Saturday, June 24, 2006

A great professor and "Go Heels!"

Most of you know I'm a Dukie.

And you know about the Duke-Carolina rivalry, which MSM plays up.

MSM digs to find and report any antagonism between the two schools.

And there's a market for that.

There are plenty of people here where I live close to both universities who can't handle the rivalry as a matter of "who can do best within the rules and respect the other." Such people - some Tar Heels, some Dukies - are convinced "We're so good and they're so bad." MSM usually gives those folks the microphones and the ink.

In truth, for all the attention MSM gives those folks, the real story of the two universities' rivalry is mostly one of healthy competition that embraces cooperation between the schools.

Shortly after I came to Duke a student remarked in class how surprised he was that professors from Carolina were regularly invited to speak to students at Duke. He'd also heard that students at both schools were often encouraged to enroll in courses at the other school.

"Why do we do that with Carolina?" the student asked. "They're our rivals."

"Because," the professor said, "we're two great universities; not a pair of squabbling siblings."

The professor became one of my favorites.

I thought of her tonight when I began watching Carolina and Oregon State play for the College Baseball World Series.

"Go Heels."

Duke lacrosse: Nifong asks an easy question

On March 31 ESPN reported on an interview Durham DA Mike Nifong granted its George Smith the previous day.

During the interview Nifong asked:

"If it's not the way it's been reported, then why are they so unwilling to tell us what, in their words, did take place that night?" Nifong told Smith on Thursday. "And one would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and had not done anything wrong."

Because they're facing a rogue DA named Mike Nifong;

A Durham Police Department whose Chief hasn’t been seen in public for months and some of whose officers have done things that are questionable, if not worse;

A newspaper like the Raleigh News & Observer which repeatedly reports the accuser is “the victim” and tells readers it granted her anonymity for an interview because it doesn't indentify "the victims of sex crimes."

And because on the very day Nifong was speaking, people were circulating “vigilante posters” in Durham while others, including members of Duke's faculty, were engaging in lynch-mob talk.

Those college students better have all the defense lawyers they can get.

Now, here's a question for people in Durham who voted for Mike Nifong: Why?
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Friday, June 23, 2006

The Churchill Series – Jun. 23, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On May 14, 1940, four days after Churchill became Prime Minister, one of the private secretaries he’d inherited from Neville Chamberlain’s office recorded in his diary a concern that Churchill was:

listening to the alarmist, and, I think untrustworthy opinions of Mr. Kennedy.
The secretary needn’t have been concerned.

Churchill listened to the American Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy as a matter of diplomatic courtesy. He knew Kennedy had been an appeaser and was now a defeatist who was predicting Britain would be forced to negotiate a peace on German terms..

Churchill deplored and distrusted Kennedy. Since shortly after he returned to government in September, 1939, he had bypassed Kennedy on important matters and corresponded directly with FDR. Churchill also met with American officials from Washington. Not only was Kennedy often not included in those meetings, frequently he wasn’t even given summaries of what was discussed.

By late October, 1940, when Kennedy returned to America, he was so angry that there was talk he might in the closing days of the presidential campaign publicly endorse FDR's Republican opponent, Wendell Wilkie.

Like Churchill, Roosevelt distrusted Kennedy. Unlike Churchill, FDR by 1940 had a dislike for Kennedy that bordered on hatred. But politics is politics and Roosevelt knew Kennedy's support would be important as he battled for an unprecedented third term. So Kennedy and his wife, Rose, were invited to dine at the White House with the Roosevelts and a few other “old and valued friends.”

Roosevelt biographer Conrad Black tells us a little about the evening:
Kennedy complained bitterly of the way he had been treated by the State Department, not informed at all of the destroyers deal, and left out while emissaries like [Asst. Sec. of State Sumner] Welles came through London without any consultation with the ambassador.

Roosevelt took up this theme, blasted the “officious men” responsible, and said Kennedy was being charitable. Only the war crisis had prevented Roosevelt from taking draconian measures against these insolent people, he said, and after the election there would be a “good housecleaning” to ensure the old and valued friends and the most important members of the administration like Kennedy were not treated in this way.

