New York Magazine on the Duke Lacrosse 'Rape' and the Willful Ignorance of the NY Times

October 10th, 2006 2:02 PM

Writer-editor Kurt Andersen, a card-carrying member of Manhattan's liberal cultural elite, may be coming around to the idea of bias in the Times, judging by his New York magazine story on the paper's slanted coverage of the Duke lacrosse "rape" case, "Rape, Justice, and the ‘Times.’"

Here's the subhead to the provocative story, on what many have come to feel is a perversion of justice on the Durham college campus driven by a politically motivated prosecutor: 

"'I've never felt so ill,' says one reporter about the paper’s coverage of the Duke lacrosse-team case. Luckily, a blogger’s on the story, too."

Andersen celebrates blogger K.C. Johnson, who'd been on the case:

"He’s the most impressive of the 'bloggers who have closely followed the case,' in the Times’ tacitly pejorative construction. But Johnson is the Platonic ideal of the species -- passionate but committed to rigor and facts and fairness, a tenured professor of U.S. history (at Brooklyn College), a 38-year-old vegetarian who lives alone in a one-bedroom Bay Ridge apartment and does pretty much nothing but study, teach, run, and write."

Andersen summarizes the state of the case, and the Times' willful ignorance of it.

"But real facts are stubborn things. And today, the preponderance of facts indicate that there is an injustice -- committed, as it turns out, against those perfect offenders. Yet at the epicenter of bien-pensant journalism, the New York Times, reporters and editors -- although pointedly not the paper’s columnists -- are declining to expose it."

Here's a revealing bit of gleaned by Andersen about the conventional wisdom that overhangs the Times' newsroom:

"'David Brooks is a conservative,' an editor at the paper told me, so his apostasy 'didn’t count' for much in the newsroom. 'But then they really paid attention when Kristof reversed.'"

The paper's new self-satisfied promotional says of Brooks, the nominal Republican in the paper's opinion stable: "Some have called David Brooks the Republican who can make Democrats pay attention."

But apparently not the Democrats that fill the paper's newsroom.

Andersen slams the Times' selective coverage of the case, which has made the prosecution's case seem much stronger than it really is, and suggests he's starting to see the point of media critics who complain about the paper:

"For the past few years, I’ve tended to roll my eyes when people default to rants about the blindered oafishness or various biases of 'the mainstream media' in general and the Times in particular. At the same time, I’ve nodded when people gush about the blogosphere as a valuable check on and supplement to the MSM -- but I’ve never entirely bought it. Having waded deep into this Duke mess the last weeks, baffled by the Times’ pose of objectivity and indispensably guided by Johnson’s blog, I’m becoming a believer."

TimesWatch noticed sports columnist Harvey Araton's smear of the Duke lacrosse players back in June.

For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.