On Duke Lacrosse

Published Mar. 14, 2016 11:58 a.m. ET

The most interesting line in last night's "Fantastic Lies" 30 for 30 was this one: "They were feeding them a narrative they were predisposed to believe." It sums up in a sentence everything that I believe about our modern social media era, everything is politicized now. Hardly anyone takes the time to actually look at the facts of individual cases and make independent determinations about the evidence at hand. Nope, that requires too much time, effort, and intelligence, everyone would rather use whatever cases are in the news to confirm their already existing worldviews. 

Posted by Outkick The Coverage on Monday, March 14, 2016

The "New York Times" -- who horribly failed its readers on this story -- said that the case represented male over female, white over black, rich over poor, privileged over underprivileged. But they were wrong. It represented much less: one massive lie allowed to blossom thanks to the failures of our media -- who desperately wanted this story to be true -- and the rush to judgment from people consuming that media, who also desperately wanted this story to be true. 

As they flashed a cover of Newsweek on the TV screen one of the parents said there were three words on the cover: Sex, Lies, and Duke. "The only correct word was Duke."

I feel like Outkick is the last bastion of radical moderateness in the media today -- we look at the facts of every case and call out absurdities regardless of where the politics lie. We examine actual facts in stories like the Missouri protests or the Peyton Manning hysteria or, to be fair, the arbitrary piling on of figures like Ray Rice. If Outkick had existed in 2006 I have zero doubt that we would have been on the side of the Duke Lacrosse team, one of the lone voices in sports media saying that this story didn't add up. And my PC bro critics would have spent every day on social media demanding that I be fired for having the audacity not to believe their side of the story.  

We're going to do an entire Outkick show today on Duke Lacrosse at 3 eastern, but I wanted to give you 10 things to think about from last night's 30 for 30 before our show goes live. 

1. The Duke Lacrosse players were 100% innocent.  

What's more, they didn't even do anything remotely bad. They hired two strippers, paid them $800, and were pissed when the two strippers left after five minutes. (Who was the other stripper? Why did we only hear from Crystal Mangum?) That's perfectly normal behavior for college kids on spring break.  


Even Jay Bilas, the lone voice of sanity at ESPN during the time of this case, said that what they did was immoral and inappropriate.

I disagree with that. They did absolutely nothing wrong. Every good friend I have, male or female, has either been to a strip club or been present for a stripper performance at a bachelor or bachelorette party. I would venture to say that the vast majority of the men and women reading this article right now have been somewhere when a stripper performed. That's normal and legal behavior.  

Think about how crazy this story was -- these guys had strippers over for five minutes and the next thing you know they're being accused of rape. That could have been any number of bachelor parties on that given night in 2006. I mean, it's terrifying. Even more terrifying if you think about how the social media mob would react in 2016 to this story. Ironically, ESPN would be the worst of them all. Can you imagine the clips that would arise from "First Take" if this story happened today?

The irony of this documentary airing in the wake of how ESPN covered the Mizzou fake protests and the Peyton Manning case is mind boggling.

2. The Duke Lacrosse team cooperated fully with the investigation.

They helped the police look for evidence when they showed up with a warrant at the house. They all voluntarily provided DNA samples, they did all this because they knew that nothing actually happened.

And then the police and the prosecutor still tried to frame them. 

Here's a general rule for you: if the prosecutor is giving tons of interviews before any charges are brought -- Mike Nifong gave over fifty -- he can't be trusted.

And FSU fans won't stop Tweeting me about how Jameis Winston's case is the same as Duke Lacrosse. Good Lord. There are no similarities here. A quick recitation of facts -- there was 100% no crime and no sex here. And the Duke players fully cooperated with authorities who were conducting an immediate investigation into a rape allegation. And the entire team got their season canceled. And their coach resigned.

Compare that with Winston: the local police didn't conduct an initial investigation for almost a year and allowed all evidence to disappear, including, conveniently, a cell phone video of the sex act itself. Let me ask you a question, if the cell phone video proved it was 100% consensual, don't you think it would have remained in existence? When the investigation finally happened Winston immediately retained an attorney and refused to speak with police or cooperate in the investigation. The FSU victim isn't insane, she's actually very believable. Unlike the lacrosse team which had its season canceled, Winston never missed a game for the incident and no coaches faced any censure. Despite all the lost evidence and the failure to investigate for a year, the FSU investigator found it was 50% likely Winston raped the girl and 50% likely he didn't. That is, the absolute best case scenario for Winston is that it's a coin flip whether he raped a girl.

So stop with the Duke Lacrosse and Jameis Winston comparisons, they're absurd.   

3. The joking email being released was perfect. 

It reminds me of the Richie Incognito investigation into bullying that sent the Internet into histrionic convulsions. Anyone who has a sense of humor in this country would be screwed if their emails or text messages went public. Because text messages don't convey context and the vast majority of people on the Internet are incapable of understanding sarcasm, satire and hyperbole. That's because all three literary devices are intended for people of above average intelligence.

Think about the person you know who is of the most average intelligence in the country.

Half the people in America are dumber than that person. 

That's why the vast majority of social media controversies are fueled by an inability of dumb people to understand tone or context.

I would have laughed if I'd gotten the email from the Duke Lacrosse player. But that's because I'm smart enough to get the references in it and I know it isn't literal truth. Most of America isn't, hence the freak out.

Newsflash: the Duke Lacrossee team doesn't regularly skin strippers for fun.*

*That's only after big wins. 

4. Why do Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton get away with parachuting into controversies and then when the stories blow up they emerge unscathed?