Roosevelt purported to accept Kennedy’s preposterous claims to absolute loyalty, to early and consistent support of the third term, and the virtual indispensability to Roosevelt and his family. The whole exchange was an allegorization of self-delusion by Kennedy and of cunning manipulation by Roosevelt.
By the end of dinner Kennedy had agreed to endorse FDR which he did two days later in a national radio address.

I don’t doubt the “dinner conversation” had something to do with that. More important, I think, was Kennedy’s awareness that a bolt to Wilkie would hurt the budding political career of his oldest son and namesake.

Shortly after the election, Kennedy resigned his post.

In August 1944 Joseph P. Kennedy Jr was killed in action while serving as a Navy pilot. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Follow the index for Churchill and Kennedy. The White House dinner is described on pg. 591. The diary entry by one of Churchill's private secretaries is found on pg. 339 of Martin Gilbert's Finest Hour: 1939-1941.

NY Times, others at war with America

Once again the New York Times and some other MSM outfits have exposed a classified anti-terrorism program with help from government employees pledged to protect the very secrets the employees revealed.

At NRO former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says what needs to be said about the NY Times' latest attack on America's security and the civilization it defends.

Yet again, the New York Times was presented with a simple choice: help protect American national security or help al Qaeda.

Yet again, it sided with al Qaeda.

Once again, members of the American intelligence community had a simple choice: remain faithful to their oath — the solemn promise the nation requires before entrusting them with the secrets on which our safety depends — or violate that oath and place themselves and their subjective notions of propriety above the law.

Once again, honor was cast aside.

For the second time in seven months, the Times has exposed classified information about a program aimed at protecting the American people against a repeat of the September 11 attacks. On this occasion, it has company in the effort: The Los Angeles Times runs a similar, sensational story.

Together, the newspapers disclose the fact that the United States has covertly developed a capability to monitor the nerve center of the international financial network in order to track the movement of funds between terrorists and their facilitators.

The effort, which the government calls the “Terrorist Finance Tracking Program” (TFTP), is entirely legal. There are no conceivable constitutional violations involved.

The Supreme Court held in United States v. Miller (1976) that there is no right to privacy in financial-transaction information maintained by third parties. Here, moreover, the focus is narrowed to suspected international terrorists, not Americans, and the financial transactions implicated are international, not domestic. [...]

The TFTP was evidently key to the capture of one of the world’s most formidable terrorists. Riduan bin Isamuddin, better known as “Hambali” — the critical link between al Qaeda and its Indonesian affiliate, Jemaah Islamiya, and thus at the center of the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people were slaughtered — is now in U.S. custody rather than wreaking more mayhem. He was apprehended in Thailand in 2003, thanks to the program, which identified a previously unknown financial link to him in Southeast Asia.[...]

[What's more] the TFTP led to the discovery that Uzair Paracha, in Brooklyn, might be laundering money for al Qaeda in Pakistan. Paracha was ultimately indicted. Last November, a federal jury in Manhattan convicted him for providing material support to a terrorist organization — specifically, trying to help an al Qaeda operative enter the United States to commit a terrorist act.

It was in view of the TFTP’s palpable value in protecting American lives, its obvious legal propriety, and the plain fact that it was being responsibly conducted that the administration pleaded with the newspapers not to reveal it after government officials despicably leaked it.

Exposing the program would tell the public nothing about official misconduct. It would accomplish only the educating of al Qaeda — the nation’s enemy in an ongoing war; an enemy well-known to be feverishly plotting new, massive attacks — about how better to evade our defenses. About how better to kill us.

Appealing to the patriotism of these newspapers proved about as promising as appealing to the humanity of the terrorists they so insouciantly edify — the same monsters who, as we saw again only a few days ago with the torture murder of two American soldiers, continue to define depravity down.

