Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Understanding the N&O's Vigilante poster photo

Readers Note: N&O Senior Editor Linda Williams was lead editor of the deliberately fraudulent March 25, 2006 “anonymous interview” story the N&O told readers was about a night that ended in "sexual violence.”

At the Editors' Blog Williams recently told readers who'd complained about the N&O's Duke lacrosse hoax coverage:

… Many people commenting here seem to be merely taking an opportunity to express their own considerable racial anxieties. It's obvious that some find the color of my skin disturbing and have concluded that my color is all the information they need to determine what I think and my motivations. It seems more important to them to address my color than my words. … (see EB thread here and a JinC post here)
Today is the second anniversary of the N&O' publication of a photo of the infamous Vigilante poster, something no other NC daily did following expressions of concern by the players’ families and Duke that publishing such a photo would add to the danger the players were already facing. You can view the poster here at Liestoppers.

I’ve just sent Williams the following email. I'll let you know if she responds but she rarely does.


Dear Editor Williams:

Just three years ago, in response to the Wilmington Race Riots Commission report, the N&O made what it said was a sincere apology for its long history of race-baiting.

But soon thereafter, the N&O launched its often false and racially-inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage.

By withholding relevant news and promoting the lie that white lacrosse players had not cooperated with police, the N&O helped inflame community sentiment and bring about the indictments of three innocent white men.

But you knew the white men had cooperated with police.

The N&O wouldn’t have promoted a falsehood about the players not cooperating with police if they’d been black men.

We both know that.

The N&O withheld for over a year the exculpatory news that Mangum told you on March 24, 2006 that Kim Roberts had also been raped at the party, but didn’t report it for fear of losing her job.

The N&O also withheld the news that Mangum said Roberts would do anything for money.

The N&O wouldn’t have withheld such critically important news if Mangum had been a white woman and David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann had been black men indicted by a white DA like Mike Nifong using grand jury testimony by two white cops, would it?

After their parents and Duke expressed concerns that publishing the “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 white Duke students on it would add to the danger the students were already facing, the N&O published the poster anyway. The N&O didn’t even tell its readers those concerns had been expressed.

Two years ago today the N&O published a two-column wide, seven-plus inches long photo of the Vigilante poster. Your photo was large enough so that it could be enlarged and thereby provide a good face recognition source for hate-filled and unstable people seeking to target the players.

If NC Central University and the parents of 43 of its students had expressed concerns that publishing an anonymous “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 of black students the DA and cops were saying were involved in the brutal beating and gang rape of a young white mother would endanger the students, would you have gone ahead and published the poster photo anyway?

Of course not.

The N&O would never do something like that to a group of black males.

But lets just suppose you had.

And suppose people like Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Community Activist Victoria Peterson, Professors Houston Baker, William Chafe, Karla Holloway, Irving Joyner and Tim Tyson, Mayor Bill Bell, Journalist Cash Michaels and NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber reacted to what you did.

Imagine they issued a statement denouncing the N&O for doing something which “reeked of racism every bit as ugly and dangerous as the racism often found in Southern newspapers in the last century.”

What would you have said in response?

What if those people – all of whom often proclaim their commitment to civil rights – demanded the N&O apologize to the players, their families and the community and fire the people responsible for publishing the “Vigilante” photo?

Would the N&O have ignored them as it’s ignored the people who’ve asked for an apology to the students, their families and the community for the publication of the Vigilante poster photo?

Editor Williams, I and most N&O readers don’t care about the color of your skin or that of anyone else who works at the N&O.

We simply want the N&O to stop engaging in racially inflammatory and race-based double standard coverage as we've seen so often during your Duke Hoax coverage.

Thank you for your attention to my comment. I look forward to your response which I'll publish in full at my blog.


John in Carolina


krddurham said...

Re: linny’s comment


Have you noticed the comment tag on Linda William’s alleged comment? It reads…

“Comment from: linny [Visitor]”

If this is truly Linda Williams, she’s not using her administrative account to post this comment. Although sightings are rare, when an editor comments on the N&O blog, “[Member]” is next to their name. Did Linda Williams actually post this comment?

Just wondering,


Anonymous said...


You ought to send a copy of this to N&O publisher Quarles, Ted Vaden, and Steve Ford as well.

Very good questions.

Anonymous said...


They wouldn't have left the comment up if it had not been from Linda Williams.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John

We'll be waiting for a response again. How many are unanswered so far?

If she did post it, she certainly overlooked the fact that it was her opening comments that centered all discussion on color.


Anonymous said...

Did you guys forget that Williams included her phone number and email address for commenters to get in touch with her at the end of the comment?

The comment was certainly from her. No doubt about that. Why not check her phone number on the website with what was printed on the thread?