Friday, October 27, 2006

The Churchill Series - Oct. 27, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

July 25, 1945 – The BBC reported Churchill's surprising defeat in the General Election:

Clement Attlee has been elected Britain's new prime minister after Labour won a sweeping victory in the general election.

The outgoing prime minister and great wartime leader Winston Churchill tendered his resignation immediately.

The landslide victory comes as a major shock to the Conservatives following Mr Churchill's hugely successful term as Britain's war-time coalition leader, during which he mobilised and inspired courage in an entire nation.

Out of 627 seats Labour increased its seats from 164 to 393, giving the party its first independent majority of 159 seats over all other parties. […]

Following the announcement of the results this afternoon, Mr Churchill, who has held the positions of Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister of Defence continuously since May 10, 1940, went to Buckingham Palace to hand in his resignation.

Mr Attlee, 62, was welcomed by the King shortly afterwards and asked to form a new Government.

Throughout the election campaign Mr Churchill had appealed to the country to give his new National Government - formed after the dissolution of the Coalition government in May - a good majority.

But the appeal was rejected by the people of Britain, largely, it is thought, because they believed Labour's promises to implement the Beveridge Report and its plans for creating a welfare state.

In a statement issued from 10 Downing Street tonight Mr Churchill expressed his "profound gratitude for the unflinching, unswerving support" given to him by the people of Britain during the war years. […]

At a news conference this evening, Mr Attlee promised a new world order and an economic policy to raise the standards of life for people all over the world.

He said: "We are facing a new era and I believe that the voting at this election has shown that the people of Britain are facing that new era with the same courage as they faced the long years of war."

The outgoing prime minister had broken off meetings with the leaders of America and Russia in Potsdam on Wednesday (July 25) to return to Britain for the election results. […]
There was much more in the news report which you can find in text form at On This Day at

There quite a bit on the page including a photo of the victorious Attlee and a woman at his right who looks like Margaret Thatcher at 40. There’s also a brief Churchill biography, recollections of people who lived through the war and much more.

I hope you take a look. It’s a most interesting page.

Liestoppers is a must

visit every day for it's daily update of links to who's saying what about the Duke Hoax , it's enablers and those working for justice, and its outstanding posts.

Now readers have another reason for visiting Liestoppers: this column highlighting the work of Beth Brewer.

It was Beth who stepped in where others feared to tread. She's led the challenge to Durham's rogue DA Mike Nifong's plans to inflict on Durham four more years of the kind of injustice Duke Law Professor James Coleman described in June:

[In the suspect identification procedure,] the police not only failed to include people they knew were not suspects among the photographs shown the woman, they told the witness in effect that there would be no such "fillers" among the photographs she would see.

This strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged. Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.(bold added)

The prosecutor would not care if the pre-trial identification was subsequently thrown out by the court. The accuser would identify them at trial by pointing to the three defendants seated in front of her as the three men who assaulted her. The prosecutor would argue that she had an independent basis (independent of the identifications thrown out) for doing so.
You know Coleman's describing a key part of Nifong's frame-up of three Duke students - David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligman.

Beth Brewer has the courage to fight rogue DA Nifong.

She's helped give Durham a chance to reject Nifong - elect Cheek so that Governor Easley can appoint someone for a two year term; someone who'll strive to give Durham what it doesn't have now: justice in the DA's office.

Please read the column and vote if you're eligible for Lewis Cheek.

Who knows? We might wind up with a DA who has the same kind of character, intelligence, and commitment to justice Professor Coleman has.

Go to KC Johnson's all day Friday,Oct. 27

At Durham-in-Wonderland, KC Johnson is live-blogging today's court hearing in Durham.

There's news.

He also covered Steve Monks bizarre news conference today at the Durham Board of Elections.

Start at the top and keep scrolling.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

KC Johnson at Duke

( This post is in the old web log tradition: notes at the end of a busy day for others who know “the background.” John)

You know about KC and his extraordinary work reporting and commentating on what was first called “the Duke lacrosse case,” but which KC’s done so much to convince a growing number of people was a hoax that quickly became a witch hunt.

Tonight at Duke’s Bryan Student Center KC was on a panel with Larry Holt, Chair of Durham’s Human Relations Commission and Stephen Miller, Duke Chronicle columnist and Exec. Dir.of the Duke Conservative Union.

KC in person is just as impressive as he “appears” on your computer screen: organized, extraordinarily well-informed, and persuasive.

If you're asking whether his care and justice-seeking comes through in person, the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

His voice is pleasant.

Panel manners? He didn't "hog" time, interrupt the other panelists or engage in one-upmanship. I gave Professor Johnson an A+ for panel manners.

When KC spoke about Nifong’s procedural irregularities, Duke’s failures of duty and values, and the obvious innocence of the three students wrongly indicted, you couldn't miss his obvious belief in every word he spoke.

Almost all of what KC discussed tonight, he’s said in his posts. Still, it was powerful to hear him:

first, quote verbatim and identify by number five parts of the NC state bar’s Code of Professional Conduct;

and, then, to state by day, source and statements and/or actions just what Nifong did to violate the Code of Professional Conduct.

