Tuesday, November 25, 2008

N&O reporter’s falsehoods undermine editors’ “police report” claim

The Raleigh News & Observer’s now discredited March 25, 2006 story headlined ---

Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence ---

trashed the lacrosse players and provided the script for the bogus crime story used in the attempt to frame for gang rape and other felonies three transparently innocent Duke students.

Durham’s DA at the time, Mike Nifong, subsequently disbarred and jailed for some of his actions in the framing attempt, began publically shilling the N&O’s bogus story two days after its publication when he first spoke publicly about the case.

Just as the N&O had done, Nifong used the accuser’s false claim she was a victim of racial slurs barked at her inside the house where the party was held to inflame public sentiment against the players.

The N&O’s bogus “night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence” story began:

The woman who says she was raped last week by three members of the Duke University lacrosse team thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party, she said Friday. But when she arrived that night, she found herself surrounded by more than 40.

Just moments after she and another exotic dancer started to perform, she said, men in the house started barking racial slurs.

The two women, both black, stopped dancing.

"We started to cry," she said. "We were so scared." ...
Many readers immediately challenged the accuracy and fairness of the N&O’s story, especially the interview with the accuser whom the N&O granted anonymity because of what it said was its policy of granting anonymity “to victims of sex crimes.”

Top N&O editors claimed then and now continue to claim the N&O only published material from the interview already in a police report (some editors have used the plural “police reports”).

This from N&O public editor Ted Vaden’s
Arp. 2, 2006 column

But let's talk more about the anonymous interview. [Editor Linda] Williams said editors and the reporter discussed the fairness issue at length before interviewing the woman and publishing the story.

The governing decision, she said, was to print only information from the interview that conformed with the police reports. "We limited for publication the statements from the woman that were in line with what she said in the police report," Williams said. (all emphases added) …

In this case, as Williams pointed out, the story used only information from the interview that corroborated the public record, so it didn't add new facts.

The added matter was the emotional content -- the crying mother of two -- that gave a human dimension to the police reports. …
Vaden’s claim that the accuser was allowed to repeat “only information from the interview that corroborated the public record ” was demonstrably false when he made it.

The N&O’s March 25 story, for example, quoted the accuser saying her father had come to visit her in the hospital and that his visit was a major part of the impetus for her reporting she’d been raped. But he never visited his daughter in the hospital. And no police report ever said he did.

The same goes for the N&O’s “barking racial slurs” report.

No one – not the N&O, Nifong, Durham Police or frame-up enablers at Duke - has ever produced a police report recounting the “barking racial slurs” claim.

When the NC Attorney General and members of his staff examined the entire case file, they found no such police report.

Even the reporter who conducted the interview, Samiha Khanna, hasn’t claimed the “barking racial slurs” portion of the interview was based on material contained in a police report.

As a matter of fact, on Apr. 4, 2006 she was quite clear it wasn’t.

On that day Khanna was the guest on newsobserver.com’s On Live Q&A, the full text of which is

Only the first question and Khanna’s answer deal with the matter of whether interview material published by the N&O was restricted to what was already in a police report(s).

You’ll see Khanna’s answer makes clear that with regard to the “barking racial slurs” claim it was not.

Here the first question and Khanna’s answer in full - - -

Moderator: A reader writes: "Why was the alleged victim granted anonymity in your interview? I understand the policy of not identifying alleged victims of sexual assault, but that is different than letting them make their accusations publicly behind a veil of secrecy. Particularly absent any criminal charges. I doubt you would have let a lacrosse team member make accusations against the victim anonymously, as a protected source. Or would you have allowed that?"

SK: This is an issue that we discussed at length among the top editors of the newspaper. Being that we had given members of the lacrosse team, their parents, and leaders in the athletic department an opportunity to address these allegations, we had a responsibility to give the alleged victim the opportunity to tell her story as well.

In interviewing her anonymously, we were careful to weigh each statement she made on the position that it might allow her to speak more freely than if she used her name. Therefore, we were careful not to allow her to make wide-spread allegations of any kind.

