Topic category: Other/General
Duke Case: MORE Washington Post Malice
The following exchange between criminal attorney Mark Geragos and MSNBC General Manager (then subbing as "Scarborough Country" host) about the role of the mainstream media in the Duke Hoax reveals the power of biased, politically correct, irresponsible media promoting an agenda under the guise of reporting the news and even scapegoating to do so.
GERAGOS: "Look at the Duke lacrosse case. That was completely dictated by the media. The media and the prosecutor in that case -- the media stomped all over the prosecutor in that case and he filed that because of the media attention."
ABRAMS: "The media was one of the reasons that the Duke lacrosse case finally came out right!"
GERAGOS: "The media, after, after those kids were put through the ringer, the media turned around and then--"
ABRAMS: "Not on this prog-- Not with me! Not with me!"
GERAGOS: "Well Dan, that's one of the reasons you aren't on the air anymore!"
In vino, veritas. In humor. truth too.
It's funny, and NOT funny. Mr. Abrams, now the MSNBC General Manager, is one of the precious few exceptions to the mainstream media promoting the political correctness fairy tale that was the Duke Hoax. With all due respect to Mr. Abrams (and much is due when it comes to the Duke Hoax), THE TRUTH and the exceptions, most notably National Journal's Stuart Taylor, Mr. Abrams and "60 Minutes," that demonstrated that the bulk of the mainstream media, led by The New York Times and The Washington Post, had treated false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum as a sympathetic victim instead of a mentally ill (or worse) person whose charges were untrue and her victims as loathsome instead of relatively wholesome and were loathe to confess error (or worse). BUT what they published or broadcast was terrible, and terribly wrong.
The Washington Post's Mike Wise most unwisely celebrated the Memorial Day Weekend by trashing the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, in a tasteless article entitled "Continuing Conflicts" (apparently without a care about the undeserved anguish that it inflicts).
With the current Duke Men's Lacrosse Team in the national collegiate semi-finals, Mr. Wise reported:
"Mike Pressler and his family are planning on moving into their newly purchased home in Rhode Island this weekend. The only event that may tear him away is a trip to Baltimore on Monday to watch the lacrosse team he led for 16 seasons play for a national title.
"Remember Pressler? He was the original fall guy in an unseemly American docudrama that pitted the privileged frat-boy culture of a private university against a black single mother, a college student who made a poor career choice to support her children. Stirred by a bungling prosecutor -- and a media contingent overzealously ready to believe him -- a cauldron of race, sex, class and law boiled over and scalded everyone."
Mr. Wise's agenda is obvious: (1) trash the Duke lacrosse scholar athletes for "a poor entertainment choice" (hiring strippers and stripping for hire are legal in North Carolina, even though I wish they were not); (2) extol the false accuser as a loving parent whose only mistake was "a poor career choice" (nothing about her criminal history, mental history or her prior claim to have been gang raped); (3) whitewash the white guy who shamelessly played the race card to win a Democrat primary by suddenly becoming a hero to Durham County, North Carolina's blacks (District Attorney Michael B. Nifong) as "bungling" (as though his grossly prejudicial, pre-primary pretrial public statements, refusal to consider exculpatory evidence and to question Ms. Mangum, agreement with Dr. Brian Meehan to exclude exculpatory evidence from a report on DNA testing and various misrepresentations to judges and defense counsel and threats to defense counsel were simple clumsiness instead of contemptible calculation); (4) excuse the media's rush to misjudgment as the result of overzealousness; and (5) make "everyone" victims.
Give Mr. Wise his due for trying to sell this baloney:
"When Duke plays Cornell in today's NCAA semifinal, the focus will be on a team emerging from a travesty, how a group of kids who did not have a lacrosse program to call their own a year ago are two wins away from everything Pressler always wanted for them. But after everything has played out -- from the kids who went from vilified to exonerated, from the D.A. who went from legal crusader to Keystone Cop -- the story of the Duke lacrosse team still doesn't feel right. The more you think about it, the more it conjures up all these conflicting feelings."
Mr. Nifong as Keystone Cop?
NOT! (The man is cunning. Example: as I reported last October, Mr. Nifong was so concerned about the then upcoming "60 Minutes" Duke case expose to be broadcast on October 15, 2006 that even before it was broadcast, he demanded that Durham police detectives arrest someone for the killings in a Durham quadriple murder case to deflect local attention from the "60 Minutes" Duke Case expose. Shameless, yes. A Keystone Cop? NO!)
