(This is another in a series of posts highlighting Durham Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley’s work.)
Bob ("Paxton Owner Man") Ashley edits the H-S on both the news and editorial sides.
Today the H-S’s lead editorial is headlined
“What’s going on? I thought Nifong was just targeting the lacrosse players.But the H-S did nothing last year to try to stop Nifong and Durham police from framing the players.
Bob Ashley didn’t say anything about Nifong going after the whole city. Will the H-S tell Nifong to stop that?”
On the contrary, Ashley and the H-S egged them on.
H-S editorials repeatedly told readers the attempted frame-up was a legitimate. They praised what Nifong and the police were doing.
The H-S went out of its way to slime the players.
Its editorials were manna for Duke's now disgraced faculty Group of 88 and Nifong's campaign team.
As late as last November, by which time anyone who cared to know knew “the Duke lacrosse case” was a monumental travesty, the H-S stood with Nifong and endorsed his scheme to put three innocent young men on trial.
In its Nov. 9, 2006, post-election editorial the H-S said:
It can be argued credibly, and Nifong has admitted, that the case hasn't been handled flawlessly. But a court of law is the best place to weigh the merits of the case, whether a judge is evaluating it on procedural grounds or whether a jury winds up assessing the evidence on its way to a verdict. That is how our system resolves difficult questions such as those in this case.How about that? Can you believe it?
Furthermore, with an upcoming trial that is sure to draw major media attention, it would be better for the players to have an opportunity to prove their innocence at trial.
If Nifong were to dismiss the case now, the suspicion would linger that influence and money played a role.
Last November, nine months after the NC State Bar opened an ethics violation file that would lead in time to a trial and Nifong’s disbarment, the H-S could only bring itself to concede Nifong hadn’t handled the case “flawlessly.”
And what about Ashley’s telling the players, their families and Durham's citizens that “it would be better for the players to have an opportunity to prove their innocence at trial?”
That’s typical Ashley arrogance and a “spit in the eye” of America’s justice system, founded on the presumption of the innocence of the accused with the prosecutor bearing the burden of proof.
When you read today’s Ashley/H-S City next target in lacrosse case editorial, please keep in mind all that Ashley and the H-S did to enable and sustain the attempted frame-up and the on-going cover-up of it.
Keep especially in mind that last November the H-S said it was concerned that if David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann weren’t put on trial, suspicions might linger that “influence and money” played a role in that.
Now, as you read today's editorial, you’ll see Ashley and his editors are very upset.
The H-S didn't come right out and say it, but Ashley and his editors know possible civil suits against Durham City will almost certainly reveal how powerful influences in Durham and the enormous financial resources of the state were used to violate police procedures and abuse the legal system.
And they know Durham's public may now see what was done to frame three innocent Duke students while the H-S looked with approval.
So is it any wonder Bob Ashley and the H-S are so upset today?