The only part of her story that was different than what police had already released was the racial aspect. We were able to use the statements she made about racist terms being shouted at her because that was corroborated by other sources -- people who gave their names -- who heard the same thing. (emphasis added)

Khanna’s claim that “the only part of her story that was different than what police had already released was the racial aspect” is false.

The story, you’ll recall, reported her father visited her in the hospital. He didn’t and no police report contained language saying he did.

With regard to the false accuser, Crystal Mangum, being the victim of “men in the house … barking racial slurs” at her and the second dancer, Khanna makes another false claim when she asserts: “We were able to use the statements she made about racist terms being shouted at her because that was corroborated by other sources -- people who gave their names -- who heard the same thing.”

No one who was inside the house that night, including the second dancer, has ever corroborated Crystal Mangum’s false claim and the N&O’s report of men barking racial slurs at the two dancers.

Quite the contrary, those who were inside the house insist the barking of racial slurs did not happen.

When Khanna said “the barking racial slurs” claim had been “corroborated by other sources -- people who gave their names -- who heard the same thing,” she was either delusional or outright lying.

The only value I see in Khanna’s false statements is they further undermine the repeated claims of N&O editors that they restricted the interview portion of the March 25 story to statements/material that were/was already in police report(s), and therefore already part of the public record.

This weekend I’ll review as much of the pertinent record as I can including items such as this post: Did the Raleigh N&O fake "a police report?"

I want to be as diligent and as informed as I can be before I call the N&O out for what the paper appears to have done: falsely claimed to have relied on a police report the N&O knew didn’t exist.

Some of you may be thinking I should be fact checking with the N&O.

I’ve been doing that for over 2 years. I’ve contacted various reporters and editors many times on the matter. You’ll see in the post above an email I sent in October to Vaden. I sent that email again yesterday.

In neither case have I heard anything back from Vaden and in no case have I heard anything from anyone else at the N&O concerning "the police report."

As we go forward, keep this in mind : In North Carolina, as in most states, police crime investigation reports are public records.

That makes it a very easy matter for a reporter or editor claiming to have relied on a police report to cite the report.

The N&O’s failure to cite a police report(s) to corroborate the “barking racial slurs” portion of its Mar. 25, 2006 story is telling.


Anonymous said...

I applaud your efforts here. These people are desperately hoping that this will all just go away and that everyone just forgets about it. Your efforts continue to give these issues life and maybe, just maybe, they will be accountable for their shameless behavior. Hope you and your faily have a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. Steve in New Mexico

Anonymous said...

These people flat out LIED. Keep their feet to the fire John.

Anonymous said...

Lies upon lies, surrounded by lies, spoken by liars and supported by more lies of lying scoundrels. Vaden and the rest of those disreputable liars are incapable of telling the truth and I believe they now fear being dragged into the civil cases because of their lies. If there is any justice in this world, the N&O will end up losing a handsome sum for its public lies.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis. Please send it to the McClatchy family members in California. What does publisher Quarles have to say about this?

Anonymous said...

I doubt that your efforts to get the N&O to respond will produce anything different than the response you have alreaddy gotten - nada. They are smug in their belief that this will "go away" because they are sure that the North Carolina courts are going to throw outall the lawsuits currently before it. Unfortunately, I am beginning to think that this will indeed be the case given the recent ruling having to do with the motion to hear the validity of the cases before depositions can proceed and evidence collected.
Perhaps, just perhaps, there is hope - given that Ms. Gorelick seems to have been frozen out of a justice department berth - maybe Obama will be amenable to have his attorney general appointee (Eric Holder) investigate the option of proceeding against Nifong, et al. Given that Obama questioned what was happening in NC, it might be that pressure applied to the new administration on this issue might result in the actions of the Durham police and prosecutors (and by extension Duke and its minions) being put under the federal microscope. One can only hope.

Anonymous said...

I’ve followed the case closely but this post is a real eye-opener.

Keep up the outstanding work.

Duke ‘85