VELSHI: Now campus reaction to the Duke University rape investigation has been mixed. Students, faculty, surrounding community, all of them divided over who is at fault and what should be done. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton has been digging into this topic online, and she says it’s been a busy one.
Abbi, what is it looking like?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Ali, absolutely. It’s staggering how much discussion, commentary this story is producing on local blogs, on national sports blogs, on message boards all over the place.
One local blogger is actually a Duke professor who has been blogging about this, usually blogs about political science. But his blog has all but turned over to the Duke investigation. He’s been following it. His name is Chris Lawrence. He is joining us from his home in Durham, North Carolina, via Webcam.
Chris, thanks for joining us.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, BLOG.LORDSUTCH.COM: You’re welcome.
TATTON: You’ve been calling this “Duke under siege” when you’ve been blogging about it. And just turn to the campus reaction first of all. You’ve been talking about rows of satellite trucks. How are the students dealing with all of this media attention?
LAWRENCE: I think for the first week it was kind of like [a novelty and people would] stand by and look at it. You know, it’s unusual, it’s disruptive. And I think by now, though, I think the students have really sort of almost tuned it out. I think they’ve gotten used to it. And, you know, they walk past reporters like there’s nothing much going on. So it’s kind of unusual.
But, you know, this past weekend, of course, we have had prospective students here and stuff. And they’re reacting for the first time as though they’re seeing for the first. So it’s kind of a weird mix between the regulars and the prospective students, I guess.
TATTON: And I was interested in how you’ve been dealing with it on your blog. You’ve actually posted a warning to people about people posting comments in the comments section to keep it to some standards. How has that come about?
LAWRENCE: Well, there was one person who I—you know, I don’t know who it was exactly, who posted the name of the accuser that he had found out from a news search based on the account of her 2002 arrest. And so I had to remove that comment and—or, remove the name from the comment, and post the notice that that was something I wasn’t willing to put up with [exposing the] accusers or the alleged attackers at this point to any sort of public ridicule.
TATTON: Ali, I know you have a lot of questions from the audience over there.
VELSHI: This is incredibly energetic, this conversation. The response is now part of that is because so many of our students are—so many of our audience members are students. Can I ask—you said you had a question. Stand up and tell us what is, where you are from and what your question is.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Megan (ph) from Colorado. I was wondering if the case has hurt the amount of incoming freshmen to the school.
LAWRENCE: I know that [the university has sent out letters,] you know, letters of acceptance to people. I don’t know what the specific rate is of acceptance or anything like that. I mean, you know, the scuttlebutt is that it hasn’t had that much effect except perhaps on the lacrosse program.
I know that there has been some students who had promised to come to the lacrosse team that have since had been released from that obligation. But I don’t know how it’s been running as far as the general student body.
VELSHI: Chris, you know, we were just talking to Jason Carroll about how he covers this knowing all the passions that surround this case. You’re not a journalist. Do you come into it with some knowledge of all those passions around the case? And are you careful about how you represent it? Or do you have a position on this?
LAWRENCE: Well, you know, I guess, you know, yes, I guess I’m not formally a journalist or anything like that, you know, worked for my college paper. But that was a long time ago. But, I mean, I think that, you know, both the professional journalists and the bloggers that are interested in this case on both sides really want to find out the truth here and realize that—you know, I mean, as bloggers we’re probably a little bit less objective as perhaps journalists are trained to be or, you know, as…
VELSHI: Well, let’s bring Jason in. Let’s bring Jason in. Jason, talk to Chris about that. You know, one of the things about this case is you do a lot of complicated cases, but this one is really tricky because you’ve got to get your information from right there and the sources all have different things to say.
CARROLL: True. And basically, what you have to do with regards to that is just follow the facts and stick to the facts and just do the best you can to keep your personal opinions and thoughts out of the process.
I do want to bring up one point that Professor Lawrence made about some of the students and the students taking it in stride. And I wanted to ask him about this because I think some of the students at Duke have been very gracious, as well as at NCCU, North Carolina Central University, the university that the young woman attends.
But I’ve also run across a lot of anger, too, from both universities, especially at Duke, some riding by on their bikes saying, hey, go home, it’s time to go home now. It’s over. Get out of here. So I have run across some of that. And I’m just wondering what sort of frustration he’s experienced on the part of students there.
LAWRENCE: Well, I mean, certainly there’s that element. I think there’s a lot of students that at this time in the semester, they have final exams in a week-and-a-half or two weeks, and they’re senior, they’re trying to get their graduation arrangements in order, and all of these things that are really—and this is just one more thing that they don’t really need to worry about.
And so they kind of feel like it’s a distraction from what they’re trying to—what their [daily business] and so, you know, I think there’s kind of an undercurrent of that, particularly this week since the DNA evidence came out. There’s been a lot of [that like] you said.
As you were saying in the previous segment, you know, it’s like—you know, perhaps it should be over. And a lot of questions are, well, why isn’t it over…
VELSHI: Chris, we’ll leave it there. Abbi…
LAWRENCE: ... at least as far as the allegations?
VELSHI: Chris, thanks very much for that. Abbi, there’s just so much discussion about this. We didn’t get a chance to get to all of it, but I’m sure you’ll be covering a lot more of it in the days to come.
TATTON: Absolutely. And, Chris, thanks so much for joining us. Ali, back to you.