Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Using the Duke case to assess credibility

The Duke case has the interesting benefit of allowing one to assess the credibility of various people and organizations -- especially those with a liberal point of view. Conservative organizations and people generally got this one right because their natural tendency was to
believe the defense case. So the fact that they did so doesn't tell us anything about whether they are credible or not. Assessment of their credibility will have to wait for another issue.

So, with that in mind, here are my assessments:

Susan Estrich grade: A-.

A rape victim herself, she initially followed her natural instincts and had a hard time believing the defense. However, as the facts came out, she at first saw that Mike Nifong had mishandled the press, then that he had not followed proper legal procedure, then that he was completely out of control and had lost his moral compass, and at last that he was a liar who has used a very confused woman.

The only quibble I have with Ms. Estrich is that I believe each of these points was clear long before she made it. So it took a long time for the facts to overwhelm her inner predispositions. However, it is greatly to her credit that she eventually allowed them to do so.

The New York Times grade: F

The New York Times gave the worst reporting of the case. It's transparently misleading front-page August 2006 article has been torn to shreds in blog after blog after blog after blog, and yet the Times had the gall to claim that they "generally fairly reported both sides". I guess that 5700-word news article just didn't have space to mention that there was a time-stamped photo of one of the "suspects" at another location when he was supposedly comitting the crime.

Hillary Clinton grade: C

As best I can tell, Clinton has not mentioned the case at all. Perhaps she fears that attacking Nifong would offend some of her supporters, while mentioning the case without doing so would definitely offend many other people.

Barack Obama grade: A

Apparently not afraid of what feathers he might ruffle, Obama has had the courage to state the obvious.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A few more from the report card :

Alberto Gonzales-- F

(Failure to intervene in a case which reeked of denial of due process, denial of civil rights under color of law, witness intimidation, denial of equal protection of the laws, hate crime threats, etc.)

Newsweek Magazine----F

(Failure to do what any competent
Internet blogger would do--fact check--before placing mug shots of
innocent defendants on a cover, implying to the entire nation that they were guilty as charged.)

The MSM in general---- F

(Failure to show skepticism; or to ask hard questions of Nifong, to ask hard questions about the accuser, to ask hard questions of the Durham police Dept, to ask hard questions of Duke President Brodhead.)

The Innocence Project---- F

(Failure to defend its belief that DNA testing is a reliable indicator of innocence--especially in a case in which THREE defendants are accused of struggling with and then gang-raping a woman in a confined space for half an hour, yet supposedly left no DNA. When Nifong dismissed the absence of DNA as irrelevant, no DNA expert stepped up to defend his science.)