Duke rush to judgment -- a crowded field
Even if you believed all along those three young men were innocent, yesterday's ruling by North Carolina's Attorney General was stunning. Stunning because in the real world, especially the real legal world, seldom are the outcomes so clear-cut black and white outside of a courtroom.
The charges were dropped and they were innocent -- the accuser was excused for reasons hinted at but not made clear, and the District Attorney, Mike NiFong was guilty of "a tragic rush to accuse." Professionally in his position that is inexcusable, but when it comes to the rush to judgment in this case, it was a crowded field.
Let me say plainly, I never liked this story. I always sensed something wrong. Everyone jumped to conclusions from the get-go in many directions.
I was the first NBC reporter to cover it.
It was so early in the story that Duke University actually allowed us to go live unescorted from the campus quad. Anyone who later covered this story would find that impossible to believe now. Reporters can't get near the campus, and certainly not without a minder.
I remember even before I left my office for North Carolina I heard people say, "It was sick what those boys did to that girl."
When I got on the Duke campus it was "that girl's only out to win a lawsuit."
Many believed those white privileged athletes did it because that's what they do. Many believed she was out for money because that's what stripper girls like her do.
It still grinds on me that on air we call her a stripper. It carries baggage and prejudgment is high. She was also a working single parent -- that two brings baggage, but in a positive way.
Race and stereotype were just as alive and not well in the Duke case as in the Imus uproar.
This one is over, but the background forces that made it are not.
Read more from Martin Savidge
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