Monday, April 16, 2007

Newsweek Reports

In a continued example of good follow-up reporting, Newsweek details the night that the Duke lacrosse team ran afoul of the fevered mind of one Chrystal Mangum. The magazine, that originally had put the pictures of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnarty on its cover, has redeemed itself by reporting on the unraveling of this miscarriage of justice.

What emerges in this piece is how tawdry and uneventful the evening in question actually was. Was the entire idea of hiring strippers in poor taste? Of course it was, but if that's an indictable offense than a lot of young men and woman on campuses all over the country should be brought in for booking immediately. From the Newsweek story, the biggest crime committed that night seems to have been the fact that the guys paid the two dancers an $800 fee for five minutes of desultory dancing.

But it's the aftermath that is still inexplicable to us. Having nothing to hide, the 46 members of the team volunteered to come in and talk to the police and take lie detector tests. Nifong turned them down flat. All willingly, unlike the usual Law and Order reluctance on the part of the guilty suspect, provided DNA sample to the police. In spite of all this, Nifong told the world that he had "no doubt" that a sexual assault had taken place.

What happened after this is well chronicled, but the Newsweek example, rushing in with breathless recklessness only to turn around, on reflection, with sober re-evaluation, is one that the NY Times would be wise to follow. It would also make sense for Hillary to speak up on this issue, and demonstrate the kind of good political instincts that got Bill elected. In both cases we're far from sanguine that this will happen.