ESPN has produced 30 documentaries for its 30th anniversary. Fantastic Lies is one of them.
Over 25 years before the scandal, I lived in Durham. I used Duke University’s marvelous library — the finest open stacks library I have ever used. I liked Durham. But the city was divided: town vs. gown, white vs. black. The lacrosse scandal of 2006 brought these divisions into full public view.
The scandal called forth an army of outraged liberals, all ready to condemn a bunch of jocks who had poor judgment and a love of beer and raunchy parties.
It was a battle of moral losers. Sorry, but that’s what it was: liberal journalists, liberal college administrators, a corrupt District Attorney, white jocks who liked black strippers, a corrupt cop, and Jesse Jackson.
Incredibly, Al Sharpton did not get involved. This was totally unexpected.
The journalists forgot the most fundamental principle of English common law: the assumption of innocence. In their insatiable rush to judgment as guilt-ridden whites, they condemned dozens of intelligent, athletically skilled young men who did their thinking with their little heads, as young men have done from the beginning.
Basically, it is the story of two ultra low-life’s who combined their efforts to produce a miscarriage of justice: a black whore and a white one. The white one was was the District Attorney. The black one was mentally unstable. They were a team. They almost won. If the three primary defendants’ parents had been middle class, the whores would have won.
They were all teams: journalists, cops, media hounds, leftist student protesters, administrators, outraged faculty members, defense lawyers, and players.
There was only one clear moral winner: the coach of the lacrosse team. He forfeited his career on behalf of his team, and his was a great career. He was the one adult who stood in the gap and said: “This is wrong.”
The documentary is a work of art. It begins with the liberal media. It tells the story as the liberal media told it. Then, about 20 minutes in, it begins to talk about the District Attorney. The story subtly begins to shift.
This is the story of the triumph of not-quite justice. It cost three families fortunes to defend their sons. Duke paid them a lot of money when it was all over. But it was a very close call. We don’t know how much Duke paid to the victims, but Duke sued AIG to pony up a lot of this money. AIG offered $5 million, and Duke sued for more. It was settled out of court. My guess: AIG paid more than $5 million. Duke then tossed in its deductible.