Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Is Hoaxer Hopman “Credible” To KC Johnson?

On Mar. 28, 2006 in a Chronicle guest commentary Jill Hopman, an ’05 Duke grad, told an obvious hoax story.

She claimed to have witnessed 20 or so Duke Men’s lacrosse players (the team had 47 members) behaving at a popular Durham bar just like the arrogant, aggressive, booze-swilling tavern louts the players’ most reckless critics were then saying they were. (Some of those critics still make such false claims.)

Here’s part of what Hopman said (all bolds following are mine):

This past Saturday night, days after the lacrosse story appeared in newspapers, I was at Charlie's having a drink with my local softball team when about 20 lacrosse players arrived.

Some were my close friends at Duke. Some are absolutely amazing athletes that shouldn't be tainted by the unfortunate and extremely sad events of this month. Most should not be guilty by association.

Nevertheless, they ordered round after round of shots, at times slamming the glasses down on tables and cheering "Duke Lacrosse!"

At this point,
the bar started buzzing.

Comments were flying all over from "How does Duke not have these guys under lockdown?" to "Do they realize what unremorseful drunk snobs they look like?" to "I hate Duke students and this is exactly why."

One of the men on my team,
a cop, leaned over to me and said, "See A, B and C? They are police officers."

Ten minutes later, one of the other guys on my team,
a photographer for a Raleigh newspaper, leaned over and said, "See X,Y and Z? They are reporters."

The players had no idea who was intensely analyzing them, nor did they really seem to care.

While I drank a Corona,
watching them get plastered and stumbling, yelling about Duke lacrosse, the rest of the bar looked on with derision and repulsion.
Hopman’s story was so quickly and fully discredited that not even Mike Nifong tried to use it against the players.

But KC Johnson later said:
… Jill Hopman, stood by her story to me and seemed credible[.]
Questions: Why did Hopman seem “credible” to KC?

Why didn’t she seem
incredible, as in unbelievable?


Anonymous said...

Do you know the identity of A, B, C and X, Y, Z?

Anonymous said...


Two statements stand out:

1. " Jill Hopman, an ’05 Duke grad"

2. "Some were my close friends at Duke."

Using a bit of logic, it would appear Jill is 1-3 years older than the members of the lacrosse team. It doesn't appear that she would have met any players in her classes. So the $64 question is how did she get to be "close friends" with some of the players?

Perhaps, some unique extra curricular activity?



Anonymous said...

My experience with attempting to confirm allegations and develop witnesses makes me extremely hesitant--nay loath--to believe anything reported by Hopman. If, indeed, there were "three cops" and "three reporters" present, under the prevalent circumstances of the time, the report of Duke lacrosse team behaving badly would have definitely made it into local news reports, and would have been known--and used--by the Durham cops. That neither of these things occurred, there is only one conclusion that fits: the report was bogus.
If KC Johnson had two sources whom he deemed credible, why aren't they making loud noises now when their friend, KC, is being assailed for not reporting it? Only KC knows why he made the call he did and I don't give him a great deal of credibility in his answers to John's points.
I stopped reading DiW after KC started doing the big ego strut after the publication of his book (which I bought and which I applaud). I think he's had his 15 minutes of fame.
Tarheel Hawkeye

halides1 said...

Tarheel Hawkeye,

It is indeed obvious that you have not been paying attention to what KC Johnson said. He said that one of his sources was not in a position to reveal his/her identity. Have you never dealt with anonymous sources? If not, maybe your experience isn't all that extensive. KC Johnson has also made obvious his own skepticism that the incident happened as Hopman described. So what’s your beef?

You haven't said why you don't give him credibility in his answers to JinC. Because you have not provided any reasons, your statement is flyweight criticism.


Anonymous said...

Hawkeye makes sense.

KC and Halkides don't.

Just MHO.

AMac said...

It is too easy for any of us to look at another's work and say, "you should have done X."

KC's explanation of why he didn't pursue the Hopman/Charlie's story further (and include it in UPI) makes sense to me. He had lots of other avenues to pursue, and he did. Anyone else--journalist, blogger, commenter--could have followed up with Hopman, Charlie's employees, etc. Looks like nobody did.

