Although this may be obvious, I wanted to underscore the fact that the Uptown paper of record has officially broken free of The New York Times with regard to the Duke lacrosse case.

After initially, and mistakenly, following the Times’ lead in covering and spinning this tale, we’ve now reached the point where the CO today calls for an investigation of DA Mike Nifong the same day the NYT runs yet another sprawling attempt to defend Nifong’s case on the paper’s “news” pages.

As K.C. Johnson at the go-to Durham-in-Wonderland blog notes, the Times is among the last of Nifong’s enablers, crafting stories that rely on Nifong’s allies as unnamed sources. I’ve given up trying to figure out why the Times thinks this is a good idea, let alone good journalism, and just consider it another spade turned for the waiting grave of the Gray Lady.

There is still hope, however, for the Observer were it to continue down this path of banishing liberal cant and pack journalism from basic editorial decisions. If nothing else, whatever the Times does, do the opposite.