"... 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.I don’t doubt that all true.
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. …
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:
DANCER GIVES DETAILS OF ORDEALThat 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.
A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
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,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.
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,
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.