The newspapers, of course, said no. Why? What could outweigh the need to protect a valid effort to shield Americans from additional, barbarous attacks? Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, smugly decreed that the Bush administration’s “access to this vast repository of international financial data” was, in his singularly impeccable judgment, “a matter of public interest.”
This isn't the first time Keller and the Sulzbergar family have agreed to compormise the security of Americans and our allies.


Why aren't they in jail?

When will they be put in jail?

How does the Bush Administration plan to protect us from "say anything" security people who took an oath to say nothing?

It's a serious crime for secutity people and reporters to conspire to reveal out nation's secrets. Where are the prosecutors?

McCarthy says the only language leakers and their MSM conspirators understand is prosecution and jail:
The blunt reality here is that there is a war against the war. It is the jihad of privacy fetishists whose self-absorption knows no bounds. Pleas rooted in the well-being of our community hold no sway.

The anti-warriors know only the language of self-interest. It is the language that tells them the revelation of the nation’s secrets will result, forthwith, in the demand for the revelation of their secrets — which is to say, their sources in the intelligence community — with incarceration the price of resistance. It is the language admonishing that even journalists themselves may be prosecuted when their publication of national secrets violates the law.

Bluntly, officials who leak the classified information with which they have been entrusted can be prosecuted for theft of government property. If the information is especially sensitive, they can be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. In either event, the press has no legal right to protect such lawlessness.
Protect such lawlessness? No, the press doesn't have the right to protect lawlessness although it often does.

The sooner the jailhouse doors slam shut behind the Kellers, Sulzbergers and others who engage in such lawlessness the better.

Duke lacrosse:Two newspapers report one event

Two daily newspapers circulate in Durham, North Carolina: The Durham Herald-Sun, and the much larger Raleigh News & Observer.

On Mar. 24 the N&O broke the Duke lacrosse story with a report in which it said seven times the accuser was "the victim" or used the possessive "victim's", never once preceding any of the seven with "alleged" or "reported." The N&O says it’s proud of that story and its subsequent Duke lacrosse coverage.

On Mar. 28 the N&O and the H-S both reported on the same protest held the previous day on Duke’s campus.

Let’s look at representative excerpts of the two papers’ reporting of the event. I think we'll learn a lot. Links are provided at the end of this post to both papers’ reports.

First, excerpts from the N&O’s report:

Nearly 200 people gathered outside campus administrator offices Monday to express anger and demand action in response to a rape investigation involving the men's lacrosse team.

The incident has sparked outrage on and off campus about sexual violence, classism and racism.

"I am outraged that there's a silence. ... I am outraged that legal rights are used to quiet this issue," said Meenakshi Chivukula, a junior from Medfield, Mass. […]

"If it were black students accused of that, everyone would be in jail," said Charlie Dixon, a deacon at the Church of Apostolic Revival in Durham. "If it would have been a Duke University student who allegedly got raped by a sports team from N.C. Central University, all heck would have broken loose." […]

Some [students] shook with anger and teared up as they spoke.

"If you see them in class, ask them who did this," said Serena Sebring, a graduate student.

Some students sported T-shirts that said, "Men's Lax, Come Clean." A poster said, "The DNA will talk, even if the cowards of men's lacrosse won't." […]

Sage Amelia Asmus of Durham said she joined the campus protest Monday because she felt for the alleged victim.

"That is not OK -- anywhere," Asmus said. "I don't care how much money you have and what [expletive] sports team you're on." […]
There's much more of what you just read in N&O's report but I bet already understand the N&O's framing.

Framing no doubt explains why the N&O didn't tell readers many students standing among the protesters or passing by were outspoken in their support of the players. Many other students expressed support for fairness and due process.

To learn what such students were saying, you had to turn to the H-S’s report. Excerpts:
Student reaction to the alleged gang-rape ranged from shock to satisfaction with Duke's response to a wait-and-see approach.

"Most people are just waiting to see it play out, waiting until some of the players come clean," said Duke junior Brian Hanson.

