I often receive comments about McClatchy’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer that go something like this:
Those first N&O stories in March 2006 about the Duke lacrosse case were terrible. But after that the N&O really did a very good job covering the case.Similar comments appear at other blogs.
Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, co-authors of Until Proven Innocent are also very positive about the N&O’s overall Duke lacrosse coverage.
At his Durham-in-Wonderland blog, KC regularly praises the N&O’s coverage, which he’s called “outstanding.”
N&O editors who’ve spoken out agree with KC; and, like him, fulsomely praise their paper’s Duke lacrosse news reporting.
But as most frequent visitors here know, I don’t accept the “after the first few days the N&O’s coverage was outstanding” claim.
Sure, after March 2006 there were some N&O news stories that were fact-based which a reasonable person might call “outstanding.” I’ve posted about and praised a few of them.
But consider the following:
On March 24, 2006 false accuser Crystal Mangum told the N&O she believed the second dancer, Kim Roberts, had also been raped at the party but didn’t report it for fear of losing her job. Mangum also said she thought Roberts would do anything for money.
If the N&O had reported that news, exculpatory for the falsely accused players, on March 25 what would then-DA Mike Nifong have said?
However, for reasons it’s never honestly explained, the N&O decided to suppress that critically important news until April 12, 2007, the day after NC AG Roy Cooper declared innocent the three young man indicted in the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt.
Can a newspaper cover-up such important news central to one of its most important stories in the last decade and still be said to have provided “outstanding” coverage of that story?
In It’s Not About The Truth, Don Yeager’s book written in collaboration with coach Mike Pressler, N&O columnist Ruth Sheehan’s admits she relied on Mike Nifong as the anonymous source for her March 27 “Team’s silence is sickening” column.
Sheehan said she was fed Nifong’s information by someone(s) at the N&O who talked her off the column she was planning to run and onto the Nifong sourced column she subsequently wrote.
To this day the N&O’s publisher, former executive editor for news, its current executive editor for news and its recently resigned former public editor all refuse to comment on whether Sheehan’s admission is true.
In a December 16, 2007 column mostly about mistakes other newspapers have made, executive editor for news John Drescher told N&O readers:
We felt that pressure during the Duke lacrosse case. We broke the news that 46 team members had been ordered to give DNA in a rape investigation.Well, we can all understand the pressure of newspaper deadlines.
The day we published that story, we had an interview -- the only one to date -- with the accuser. The next day [, March 25], 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.
But Drescher didn’t tell readers why the N&O during the next few days didn't do “more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.”
And he never has since.
Surely we can all agree it was a great help to Mike Nifong, the other framers and their enablers that the N&O didn’t do in March and for weeks during April “more reporting on the accuser, her statement and her prior run-in with the law.”
And we can all surely agree it was great help to Nifong and the rest that the N&O covered up until April 12, 2007 the critically important and exculpatory for the players news it first learned on March 24, 2006.
When I reflect on the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage from March 24 right up to this day, I often recall from some years ago a story I heard about a women I think was in her late 60s or early 70s.
She lived alone and was befriended by a neighbor in his 40s. He started doing favors for her – walking her dog on rainy days and the like. He bought her flowers on special occasions. They began going out dancing together.
While they never married, in time she trusted him with her financial affairs.
I bet some of you already know where this story is heading: He began bilking her.
I think it was her bank and her brokerage company that began talking to each other, after which the woman and the police were notified. The story also got to the papers.
The woman understood what had happened. And while she cut her relationship with the guy, she couldn’t bring herself to press charges.
She said she couldn’t because while she knew he’d cheated her, she got a glow when she remembered the special things he’d done for her and what a good dancer he was.
I guess for some people the N&O's “a good dancer.”