Saturday, January 27, 2007

Even better now

Last September I posted: “Duke lacrosse: Lots of good posts.”

I said a few words about and linked to posts by the usual suspects – Durham-in-Wonderland, Johnsville News and Liestoppers.

I did the same with posts by Bill Anderson (It’s the classic “Duke’s Reichstag Fire."), Mike Gaynor, and Melanie Sill at the Editors’ Blog who was attempting to explain away the N&O's inadequate reporting on DPD Sgt. Mark Gottlieb's very troubling treatment of Duke students.

I re-read those posts this morning. The passing of time has left them better now than in September.

For example, a Liestoppers post featured Durham Herald Sun editor Bob Ashley in LS’s Meet the Enablers Series. Here’s Bob talking about H-S Hoax news reporting:

“We've treated that part of the story, quite frankly, much like The New York Times has.”
Funny then; funnier now.

Here’s another:
“We've tried to consistently remind that all the facts aren't out, and that the defense attorneys are releasing just what fragments of the total evidence they choose to make public."
That was Bob during the DA election campaign. If anyone couldn’t see how Bob was spinning for Nifong then, I hope they can now.

I’m reposting “Duke lacrosse: Lots of good posts” so you can access and enjoy those "better now posts."

I’d love to hear your reactions, especially from those of you who read the posts last September.


William Anderson reminds us of what much of Duke campus was like last Spring. He tells us how and why it was that way.

Attorney Mike Gaynor is calling on the accuser to come forward; tell the truth; and end the hoax and the injustices and miseries its spawned. Key graf:
The Duke case should be put out of its misery, so the undeserved misery of the Duke Three and their families and friends can be alleviated, they can move on with their lives, and the people of Durham County can do what they need to do.
I hope it happens, Mike, but I'm not holding my breath.

Liestoppers has two posts up today. One is “Let the Great Axe Fall.” I’ll bet you can guess whose head they want. Liestoppers' Meet the Enablers Series has a very deserving “honoree” today: Durham Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley.

Besides serving as Liestoppers Enabler “honoree,” Ashley’s doing double duty today serving as KC Johnson’s “piñata of the day.” Here’s part of what KC says:
In the lacrosse case, Ashley has failed at performing the basic journalistic task of speaking truth to power–and in an affair where the representatives of "power" desperately need rebuke. But he’s not a very good propagandist, either. His paper’s columns and articles are either comically heavy-handed (as in the editorial praising Chalmers’ alleged openness) or unintentionally helpful to critics of Nifong and Gottlieb. No wonder the Herald-Sun’s circulation figures continue to plunge. Hilarity on the news and editorial pages, whether intended or not, isn’t a good selling point.
You may be asking: It there any life left in Ashley’s H-S. Johnsville News offers its answer: “Duke Case: Death Spiral for The Herald-Sun”
The Herald-Sun may be another casualty of the Duke rape hoax. The case has been an acid test for North Carolina journalists. It looks like the acid from this case may peel away the remaining dead flesh from the corpse of The Herald-Sun.
When Bob Ashley first took over as H-S editor in December 2004 he said to me: “Give me some time, John. I’ll show you what I can do with this paper.”

I did; he has.

One final link is to the Raleigh N&O's Editors' Blog post "Duke lacrosse latest: Gottlieb profile." Scroll down and take a look at what reader/commenters are posting on the thread.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jan. 26, 2007

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

The General Charles De Gaulle Foundation is a non-political, tax exempt organization dedicated to preserving General de Gaulle’s memory. The foundation’s site contains an essay on the complex and often tempestuous relationship between de Gaulle and Churchill.

Here’s a portion of that essay. The portion begins with a mention of their first meeting on June 9, 1940. Churchill had been PM for just a month. He had gone to France to coordinate military strategy and encourage the French government to remain in the war as a fighting ally. But defeatism among most French leaders was much stronger than Churchill had suspected. Just days after his visit the French declared Paris an open city and began armistice talks with the Germans:

From their very first meeting on 9 June 1940, a spark was struck between the two men. Churchill saw immediately that General de Gaulle refused all thought of ceasing the fight: he believed in "l'idée De Gaulle" (the De Gaulle idea), saw in him "l'homme du destin" (the man of destiny), for he felt that the patriotism of this man was of the same stuff as his own.

Hence his courageous decision, against the advice of his own government, to support the leader of the Free French by allowing him access to the BBC and recognizing him as his partner in the struggle to defeat Germany and Nazism (28/06/1940).

The mutual esteem between the two men was nonetheless founded on a different perception of the other, arising from their culture and their respective situations. Churchill was very familiar with the history of France and had great admiration for it ; he was an undoubted Francophile, although he occasionally showed a certain condescension which never failed to irritate his ally.

The education the General had received, fed through both family tradition and his schooling on images of Joan of Arc and Napoleon or memories of Fashoda, did not incline him towards friendship for "Albion" and the Anglo-Saxons.

He nonetheless recognized the British virtues of courage, discipline and fair play, and acknowledged the great political and diplomatic experience of Churchill, his senior. He showed on numerous occasions his gratitude to the King and to the people of Britain for the warm welcome they extended to himself and to the free French.
You can read the entire essay here. Also, I think you’ll enjoy looking around the site.

