Monday, August 13, 2007

Responding to Comments – 8/13/07


I’m continuing a trial to see whether responding to your comments in the form below allows me to respond to more comments with the time I have.

I read all comments. If your comment isn’t specifically noted, it may be because I’ve noted recently the matter your comment deals with, the matter is too complex for a brief answer, it’s some nice words which I appreciate but don’t need to comment on, etc.

Today I’m responding to comments or parts thereof on the threads of posts from 7/24 to 7/31.

Now let’s begin. Comments are in italics; my responses are in plain ----

AJR & N&O's "No Anons" Hoax 7/27

An Anon said: “FYI, Smolkin is leaving the AJR, headed for USA Today”

I always appreciate readers who pass on information. Thanks, Anon.

American Journalism Review managing editor Rachel Smolkin should still respond to her very serious omissions and errors no matter where she goes.

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

Many individuals recognize it but very few bloggers or journalists comment on it. In time scholars and authors who look at how the Hoax was shaped and fueled will recognize the essential role the N&O played in scripting a fraud and then sustaining it as developed into a witch hunt, the frame-up and now an on-going cover-up.

Folks, I answer the next comment by breaking it into parts and answering each. You’ll know we’re at the end of the comment when you see the star line.

Don't know if you'd have time to do a book, John, on the North Carolina newspapers' role in fostering the frame, but someone should.

Someone should indeed. I doubt it will be me.

Would Mr. Ham or Mr. Wilson (ex of the H-S) be willing to work with you?

They’re top-notch journalists. I’ve admired their work for years. And I appreciate the thought they’d work with me. But a book authored by us is not "on the table." I appreciate the compliment implied in what you say.

I’m counting on the Taylor/ Johnson book to expose what the N&O did. . .

I’m looking forward to the book. Laying out all the N&O did to shape and fuel the trashing of the lacrosse team and the framing of three of its members is very important. So is explaining why the N&O withheld for thirteen months crucial information, exculpatory for the players, Crystal Mangum gave the N&O on March 24, 2006.

The Khanna-Blythe story in late March 2006 was deadly to the lacrosse players and their families and helped create the atmosphere for Gottlieb and Nifong to spread their lies and smears.

I think you’re referring to the N&O’s March 26 “anonymous interview” story about what the N&O told readers was a night that ended in “sexual violence.”

If you are, my response: Absolutely!

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

DNA expert Brian Meehan belongs on the blame list. So do many enablers. Also keep in mind we don’t yet have near the full story of what was done by whom.

My advice: Leave some space on your blame list sheet so you can add some names. There's a lot we still don't know.

ALL the perpetrators of the LAX/ DUKE hoax were self-serving, attention-grabbing greedy liars.

Be careful. If someone says something that’s false but they don’t know it’s false, what they’re saying is not a lie. A lie must be deliberate.

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.

Attention and money have always been considerations in news reporting and news distorting.

That said, in the Hoax case, the extent of the media frenzy, its maliciousness and a seeming deliberate looking away by so many from so much that was obviously exculpatory for the players are shocking.

If you had asked me on March 12, 2006 whether a few wildly improbable, self-contradictory lies in the absence of any credible evidence could lead in Durham, North Carolina to the witch hunt and massive injustices we’ve seen these last seventeen months, I’d have said, “definitely not.”

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.

You’ve got that right.

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

The Hoax should be a wake-up call for America

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

Perseverance is a key. We are in a war for American values. The Constitution says our criminal courts are places where the state has the burden of proving the accused guilty but Duke’s president said three Duke students would have a chance to prove their innocence in court. Justice is supposed to be blind to race. Others don’t want that. And on it goes.

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 hear many people say newspapers are heading that way. A number of them are journalists. Did you see the latest Pew Research results on the drop in the last 20 years in the percentage of Americans saying they have a lot/some trust in the press?

I’ll be posting on some of what Pew reported later today.

These people who do the reporting for these newspapers: are they from the same planet?

I think so, but I'm not placing a bet.

The N&O & "Bullies"

Has Sill ever apologized for the late March 2006 stories?

No. She often says she’s proud of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage.

Who would buy this paper? Or the HS? Who cares about the N$O?

A lot of people pay for the N&O. What is even worse, many of them “buy” everything that’s in its news columns.

By the way, both the H-S and the N&O are having serious circulation problems.

You have succinctly exposed what I believe is a huge "smoking gun." [The commenter’s talking about the N&O’s withholding of the exculpatory information Mangum provided on March 24, 2206 which the N&O only disclosed on April 12, 2007, the day after the AG declared the players innocent. - JinC] I will try to give you my answers to some of your excellent questions:

1. I was pursuing capitalism at the time the N&O came out with that bombshell. Thus, I did not know about it until I got back up to speed on the case. I believe it was as significant as you suggest - possibly an early death-blow to the fantastic lies.

