Monday, March 03, 2008's public information services

Many of you know there's disagreement concerning just what the motion filed Feb. 28 by attorneys for Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and other Duke defendants in a civil suit brought by 38 current and former Duke lacrosse players and some of their family members seeks.

Some say one of the things the Duke defendants seek is to shut down a Web site,, maintained by publicist Robert Bork on behalf of the plaintiffs and their attorneys. But others dispute that.

I've relied on for information. In this post I want to give you an example of that so you'll understand why I'd hate to see shut down if, in fact, that's something the Duke defendants seek to do.

The memorandum in support of the motion is here. Footnote 1, page 3 says:

As discussed herein, this motion is limited to attorney-initiated statements, whether made by the attorney or through a third-party, that will likely be disseminated by means of public communication and statements. The motion is not addressed toward any other media coverage or website discussion of this case or the underlying events of this case.
As I read the footnote, President Brodhead and the other defendants don’t want to do anything to interfere with media coverage such as, for example, the Raleigh News & Observer’s Feb. 22 report of the previous day’s press conference. In its report the N&O told readers:
… The players chose not to appear at the news conference, said Bob Bork Jr., the group's hired publicist, because they don't want to attract attention. ...
But Bork said something very different.

I only learned that because hosts a video of the press conference in the first minute or two of which you can see and hear Bork say:
None of the 38 players who are filing this lawsuit are here today. They considered participating, but many have jobs and some are still students and lacrosse team members at Duke. One is in Army Ranger school preparing to deploy to Iraq.

Know this -- the players are united behind this lawsuit. At the same time that they are understandably concerned about retribution and negative, maybe even slanderous media coverage. Who can blame them after what they endured for 13 months in 2006 and 2007. They are walking a fine line between trying to live normal lives in the wake of an unspeakable trauma and at the same time trying to get answers to questions that remain unaddressed by their university.
It was reasonable to hold a press conference to announce the suit. That's often done.

It was reasonable for the press to ask why the players weren’t there. And it’s not surprising the N&O misrepresented what Bork said about their absence.

The N&O, after all, in March 2006 inflamed public sentiment against the players by withholding news of their cooperation with police and instead promulgating the “wall of solidarity” lie.

If wasn’t hosting the video and Bork hadn’t posted a notice concerning it, I’d not have known of the N&O’s misrepresentation and been able to post concerning it with a link to the video.

Nor could I now be asking the N&O for a correction and explanation as to how and why its misreporting occurred. ( 3rd request re: N&O misrepresentation in suit story )

Making available public documents, providing explanations of them and “correcting the record" are important public information services.

I hope the court acts to allow to continue to provide them.

I think it will.


Anonymous said...

Thanks John

FWIW, I doubt that the site will be shut down. My worry is that information which could have become public record may be withheld from the public.

It's my opinion that it would be beneficial to Duke to conceal as much as possible for as long as possible, hoping the interest will fall off over time.