Readers Take on the Times' Lousy Coverage of the Duke "Rape" Hoax

Public Editor Barney Calame gets a chilly send-off - five letters criticizing the Times' slanted coverage of phony rape allegations against the Duke lacrosse team.

Times readers sent departing Public Editor Barney Calame off in a batch of letters in place of his Sunday Week in Review column. His successor Clark Hoyt begins his 18-month term next week. Of the ten letters printed by the Times, some wished Calame well, but six focused on the Times' overly credulous coverage of the Duke "rape" hoax

Most unusually for a Times' letters page, where criticism of the paper from the right is rare, five of the six respondents found that Calame's mildly critical defense of the Times coverage of the Duke caselast month didn't go far enough.

Reader Henry Belch wrote in: "In trying to defend The New York Times, you actually expose the serious ideological bias of the Duke rape case reporting.

"The reporter Duff Wilson focused in on 33 pages of a 1,850-page report. These 33 pages were written such that an unbiased reporter could conclude that the prosecutor had a substantial case against the Duke lacrosse players. But what about the other 1,817 pages?

"Those are the pages upon which the North Carolina attorney general and the American people concluded that the players were innocent. Why focus on 33 pages late to the investigation?

"Forgetting about the possible police bias in trying to bolster their case by way of the 33-page report, didn't the five or six different stories given by the accuser closer in time to the event cause Mr. Wilson to wonder? He should have laid out those contradictions for us all to see. That's fair reporting!"