Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Letter to N&O Editor Williams

Readers Note: At the N&O’s Editors’ Blog Deputy Managing Editor Linda Williams, who had a major role in producing the deliberately fraudulent March 25, 2006 “anonymous interview” story is obfuscating on behalf of N&O Columnist Barry Saunders. I’ve just left the following comment on the post thread. There are no hyperlinks in the comment there because the EB doesn’t offer commenters that option.


Dear Editor Williams:

Historian and blogger KC Johnson, co-author of Until Proven Innocent has said this about columnist Barry Saunders:


"The reaction from some quarters [to impending civil suits against Durham] was predictable.

The N&O’s Barry Saunders penned a race-baiting column falsely asserting that Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty had “hired themselves a stripper.” This false claim, and Saunders’ other taunts, only bolstered the falsely accused students’ case against Durham, by showing the continuing harm to their reputations—something Saunders might have wanted to consider before he wrote.

And Saunders, hyper-sensitive to the slightest of perceived slights against African-Americans, appeared to be unconcerned with his own perceived slight against the religion of the falsely accused players.

But, of course, this is the same Barry Saunders who previously eviscerated media coverage of a gang-rape allegation—when the defendants were black NCCU students. Their accuser (whom Saunders mocked) didn’t show up for a probable cause hearing, prompting dismissal of charges.

But the mere filing of charges, according to Saunders, caused long-term damage to the students’ reputation: ‘I saw the two dudes’ pictures in the paper. I’m not saying they looked guilty, but let’s face it. It’s hard to look innocent when your mug shot is splashed on television or in the paper in connection with some horrific story.’ (To remind Saunders, the mugshots of Seligmann and Finnerty were “splashed”—over and over and over again—on national television and on the cover of Newsweek.)”

Editor Williams, Exec Editor for News Melanie Sill has said Saunders meets N&O standards. And no one disputes that.

But what many people are asking is why a race-baiter like Saunders “meets N&O standards?”

Just a few years ago the N&O made what it said was a sincere apology for its long history of race-baiting. The N&O promised readers it would no longer race-bait.

But soon after that, the N&O launched its deliberately false, racially-inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage.

By withholding relevant news and promoting the lie that white lacrosse players hadn’t cooperated with police, the N&O helped bring about the indictments of three innocent white men.

But you knew the white men had cooperated with police.

I don’t believe you would have promoted the falsehood that the players hadn’t cooperated with police if they’d been black men instead of white men.

I’m not wrong about that, am I?

The N&O withheld for over a year the exculpatory news that Mangum told you on March 24, 2006 that Kim Roberts had also been raped at the party, but didn’t report it for fear of losing her job. You also withheld the news that Mangum said Roberts would do anything for money.

You wouldn’t have withheld such critically important news for over a year if Mangum had been a white woman and David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann had been black men indicted by a white DA like Mike Nifong using grand jury testimony by two white cops like Benjamin Himan and Mark Gottlieb, would you?

After Duke University expressed concerns that publishing the “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 white Duke students on it would add to the danger those students were already facing, the N&O published the poster anyway. The N&O didn’t even tell readers what Duke had said.

If, in similar circumstances, NC Central University expressed concerns that publishing an anonymous “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 of its black students the DA and cops were saying were involved in the brutal beating and gang rape of a young white mother who was a student at Duke, would you have gone ahead and published the poster anyway?

I think the answer is obvious. Of course not. The N&O would never do something like that to a group of black males. Even your worst critics don’t believe you’d do such a thing to a group of black men.

But suppose you had.

And suppose people like Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Community Activist Victoria Peterson, Professors Houston Baker, William Chafe, Karla Holloway, Irving Joyner and Tim Tyson. Mayor Bill Bell, Journalist Cash Michaels and NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber reacted to what you did.

Imagine they issued a statement denouncing the N&O for doing something which “reeked of racism every bit as ugly and dangerous as the racism often found in Southern newspapers in the last century.”

What would you have said in response?

What if those people – all of whom often proclaimed their commitment to civil rights – demanded the N&O apologize to the players, their families and the community and fire the people responsible for publishing the racist “Vigilante” poster?

What would you have told your fellow N&O editors they should do?

Who were the N&O journalists who decided to publish the “Vigilante” poster? Do any of them still work for the paper? If any do, what does that tell the community about the N&O?

I know what my answer is but I’d like to hear yours first.

Editor Williams, I hope you don’t have any problem agreeing with this: At the N&O, race still matters.

I also hope you agree with this: Whites have been too passive in accepting “back of the bus” treatment from the N&O. We should demand the N&O once-and-for-all stop playing one race against another and treat people of all races fairly.

Thank you for your attention to my comment. I look forward to your response.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

Seriously? The N & O apologized, a few years ago, for its long history of race-baiting? That's quite remarkable. I'm not surprised the didn't mean it, just that they ever admitted it.

Anonymous said...

You KNOW we shall all be waiting a long time for N&O comments about its own, personal racism.

Linda, Barry, and Melanie, et al. have once again been pandering. Another disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Nice letter, John. You certainly said it far better than I could. I would love to see a positive response from the N&O, but they just don't get it.

Also, maybe you want to send a copy of this email to corporate headquarters. I know that the Liestopper people were contacting them as well as the local N&O regarding Barry Saunders' column.

bill anderson said...

For a brief moment, the N&O was the newspaper of Joe Neff, and did outstanding work on this story. However, now that the charges have been dropped, we see that the N&O is reverting to the same leftist, PC coverage that defined it when the paper launched the hoax in the first place.

By deliberately omitting Mangum's claim that Kim also was raped, the N&O made itself complicit in a crime. But, then, the Newspaper of Barry Saunders and Samiha Khanna is not going to be a newspaper that reports the news.

Anonymous said...

Give Saunders a break. After all, "Hymie Town" was already taken.


Anonymous said...

As a white person, let me say this: "We shall overcome"

I think that is the PC way to say it.

Anonymous said...

Sweetmick says: Ms. Williams had stated, incredulously, that printing the "other" comments Mangum made about Kim Roberts would have subjected the N&O to charges of libel. To any 8th grader not on drugs who reads the libel law and how it pertains to the press , it will be clear that this is a specious and insulting excuse. For me, who has represented a libeled client, though not by the press, it was particularly galling that Ms. Williams, a member of the press, would either be so stupid as to not research and understand the law, or
agreed to be the flack catcher for her employer. If the former is true, then it's a case of affirmative action run amok at the N&O, without the safeguards Justice O'Connor recommended. If it's the latter, then Ms. Williams' performance in this tragedy is a pathetic, pitiful burlesque of journalism.