Sunday, December 16, 2007

What’s the N&O Saying?

The Raleigh News & Observer did more than any other news organization to help launch and sustain the massive injustices and falsehoods of the Duke lacrosse case.

In his column in today’s print edition ( "Rash Judgments Backfire" ) N&O executive editor for news John Drescher tells readers “competition has a downside [which for] journalists [is] trying to beat the competition with a story that isn't ready for publication.”

Drescher goes on to detail mistakes other newspapers have made rushing stories into print.

Finally, near the end of his column, he tells readers:

We felt that pressure during the Duke lacrosse case. We broke the news that 46 team members had been ordered to give DNA in a rape investigation.

The day we published that story, we had an interview -- the only one to date -- with the accuser. The next day, we published her account.

I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.

Many other times, we've held back when our competitors were using anonymous sources.
People familiar with both the Mar. 25, 2006 front-page story Drescher refers to,
Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence,
and the facts available to the N&O at the time of publication continue to ask why the N&O published it.

The story by reporters Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe stank like a sewer pit the day it was published. Today it has as much credibility as the news conferences Mike Nifong began giving two days after the Khanna/Blythe story appeared.

So what's the N&O saying today?

I think some people will nod and tell themselves something like: “The N&O was under deadline. Of course! That explains what happened. Why do those lacrosse people keep complaining and suing. It’s time to move on.”

And I feel sure sensible people will ask questions such as:

Why is Drescher only saying this now, twenty-one months after the N&O published the story?

Drescher says:
”I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.”

What stopped the N&O from doing “more reporting” the day after it published the story? Or the day after that which was Mar. 27, 2006, the first day Nifong began speaking publicly about the case?

Drescher doesn't say, does he?

The N&O had reported on Crystal Mangum’s “prior run-in with the law” in June 2002.

So how can “competitive pressure” explain reporters Samiha Khanna's and Anne Blythe’s failure to mention it in the “anonymous interview/sexual violence” story?

When and in what detail did the N&O first report on Mangum’s “run-in?”

Why didn’t Drescher tell us that, and explain the delay?

Why did the N&O withhold from its Mar. 25 story what it knew about the players’ cooperation with police?

Why did reporters Khanna and Blythe promulgate the falsehoods that the players had refused to cooperate with police and formed what the N&O said was a “wall of solidarity?”

I’m sure many of you have other questions. Please share them.

What do you think are the chances Drescher will answer your questions and mine fully and honestly?

I plan to post again tomorrow concerning Drescher’s statements today.

Also, as I said last Friday, I’ll be posting this Tuesday and Wednesday concerning why its essential we understand what the N&O did to launch and sustain the Duke Hoax’s awful injustices to individuals and harm to our community.

The Wednesday post will, as I mentioned Friday, include a brief outline of the 20-post series I’m preparing which will examine the N&O’s Duke Hoax coverage from its first report of an alleged rape at a house on N. Buchanan Blvd through the completion of N&O reporter Joe Neff’s series following NC AG Roy Cooper’s Apr. 11, 2007 announcement that David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were innocent.

Drescher's column is here.


Anonymous said...

Great analysis by J in C. Perhaps Drescher is trying to distance himself from the previous editor, Melanie Sill, who stood by the story that launched the frame of the lacrosse players and enabled Nifong to get away with his malicious prosecution.

Locomotive Breath said...

Yep - I had the same thought. Sill just left for California where she won't have to suffer the cognitive dissonance of having people disagree with her. Maybe Drescher is apologizing as much as he can.

I went to a media forum at the Duke Law school in October '06. Drescher was there as a panelist (Sill sent out someone else to take the heat). He looked damn uncomfortable defending what the N&O had done.

Anonymous said...

J-in-C's done great work on the Duke lacrosse mess from the beginning.

Unlike some bloggers, he hasn't danced with the N&O.

I can't wait for his latest series.

Duke '84