Matthew Falvey, a first-year graduate student, said the university's response so far has been "perfect."

"The underage drinking [at the party when the alleged gang-rape occurred] warranted suspension, but they haven't kicked anyone off the team yet, which is good since the investigation is still under way," he said.

Junior Sam Lee said he understands the university's cautious approach.
"No one has been convicted yet," he said. "After they get charged, I'm sure the university will take action and it will be serious."

Hanson said the allegations didn't surprise him because the lacrosse team has a reputation on campus of "being its own fraternity, like a frat straight out of a movie."
The H-S report is far more representative of what happened at the protest and of Duke student sentiment then the N&O's report.

Duke has more than 8,000 undergrad and grad students. On a beautiful Spring day the protest drew at most 200 students, townies and reporters to the center of campus in the middle of the day. What does that tell you?

The protest wasn't an expression of campus and community outrage. It was another in a long series of angry leftist, "to hell with the Constitution" actions that was hyped by a leftist news organization.

But to know that you had to figure it out for yourself or read the H-S.

The Raleigh News & Observer certainly wasn't going to tell you, was it?

The H-S report is here.

The N&O's report is here. (subscription required)
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Posting resumes late tonight - June 23

It's been a busy day but I'll put up at least two posts late tonight, June 23.

One on Duke lacrosse.

Another on the NY Times' latest action putting America's security at risk.

Key question re: NYT. The people there have done this before so why aren't they in jail by now?

See you later.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Churchill Series – Jun. 22, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill. )

In yesterday's post I quoted from Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston something FDR is alleged to have said of Churchill in 1939:

“I always disliked him since the time I went to England in 1917 or 1918,” Roosevelt said to Joseph P. Kennedy, the American ambassador to Britain, in a conversation in 1939. “At a dinner I attended he acted like a stinker.”
Kennedy is the only source of that quote.

I can accept that Roosevelt may have said it, but if he did, I'm not sure he meant what he said.

FDR often told visitors what they wanted to hear. Kennedy disliked Churchill and FDR had his eye on the 1940 presidential election. He knew Kennedy’s support would be very helpful with Irish-American Catholic voters.

With that as the backdrop, let’s consider some events which leave me skeptical FDR meant what he may have said about Churchill.

In September, 1939 FDR did something extraordinary. He reached out to Churchill who had just been made First Lord of the Admiralty.

In a letter sent directly to Churchill, FDR said given their common experiences in WW I as administrators of their countries navies, he wanted Churchill to feel free to correspond directly with him on matters about which Churchill felt FDR should be informed and might be helpful.

As far as I know, it was a presidential act without precedent in the Anglo-American relationship.

America’s head of state bypassed the British head of state, King George VI; the head of British government, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain; Britain’s Foreign Office; our State Department and America’s Ambassador in Britain, Joseph P Kennedy; all to invite a member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet to correspond directly with him.

FDR knew Churchill had for years been the Prime Minister's and the Government’s fiercest and most outspoken critic.

FDR not only proposed direct correspondence with Churchill, he wanted it to be confidential, something the British government agreed to after discussions.

Later in September 1939 FDR was reading intelligence reports. He noticed one item suggesting German subs might be planning to attack a British passenger ship.

Normally such intelligence was passed to the British “through channels.”

But FDR decided in this case to do something unusual. He telephoned Churchill directly at his home and delivered the warning. I believe it was their first phone conversation.

There’s more I could say, but can you see why I’m skeptical FDR felt Churchill was a "stinker" although I would not doubt he led old Joe Kennedy to think he did.

America's best political satirist?

It may be columnist James Lileks. He recently ridiculed the "promises" the Dems say they'll "keep" if they regain control of Congress. Lileks worked in some facts about things Dems don't like to talk about: a thriving economy, job growth and such. Here's some of Lileks:

"Cut College Costs." Why? Because it's the job of the federal government to regulate the cost of a four-year degree in English lit, with a minor in textile history.