Have a nice weekend. I hope to see you next week.

Brodhead’s BA

“The facts kept changing. Every day we learned new things that no one knew the day before. Every day we were being urged to speak with certainty about facts that were full of great uncertainty at that point. Our policy all along was to act on the basis of the things we knew for sure and to withhold action and decision on the things we didn’t know for sure.”

Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead speaking to the late CBS newsman Ed Bradley during a 60 Minutes interview aired Oct. 15, 2006.

"Once the situation existed, it had to be dealt with. I'm really not immune to self-criticism in any way, I believe we've handled this as straightforwardly and honorably as we could have, given the extraordinary nature of the situation and the changing nature of the facts."

President Brodhead to Chronicle reporter Rob Copeland during Q&A published Jan. 22, 2007.

Those are two versions of President Brodhead’s basic alibi (BA) for his actions and failures to act last spring following false accusations by a hoaxer known as "Precious."

Now an excerpt from an N&O story today reporting on a panel discussion yesterday at Duke Law School:
[American University Law professor Michael] Tigar said, Nifong should not have derided the players for invoking their Constitutional right to counsel -- a hallmark of the justice system.
No, Nifong shouldn’t have done that. All of us, including Brodhead, knew that at the time. But Brodhead decided in March to say nothing critical of Nifong.

Brodhead also knew the players had cooperated with police. But when Nifong, the N&O and others attacked the players with false charges of cover-up and stonewalling, Brodhead said nothing to correct the false charges.

When faculty-members, students and others swarmed about the lawn in front of his office the night of March 29 waving “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters and targeting the players with threats of physical harm, Brodhead once again said nothing. Nor did he say anything when Duke’s faculty Group of 88 used a full-page ad in The Chronicle to, among other things, tell the protestors: “Thank you for not waiting”

Brodhead excuses his silences with his BA that includes:
“The facts kept changing. Every day we learned new things that no one knew the day before.”
But fact’s don’t change. The Constitution’s been the nation’s law for more than 200 years. Brodhead knew the players had cooperated with police. And he knew the “wall of silence” lie was enabling hateful people and endangering the players. Yet he remained silent.

The protesters who targeted the players on Duke’s campus March 29 took over a previously planned event: Take Back The Night, an annual march against violence.

On Apr. 2 the N&O published a letter from one of the TBTN organizers who said in part:
As one of the organizers of the March 29 Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and speak-out at Duke University, I want to clarify that we did not plan, nor do we endorse, the distribution of names and pictures of members of the Duke men's lacrosse team.

The distribution of the pictures, the targeting of the lacrosse team, and the violence implicit in the defacement of the pictures are nothing less than violations of the space that TBTN exists to create. The event is neither a protest of the kind we've witnessed recently, a forum for accusation nor a place to target and defame. That some attendees tried to make it so is saddening and not at all in the spirit of the event.
The letter writer, Geoffrey Lorenz, recognized he had a duty to speak out about the events on campus March 29. Brodhead had a much greater duty to speak out. Does anyone doubt Brodhead knew that then and knows it now?

I can’t accept Brodhead’s BA.

I think Duke needs a new president.

What do you think?

A dam burst in Durham

Blogger and Duke Mom Betsy Newmark says:

I can't imagine that Nifong won't be disbarred after this. I wonder if he'll still get a pension once he has been disbarred. If I were in the Durham government, I'd want to quick pass a provision that would deny him any pension if he is disbarred.

They can use that money for the legal expenses the county is going to have not only defending themselves from any suit that the lacrosse players might bring but also from those who had been convicted in prosecutions run by Mike Nifong and now will ask for new trials. Especially if there was any DNA evidence involved. How can anyone have any faith in any other prosecution that this man conducted now that it is so clear about how easily he corrupted the whole procedure in this case? (bold mine)
New trials for people convicted in prosecutions run by Mike Nifong?

Betsy's right, isn't she?

It's going to be a dam burst.

Be sure to read the rest of Betsy's insightful post, "Nifong hoist by his own petard."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jan. 25, 2007

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

Lady Violet Bonham Carter first met Churchill when she was 19.

In Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait she tells us about that first meeting with Churchill whom she soon grew to love. He did not return her love, but they formed a deep friendship that lasted the rest of his life. Lady Bonham Carter was one of the few people outside the family permitted to visit Churchill’s bedside in the days just before his death on Jan. 24, 1965 :

I first met Winston Churchill in the summer of 1906 at a dinner party to which I went as a very young girl. […]

I found myself sitting next to this young man who seemed to me quite different from any other young man I had ever met. For a long time he remained sunk in abstraction. Then he appeared to become suddenly aware of my existence. He turned on me a lowering gaze and asked me abruptly how old I was.

I replied that I was nineteen. “And I,” he said almost despairingly, “am thirty-two already. Younger than anyone else who counts, though,” he added, as if to comfort himself.

