Readers Note: This is the third 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 and thereafter.
On Mar. 24, 2006 the Raleigh News & Observer began publishing grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false stories, columns and editorials which made the phrase “Duke lacrosse rape scandal” known nationally and internationally.
By Mar. 27 when the Durham DA Mike Nifong first spoke publicly about the case, satellite TV trucks were already parked at Duke. Countless millions already believed the N&O's fraudulent story reported on March 25 about a young black mother’s “ordeal” which ended in “sexual violence” committed by three whites on the Duke lacrosse team whose teammates were “stonewalling” police.
On Mar. 28 the N&O published on its front-page the “criminal records” of all lacrosse team members (all charges involved misdemeanors such as underage drinking, public urination; some had been dropped in exchange for community service; and one had been dismissed. The N&O published them all)
By March 31 the N&O had reported on rallies and vigils in support of “the victim.” These events, which some Duke faculty members helped organize, encouraged students to attend and attended themselves, were marked by prejudgment of the players' guilt, shouted threats, the waving of large CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE banners, and the circulation of Vigilante posters.
N&O reporter Jane Stancill had an important role in helping enable what, by the end of March, was a vicious witch hunt, an elaborate frame-up attempt and something the N&O led most of media to treat as a story of race, class and gender.
Between March 28 and 31 Stancill was bylined each day on a Duke lacrosse story,two of which were front-pagers. On all four stories Stancill shared the byline Anne Blythe, who’d been bylined on the Mar. 24 story which “broke” the case and the Mar. 25 victim’s “ordeal” story the N&O said was about a night which ended in “sexual violence.” You can read the four stories here, here, here and here.
Months later Stancill and the N&O began a July 16, 2006 story, “Lacrosse defense sways media,” by telling readers:
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.What happened to March, you ask?
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. ….
Why no reminder the N&O broke the story? There’s no mention in Stancill’s July 16 article of even one of the more than a dozen prosecutorial/prosecutorial news stories, columns and editorials the N&O published in March.
Reading further in Stancill’s story we learn why the N&O airbrushed March and gave the Hoax a “revised” April “start date”:
But the story changed, and now the pundits ask: Are the three Duke lacrosse players innocent boys falsely accused?Stancill’s entire July 16 story is here.
The opinions still fly on cable TV and popular blogs. Major stories have appeared in Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair. The nation's opinion leaders at influential newspapers took a break from Iraq and Darfur to come to the defense of the three accused players.
At The New York Times, two columnists have written about the case, including David Brooks, who penned two columns that track the shift in perception. The first posed a question about how young men slip into depravity. The second talked about the stages of witch hunts.
"First frenzy, when everybody damns the souls of people they don't know," wrote Brooks, who will teach at Duke this fall. "Then confusion, as the first wave of contradictory facts comes in. Then deafening silence, as everybody studiously ignores the vicious slanders they uttered during the moment of maximum hysteria."
On Monday, the legal maneuvers will continue in the Durham County courthouse. But in the court of public opinion, the defense has gained the upper hand. …
By July 16, 2006 the N&O didn’t want people looking at it March coverage. Then as now, when almost all people at the N&O have to mention March 2006, they usually say things about “the players and their parents weren’t helping us” and “deadlines.” They then spin the “our coverage was great after those first few days” myth.
You know the players, their parents and deadlines are no more responsible for the N&O’s March coverage than they are for its Apr. 2006 coverage which included the publication of the Vigilante poster photo, the “swagger” story, the “mother, dancer, accuser” story, and the withholding of news it had of Crystal Mangum’s criminal background and activities on Mar. 13/14 which directly contradicted things the N&O had reported on Mar. 25.
And so do Stancill and the N&O.
For Stancill and the N&O to tell readers, “[j]ournalists rushed to Durham in April to tell the world about a sordid evening,” is arrogant and disingenuous.
Previous series posts:
Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 1)
Raleigh N&O Arrogance (Post 2)