Saturday, March 17, 2007

Citizen Journalist Reports on IWF Forum

One of the most rewarding aspects of watching the LieStoppers community grow over the past several months has been witnessing the emergence of several citizen journalists who have taken it upon themselves to attend and report on Hoax hearings, press conferences, community meetings, panel discussions, and similar events. The willingness of LS Forum members to not only attend these events but also to share their observations with the balance of the LS community allows the LS sites to offer comprehensive, first person commentary in near real time while helping define the LS sites as the vehicle of collective empowerment they were intended to be.
Previously, we have been enlightened by Locomotive Breath's detailed account of the Shut Up and Teach forum, Kemp's Happy Hour Updates, and his description of the Charlotte stop of President Brodhead's "conversation" tour. Details of several other similar ventures can be found throughout the LS Forum. The most recent example of our merry band of citizen journalists going out of their way to provide timely comprehensive reports on current events is brought to us by MomToThree.
On Thursday, the Independent Women’s Forum hosted a discussion exploring the legal, academic, and media conduct that helped fuel the Hoax. Panelists included Stuart Taylor Jr., senior writer and columnist for National Journal magazine, Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? and The War against Boys, and IWF's Allison Kasic, who was featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in May 2003 as one of the top student activists in the country. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin moderated the panel which was titled, "What Went Wrong at Duke?".
LS Forum member and occasional LS Blog contributor, MomToThree (A Duke Mom Responds to Stuart Rojstaczer, Our Collective Voice #2 ), had the opportunity to attend the forum and offered the following observations at the LS Forum:
  • A very team-friendly crowd of about sixty people.
  • No enablers or dissenters, at least none who made themselves known.
  • Also several Duke moms spoke up from the audience.
  • All the panelists were great - no real news (except one possible comment by Stuart Taylor, which I'll describe tomorrow), but the two lawyers, Toobin and Taylor, were very upbeat about the charges being dropped. (No mention of the photo op today, though).
  • Taylor was the most specifically knowledgeable about the case.
  • Toobin was pretty knowledgeable.
  • Sommers and Kasic stayed focused on the administration/faculty/academic issues.
  • All the panelists used very strong language in everything they said - I mean didn't mince words. The case just brings out superlatives in trying to express the outrage.
  • The crowd cheered when Liestoppers and Durham in Wonderland were mentioned!!!

Supplementing her initial report, MomToThree also gave LS Forum members additional insight by sharing her well written and easy to follow notes taken at the IWF event:

