Sunday, September 30, 2007

Aplogies Not Accepted at the Times

In this morning's NY Times, the paper runs an AP story on an apology made yesterday by Duke president Richard Brodhead concerning the college's failure to stick up strongly for the rights of its students during the lacrosse rape hoax (and we're thankful here for the outsourcing given the biases exhibited by the Times). The key point here is that the university, and many of its faculty-along with a gullible media that so desperately wanted to believe this meta narrative of racial and sexual exploitation-simply hung these kids out to dry with no real support for their presumption of innocence.

Here's the money quote from the Brodhead speech on this, as posted on the Durham-in-Wonderland website: "Second, some of those who were quick to speak as if the charges were true were on this campus, and some faculty made statements that were ill-judged and divisive. They had the right to express their views. But the public as well as the accused students and their families could have thought that those were expressions of the university as a whole. They were not, and we could have done more to underscore that."

For many of us, even though the recognition of failure is always healthy, the president's admission is a little bit late in the day, and there were many earlier junctures where Brodhead could have spoken out against the abuse of his students-by both the faculty and the prosecutor-to great effect. In spite of this failure, his mea culpa is appreciated simply because it is the right thing for him to do if the university is going to learn from this sad incident.

As much as the Brodhead apology may be seen as minimalist, given the egregious nature of the presumption of guilt by so many,it stands in sharp contrast with the behavior of the paper of wreckage in this matter. As we have mentioned before many times, here, here, here, and here, the NY Times' coverage of the Duke case was an embarrassment to the genre, What greatly exacerbates the paper's failure to accurately cover the case-a failure that is amply documented in the Until Proven Innocent expose of the matter-is the fact that the Times has never editorialized on the case after it, and the paper's coverage itself for that matter, was proven to be a hoax.

The Times colluded with the rogue prosecutor and still hasn't said a word about what can be seen as the single most egregious case of prosecutorial misconduct that was basically enacted before our very eyes; with the Times writing the libretto. And this is supposed to be a paper that has a concern for the protection of civil liberties-apparently only as long as the threat is against certain classes of people who need to have the Times as their perpetual guardian angel.

So,as a result of its ideological and ethical blinders, the Times continues to damage its once great name. It reminds us of the Op-Ed that the paper published four years ago on the "decline" in heart attacks in Helena, Montana. The author, an editor at Prevention, cited a study by two doctors that after the city passed its secondhand smoke ordinance, it experienced a 40% decline in heart attacks. Subsequently, proving once again that there's a big difference between correlation and causation, the study was thoroughly debunked. The Times has never corrected this misinformation, or apologized to its readers for the error.

What this all tells us is that are major MSM outlets need to be constantly and fairly monitored-and that anti-free speech laws that limit citizens from political advocacy while giving carte blanche to papers like the Times must be resisted for what they are: unfair advantages to certain people with a particular point of view.