The Right Opinion

The Ugly End of the Duke Lacrosse Story

By L. Brent Bozell · Nov. 29, 2013

On Nov. 22, with the national media focused on the 50th anniversary of former President John F. Kennedy's death, few noticed the story of a jury in North Carolina convicting Crystal Mangum of murder in the 2011 kitchen stabbing death of her boyfriend Reginald Daye. Why should that fact fixate the national media?

On its own, it shouldn't. But in 2006 and 2007, Mangum's false charges of rape against three Duke University lacrosse players caused a national tsunami of media sensation, an angry wave of prejudiced coverage presuming the guilt of rich white college boys when being accused by an African-American stripper.

More than any other media outlet, The New York Times trumpeted Mangum's rape accusations, even after they fell apart. As other liberal media were backing away, the Times published a notorious, error-riddled 5,700-word lead story on Aug. 25, 2006, by Duff Wilson, who argued there was enough evidence against the players for Michael Nifong, the atrocious local prosecutor (who would later be jailed and disbarred), to bring the case to trial.

Within the Times, perhaps the most aggressive accuser was then-sports columnist Selena Roberts, who made a habit of comparing the accused Duke lacrosse players to drug dealers and gang members.

Roberts continued to lob charges of white privilege in her last column on the subject in 2007: “Don't mess with Duke, though. To shine a light on its integrity has been treated by the irrational mighty as a threat to white privilege. Feel free to excoriate the African-American basketball stars and football behemoths for the misdeeds of all athletes, but lay off the lacrosse pipeline to Wall Street, excuse the khaki-pants crowd of SAT wonder kids.” She lamented, “some news media jackknifed as they moved from victim's advocate to angel-tinting the lacrosse team.”

To Roberts, the false accuser never stopped being the victim. Roberts never wrote a retraction for her columns that relentlessly championed a false narrative. She is the Al Sharpton of sports columnists.

The coverage ended. Well, there was one small trickle of news. In December 2010, The New York Times ran a tiny wire item in the sports section about the Duke lacrosse “victim” being found guilty of “misdemeanor child abuse and damaging property. A Durham County jury convicted Crystal Mangum, 32, of contributing to child abuse or neglect, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer after a February confrontation with her live-in boyfriend.”

Then, in 2011, Mangum was indicted for murdering her boyfriend. Again, it was a tiny item in the Times – a brief at the bottom of page B-14 of the sports section, under “Lacrosse”: “Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused three Duke players of raping her in 2006, was charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend.”

So when Mangum was convicted of murder on Nov. 22, now would it garner serious attention? The Times ran a tiny, 98-word wire story. There were no burning columns from the successors of Roberts.

Now remember that the entire time Mangum was ruining the reputations of three young men, the media kept her identity a secret. But now that her secret of lying and even murder is out, the secret remains, at least on the media's radar screen.

There were no Duke-accuser updates on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, USA Today or The Washington Post.

Like Roberts, ABC legal reporter Terry Moran didn't easily let go of the blame-the-rich-whites game in the spring of 2007, writing for his ABC blog: “Perhaps the outpouring of sympathy for (the falsely arrested Duke lacrosse players) is just a bit misplaced … As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives … They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.”

Those women were briefly, unfairly smeared one day in a bad Don Imus joke at 6 a.m., as “nappy-headed hos.” Few would have heard it if liberals hadn't flagged it. Just as liberals flagged some falsely accused lacrosse players who were only guilty of being rich and white.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, CNN offered two segments on Mangum's conviction. Defense attorney Mark Geragos offered a strong post-trial verdict: “I thought at the time that that (Duke lacrosse) prosecution was not only ill-advised but that prosecutor and we were vindicated to some degree was – ended up being disbarred.”

“Now you have a woman, and, you know, somebody had remarked to me this morning, karma is a bi-ch,” he said. “You've got a situation where, you know, she had at least arguably a decent defense in this case, but has absolutely no credibility.”

The national media also lost credibility in this Mangum mess. Their coverage at the start was outrageous, as was their suppression at the end.

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14 Comments

Chavez in Phoenix said:

Remember that Duke's own faculty and admin. also took a less than praiseworthy stance. Fearful of bad PR, the university immediately threw its own students under the bus; refused to look at evidence of their innocence; and denounced them at every turn (including in open letters from the faculty and statements from the President).
If Duke's own students -- proven innocent by DNA testing before anyone was even arrested-- had to be sacrificed in order to satisfy public opinion, then that was perfectly fine:
"Sometimes individuals have to suffer for the good of the organization", according to Robert K. Steel, then Chairman of Duke's Trustees.
He even said it was "best for Duke" if they should go to trial,
and even be convicted; no harm, because "it will all be sorted out in five years on appeal".
But the University would be spared public opprobrium, duck the storm, and avoid a potential riot.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 8:37 AM

boilingfrog in N.C. said:

The difference between the mass media and a garbage can. Gargage cans collect trash, mass media produces it.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Mac in Arizona said:

.... and MSNBC in their jaded "Look Back 50yrs Special" said (with straight faces) that George Wallace who stood on the steps of an Alabama school barring blacks from entering - "... was a Republican..." ...

