Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spreading the Georgetown Poison

Some time ago I found a comment about the Duke lacrosse case at a blog frequented by actuarial students. Everybody was talking about the DL case in 2006 (http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/showthread.php?t=78024&page=15). The comment from llcooljabe at 4-18-2006 read, “A bunch of my coworkers are hugely into local lacrosse (I live in Long Island). One of them said when this whole thing broke a few weeks ago, that if anyone on the duke team did it, it would be this collin kid from Garden City. Whether he's guilty or not, his life is effectively ruined because of the publicity.” It struck me as odd because Collin’s diversion in the Georgetown case was not revoked until after the arrest, which occurred on 4-18-06. Why would anyone have expected Collin to be involved in the rape case, given his unblemished disciplinary record at Chaminade High School?

Remembering something that Bill Anderson mentioned, I found an article by Juliet Macur and Viv Bernstein at the New York Times from 4-05-06 (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9502E4DB1030F936A35757C0A9609C8B63) that mainly discussed Collin’s DC assault case. I also found an article in the Raleigh News and Observer by Samiha Khanna on 4-06-09 (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/425722.html) that dealt with the Georgetown case exclusively.

I find the timing of these two articles to be at least a strange coincidence. The N&O had already run one article that briefly discussed the fifteen incidents of lacrosse players getting into trouble with the law (http://www.newsobserver.com/front/story/422787.html), although the late March article had not mentioned the Georgetown incident. The N&O story could have appeared when it did because it was following the story in the Times that appeared on the previous day. However, 6 April 2006 was by no means a slow news day with respect to the DL case. On the same day as the N&O published an article on Georgetown, another article discussed Coach Pressler’s firing, and a third discussed Ryan McFayden’s email. And even if this were a case of copycatting, it would still not explain why the Times published an article when it did. The reporter at the Times might have been doing routine background checks on all of the players, or Jeffrey Bloxham, the man Collin allegedly assaulted, might have contacted them. However, a third explanation can be advanced.

The Durham police department (DPD) conducted the flawed lineup on 4 April 2006. I hypothesize that someone in the DPD or in the District Attorney’s office (possibly DA Michael Nifong himself) tipped these reporters right after the lineup that indictments were coming and that they should look into Collin’s record. Assuming that it was Mr. Nifong, I imagine that his motive was to create in Durham (and especially in the future jury) a response of “Aha, I knew it,” when Collin was arrested, much like the response from llcooljabe’s coworkers.

I attempted to contact the reporters involved to ask how they first learned about Collin’s arrest, but my repeated enquiries were not answered; therefore, the sequence of events I have presented remains speculative. Maybe the next time Michael Nifong gets on a witness stand, someone can ask him about his possibly leaking information to the press. New students of the DL case may wish to consult Taylor and Johnson’s “Until Proven Innocent,”, Michael Gaynor (http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=060712), or myself (http://viewfromwilmington.blogspot.com/2008/12/wolves-in-blazers-and-khakis-in-defense.html) which detail how the MSM and some blogs misunderstood and misrepresented the Georgetown incident.

(Part II of the series “In Defense of the Duke Lacrosse Teams)

Update (10 August 2009)
The NYT story referred to the Raleigh N&O late March story when it discussed the 15 incidents of lacrosse players running afoul of the law, suggesting that the NYT did not research all of the players itself. The key point, though, is that both of the news stories in early April appeared well before Collin Finnerty became national news.

Houston Baker said that Collin Finnerty beat up a gay man in Georgetown, implying that the incident was potentially a hate crime. Professor Baker was also involved in an early skirmish in the political correctness war, the water buffalo incident involving Eden Jacobowitz, a student at the University of Pennsylvania (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_buffalo_incident). In recognition of his disservice to the truth in these two cases, Professor Baker deserves a liar—liar-pants-on-fire award. Not only did Collin throw no punches, but no one in the incident was gay and the authorities never treated the Georgetown scuffle as a hate crime. Yet because of it, Collin’s character suffered far more reputational harm than Reade’s or David’s.

The Georgetown incident became one of several examples of supposed misbehavior by the players mentioned over-and-over in the MSM and on blogs. Others include Ryan McFayden’s ill-considered email and the racial slurs allegedly uttered on the night of the party. Many students of the DL case, including me, think that the MSM and the blogosphere often substantially misrepresented these incidents. However, their cumulative effect was to suggest that the lacrosse players were homophobic, misogynistic, and racist and possibly to dampen the resoluteness of those who would have spoken against a rush to judgment in the spring of 2006.

Update-2 (22 September 2009)
Newsday, a Long Island paper, also ran a story about the Georgetown incident on 6 April 2006 (http://www.newsday.com/news/duke-player-from-li-accused-in-05-case-1.606831), the same day as the Raleigh News and Observer did. The reporter, John Moreno Gonzales, mentioned having seen DC court records on the previous day. The Durham Herald Sun gave this incident four sentences in a 1500-word article on 7 April, and the reporter, Ray Gronberg, credits the New York Times article. The Hoya, the Georgetown campus paper, covered this incident on 27 January 2006 (http://www.thehoya.com/news/campus-assault-case-dropped/). Although any of the reporters covering the DL case might have come across the Hoya article, it is not easy to see why they would have been looking for it. On the other hand, if my speculation about Nifong were correct, one would have expected him to contact the Durham Herald Sun at the same time as the Raleigh News and Observer.

