Newspapers in Europe regularly run ads on their front-pages. I’m told some papers in America are now doing it, while others are considering it.
Today the Raleigh News & Observer has a front-page story:
Lacrosse panel stuck in idlethat reads like an advertisement Durham City leaders purchased in order to present in the best possible light the city’s involvement in the attempted frame-up of three innocent Duke lacrosse players and the ongoing cover-up of same.
Mayor still wants an accounting
The entire N&O story follows, after which below the star line I explain why I think the news story reads more like an ad for Durham City.
The N&O's story:
The city-appointed committee set up to review the police department's handling of the Duke lacrosse case is on hold indefinitely, Mayor Bill Bell said Thursday.
Bell said he hoped the panel would reconvene at some point to get a full accounting of what went wrong in bringing false rape charges against three Duke University lacrosse players.
"We really need to know what occurred," Bell said in a meeting Thursday with News & Observer editors and reporters. "I don't think the community's going to be satisfied until we do."
The city's insurance company has advised that further investigation by the panel could turn up information that might hurt Durham in a civil lawsuit.
It was reported last week that the former players have told the city to pay them $10 million each or face a civil lawsuit. Sources with knowledge of the pending lawsuit said the players' attorneys gave the city a month to consider the offer.
Bell and City Manager Patrick Baker were asked Thursday whether they would have done anything differently.
Baker said he thinks the city had its hands tied by then-District Attorney Mike Nifong.
Baker noted that the police never filed an arrest warrant, a sign they didn't think there was evidence to charge Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.
Investigators did testify before a grand jury, which wound up indicting the players.
"I don't know that there was any constitutional authority for us to say, 'You know, Mr. District Attorney, we're not going to answer your subpoena to testify in front of the grand jury. We think it's time to shut [the case] down,' " Baker said.
"There's a good bit of frustration in the police department," he said. "At some point in time, they'll say what they need to say."
Bell said he thinks city officials' decision to more or less keep mum about the investigation -- including then-Police Chief Steve Chalmers -- was wise. "On balance, I think we did as best we could have done, given the circumstances we were dealing with."
So it’s all Nifong’s fault and “Baker said he thinks the city had its hands tied by then-District Attorney Mike Nifong.”
Were the city’s hands tied when Durham Police spokesperson Cpl. David Addison told WRAL on March 24, 2006: "You are looking at one victim brutally raped. If that was someone else's daughter, child, I don't think 46 (tests) would be a large enough number to figure out exactly who did it?"
This from the March 25 N&O: "We're asking someone from the lacrosse team to step forward," Durham police Cpl. David Addison said. "We will be relentless in finding out who committed this crime."
Why was Addison saying that?
And why is Bell touting “city officials' decision to more or less keep mum about the investigation?”
Bell knows that isn't true. Last March Addison seemed to be in a race with Nifong to see who could give the most media interviews.
And what about this N&O report on January 13, 2007:
Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge said Nifong's stepping aside won't change the substance of the evidence collected by the department's detectives that a sexual assault occurred.Did any of the N&O reporters and editors meeting with Bell and Baker ask the questions I’ve just asked? And ones like them?
Hodge said he thinks that the case will still go forward and that the remaining charges will be prosecuted.
"I don't think it changes anything that we've done," Hodge said. "It just means that we'll have to deal with a different attorney."
Or did they just accept what Bell and Baker said the way a newspaper advertising department accepts copy for an ad?
Folks, I wonder if the reason the N&O ran what was more an ad than a news story isn’t this: The N&O reporters and editors knew if they started asking Bell and Baker the questions they should have asked them, Bell and Baker would have responded with something like:
“What about your telling your readers all about your use of Nifong as an anonymous source last March? And why didn’t you report in your March 25 story the information you had about the players’ cooperation with police? And what you knew about Mangum’s background?”What do you think?
You can read more about Hodge hyping the attempted frame-up here.
The Liestoppers Blog Hooligans are all over today’s N&O “ad.” Take a look here.