Media Captivated by Rape Story Too Good to Ignore

June 14th, 2006 11:50 AM

Lashawn Barber writes at that the Duke lacrosse rape story was just too good for the mainstream media to ignore: privileged white college students having their way with a poor black single mother.

When a black stripper claimed three white Duke University lacrosse players gang-raped her at a party, I knew instinctively it was a lie. The tale reeked of Tawana Brawley-like fabrications. At 15, Brawley claimed that six white men abducted and raped her, smeared her with feces and wrote racial epithets on her body. The media loved it.

It turned out that Brawley lied to get out of trouble for skipping school to see a jailbird ex-boyfriend. The media glommed on to the Duke rape story in a similar man-bites-dog fashion. Since news accounts of black-on-white crimes are rather commonplace, journalists jumped at the chance to exploit a fresh angle.

A story about an oppressed black woman—forced to take off her clothes in front of strange men in order to feed her children—raped and beaten by three drunken, privileged, lacrosse-playing “white boys” stirred the smoldering embers of race and class envy. Add to this volatile mixture a pandering white liberal prosecutor up for re-election against a black candidate in a heavily black city, and you’ve got the Most Absurd Rape Story of the Year.

As more evidence leaks out, it seems that my gut reaction was spot on. In the early stages of the Duke rape investigation, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong couldn’t keep his opinions to himself, talking to the media, holding race-pandering sessions at a black college and all but guaranteeing the DNA evidence would prove the rape allegations. When the tests failed to link any of the 46 men to the stripper-accuser, Nifong finally did what he should have done in the first place: kept his mouth shut.