  • There were about sixty people present, about an even mix of men and women. Some journalists.
  • Michele Bernard, President of IWF, introduced the program and the panel. She started out with rape is a serious crime, rape allegations are serious, and false accusations of rape are serious – they hurt actual rape victims and especially they hurt the falsely accused who could carry the taint of these accusations for years. She then introduced the panel.
  • The format used was that Jeff Toobin stood at the podium and asked specific questions of the panelist. They gave five to ten minute answers. Then Toobin solicited questions from the audience.
  • [JT] Quotes a law school professor to the effect that “some crimes are so important that even innocence is no defense.” From the beginning this case has been seen as a metaphor for something else, e.g., for 19th century race relations. As more came out, other metaphors applied, seen as metaphor for – gender relations, university life, law enforcement. Stuart Taylor was one of the only journalists who actually took an independent look at the evidence. Asks ST how he became interested in the case.
  • [ST] Mentions that a friend of his has a son on the Duke lacrosse team. When the case broke, his friend called him and asked him to look into it. Said there had been no rape and no sex of any kind. ST said he would look at it. Became clear to him early that there was low probability that a rape had happened. Accuser had low credibility to begin with. Then there were the DNA tests. Mike Nifong specifically said that the DNA test would identify the guilty and rule out the innocent. March 28, Nifong got DNA test results and on April 10, the defense announced that the results are negative for any lacrosse players. But Mike Nifong didn’t want it to be over. Besides the negative DNA, there were also photos from the party that supported the players’ story. One of the accused also had an airtight alibi. All together, this evidence suggested to ST that the players were “very probably innocent.” At that point, ST was not ready to say that there was “certainty” that the accused were innocent. This was because Nifong had characterized the medical evidence as *showing* that a rape had occurred. When the medical evidence finally got to the Defense in May [and it did not show what Nifong claimed], that clinched it for ST.
  • [JT] What’s happening now with the case is that Mike Nifong is out – there is a top to bottom review by the Attorney General of North Carolina. JT expect dismissal of the charges soon.
  • JT asks AK: As a much younger person and more recent student, what do you think of the role of Duke and its response? What about Duke culture?
  • [AK] The mistakes that Duke made, not surprisingly, point to larger flaws in the academic system. “Duke” encompasses a lot of people, but let’s start with the administration and trustees. They adopted a “guilty until proven innocent attitude.” They did not stand up for the students as Mike Nifong trampled all over their due process rights. They ended the season, they suspended the players, fired the coach. They played it safe to the extreme. They hung the students out to dry. Yes, they were placed in a tough position. No school wants this situation, but they “had the opportunity to enforce the basic values of our justice system” Instead, they let the New Black Panther Party on campus. They allowed a chaotic environment to just thrive until December. Anyone could see that the prosecutor’s office had made mistakes – that there were problems in the process, whether the accused were guilty or innocent. The administration’s response was to form a bunch of committees which called for such irrelevant things as more minority professors and minority scholarships, more room on campus for student activities.
  • [JT] Asks CHS what she thinks the case tells us about feminism?
  • [CHS] It tells us there is a serious problem with hard line feminism on our campuses – there is a steady diet of anti-male hatred, compares it to hatred being taught in madrassas – it’s propaganda. She briefly reads from a text used in a women’s studies class. Text is called “Sexual Terrorism.” Says all women are targets and live under a system in which men scare and control females through violence. These [women’s studies] classes use an egregiously false body of information, myths and false statistics, such as the claim, reprinted in the New York Times, that on Super Bowl Sunday, battery against women increases 40%.. There was never a source found for this statistic, it was manufactured, but the media loved it. – example of “too good to check.” This type of feminism built on “hate statistics.” Some 10-15% of women exposed to this on campus get carried away with it, they get “intoxicated by hatred.”She is not sure what to make of Mike Nifong, some kind of mysterious, confused character, but would he have done this without support from Duke faculty, from the Group of 88 types. Mentions Kim Curtis who gave a lacrosse player in her class an ‘F’. There is a climate of anger, in which men exist in a milieu of disapproval – in which the worst case male is treated as the norm. The case was a trifecta of race, class, gender. The Duke three walked into a trap. Need to address this climate of hatred that is thriving on campus. This case was “manna from heaven” for certain people. Even now they don’t want to give it up.
  • [JT] Asks ST, what is the relationship between Mike Nifong’s reelection and the case? What pushed him forward? JT mentions that, in his own reporting, he found people saying Mike Nifong was a normal guy.
  • [ST] Yes, but he does have screaming mad fits to people he can intimidate. Nifong was on his way to losing to Freda Black. Had told the Governor who appointed him that he would not run. Freda Black better known candidate because of Petersen case. You could tell the lawyers were betting on Black, because she was getting their contributions. Biggest concern for Nifong was actually his pension. The case was like “manna from heaven.” It instantly made him famous…got him the black vote.
  • [JT] Asks AK to discuss the Group of 88’s Listening Statement.
  • [AK] The Ad was a “template for attitudes.” Ad asserted “something happened.” …grand statements followed by over-the-top conclusions. One of the protests was organized by a visiting member of the English department… so some activists not that close to Duke. Not surprisingly, the ad has since been removed from the Duke server, though still can be found on the internet. The Group signed on to the ad, but when questioned later, said things like…”if you think we were saying the players were guilty, that is your prejudice.” Mentions Lubiano’s comment that the ad was intended to be “a stake through the heart of the lacrosse team.”
  • [ST] Said he agrees with what AK just said, but thinks it is “understated.” “Many of these people are haters…they are not making a mistake.”
  • [JT] Asks CHS: Where does the demand for this [radical feminism] come from? Parents are not looking for it….attitudes well outside the mainstream…How does it get so entrenched?
  • [CHS] Faculties are “way to the left” of society. Faculties “don’t see themselves as accountable.”…world unto themselves….there was a generational shift…the old liberals died out…the new generation are “more radical, more hard core left.” Duke is “notorious for its strangely left-wing English department” and ethnic studies. CHS told this anecdote. At the University of MD, some women were inspired by a class they took to paper the school with posters which used random photos of male students from the directory and the words “This man is a potential rapist.” They were very satisfied with their work.
  • [JT] Asks ST about media coverage.
  • [ST] cites ones that were a “disgrace”: Raleigh New & Observer, Herald-Sun, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, lots of others….jumped on the “presumption of guilt” bandwagon. Examples: N&O March 25 interview with the accuser [ST read excerpts from the article, highlighting extremely biased wording]. New York Times, Salina Roberts, sports columnist, March 31st, “Bonded on Barbarity,” which compared the players and their supposed “wall of silence” to drug dealers and gang members engaged in anti-snitch campaigns.. Dan Abrams was an “honorable exception.” Also mentions Chris Cuomo. Otherwise, a “complete indifference to the evidence.”
  • [CHS] Recalls reading the Duff Wilson article from August. Before reading the article, CHS says she had dismissed the case entirely, but after reading Wilson, she wondered whether there maybe was something there.
  • [ST] Jumps in to say that Liestoppers, within a few hours, had “shredded” the Wilson article “from top to bottom.”…”an amazing performance of journalism on the fly.”
  • [AK] Brings up 60 Minutes. Says it seems to have been “the tipping point” for many, because could hear the kids’ side of the story in their own words. Mentions K.C, Johnson…really a problem [for the media] that the best reporting is from him. Also mentions Charlotte Allen’s piece in the Weekly Standard.

To read the balance of MomToThree's report, which includes a very detailed description of the Q&A that concluded the forum, please visit the LS Fourm. Approximately twenty four hours after MomToThree’s offering, IWF now has a video available if you'd like to view the forum in full.


Anonymous said...

No better example of real, truthful journalism. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

MomToThree is a better jounalist then what we have seen from professionals at the NY Times, Washington Post, N & O, Herald-Sun et al.

Thanks for a job well done!

kbp said...

Thanks Mom23 !!

Great of the LS crew to point out credit due so many that we've all had the pleasure of following, enjoying what they share with us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks MomtoThree for reporting on this. It was an interesting read.

Looks like in the future, honest and rational citizens are going to have to rely on each other for objective reporting, since the MSM seems to have no interest in it anymore.