Howard Kurtz sums up the Duke case well:
We will now read 100 stories about how an obsessive prosecutor overreached in bringing the indictments in the first place, and that’s fine. But keep in mind that the Duke case was all over the network newscasts, the morning shows, the cable channels and the front pages. Newsweek put two of the defendants’ mug shots on the cover. “I’m so glad they didn’t miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape,” Nancy Grace said on Headline News.
The North Carolina AG spoke of “a tragic rush to accuse,” and he just as easily could have been talking about journalists as Mike Nifong. Commentators have been chattering about whether Nifong will be disbarred, but no one gets to disbar the media.
What made this a case of aggravated media assault is that news outlets weren’t content to focus on the three defendants. Attorney General Roy Cooper said there was a “rush to condemn a community and a state.” Remember all the “trend” stories about “pampered” and “privileged” student athletes being “out of control”? Remember how the lacrosse players’ homes were shown on TV? How the coach lost his job? How this case was depicted as being about the contrast between a white elite institution and a poor black community? All of that was built on what turned out to be lies.
Once discrepancies surfaced in the account of the accuser–who has still not been identified by the MSM, even though she’s now been exposed as a liar–some news organizations did a good job of pursuing them. But just about everyone joined in the original frenzy over race and sports. And given the media’s track record going back to Richard Jewell, I have zero confidence that this won’t happen again.
Indeed — no one gets to disbar journalists.