Friday, April 11, 2008

H-S’s Ashley: “there was no case at all”

On this first anniversary of NC attorney general Roy Cooper’s findings David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were innocent and there never was any credible evidence for their indictments, we read in Editor & Publisher :

Executive Editor Bob Ashley of the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun, which has been criticized by some for its coverage of the Duke University lacrosse case, said the newspaper should have realized sooner the charges were false.

Two reports on Ashley's speech at the University of Kentucky on Wednesday quoted the editor as admitting his paper was late in determining the case had no merit.

"We were, honestly, too slow to recognize that there was no case at all," Ashley said during the speech, according to the Rural Blog, a media-related Web site. "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In hindsight, should we have come to that conclusion sooner? Yes."

The Web site added that Ashley said the media coverage of the case was "a frenzy unequaled by anything I've seen in 37 years of journalism," and claimed his Paxton Media Group newspaper lacked the resources to compete with larger media outlets.

"Ashley said the Herald-Sun's relations with defense attorneys for the students were not good because the players thought the paper relied too much on now-ousted District Attorney Michael Nifong," Rural Blog stated. "He said the paper was not close to the prosecutor, and he did not know him personally, other than having sat next to him at a banquet. He said other news outlets got exculpatory evidence from the defense attorneys 'because of better hustle or better connections.'"

The editor has spoken about coverage before in North Carolina, but "yesterday was Ashley's first time speaking alone in front of a group of people about the lacrosse case," Jill Laster of The Kentucky Kernel, the student newspaper, reported in that outlet's story. "During his speech, he focused on the factors that 'kindled the fire of the Duke lacrosse case,' including race relations and the dynamic between Duke University and the surrounding community of Durham."

"In an interview after his speech, Ashley said the Duke lacrosse case is not the first time he has had to take heat as an editor for his paper's actions," Laster reported, citing an incident when he was at the Owensboro, Ky, Messenger-Inquirer and a staff writer wrote lies about having cancer. "Ashley said criticism of how his newspapers have handled the Duke case and the incident at the Messenger-Inquirer has changed the way he works."
The Rural Blog’s post is here. (E&P’s link to it doesn’t connect.)

Jill Laster’s report in the Kernel is well-organized, clearly written and contains some information not found in the E&P story. I encourage you to take a look at her Kernel report's here.

E&P’s report looks to be an aggregation of the RP and Kernel accounts.

That said, it's notable the RP and Kernel accounts agree Ashley admitted “there was no case at all.”

The admission is, of course, very late but welcome.

Now, should we expect the H-S editorial page to ask some needed and long overdue questioning of Durham mayor Bill Bell, city manager Patrick Baker, deputy police chief Ron Hodge and DPD spokesperson Cpl. David Addison concerning why they talked so much about crimes when they had no evidence of any?

I plan to contact UK Monday to find out whether an audio and/or video are available on the Net or for purchase. I’ve asked before but haven’t heard back. But I’ll keep pressing.

If any of you learn more about this story, please let me know.

Hat tip: Ed in NY


Anonymous said...


"He said other news outlets got exculpatory evidence from the defense attorneys 'because of better hustle or better connections."

What an incredibly lame excuse!

What he, in effect, is saying is his people were too lazy to pick up a telephone and dial a defense attorney. And this man still has a job?

Is he actually too stupid to understand what he just said?


mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ashley says the Hurled Scum "lacked the resources to compete" with the bigger news organs. A local news reporting agency always should have a leg up on the big guys with the satellite vans because the local guys should "own" the real sources. Except in the case of the H-S, I guess. Does this weasel realize what he has just admitted to? That the H-S is an alien growth in Durham without any reliable news sources. If I were the editor of a newspaper I'd slash my wrists before publicly admitting I had no access in my own backyard. Hmm, maybe that's a good option for Ashl...uh, better end it here.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Tried to leave a message on the Rural Blog, but they haven't put it up yet. They probably won't because it tells too much about Ashley and the Hurled Scum.

Danvers said...

I e-mailed Mel Sill at the Sac Bee advising her of Ashley's statements re the HS's failings, and asked when she would be doing the same on behalf of the N&O.

Guess what: my e-mail was deleted without being read.

More or less what I expected!

Anonymous said...

Everybody be sure to send Ashley's comments to the N&O--to all of the editors.
And Vaden, Ford, Quarles, Williams, etc...

Anonymous said...

Thanks John

I took the time to write Jill Laster and Joe Strupp so that I could point out that many of us were sending Ashley and his right hand man public records which revealed that what they were reporting was often inaccurate.

I went on to point out that while Ashley wants all to believe he had no contact with Mikey, his statement leaves the door open for his reporters that were acting as Mikey's messenger boys.

To illustrate how defensive Ashley's crew was even when minor inaccuracies (dates, times...) were pointed out to them, I forwarded my comments on a John Stevenson email I received late August of 06. An email showing John went out of his way to condemn "bloggers and armchair amateurs". I also told them there would not have been such blogs about the case if Ashley or other local papers had just printed the truth.

I doubt if the results my emails will produce any updates on their articles, but I felt better after sharing a bit of the true record on Ashley's reporting.


Anonymous said...


Very good!

Anonymous said...

How wonderful of Ashley to admit now that they should have been quicker to see that there was nothing at all to Crystal Mangum's allegations. Moral courage is obviously not his strong suit because if it were, he would have addressed the questions that were being asked from the beginning about the case.
I find it difficult to believe that his reporters did not have contacts within the police department or the DA's office who were feeding them the lies that made it into both print and over the airwaves. I agree with those who posted comments questioning the laziness of his reporters in not contacting the defense attorneys. There was no real desire on the part of his paper to get at the truth because it didn't fit the storyline that they were so eager to tell. If, and this is a big if, he were so sorry, he would use his editorial board to call for sweeping changes at the Durham PD, the DA's office, the grand jury system in the state of North Carolina, demand the resignation of Brodhead, Moneta, Wausiolek, and an investigation into the credentials of a number of the potbangers and the group of 88. No one should hold their breath waiting for any of the above to happen. Talk, like Ashley's is cheap. That is the reason why the suits must go forward.