Update-3 (13 October 2009)
The NYT article caused at least two observers to draw the inference that Mr. Finnerty’s name was leaked prior to my writing this essay, Chris Lawrence (http://blog.lordsutch.com/related/3338) and sceptical (http://s1.zetaboards.com/Liestoppers_meeting/topic/1976244/1/). These authors did not cite the Raleigh News and Observer or Newsday’s articles, each of which appeared one day later as discussed above. The author of the N&O article, Samiha Khanna, may have also been the recipient of another leak, allowing her to contact Ms. Mangum in late March of 2006. Curiously, the New York Times public editor, Byron Calame questioned the appropriateness of devoting a 550-word article to the Georgetown incident (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/23/opinion/23pubed.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1), suggesting that one or two paragraphs within another story would have been more appropriate.

9 comments:

sceptical said...

Chris,

While the NY Times article was printed 4/5/06, it was actually written late in the day on 4/4-- the same day of the phony lineup. There is a lot of circumstancial evidence supporting Nifong or the Durham PD tipping off reporters about Finnerty.

In fact, the Georgetown charges are believed to be one of the reasons Crystal was coached to choose Finnerty.

However, with respect to the newspaper articles, you will never get a reporter to confirm his or her sources.

sceptical

inmyhumbleopinion said...

sceptical said...
There is a lot of circumstancial evidence supporting Nifong or the Durham PD tipping off reporters about Finnerty.


Don't be coy, sceptical - bring it on!

sceptical said...
In fact, the Georgetown charges are believed to be one of the reasons Crystal was coached to choose Finnerty.


Believed by whom?

Debrah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Debrah said...

The truth hurts, doesn't it guys?

Other bloggers know the truth about JinC and his meager and insular followers.

Many have made mention of such a peculiar way of blogging.

If you want to be considered a "serious" blogger, you blog like a "serious" blogger.

Otherwise, people tend to notice.

A few of you idle bloggers have made it your day's mission to turn on KC.

And yes, much of it is political partisanship.

But the fundamental motivator is envy.

Such envy that I've never witnessed.

If the blogger who uses the pseudonym "John in Carolina" wants to be taken seriously and viewed as anything other than a vindictive sidekick to some of the disgruntled bit players on other blogs.....

.......then I will advise him to do as others have mentioned: Stop treating the blogging business like a Sunday drive in the country.

Do what your Liestoppers friends like to tell people---Man up!

Debrah said...

And Chris, this "Wayne Fontes" is not a neutral party.

He's in the pocket of Liestoppers and all things over there.

"Fontes" used to email KC and ask him to erase comments, but look what he posts at "Reharmonized".

"Fontes" is a member of the Bat Cave, Liestoppers, and anywhere that slams KC.

I am also very skeptical of the ever-present "sceptical".

Why does he need to constantly provide a balm for John? John is a grown man.

What do other people owe these nuts who want to direct the conversation on other blogs?

That's what caused all this trouble in the first place and everyone seems scared to admit that all this began with "Joan Foster".

Why can't that be acknowledged?

All of these people are with John and enjoy what he's doing against KC.

There are no neutral parties who would say anything to excuse JinC.

William L. Anderson said...

The idea that the NY Times story on Collin Finnerty just "happened" is preposterous. First, the laws of probability tell us that the chances that an enterprising reporter just "happened" to have been able to match Finnerty with the case in DC is pretty slim, maybe like one in hundreds of thousands slim.

Second, I doubt that the NY Times has access to the databases that the police have, and so to be able to match Finnerty would have been possible only with cooperating police departments. Third, the idea that all of this is just a "coincidence" is a bit much.

And, yes, as Ekstrand's lawsuit points out quite well, Crystal was coached and well-coached at that. Here was someone who could not remember anything or anyone suddenly remember the color of the clothes that certain people were wearing and everything else -- that was available in photographs.

One Spook said...

I believe that most major news organizations have some sort of access to national crime databases. Some of this data is after all, public information, and easily searchable with only a name and a home address to confirm it. A good deal of such information can be found online. If a particular crime makes the news, that allows news databases to be utilized as well.

Sometimes the answer is the obvious and no grand conspiracy is afoot.

Do some prosecutors sometimes try to manipulate the media for their own purposes?

Do some defense attorneys sometimes try to manipulate the media for their own purposes?

"Yes" to both.

One Spook

A Duke Dad said...

Re: The Water Buffalo incident at U Penn.

Larry Moneta, a vice-provost of University of Pennsylvania at the time is quoted in Kors and Silvergate book, "The Shadow University" on subject being asked on NBC if the statement was indeed racist, replied "The issue is not whether I have or not. The issue is also, you know, language in my mind is neutral. It's a question of the context in which is language is used." Later on, Kors' and Silvergate report Moneta grudgingly said that at the University, "All speech is free." As of 2007, Moneta is now facing scrutiny while being sued by students at Duke University.

Of course, all that is necessary for the student who used that term is to put two witnesses on the stand:

Witness 1: You are a redneck. Have you ever referred to an African American (insert N-word here) as a "Water Buffalo"

Witness 2: You are an African American. Has anyone EVER referred to you, especially in a derogatory manner, as a "Water Buffalo".

halides1 said...

sceptical,

My most recent update credits you and a blogger with whom I am unfamiliar, Chris Lawrence, with making the inference that Mr. Nifong or the DPD tipped the NYT about Georgetown before I did. I am also grateful to OneSpook for reminding me about the article from the Hoya.

Chris