The New York Post has a steaming hot take on the 'witch hunt' against U of M football

Tracey Claeys would still have a job if it were up to some person writing in the New York Post.

Tracey Claeys would still have a job if it were up to some person writing in the New York Post. Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Here's how you get two versions of recent history.

On New Year's Day, Jillian Kay Melchior published a column in the New York Post, a tabloid known for snappy headlines and horrid little stories pecked out by the beaks and claws of vultures.

Melchior's column deals ostensibly with the University of Minnesota gang rape case, which wound up with 10 football players suspended for the school's Holiday Bowl game and indefinitely thereafter.

If this is the first (or only) piece of media coverage readers come across, they will be convinced that a serious injustice has occurred -- and the victims are the players and their heroic coach. 

Melchior is coming to the defense of Gopher football coach Tracy Claeys, whose head is still positioned on the chopping block after the team's 9-4 season, capped off by a 17-12 bowl game win over Washington State. The writer notes with disdain that a petition calling for Claeys' ouster has received more than 3,000 signatures online. The signers fault Claeys for embracing the short-lived "boycott" the team staged in defense of their 10 suspended "brothers." 

They dropped that protest upon the release of the University report that inspired those suspensions. Melchior claims to have read the same investigation, and she, for one, remains unmoved.

In her words, Claeys is pretty much the Atticus Finch of college football, guilty of nothing more than "dar[ing] to stand up for 10 black players’ legal rights." 

This sure is a weird sounding dog whistle, especially from this source. Your updated New York Post empathy equation should read as follows:

White athlete > black athlete > white guy > white woman (non-sexual assault victim) > black man > black woman > Mexican American > Muslim American > Any of the Obamas > sexual assault victim >  Trump sexual assault victim

Melchior continues: 

Such is today’s campus witch-hunt culture.
Coach Tracy Claeys committed the heresy of questioning whether UMinn’s Title IX adjudication denied his players due process, and supposedly enlightened liberal activists now want him charred at the stake for it.

Yeah... or just, like, fired. Relieved from a high-paying job at "UMinn," an institution that has lately just asked most of its high-profile sports squads to please stay away from scandal.

Melchior alludes to the existence of a lengthy report about the woman's allegations from that night, but does not link to that investigation. Don't worry, readers, she's done the digging for you, and will highlight the half-handful of passages that suggest maybe nothing bad happened. Melchior does, however, find an opportunity to link to previous New York Post coverage about what Melchior calls a "pervy sexual encounter."

Melchior writes that "part of the sexual encounter was taped" and that Minneapolis cops found the woman "lucid" and "alert" on that video. Melchior conveniently elides that the "part" of the encounter on that tape is about a minute long, and comes from the beginning of the encounter -- before several other players invited themselves to join the act.

That "part" is detailed extensively in the EEOA report, with page after page of the woman's memory from the encounter, and Melchior leaves every bit of that out, and instead quotes her saying she is "not really sure" what happened, and that she would "feel bad for the men if she told the police." 

This is cherry-picking at its most obtuse. Melchior quotes a few phrases that cast doubt on the victim's story, and assures readers these are enough to build a little dam against the flow of tens of thousands of words that would make their skin crawl. Instead they're left to ponder how people got so upset about what this cool New York Post chick writes off as a "pervy sexual encounter."

Melchior's real enemy here is Title IX, and the way it purportedly favors rape victims in school investigations. The burden of proof ("more likely than not") is much lower than that of a criminal trial ("beyond a reasonable doubt"), and Melchior thinks that's unfair to accused rapists. As she writes, students have been punished more harshly for "far milder" cases than the one involving U of M football players. Maybe she should've written about one of them.

She closes:

Coach Claeys’ stand against this injudicious Title IX system took courage. The University of Minnesota would do well to show similar grit and guts. Administrators could start by announcing the coach will keep his job.

Yes, if only U of M president Eric Kaler would read Melchior's steaming hot take, he'd sign Claeys to a lifetime contract. Instead, as the week began, rumor had it the U was taking a long look at Western Michigan University coach P.J. Fleck to succeed Claeys.

If Fleck does get the job, he would "do well" to show the "grit and guts" it takes to read in full the report that got 10 Gophers players suspended. And to skip the January 1 edition of the New York Post.