Pro tip for anyone trying to make sense of a scandal. If the person at the center of it starts claiming that "the media" are persecuting them, it's usually (though not always) a solid bet that they are patently full of shit. It's the equivalent of shooting the messenger and then claiming self-defense.
I'll leave you to decide what you make of the remarks by James Moeser, who was the chancellor of the University of North Carolina from 2000 to 2008, reported in Chapel Hill Magazine:
I think [the media] has really put a target on the university, and they’ve treated The Carolina Way in a very cynical fashion, trashing it, really, and indicating The Carolina Way was always just a fiction, a façade we put in front of misbehavior. I really resent that. I think The Carolina Way is genuine, I think it’s real. I’m really angry about the [media]. I think they target people, and they take pleasure in bringing people down. I think their real goal here was to remove banners from the Smith Center. The fact is The Carolina Way goes back to Dean Smith, the idea of achieving excellence while maintaining the highest levels of ethics, fair play and playing within the rules. [They have] tried to tarnish something that is quite noble in its concept. It also does a great disservice to Eve Carson, who talked about The Carolina Way in terms of caring more about others than one’s self, indeed to be selfless, even sacrificial.
Now, really. If there's anyone whose apple has been polished by the media more than the likes of Dean Smith please, point 'em out. If I recall, Sports Illustrated once dubbed him Sportsman of the Year for precisely the notion that he was "achieving excellence while maintaining the highest levels of ethics, fair play and playing within the rules." Or, to quote from that 1997 cover story on Smith: "[H]is teams won, his players graduated, the rules went unbroken. But we honor him as much as anything for his conscientiousness in pulling off that trifecta." Hardly sneering stuff, and probably representative of the tone of coverage when a person's running an apparently clean, consistently successful program. In a word, it is fair. And it's glowing steady coverage of the sort that made North Carolina basketball perhaps the closest thing to America's national brand of college hoops. Media made that possible.
Likely Moeser had a different outlet in mind when he said media "take pleasure in bringing people down." I will vouch that it is true. Many reporters do enjoy taking people down. The qualifier on that is, they like taking down rogues, blackguards and sanctimonious blowhards who oversee Potemkin degree programs for athletes who never attend class and who do no schoolwork, as the News & Observer reported was the case under Moeser at UNC. If pointing out such a sham meets your definition of tarnishing something "quite noble in its concept," then you either need to reassess your concept of tarnishment or you need to apply your noble concept as noble deed. Otherwise, take your medicine — and have the horse sense not to use a murdered student as a human shield against people who tell the public about academic fraud.
Moeser Defends The Carolina Way [Chapel Hill Magazine]
Photo credit of Moeser, Smith and Bill Guthridge: AP