Remember how Nifong promised the court DNA results would exonerate the innocent and then when the results came back, he ignored them?

Remember how Nifong directed Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb to conduct an ID procedure that violated a number of the Durham Police Department’s own ID procedures, including failing to use "fillers" and telling the accuser she's be shown only photos of players who were at the party?

KC said Nifong’s conduct in those instances and others violates the bar’s Code of Professional Conduct, and will lead in time to Nifong’s being censured by the NC state bar.

KC said the NC bar has a tradition of not interfering in a case before it’s been resolved, but once that happens, he expects Nifong to be censured.

KC listed some of Duke’s failures when the hoax was first made public; and some of its failures right up to today. For example, the failure of just about every member of Duke’s Arts & Sciences Faculty to stand up for due process for its students when Durham Police entered dorm rooms without a search warrant.

But before KC could say much more about any of that, audience members were participating in the Q&A.

I’ll say more about that, the other panelists and some after Q&A discussion and interviews tomorrow or Saturday.

Tonight's event was sponsored by Duke’s ACLU chapter.

Final words on KC:

My Mother had her “acid test” for any new friend I’d tell her about.

“Yes, but is your friend the kind of person you could invite home for dinner?”
Folks, you can definitely invite KC home for dinner, unless you’re planning to serve prosecutorial misconduct with large sides of false news reporting and Duke silence, accompanied by a grand cru Brodhead ’88 grown on the Academy's left bank.


Update: Journalist and blogger Jon Ham has a very good "first take" on the event. Also, Locomotive Breath, one of the Triangle area's outstanding "citizen journalists" has a very good post at Free Republic.

Look in on them both

No Churchill Series post Oct. 26

I'm sorry for that.

It's workload.

But I plan to be back tomorrow.

Thank you for your understanding.


Why, at Duke are

the students so often the ones who seem reflective and informed, while a good number of Arts& Sciences Faculty are exploitive, self-indulgent, and, in some cases, even mendacious?

After the hoax first broke, the great majority of Duke undergrads were very concerned, but waited for more information before making up their minds.

But lack of information was no impediment to English Professor Houston Baker (now at Vanderbilt). Baker erupted with a public letter on March 29 that included :

Young, white, violent, drunken men among us - implicitly boasted by our athletic directors and administrators - have injured lives.

There is scarcely any shame more egregious than one that wraps itself in the pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric as though such a wrap really constituted moral and ethical action. (By “pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric,” Professor Baker means what most of us refer to “due process,” “innocent until proven guilty,” and “Constitutional rights.” - JinC) [...]

All of Duke athletics has now been drawn into the seamy domains of Colorado football and other college and university blind-eying of male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves in the bargain.
Professor Baker’s letter was widely praised by many of his A&S Faculty colleagues.

It was a faculty “group of 88” who published the now discredited “listening statement” which, among other things, thanked those circulating “vigilante posters” for “not waiting [to make] your voices heard.”

In contrast, a student group and its coaches, the Women’s lacrosse team, said: “Innocent.”

Now here’s the most recent pair of incidents that contrast student and professor behavior, with the contrast greatly in the student’s favor.

First, Women's Studies Professor Robyn Wiegman wrote the following letter to Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle :
I read with amazement Tuesday's Chronicle and the opinion by my colleague Steven Baldwin, who finds the faculty response to the Duke lacrosse scandal one that warrants their being "tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy." [Baldwin wasn’t speaking of all faculty; only some. I’ll get to that later. - JinC]

In a guest column in the same issue as a story about the panel at the law school last Friday, in which many participants proclaimed the over emphasis of media reportage of race, class, gender and privilege last spring, one can only wonder what symbolic world is being culled here and denied all at once?

Being tarred and feathered is the language of lynching, and the practice of lynching was rarely one that eventuated in a court case of any kind, let alone one in which the defendants claim 10 minutes on one of the most important television programs in the United States. My disappointment in Duke right now is that it wants to avoid the analysis of the language and history of race, instead of using this moment-in its broad social implications-to actually study it.

We can all have our opinions about the court case, but the time now is for engaging, as a university, the harder project of cultivating a community of actors who value and perform studied critical thought. Journalism can aspire to that as well.
Today at Duke New Sense, a student who blogs as Hayak responded to Professor Weigman. Here’s part of the post:
In response to Professor Steven Baldwin's excellent editorial in yesterday's Chronicle criticizing the Duke administration and faculty for its treatment of our student athletes, Professor Robyn Wiegman has a letter in the Chronicle today taking Baldwin to task for his use of the phrase "tar and feather":

Apparently knowledge of history isn't required in Wiegman's "community of critical thought," because if it were, she would know that the act of tarring and feathering someone has a long history largely separate from race. American colonists did it as a punishment and a deterrent to British Loyalists and officials, such as tax collectors; see here and here. The practice didn't stop with the colonial days, though; for example, an International Workers of the World (I.W.W. or "Wobblie") organizer was tarred and feathered in 1918.