Than savagely: “Curse ruthless time! Curse our mortality. How cruelly short it the allotted span for all we must cram into it!” And he burst forth into an eloquent diatribe on the shortness of human life, the immensity of possible human accomplishment. […]

[He did so] in a torrent of magnificent language which appeared to be both effortless and inexhaustible and ended up with the words I shall always remember: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glowworm.”

By this time I was convinced of it - my conviction remained unshaken throughout the years that followed. (pgs. 3&4)

Five for every “thank you” list

Yesterday the Raleigh N&O reported:

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong withheld DNA evidence in the Duke lacrosse case and then lied about it to judges and the North Carolina State Bar, according to a complaint filed today by the bar, which licenses and regulates lawyers. […]

The test results from DNA Security of Burlington found DNA from at least four unidentified men in and on the accuser and excluded the entire lacrosse team as the source.

The bar's complaint said Nifong hid these results from defense lawyers, who repeatedly asked for all DNA test results. Nifong then lied to the court, either on paper or in direct comments to a judge, on five occasions, the complaint said.
The news came ten months to the day the N&O “broke the Duke lacrosse story” with a maliciously biased “news report” claiming the False Accuser was “the victim” and framing Duke’s Men’s lacrosse players as her victimizers.

Yesterday was a day for the innocent. It “belonged” to the players – all of them – and their families and special friends who’ve endured and pressed on in the face of monumental bigotry and injustices. We can be confident that it is only one of many such days that will now come their way.

Publicly they’ve shown only grace under pressure; their private pains we can only guess at.

With so many players, family members, close friends, Coach Pressler and his family, all surely giving thanks yesterday, there must be hundreds of “thank you” lists out there, but they’re not all the same.

The names of many former teachers are no doubt on a lot of lists but there are different teachers on different lists. It’s the same with hundreds of other people who’ve helped one or a few of the players they knew around town or one the families that live down the block.

So we have the different lists.

But I’ll bet on this: all the lists-makers will agree that the following five deserve a place on all the “thank you” lists:

Duke's 2006 Women’s Lacrosse team led by coach Kerstin Kimel had it right from day one: “Innocent.” They kept saying it in the face sexist derision from many in media and others who call themselves “women’s rights advocates.” The 2006 Women and Men laxers will stand in Duke’s memory as the first groups to tell us the hoax was a hoax.

In April National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor let readers and frenzied media colleagues know:
“[T]he evidence that perhaps no Duke lacrosse player committed rape should make a lot of people ashamed of themselves: District Attorney Mike Nifong, the Durham police, many in the media, politically correct Duke professors, spineless Duke administrators, and others.”
Professor James Coleman chaired a committee that produced a fair assessment of the team at the height of the witch hunt. Then he spotlighted the frame-up: “Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.”

NY Times columnist David Brooks had the grace and character to tell his readers on May 28:
But now that we know more about the Duke lacrosse team, simple decency requires that we return to that scandal, if only to correct the slurs that were uttered by millions of people, including me.
In more than 300 blog posts, professor Robert KC Johnson has made extraordinarily effective use of the scholar's skills to expose the falsehoods, hypocrisies and failures of duty that made the witch hunt and its injustices possible. Rightly critical of the players’ “party conduct,” Johnson’s humanism and faith in the academy brought him to their struggle for fair treatment after almost all their own professors abandoned them. Among those who have "done battle in the public square,” Johnson is primus inter pares.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jan. 24, 2007

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

First, a message to series reader Corwin: Yes, I believe it was you who put me on to the “glowworm” incident which I’ll post on in a day or two. Thank you.

Today is the 43rd anniversary of Churchill’s death at his London home following a stroke two weeks before. He was age 90.

The following is part of the tribute Cambridge historian David Reynolds paid Churchill at the close of his In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War. Churchill’s physician, Lord Charles Moran, is the source of the quote Reynolds used:

Three days lying in state in Westminister Hall, as thousands queued across Lambeth Bridge to pay their respects. The coffin drawn on a gun carriage to St. Paul’s, where the monarch – against all protocol – awaited her subject. And the final journey by rail to Bladon, where, “in a country churchyard, in the stillness of a winter evening, in the presence of his family and a few friends, Winston Churchill was committed to English earth, which in his finest hour he had held inviolate.” (p. 531)

Durham faces suits

Under the lead “Don’t hurt Durham” this letter appears in the Jan. 24 Durham Herald Sun.

I hope that the Duke lacrosse families do not agree with the opinion of letter writer Kelly Bowling and sue the City of Durham. Bowling and the Duke families need to realize that it's the taxpayers of Durham who will foot the bill of any civil award, who are already among the most taxed citizens in the state, and most of whom had no say in this prosecution.

A lot of us didn't vote for Mike Nifong, nor support his handling of the case once the facts began to emerge. And most, if not all of us, are ready for this fiasco to be over.

I find it difficult to believe that these three young men with college educations from one of the finest institutions in the country and the support of successful families cannot overcome this incident and go on to lead full and productive lives.

Will anyone outside of Durham even remember their names a year or two from now?

Egregious mistakes were made by the DA's office, but the hard-working citizens of Durham should not have to pay for them.

Once the remaining charges are dropped, the best thing for everyone is to just move on.

