Tuesday, June 02, 2009

To Liestoppers' Truth Detector: There Is No Mystery

Readers Note: Most of you know I’ve received both support and criticism for two recent posts: “KC Johnson Now” and “KC Johnson Slimed Prof. Lubiano.”

I’m very appreciative for the support. Almost all of it's come from sources I expected with a few pleasant surprises added.

On the criticism side, it’s been pretty much the same: those I can identify who are critical and the type and content of their criticisms have been pretty much what I expected except for a few instances.

If you’ve been reading here this past week you know one of those few is sceptical, who blogs at Liestoppers Meeting. Because of my respect for the good judgment sceptical has shown in the past, I’m putting together a few posts so I can feel I’ve done all I reasonably can to explain myself to skeptical and some other such people.

Those posts will be appearing very soon.

This post here is a response to another Liestoppers Meeting blogger, Truth Detector.

I hope you’ll read along to see why I’m responding to Truth Detector whose proper understanding of what I’ve done I value.

I’ll be sending this post to LM and asking that it be posted there.



Dear Truth Detector:

I notice in a May 29 post @ 5:24 PM on this thread you said in part:

At issue of course was the post by JinC about KC which I am surprised by. If John waited this long to express his thoughts, he probably could have shut down the site having said nothing. That will always be a mystery. I really have enjoyed John's site, both for his analysis of the hoax and particularly the Churchill Series. I will particularly miss those.
Thank you for you nice words about my blogging. I’m delighted to learn that, among other things, you appreciated The Churchill Series.

I also want to speak to what you call “a mystery.”

I didn’t wait until I was shutting down to express almost all of what was in “KC Johnson Now”
If you will reread it, you’ll see it includes extensive extracts to portions of a Q&A from Dec. 2007 with me the “Q” and KC the “A.”

I twice linked to the Dec. 2007 in “KC Johnson Now.”

In the first instance I clearly said I was extracting from and linking to a JinC post from Dec. 2007.

In the second instance I said clearly I was linking to the same post I’d previously linked to.

I want to you and everyone else to also know that many of the issues and matters discussed in “KC Johnson Now” go back to well before Dec. 2007. For that reason I’m providing you a paste in of the following posts.

Since LM posting won’t leave the links “active” visit JinC to check any link you care to.

Thank you for reading all this which should clear up any concern you or other reasonable person has about whether I waited to the last minute.




Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 1)

The Raleigh News & Observer’s repeatedly said it didn't use anonymous sources when reporting the Duke lacrosse story. I know that’s preposterous but it has. (See, for example, here, here and here. )

Now there's strong evidence that one of the anonymous sources the N&O used last March to publicly frame the lacrosse players was then DA Mike Nifong.

Recall that in front-page stories on March 24, 25, 26 and in a March 27 news column by Ruth Sheehan, the N&O laid out its deliberately fictional Duke lacrosse script about a frightened young black woman brutally beaten and gang-raped by privileged white male Duke lacrosse players whose racist teammates had formed "a wall of solidarity" to prevent the police from identifying their gang-rapist buddies.

Nifong’s never mentioned in any of those stories or Sheehan’s column.

But when Nifong first began speaking publicly about the case on the afternoon of March 27, he followed exactly the fictional script the N&O had been shilling to the public and the rest of the media for four days.

Now Sheehan admits that a major portion of the N&O's fictional script was provided to N&O journalists by Mike Nifong.

In fact, Sheehan says Nifong and “people” at the N&O who were in touch with him were the actual sources for her March 27 column attacking the players and demanding the lacrosse team be "shut down" until the players cooperated with police.

Don Yeager, in his recently released It's Not About the Truth (Threshold Editions, 2007), quotes Sheehan:

"I think on Saturday [March 25] we had the interview with the alleged victim. It was on Sunday I called into the office. I already had a column in the can because I run on Mondays.

But I called in about this story and they told me that there was another story with Nifong talking about how there was this wall of silence.

That's when I decided on that Sunday to write my first column about the case. [...]