I don't doubt that this form of harassment may have been used against blacks, but as I see it--and please, anyone with more knowledge of history should feel free to correct me--the term "tar and feather" has about as much of a racial overtone as "hanging" or "mob violence" do--that is, none. Moreover, Baldwin is obviously using the phrase as a metaphor for public censure. […]

It's ironic not only that a professor of literature doesn't understand metaphors, but also that someone urging "critical thought" fails to think critically, and prefers to make a silly ad hominem attack rather than actually respond to the substance of her colleague's arguments.

Making every little thing into a racial offense does not bring the issue out into the open and force us to confront something we may have been avoiding, as Wiegman ostensibly hopes it will.
Well said, Hayak. You did a nice job, metaphorically speaking, of tar and feathering Professor Wiegman.

Folks, what Hayak says about "tar and feathering" is consistent with what’s found in The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms:
"tar and feather"

Criticize severely, punish, as in The traditionalists often want to tar and feather those who don't conform. This expression alludes to a former brutal punishment in which a person was smeared with tar and covered with feathers, which then stuck. It was first used as a punishment for theft in the English navy, recorded in the Ordinance of Richard I in 1189, and by the mid-1700s had become mob practice. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.
I’ve just sent the following email to Professor Wiegman
Robyn Wiegman
Margaret Taylor Smith Director Women's Studies
Professor, Women's Studies and Literature

Dear Professor Wiegman:

I hold two degrees from the university and blog as

In your Chronicle letter of Oct. 25 you write: “[M]y colleague Steven Baldwin …finds the faculty response to the Duke lacrosse scandal one that warrants their being ‘tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy.’”(bold mine)

But that’s not true, Professor Wiegman.

Baldwin didn’t say anything about "the faculty response." He spoke about responses by some individual faculty members who engaged in certain despicable conduct which he described.

Read Baldwin’s words:
I do not believe that a faculty member publicly describing any student in pejorative terms is ever justified. To do so is mean-spirited, petty and unprofessional, at the very least. The faculty who publicly savaged the character and reputations of specific men's lacrosse players last spring should be ashamed of themselves.

They should be tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy. Their comments were despicable. I suspect they were also slanderous, but we'll hear more about that later.
Surely you didn't miss the fact that Baldwin's remarks concerned only certain faculty whose conduct he described. Not all faculty, thankfully, engaged in such despicable conduct.

Why did you fail to acknowledge that, and instead say: "Baldwin ...finds the faculty response ...?"

You'll find enlightening the following information from The American Heritage Dictionary of Idions:
"tar and feather"

Criticize severely, punish, as in The traditionalists often want to tar and feather those who don't conform. This expression alludes to a former brutal punishment in which a person was smeared with tar and covered with feathers, which then stuck. It was first used as a punishment for theft in the English navy, recorded in the Ordinance of Richard I in 1189, and by the mid-1700s had become mob practice. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.

On another matter, I'm told that Women's Studies has made no statement condemning the threats of physical violence and death threats hurled by racists on May 18 at Reade Seligmann, both outside the courthouse and within the courtroom before the judge entered.

Is that true?

I'm also told Women's Studies has no plans to honor a group of outstanding women who constitute the only large Duke group who to date publicly acknowledge it was a hoax and have spoken out on behalf of the three wrongly indicted innocent students.

Is it true Women's Studies has no plans to honor the Women's lacrosse team and its coaches?

I look forward to hearing from you.



KC Johnson at Duke tonight

Historian and blogger KC Johnson, who's reporting and commentary on the Duke lacrosse case has exposed falsehoods, revealed new information and “shined lights” on Hoax enablers, will speak tonight at Duke University.

Johnson will speak at 7 pm in the Bryan Student Center, which is right beside Duke Chapel. He'll be joined by Stephen Miller, who's also written and spoken on the case.

If you're driving, there's a large parking deck with elevator within a few hundred feet of the Bryan Center. The deck is very well lighted; and the area that time of night has considerable pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Johnson’s 7 pm talk will be on the Bryan Center's lower level (Von Canon room). Once you’re inside the Bryan Center, there’s a large reception desk where you'll get help. Any student will also be happy to help you.

The event is sponsored by the Duke chapter of the ACLU.

I hope you're there.

The Churchill Series – Oct. 25, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Would you trade a very large, uncut ruby stone for a perfectly cut diamond?

Well, opinions will differ but today at least you have no choice: you’re going to get the perfectly cut diamond of a sentence Churchill delivered in 1936 when he was excoriating the government of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin:

The government cannot make up their minds , or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind, so they go on, in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”
The line has more power when heard than when read. Sometimes today, take a minute. Deliver it out loud before someone you love or while you’re by yourself. Be sure to pause when you get to the comma between “so they go on,” and “in strange paradox,” and pause as you come to every last comma.

Whenever I read that sentence I’m reminded of something a friend one said: “Ridicule and parody can be as effective as gun powder, and they’re quieter."
The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill, Compiled by Dominique Enright (p. 52)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

WARNING: Blogger repairs

Blogger is telling us that from 5 to 6 pm, EDT, is will shut down for "repairs."

