Stuart Taylor Jr., the liberal but brilliant legal reporter for the National Journal, described The New York Times' coverage of the Duke lacrosse rape case as "(w)orse, perhaps, than the other recent Times embarrassments." For a newspaper that carries Maureen Dowd's column, that's saying something.
As the Times' most loyal reader, this came as welcome news. I had briefly suspected the Times was engaging in fair reporting of the alleged rape case at Duke University. Taylor's article documenting the Times' massive misrepresentations restored order and coherence to my world.
The first part of the story -- the lie part -- was angrily reported in the Times. But as the accuser's story began to unravel, the Times gave only a selective account of the facts, using its famed lie-by-omission technique.
Among the many gigantic omissions from the Times' pretend-balanced article ("Files From Duke Rape Case Give Details but No Answers") is the fact that the only remaining particulars about the case that are not completely exculpatory come from a memo by Sgt. Mark Gottlieb -- written four months after the alleged incident.
Gottlieb, the lead investigator on the alleged rape case, took no contemporaneous notes when he interviewed the accuser, but rather waited for the facts to come in -- and his case to be falling apart -- to write a memo recalling her statements during that initial investigation. The statements he recalled were surprisingly favorable to the prosecution!
The only problem with his memo, besides being preposterous on its face, is that it is contradicted by the contemporaneous notes taken by other people involved in the investigation. Indeed, the only thing Gottlieb's memo was consistent with were the facts as the prosecution was then alleging them.
Of course, it was hard to keep straight what facts the prosecution was alleging. The accuser made up so many stories about the incident that the Times was forced to offer her Jayson Blair's old position.
The Times "No Answers" article gave no indication that Gottlieb's memo was written four months after the alleged rape, but rather refers to it as the policeman's "case notes," falsely suggesting the notes were taken during the investigation and not after the frame-up.
Beginning with the strongest invented evidence from Gottlieb's "case notes," the Times reported that the nurse who examined the alleged rape victim told Gottlieb that the "blunt force trauma" seen in the examination "was consistent with the sexual assault that was alleged by the victim."