Tuesday, July 15, 2008

N&O's “lacrosse scandal” spares Steel, others, & itself

The front page of yesterday’s Raleigh News & Observer carried the headline “Wachovia's new CEO is pro in crisis control” followed by an almost 1400-word “rah-rah” story which began:

As investment bank Bear Stearns imploded in March, Bob Steel was among the financial titans making an unappetizing choice: Let the company's demise possibly unravel the global financial system or engineer a rescue sure to be labeled a bailout.

From his New York hotel room, Steel, then a top U.S. Treasury Department official, dialed in to a 5 a.m. conference call where he, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the New York Federal Reserve Bank president and others finalized steps to prop up Bear Stearns. Later that day, it was Steel's job to brief President Bush.

It was a memorable moment, Steel acknowledged: "I didn't talk to the president every day."

Named Wachovia's new chief executive last week, the 56-year-old will need these crisis-management skills if he is to restore the tarnished bank.

"He thrives under adversity," said Paulson, who met Steel at Goldman Sachs when they both worked there. "I watched him at Goldman Sachs when we went through tough times. I watched him deal with others on the team, people inside and outside. He is cool under fire. He is measured. He knows how to pace himself, how to motivate others around him."

His resume isn't spotless. As chairman of Duke's board of trustees, he has faced criticism for the university's handling of the lacrosse scandal that rocked the campus for a year. Analysts also have questioned his lack of experience in retail banking, an area that provides 70 percent of Wachovia's profits. (emphasis added)

But by many accounts, the Durham native stands out for his intellect, work ethic and people skills.
You can’t miss the “rah-rah” treatment Steel receives from McClatchy Company reporters at the N&O (including Anne Blythe, bylined on some of the most discredited Duke hoax and frame-up attempt stories) and the Charlotte Observer.

And you can’t miss the N&O’s reference right at the top of the story to “the lacrosse scandal.”

But what “lacrosse scandal” is the N&O talking about 15 months after NC attorney general Roy Cooper said there never was any credible evidence with which to indict the three lacrosse players and without qualification declared them “innocent?”

There was certainly a Duke lacrosse hoax and frame-up attempt: Duke, led by Bob Steel, threw the lacrosse team under the bus; there were death threats against the players; Wanted and Vigilante posters were circulated at Duke and in Durham; the N&O withheld news exculpatory for the players; and the N&O deliberately promulgated what it knew was the “wall of solidarity” lie which within a day morphed into the “wall of silence” lie.

All of that is certainly scandalous; some of it may well involve criminal activity. But none of it is “a lacrosse scandal.”

There was a stupid, obnoxious party lacrosse players hosted and attended. It was much like many parties Duke students host and attend; with faculty and townies sometimes hosting similar parties, even attending some of the ones the Dukies host.

But the lacrosse party isn’t what the N&O meant by “a lacrosse scandal.”

The N&O’ used “lacrosse scandal” as a euphemism in order to avoid correctly labeling the scandalous conduct of Duke under Steel; the scandalous conduct of certain Durham officials and police who are defendants with Steel in two major lawsuits; and the N&O’s own scandalous coverage of events which resulted from Crystal Mangum’s lies.

The N&O said:
As chairman of Duke's board of trustees, he has faced criticism for the university's handling of the lacrosse scandal that rocked the campus for a year.
because it didn’t want to say something like:
As chairman of Duke’s board of trustees, Steel led Duke’s response to the false rape charges against three lacrosse players. Duke’s settled a number of suits relating to its response. Steel remains a defendant in two suits brought by lacrosse players and their families.
That the N&O would would resort to using the euphemism "a lacrosse scandal" (it uses it again later in its story) to spare Steel, others and itself from more truthful descriptions of the events of Spring 2006 and the suits which resulted from those events, is shameful but not surprising.

The entire N&O story's here.


Anonymous said...

You are correct; "not surprising".

Anonymous said...

The N&O editors blog is talking about rape as related to the current Satanic case.

They are handling it different than they did Crystal Mangum.

See how they name the man but not the woman.

bill anderson said...


This is the first time of which I am aware in which a university's administration and employees worked with a corrupt prosecutor to frame students for a crime that never happened. The buck stops at Bob Steel, who never once asked what is the right thing to do.

What is "good for Duke" does not constitute the "right thing," necessarily.

Anonymous said...

It takes a man (or woman) of moral courage to take an unpopular stand. Robert Steele is severly lacking in the moral courage that one would expect of a board chairman or the CEO of a large corporation. If he treats the employees of Wachovia like he treated the students at Duke - "bad things happen in life that one must learn to deal with" then Wachovia employees will be in for a very unhappy time in the months ahead. Steele may very well be a good financial officer. However, the abiity to juggle finances well is not what, ultimately, is important in life. It is doing the right thing in trying circumstances. Steele caved to the forces of political correctness rather than risk an unpopular stance by asserting loudly and frequently that in this country "a person is innocent until proven guilty". This he did not do. He cancelled the lacrosse season ("it didn't look good on national television for the lacrosse team to be practicing and playing") and supported the firing of Coach Pressler ("bad things happen to good people").
If Duke University has major holdings in Wachovia, will his presence as the head of the BOT of Duke constitute a conflict of interest since he will be the CEO of Wachovia?

Anonymous said...

John -

To emphasize what anon at 3:11 PM said, why should I be surprised? Of course, you and Bill Anderson as well are on the money here.

Jack in Silver Spring

Archer05 said...

John, This suit will be interesting to follow. The picture of Elmostafa in court with the two bullies flexing their muscles to scare him, was priceless.
Duke lacrosse cabbie files suit
Durham Herald-Sun- John Stevenson

DURHAM -- After figuring in the Duke lacrosse case and becoming Reader's Digest magazine's Hero of the Year, former Durham cabbie Moezeldin Elmostafa has launched what his lawyer described Tuesday as a priceless and perhaps unprecedented court claim.

zonga said...

More power to you, Mr. Elmostafa.