Now if Blogger's only going to shut down for an hour, that's fine.

But many times in the past when Blogger finishes "fixing things" there's more stuff "broke" then when they began.

So hang loose.

Most folks I know who use Blogger had lots of trouble Monday and I've been have spot trouble already today.

I'm sorry if it inconveniences you.


The Chronicle’s blog story

Today’s Chronicle has a 1000 plus word story,“Blogs stay focused on lax scandal.” Excerpts:

The national media attention that blanketed campus this spring has long since passed, six months after the first charges of rape were handed down against members of the 2005-2006 men's lacrosse team.

But among a fiercely devoted community of bloggers, there are still updates, discussions and critiques posted daily.

The vast majority of these online commentators are pro-defense, not connected to Duke and critical of both Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions and how the mainstream media-particularly newspapers-have covered the story. […]
I think the bloggers I read on the Hoax would have preferred to be described as “believe the players innocent” rather than “pro-defense.” Further along:
[New York Magazine writer Kurt] Andersen recently published a piece entitled "Rape, Justice, and the 'Times,'" criticizing the New York Times' coverage of the case and praising the work of KC Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College who has run the lacrosse case blog "Durham-in-Wonderland" since April.

Unlike the many blogs that primarily analyze media coverage of the story, Johnson has been lauded in the blogging community for reviewing legal documents and doing his own investigation into issues such as the financing of Nifong's election campaign and Durham activist Victoria Peterson's background.

"I'm not interested in just throwing together a blog that's just useless speculation or saying nasty things about Nifong without substantiating them," he explained. "That would, to me, just hurt the cause." […]

In addition to Nifong, newspapers have come under attack from bloggers who accuse them of being unobjective and ignoring crucial evidence.

"I've been critical of the Raleigh News and Observer from the first day I started blogging because it does a lot of things poorly and I think it's very biased," said John, a Duke alumnus who maintains the blog "John in Carolina" and declined to disclose his surname.

The coverage that bloggers provide can be influential, Andersen said, noting the forged National Guard memos used in a September 2004 "60 Minutes" piece, the authenticity of which was first questioned by bloggers.

"Bloggers have the luxury to do things the mainstream media don't... because of their passion and their focus," Andersen explained. "Bloggers don't have the fetters of institutional standards and editors and all those good things the mainstream media has."
The Chronicle’s including Anerson’s statements is good reporting. I smiled when I read bloggers are unfettered by “institutional standards and editors and all those good things.”

Anderson surely had his tongue in cheek. He knows, for instance, that if I were a reporter at the Raleigh N&O I very probably wouldn't say:
”Melanie [Sill, exec editor for news,] and John [Drescher, managing editor,] when did we first learn about all that cooperation the lacrosse players gave police investigators; and when did we first tell our readers about it? I’d like to do a story on that.

Also, I’d like to do a story with interviews of some of the people who are demanding we retract the Mar. 25 story and issue a full public apology to the players and their families on page one.

We’ll have exclusives if we hurry. No other newspaper in the state is reporting those stories.

What do you say, Melanie and John?
Now back to The Chronicle:
Johnson, who is not connected to Duke, said he was initially attracted to the case because of the "inexplicable response" of the University's faculty to the incident.

But he said he has stayed involved because the further he looked into the case, the more he was troubled by Nifong's actions and the silence of Duke's faculty.

"Usually when you learn more about something it's more nuanced, there are more shades of gray as more information comes to light," he said. "This is a case where it's been the opposite."

Michael McCusker, a New Jersey lawyer who posts almost daily on his blog, said he was prompted to start writing after meeting indicted player Reade Seligmann's father at a youth lacrosse game in May, and has continued because he feels obligated to remedy the injustices he sees in the investigation and prosecution.

"I felt that something had to be done and whatever I might do, whatever voice I might be able to raise, even if it's just shouting at windmills, would be doing some small part to rectify this travesty," McCusker said. […]
There’s a lot more in the story before it ends with :
It is difficult to measure how influential blogs are because the medium requires an audience that actively seeks it, [said Kenneth Rogerson, research director for Duke's DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.]

"I think the impact is not potentially as strong as some people might make it out to be because it's not necessarily easy to find these blogs," he explained.
It's difficult but important to measure blog influence.

I hope Rogerson and others research who visits particular blogs and why.

With regard to the Hoax case, I’ve been told by journalists and others that many journalists at our two area newspapers – the Raleigh N&O and the Durham Herald Sun - who are involved in reporting the case “read the blogs.” So do media people at our local TV stations. I’ve even heard directly from some national journalists who are reading them.

Anderson reads blogs. Former Duke Basketball great and ESPN commentator Jay Bilas said at a recent panel discussion on media coverage of the case that blogs had helped him form a better understanding of the case. Drescher, while critical of blogs, acknowledged they did some good. So we can add Drescher's name to the "reads the blogs" list.

It’s very possible that by virtue of who they're reaching, blogs are having an influence on the Duke Hoax case greater then one might conclude from just number counts of their visitors.

