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The Duke University Rape Case: What To Do When White Boys Misbehave

Reported by Marie Therese - April 19, 2006

As everyone knows by now, three white Duke University lacrosse players are in trouble with the law. Two of them - Collin Finnerty of Garden City, New York and Reade Seligmann of Essex Fells, New Jersey - have already been arrested on charges of raping and kidnapping a black exotic dancer during a team party. A third student is still under investigation. For a week, the gaggle of mostly rich white guys employed by FOX News have been smearing the woman's reputation and jumping to the defense of the white students claiming that District Attorney Michael Nifong has "rushed to judgment" because he wants to be re-elected. I did not ever intend to report on this story, primarily because it is a legal case and getting more than enough coverage everywhere else.

However, this morning, FOX & Friends First co-host Mike Jerrick, in a discussion of one aspect of this story, infuriated me. For over a week, every FOX newscaster and legal commentator has bent over backwards to give the Duke lacrosse team and the alleged perpetrators the benefit of the doubt, all the while digging up every piece of dirt possible on their female, African-American accuser.

In stark contrast to this, one recalls the FOX News coverage of Hurricane Katrina, when Cavuto, Gibson, O'Reilly, Hannity et al agitated for prosecution of the black "thugs" and "criminals" who were "raping" and "murdering" innocents in New Orleans - stories which turned out to be largely unfounded. I have yet to hear one of the godlike pundits apologize for getting it wrong or for their racist, overheated rhetoric in a time when people died as the result of massive government incompetence. (Shepard Smith, who was actually in New Orleans, did not go along with the crowd, much to his credit.)

On April 5th, the New York Times reported this:

He [Finnerty] and two of his teammates from high school lacrosse were arrested on Nov. 5 in Washington. At 2:30 a.m. that day, Jeffrey O. Bloxgom told the police that the men had ''punched him in the face and body, because he told them to stop calling him gay and other derogatory names,'' according to records at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Bloxgom also said that the three men ''without provocation had attacked him, busting his lip and bruising his chin.'' He was treated for minor injuries.

Finnerty has entered a diversion program, and the simple assault charge against him will be dismissed upon completion of 25 hours community service, said his lawyer for that case, Steven J. McCool.

Under the diversion program in Washington, the charges are dropped if the defendant completes community service there and stays out of trouble, said O. Benton Curtis III, an assistant United States attorney assigned to Finnerty's case.

McCool said Finnerty did not use any slurs during the confrontation. Requests through McCool to interview Finnerty were denied.

''This assault was a minor scuffle and in no way related to any inappropriate comment,'' he said. ''If this was anything more than a minor assault, the U.S. attorney would have brought appropriate charges.''

This information was available 14 days ago! However, FOX News chose to ignore it, preferring instead to build up suspicion and doubt about the prosecutor (a Democrat) and the victim.

This morning the FOX & Friends team finally backed down and broke the bad news that one of the white boys had misbehaved prior to this incident.

STEVE DOOCY: Let's talk a little bit about the Duke rape investigation. [Photos of both suspects appear on screen complete with their former high schools and their sports stats] Yesterday, two young men, both 20 years of age - they have (sic) Reade Seligmann, 20 years old, from Essex Fells, New Jersey, a beautiful neighborhood not far from where I live, and then you've got Collin Finnerty, 20, from Garden City, Long Island. Both were charged. Now, here's one thing. Seligmann, the kid on the right, apparently - according to his defense people and people in the know - they say that during the alleged rape, he wasn't there and they've got all sorts of - they've got a trail of evidence. They've got some witnesses. They've got cell phone and credit card records.

MIKE JERRICK: Yeah.

DOOCY: ... and apparently, he was identified by the woman from a photograph.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Right.

DOOCY: Said there was no random lineup as is usually the case. There were a bunch of pictures and she said "Absolutely! That's him."

JERRICK: Yeah.

DOOCY: But, of course, photographic evidence - er - pickin' him out of a picture - can be problematic.

JERRICK: Once you name names, all sorts of other information comes out.

(With the following words Jerrick acted as if he was imparting BRAND NEW information, never telling his audience that the facts had been in the public domain for 15 days!)

JERRICK: The other kid, Collin Finnerty, who I think now has turned 20, he apparently on November the 5th in Washington was with a couple of buddies and they ran into a guy by the name of Jeffrey Bloxgom [Jerrick pronounced the name "block-scum"] and apparently ...

DOOCY: Um-hmm.

JERRICK: ... were yelling some slurs at him - gay slurs, this time. Some gay bashing was going on and a confrontation - a scuffle - ensued and he was charged in that case, charged ...

DOOCY: Simple assault.

JERRICK: Simple assault. And had to give 25 hours of community service and his attorney believes that charge will be dropped once the community service is completed.

Now, here are the words that made me see red!

JERRICK: So a little bit of a run in with the law before.

CAMEROTA: And some of the things that investigators are relying upon is physical evidence left behind at the scene of this party, this alleged rape and some of things that were left behind that they have since found - a white high heel from the dancer - stripper.

DOOCY: Um-hmm.

JERRICK: Right.

CAMEROTA: Red - some of her red fake fingernails were left on the floor, some cash that she said she left behind, her cell phone, her I. D., her purse - all these things suggest that she had to leave in a hurry.

Jerrick: And, what - didn't they - they didn't go back in and look for those things for a couple of days.

CAMEROTA: Yes. A couple of days.

JERRICK: Right? And a couple of those items were still there.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

Doocy then asked the F&F viewers to choose which of three stories they'd like to see covered "in depth" during the second segment of the show. The choices were "Rumsfeld Under Fire," "Duke Arrests" and "Tom & Katie's Baby." At the mention of the Duke situation, Mike Jerrick said "I really hope they don't go for that one. I just don't like talkin' about this story." Alisyn Camerota asked him why and he answered: "Just nothin' good happened in that house ..."

COMMENT

So let me get this straight. When it's upscale white boys who are in trouble, they must be given the benefit of the doubt. Gay-bashing becomes "a little bit of a run in with the law." And finicky, fussy people like Mike Jerrick just find it too distressing even to talk about the details of the case.

But, when it's poor blacks caught in a stinking swamp of sewage and salt water, FOX News felt just fine about reporting ad nauseam the latest hysterical gossip or rumor as if it was gospel.

In light of their "guilty until proven innocent" approach to reporting on cases like this, why is FOX News being so deferential and considerate of the perpetrators?

Could it be that one or more of the rich white daddies of the Duke University lacrosse team are big-time pooh-bahs in the Republican Party? Or maybe one of them is on friendly terms with a FOX News big-wig?

On January 4, 2004 Duke announced the names of the 2008 lacrosse team, as follows:

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke head men's lacrosse coach Mike Pressler announced on Wednesday its Class of 2008.

The 14-member class includes Bo Carrington of Charlottesville, Va., Josh Coveleski of Dover, Del., Colin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., Zack Greer of Whitby, Ontario, Canada, Andrew Hanover of Camillus, N.Y., Ben Koesterer of Cazenovia, N.Y., Chris Loftus of Syosset, N.Y., Kevin Mayer of Great Falls, Va., Ryan McFadyen of Mendham, N.J., Brad Ross of Darnestown, Md., Reade Seligmann of Essex Falls (sic), N.J. , Rob Schroeder of Summit, N.J., Rob Wellington of Dallas, Texas and Michael Young of Manhasset, N.Y. (Source: TheACC.com)

By the way, in the "you Choose the News" segment, FOX viewers voted to hear more about "Rumsfeld Under Fire."

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