Monday, October 01, 2007

Idiot Ineffective Apologies

With the threat of a lawsuit by Duke lacrosse players looming, Duke president Richard Brodhead finally apologized to the team on Saturday, 18 months after three players were falsely accused of rape, and about 17 1/2 months after evidence made it clear that the three were not guilty.

Brodhead said, "First and foremost, I regret our failure to reach out to the lacrosse players and their families in this time of extraordinary peril. Given the complexities of the case, getting this communication right would never have been easy. But the fact is that we did not get it right, causing the families to feel abandoned when they most needed support. This was a mistake. I take responsibility for it, and I apologize." Brodhead also announced that to prevent another such "situation" from recurring, Duke will host a national conference of educators, lawyers and student affairs leaders to discuss how similar high-profile legal situations should be handled.

Yes, a conference should make things all better and make having a lawsuit unnecessary.

Then, John Burness, Duke's VP for public affairs and government relations, blamed the media for making the case impossible to handle from a communication perspective. Burness charged, "The media had rushed to stereotype so fast in this case, and it was a case that was a perfect story. It combined race, sex, class, privilege, the South. From my perspective trying to manage through this, the variable that made this story so powerful in the end was Duke University, which had been on a pedestal for academics. When you're on a pedestal you can only fall off."

So, it was the media's fault. The victims should sue them.

Got to hand it to Duke. They certainly have leaders who know how to take responsibility.