All in all, I thought The Chronicle's story was well done. I hope the paper continues to report on blogs.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Churchill Series – Oct. 24, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On June 20, 1936, Churchill, in his sixty-second year, made a passionate and deeply personal speech to his constituents. Here’s his conclusion:

I have done my best during the last three years and more to give timely warning of what was happening abroad, and of the dangerous plight into which we were being led or lulled.

It has not been a pleasant task. It has certainly been a very thankless task. I has brought me into conflict with may former friends and colleagues. I have been mocked and censured as a scaremonger and even as a warmonger, by those whose complacency and inertia have brought us all nearer to war and war nearer to us all.

But I have the comfort of knowing that I have spoken the truth and done my duty, and as long as I have your unflinching support I am content with that.

Indeed I am more proud of the long series of speeches which I have made on defense and foreign policy in the last four years than of anything I have ever been able to do, in all my forty years of public life.
Martin S. Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (p. 559)

Talking with JinC Regulars & Reader/Commenters

(Readers’ note: This post is in the old “web log” form in which individuals would share their notes, ideas, etc on the web somewhat the way a ship’s captain kept a log. - John)

I start to read every comment JinC receives and I finish reading almost all.

But I stop reading when the first few words tell me the comments' spam or troll nonsense, some of it subtle, some of it ugly, and all of it deserving no place at JinC.

Now what about critics like the two Anons who pointed out I was wrong when I included in a post a statement by another blogger that Brodhead had expelled lacrosse players when he hadn’t?”

Folks, those commenters are among my favorite commenters. I like people who come to this blog and politely note factual errors, especially mine.

Such commenters make this blog better. They make me a better blogger. I thank them. We should all thank them. (BTW – The other blogger, Tom Bevan, corrected and posted on his error within an hour of my calling it to his attention.)

Now some people who hate “delete” buttons will say, “But I should be able to say anything I want.”

Sure, and there are millions of blogs where you can do that.

Happy trails to you.

For the rest of us, we can look at the comment threads and see where we’ve had a number of civil discussions even as we’ve disagreed.

If someone is new here and wants to know how to confront another person they’re sure has committed an error, take a look at what Brian Johnston does in this post.

A young member of Parliament is reported to have asked Disraeli what was the best way to influence the House of Commons.

”Try facts, my boy, facts.”
And as at the Commons, so at JinC, a common blog.

A special thanks to those of you who point out tech difficulties.

Many thanks to those of you who take JinC posts and link them at places like Free Republic, Talk Left, etc.

You extend the “reach’ of this blog.

But you’re also doing something much more important: you’re doing what editors do.

Editors select from what they read those articles they think should be distributed to a wider public.

We talk about the “citizen journalists” who at MSM blogs such as the N&O’s Editors’ Blog, have “joined the conversation.” night.

But what about “citizen editors?”

They select, edit, summarize or reject posts. They decide where to “put the copy” they want the public to read.

I thank all the “citizen editors” who select and help publish JinC posts.

Folks, this is getting too long and I want to do something on Steve Baldwin’s Chron. Op-ed before I go to bed. Or maybe that will have to wait for first thing in the morning.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another Talking post.


Duke's mismanagement

Duke Chemistry Professor writes in The Chronicle today:

Last April I wrote to The Chronicle in support of Mike Pressler, former coach of men's lacrosse at Duke. At that time I was concerned that the decision to fire him had been premature, coming only a few weeks after the fateful Buchanan Street party, and certainly long before all of the facts were known. Now, six months later, it is quite clear that my concerns were justified.

I do not ascribe to President Brodhead's position that someone had to fall on his sword to atone for the March 13 lacrosse party. But even if one does buy into that silly notion, why was it coach Pressler? Certainly the several reports emanating from President Brodhead's committee's looking into the lacrosse incident identified a number of individuals more culpable than Pressler. If the goal were to send a message, wouldn't firing Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, Athletics Director Joe Alleva, Vice President Larry Moneta or Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek-or all of them-have been more appropriate?

As displeased as I am with Pressler's firing, my biggest concern has always been with Duke's treatment of the student athletes at the center of the storm. These kids were abandoned by their university. At least one of the indicted students, perhaps all three, was trespassed from Duke property. They were denied the presumption of innocence, despite the mounting evidence that the case against them is made of smoke and mirrors and is fatally flawed procedurally. They have been pilloried by their faculty and scorned by the administration. They are pariahs.

As a Duke faculty member I regard my students in much the same way I regard my children. When my kids do something wrong, I demand accountability. When they break the rules they pay the price, whatever that might be.

With that accountability, however, comes support. My kids know I love them and that I will do everything I can to help them through the rough times. That is what families do. I treat my students the same way.

Duke students should expect nothing less from their university.
You can read the rest of Baldwin's column here.

I’ve many friends who were Baldwin’s students. What he says about how he treats them is just what my friends say he does. He was for many of them their “favorite professor.” Many of them are physicians who tell story after story about how Baldwin was demanding and went the extra mile to help students meet those demands.

I'm traveling today but I'll say more about Baldwin's column tonight.