..... liars they are, liars they will be, liars they must be in order to advance an agenda that is so flawed that any semblance of truth would kill it.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Mark in Columbus said:

I'm having a hard time working up any sympathy for the Duke boys and we have no idea about the reality of Mangum's life. It seems you are doing the same thing to her in the interest of your agenda that the national press did to the "poor Duke boys." All in all a very disappointing article.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Chavez in Phoenix replied:

Not surprising; the "Duke boys" had their reputations trashed. But remember that the party they attended was to compensate for their missing Spring Break. (What were other students doing during Spring Break?) Many --perhaps most--and to include two of those ultimately charged--didn't know there were going to be strippers until they arrived and fees were collected.
The general response to the "show" was one of disgust; about half the players left shortly thereafter (including two who were later charged; those two hadn't wanted to attend anyway; but when you are sophomores you attend team events).
The father of one of the accused was raised by a black family; the father of another, raised poor, used part of his fortune to build clinics in Africa.
There were teetotalers on that team, and Evangelicals.
But it was much more fun to paint them all as a sort of Animal House, spoiled, rich, callous, indifferent, and deserving of whatever they got regardless of whether they were guilty or not.
As every DA knows, if you can make a jury pool hate defendants, and feel they are deserving of some kind of punishment, you are more than halfway to a conviction.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Mark in Columbus replied:

I did not know that. My apologies. Anyone can be sucked into a party they didn't know was going to get raunchy. I read this article to my son this morning and told him if drugs or strippers arrive at a party the only safe thing to do is leave immediately. I personally only experienced it once but was fortunate enough to go ahead and leave.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Chavez in Phoenix replied:

As for Mangum's life, we do know she was being pimped out
and into selling drugs at 13/14; made a false claim of gang rape by three people then; was tossed out of the Navy (reason not given); married, but then claimed (falsely) her husband tried to drag her into the woods to kill her; claimed (falsely) one of her "assailants" in the first false rape claim had thrown his grandmother down stairs and killed her; fought with patrons at the clubs where she danced; had 'drivers' and entertained men in their hotel rooms; stole a taxi and tried to run down a police officer with it, etc.
Of course she would be believed when she claimed that 20 white men, assisted by her co-dancer, tried to rape her in a bathroom (later modified to 5, or 4, or 3 men, plus--or minus--her co-dancer). And that she fought and struggled for half an hour; was suspended in mid-air while being raped; yet despite that struggle and being raped in every possible way, none of her assailants left behind a single cell with DNA...
And if Nifong--who knew the Mangum family from handling a previous case involving a murder and the family--believed that,
and based a prosecution on it, then he deserves the thirty-year sentence he tried to hand out to others.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Mark in Columbus replied:

Agree completely Chavez that there never should have been charges brought. I'm just not big on trying to sanitize young men who employ strippers. You day with dogs you wake up with fleas.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

Not everybody loves Duke University, even here in NC. Its reputation as an exclusive school brings most persons of lesser ability and means to despise Duke. I have nothing against the school. When this all happened several of the faculty bowed to their liberal view that all aggrieved black women are saints and all black-accused white sports men are animals. The truth, God be praised, showed just how imperfect liberalism is even if it is processed through an educated mind. The real damage was not tot he school, but to the players accused. If their parents were not financially empowered the boys would have been eternally damned in the public pit like many whites slandered with the same rubbish. No matter of the girl's earthy predicament, she could have had morals which would have cost her nothing to own. Rich or poor, there is no sainthood in living a immoral life.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 3:54 PM

BuzzardB in Havertown replied:

Are you kidding?! People "in charge" defamed a group of young men. You're probably one of those clowns defending "knockout" players.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Mark in Columbus replied:

Assuming you're talking with me Buzz, I have no idea the point you're trying to make.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 11:16 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

The ministry of propoganda has no interrest in news, they have an agenda to persue, and factless manipulation of stories trumps any truthful reporting. They are as guilty of treason as the tyrants they back.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Mac in Arizona said:

Hope the Associated Press picks up this story:

I happened to have recently met a girl just like Crystal who services both the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson on a regular basis...

... oh, who am I kidding.... they'll never report any black on black crime - no matter how juicy the sorted details are....

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Honest Abe in North Carolina said:

This is the same MSM who gave Bill Clinton and John Edwards the benefit of a doubt when their escapades were exposed. Only when someone of the list of people they hate (not individuals, but whole classes and groups) gets accused, immediately they have them lynched without even having a hearing or knowing the truth. That is liberalism's way of conducting justice.

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 6:21 PM