"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
During his live blogging of the Nifong ethics trial, KC Johnson has called attention to statements and questions from Nifong's defense team which continue the vicious sliming of the lacrosse players as racists which began last March.
If you're asking yourselves how Nifong could get away with bringing up the race issue last March, and why so many people still believe the slime about the players being racists, consider how the players were framed in the public's mind even before Nifong began to speak publicly about them on March 27, 2006.
On March 25, the Raleigh News & Observer headlined on page one, above the fold:
Dancer gives details of ordealRight there in the headlines, without any qualifying quotes to suggest the N&O had doubts, readers were told the story concerned "a night of racial slurs."
A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
Reporters Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe’s story began:
The woman who says she was raped last week by three members of the Duke University lacrosse team thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party, she said Friday. But when she arrived that night, she found herself surrounded by more than 40.So N&O readers who were expecting to learn about "a night of racial slurs" weren't disappointed. They were given the N&O's racist hype which later proved to be a fraud right up front in the story's second paragraph; and followed in the third with the emotional: "We were so scared."
Just moments after she and another exotic dancer started to perform, she said, men in the house started barking racial slurs. The two women, both black, stopped dancing.
"We started to cry," she said. "We were so scared."
The N&O's Mar. 25 story went national. By the evening of the 25th it had been picked up by the networks and was ready for publication in newspapers all over America.
When a few skeptics asked the N&O who, besides the woman it kept saying was "the victim," had confirmed that "racial slurs" were barked "by men in the house" before "the victim" started dancing, the N&O said it had used "a police report" to confirm what "the victim" reported.
N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill also told readers the N&O has extremely high “standards of verification;” and that the N&O often gets beat on a story because it won't put out a news story until it's sure it has the story right.
The Raleigh N&O's falsehoods about the players and racist remarks were made to order for Nifong as he fought a close Democratic Party nomination fight in which racial issues could be decisive.
All Nifong had to do was embrace the N&O's falsehoods and say, in effect, "I believe!"
We can be sure the N&O was the first news organization to peddle the lacrosse players as racists libel.
But we can't be sure why the N&O did it. We can't even be sure what "police report," if any, the N&O used.
Editor Sill has never identified the “police report” the N&O felt met its “standards of verification.” Nor have any of the other N&O editors and reporters who've worked on its Duke Hoax coverage.
I'm glad Nifong is finally being held to account for his Duke Hoax actions. But others should be held to account, too.
And high up on the "held accountable" list with Sgt. Gottlieb, Inv. Himan, Cpl. Addison, President Brodhead, the Group of 88 and others should be the Raleigh N&O.
The N&O belongs high on the list not just for all it did to create the witch hunt and attempted frame-up, but for all it did to sustain them for thirteen months while it withheld the exculpatory news that on March 23 the accuser had told the N&O the second dancer was also sexually assaulted but couldn't report it for fear of losing her job; and that the second dancer "would do anything for money."
You can read the N&O's entire deliberately fraudulent, error-filled and racially inflammatory March 25 framing story here.