Hat Tip: A blog friend

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Churchill Series – Oct. 23, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill,)

Before he battled Nazis and other Fascists, Churchill had to battle appeasers in his own country. It was, for much of the 30s, a lonely fight against some of the most prominent and powerful people in England.

One of those people was Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times of London and arguably England’s most influential journalist in the years leading up to the war.

About Dawson, William Manchester offers this revealing anecdote:

A young [Oxford] Fellow asked him why the [Foreign Office], with The Times’ approval, devoted so much space to Mussolini and other Fascists when “It isn’t they who are the danger. It is the Germans who are so powerful as to threaten all the rest of us together.”

Dawson revealed the depth of the void left when honor had been abandoned: “To take your argument at its own valuation – mind you, I’m not saying I agree with it – but if the Germans are so powerful as you say, oughtn’t we to go in with them?”
Churchill sometimes spoke of people who “fell beneath the level of events.” Dawson holds a front rank place among such people.
William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill; Alone:1932-1940. (p.252)

Why not the Duke panel Q&A stream?


In know about last Fridays panel and Q&A at Duke Law School you know most of "the best parts" occured when a blog-smart audience, after listening politly, began to ask questions

You can get my take on the event here. I link to two MSM "news accounts" and an excellent blogger report.

Now the next "chapter."

You'll quickly pick up on who Bliwise is and why I'm writing him. Maybe after you read this post you'll want to contact Bliwise yourself. It's:


Dear Editor Bliwise:

Thank you for your prompt reply to my query regarding the audio stream.

I'm very concerned to learn that "technical issues" might prevent the inclusion of the Q&A in the stream Duke Alumni Magazine will make available at its website.

I'm told there are many things that can be done to overcome almost all miking problems.

There was so much said by audience members that was very important.

For example, the first questioner asked N&O Managing Editor John Drescher when and in what detail the N&O first learned of the extraordinary cooperation the lacrosse captains provided police on Mar. 16? And when and in what detail, the questioner asked, did the N&O tell readers about their cooperation?

My recollection is Drescher gave an answer that most people in the blog-smart audience knew was "not quite on the mark."

The questioner then began to say something that sounded like "But the krr …”

At that moment Moderator Frank Stasio interrupted the questioner and turned to the other side of the room for the next question.

I wonder if Stasio wasn’t thinking what a number of people in the audience later said they thought: The questioner was going to say The (“krr..”) Chronicle, in its Mar. 21 story on the investigation of the hoaxer's gang-rape claims, reported Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb had said the residents of the house (the captains) had been cooperating with police.

On Mar. 25 Drescher’s N&O was the first news organization to report (create?) the vicious "not cooperating" falsehood.

The N&O’s “not cooperating" falsehood did so much to harm the players and mislead the public. The N&O kept repeating it. Nifong used it when he first began speaking publicly about the case on Mar. 27. The infamous "vigilante poster) includes, along with face photos of 43 white lacrosse players, a plea that people tell what happened that night.

So you see, Editor Bliwise, how important it is that we have Drescher on the record.

Please get the Q&A right. If you can't do that, can at least include Drescher's answer to the questioner?

My recollection and notes indicate Drescher said in substance that the N&O did just fine in terms of letting readers know about the players' cooperation while at the same time he blamed the police, the players, their parents, their attorneys, etc. for anything that wasn't "just fine."

What's your recollection of what Drescher said?

Because I'm a blogger I want people to hear what Dresher said so they can judge for themselves.

Please tell me that will happen. I'd hate for people to have to rely on MSM reports of what Drescher said.

Do you know of even one of your journalist colleagues who’s reported on the panel and Q&A and mentioned that Drescher …

You understand the importance of the Q&A on the stream.

I'll be back in touch with you tomorrow.



To readers - brief

I'm reading all your comments.

I've responded to some.

I'll post some responses tonight on the main page.


Problems at Duke's lacrosse incident page

Readers' Note: I hope after reading this post many of you will write your own emails to Mr. Burness.

Also, for reason(s) I don't understand my hyperlink to Duke's lacrosse incident page keeps getting blocked. I've put the correct address in four times.

However, if you paste the following address in yourself, it will take you to the page.

I'll be in touch with Duke to see about that probllem as well as the ones I describe below.


John Burness, Senior Vice President
Public Affairs and Government Relations
Duke University

Dear Mr. Burness:

I’m a Duke alum and blog at

Duke’s News and Communication’s lacrosse incident page has been a valuable aid to many people, including me. I thank you and the university for that.

However, much about the page today is questionable; and some of it is very troubling.

I call to your attention four matters I hope you'll agree deserve your response which, like this letter, I'll share with my readers.

1) Featured prominently on the incident main page is a photo of President Brodhead with a text introduction and link to 60 Minutes’ outtake of Ed Bradley’s interview with Brodhead.

However, nowhere on the page could I find Bradley’s interview outtakes with our three wrongly indicted students - David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

Brodhead’s outtake contains nothing that hasn’t already rightfully appeared on the incident main page many times, typically as parts of his press releases, letters, statements to alums, students, etc.

