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On Further Thought: Probably A Staged Stunt
February 21, 2007

Duke Non-Rape Blogger KC Johnson: "It just shouldn't have gotten to the point where a blog like mine could be influential"

His frequent lament in this interview is that he takes no pleasure in the stellar job he did, because there were people being paid by critical, once-respected institutions to do this job but refused to do so. Forcing an obscure professor from New York to do the media's and academy's work for them.

And doing their work for them better than all 30,000 of them, acting together, could, to boot.

We all know race and class issues exist all over this country, but with the Duke case, do you sense that people just wanted a compelling case, or a symbol of a reality they wanted to believe in?

They wanted the latter, both in the media and the academic contexts. I wasn't following the media as closely initially, but it was clear that there was a sensationalistic element to it. I used to think the New York Times was the Bible, but they were way off on this one. On the academic side, one of the most amazing things was a quote by Duke professor Thaviola Glympth. As the case (began to fall apart), she said "Things are moving backwards." Here you have a teacher at a school that wants some of her students convicted of rape because it advances her pedagogical interest. As for the journalists, it wasn't so much that they got the facts wrong, but it was the absolute moral certainty involved. We think of journalists as people-yeah they have their biases-but that they're at least interested in the facts, and if you're a reasonably responsible journalist, you'd want to appear non-biased.


And are the machinations of a mass-media organization now more revealing?

There was no internal corrective process at the Times from what I can see. And then they have a column by the public editor saying they have no problem with how it's been covered, and even if it blows up, as it has, they'll continue the process of coverage on the culture of a Duke lacrosse team! It's mind boggling.


Kurt Andersen told me you are "heroic." Does that make you feel good, or just more convinced that others missed the boat?

I think it's disappointing to me the sort of role I've played in this case to the extent that it wasn't played by professors at Duke. We have 47 guys on this team that are encountering, say, 150-200 professors a year. I don't know all the players on the team. I've met a few; some I like. Nice kids. And you have 200 or so Duke Professors that came into contact with these people, knew they were pretty good people, and chose to remain silent or sign the Group of 88 statement. These guys were targeted in part because they were college students. I wish there had been more involvement by Duke. It's depressing. In terms of the media coverage, local was great, like the Observer. They were even better than I thought, but that didn't percolate into the national media. It just shouldn't have gotten to the point where a blog like mine could be influential.

The media and academy aren't merely biased. They are determined political actors, full stop, and should be treated as such. Just as everyone ought to suspect that anything a politician says is highly suspect and carefully scrubbed from any contrary evidence that might undermine the overarching message -- or metanarrative -- so too must everyone understand the media and academy have abandoned all pretext of being impartial advocates for only an "Agenda of Truth" and are now every bit as dishonest and self-serving as small-city prosecutor looking to win an election on the backs of three innocent college students and thereby pad his pension benefits.

The New York Times "the Bible"? It's, well, odd to run across someone who until recently held such antiquated opinions, but it's comforting to know the New York Times finally went too far for yet another former believer.

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posted by Ace at 09:31 PM

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