Sunday, May 27, 2007

INNOCENT: N&O Lax Cover-up - 5/27/07

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
From Merriam-Webster Online: cover-up -- a device or stratagem for masking or concealing.

The Raleigh News & Observer continues to work hard to cover-up its role in launching and sustaining the public witch hunt and framing of the white Duke students on the school’s 2006 Men’s lacrosse team.

In today’s N&O reporter Ben Niolet’s story ( "Lacrosse case leaving marks in court" ) begins:

The judicial system has a hangover. Call it the Mike Nifong effect.

In North Carolina and across the country, prosecutors with upright reputations are having to make assurances that they don't break the rules. Judges and lawyers have taken to using Nifong's name and the outcome of the sexual assault case against Duke University lacrosse case players as a shorthand for all manner of prosecutorial outrages. The case has made it harder for prosecutors nationwide to get funding or laws changed. …
I don’t doubt that all true.

But in the middle of Niolet’s story, he says:
Nifong led the charge against the lacrosse players. He denounced them to the news media while trying to build a case in spite of nonexistent and contrary evidence. …
And that’s not true, as Niolet and his editors know.

Nifong didn’t begin speaking publicly about the case until March 27, 2006.

The charge against the lacrosse players was led by The Raleigh News & Observer when it “broke the Duke lacrosse story” with a March 24 story in which the N&O seven times called the accuser “the victim” or referred to her with the possessive “the victim’s.”

Thus, in the first Duke lacrosse story the public read, the N&O repeatedly told readers the accuser was the victim thereby framing the lacrosse players as her vicitmizers.

On March 25 the N&O ran on page one, above the fold, with five column wide headlines the “anonymous interview” story:

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
That story presented the lacrosse players as a gang of drunken racists among whom were three rapists and their teammates who were covering up for them.

The N&O’s March 25 story sent "the Duke lacrosse story" national and international.

By March 26 thousands of news outlets were reporting the N&O’s story about about a night that ended in “sexual violence.” Many millions of Americans were convniced “the frightened young black mother” had been brutally raped by three privileged white guys whose teammates had formed “a wall of silence” to protect them.

The N&O’s charge against the Duke students was so savage and effective that when N&O news columnist Ruth Sheehan began her March 27 column, "Teams' Silence is Sickening" , with,
Members of the Duke men's lacrosse team,

You know. We know you know.

Whatever happened in the bathroom at the stripper party gone terribly terribly bad, you know who was involved. Every one of you does.

And one of you needs to come forward and tell the police.

Do not be afraid of retribution on the team
most people, including many at Duke, applauded Sheehan's McCarthyite screed attacking the students for doing nothing more than following their parents' and attorneys' advice.

It was only later that day that Mike Nifong began speaking publicly about the Duke students.

I hold no brief for Nifong. He should be removed from office. What's more, his official conduct should be examined with an eye toward criminal prosecution.

But Nifong didn’t go public about the case until AFTER the N&O had poisoned the public’s mind against the players and inflamed the community.

Niolet and his editors know that.

I’ll send a copy of this post to the N&O’s public editor, Ted Vaden. He’s supposed to look out for the readers’ interest and hold the N&O to what he says are "the highest standards of ethical journalism."

I’ll invite his comment, and let him know I’ll share it with you.

I’ll also send copies of this post to N&O executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, and Niolet.

As with Vaden, I’ll let them know I’ll share with you what they say, if anything, in response.


Anonymous said...

Terrific analysis. Why do other blogs and the rest of the press gloss over the N&O's pivotal role in the early days of the Mangum rape hoax?

Anonymous said...

Absolutly John. When folk write about cover up,whitewash and conspiracy - this is it, in living color. Apparently, it is working. N#O role has been ignored by most blogs and bloggers. I would quess few of them are aware of the events leading up to Nifong going public. Sadly, even KC has given Ruthie and the N#O a pass. Keep bringing sunlight to this nightmare.

Anonymous said...

John in Carolina needs a wider audience on this aspect of the hoax case. Please consider directly posting on the N&O's crucial, early role on the Liestoppers and Durham-in-Wonderland sites. Many readers of those sites don't know about this part of the frame-up.

scott said...

The N&O's reputation is benefitting from the premise that people tend to remember the last thing they heard more than any previous ones.

In the case of many following the story, the quality of Joe Neff's reporting has overcome the previous bad acts of reporters Khanna, Blythe, and Sheehan, and multiple editors, including Sill, who took a prominent role in the early going of flame-throwing reportage. Recently, Sill indicated she still doesn't have a clue when she referred to readers critical of the N&O's coverage of the Nifong Scandal Case as "haters."

THE N&O gradually got better (unlike the Herald-Sun, which started out and stayed bad to the bone), but there is no way anyone should overlook the pivotal role the N&O played in those crucial first days in setting the stage for Nifong, the DPD, the G88, and countless other bad actors.

They had all the information they needed to write stories that would have allowed N&O readers to realize Crystal's allegation was "a crock." Instead they went PC, omitting key details, and are now trying to rewrite history by denying their role.

Anonymous said...

Scott has it exactly right. Now, who will hold the N&O and its top editors, publisher and reporters accountable? As well as McClatchy, the huge company that owns the newspaper?

Anonymous said...

