Friday, July 27, 2007

AJR & N&O's "No Anons" Hoax

In Justice Delayed, her 8,000 word assessment of media coverage of the Duke lacrosse case, Rachel Smolkin, managing editor of the American Journalism Review, failed to mention two of the most critical actions any news organization took with regard to what we know was a vicious hoax that led to monumental injustices fueled by often false, racially inflammatory and, in some cases, deliberately fraudulent media coverage.

One of those critical actions was the Raleigh News & Observer's decision to withhold from readers and the rest of the media the very important news, exculpatory for the players, that during the N&O's interview with the hoaxer, Crystal Mangum, she claimed the second dancer had also been sexually assaulted but didn't report it for fear she'd lose her job.Also, that Mangum had said the second dancer would "do anything for money."

The N&O said nothing about that information in the "anonymous interview" story it ran March 25, 2006, on its front-page:

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
The second critical action Smolkin failed to mention was the N&O's decision to cover up for thirteen months the news it had withheld. The N&O only disclosed what it had done on April 12, 2007, the day after NC Attorney General Roy Cooper declared David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann innocent.

Surely Smolkin understands the seriousness of the N&O's decision not to disclose what Mangum actually said but instead tailor the interview so as to deceive the public and give Nifong a "case" in which he only had to explain how one dancer was raped instead of two.

Surely Smolkin also understands the seriousness of the N&O's decision to then cover up for thirteen months that it had withheld critically important and exculpatory news.

Smolkin must know how much more difficult it would have been for Nifong and his helpers to lie about two dancers being raped instead of one, especially as days before the N&O's March 25 story the second dancer, Kim Roberts, had told police no rape had occured and called Mangum's story "a crock."

On July 17 I posted on the N&O's news suppression, its cover-up and Smolkin's failure to mention either. ( "AJR article's biggest failing?" )

In that post I asked readers how Smolken, a journalist, editor and specialist in the area of journalism ethics could fail to mention the N&O deliberate withholding of exculpatory news and it's thirteen month cover-up.

Now I want to ask another question: why does Smolkin go along with the N&O's bogus claim that it didn't use anonymous sources when reporting the Duke lacrosse case?

Folks, I know you may be saying to yourselves:
"JinC has to be wrong on this one. No way the N&O would claim it didn't use anon sources on the Hoax story. The March 25 "night ending [in] sexual violence" story is based on an anonymous interview.

The N&O ran many Duke lacrosse stories using anonymous sources. Everyone knows that. There was even one story in which the N&O used so many anonymous sources it just described them all as "former classmates and neighbors, friends and family members."

Come to think of it, the N&O even published the anonymous "Vigilante" poster after Duke expressed concerns that doing so would endanger the players.

The N&O says a lot of false things, but JinC can't be right about the N&O claiming not to have used anons on the Hoax stories.

And there's no way the managing editor of the American Journalism Review would go for such a falsehood and pass it on to her readers."
Folks, I don't blame you for saying those things. But just bear with me for a few minutes.

I want to quote from a transcript I made of an audio recording of a National Press Club Newsmakers forum held at the Club on May 22. [you can purchase an audio cassette of the forum from the club by calling the archivist at 202-662-7598. Cost is $20.00 and includes postage. The Club usually ships the same day. Reference the Duke lacrosse forum on May 22]

The person speaking at the forum is N&O investigative reporter Joe Neff:
“One of the things that I think really helped our paper throughout this story is we have a really strict policy against the use of anonymous sources and we did not use a single anonymous source or unnamed source in our – uh – I think as of now we’ve written 541 articles by – with at least 19 different bylines on it and what that (Neff pauses)

It was really frustrating in the initial couple of weeks when it was so competitive and no other newspaper and no other radio or TV station felt compelled to – they were going with 'sources close to the prosecution' or 'we have learned' or 'Nightline has found out' and they would just put stuff out there.

Now some of it we knew because we were told off the record, but we won’t use it, but some of it was absolute nonsense –ah – ah – so it allowed us to get beat on some very small things, but in general by not using anonymous sources, we were really saved – ah – from putting some –ah- some bad stuff in the paper.”
(Moderator moves to another matter)
Now this from Smolkin's Justice Delayed:
[N&O executive editor for news Melanie] Sill's reporters also watched in frustration as national media vied for their sources. "It was a messy story, and the outside media coverage, especially the cable television shows, the presence of every national media outlet here, made it much harder to report," she says. "People we would normally just go interview were having press conferences, or wouldn't talk, or would only talk in a leaking situation." But top editors told the staff that quoting unnamed sources was unacceptable.
Folks, why do many journalists tell readers and listeners things that aren't true?

Why did a talented reporter like Joe Neff go up to the National Press Club and tell other journalists things he knew weren't true?

Why does a journalist such as Smolkin in a journal she edits fail to report and comment concerning the critically important and exculpatory news the N&O withheld last March 25 and its subsequent cover-up?

Why does Smolkin pass on to AJR readers as fact the N&O's bogus "no anons" claim?

There are a number of other major failings in Smolkin's Justice Delayed.

I was planning to hold off contacting her until I'd posted on them.

But I'm going to contact her now and invite her to respond.

I'll keep you posted.



Anonymous said...

FYI, Smolkin is leaving the AJR, headed for USA Today.

Anonymous said...

John - You are the only one who recognizes the damage done to the Lax case by Ruthie and the N#O.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you'd have time too do a book, John, on the North Carolina newspapers' role in fostering the frame, but someone should. Would Mr. Ham or Mr. Wilson (ex of the H-S) be willing to work with you? The Khanna-Blythe story in late March 2006 was deadly to the lacrosse players and their familiies and helped create the atmosphere for Gottlieb and Nifong to spread their lies and smears.

Anonymous said...

I do not know why folk continue to blame anyone but that lying scoundral Nifong, the N$O and its reporters and the talking heads. What a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Why? In my opinion it is a simple answer. ALL the perpetrators of the LAX/ DUKE hoax were self-serving, attention-grabbing greedy liars. The case was high drama. That sells papers. If the truth were out in the beginning, there would have been no case, no hype, no media feeding frenzy, and no attention. So-called journalism in America, whether print or TV/ radio, is no longer about truth. It is about attention and money. The liberal schools are fueling the liberal agenda, which is NOT truth ( after all the public is not competent to think for themselves) but about creating a bogus problem and offering themselves as the solution.

It is a deeply entrenched cultural problem. It IS A CULTURE war, and those who deny it will not be able to confront it or change it.

The reason this case continues to draw so much attention is that it has revealed a sorrowful cesspool of stenching values.

Why did the hoax continue? Because it sold papers.

Why does it continue today?

Because liars finish like they ran.

Still lying.

The question is, do they know it, or have they so seared their own consciences and justified their own behavior to the point that they no longer feel any remorse for selling out innocent people for their own agenda.

There are many victims in the LAX hoax. The biggest are the American public.

But hopefully, cautiously, we may be seeing some courageous, probing, relentless statesmen and stateswomen hold their feet to the fire.

The question is, do we have what it take to persevere?

Anonymous said...

Newspapers are on their way to extinction, like the Do Do bird. I think this case has only hurt them. How many people who blog have stopped buying the NYT or the WP due to their bias and unfair coverage. I know I have and I worked for the WP part time for thirty years. I can not measure the effect of boycotting a paper or newsperson, but Paula Zahn is going off the air. Hopefully, Guilfoil, Grace and Geraldo will follow. I believe many bloggers are boycotting their shows due to the Duke Lax coverage. In any event, I want this to be true.

Anonymous said...

these prople who do the reporting for these newspapers, are they from the same planet?