Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Raleigh N&O without its mask (Post 2)

If you’re not already familiar with The Raleigh N&O without its mask (Post 1), I encourage you to read it before continuing with this post.

Post 1 drew a comment which I want to present here in full and italics. I’ll then respond to it.

Regarding N&O editor Linda Williams' 2 emails contained in full in Post 1, JF said - - -

This is an appalling insight into the angry mindset of a woman who many believe made some of the most disastrous decisions in the early days of the Duke Frame...most notoriously "shaping" Mangum's story so that it deleted anything that did not assist the racial metanarrative of "Sister Survivor."

Those of us who wondered for many, many months we pressed Sill on the Editor's Blog...WHY would the local newspaper pursue such inflammatory and biased coverage...well, John, at last, we have our answer. This is an angry, insecure woman using her position as Editor to shape the news, promote those whose hues and views she shares and punish those she deems unworthy.

She is a disgrace.

She is the embodiment of the reason her employer is losing both money and the trust of the average reader. Williams and those like her have made the N&O into an untrustworthy rag, a high school slam book, authored by non-professional juveniles to "get" those they do not like. It is no more accurate or appealing than that.

I agree with much that JF says about editor Linda Williams who we’re told was lead editor of the N&O’s racially inflammatory, malicious, and deliberately fraudulent March 25, 2006 story the N&O said, without any qualification to suggest doubt, was about a young black mother’s “ordeal” which ended finally in “sexual violence.”

Subsequent to the publication of the March 25 story, Williams has lied about how it was put together. For example, on Oct. 5, 2006 in a post at the Editors’ Blog Williams told readers:

The decision made prior to the March interview to limit it to the information in the police report was the correct decision and I stand by it,

But the March 25 story contains statements from the interview that have never showed in any police report cited by the now disbarred Nifong, defense attorneys or AG Roy Cooper who with AG staffers reviewed the entire case file.

Police reports are public records. Despite being asked to ID the one it sats it used, the N&O has never done so.

Other journalists who’ve worked the story say there never was such a police report as the N&O claims.

If she’s capable of shame, Williams has plenty to feel shameful about.

But I want to make this very clear to everyone: on the N&O’s Duke framing and ongoing cover-up of its framing and the rest of her work, Linda Williams, while influential, didn’t act alone. Others bear responisbility, too.

In March 2006 Williams was one of three N&O deputy managing editors, John Drescher was managing editor, and Melanie Sill was executive editor.

Sill and Drescher both stood with Williams and others who worked the framing stories and are maintaining the cover-up of what happened at the N&O as it led the Duke witch hunt days before Nifong began speaking publicly about the case

Here’s part of a comment (10/6 @ 15:40) Sill made on the thread of Williams’ Editors’ Blog post:

What Linda has said (and I have said in the past) is that the editing of this story, which was a news story on deadline, followed our usual guidelines and cautions. …

The second day we were working to talk to all the principals. We got the woman identified as the victim and interviewed her. As Linda notes, it wasn't an extensive or extensively planned interview -- it was boots on the street hustle to track down the key players.

We published what was newsworthy and went through the usual process of including some information and leaving out other information. As noted many times over neither the players nor their families or lawyers would talk to us that day.

The intensity of interest in this interview with the reported victim is understandable, but I think Linda's main point is that much of this speculation about the handling of this story is simply imagination at work. The interview was good reporting but certainly not the end of our reporting. …

In Oct. 2007 the McClatchy Newspaper Co. promoted Sill to executive editor of its flagship paper, the Sacramento Bee, and Drescher to executive editor at the N&O. Williams and the other two dep. mgr. editors were named Senior Editors.

Drescher, in his Dec. 16,2007 column told N&O readers:

... We felt that [deadline] pressure during the Duke lacrosse case. We broke the news that 46 team members had been ordered to give DNA in a rape investigation.

The day we published that story, we had an interview -- the only one to date -- with the accuser. The next day, we published her account.

I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.

Many other times, we've held back when our competitors were using anonymous sources. ...

The same day Drescher's column appeared I posted in response. Here's part of what I said last December 16:

People familiar with both the Mar. 25, 2006 front-page story Drescher refers to (and) the facts available to the N&O at the time of publication continue to ask why the N&O published it.

The story by reporters Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe stank like a sewer pit the day it was published.

Today it has as much credibility as the news conferences Mike Nifong began giving two days after the Khanna/Blythe story appeared.

So what's the N&O saying today?

I think some people will nod and tell themselves something like: “The N&O was under deadline. Of course! That explains what happened. Why do those lacrosse people keep complaining and suing. It’s time to move on.”

And I feel sure sensible people will ask questions such as:

Why is Drescher only saying this now, twenty-one months after the N&O published the story?

Drescher says: ”I wish we had held that story for a day and done more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.”


What stopped the N&O from doing “more reporting” the day after it published the story?

Or the day after that which was Mar. 27, 2006, the first day Nifong began speaking publicly about the case?

Drescher doesn't say, does he?

The N&O had reported on Crystal Mangum’s “prior run-in with the law” in June 2002.

So how can “competitive pressure” explain reporters Samiha Khanna's and Anne Blythe’s failure to mention it in the “anonymous interview/sexual violence” story?

When and in what detail did the N&O first report on Mangum’s “run-in?”