Mr. Wise did include some sympathy for "those kids":
"It's not right what Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong did to those kids, and it's not right former and future players have to bear that burden. Their names should have never been sullied like that. It's hard to imagine being the parent of a son wrongly accused of a heinous crime such as rape, the hurt they had to endure. And every letterman affiliated with Duke lacrosse the past few years, whether or not he attended that fateful party, is going to have an indelible stain on his résumé."
But Mr. Wise crassly continued:
"At the same time, it's hard to embrace everyone as a victim. With all due respect to those 'INNOCENT' bracelets worn around Durham this year, this isn't 'To Kill a Mockingbird II.'"
All of the members of the team WERE victims, Mr. Wise. They were either blamed or even prosecuted for imaginary crimes without good cause (because they were white males from well-to-do or wealthy families).
They were accused either of kidnapping, raping and sexually offending or covering up for kidnappers, rapists and sexual offenders.
Fortunately, there was no trial. There was not a good reason for a trial of those indicted and to date no authority has had the gumption to try the false accuser for false accusation or the rogue prosecutor for any crime he may have committed in connection with the Duke Hoax.
Fortunately, the North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper, publicly acknowledged that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans were innocent of all the felony charges against them.
That's exactly what the bracelets proclaimed. (The bracelets set forth the numbers of the indicted players together with the word "INNOCENT," an obvious reference to the pending felony charges against those players. The words "perfect" and "sinless" were not included on the bracklets.)
"Pressler presided over a less-than-model program of student-athletes. Fifty-six players were involved in 36 on-campus incidents, many alcohol-related, since 2003. Some of those kids are presumably playing today. Of all the facts that came about the night of March 13, 2006, these aren't disputed: Team members spent $800 to hire a pair of exotic dancers; they requested one white and one Hispanic dancer, but instead were sent two black women; one player thanked one dancer's "grandpa for my fine cotton shirt."
That's despicable, Mr. Wise. Not illuminating.
The program was not perfect: what program is?
"Fifty-six players were involved in 36 on-campus incidents, many alcohol-related, since 2003."
Does The Washington Post really condone this kind of guilt-by-association and vague innuendo?
Specify, if there is something worth specifying, but skip these vague accusations designed to discredit everyone who was a member of the Duke Men's Lacrosse Team since 2003. (We don't blame an entire team if a member misbehaves.)
"It's still disturbing to look up on the Internet and read a sophomore player's e-mail describing how he would kill and skin a stripper at the next party. He also mentioned he planned to pleasure himself in his 'Duke issue spandex.'"
ONE player wrote that private e-mail based on the movie called "American Psycho." I found the e-mail vile, not comical, but it was not made public by Ryan McFayden and I do understand that it was intended to be amusing and not to be taken seriously.
"Irrespective of where you went to school, racial epithets and hate-speech are not part of the curriculum. Somehow, some way, the definition of the 'Duke experience' went awry."
No, Mr. Wise. The "Duke experience" is not to blame because one or a few responded to provocation inappropriately. It is not fair to condemn a team because one team member, or a few team members, use a racial epithet. Joining a team does not make the joiner responsible for whatever his or her teammates do.
"Just because these players aren't felons, let's not instantly transform them into martyrs. It's okay to find middle ground in the good-and-evil spectrum, no matter what a certain D.A. tells you."
All of them were wrongly maligned and you did it again, Mr. Wise.
Where do you place yourself on the good-and-evil spectrum, Mr. Wise?
By trying to tear down the players, you have not built yourself up, Mr. Wise.
"A book by Pressler titled 'It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered,' which is scheduled for a June 12 release, details a meeting between Pressler and Duke Athletic Director Joe Alleva in which Alleva essentially tells the embattled coach, 'It's not about the truth anymore." The rationale was, his kids were in trouble and he had to go.
"It's easy to feel sorry for Pressler, who appears to be the only person who received concrete punishment in the loss of his job. When asked of Pressler's continued connection to the program, John Danowski, the current Duke coach whose son, Matt, was recruited by Pressler, said, 'I'm the coach here, but I'm not the coach.'
"'I didn't bring these kids here,' Danowski added in a teleconference call with reporters Wednesday. 'I live in an off-campus apartment. In some ways, this is still Mike's team. Who are we kidding here? He's responsible for their development. I'm the caretaker. He's the general manager, and I'm the coach.'"
Like Duke's Danowski-Greer tandum on the lacrosse field, the Pressler-Danowski coaching combo knows how to win.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wise does not know when to stop.
Mr. Wise: "If the players representing Duke lacrosse pull off a title this weekend, it's a wonderful tale of resilience, a great story of competitive redemption. But let's not confuse winning in athletics with personal redemption. They're two different things -- one judged over a season and one over a lifetime."
It's reasonable to say that everyone could benefit from personal redemption, but Mr. Wise's singling out the members of the Duke lacrosse team for personal redemption is sick.
