Sunday, December 21, 2008

N&O’s public editor today & my response

The McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer’s public editor Ted Vaden, who self-describes as “the readers’ advocate,” begins his print column today - - -

The News & Observer spent weeks trying to get Gov. Mike Easley to talk on the record about the state's probation system, which the paper examined critically in a three-part series this month. …

Steve Riley, the N&O senior editor who edited the series, said Easley's response did not address the core issue raised by the series, "which is the quality of the supervision of the killers they were charged with supervising."

Riley noted that
the state has refused to release records of 2,200 criminals who committed serious crimes, including 580 murders, while they were on probation. (emphasis added)

The rest of Vaden’s column's



The N&O wants the state to release certain individuals’ probation records.

But it won’t produce what Vaden and other senior N&O editors told readers is the “police report” it relied on for its Mar. 25, 2006 page one, above the fold story with five-column-wide headlines:

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
That’s the story that laid out both the essential material to be used in the slander and libeling of the entire Duke 2006 Men’s lacrosse team and “the script” to be used for the public portion of the frame-up attempt.

The N&O’s deliberately fraudulent, now discredited story included this:
The 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 [the woman who says she was raped last week by three members of the Duke University lacrosse team} 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."
In Vaden’s Apr. 2, 2006 column he told readers:
… 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. …
Vaden’s right about one thing: the “police report” he mentions, if it existed, would be a public record.

But in the now almost three years since the N&O published its phony Mar. 25 story about “a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence,” the N&O's never produced its “police report.”

Except for the N&O’s attribution to Crystal Mangum of “racial slurs” being “bark[ed]” at her and the other dancer, no one who was in the house that night, including the other dancer, has said there were any racial slurs made inside the house.

Except for the N&O, I know of no one, including NC's attorney general, who’s investigated the case evidence and reported finding a police report containing a charge by Mangum or anyone else that racial slurs were barked inside the house at the dancers.

I left the following comment on Vaden’s column thread:

Yes, the Easley interview should have been on page one.

As for making public records available, you said the Mar. 25, 2006 "anonymous interview" with the Duke false accuser stuck strictly to "the police report." The N&O reported she said men inside the house surrounded her and barked racial slurs. But that's in no police report anyone's ever found.

Produce that "police report" or admit there never was a “police report” that fit with the N&O’s story before asking the Governor for other public records.

Isn't that the least a "readers' advocate" should do?

John in Carolina

Update: In my comment to Vaden instead of saying "asking the Governor for other public records" I should have said: "asking the Governor to make public other government records not now public."


Anonymous said...

Will Williams and others from N&O ever have to give depositions? It would be interesting to know the relationship between Nifong and N&O staffers.