Monday, September 17, 2007

The N&O's "only a few days" fiction

A number of fictions are now entangled in the Duke Hoax narrative. The best known is "Nifong did all that," the current favortie of Durham's Police Department and city leaders.

Another fiction goes like this: "Well, yes, the N&O was a bit taken in at the start. But that lasted only a few days. After that, the N&O did a splendid job covering the Hoax."

Need I tell you the "only a few days" fiction is the N&O's favorite?

It's also a favorite of many others, including editors at the American Journalism Review who won't respond when invited to explain why they go along with the N&O's demonstrably false claims concerning its Hoax reporting.

Back last April 9, I published Raleigh N&O Duke/Durham rape charge reporting is biased and inflammatory. .

As you read it, please keep in mind the following: the N&O "broke" the Hoax story on March 24 and published the "anonymous interview" story the next day. The N&O knew then about Mangum's criminal background. But the N&O didn't mention it to readers for two weeks. It also at the time was withholding exculpatory news for the players it had concerning Mangum's claim the second dancer had also been raped at the party, but didn't report it for fear of losing her job. The N&O would wait a year before reporting that critically important news the day after the wrongly indicted players had been declared innocent.

"Only a few days?"

Here's the Apr. 9, 2006 post:

Correction: The following post says the N&O published the "Vigilante" poster twice. In fact, it published it once. I apologize for my error.



Raleigh News & Observer exec editor Melanie Sill has been praising The N&O's coverage of the story involving allegations of rape leveled against some members of the Duke University lacrosse team.

Today I left the following comment on the thread at her blog post. You ought to go there because the comments are very, very informative. I'm not the first John you see. I believe he's an attorney. I'm further down the thread.

At Melanie's blog I can't hyperlink so where you see hyperlinks here, there are URLs there. Otherwise, nothing was changed.


Regarding The N&O’s converage of the rape allegation directed at some members of the Duke lacrosse team:

Last Sunday , Apr 2, The N&O ran a lengthy, front-page story with a theme involving the university’s “shame.” (You even used the subhead: ‘Shame on Duke!’)

The N&O said: “Many Duke alumni are hurt and angry about what they say has, so far, been a disgraceful episode for the university”

You quoted 3 Duke alums. They all supported your theme. One, Malbert Smith, you’d quoted just a few days before.

Your “fair and accurate” newspaper didn't quote a single alum who supports the university.

But you could have if you wanted to.

There are thousands of Duke alums who are proud of the university for many reasons, including its refusal to cave in the face of outrageous attacks by The N&O and people like Professor Baker.

When Baker, in an open letter, condemned Duke for, among other things, engaging in what he called “timorous piety and sentimental legalism” most alums knew he was talking about due process and presumption of innocence.

In your reporting on Baker’s letter you didn’t tell readers it includes statements such as: “this white, male athletic team's racist assaults.”

You don’t tell readers Baker said such things as: “in a forthrightly ethical setting with an avowed commitment to life-enhancing citizenship, such a violent and irresponsible group would scarcely be spirited away, or sheltered.”

In an Apr 5 story The N&O reported: “Duke Provost Peter Lange said in a letter that he was 'disappointed, saddened and appalled' by an outspoken letter Baker wrote the Duke administration last week.”

The N&O makes it seem Lange characterized Baker's letter as “outspoken” when in truth Lange called it a “form of prejudice.”

Readers can find both letters here.

I urge readers who haven’t prejudged anyone guilty to read the letters; and then go back and look at how The N&O reported on them in this story.

Melanie, you've told us in the past that N&O news columnists must meet the same standard for factualness as N&O news reporters.

News columnist Barry Saunders recently wrote:

"If Duke could pack up and move, it would, eager to escape Durham's reputation as a cesspool of civic incompetence.

Likewise, if Durham could bid Duke 'adieu,'it would."
Can we agree, Melanie, that Saunders meets The N&O’s reporting standards?

Almost four weeks after the attack is alleged to have occurred, there's apparently been no positive identification of any individual player on the team through use of police lineups or face-photos such as were used for the "vigilante poster" The N&O’s published at least twice.

Has The N&O reported why it seems there's been no positive identification by the alleged victim of a single team member ?

Has The N&O asked the DA about that? Did you ask the alleged victim about positive identifications when she granted you an interview?

On Apr. 5 NC Central University Chancellor James Ammons issued a statement to the “NCCU family.” It is a very important part of a story about which you say The N&O has “pushed hard.”

But I don’t recall seeing anything in The N&O about the Chancellor’s statement; and a few minutes ago I couldn’t find anything in your archives. Did you ignore his statement?

I hope not. It’s calm, wise, and very newsworthy. The Durham Herald Sun published it in full. You can take a look at it here.

Ammons’ statement is a welcome contrast to the inflammatory prejudgments of The N&O and Professor Baker.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Note: I’m signing because there are other John’s commenting here.


Anonymous said...

The nexus of the N&O's malinant negligence, the Internet and your blog commentary should, by all rights, result in a new slogan for the N&O:

"The N&O, pwned by John In Carolina!"

Kudos to you on the quality of your criticism and persistance.


Anonymous said...

I, for one, am very glad you have not allowed the N & O to slither away from their responsibility.

bill anderson said...

Good work, John. You have not let the N&O rest, as well should be the case. The paper now is reverting to its old Hoax coverage, complete with race-baiting and rewriting history.

Mike said...

Duke Lacrosse went down in the N&O’s bailiwick. This has been their beat for over 100 years. Even if the N&O is now owned by McClatchy instead of the Daniels family, a century of Raleigh-Durham street smarts seems to have gone missing in action. The many red flags on Buchanan Street in Durham should have run up the red flags on McDowell Street in Raleigh.

For starters, the alleged victim was a full-time prostitute with a criminal record. The DPD didn’t know this? The beat cops didn’t give the beat reporters a heads up? The reporters didn’t pass this smell test anomaly along to their editors? The editors didn’t tell the publisher?

The alleged perps hired who they thought was a stripper. Some of them were drinking, and many of them were underage. Excuse me, but weren’t Carolina, State and Duke (in different guise) here even before the N&O? You could even throw Wake Forest into that mix. Frat parties? Alcohol abuse? Nearly nekkid women? What else is suddenly new under the sun in a college town?

Even the N&O’s own Dennis Rogers tried to tell Sill, Dresher et al to stifle the urge to turn play hard party hard college jocks into spoiled rich racist white gang-raping Yankee sodomites.

But his plea fell on deaf ears, and now Durham might have to cough up 30 million bucks in legal settlements. Unfortunately for the Durham taxpayers, the N&O won’t be contributing. As far as we know, no one in their chain of command was fired, or even disciplined, for the journalistic malpractice that came perilously close to wrecking at least four lives – the three falsely accused lacrosse players and their coach.

What we do know at the end of the day is that Duke Lacrosse was not about race or class. Unfortunately, Barry Saunders and Melanie Sill still don’t seem to get it. Good try anyway, John.

Anonymous said...

Ruthie and the NO was the match that lit the fire. I ahve no hope they will get their just desserts, but who knows? Thanks John.

mamalou said...

The thing is, they're still at it. I'm not sure if you have mentioned the recent opinion piece by Barry Saunders (you are prolific) or the defense of the piece by Ted Vaden. I'm still hoping for civil suits against the media.

Anonymous said...

From the Liestoppers blog — the first 3 paragraphs are from a poster called pjr:

"What stirred the juices of the city manager and the mayor was not the NTO perp walk nearly a week earlier. All that revealed was that a sports team was in trouble.

No, it was the later Samiha Khanna article that told Durham readers that a black woman was the victim. That is when the volcano erupted, not the earlier perp walk event. That 's when race first entered the picture. That's when the bogus charge of favoritism arose.

Enter Baker and Bell. They took heat for a few days before descending on the cops; and they tried to light a fire under them. They wanted a timeline to explain the activities of the cops, and why things seemed to not be getting done. Their constituents were demanding it. Unfortunately for them now, they got what they wanted."

This is a terrific analysis. Why hasn't more attention been paid to the News & Observer story and its role in inflaming Nifong's frame of the lacrosse players? Shouldn't the newspaper's coverage in late March 2006 be thoroughly examined by legal experts?

DukeEgr93 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DukeEgr93 said...

I didn't realize that noblesse oblige was a bad thing. Nor that it was spelled "noblisse oblige." See - Mr. Saunders taught me two things in that piece from last year. I'm letting that roll around in my head a bit.

Then, o'course, I'll let both pieces roll on out since both happen to be wrong...