New York Times vs. Duke Lacrosse

A really good story today in Slate.com about how the New York Times has done such a poor and biased job covering the Duke lacrosse case.  While that is certainly interesting in its own right, I think the article is quite valuable for so accurately summing up the state of the evidence.  One phrase summary: they didn't do it.  As to the overall tone of the Times' Coverage there is this nugget:

This fits the Times's long-standing treatment of the
case as a fable of evil, rich white men running amok and abusing poor
black women. Sports columnist Selena Roberts helped set the tone in a
March 31 commentary seething with hatred for “a group of privileged
players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie
their social standing as human beings.” All but presuming guilt,
Roberts parroted false prosecution claims that all team members had
observed a “code of silence.” (A correction ran six days later). She
likened them to “drug dealers and gang members engaged in an
anti-snitch campaign.”

Substantively, I think the most interesting aspect of the article is that it highlights the fact that the Durham Police's chief investigator produced no written notes from the actual period of the investigation.  His notes, produced several months after remarkably match all of Nifong's contentions and, not surprisingly, are frequently contradicted by other investigators who actually took notes at the time of the alleged crime.  Other key points on the evidence (reader discretion advised):

The 23 pages of hospital reports by two doctors and four nurses show
no vaginal or anal tearing, no significant bruises or signs of beating,
and no visible injuries other than minor scratches on her knee and heel
and a mild swelling of the vaginal walls that could have come from
consensual sexual activities, including performing with a vibrator.

She
identified none of her alleged attackers in two photo viewings. Then,
on April 4, Nifong arranged an outrageously suggestive,
pick-any-lacrosse-player session that grossly violated local and state
rules and (in my view) the U.S. Constitution. She picked three, of whom
at least one since-indicted defendant, Reade Seligmann, has an airtight
alibi, including a video showing him at an ATM a mile away at the time
of the supposed rape.

The 23 pages of hospital reports by two doctors and four nurses show
no vaginal or anal tearing, no significant bruises or signs of beating,
and no visible injuries other than minor scratches on her knee and heel
and a mild swelling of the vaginal walls that could have come from
consensual sexual activities, including performing with a vibrator…

She
identified none of her alleged attackers in two photo viewings. Then,
on April 4, Nifong arranged an outrageously suggestive,
pick-any-lacrosse-player session that grossly violated local and state
rules and (in my view) the U.S. Constitution. She picked three, of whom
at least one since-indicted defendant, Reade Seligmann, has an airtight
alibi, including a video showing him at an ATM a mile away at the time
of the supposed rape….

What we have here is an alleged 30-minute gang rape, plus brutal
beating, taking place in a small bathroom by three men without condoms,
at least two of whom supposedly ejaculated; a rape in which police
found none of the defendants' DNA on the supposed victim and none of
hers in the bathroom. While the Times asserts that “experts
say it is possible for a rapist to leave no DNA evidence,” it's hard to
imagine the crime alleged to have happened here leaving none.

So, the big question remains: what in the world is Nifong doing still trying to prosecute this case??

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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