Most of you know I'm working on a series of posts to start in mid-January that'll take a fresh look at the Raleigh News & Observer's Duke Hoax coverage.
While researching today I reviewed a post I published on July 16, 2006.
It's title: Duke lacrosse: The Raleigh N&O's cover up has begun.
It concerned a news story the N&O published that day under Jane Stancill's byline which made the false claim that the Duke lacrosse hysteria and attempted frame-up began in April and was in response to public remarks Mike Nifong made to the media. The story began:
Journalists rushed to Durham in April to tell the world about a sordid evening at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where a black exotic dancer reported that she was raped by white lacrosse players from Duke.In truth, the hysteria/national media coverage and public portion of the frame-up attempt began on Mar. 24, 2006 with the Raleigh N&O's publication of a series of stories and a news column which laid out the frame-up script and launched the hysteria/national media coverage before Nifong began speaking publicly on Mar. 27.
An avalanche of media coverage followed, as the confident prosecutor gave dozens of interviews and reporters ferreted out a pattern of drunken misbehavior by jocks at an elite university. […]
Early on, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong gave scores of interviews, calling Duke lacrosse players "hooligans" who were hiding behind a wall of silence. His emphatic statements fueled a national media story.[...]
By Mar. 27 TV satellite trucks were already parked in front of Duke's Bryan Student Center. Stancill knew that. She reported some of the N&O's March 2006 stories
So I was right to say on July 16, 2006 the N&O was engaged in covering up what it did in March.
But I was flat-out wrong to say the N&O' cover-up had just begun.
We now know it began sometime on Mar. 24, 2006 when the N&O decided to withhold from a story it would publish the next day (anonymous interview/wall of solidarity story) both critical information it had about the accuser which was exculpatory for the players and information it had that the players had cooperated with police. (See posts here and here)
We also now know that by Mar. 26 if not before, the N&O was using Mike Nifong as an anonymous source for coverage framing the Duke lacrosse team as drunken, racist, privileged louts who included three gang-rapists and their teammates who were covering up for them. (See posts here and here)
One of my goals for the series is to demonstrate how essential the N&O's decisions to withhold critically important news in late March was to Nifong's ability to move forward with the frame-up attempt.
Another goal is to examine the myriad ways the N&O has worked to mislead the public about what it did and didn't do last March and thereafter. Reporter Stancill's July 16 story is only one instance of an on-going cover-up that's been surprisingly successful.