I hope someone who knows T. Abashian will call my response letter to Abashian’s attention:
Dear T. Abashian:

Per your letter in today’s H-S.

I don’t doubt “that these three young men [can] go on to lead full and productive lives.” People who have suffered great injustices often do.

That they do is testimony to the human spirit at its best. But that in no way excuses injustice and those responsible for it.

Like you, I’m a Durham resident who winces at our tax burden, made heavier than it need be because our city government is one of the state's most profligate and poorly managed governments.

But unlike you, I don’t think “[o]nce the remaining charges are dropped, the best thing for everyone is to just move on.”

Just moving on will be the best thing only for people like DA Mike Nifong, certain Durham police officers, and their enablers in city government, media and at Duke.

But it won't be the best thing for Durham. And it certainly wouldn’t be the right thing, either.

The people of Durham and those who come to our city to study, for health reasons or just to visit are entitled to justice. When they don’t receive it, they have a claim on the city.

And so do all of us who have a right to expect our sworn officials and officers to fulfill their oaths to act justly.

Rather than pooh-poohing those who may bring suit against the city, I hope you’ll instead follow closely what the suits, if filed, reveal.

We need to learn all we can about what went on within the DA’s office, the DPD, our city government, and among Durham’s elected officials following the events of March 13/14 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd, and the false accusations the woman made a few hours later at Duke Hospital.

The more we learn, the better positioned we’ll be to punish those who did wrong, attempt to fix what needs fixing, and acknowledge and empower those who did right.

Near the end of your letter you ask rhetorically: “Will anyone outside of Durham even remember their names a year or two from now?”

I sure hope so. If we don’t, Durham will be set up for more injustices of the kind that certain officials and officers, news organizations and many at Duke have inflicted on the innocent and the community for the past ten months.

John in Carolina

Mar. 24 - The N&O begins to frame

Ten months ago today, the Raleigh News & Observer "broke" the Hoax story. ("DNA tests ordered for Duke athletes. Lacrosse team reports to lab in rape inquiry," Mar. 24)

The N&O's story makes no mention of Durham DA Mike Nifong who didn't begin speaking publicly about the case until Mar. 27.

But if you read the N&O's story and the rest of this post, you'll see the N&O was already on Mar. 24 telling readers the woman was "the victim" and framing the lacrosse players as her victimizers. The N&O would continue for weeks relantlessly and shamelessly framing the Duke lacrosse players.

When Nifong began speaking publicly about the case he knew he had only to recall and restate what the N&O was already telling the public and the rest of media.

The N&O is the largest and most influential news organization in the Duke/Durham area.

What follows is from a June 12 JinC post: "Duke lacrosse: Look at the first newspaper report"

Melanie Sill, the Raleigh News & Observer’s executive editor for news, has done a lot of cluck-clucking about how The N&O “broke the story” we’ve all come to call the Duke lacrosse case. And she's right about that.

Now let’s take a look at how, on Mar 24, the N&O broke the story under the headlines:

DNA tests ordered for Duke athletes
Lacrosse team reports to lab in rape inquiry
The N&O began:
Durham police had 46 members of the Duke University lacrosse team DNA-tested Thursday in the suspected gang-rape of a woman at an off-campus party last week.

Police think at least three of the men could be responsible for the sexual assault, beating, robbery and near-strangulation of one of two women who had an appointment to dance at the party March 13, according to a search warrant.
As the story moves along, you notice statements like:
A search warrant returned Thursday details the attack the victim described to police.
But the search warrant didn’t detail “the attack the victim described.”

The search warrant only contained details the accuser gave police about an alleged attack.

Why didn't the N&O tell readers that? And “victim?” Where did that come from, you ask?

The N&O explained:
It is The News & Observer's policy not to identify victims of reported sex crimes.
The N&O didn’t say how it knows someone reporting a sex crime is a victim; or whether it just goes ahead and grants victim status and anonymity to anyone reporting what the person says was a sex crime.

But regardless of how The N&O decides such things, the effect of its granting victim status to the accuser was to frame the Duke lacrosse players as the victimizers.

The N&O did that before its readers were even halfway through the very first story they’d read on the Duke lacrosse case.

The N&O went on to say such things as:
” The victim was pulled into a bathroom, and three men held her down, sexually assaulting and sodomizing her, the warrant says. She was kicked, hit, strangled and beaten, she told police.”


“They also looked for artificial fingernails painted with red polish, apparently lost in the victim's struggle.
The N&O worked very hard to get “victim” fixed in readers’ minds.

All told the N&O referred in its story to the accuser as “the victim” or used the possessive “victim’s” a total of 7 times.

Why did The N&O work so hard to present the accuser as a victim? What did the N&O know that justified doing that?

The N&O’s public editor, Ted Vaden,told me in a phone conversation he wouldn't answer that question because: “Frankly, John, there isn’t time to answer every question someone asks, and I’m not going to answer that one.”

If Vaden had answered my question I'd have gone on and asked him whether anyone at the N&O or the McClatchy Company, its owner, ever considered how casting the accuser as “the victim” was framing the Duke lacrosse players?

