Saturday, September 01, 2007

Newweek on “Until Proven Innocent”

Newsweek online has just posted under National News:

A Rush to Judgment

'Until Proven Innocent' is harshly critical of the city and campus response to the Duke University rape case.
The article with Evan Thomas’s byline begins:
On march 28, 2006, the four co-captains of the Duke lacrosse team accused of gang-raping an exotic dancer met with university president Richard Brodhead. One of the captains, David Evans, emotionally protested that the team was innocent and apologized for the misbegotten stripper party. "

Brodhead's eyes filled with tears," write Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson in their new book on the case, "Until Proven Innocent" (420 pages. Thomas Dunne Books. $26.95). Brodhead "said that the captains should think of how difficult it had been for him." The misbehavior of the players, said Duke's president, "had put him in a terrible position."

Listening to Brodhead, Robert Ekstrand, a lawyer representing the captains and many of their teammates, "felt his blood starting to boil," write Taylor and Johnson. "Here, he thought, is a comfortable university president wallowing in self-pity in front of four students who are in grave danger of being falsely indicted on charges of gang rape, punishable by decades in prison."

It is possible to feel sympathy for Brodhead (who in an interview with Taylor denied he was tearful or self-pitying at the meeting). The president of a modern, elite university must be careful not to cross his politically correct faculty. Brodhead had already lost face with some professors (who dislike the admissions break given to athletes) by appearing to kowtow before Duke's iconic basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, to stop him from jumping to the pros.

Brodhead had to worry about potential riots if he were seen as an apologist for the lacrosse players. They were white and the alleged victim was black; Duke is seen as a bastion of white privilege in its racially mixed hometown of Durham, N.C.

Still, as unforgivingly portrayed in "Until Proven Innocent," Brodhead appears weak-kneed. In their vivid, at times chilling account, the authors are contemptuous of prosecutor Mike Nifong, whom the North Carolina legal establishment disbarred for his by now well-documented misconduct. (Nifong's lawyer, David Freedman, says "there are a number of people who testified at the state bar proceeding that [Nifong] was a very caring career prosecutor.")

But their most biting scorn is aimed at the "academic McCarthyism" that they say has infected top-rated American universities like Duke. […]

By and large, the press did not let the facts get in the way of a good race-class-sex- violence morality play. Thanks in part to the reporting and guidance of Taylor, a NEWSWEEK contributing editor, NEWSWEEK was the first major publication to pick apart the prosecution's case, in an article on June 29, 2006.

But the magazine also put mug shots of two of the wrongly charged players on its cover on May 1 and, in the cover story I wrote, clucked at doting parents who do not want to see that their sons could turn into "thugs." Taylor and Johnson show that the players were crude and drank too much, but that they had no prior record of racism or sexual violence.

The authors make the Duke faculty look at once ridiculous and craven. […]

The only group that shows any common sense in "Until Proven Innocent" is the student body. Aside from a few noisy activists who assumed the players were guilty, Duke undergrads mostly overlooked the political correctness of their professors.
Thomas's entire article is here.

I’ll say more about it tomorrow.


Insufficiently Sensitive said...

A brief and somewhat insensitive review of the review:

Newsweek has presented a remarkably subdued picture of the 'rush to judgement' in this book review, and has bent over backwards to paint a portrait of Duke President Brodhead that makes him a sensitive caring individual interested only in truth and justice and the interests of Duke University.

Author Thomas carefully selects a porton of 'Until Proven Innocent' which he doesn't quote, but describes as the authors declaration that "Brodhead stressed the presumption of innocence in his public statements"

Were it were so. Brodhead didn't stress that presumption - he snuck it into his public utterances as if it were a ritual to defend Duke from liability for its beastly treatment of the lacrosse team. Brodhead's actions spoke louder than his words (except for his "whatever they did was bad enough"), and those actions were grimly telling.

Cancel the lacrosse season. Fire the coach (and claim that he resigned). Hand over, without warrant or supoena, personal data of team members to police, and put on an act to bamboozle the members and their families into believing that data dump hadn't happened. Refuse to meet parents of the accused. Single out a lacrosse team party for underage drinking, ignore the hundreds of similar parties by non-lacrosse students, and 'make an example' of the lacrosse team based on the multiple conflicting assertions of one drunken individual without witnesses. Presumption of innocence, no, unless feeble lip service trumps those actions.

Another example of Thomas's watered-down yarn is his portrait of the undergrads who didn't join the potbangers, to wit: "Duke undergrads mostly overlooked the political correctness of their professors". How well he sweeps under the rug the actions and statements of students who saw through the political correctness of said professors and other professional protesters, and properly called bullshit on the Nifong/MSM/G88 metanarrative that presumed guilt from day one. They called bullshit on demands that the players prove their innocence in a jury trial in Durham - an inversion of the Constitution that Thomas doesn't notice. The Duke "Chronicle" was hands down the best media spotlight on this sordid event cycle - its only failure was to parrot the tortured metanarrative of the professionals.

He does shine some light on the major features of Mike Nifong's outrageous crusade against three white males who raped no one, and mostly gets the outline of the story right in his allotted 821 words. But those who want full information will be better served to pass up the review, and read the book.

Anonymous said...

9:00 pm

Buy the book and read it is exactly what I intend to do.

bill anderson said...

Let us not forget what Newsweek and every other major news outlet did: simply ape whatever a government employee declares, and engage in political correctness. The story from the start was unbelievable, so Newsweek's decision to put pictures of Reade and Collin on its cover was not done out of good journalism, but rather from malicious political correctness and the desire to be "cutting edge."

Anonymous said...

Just watched the video of Ron Stephens. Are we to believe that he never spoke to his good buddy Nifong about his case over 13 months?
Stephens must be up to his eyeballs in the Hoax!

Anonymous said...

Newspeak. Does anybody actually read that crapola??

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask Evan Thomas two questions.

1.Exactly who proposed the idea to run the mug shots on the Newsweek cover?

2.Exactly who approved the cover?

I sincerely hope that the person/s responsible have done some serious soul searching and I am still waiting for an apology from Newsweek and not more rationalization from Evan Thomas who wrote that "The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong."

I always thought that the facts came first in news.