A New York Times story on Friday that essentially indicted and convicted a 22-year-old star football player on an alleged sexual assault charge by an anonymous accuser should have begun as follows:Read the rest here.
“We know absolutely nothing about this rumor except what six people told us anonymously about this guy who they say sexually assaulted this girl. We don’t know who she is or what she said, or really anything, but here’s HIS name and what ‘they’ say about him.”
Instead, with throat-clearing authority, the story begins with the young man’s name — Patrick J. Witt, Yale University’s former quarterback — and his announcement last fall that he was withdrawing his Rhodes scholarship application so that he could play against Harvard. The game was scheduled the same day as the scholarship interview.
Next we are told that he actually had withdrawn his application for the scholarship after the Rhodes Trust had learned “through unofficial channels that a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault.” And there goes the gavel. Case closed.
But in fact, no one seems to know much of anything, and no one in an official capacity is talking. The only people advancing this devastating and sordid tale are “a half-dozen [anonymous] people with knowledge of all or part of the story.” All or part? Which part? As in, “Heard any good gossip lately?”
I read the original story from the Times when it was posted and was sufficiently appalled to email a nasty letter to the editor which said in part... "A story based entirely on anonymous sources about an unnamed woman who filed a non specific and informal complaint with no police involvement and no formal action from the university alleging sexual misconduct by a nationally known athlete is not what most people would describe as news. Rather the word "gossip" seems more appropriate. Which is why I was sorry to see the "newspaper of record" publishing a story I would expect to find on page six of the Post."
For those not from the big city, the NY Post runs a notorious gossip column on page six.