dinner series, did they ever imagine it would end that way? And what is that ending telling them?
The citizen journalists said:
Several individuals came over to talk with those of us who rained on Brodhead's parade. The common theme was that Brodhead did not answer the questions. So we maybe made some progress.You bet you made progress, Buddy and Lazierthanmost. And not just by helping net Brodhead in questions he didn’t want to answer and letting everyone at the event see that.
You did something else that was very, very important. By writing your reports and sending them on to Liestoppers, you made the evening “a net event.”
Look at just a few of the important things that are happening because your reporting is out on the net.
1) Thousands who weren’t at the dinner now know something about it.
2) Bloggers like KC Johnson and myself have added to your impact by posting based on your reporting
3) There are people who will read your reports and send links to others. Those others will likely include some trustees.
I’m glad some trustees will now have your reports to consider along with the reports they’ll receive from Steel, Brodhead and various members of “Dick’s team” who were at the dinner.
I plan to use your report in another post Sunday.
Thanks for covering the event. You performed a very important service for people following the Hoax.
And for Duke as well.