In contrast, Finnerty and Seligmann’s outtakes are parts of their first public interviews since being framed and wrongfully indicted.

Evans’ outtake is part of his first public interview since he spoke so eloquently on the courthouse steps following his framing and indictment arranged DA Mike Nifong with enablement by many others.

What is the rationale for presenting only Brodhead’s outtake on Duke’s lacrosse incident page?

2) The Sample of Latest Media Coverage and Opinion & Related Material page sections contain a combined total of more than 100 articles.

But not one is by the person who’s arguably reported and commented most on the Hoax and its enablers’ monumental hypocrisies and injustices: blogger, historian and Brooklyn College Professor Robert KC Johnson.

Certainly, quantity doesn’t imply quality, so please consider this: In a recent New York magazine article, “Rape, Justice and the Times,” Johnson was described as “the most impressive of the ‘bloggers who have closely followed the case’ [and] the Platonic ideal of the species—passionate but committed to rigor and facts and fairness.”

What’s more Johnson was the first and, I believe, is still the only news person to interview Law Professor Edwin Chemerinsky about the case and get him on the record regarding Nifong’s handling of the case.

I could cite other examples of his work, many of them articles that have advanced the story.

Why is there not one Johnson article included among the more than 100 articles to which you link?

Does it have anything to do with Johnson’s frequently pointing out what many of us believe have been President Brodhead’s and the Arts & Sciences Faculty’s failures to fulfill their duties to the lacrosse players, their fellow students and the university?

If not, why aren't there links to some of Johnson’s many excellent articles that combine “rigor and facts and fairness?”

3) Why is there on the lacrosse incident main page the “tag,” The Herald- Sun, Oct. 17, 2006, followed by a link taking people to a H-S editorial, “Little new in ’60 Minutes’ report?”

The H-S editorial is filled with factual errors that slime Duke students. Example :

”The players maintained an aura of sweet innocence with reporter Ed Bradley either downplaying or ignoring conflicting evidence. Collin Finnerty, for example, was portrayed as an outstanding lacrosse prospect, but no mention was made of his recent assault conviction, with strong homophobic overtones, against a gay man on a Washington, D.C. street”
Is there anyone who doesn’t know that statement is false?

Jeffrey Bloxsom, the man H-S Editor Bob Ashley (Duke ’70) tells readers is “a gay man” has spent considerable time and money to let people know he’s not gay.

Bloxsom and his attorneys say they’ve done that not because Bloxsom would be ashamed to be gay, but because they want people to know the truth about him and not exploit the incident.

All of that was said and reported widely five months ago.

I hadn’t seen another “Collin beat a gay” falsehood until I read Ashley’s (Duke ’70) editorial.

“Yuck,” I thought, and moved on.

Then I found the falsehood again at Duke News and Communication’s lacrosse incident main page.

Ashley’s entitled to his opinions but he’s not entitled to distort the truth.

And Duke shouldn’t publicize Ashley when he distorts the truth, no matter how much and how many Allen Building administrators “appreciate all Bob does for us.” provides many more examples of Ashley’s falsehoods and sliming of our students in his editorial.

4) This is most shocking.

Why, just two days before voting for Durham’s District Attorney began, did Duke highlight and link to Ashley’s editorial effectively endorsing Nifong?:
“We're puzzled that so many people think Nifong should ignore the indictments, ignore the accuser, and walk away. Does Durham really want a prosecutor who won't stand up for an alleged victim, even if she ranks near the bottom of society? Do we really want a prosecutor who is cowed by pressure -- and this is enormous pressure -- into dropping charges he believes should be pursued?”
Ashley has every right to endorse Nifong.

Anyone at Duke as an individual has every right to endorse and in other ways support Nifong.

But if Duke as an institution is not endorsing Nifong, then what is Ashley’s editorial doing on the Duke’s lacrosse incident main page?

More than two weeks of voting remain.

I think the matter of Ashley’s endorsement is so important I plan to call you this morning.

I’m going to encourage others who read this to email you.



Best newspaper reporting on Friday's panel

I think the best newspaper reporting on Friday's panel at Duke Law School is in today's Chronicle.

Hat tip to Ashley Dean and her editors.

If you want to compare the Chronicle story to the two area dailies, the Ranleigh N&O story is here and the Durham H-S story is here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Duke audience questions lax journalists (updated)

On Friday there was a panel discussion and Q&A held at Duke Law School to consider the question: “Why rape allegations against men’s lacrosse players became a national story on race, class and crime?”

We all know the answer to that question.

The Raleigh News & Observer on Mar. 25 published a story about a young black mother working to support her children who, at a party hosted by members of Duke’s Men’s lacrosse team was subjected first, to racial barks, and then beaten, strangled and gang-raped ….. (you know the rest of it, including the falsehood about the players refusing to help the police).

Within minutes of its publication the story “went national.” The networks “grabbed it;” satellite trucks were ordered to head for Duke and Durham; and reporters started racing to the airports.

Two days later, on Mar. 27 when DA Mike Nifong first spoke publicly about the case, he endorsed all the fictions that were in the N&O’s story.