Here's something else we should all be asking: Why didn’t the N&O tell its readers that the three lacrosse players who rented the house where the accuser said she was gang-raped voluntarily gave statements to the police without counsels present; voluntarily went to Duke Medical Center and submitted to “rape kit” tests; and offered to take lie detector tests?

That all happened days before the N&O broke the story.

It belonged in the story, didn't it?

When you look at the N&O’s “we broke it” story, it’s not hard to understand why the story played out for months the way it did; and why so many decent people were fooled.

But that doesn’t explain why the N&O ran the kind of story it did.

"Reading" messages in Durham

Politicians understand the art of the indirect message. They know that when one of their own says something like "He knows best whether or not he should run. I'm looking forward to hearing what he decides" the pol really means: "That guy shouldn't run."

We simple citizens know something about politicians' indirect messages, too, don't we?

With the foregoing in mind, let's look at some of the Durham Herald-Sun's Jan. 17 story, "Has Peterson crossed the line?" and then "read" a few of the messages some Durham city council members sent to citizens, including two of Durham's most prominent citizens:

Tuesday's City Council vote on the rezoning of Duke University's Central Campus may have put a permanent kink in the council's relationship with one of the Durham political scene's most persistent personalities.

Victoria Peterson, a local activist and perennial candidate for elective office, was the only person who spoke against the rezoning. She felt the council's wrath when she essentially argued that officials should reject the application in retaliation for the university's role in the Duke lacrosse sexual-offense case.

Peterson said rape and other crimes on and around Duke's campus are out of control, and she blamed it on Duke's students.

"Because it's Duke with their money and influence, you want to overlook a lot of the stuff they've done," she said. "They've embarrassed this community."

But Peterson's comments -- which came after activists from two neighborhoods surrounding Duke had endorsed the rezoning -- didn't sit well with the council. One member, Eugene Brown, interrupted with the word "enough," and Mayor Bill Bell asked Peterson to stick to the merits of the application.

When she finished, another councilman, Howard Clement, rebuked her.

"What has been said is not true," he said. "While there are issues on Duke's campus with respect to student behavior and issues on [N.C. Central University's] campus with respect to student behavior, to just grossly place those facts and issues as the overriding issue is totally inappropriate."

But Peterson continued to heckle council members as they prepared to vote, prompting Bell to warn that if she spoke again, he'd order her to leave the council chamber.

That quieted Peterson for a moment, but the confrontation resumed as soon as Bell adjourned the meeting, Peterson quarreling openly with council members Cora Cole-McFadden and Mike Woodard in front of a reporter and between six and 12 city administrators.

Both council members made their anger plain. Cole-McFadden -- who in 2005 crushed Peterson's most recent bid for elective office by 76-24 percent --- called the activist "a liar" to her face.

Woodard added that he didn't appreciate seeing Peterson in television news reports about the lacrosse case "spewing lies and venom," and marching with a hate group, the New Black Panther Party, that came to Durham last spring to picket the Duke campus.

Peterson was not deterred. "You guys kiss Duke's butt," she said.
Just another Durham City Council meeting, you ask?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, in that there's much nonsense and name-calling at Durham city council meetings.

No, in this sense: At city council and other public meetings Victoria Peterson is regularly every bit as reckless as she was at this council meeting; but the council or board or panel members she's addressing regularly ignore her.

Recall, for example, that at a public forum in April at NC Central University Peterson made the totally unsubstantiated charge the accuser's test results had been tampered with at Duke Hospital. The forum panel ignored her.

So why did she get so much "attention" at this last council meeting? Why wasn't she ignored as she usually is when she rants?

Because, IMO, council members wanted to send messages for everyone to "read."

Council members' message to DA Mike Nifong: "Yes, Mike, we know she was your election campaign co-chair and is now your most vocal supporter. And sure, most of us are fellow Democrats who said not a word critical of you before the election. In fact some of us publicly praised your handling of the Duke lacrosse case. Mayor Bell even contributed to your primary campaign fund and showed up at one of your campaign functions.

But things change, Mike.

So we're doing something we don't usually do: slam Peterson.

It's the easiest way we can think of to start putting distance between us and you."

Members' message to voters: "We've had concerns about what Nifong's been doing but, just like Duke's President, Dick Brodhead, we've been reluctant to interfere in the legal process. But we'll tell you this: the other night after the council meeting we said to Nifong's campaign co-chair ....."

Let's read one more message. It's from council member and Duke administrator Mike Woodard. It's meant for wide distribution among Duke alumni and Durham citizens: "Hi, everyone! Did you all notice the H-S reported I told Victoria Peterson I didn't ‘appreciate seeing [her] in television news reports about the lacrosse case 'spewing lies and venom,' and marching with a hate group, the New Black Panther Party, that came to Durham last spring to picket the Duke campus? President Brodhead feels the same way."

What should we all do now that we've "read" the messages?

You'll decide for yourselves but I'll offer one piece of advice based on what I know about Brodhead and "the Brodhead senior administration team:" Don't ask why Woodard wasn't saying publicly last spring what he just said a few days ago. And, of course, don't ask why Brodhead didn't say something like that to Peterson last spring.

In fact, don't even think of asking Brodhead or Woodard why they didn't say to Peterson even a week before the November election what Woodard just said to her.

Brodhead wants us all to "look forward." I'm sure Woodard and the rest of the council do too.

And we can all "read" their message, can't we?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jan. 23, 2007

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

In Winston Churchill and His Inner Circle, Sir John “Jock” Colville, Churchill’s private secretary during both his premierships and trusted friend afterwards, writes about a remarkable woman who fell in love with Churchill. He did not reciprocate her love, but they formed a friendship that lasted until his death almost sixty years later:

”Another woman who had been in love with Churchill before he married, though he was never physically in love with her, was Violet, daughter of the Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith. She had her father’s intellectual gifts and was hard to match as a public speaker.

She was an eager conversationalist: some thought too eager, for she tended to feel so strongly in the cause she happened to be advocating that she would advance on her prey unrelentingly and drive him or her back into the fireplace. I myself once had the back of my trouser legs badly singed.

There were those who thought that in his early days as a Cabinet minister Churchill used her affection somewhat unscrupulously in order to maintain access to her father, the current fount of power. No doubt Churchill did find the association useful, but he was genuinely enthused by the vigor of Violets’ mind, even thought, at any rate in later years, he seldom agreed with her views.

Nobody interested in politics could fail to find her fascinating. Churchill saw much of her toward the end of his fife and the friendship which had begun in early youth endured untainted until extreme old age. Nor has a more truthful and perceptive book been written about him than Winston Churchill as I Knew Him, be Lady Violet Bonham Carter. (pg. 145)
I’ve read Winston Churchill as I Knew Him. It’s an excellent book.

Blogger problems - test post

I hope you read this post.

That will mean Blogger has fixed some tech problems.


When the LA Times makes sense

I give it credit.

An LAT editorial today begins:

Who knew that in her spare time, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) has been glued to her television, riveted by episodes of "Supernanny"?

On the program, British nanny Jo Frost marches into chaotic homes and teaches clueless, overwhelmed parents how to discipline their little hellions, kindly but firmly. (Frost never spanks.) The children eventually get straightened out, the parents eventually relax, and everyone is happy.

Lieber apparently wants to be the Jo Frost for all of California's children. In a trial balloon that could remove all metaphor from the phrase "nanny state," the assemblywoman announced plans last week to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for parents to spank their own children under the age of 4. Convicted fanny-slappers would face up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Lieber contends that a spanking ban would end the "ridiculous situation of having our law saying there's justifiable beating of children." But our laws say no such thing.

There are existing statutes against beating children. Teachers, peace officers and healthcare professionals (among others) are all mandated to report even suspected cases of child abuse that they come across.

Lieber can't seem to distinguish between a swat on the behind and actual abuse. The first is none of the state's business; the second already is.

To state what should be obvious, spanking does not typically cause more irrevocable harm to children than splitting up their families by hauling their parents off to the slammer. One shudders to imagine how such a ban would be enforced.[…]
The rest of the editorial is here.

“Lieber can't seem to distinguish between a swat on the behind and actual abuse. The first is none of the state's business; the second already is.” I agree. I’m just surprised and delighted the LAT would be so sensible.

Caution to LAT editorial writers: I like what you said today but be careful. A few more editorials like today’s could get you sent to PC time-out.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jan. 22, 2007

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

When Churchill set to work after WW II on his six volume war history, aides working with him to fact-check soon realized that, like all of us, he recalled some things with great accuracy and others with not such great accuracy.

This from David Reynolds’ In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War:

His pilot for the 10,000-mile round-trip to Cairo and Moscow via Teheran was an American, Captain Bill Vanderkloot, who, Churchill records, had already flown about 1,000,000 miles in his career.

[Life Magazine’s] skeptical staffers eventually tracked down Vanderkloot, who explained that he had been an airline pilot for five years and had ferried U.S. planes across the Atlantic for the RAF, making some seventy such crossings before the trip to Cairo.

In other cases, however, Churchill’s memory seems to have been shakier. In successive drafts, the bulletproof glass in Molotov’s Moscow limousine was reduced in thickness from an inch and a quarter to half an inch, before expanding again to two inches. (pg. 286)

With These Lax Moms “Faith, Hope, Love Remain”

“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Paul - First Corinthians: Chap. 13
How have the families of the Duke Men's 2006 lacrosse team managed since last March when a reckless rogue prosecutor and certain police officers, enabled by many in media and at Duke University, launched a witch hunt that's inflicted monumental injustices on so many innocent people?

Five mothers of team members have just shared their experiences with writer Joan Collins. Joan's Profiles in Courage series has earned her a reputation as an insightful writer who understands the breath and depth of the injustices Nifong and his enablers have inflicted on innocent people.

Joan begins:
“Men are what their mothers made them,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mothers and sons have a unique bond. Ask any mother. Ask any son.

A mother is the first woman to love him unconditionally. As he grows into the man you hope he will one day become, no matter how tall he grows, or old he becomes, you are still his mother and he will always be your child.