Additionally, as you noted in your piece, most everyone interested in the Duke case were mesmerized by the AG's report, and that is what everyone wanted to talk about at the time.

2. I believe the N&O has not been as attacked (as it deserved) for such a "smoking gun" omission only because of the subsequent work of Joe Neff, and to a lesser extent, Niolet and Blythe. Also, the Herald-Sun's prejudicial coverage somewhat overshadowed the less venomous coverage of the N&O. These are lame arguments, but they are the best I can do. You are right to point out the "smoking gun" nature of that omission.

This also raises another issue I have found deeply troubling. The N&O gave the false accuser an anonymous interview during which she was allowed to:

1. Attack the players;

2. Stir sympathy for herself; and

3. Create a prejudicial atmosphere against the Duke Three.

The N&O should answer for providing this safe haven for Mangum's anonymous attacks and for, as you suggest, hiding explosive exculpatory evidence from the defense and their reading public.

You have a very good understanding of what I’m saying and what the N&O did with the “anonymous interview” story.

The difference in coverage of the lacrosse frame-up and the later actual black-on-white RAPE is very telling.

Yes. I plan to return to that in a future post.

Melanie is simply another airhead leftist (she is in no wise a liberal--a very much misunderstood and abused term) who is in a position to filter facts as she sees fit and then becomes hideously vindictive when someone questions her. N&O will never change despite a few good reporters like Neff.

Melanie and other journalists do a lot of filtering of facts. They filtered out of the N&O coverage in March and early April 2006 news of the players’ repeated and extensive cooperation with the police. The N&O filtered out any mention of Mangum’s criminal background which it knew from the beginning.

BTW - Melanie spins readers, engages in agenda-journalism, suppresses news, makes false statements and brags a lot. But I don't see her as an airhead.

Sorry, but print media isn't dead. Look at the damage done to the lacrosse players by the N&O in March of 2006, by Duff Wilson and the New York Times throughout 2006 and Paxton Media's H-S from beginning to end.

Excellent point.

The reason the N&O did such a terrible thing was to sell newspapers and make money no matter what the truth was.

I’m not sure what the N&O’s underlying motive (s) was/were for what it did.

I think this thought has been posted elsewhere, but it bears repetition:
Melanie, we know. We know you know.

Yes, it does bear repetition. You all know that. You know you know that. And Melanie knows you know that but most N&O readers don’t. So the N&O goes on and on.

Good thing for them the local competition is even worse. That's something for them to be proud of, isn't it?

Would you be surprised to know many at the N&O do take pride in being better than the H-S. That's a little like the kid who got a 20 on his spelling test and boasted he did twice as well as his friend who got a 10.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...there must be something in the water down there that prevents North Carolinians from saying, "We made a mistake, we regret it and we will try to do better next time."

That more people haven’t stepped forward is terrible. Part of the reason is a failure of leadership.

I’ll be posting soon on this matter.

I see [apologizing] as the greatest strength one can exhibit.

It is a great strength.

Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 1)

This is excellent work, John. Keep the heat turned up.

Thanks for the nice words. I will.

Ruthie is a poor writer. She knew exactly what she was doing and why. I don't believe she needed any help from Nifong to roast these guys. She should be out of a job.

My point is that since the Yeager/Pressler book was vetted by attorneys for the publisher and since the N&O has passed on numerous opportunities to deny what the book quotes Sheehan as saying about Nifong being an anonymous source for her column, etc., that we can therefore treat what Sheehan said as credible.

Sheehan has an article today on the Lacrosse house. She reveals that she and Burness had a media/source relationship active in March 2006. Another anonymous source for Sheehan?

You’re pointing at something very important that, IMO, has not received the attention it deserves.

I just read Sheehan article. I cant help to wonder, if Burness and the university had supported the 3 young men and if Sheehan had been a better reporter than the lacrosse case may have never happened.

Sheehan’s column was extraordinarily important for fueling the witch hunt and frame-up. I agree with you a good reporter would never have written the “Teams’ Silence is Sickening” column. Burness’ role around that time – March 24 through March 27 – is less clear to me.

It's amazing the way the press, the DA's office, and the University worked together to smear the lacrosse team.

I’d put it this way: It’s amazing the way much of the press, the DA’s office, certain Durham police officers, their supervisors, the DPD spokesperson and many at Duke together created a situation in which Duke students were slandered, libeled, physically endangered and in three cases falsely indicted for felony crimes.

That all took a lot of work by a lot of people.

IIRC, Sheehan promised that her "I'm Sorry" column would be her last on the Hoax/Frame. Her unfortunate renege-on-that-pledge piece in the 7/30/07 N&O alluded to by anon is here.

Poor John Burness... if only Duke had taken his wise counsel sooner! Poor Ruth Sheehan... if only folks had paid closer attention to her wisdom!

