Reporter Apologizes to Duke Lacrosse Team

What a rare bit of good news to report. Finally a member of the media has apologized to the falsely smeared Duke men's lacrosse team. Ruth Sheehan, staff writer at the Raleigh News Observer, offers this apology in Monday's edition:

Members of the men's Duke lacrosse team: I am sorry.

Surely by now you know I am sorry. I am writing these words now, and in this form, as a bookend to 13 months of Duke lacrosse coverage, my role in which started with a March 27 column that began:

"Members of the men's Duke lacrosse team: You know. We know you know."

That was when Durham police and District Attorney Mike Nifong were describing a "wall of silence" among the men who attended the now-vaunted lacrosse party at 610 Buchanan Blvd. Nifong, now described by the state attorney general as a "rogue prosecutor," was widely respected as solid, even understated.

Though wrong, my initial column was cheered by hundreds of readers.

Last weekend, our public editor, Ted Vaden, laid me low for that first column, and the second, which called for the firing of lacrosse coach Mike Pressler. According to Don Yeager, a former Sports Illustrated staffer who is writing a book about the case, Pressler blames me for his dismissal. I'm sorry he ended up coaching at a Division III school.

But, lest my reporting on Duke lacrosse over the course of a year be reduced to two early columns, let me remind you that I did not just throw those two Molotov cocktails and remain mute for nine months before declaring myself "naive." My lacrosse columns numbered 14.

Anyone want to bet that Sheehan won't be the highest-profile media person to apologize?

Hat tip to Sister Toldjah who is still waiting for a New York Times apology. Don't hold your breath, sister!

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013