Any one have the computer skills to link the artciles to DIW and LS forum? They definetely need a wider readership.

Anonymous said...

John in Carolina's commentary is now posted on the Liestoppers hoax forum. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to who ever was able to do that. I am a greedy kind of gal - can you do it DIW? You are a star.

Anonymous said...

Tony Soprano on the Liestoppers site posted this:

I sent this to the News and Observer after Evans was indicted and mailed a copy to the Editors too:

To: News and Observer Editors and staff

Where to start? Maybe the March 25th anonymous interview that portrayed the woman as a doting Mother that was new to "dancing" and apprehensive about entering the residence that night. From what we know now, dancing and stripping are extremely generous terms. Turns out she was stripping as far back as 2002. Jarriel Johnson, one of her drivers (why don't I know anyone that has two drivers?) said in an offical statement to police on April 6th, 2006 that the Poor woman would get Hotel rooms and have paying clients in. He details at least one instance where the Accuser, having this paid Hotel room, walked up and down the street and, sure enough, found an older gentlemen willing to pay to spend time with her in her paid-for Hotel room - (why let a perfectly good room go to waste, after all).

We know she provided at least 6 different versions of the events, from No forced sex at all - to being sexually assaulted by the other "dancer". Gotta love that Dancer title. Fred Aistaire, they are not!

Curiously, these two wonderful Mothers - we know that courtesy of the News and Observer - used Fake names that night and used cell phones that couldn't be traced to them, cell phones that were owned by someone else. "Dancer" number 2, turns out to be an ex-con too, wanted by the authorities with an outstanding warrant out for her arrest. To be fair though, we should call her a Mother. This Mother stole $25,000 - never spent a day in jail and didn't pay any of it back as she agreed to when she was sentenced. Well, after the N&O told us ad-nauseam about those pesky noise violations and misuse of the meal card at Duke by these terrible Lacrosse players (they call this investigative journalism), it turns out that the alleged victim told Police that Mother #2 STOLE her money that night.

Yes, Mike Nifong did take to the airwaves and accuse the LAX players of stealing the enterprising Mother's money, when, in fact, his "Victim" had told him that Felon Mother #2 stole the money. Is this why Mother #2 lied to Police on the night of the Party? She told Police her name was Nikky, and she told the Police she had picked up the woman walking nearby, and being a Mother and all, she was just doing her civic duty by dropping the woman off half-naked and drunk in the middle of the night (don't you hate when that happens?). In retrospect, if the News and Observer wasn't counting the beer bottles in the yard at the Frat house and investigating the previous Lacrosse teams that had already graduated and gone - I think there were some real opportunities here to get a story.

Police acted like they never knew who made the first 911 call - this went on for weeks, yet the first call was fraught with problems. Problems indicating that it was phony or made by the 2 wonderful Mothers that were at the Frat house late that night. The News and Observer could've broke the story, and identified the Mother that made that call. The N&O could've - using Felon-Mother #2's rap sheet - could've developed a theory that she had drugged the Primary Mother in order to steal her Money, and then investigated that possibility. They would've found that it was Felon-Mother #2 that gave the Primary Mother HER drink. They would've found that in those statements the Primary Mother fingered Felon #2 as ripping her off and stealing her money.

That would be quite a blockbuster while Nifong was parading before the National cameras saying the the woman's $400.00 was found inside the residence at 610 N. Buchanan CONSISTENT with the alleged victim's story. The N&O could've found that the documents actually showed that the police found $160.00 in a player's dresser. I would've enjoyed that story. I think that story would've drawn interest, don't you?

While the News and Observer investigated the "Culture" at Duke and it's culpability in the horrific gang-rape and beating at the hands of three men, we learned that the Primary Mother accused three other men of gang-raping and beating her and holding her against her will. Yes, the same exact charges that are before us today. The News and Observer missed out on that story though. To be fair, they were right on top of why those LAX players didn't serve jail time for those noise violations (They pride themselves on revealing corruption, you know!).

Other interesting things the RALEIGH News and Observer could've broke and reported to their customers was that one of the Primary Mother's drivers lives In RALEIGH and that he told police in offical statements that the Primary Mother liked to get Hotel Rooms in RALEIGH and Get it on - then walk up and down and recruit more customers on the streets of RALEIGH. They missed that story. But, in their defense, Ruth Sheehan did report a story on a woman in jail that had been raped by a White man about 16 years ago. Come to think of it, that doesn't have anything to do with this story. Sorry, I lost track.

Today, as we speak, there are names out there: Jarriel Johnson of Raleigh, Matthew Murchison of Durham, and Brian Taylor that we know nothing about. We'd all love to see stories that would shed light on their backgrounds, involvement, and relationship to the Primary Mother. Heck, we don't even know why she needs a Driver?

I doubt we will get those answers from the News and Observer, but I do expect stories on legal rulings that prostitutes can be raped and how women are forced into prostitution by some man someplace. Being naive, I just thought they were drawn in because it's fun to have two drivers and earn lots of tax free money.

I look forward to being educated in the future by your unbiased reporting and your no-stones-unturned investigative journalism.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

I think you've misread Vaden's charge. It is obvious that he is responsible for maintaining "pathetical," not ethical, journalism. sic semper tyrannis