Mr. Wise should try to redeem himself.
Understandably, Hero of the Hoax Bill Anderson was disgusted with Mr. Wise and his newspaper, which is bad news for them.
"Remember, it was the Washington Post that was vying with the NY Times and Durham Hurled-Scum for the worst and most dishonest coverage of this case. It seems that the MSM just will not let go of the 'hooligans' theme that it played -- and continues to play -- over and over.
"Also, to contradict Mr. 'Wise' (whose copy does not reflect his name), Michael Byron Nifong was not a 'bungling' prosecutor. He did not 'bungle' this case. This was a frame-up, but apparently the Washington Post is still trying to convince us that Nifong 'botched the investigation, as opposed to what really happened: he fabricated a case from whole cloth and knew what he was going.
"But the Washington Post, like the NY Times, apparently wants us to believe something that will fit its 'white jocks rape poor black female' theme."
As expected, Brooklyn College History Professor Robert K.C. Johnson quickly demolished Mr. Wise's most unwise article, in a brief piece humorously entitled "A Word to the Wise":
"As the men’s lacrosse team prepares to take the field in today’s Final Four, another unfortunate sports column, this one from Mike Wise of the Washington Post.
“'With all due respect to those "INNOCENT" bracelets worn around Durham this year,' Wise writes, 'this isn’t "To Kill a Mockingbird II."'
"With all due respect to Wise, here’s North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper: 'We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.'
"In short, each and every person who wore an 'innocent' bracelet—which, Wise neglected to mention, contained the numbers of the three accused players—was vindicated by Cooper’s all-but-unprecedented declaration.
"To rationalize his statement, Wise cited the facts that 'aren’t disputed': the McFadyen e-mail; the fact that college students held a raunchy spring break party (imagine that!), and that afterwards one of them (though not, as Kim Roberts admitted, any of the three to whom the 'innocent' bracelets referred) made a racist comment.
"Wise forgot to mention a few other facts that 'aren’t disputed'—that the racist remark came in response to a racist taunt from Roberts; that we generally do not hold a group of nearly 50 people responsible for the reprehensible thoughts of one of its members; and that the McFadyen e-mail played off a book assigned in at least three Duke courses.
"The second part of Wise’s statement is even more intriguing. It’s been a while since I’ve read the Harper Lee novel, but as I recall, none of the novel’s characters claimed that the man falsely accused of rape, Tom Robinson, was (to borrow a phrase preferred by Duke administrators) a 'choirboy.' Indeed, Robinson’s personal character wasn’t a major theme of Lee’s novel. Nor was the character of Robinson’s friends, or any people who happened to play on sports teams with Robinson.
"Instead, To Kill a Mockingbird explored how an ambitious prosecutor fanned racial prejudice and brought charges against a man he knew or should have known was innocent; how the majority of the town allowed emotion to overcome reason and joined the mob; and how Atticus Finch and his family experienced this prejudice first-hand when Finch defended Tom Robinson, stood up to the mob, and argued that all people—even those who don’t represent a group politically popular with the local majority—deserve the same procedures before the law.
"To me, those are themes that resonate given the experience of Durham over the past 15 months. But, as I said, it’s been a while since I read the Harper Lee book. Perhaps Wise obtained a different interpretation from someone who has read it more recently than I have. After all, as Mike Nifong told the Herald-Sun last year, To Kill a Mockingbird is his favorite book."
I doubt Mr. Nifong has time to discuss novels with Mr. Wise these days. As for how much respect is due to rationalizer Wise, little to none seems right.
At Professor Johnson's website, Dr. Anderson added this particularly apt comment:
"For that matter, the Scottsboro Boys were not 'choirboys' either. They were drifters and many of them were quite familiar with the bare-knuckles street life.
"The point never should be the so-called character of the accused. The focus ALWAYS should be on the truth of the accusations, period.
"However, the MSM had a narrative and will not let it go for any reason. Truly despicable people. If there are character issues here, they are with journalists from the NY Times and Washington Post. The last time I heard, spreading falsehoods is a sign of bad character."
It still is!
ONE of the comments posted at the Washington Post website--"Mike, thanks for pointing a very salient point that has been missing from this story -- these guys are not martyrs!"--was supportive of Mr. Wise.
BUT, happily, ALL of the rest reflected reality.
"Mr. Wise needs to do a better job of research instead of copying the old and discredited mantra of the frat boys gone wild description of the Duke team. The extensive study done by Prof. Coleman showed that they are above average students with no more incidents of 'trouble' than the rest of the student body and their community service was exemplary.
"Give it up -- you're still beating an old dead horse created by the media frenzied rush to judgement."