When the hoax was born, the “eclipse of justice” cast a wide shadow enveloping all the families of the 47 players of the Men’s 2006 Duke Lacrosse Team. People deal with difficult situations very differently, some privately and others more publicly. Whatever way they choose to deal with their pain should be respected.

This article is based on conversations with five courageous mothers willing to share how the hoax has affected them and their families. At the onset, all made it very clear that their pain pales in comparison to that which the Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans families have experienced and continue to endure.

None of them were looking for attention. Quite the opposite, they want their private lives back. However, all thought it important for people to recognize that so many families have been devastated by the hoax. The five resolute mothers are Gale Catalino, Barbara Loftus, Sherri McFadyen, Susan Wolcott and Nina Zash.
Joan then introduces the mothers one by one. You can read what they say here.

I'd say more but my words would not be adequate. Read what Joan and the Moms say. Their words will touch your hearts and lift your souls.


I made a major error in this post: "H-S fakes and circulation declines."

My error was to claim that a case involving two NC AGAs was still being adjudicated by the NC Stete Bar; and then to say the Durham Herald Sun had ignored that and thereby created a fake story.

I made the mistake because I misread the date of this Raleigh N&O story.

What the H-S reported was correct. The unintentional false reporting was mine.

I apologize for my mistake to the H-S and to JinC readers.

I'm sending emails to H-S Editor Bob Ashley and Reporter John Stevenson acknowledging my error, apologizing and linking them to the correction.

You can read the post that contains my error here. (The post carries a correction update.)

I want to thank the Anon reader who called the error to my attention. I appreciate what Anon did. People like Anon who pick up on my errors help make this a better blog than it would otherwise be.


Chronicle’s Brodhead interview: My take

Today’s Chronicle contains a lengthy interview with President Richard H. Brodhead. But there’s not any new news in it that I could see.

Reporter Rob Copeland asked some tough, informed questions, but Brodhead avoided answering them, and Copeland didn’t press with follow-ups.

For example, look what happened when Copeland asked why AD Joe Alleva and VP Larry Moneta weren’t held responsible for anything related to Men’s lacrosse while Coach Pressler was fired:

Copeland: Why did you not hold Athletics Director Joe Alleva responsible for the team as well? Why not ask for the resignations of Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, or any of the other administrators who were previously aware of the lacrosse team's issues. Why stop at coach Pressler?

Brodhead: The party was a team event. It wasn't just a group of people, it was something convened by the captain of the team. The Pressler resignation was not my attempt to say that he was responsible for the situation. It was simply a resignation of the inevitability that given where we were, we would need to make some differences to go forward with lacrosse.(Brodhead's syntactically confused response is reproduced here exactly as it appears in The Chronicle. - JinC)
As he has for months, Brodhead offered his “it was all so confusing” excuse for his obvious mishandling of events last March and since. Here’s today’s version of “it was all …”
"Once the situation existed, it had to be dealt with. I'm really not immune to self-criticism in any way, I believe we've handled this as straightforwardly and honorably as we could have, given the extraordinary nature of the situation and the changing nature of the facts."
Brodhead may not be immune to self-criticism but I sure couldn’t find what I thought was genuine and serious self-criticism in any of his responses.

Certainly there was nothing, for instance, like an admission that he should have met on Mar. 25 with the parents of the lacrosse players who were on campus that day.

Or that he should have spoken out on May 18 when racists threatened Reade Seligmann, first as he walked to the Durham County Courthouse ("Justice will be done, Rapist."); and then again inside the courtroom with the threats this time including death threats ("Dead man walking.")

Of course, it may just be that Brodhead doesn't think he should have met with the parents or spoken out to condemn those threatening Seligmann and to support and comfort him and his family.

A hat tip to Reporter Copeland. He had prepared for the interview but was up against someone who’s very adept at dodging questions.

If there’s a “next time” Chronicle interview with Brodhead, here are a few of the questions Brodhead should have answered many months ago. I’ve put them in the form they’d be asked in a face-to-face interview.

You knew, President Brodhead, before the story broke on Mar. 24 that the lacrosse captains had been exceptionally cooperative with Durham Police investigators. You knew the “wall of solidarity” report in the Mar. 25 Raleigh News & Observer and other media was false.

Later that day when you issued your statement supporting the cancellation of the lacrosse games, it said physical coercion and sexual assault had no place at Duke but it said nothing about the players’ cooperation.

Why did you decide to make no mention of their cooperation?

Why did you decide to instead say:
I urge everyone to cooperate to the fullest with the police inquiry while we wait to learn the truth.
AD Alleva also knew of the players' cooperation with police. But his Mar. 25 statement, like yours, makes no mention of their cooperation.

Did you and Alleva coordinate your statements? Did you jointly agree to make no mention of the players' cooperation? Or was it simply coincidental that both your statements omitted mention of the players’ cooperation?

Were your and Alleva's Mar. 25 statements reviewed prior to release by any trustees or senior administrators who were aware of the players' cooperation?

If the statements were reviewed by such people, did one or more of them raise the issue and/or recommend including in yours, Alleva's or both your statements mention of the players' cooperation?

If yes, why wasn’t that done?