"We both sighed again."

John "apologize-for-what?" Burness and Ruth "wall-of-silence" Sheehan, the real victims of the case.

At least to those who haven't paid close attention.


I can only figure:

1. Sill was intentionally lying;

2. Sill was too lazy to ask every reporter or those who contributed to a report, then covered up; or

3. A bunch of reporters lied to Sill.

Why would anyone try to cover up something like that? Would it be because of potential civil liability? Can you ask Melanie if the N&O has received any letters threatening civil litigation?

You’re making reasonable surmises and asking important questions. The Taylor/Johnson book should speak to a lot of what your noting.

I used to put an N&O on the bottom of my parrot's cage until he started lying and omitting important details. Then, he tried to bait the dog against me.

Sorry about that. Get your parrot reading some honest blogs and I bet things will get better for all three of you.

Responding to Comments – 7/29/07

Folks, I had to shut down because of storms and that drew this comment:

My daughter was working at her Dell when a storm arose in DC. She did not shut down. Lightening hit a transformer nearby and destroyed her hard drive.

Thanks, Anon. It’s a good reminder for all of us.

Sheehan & Burness Sighed 7/30

In response to a Ruth Sheehan column in which Duke’s John Burness suggested if Duke had purchase the lacrosse party house years ago the Hoax might never have happened, a commenter picked up on my tongue-in-cheek thought that Nifong could therefore sue Duke because all his troubles flowed from the party:

"So I’m really a victim of Duke’s failure to purchase quickly enough. That’s why I’m suing Duke.”"

Oh, what a sweet ending that would be....the rats cannibalizing each other.

There would be a certain poetic justice to it.

Someone needs to get into that house, take a picture of the famous bathroom and post it where everyone can view it.

Or how about finding some floor plans of the house. They have to be somewhere close by.

Absolutely. I plan to keep pushing the matter. I sure wish MSM would, too.

A friend of mine was raised in that house. Bathroom in question can barely fit two people in it at the same time. N&O called him a long time ago for a quote and when he gave them a description of what the bathroom really looks like, the N&O didn't publish his quote. It didn't fit their purpose at that particular time in the HOAX.

The N&O has a history of picking out and reporting only what fits its storyline.

So, for example, it was presenting the potbangers as compassionate citizens concerned that a young woman had been brutally beaten and gang-rape. Therefore, the N&O didn’t tell readers the potbangers were screaming and waving a large CASTRATE banner.

Duke Hoax Questions for the N&O 7/30

And don't forget the N&O's libel of many of the lacrosse players in publishing the scurrilous poster.

I’ve heard attorneys say it is very, very hard to successfully sue a newspaper for libel, but that the N&O’s publication of the “Vigilante” poster seems to them to have the makings of a strong case.

The problem is about accountability. Left-wingers think they are above being accountable to anybody on any subject because in their own ego-centric minds, they know best for and about everybody. They want to "manage" the news around their own agenda, which they believe to be more intelligent and more relevant than that of their opponents. They cannot meet you on level playing field, because their tactics are not reason, logic, and intellectual integrity. They use ridicule and deceit to maintain their lofty positions. And when they are found out, rather than acknowledging the error of their ways, they change the subject, or attempt to discredit their opponents.

I agree with what you say as regards the left. Since people often use liberal and left interchangeably, I want to say the following: liberals in my book are as open to reason as conservatives; and they seek to work within the American system of values and procedures. The left doesn’t. It abhors America. That’s why the left embraces a Che, Castro and Chavez.

Dept. of Utter Nonsense

The latest idiocy from the UK says that Churchill will be left entirely out of public school curricula so that they may focus more on diversity, multiculturism and other such nonsense. What a stupendous fall for a once-great nation. They don't deserve Winston Churchill.

I’ve heard historians say Britain couldn’t produce a person like Churchill today.

You might enjoy this documentary on the British left during the late seventies. They have about an hour on the lefties attempt to start a newspaper. It goes about like you would expect.

Commenter, can you give a link to the program?

Actually, I love the commentary on BBC4 radio.

A Duke Alum/ lax supporter living in London

I enjoy BBC4 Radio when I’m in the UK and occasionally listen to it on the net. But it’s a sliver of the total BBC.

BTW – It’s very nice to hear from a Duke alum/lax supporter living in London.

John: Also note that your tax dollars pay for BBC overseas reports on National Public Radio.

You’re right on.

Folks, I plan to respond to another set of comments tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

John: This is one reason so many check out your blog on a regular basis. Most bloggers wouldn't bother to comment. You've done a terrific job and continue to do so. If North Carolina newspapers had your level of integrity, North Carolina could be proud — instead of feeling the shame and disgrace of the Nifong frame, which was enabled by so many North Carolina leaders. The coverup continues. When will Easley and Cooper see that the criminal investigation begins?