Now, what about Friday’s panel discussion and the Q&A which followed?

The panelists were: Herald-Sun editor Bob Ashley (’70); ESPN sports analyst and attorney Jay Bilas (’86, J.D. ’92); Duke law professor and chair of Duke’s lacrosse review committee James E. Coleman Jr.; Chronicle editorial page managing editor and 2005-06 editor-in-chief Seyward Darby; News & Observer managing editor John Drescher (A.M. ’88); former Newsweek senior editor Jerry Footlick, author of “Truth and Consequences: How Colleges and Universities Meet Public Crises”; and Newsweek senior writer Susannah Meadows (’95). Frank Stasio, host of WUNC Radio’s “The State of Things” moderated. (ID info from Duke’s Office of News and Communications)

The two area daily newspapers – the Raleigh News &Observer and the Durham Herald Sun carried stories on the event.

Most of the rest of this post will focus on some important aspects of the event the two papers ignored.

They failed to mention blogs. Panelist Jay Bilas said he’d found some blogs very useful in helping him get a fuller picture of what was happening.

One audience member wanted to know how bloggers had gotten “so much right” when most news organizations had gotten so much wrong. Another said he felt it was because the bloggers had “the will” to “get it right.”

N&O managing editor John Drescher used those comments to pat the N&O on the back. Many bloggers, Drescher claimed, are just using material the N&O later published to criticize the N&O in hindsight for some of its early stories that were done at a time when the players, their families and lawyers were not telling their side of the story.

Drescher allowed that blogs can do some good but said he was very concerned that some were anonymous and not “vetted.” ( I thought that a rather odd statement coming from the managing editor of the paper that printed on page one the unsubstantiated charge of gang-rape by an anonymous accuser and later published, without identifying its source, the notorious “vigilante poster.” - JinC)

Drescher was also involved in a contentious exchange with an audience member who wanted to know when the N&O had learned of cooperation by players with the police. Drescher’s answer amounted to “as soon as possible” and Moderator Frank Stasio cut the questioner off. (I’ve posted often and for some months questioning when the N&O learned of players’ cooperation and when it reported it. I’ll post on Drescher’s comments at the panel in a day or two. )

One of the most important exchanges between panelists went unreported.

Newsweek’s Susannah Meadows said that when she learned players had gone down and talked to the police without attorneys, that helped her think the players might be innocent.

A few minutes later Professor Coleman said if he’d been advising the players, he’d have told them not to go to the police without attorneys. He said people shouldn’t draw inferences about guilt or innocence based on their retaining attorneys.

Coleman’s comments are very important for at least three reasons.

They remind us of how unfair were the media and public criticisms of the player’s for retaining and following the advice of attorneys.

They are a slap at Nifong who ridiculed the players for retaining attorney and questioned why they would do that if they were innocent.

They were part of one of the very few meaningful exchanges between panelists.

Here’s a small but revealing item both papers left out. When the question of whether the accuser should have been identified as “the victim” came up, panelists representing news organizations were asked to explain their organizations policy with regard to her and other rape accusers.

Stasio announced that although he was the moderator, he wanted to tell the audience WUNC’s policy on the matter.

There was some cross-talk as other panelists were explaining their organizations did and why in regard to the accuser. But Stasio couldn’t wait and broke in to explain how WUNC treated the “rape survivor.”

Well, you can guess what happened next.

This post is getting long so I’ll wrap up with a few closing thoughts. Perhaps in a day or two I may have time for a second post.

Excepting Bilas, Darby and Coleman I thought the other four panelists and Stasio engaged in a lot of blaming the player and family victims. I wish I’d kept a count of the number of times someone said in one form or another: “Well, that first week with the parents and players refusing ...” Also, a count of the number of times those five excused themselves with stuff like “We face deadlines” and ”What the 24 hour news cycle …"

I don’t know how parents and others close to the players were able to sit through so much self-satisfaction and avoidance of responsibility.

That said, I’m still very glad I was there.

For those of you who missed the event or were there and want a “second look,” Robert Bliwise, editor of Duke Alumni Magazine, one of the event sponsors, told me in an email yesterday “we'll be streaming the audio on the magazine's website next week.”

I’ve sent Bliwise an email saying I hope the stream will include the Q&A portion of the event. Many of the most thoughtful and important comments were made during the Q&A by audience members.

I encourage you to email Bliwise and let him know you want the Q&A included in the stream. His email address:

Jon Ham has excellent coverage of the event.

The Duke Chronicle Alumni Network, Duke Magazine and the DeWitt Wallace Center sponsored the event. I thank them.

UPDATE AT 11:45 am, Mon., Oct. 23.

I've just received from Bliwise the following email:

We're hoping the Q&A will be part of the audio stream; that'll be a technical issue, since audience members did not speak through mikes.

If any of you taped the session, especially the Q&O hang on to it very carefully. I'll say more about it all later tonight. Meanwhile, please email Bliwise and let him know how important it is that all of the Q&A be on the stream.

There's a lot tech people can do to overcome many miking problems.