Readers Note: This is the first of a five-post series providing examples of the Raleigh News & Observer’s arrogance during its Duke lacrosse coverage. The examples also reveal some of the disingenuousness that was an essential and pervasive part of the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false Duke Hoax reporting during Spring 2006.
On Apr. 9, 2006 N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill’s print column began:
The N&O has pushed hard on the police investigation involving Duke's lacrosse team.Sill went on to urge the national media to back off covering the story and leave the Triangle area. She said national coverage had been “seamy.”
So have other area newspapers and TV stations, which makes sense.
So have just about every major newspaper and television network, which makes less sense. …
We broke the story March 24 that 46 lacrosse players had provided material for DNA testing following a woman's report to police that she was raped at a team party.On Apr. 9, 2006 N&O readers agreed with Sill’s assertion the N&O had “pushed hard” on the story.
The story has national importance, given Duke's stature and the impact of the scandal.
But why, beyond sensationalism, would headlines on the case's lurid details play on TV screens and newspapers for days all over the country?
With crowds of journalists and paparazzi gathering, … authorities quickly shut down interviews or turn to press briefings. You can't achieve any depth of reporting at a press briefing.
We've seen this here already. District Attorney Mike Nifong, the only person who can explain his office's decisions on the case, cut off interviews early last week, blaming an overload of requests.
That's not just a problem for reporters. It's keeping information away from people who live in this community. …
They knew the N&O had run story after story sympathetic to the women the N&O repeatedly referred to without any qualification as “the victim.” They’d seen the N&O publish the “Vigilante” poster. They’d read the editorial praising the “woman’s courage in coming forward” and demending Duke University shut down the team.
But what almost all N&O didn't know on Apr. 9 was that Sill’s column was part of an elaborate and monstrous hoax involving the trashing and endangering of Duke’s Men’s lacrosse team and the attempted frame-up of three of its members for rape and other felonies.
Readers didn't know the N&O was enabling the hoax by keeping critically important information away from them.
For example, most readers had some memory of the N&O’s Mar. 25 story it said was about an “ordeal” the “victim” suffered during “a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence.”
It was that story which embedded in the public’s mind the deliberately fraudulent hoax script of the frightened black mother brutalized by the white lacrosse aggressors. In the Mar. 25 story, the N&O told readers:
… The accuser spoke Friday, struggling not to cry as she recounted the events of the early hours of March 14 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., next to Duke's East Campus.The N&O knew Crystal Mangum’s claim that March 14 “was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group” was a lie.
It is The News & Observer's policy not to identify the victims of sex crimes.
The accuser had worked for an escort company for two months, doing one-on-one dates about three times a week.
"It wasn't the greatest job," she said, her voice trailing off. But with two children, and a full class load at N.C. Central University, it paid well and fit her schedule.
This was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group, she said. …
The N&O had reported as far back as June 24, 2002 concerning Mangum’s car theft after she’d stolen the car’s keys from a man she was lap dancing for at a strip club.
John Carroll, the Durham County Deputy Sherriff who gave chase to Mangum andwho she subsequently tried to run down, still works as a Durham Deputy.
The N&O not only published Mangum’s lie on Mar. 25, it continued for weeks to suppress any news which would contradict the young black mother “new to dancing” lie.
That lie generated tremendous sympathy for Mangum and helped sustain the frame-up attempt.
On Apr. 9, when she praised the N&O and complained the attempts of other news organizations to cover the case were “keeping information away from people who live in this community,” Sill knew the N&O was suppressing news and sustaining a lie.
That's arrogant; disingenuous, too.
Here are Sill's column and the N&O's Mar. 25, 2006 and June 24, 2002 stories.