Friday, March 07, 2008

The Chronicle Isn't Standing Up For Duke

I’ve mentioned before The Chronicle’s very weak reporting concerning two suits which allege civil rights violations and name as defendants Duke University, President Brodhead and other University administrators and staff. See, for example, Chronicle Suit Story Confused, Avoids Duke Questions. (2/22/08)

We see more very weak reporting in The Chronicle’s story yesterday concerning the impending retirement of Duke’s Police Director Robert Dean.

I’ve just sent Chronicle Editor David Graham the email below.

I’ll let you know if I hear back.


Dear Editor Graham:

Why did The Chronicle’s story of DU Police Director Robert Dean’s impending retirement fail to say he’s a defendant in two civil rights suits resulting from the University’s disgraceful response to the lies Crystal Mangum began telling on March 14, 2006?

Your story quotes both Aaron Graves, associate vice president for campus safety and security and Kemel Dawkins, vice president for campus services.

You fail to say they’re also defendants in the suits. (Graves in both, Dawkins in one)


The Chronicle story said nothing about the Bowen-Chambers committee report which sharply criticized Dean’s and DUPD’s handling of DUPD's investigation of Mangum's lies and its finding she was not credible.

The Bowen-Chambers committee, created by President Brodhead and paid for by the trustees, got a great deal wrong.

Nevertheless it’s report helped propel the frame-up attempt; and for all its errors, its still being used by Brodhead and trustees as one of their fig leaves to cover up their involvement in the frame-up attempt.

So no senior Duke leader has ever hinted publicly what people who’ve followed the facts know: Bowen-Chambers was wrong to place blame on Dean and DUPD; and it was wrong to give Brodhead a pass and praise.

Bowen-Chambers was a critical part of the most important occurrence during Dean’s DUPD directorship and doubtless his entire professional career.

How could you fail to include any mention of it in your story?

The Chronicle’s story’s make not a single mention of anything having to do with the Duke Hoax or the frame-up attempt or the ongoing cover-up of the frame-up.

Why was that?

You’ll recall a column Elliott Wolf wrote about DUPD just a month ago, "A Little Sunshine, Please." Wolf reported [excerpt]:

… Since 2005, two University employees have had operational control over DUPD. Robert Dean was brought out of retirement to lead the department as interim director (not "Chief"). In 2006, his appointment was made permanent and supplemented by that of Aaron Graves as associate vice president for campus safety and security.

Although they were at one point in their respective careers, neither Graves nor Dean is a sworn police officer accountable to the state for his actions. The Allen Building dictates their salaries and budget, and can fire them at will.

To the detriment of the campus community, it seems that such a lack of accountability to the state and to the law - coupled with Duke's typically opaque decision-making - has allowed the leadership of the department to run amok. And at the worst possible time, shortly after the murder of graduate student Abhijit Mahato and a string of armed robberies perpetrated against students and staff.

Information provided by a number of officers, much of it confirmed on the record by Graves, paints a picture of an understaffed, demoralized organization, unable to meet the needs of the University community. The officers I interviewed requested anonymity, since they could be fired for publicly discussing internal department matters.
The Chronicle failed to make any reference to the DUPD problems Wolf documented: problems which are literally life-and-death matters for Duke students and anyone else on campus.

In fact, The Chronicle has yet to publish a follow-up story or editorial concerning the problems Wolf documented.

The Chronicle’s story yesterday and its failure to follow-up on Wolf’s documented finding are troubling, even frightening.

The Chronicle needs to do a better job informing the Duke community and standing up for Duke.

If you care to make a response I’ll publish it in full.

Thank you for your attention to this email.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported
in a newspaper.

-George Orwell

Anonymous said...

Thanks John

Few dare to stir the pot any.


Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Hey - has anyone noticed that the Chronicle had an editorial this morning about the media influence on the LAX case and its latest lawsuits?

That editorial has now vanished without a trace. What's going on? Media on Duke campus self-censoring, or fearful of attracting attention to something politically incorrect?

JWM said...

Thanks George Orwell (I love your writings) and kbp. (I love your comments)


You are usually bang on.

But are you sure there was an edit take-down?

Could it be that a news story (see URL below) which no longer appears on The Chronice's main page, but can be accessed at The Chronicle's site is what you have in mind?

Please let me know. Just leave a comment here. I'll get it.

If there was an edit take-down, I want to learn more about that.

Thank you all three for commenting.



Insufficiently Sensitive said...


Maybe it's been a long week, but I raised the Chronicle website this morning and found the article your pointer identifies. I think it was next article under the 'UNC Student Body President Shot Dead' headline, but I can't swear to it and obviously it isn't there now.

The comment I posted this morning is still there, so there's some evidence I wasn't hallucinating. Or maybe spending this evening sweating over an unpronounceable musical instrument in a rather non-Anglo-Saxon restaurant has warped this ole geezer's memory. I should maybe revert to the banjos and gittars I used to play in the Triangle Coffee House in Durham in the good old days, and forget this verbal jousting.

Thanks for furnishing the pointer, I'd have been really perplexed otherwise.