Friday, July 13, 2007

INNOCENT: Duke’s Burness Made Me Smile

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

The disgraceful conduct of many at Duke who helped enable the witch hunt and frame-up, and who even now are helping enable the cover-up, has always bothered me, as I’m sure it has most of you.

Sometimes the actions and failures to act of trustees, administrators and almost all faculty have been outright shocking and anger-provoking

For example, Duke’s silence when a vengeful crowd shouting for “stern and swift justice” gathered outside the house on N. Buchanan Blvd waving “CASTRATE” and “GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE” banners.

But along with all the terrible and disgusting things I’ve witnessed at Duke since the hoaxer first made her grossly improbable and contradictory claims, there've been some things said and done there that have made me smile

Let me tell you about one such instance.

Like many of you, I’ve frequently read and heard Duke President Brodhead’s whiny, self-excusing and blame-shifting statements regarding what he did and didn’t do in response to the Hoax.

“The facts kept changing,” he told the late Ed Bradley during a 60 Minutes interview last fall. “Every day we learned new things that no one knew the day before.”

And this January Brodhead told Chronicle reporter Rob Copeland: "Once the situation existed, it had to be dealt with. I'm really not immune to self-criticism in any way, I believe we've handled this as straightforwardly and honorably as we could have, given the extraordinary nature of the situation and the changing nature of the facts."

Yes, those darn facts that kept changing. They’re so much harder to manage than the ones that don’t change.

And how could Poor Richard have known that he should have spoken out when that vengeful crowd shouted physical threats and waved their odious banners in front of a house in which Duke students lived, which Duke owns and which is directly across the street from Duke’s campus?

With all of that as background, I was reading Don Yaeger with Mike Pressler’s It’s Not About The Truth. When I got to page 107 I read:

”He may be the smartest person I’ve ever met,” said John Burness, Duke’s senior vice president for public affairs and government relations. “He is a really deep thinker and it’s fascinating to watch how he thinks and how he talks because he starts with the big picture and he works his way down to the points. He is so fast with his wit you just do a double-take sometimes.”
My wife asked why I was smiling.

“Here, read this,” I said.

She did and smiled.

How about you?

And would you support changing Burness’ title to: senior vice president in charge of promoting the interests of President Brodhead and those controlling the board of trustees?


larry said...

John Burness seems to be one of those people you can fool all of the time.

Anonymous said...

JinC asks: "And would you support changing Burness’ title to: senior vice president in charge of promoting the interests of President Brodhead and those controlling the board of trustees?"

This is in fact Burness's assignment. The job was created (under Brodie) with essentially this job description.

scott said...

Several years ago one of my friends raved about what a terrific dancer Michael Jackson was. He even went so far as to say Jackson made Fred Astaire look sick. Ignoring for the moment that comparing Jackson and Astaire as to dancing is similar to comparing a paint by numbers hack to, say, a Dutch master, let us kist say that what Burness knows about intelligence is comparable to what my friend knows about dancing.

scott said...

kist = just. My bad.

Gary Packwood said...

Baghdad Bob for Duke, as it were!

Anonymous said...

7:31 -- That was very funny!

Didn't Burness also provide Cash with the "Holloway confirmation" of the defamatory information? If so, he is also a sleazebag of the highest order, as well as a privacy-right-defiler and hoax enabler. MOO!