Suppressing the news: Revisiting the Duke lacrosse scandal

Newsweek commentator David Graham recently declared the Philadelphia Voter Intimidation controversy to be a non-story: “it’s not about a real investigation; it’s about staging an effective piece of political theater that hurts the Obama administration.”

He also meandered into declaring the ACORN scandal to be “minimal” and “discredited.”  Graham’s career-long track record of suppressing news (without troubling himself with investigation) follows him way, way back to his college years at Duke University.  Why bring up such ancient history?  Well, because he graduated from Duke last year, in 2009.

One of the greatest media frauds in modern history, the Duke lacrosse hoax, was once a story of violent, racially motivated gang rape by supposedly privileged white men (many were actually on significant financial aid).  Finally, here was the evidence verifying the far left narrative of America as a deeply oppressive, racist society – evidence that had been missing, in the opinion of one Duke Professor, since the lynching of Emmitt Till over fifty years prior.  Radical leftists throughout the campus and the nation came out of the woodwork to demand the alleged incident be used as a pretext for a comprehensive discussion on the roles of race, class, and gender in our society.

By the time David Graham took over as editor of the Duke Chronicle, the story was quickly becoming a story of the extraordinary bigotry of segments of the far left and their perverse willingness to exploit an obvious hoax to advance a political and cultural agenda.  The story became the willingness of the Duke Faculty and Administration to burn their own students at the stake in the advancement of and in fear of this same leftist narrative.

All of a sudden, none of these individuals at Duke wanted to talk about the matter anymore, least of all the administration.  It was time to put it all behind us.  Enter David Graham.

Before Graham took over, the Duke Chronicle was frequently commended for its exemplary work and ambitious reporting on the affair, especially in comparison with the atrocious work of the mainstream press.  Under Graham’s watch, however, the paper consistently advanced a “move along, nothing to see here” approach.

Upon taking over as editor, one of Graham’s first acts was to shut down the Chronicle’s message board, a popular forum where students, alumni, and others flocked to discuss the lacrosse case since its inception, alleging the discussion of the lacrosse affair it hosted had become a breeding ground for racism and sexism to such an extent it could no longer be moderated.  Because the evidence no longer exists, it is impossible to evaluate any truth the claim might bear, but the message board had been up throughout the entirety of the lacrosse affair, and his predecessors saw no need to remove it.