Readers Note: Dennis Rogers is a news columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, the newspaper whose biased, inaccurate and inflammatory coverage of the Duke lacrosse story did so much to turn what should have been a fair, thorough police investigation into a witch hunt that's included investigative and legal travesties that have harmed innocent people and the community.
Some people believe the N&O has now ceased its outrages as the public has begun to realize "the Duke lacrosse case" is based on a hoax that certain individuals and groups have used to advance their interests and agendas.
But while the N&O has cut back on the frequency of its outrages, it still engages in them.
A very recent example is Rogers’ Aug. 12. news column in which he made a statement about the players that he and his editors had to know was false. Rogers immediately followed his false statement with an outrageous slime of the players.
I decided to write the following electronic letter to the N&O’s executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, who says news columnists “are under my watch.”
Sill has also told readers (scroll to seventh comment dated 9/21/05 at 12:32):
News section columnists are held to the same standards as news reporters in terms of ethics, news gathering and so forth. They could be fired for the same reasons reporters could be fired -- violating N&O standards in any of a variety of areas, ranging from plagiarism to professional behavior lapses.
August 14, 2006
Executive editor for news
Raleigh News & Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina
In Dennis Rogers’ Aug. 12 news column he tells readers :
The lacrosse players say, nope, they don't remember a thing. I can appreciate that, having been to college parties where the details are still hazy. Unless something happened. In that case, I clearly recall being in a Laundromat at the time in question, your honor.Rogers’ statement, “The lacrosse players say, nope, they don’t remember a thing.,” is false.
Rogers, his editors, you and I all know the statement is false.
The three indicted players have provided detailed accounts of their actions the night of March 13/14.
David Evans voluntarily provided a statement to police on Mar. 16 when he also voluntarily agreed to go to Duke Hospital to submit to rape kit testing. He also volunteered to take a police administered lie detector test. There are many witnesses ready to substantiate his detailed statement.
Reade Seligmann, through his attorney, has provided cell phone records, a time-stamped ATM receipt, a time-stamped ATM photo, a time-stamped food purchase receipt, a cab driver witness, teammate witnesses, and timed Duke dorm entry card data. That evidence, along with a statement by Seligmann, establishes a minute-by-minute account of what he was doing during the only time in which the alleged brutal gang-rape, beating, robbery and strangulation claimed by the accuser could have taken place.
Collin Finnerty’s attorneys say they have documentation and witnesses to his actions during the time in question that provide evidence as detailed and strong as that of Seligmann’s.
Other lacrosse players who were at the party have provided and signed detailed statements.
The lacrosse players have even provided, through their attorneys, numerous time-stamped photos of the party, including ones of the accuser.
However, everything the players have done to detail their actions that night didn’t stop Rogers, his editors and the N&O from making what you all knew was a false statement :
The lacrosse players say, nope, they don't remember a thing.Rogers, his editors and the N&O weren’t satisfied with making a deliberately false and malicious statement.
They went on to deliberately and maliciously slime the Duke students by insinuating they are not truthful regarding their activities during the critical time the evening of Mar. 13/14 when the alleged felony crimes would have to have occured :
I can appreciate that, having been to college parties where the details are still hazy. Unless something happened. In that case, I clearly recall being in a Laundromat at the time in question, your honor.Do Rogers and the N&O offer any evidence for their insinuation the players are lying? Of course not! N&O standards don't require any.
Melanie, at the Editor's Blog on the thread of this post you told N&O readers:
News section columnists are held to the same standards as news reporters in terms of ethics, news gathering and so forth. They could be fired for the same reasons reporters could be fired -- violating N&O standards in any of a variety of areas, ranging from plagiarism to professional behavior lapses.(bold added)As a regular N&O reader who’s followed closely your Duke lacrosse coverage, I don’t question that Rogers’ false statement and sliming meet N&O standards.
Nevertheless, I think the N&O owes its readers a correction and explanation for what Rogers, his editors and the N&O did.
Also, as a matter of minimal decency the Duke students are owed the correction and explanation as well as an apology for Rogers’ column and so much else the N&O has done to harm their lives.
Finally, Melanie, I want to make a suggestion. Raise the N&O’s standards for reporters, news columnists and editors, including you. At present, your standards are disgracefully low as Dennis Rogers’ column demonstrates.
cc: Dennis Rogers
Ted Vaden, public editor