Why didn’t Drescher tell us that, and explain the delay?

Why did the N&O withhold from its Mar. 25 story what it knew about the players’ cooperation with police?

Why did reporters Khanna and Blythe promulgate the falsehoods that the players had refused to cooperate with police and formed what the N&O said was a “wall of solidarity?”

I’m sure many of you have other questions. Please share them.

What do you think are the chances Drescher will answer your questions and mine fully and honestly?



As far as I know, Drescher has never publicly answered the questions asked last December 16.

Sill, Drescher and Williams bear considerable responsibility for the N&O's spring 2006 Duke lacrosse framing and for the cover-up of how and why that was done. So do many other N&O journalists.

In Post 3 Friday I'll discusss when the N&O first told readers about Mangum's 2002 "run in" with the law, when it first told readers that in June 2002 when the "run in" occurred she'd been dancing at a "gentlemen's club," and what the time and circumstances of the N&O's reporting of Mangum's "run in" tell us about its "newsroom culture."

Hat tip: Locomotive Breath


Anonymous said...

The N&O is a rapidly sinking ship, along with the entire McClatchy organization. Drescher, Sill and Williams will be looking for work soon and it is then, I believe, that their chickens will come home to roost.

TruthHurts001 said...

Sill, Drescher and Wright bear heavy responsibility for the N&O's Duke frame actions, uncluding cover-ups beginning in March 2006 and continuing until this day.


Anonymous said...

From the beginning this was an allegation with no confirming evidence. A stripper made an allegation of gang rape. Every other person in the house at the time, including the other stripper, said she was lying. EVERY ONE. The Team captains gave full cooperation and full access to their home from the very first, before they even sought legal representation.

In those early days, the N&O secured the only interview with the Accuser. That “interview” set in place a series of lies and misrepresentations that the N&O, with a minimum of journalistic effort could have fact-checked easily. The question remains “WHY did they not put out that minimal amount of effort?” Why did they put out false and misleading information to their readers without the proper journalistic checks? Why did they rush to create a false and dangerous myth and install their phony Goddess dead center?

A minimum of journalistic effort would have shown that Mangum was not a shy young mother “new to dancing”: she was a seasoned prostitute, well known to the Durham police. The first officer on the scene asked where her children were! She had a criminal record. She had neighbors willing to talk about her troubled life… as they did to the young reporter from NCCU (who also, in racial solidarity, reported her qualms but not the negative comments) Why did the N&O not pursue BOTH sides of the story? Why send multiple reporters out to cover the collegiate swagger but not the seamy lifestyle of Ms. Mangum? This is all Journalism 101…but only, if you want the truth, the facts. Only if you are keeping faith with providing the most accurate INFORMATION to your reader.

Where were the N&O sources ? Why weren't they interviewing people who knew and worked with or were part of Crystal's life? They wanted all the dirt on a college team to "fill out" the Team "story" but not a word on Durham's sex industry to help us understand Mangum's choices? Why did the N&O not do even the most minimal fact checking around town?

Or did they? Did Williams and company simply NOT want the facts on all sides of the story to be revealed? Had they already decided they knew, on an allegation and no evidence ALL THEY NEEDED about the case? Why did they essentially become, so easily, the propaganda arm of a corrupt prosecutor’s office?

Did they not want contrary information on Mangum to be revealed? They had created the perfect victim. To help her, they had shaped her interview to delete her comments against Kim. Crystal could not be the archetypical “Sister Survivor” if she was trashing another Black woman…that would mess up the heart-wrenching racial metanarrative. Williams cleaned THAT up for Crystal….to give her a good start at destroying those swaggering white boys. Williams SHAPED the interview. That is undeniable.

Had Williams et al. at the N&O decided that they “knew” boys like the Lacrosse players and needed to prop up and sanitize up their “victim” (as they repeatedly called Mangum) to give her the best chance to destroy these privileged creeps? Did Williams KNOW by the color of their skin, or the content of their Daddy’s wallets, or by gossip on local talk radio shows that she and her staff had to put the power of their newspaper on poor Mangum’s side to assure the proper “guilty” outcome? Her leaked memo reveals an angry woman exhorting those who work for her with her political “gotcha” world view. Is that why the first mention of Mangum’s criminal record was buried at the bottom of a routine piece? Did the N&O management think they were just leveling the playing field against wealth and privilege? Is this how the ”Weekend Editor” justified printing the Wanted Poster, a nifty cut-out guide to the Duke Lacrosse Players as an armed RACIST hate group came to campus to “interview them” …during Exam Week… when they could not leave? Was this supposed to be a “public service?”

From that first “shaped” interview to the Wanted Poster cut-out for Racist Militants, the N&O provided their readers with skewed biased reporting that could lead and did lead to false and dangerous conclusions. “You’re a dead man walking” someone shouted at Reade.

This was the level of pure malevolence the N&O directed at innocent young men! With just an allegation and no evidence.

Anonymous said...

These questions should be answered by the publisher, Mr. Quarles, and the McClatchy leader, Mr. Pruitt. Polite letters and questions should be sent to members of the McClatchy family who still have a major say in how the company is run. It's a waste of time to communicate with Sill, Drescher and Williams.

Anonymous said...

8:10 - Absolutely excellent questions, analysis and comments. Steve in New Mexico