I have to write a column about what people are talking about. And everybody was talking about it. It was so outrageous, the stuff that was in the paper. Her story, Nifong's recounting of it. Oh, my God. It was just like , . , you couldn't even believe it." (ellipses in Yeager) (pg. 154)
A little further on Yeager writes:
As she wrote, Sheehan made clear that in her mind the stories bubbling up from Nifong's office and the Durham Police Department were true. She was not alone. (pg. 155)
Yeager then tells readers Sheehan added:
"Back during that period, no one was telling us that the players had been cooperative," she said in a January 2007 interview. "I know now that was not true. If I had known that then, I would have never written what I did. I would have thought what is Nifong talking about? That's not a wall of silence then. How is that a wall of silence?"(pg. 155)
The N&O’s March 25 "anonymous interview" story refers to “authorities [who’ve] vowed to crack the team's wall of solidarity.”

It then continues: "We're asking someone from the lacrosse team to step forward," Durham police Cpl. David Addison said. "We will be relentless in finding out who committed this crime."

But neither that March 25 story nor any N&O Duke lacrosse story that appeared before March 28 mentions Nifong or some variant such as “the DA’s office said” as a news source.

No one at the N&O has challenged Sheehan's account of calling the paper on Sunday, March 26, and being told by journalists there details of what Nifong was providing the N&O.

In the N&O's recent report of Yeager’s book, staff writer Jim Nesbitt didn't even mention Sheehan’s account.

I posted on Nesbitt’s story here. I raised questions about why the N&O’s story said nothing about Yeager's reporting on Sheehan’s column or any other part of the N&O’s framing of the lacrosse players last March.

I emailed Nesbitt and asked why that was the case. I offered to publish his response in full.

I received no reply to my email or to phone messages I left for Nesbitt and other N&O staffers.

Sheehan’s disclosures to Yeager are, as far as I know, her most detailed public statements identifying Nifong as a source for her March 27 column.

I'm not aware of Sheehan ever before publicly disclosing Nifong spoke to journalists at the N&O by at least Sunday, March 26, and perhaps earlier. Or that journalists at the N&O used what Nifong told them to convince Sheehan to write her column viciously and falsely attacking the players. (Sheehan has since apologized for the column. - JinC).

But Sheehan's statements to Yeager are not the first time she's blamed Nifong for her May 27 column.

Last June 19 she wrote a column saying she'd been wrong to base her March 27 column on what Nifong had said.

I posted on her column the same day asking among other things how Sheehan could blame Nifong for her column when he didn’t begin speaking publicly about the case until AFTER her column had run.

I sent Sheehan an email asking that question but never heard back.

Well, we finally have the answer.

And that leads to a new question: Does the Pulitzer Committee award a prize to an anonymous source and a newspaper for working together to produce stories that led to monumetal injustices, harmed innocent people and damaged race relations in a community where most people were trying to improve them?


Anonymous said...

As what I would characterize as an outside observer's opinion (I was not involved in the rough and tumble debate as I was not here before the charges were dropped) I would offer just a few thoughts.

When I first wanted to learn how 3 innocent young men could have been drug through the media mud, you were a great source of information.
For more than 2 years, I've returned to read and enjoy JiC, havng found an interesting person and a blog with remarkable dedication, courtesy, civility, and humility.

The hard work involved has always been evident. While also going (IMO) above and beyond to quickly apologize for, explain, and correct mistakes; responding to comments; making every effort to inform and accommodate readers.

What always impressed me the most was the way in which criticism was handled. Whoever it was that so "hated" JiC and constantly attacked the person and the blog at the Chronicle was accepted, patiently dealt with or appropriately ignored.

For whatever it's worth, I have known few people who took criticism with the grace, wit, and wisdom you have demonstrated.

I've enjoyed your blog, almost always found interesting what you found interesting (Churchill, et al) and respect you and your work.

Thanks. Enjoy whatever comes next, I suspect you will:)

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:31 PM -

I agree with you but could never find the words to say it so well.

So I was silent until now.

John deserves everything you said about him.