Sunday, December 28, 2008

Durham PD & H-S’s big “present” to Duke laxers

I don’t recall the Durham Police Department and the Durham Herald Sun ever teaming up to give the members of the 2006 Duke Men’s lacrosse team any kind of “present”.

But they did recently, just in time for the holidays. And it was a big one.

If you’ve followed the Duke/Durham hoax, frame-up attempt and their ongoing cover-up, you’ll spot the “present” in this Dec. 16 H-S editorial - -

The Durham police department's investigation into alleged racial slurs involving president-elect Barack Obama on officers' social-networking sites is proceeding with frustrating if unavoidable slowness.

That said, we must say the results reported so far are encouraging, both as the process reflects the department's intent to take the concerns seriously and as so far it has revealed that the postings were more innocent than at first feared.

The department has yet to complete its investigation into the allegations against one officer, so the full extent of the case remains uncertain.

One officer has been cleared, another disciplined -- not for racist remarks, as it turns out, but for comments about women's rights. And while we don't condone that, the remarks were relatively mild, teasing his fiance, investigators reported, about the 19th amendment and women's voting rights.

The racial connotation was originally inferred because the officer confused the 14th and 19th amendments to the Constitution, an embarrassing slip in its own right but the sort of casual error not uncommon in rapid-fire web postings and e-mail.

The department, Deputy Chief Ron Hodge told The Herald-Sun's Gregory Childress, has been weighing officers' rights of free speech against the public perceptions that can be created by what law enforcement officers are saying.

"We take very seriously any activity by a police officer that has the potential to create a weakening of public confidence," Hodge said.

Had the officer not identified himself as a police officer, "you probably have a citizen expressing a political opinion," he said. It's a delicate balance the department appears trying hard to get right.(emphasis added)

Although at least one council member has publicly worried that the investigation might be a cover up, we, like Mayor Bill Bell, are encouraged by the news so far.

We hope the final findings of the investigation are soon in coming, and similarly encouraging.



For those who didn’t know- - -

Beginning in March 2006 and continuing for almost a year thereafter, certain Durham police officers and their supervisors slandered, libeled and in other ways grossly mistreated the Duke students on the lacrosse team.

False statements about a “horrific crime,” “stonewalling” and “really strong evidence” were just part of it, with the false statement of “really strong evidence” coming from Deputy Chief Ron Hodge himself.

The Herald Sun went along cheerleading all of that and more.

Imagine the surprise of faithful H-S readers when our State Attorney General told them and the rest of us there never was any credible evidence of a crime.

Durham City and Police responded to that with something called the Chalmers-Baker report, which concluded DPD did nothing wrong.

When Hodge subsequently appeared at a public gathering, he assured his listeners, he could think of nothing wrong DPD had done.

His claim was greeted with laughter.

But the Chalmers-Baker report and Hodge’s claim that what DPD did to the lacrosse players was appropriate police procedure are now the position of Durham City and Police as they defend themselves from suits brought by the players.

Need I add the Herald Sun is not happy the players now hold Durham Police (and its “lead investigator,” the disbarred former DA Mike Nifong) and others responsible for their flagrant disregard of the Constitution and the laws of our state?

And need I tell any of you why the recent DPD investigation and Deputy Chief Hodge’s statements, so nicely recorded by the H-S, are a big “present” to the laxers, their families and their attorneys?


Anonymous said...

Someone should write a book about North Carolina newspapers' complicity in the cold-blooded frame of the lacrosse players.

bill anderson said...

Until Proven Innocent did a pretty good job of demonstrating the complicity of the Herald-Sun in promoting and continuing the frame. As much as anything, I believe the H-S did much of its work out of fear of retaliation from Durham.

Had the H-S actually spoken the truth, one can be sure that there would have been a large, organized boycott of the paper by the hard left and the NAACP. Thus, the editorial staff there sold its collective soul to the Devil.

In the end, however, the H-S still is declining and either will go out of business or become so tiny that it becomes even more relevant than it is now.

Newspaper editors love to portray themselves as heroic friends of the truth who stand between tyranny and freedom. In truth, however, newspapers pretty much are the mouthpiece of government. The vast majority of "sources" for journalists come from government, and when newspapers "expose" government "malfeasance," they usually mean that government is not using as much regulatory power as the editors believe should be used.

In other words, modern newspapers pretty much are the cheerleaders for state power. They are not the "watchdogs" of government, as they like to claim; instead, they are government lapdogs. We saw this in all its ugliness in the LAX case, and the H-S played its part well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I bet it would be a FICTION best seller.

JWM said...

To Anon @ 9:50,

I feel very sure someone(s) will.

It's quite a story.

To Bill,

I plan to post and comment on your comment on Tuesday.

To Anon @ 8:35,

There sure has been a lot of fiction in NC papers covering the hoax and frame-up.

Thanks to all three of you,


Anonymous said...

As usual, Bill Anderson make several excellent points. While he mentions K.C. Johnson's book on the H-S role, what about the N&O's significant role in the early days of the frame — in late March 2006? Did Joe Neff's later excellent reporting affect Professor Johnson's apparent downplaying of the Raleigh newspaper's complicity in the frame? What is John in Carolina's view of this?