Jesse Jackson is one of the most dishonest people in public life. Go read "Hellhound on His Trail," about the Martin Luther King assassination if you doubt me. He lied about the assassination from the moment King's body hit the ground. You know how you can tell Jesse Jackson is lying? His lips are moving. 

It's a true flaw of our country's media that when people sow division and advocacy based on entirely on race or sex -- and then stories like this are proven false -- the media members who profited off of them are allowed to continue to work. Indeed, they just move right on to the next controversy and parachute in again once more.  

I must have missed Jesse and Al when Jameis Winston was accused of rape. 

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that they only show up when black people are the alleged victims of white crimes. (Even though over 90% of black victims of crimes are victimized by other black people.) Jackson and Sharpton are two-bit race hustlers without a shred of moral decency. 

5. The PC bro interviews and protests on campus were too perfect. 

The PC bros should have been watching this documentary realizing that they are the modern day versions of these people protesting and being interviewed -- social justice warriors who make decisions on individual cases based on what they think the world is like as opposed to what actually happened.

Yet if the exact same situation as at Duke Lacrosse suddenly emerged today, these PC bros would have the exact same reactions. 

In fact, it would be even worse today.

They've learned nothing.  

6. Alleged "victim" Crystal Mangum picking out the "rapists" on the line up reminded me of Brendan Dassey's confession.

"100% certain," she said, as images of the players -- and only the players! -- rotated through her lineup. 

This is why believing anyone based on their sex, race, religion or ethnicity is unacceptable in America today. I am going to fight the PC bros with everything I've got over the idea of "victim shaming" and "victim blaming." IT DOESN'T EXIST: THAT'S CALLED INVESTIGATING.

Did Atticus Finch victim shame or victim blame Mayella Ewell in "To Kill a Mockingbird?" Or did he question her about a rape that really didn't happen? The point of an adversarial legal system is to uncover truth. If you coddle alleged crime victims you allow unchecked and fantastic lies to spread.

This accuser was crazy. Just like the "accuser" in the Rolling Stone University of Virginia gang rape story and in the Peyton Manning case. The media is doing a disservice to the public by not reporting on crazy accusers. All that ensures is that when these cases eventually implode -- and most of the time they do -- it makes it more difficult for actual accusers to be believed.


Supporting someone because they are the same race or sex as you is, wait for it, the very definition of sexism and racism. It's just as unfair as actual sexism and actual racism because in both cases you are making a decision based on that person's sex and race. It's high time people start to realize this. 

By the way, this crazy ass woman is now in jail for murder! She murdered her ex-boyfriend! And this was the woman that the PC bros and their allies in the media support without wavering in the least.  

7. The difference between good lawyers and bad lawyers is massive.

Lawyers know this, but I think the general public doesn't. The Duke Lacrosse players had access and resources to hire top attorneys, but how many people are in jail right now because they couldn't afford great attorneys? This is why I don't support the death penalty. I've worked in the criminal justice system, I know it's flawed.

It's also why the biggest story in the modern criminal justice system isn't about race, it's about class. If you're rich you have great representation regardless of what color you are, if you're poor you frequently don't.

Justice isn't about white or black in this country, it's about green.

It took hundreds of hours of legal investigation -- and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills -- to put together this timeline and destroy this case. But how many alleged victims could afford this level of representation? Hardly any. 

Also, what happens without cell phones? What if this case was in 1996? How would the players have been able to provide a timeline proving that it was impossible for them to sexually assault anyone? Even with great lawyers, the technology was invaluable. 

8. Ruth Sheehan, a local columnist, said she believed the victim because she was a victim.

After saying that the Duke Lacrosse players were guilty in a column, she later apologized for this position.

Honest journalistic question: should sexual assault victims actually be covering cases like these? They wouldn't be able to sit on a jury based on their past histories because the court would be concerned that they would be biased in favor of the alleged victims. I don't even blame them for being biased in favor of victims, it would be impossible not to see yourself reflected in the victims. 

It's a tricky question, but when your entire job is to be unbiased -- as a reporter covering a case -- or be open to multiple opinions as a columnist writing about a case -- does your past personal history make it too difficult for you to question an accuser's story? Basically, if you couldn't sit on a jury because of the perception of bias, why should you be able to cover a case for millions of people?

9. Mike Nifong belongs in Manitowoc County practicing law with Ken Kratz.

"Yeah," he said, when someone questioned the way he was handling the case, "but it's worth over a million bucks in advertising."

Did he really do all of this to win election as a district attorney in a tiny town? That job pays like $100k a year. His actions cost Duke over a hundred million dollars. I'm in disbelief that a prosecutor could throw his career away over a case like this. I just find everything about his actions to be beyond stunning. Of all the people in this case, his actions are the least comprehensible to me. 

He's since been disbarred and the lawsuits have bankrupted him, but how did he only serve one day in jail?

And what the hell was he thinking during this case? Were his motivations really all based on winning the election?

10. My favorite line in the documentary came from the old Southern attorney as the DNA expert lawyer cross examined the DNA expert: "He just ate Meehan alive."

All we needed at the end was a bless his heart and this was the ultimate old Southern lawyer mic drop. 

And how about this attorney learning DNA by buying a book from Amazon and locking himself in a conference room? I want to tell this dude's story, he really was the hero of the case.

Can we get him on the Outkick show? One of you reading this right now has to know him.

By the way, the reason the accused players didn't appear on the documentary? Because they each reportedly received $20 million from Duke. My guess is they signed nondisclusure agreements as part of their settlements. 

The Outkick Show airs in an hour and a half, gear up.