NBC's Alison Stewart: 'Could Someone Have Gotten To' Duke Accuser?

December 23rd, 2006 7:40 AM

Granted, the coverage of the Duke rape matter on this morning's "Today" was heavily skeptical of the prosecutor's case. And yes, host Alison Stewart did preface her remark by suggesting that she "play devil's advocate here." Even so, it's hard to see any journalistic justification for a scurrilous suggestion Stewart made. Speaking with NBC legal analyst Susan Filan, Stewart said:

"Why would she change her story at this point? She told doctors, nurses and police that she had been raped. Yet now she says she doesn't remember. Could someone have gotten to this woman?"

View video of Stewart's suggestion here.

Filan didn't think so: "She's changed her story since the get-go. She's changed her story many, many, many times. We've never gotten a consistent version of 'the truth' from her, so it's not unexpected that it continues to change."

Filan had earlier opined that "It is time to drop the charges now."

This case is all about false charges. Why would Stewart add to the sorry mess by floating a totally unsubstantiated suggestion of suborning of perjury?

UPDATE: Good Morning America's coverage of the case this morning was slander-free. The guest expert was KC Johnson, the outstanding legal historian who has followed the case closely. He described the case as now being "fatally flawed," and referred to Nifong "an unethical prosecutor." The only devil's advocacy in which host Kate Snow engaged was the relatively mild suggestion that the remaining charges might be easier to prove. Johnson thoroughly refuted that notion.

By the way, Johnson has himself been the focus of a news story in the past. Despite his sterling credentials, a few years ago Brooklyn College initially denied him tenure because of his refusal to bend to PC notions on issues such as affirmative action. In the face of fierce criticism the college was ultimately forced to change its decision and grant him tenure. Read Johnson's account of his ordeal here.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net