"Fifty-six players were involved in 36 on-campus incidents, many alcohol-related, since 2003. Hilarious!!!
"What did they do? Didn't say. What is an incident? Who knows? Are any of the [current] player[s] involved? He thinks some may. This kind of shoddy, ignorant journalism, is an example of why people think all sports writers are molesting, knuckle dragging, cannibals. What is that an unfair, unproven statement? So what, Mike gets to do it."
"It is interesting to see you call these players evil (middle ground between good and evil implies that they are evil not fully good).
"The facts you used to call them evil are distorted and plain wrong.
"Sorry to see that you could not spend 2 hours researching before you wrote your article. A few keystrokes on you computer would have helped you find out the following information:
First, the young man who made the remark about his shirt, a young man in a very disturbing situation being racially insulted, and taunted by an older female, who had basically just conned him and others out of a large sum of money. His remarks although petty, were not evil.
Second you quote a sophomore’s private email to claim how the team was evil. Yet you seem to not understand that sophomores act like sophomores (hence the term sophomoric), and most importantly you do not tell you readers that this email was a rewrite of a movie script.
"A word to the wise, in the day of the internet, even pundits need to check their facts, because we no longer have to rely on you to create facts to prove your point.
"This article is very politely ripped to shreds by K.C. Johnson at durhamwonderland.blogspot.com. If I were Mr. Wise, my face would be red with embarrassment after reading K.C.'s rebuttal."
"'Stirred by a bungling prosecutor...'
"No one has characterized the prosecutor as bungling. The attorney general stated he was a rogue prosecutor. Big difference. It was not incompetence that led to the prosecution but malice. After spending months reviewing the case, the attorney general unequivocally stated that the three young men were INNOCENT and that there had never been any credible evidence that they committed a crime. There was no incompetence in Durham, only the intent to frame innocent people as felons.
"As to your shameful contention that these three young men deserved to be falsely accused because of bad behavior, you need to read the Coleman report on investigation of the team. http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/mmedia/features/lacrosse_incident/lacrossereport.html The team's record compares very favorably with any collegiate team."
"Mr. Wise, taking the now popular 'not innocent' fork of the Duke Lacrosse Team judgmental trail, suggests that this was a team out of control They got what they deserve. The only truly objectionable thing these students did was the tasteless and racist 'cotton shirt' comment and this was an angry shout by a few unidentified, intoxicated and disappointed young men (the dancers had taken their money without much dancing).
"Racist comments are truly offensive, but they are not against the law, and it is unfair to tarnish an entire team because of one overheard remark. 36 campus incidents from such a large group and underage drinking can be excused, unless Mr. Wise, unlike all of my friends can honestly claim that he never was involved in some campus escapade, drank too young and too much or possibly smoked illegal substances. To some degree as part of growing up that is what college is for. As to hiring strippers, let us ask ourselves honestly, if it is not wrong for college age women to perform 'erotic work' why is it wrong for young men to pay them and watch? And that one e-mail? It is misrepresented, it was sarcastic, based on a passage in a book and a very successful movie that is reflective of American culture. And it is unfair to judge anyone by an e-mail that was seized by a prosecutorial team out-of-control. The contents of the seized goods should never have been leaked by the authorities and that alone justified disbarment. This year's Duke team [members] are exemplary students and great lacrosse players, an excellent team that has overcome hurdles of withering public scrutiny and legal harassment from overzealous prosecutors to meet their potential. A truly American cultural narrative worthy of a Hawthorne novel in which Mr. Wise would join the stern puritanical judgment squad of old ladies. Today let us hope they lose to Cornell, but then I grew up in upstate New York."
Note to last commenter: Duke won! Stripping and watching strippers are both wrong (but legal). As one who did NOT think of college as a place for "campus escapade," drinking too young or smoking illegal substances, I deplore the attempt by Mr. Wise, The Washington Post and others in the biased media to malign all of the members of the Duke Men's Lacrosse Team based on some misbehavior by some team members that in way justifies the abuse any of them has suffered, not the team members or their families.
"'It's easy to feel sorry for Pressler, who appears to be the only person who received concrete punishment in the loss of his job.'
"Are you serious? Three young men and their families had a year of their life stolen from them by this attempted lynching. An attempted lynching in which the Washington Post and others in the media helped precipitate. You people amaze me. You make up stuff, put it in the paper, and then when the story falls apart, you write about the tragedy of it all."
EXACTLY! (And they continue to misrepresent and to wrongly disparage as they promote their agenda and themselves, the facts be damned and the innocent be sacrificed.)
Michael J. Gaynor
Biography - Michael J. Gaynor
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.
Gaynor's email address is email@example.com.