March 25, 2007 is the first anniversary of the false, inflammatory and deliberately malicious story The Raleigh News & Observer headlined across five columns on page one above the fold:
Dancer gives details of ordeal
A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violenceOn March 24, as the N&O prepared its story of the night of “sexual violence,” Durham DA Mike Nifong and certain police officers helping him frame a case against Duke lacrosse players faced a major problem: there was overwhelming evidence that the charges made to support the “sexual violence” claim were false and the players innocent.
A reasonably fair, honest and accurate news report the next day by the N&O, the largest and most influential news organization in the Duke/Durham area, would expose the shallowness of “the case” Nifong and his helpers had tried to put together.
Yes, the public would wait for the results of DNA testing that Nifong’s old friend and mentor, Judge Ron Stephens, had ordered all 46 white members of the lacrosse team to submit to.
But with a fair, honest and reasonably accurate news story before them on March 25, the public would immediately begin asking why, almost two weeks after the “sexual violence” was alleged to have occurred, there were no descriptions of the woman’s attackers other than “Duke lacrosse players?” And why were there no computer generated composite face-images of the woman’s three attackers?
Detailed descriptions of alleged rapists are routinely reported by the N&O and composite face-images published.
In this case the accuser, whom the N&O told readers was “the victim,” had ample opportunity to view her attackers if you believed her story.
So why were there no descriptions and no face-images?
Reasonable citizens would be especially likely to ask those questions if the N&O itself reported on them. But it didn’t. In fact, the N&O didn’t even mention the absence of any attacker ID information other than “Duke lacrosse players.”
Instead of reporting on such important questions, the N&O, for reasons it’s never disclosed, told the public and the rest of media a story it knew was substantially false.
The N&O published on March 25, 2006, a racially charged story from which it withheld critically important information and reported what it knew was false information about a young black woman who’d been brutally beaten, gang-raped, robbed and strangled over a thirty minute period by three white Duke lacrosse players; after which the white gang-rapists’ white teammates covered up for them by refusing to tell police who they were.
To appreciate how necessary to the subsequent frame-up and how deliberately malicious the N&O’s March 25 story was, bear in mind the following:
The N&O knew on March 24 of the extensive cooperation the players had provided police. But it chose to make no mention of their cooperation in its story.
Instead, the N&O promulgated what it knew was a false “wall of solidarity” claim that within a few days gave rise to the Durham CrimeStoppers “Wanted” poster and the “Vigilante” poster which, alone among major North Carolina newspapers, the N&O would publish in large photo form.
On March 24 the N&O knew the players had asserted their innocence, but it decided to make no mention of that in its story.
False accuser Crystal Mangum told the N&O during an interview who the second dancer was and made accusations about her.
The N&O withheld that critically important news from the public and the rest of media. To this day, it won’t say what Mangum accused Roberts of.
It’s hard to understand why the N&O remains silent now on what Mangum told them last March about Roberts, other than it’s in the N&O self-interest to continue to hide that important news, much as it was in Nixon’s self-interest to hide the contents of certain Watergate tapes.
For more than 30 years I’ve had a very low opinion of the N&O’s honesty and accuracy where news stories concerning social and political issues are concerned.
But I still find it hard to understand why last March N&O reporters and editors decided to say nothing about the critically important charges Mangum leveled at Roberts during the interview.
If the N&O had reported Mangum’s charges as well as her inability to ID her attackers and the players’ extraordinary cooperation, would Nifong and his helpers have gone as far as they did with the frame-up?
Would we have had the witch hunt?
The massive injustices?
Would the players have been directly endangered and the rest of us who live in the Duke/Durham area placed at greater risk as unintended victims of unstable people and hate groups such as the New Black Panthers who came to Duke and Durham?
I think about those questions and others every time I read the N&O’s fraudulent March 25 story:
Dancer gives details of ordeal
A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence