Jena Times assistant editor Craig Franklin writing today in the Christian Science Monitor begins:
By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.Franklin then takes 12 media myths concerning Jena and provides information to refute them.
There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong.
In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.
I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.
The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side's statements – the Jena 6.
Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they'd read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.
The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It's time to set the record straight.
Franklin’s Myth 1 is The White-Only Tree. I’ll skip that one because I think even Jesse Jackson has stopped peddling it, just as he finally stopped peddling the Mangum-Nifong lies about the Duke lacrosse party.
But let’s take a look at what Franklin, the only journalist to report on the Jena events from the beginning through now says about Myth 7: The Schoolyard Fight, because Jackson and many in media are still peddling that one:
The event on Dec. 4, 2006 was consistently labeled a "schoolyard fight." But witnesses described something much more horrific.In terms of how the people of Jena – black and white – were exploited by “rights activists” and most of the national media, the most inflammatory of the 12 myths is Myth 8: The Attack Is Linked to the Nooses.
Several black students, including those now known as the Jena 6, barricaded an exit to the school's gym as they lay in wait for Justin Barker to exit. (It remains unclear why Mr. Barker was specifically targeted.)
When Barker tried to leave through another exit, court testimony indicates, he was hit from behind by Mychal Bell. Multiple witnesses confirmed that Barker was immediately knocked unconscious and lay on the floor defenseless as several other black students joined together to kick and stomp him, with most of the blows striking his head.
Police speculate that the motivation for the attack was related to the racially charged fights that had occurred during the previous weekend.
About Myth 8, Franklin reports:
Nowhere in any of the evidence, including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.No evidence to support a link between the nooses and the attack on Justin Barker? That’s familiar. There was no evidence to support the indictments of the white students in the Duke lacrosse case.
How do you explain travesties such as Jena and the Duke Hoax?
A major contributor to both travesties is this: many in the media and many “activists” and “civil rights leaders” seek to unfairly advantage one race at the expense of another.
Back to Franklin and Myth 10: Jena 6 as Model Youth.
While some members were simply caught up in the moment, others had criminal records. Bell had at least four prior violent-crime arrests before the December attack, and was on probation during most of this year.Franklin’s entire article is here. It’s must reading for anyone seeking to get at the truth of what happened in Jena. It includes a link to a review of all the Jena events at www.thejenatimes.net – click on Chronological Order of Events.
Franklin’s closing paragraph includes this:
As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn't expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next "big" story.I hope we learn more about what Franklin calls “the truth about Jena.”
I also hope we learn more about the truth of the Duke Hoax. The public still doesn’t know why, for example, the Raleigh News & Observer, which first reported “the Duke lacrosse rape” story, told readers the woman was “the victim” who had endured “an ordeal” that ended finally in “sexual violence.”
The N&O knew no later than March 24 the players had been cooperative with police but it withheld that news and instead promulgated what it knew was the lie that the team had refused to cooperate with police.
As for Jena getting any apologies from the media, Franklin’s right not to expect any even though they’re due.
But news organizations often do worse than not apologize for sloppy and sometimes deliberately false reporting.
Take the N&O as an example.
In an interview with the paper, the only one she gave to the press, the false accuser contradicted the DA’s story that she was the only one raped at the party. Instead, she claimed the second dancer at the party had also been sexually assaulted but couldn’t report it for fear of losing her job.
The N&O suppressed that news for 13 months, disclosing it only the day after the state attorney general had declared the three young men innocent.
Having done what I’ve cited in this post and much more to promote and sustain the crimes committed against the innocent Duke students, would you believe the N&O’s executive editor for news, its managing editor and its public editor now all say they are very proud of the N&O’s coverage?
There are some able, honest reporters and some trustworthy news organizations. But many journalist and news organizations do great harm to individuals, communities and our country. Jena and the Duke Hoax prove that.
The following posts document what I've said here concerning the N&O's Duke Hoax reporting, including portions of the N&O's reporting that were deliberately misleading and/or false.
Did the Raleigh N&O withhold news of the Duke captains' cooperation? ( 7/12/06)
Duke lacrosse: N&O's Mar. 25 story implodes (10/8/06)
AJR's Hoax article's biggest failing? (7/19/07)
The N&O and "Bullies" (7/28/07)