The Duke lacrosse case highlighted “crucial problems of our culture -- problems of achieving justice in a media-saturated society, problems of fundamental fairness to individuals, and problems in the way the American public is informed and misinformed about the world we live in,” Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead told participants in a legal conference on Saturday.The Duke News story continues here and includes the full text of President Brodhead’s statement and a link to a video of it.
“As president, I had responsibility for the statements the university made and the actions the university took in a virtually unprecedented situation, and I take responsibility for them now,” Brodhead said in his first public comment about the case since the disbarment and resignation of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.
“When a case like this is over, it’s tempting to think that the facts so clearly established at the end of the day must have been equally clear throughout the process. This was not the case,” Brodhead said in his talk during a two-day conference at Duke Law School on the practice and ethics of trying cases in the media. “[S]tarkly opposite versions of the truth created deep uncertainty about what had happened.
Are you satisfied if President Brodhead admits a few mistakes were made much as Nixon did in the “damage control” statements he kept making at the time of Watergate?
Remember Nixon's “Yes, mistakes were made?”
Are you satisfied if Brodhead just says he‘s sorry he didn’t meet with the lacrosse parents without bothering to say why he refused to meet with them in the first place and for months thereafter?
Are you excited by Brodhead’s promise that the same Duke administrators who planned and implemented a bungled, even disgraceful response to the falsehoods of Nifong, the Raleigh N&O and some Duke faculty will now go “over all our procedures to see what we can learn from our experience?”
Are you happy when the foxes agree to help you find out why your chickens keep disappearing?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you must be either John Burness or a Duke trustee.
Moving on, Brodhead said today:
When a case like this is over, it’s tempting to think that the facts so clearly established at the end of the day must have been equally clear throughout the process. This was not the case.If you know little or nothing about the events of last Spring, what Brodhead said today sounds reasonable enough: One side said this, the other side said that. Who could know then what were the right things to do?
When the accusations were made, our students said emphatically that they were innocent.
On the other hand, the district attorney made a series of public statements expressing absolute confidence that a crime had occurred and that the students were guilty of criminal charges.
These starkly opposite versions of the truth created deep uncertainty about what had happened.
But what Brodhead’s saying now is sly, if not disingenuous.
The issue of guilt or innocence aside, Brodhead and Duke's trustees knew last Spring what all of us knew then: Nifong was savaging Duke students for doing no more than following their parents’ and attorneys’ advice to exercise their constitutional rights.
Brodhead, Duke's trustees and "Dick's senior team" knew the student were doing exactly what Duke Law Professor James Coleman has said they should have done.
But neitherBrodhead, any member of his "senior team," or any trustee said anything critical then of Nifong’s savaging.
Brodhead knew last Spring the N&O, Nifong and the Durham Police were lying when they said the players had formed a “wall of solidarity” and weren’t cooperating.
But Brodhead said nothing then to counter those lies, even when they endangered the players’ safety.
He said nothing today to explain why he didn’t.
Nor did he say anything today about why he told the community that whatever the Duke students did “was bad enough.”
Or why he’s never said anything critical of the hate-filled people who screamed threats at Duke students, rallied beneath a CASTRATE” banner and circulated “Vigilante” posters within sight of his office windows.
If you’ve read Brodhead’s statement, you know he said nothing about his silence and the trustees silence when Reade Seligmann was subjected to first shouts of physical harm and then death threats in Durham last May 18.
There are many at Duke, in the Durham community and elsewhere whose self-interests are served by Brodhead remaining as President and Trustee Chair Robert Steel continuing to control the trustees and Duke.
But other than such self-interested people, who wants Duke to continue to endure much more Steel-Brodhead “leadership?”