By Mar. 29 "Vigilante" posters targeting the players and demanding they abandon what the posters falsely claimed was a refusal to cooperate with police were circulating and posted on campus.

You didn't at the time condemn the "Vigilante" poster or speak out against those circulating and posting it. Why not?

You still haven’t condemned the poster or spoken out against those who circulated and posted it. Why not?

On Apr. 5 you issued a statement in which you said:
I urge everyone to cooperate to the fullest with the police inquiry while we wait to learn the truth.
Since you knew by then even more than you knew on Mar. 25 about all the cooperation the players’ had provided police; and since you had seen them falsely and dangerously targeted for remaining silent, why did you decide not to mention their cooperation in your Apr. 5 statement?

There are many other questions I'd like you to answer, President Brodhead, but these are enough for one interview.

Now please answer them.

The entire Chronicle interview is here.

H-S fakes & circulation declines (Error alert correction)

READERS' PLEASE NOTE AN ERROR IN THIS POST: The Raleigh N&O story referenced in this post was not published a few days before Durham H-S's Jan. 21 story. See a correction post here.

The portion of this post based on the N&O story is wrong. I stand by the rest of the post.

Please see the correction post for more information including an apology and correction made to H-S staffers.


It’s been ten months since the False Accuser began telling a series of wildly improbable, contradictory and changing stories about being gang-raped, strangled, kidnapped, etc., etc.

Since then Editor Bob Ashley’s Durham Herald Sun’s reporting and editorializing have helped sustain the False Accuser’s malicious claims.

Worse, the H-S has encouraged and praised DA Mike Nifong and certain Durham Police officers’ frame-up of three innocent young men, whom the H-S has time and again trashed.

To “sell” the frame-up, the H-S often relies on fakery.

After the first 60 Minutes episode in October helped millions of Americans realize the players were framed, Ashley and Editorial Writer Greg Childress tried to counter 60 Minutes’ impact with an editorial which falsely claimed one of the framed players had attacked a gay man.

See, also, this JinC Aug. 1 post, “Duke lacrosse: A Herald Sun fake story?” The H-S told readers that morning it was reporting “ previously undisclosed [DNA] matches, one involving indicted rape suspect David Evans and the other involving a player not charged, have been confirmed by several sources close to the case.”

But as Ashley and Reporter John Stevenson surely knew the “previously undisclosed [DNA] matches" had been widely reported and discredited by major area news organizations (the N&O and WRAL among others) last April, almost four months before they published their fake.

The H-S’s Aug. 1 fake was a big one. Durham-in-Wonderland, Johnsville News and Liestoppers have documented many other such fakes.

Yesterday, Jan. 21, the H-S published another fake in its front page story by Stevenson concerning Nifong’s possible civil and criminal liability for his actions.

As you’d expect, the H-S’s “pitch” is that Nifong doesn’t have any liability for what he’s done. The story ends:

If Nifong were charged with a criminal offense, the state Attorney General's Office presumably would prosecute him.

But some believe the state agency lacks clean hands.

"How are they going to prosecute [Nifong] when their own attorneys have done the same thing?" lawyer Mark Edwards asked last week.

Among other things, Edwards referred to a State Bar finding that then-assistant attorneys general David Hoke and Debra Graves withheld evidence favorable to murder suspect Alan Gell during a 1988 trial.

Gell was convicted and spent nine years behind bars, half of them on death row.

But when the withheld evidence subsequently was uncovered, Gell won a new trial and was quickly acquitted.

Hoke and Graves, who said they made an "honest mistake," received only reprimands.
The H-S leaves readers believing the State Bar is finished with Hoke and Graves who “received only reprimands.”

But that’s a fake as Stevenson and Ashley surely know.

Excerpts from a Jan. 19 Raleigh N&O story (“Lawyers put focus on agent. Gell prosecutors deny holding data”)
...David Hoke and Debra Graves did not intentionally withhold witness statements that indicated the murder occurred while Gell was in jail on other charges, according to papers filed on their behalf with the N.C. State Bar. [...]

The case against Hoke and Graves unfolds as the legislature debates a death penalty moratorium and a proposal to require prosecutors to share their entire file with defendants before trial.

The State Bar is scheduled to hear the case June 16. The two lawyers face punishment ranging from a verbal reprimand to disbarment.[...] defines fake: prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent): to fake a report.

Today’s H-S fake reporting is a big one but I don’t think it’s as big as the H-S’s Aug. 1 fake reporting concerning “previously undisclosed [DNA] matches.”

What do you think?

Another question: Do you think it's dawned on Ashley that most people in Durham who are closely following the Hoax are now reading the blogs?

Do you think Ashley has a sense of how the H-S’s Hoax “coverage” looks to blog readers; or that those readers are going into their work places and neighborhood gatherings and spreading the word about the blogs and the H-S’s “coverage?”

I wonder if all the faking the H-S has done on the Hoax story isn’t influencing some readers to drop their H-S subscriptions at renewal time.

That could explain at least some of the H-S’s continuing circulation decline as one of the biggest news stories in years has played out for 10 months in the middle of its circulation area.