As far as the major issue of the day, the Hopman/Charlie's episode is of the third or fourth rank. Let's stipulate that it did happen, exactly as Hopman states. All we have is an account of lacrosse team members behaving somewhat obnoxiously.

Innocent people sometimes do behave obnoxiously. I've even done it!

Turning to Hopman's account: as JiC has shown, there are strong circumstantial reasons for believing that it is distorted or misleading.

To me, the biggest issue with the Chronicle story is that Hopman doesn't specify a time beyond "Saturday night." Thus, witnesses' differing accounts aren't definitive unless that person was there for the entire "night", which might stretch from 6 p.m. till closing time.

It would have been better if the Chronicle had had Hopman specify when the 20 members of the lacrosse team, including her close friends, piled into the bar for their falling-down-drunk antics and toasts.

Perhaps KC's corroborating witnesses could shed some light.

I emailed Ms. Hopman (7/22/09) to ask about the time. If/when she responds, I'll offer another comment.

Anonymous said...

To the blogger who blogs as Halides 1:
How about telling us why the three reporters didn't get the story into the news media. There was a feeding frenzy at the time, but nobody reported anything about lacrosse players at Charlies. And if there were three cops there, why didn't any of them get the word out to their colleagues in the Durham PD? I know the cop fraternity is pretty close, so it would be logical that they would have passed the word to Gottlieb and Himan, don't you suppose? They wouldn't have to break any anonimity to do so.
Your criticism is pretty flyweight, if you don't mind me saying so. See? I can flame, too.
Tarheel Hawkeye

halides1 said...

Tarheel Hawkeye,

What would the police officers say to Gottlieb and Himan? Slamming shots is not illegal.


Anonymous said...

To the blogger who blogs as Halides 1:
It is indeed obvious (as someone recently said to me) that you weren't paying attention to the frame-up that was underway when the alleged shot-slamming incident occured at Charlie's. For your edification, let me lay out the scenario:
The local and national media had its sights set on the lacrosse players at Duke. They were ravenously hungry for stories that portrayed the lacrosse players as young racist drunks. No media outlet was more vehement in its villification of the players than The News & Observer.
The Durham police and Nifong had a vested interest in keeping the propaganda ball in the air by feeding stories to the media with the intent of both bolstering their "case" and creating a public impression that the Duke lacrosse team was nothing more than a bunch of rich white snots behaving badly. Countless statements by Nifong and numerous DPD officials prove that they were doing everything in their power to generate a false image of the lacrosse team.
Now perhaps you have not had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of such campaigns, so let me tell you it's extremely difficult to fight back when the deck is stacked. I've been slimed by the worst of them, I know how it feels.
You asked "what were the police to do?" I thought it was pretty obvious what would have happened IF there had been three cops present during the alleged performance by the "drunken louts." Word would have gotten to the Durham PD and the incident would have become part of the organized propaganda campaign to paint all the players as drunken racists who pee off their porch.
Hopman has an obligation to come clean even at this late date, and I still marvel that KC Johnson failed to properly identify the hoax attempt. His convolluted explanations notwithstanding, I think KC may have actually believed the hoax. At least initially.
Tarheel Hawkeye

halides1 said...

Tarheel Hawkeye,

I was planning to start my reply to you today with the words “flame off,” but perhaps I was being optimistic (the offer is still open). Please address me properly: “Chris” is preferred, but “halides1” is acceptable. I don’t hide my identity, and I don’t criticize those who do unless they misuse their anonymity. You and your friend are speaking rather too quickly about me; my next post will discuss how some of the poison of the frame-up might have been circulated. We are in agreement about the vile behavior of Nifong and the DPD. I look forward to your comments when that post appears, especially those informed by your first-hand experiences.

I thought your post at 6:30 PM asked some good questions, and I incorporated them into my most recent post, which covers the Charlie’s incident. With respect to the police, they may have felt that with Hopman’s description, which appeared in one form or another in five articles or letters, there was nothing more to be said. Moreover, the next four days after April 2 (the date of the second Stancill/Blythe story) contained bigger stories, stories that those of us who blog are still trying to rebut.

Reasonable people may differ about whether Hopman’s story is a hoax or an exaggeration. But even a cursory glance at the resumes of those who have commented here and elsewhere indicate complete support of the players and a keen understanding of the issues surrounding the DL case.