"Ensure Dignified Retirement." Again, sounds great. Mandatory fedoras for men; a 50 percent reduction in Viagra commercials. But no: The Democrats wish to "prevent the privatization of Social Security," because you cannot be trusted with your own money.

It's an interesting definition of dignity: waiting by the mailbox for your government check.

"Require Fiscal Responsibility: Restore the budget discipline of the 1990s that helped eliminate deficits and spur record economic growth." Translation: taxes.

Well, we've had 33 unbroken months of job gains. Tax revenues are up almost 13 percent over 2005, reflecting both the rosy-pink business climate and gains in personal income. As for the fat cats: Taxpayers making more than 200K used to pay only 40.5 percent of total income taxes -- the parasites! -- and now they pay 46.6 percent. When you let them make more money, they pay more taxes. Or you could take a "new direction" -- kill the goose, pull out the golden egg, and send it on a 40-city tour so everyone could see it and take pictures.
I hope your smiling.

Lileks column is here.

Hat Tip: Betsy Newmark

Duke lacrosse: Judge Stephens and his critics

Back on May 21 I posted "Why I admire the Duke lacrosse judge."

Based on many professional experiences with Stephens over the years, mostly as an expert witness, I said I admire him as a judge and as a person. We’re not personal friends, and I've had no professional contact with Stephens in the last six years or so.

As you might guess, I've received a lot of criticism for that post.

The criticisms have all been civil and well-intentioned but I've not gotten into a lot of back-and-forth with the critics.

One reason is many of the criticisms are based on subjective judgments having to do with Stephens’ motives. Example: He's gone along with requests from DA Nifong because they've worked together over the years with Nifong serving as Asst. DA when Stephens was Durham DA.

How do you refute that charge?

I'm not an attorney but attorneys I've spoken with who are not directly connected to the case say Stephens has not done anything procedurally that's outside the bounds of reason and law.

But ten attorneys swearing to that won't change the mind of someone who believes Stephens is motivated by personal rather than legal considerations

The bails Stephens has set seem high to some, me included. Others say there should have been no bail given the seriousness of the charges. Stephens made his judgment.

The threats and taunts in the courtroom? I'm told by people who work at the courthouse that Stephens was not in the courtroom when they happened but, having learned about them, when he entered the court he said any such remarks and demonstrations would not be tolerated. Those who engage in them he said he would jail.

As events unfold I'm betting Stephens will be seen by most people as a fair, "follow the law" judge who keeps an orderly courtroom.

Could I be wrong about Stephens?

Yes. And if, as events unfold, attorneys I respect, legal scholars and others expert in the law are critical of Stephens, I'll pay close attention to what they say.

If it turns out I misjudged the judge, I say so and tell readers I'm sorry for what I posted.

But right now, I'm standing with what I posted.

I plan to continue to avoid posting on complex legal matters about which I don't have competence.

I plan to stick to simple things I’m competent to do. Examples:

I’ve reported that on Mar 24 in the very first story published on the Duke lacrosse case, the Raleigh News & Observer seven times referred to the accuser as "the victim" or with the possessive "victim's", never once preceding them with "alleged" or "reported."

I’ve asked why the Raleigh N&O published on Apr. 2 the infamous "vigilante poster," despite warnings that doing so would make it more likely unstable individuals and hate groups would target the players, something that's unfortunately happened.

I’ve asked why, after refusing to publish the Danish cartoons and the Daily Tar Heel cartoon of Mohammed because of fears for its own staffs' safety, the N&O turned around and published the "vigilante" poster.

I’ve posted and asked how four people could struggle violently for 30 minutes in a bathroom without any of them sustaining a serious physical injury as a result of the struggle.

I’ve posted and asked why if 3 men were planning to rape a women they would all crowd into the bathroom with her instead of going to, say, a bedroom.

I’ll be posting on recent misleading statements the N&O’s executive editor for news Melanie Sill’s made to readers concerning the paper’s Duke lacrosse coverage.

Those are the sorts of things I’m competent to do.

I hope you’ll keep visiting.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No Churchill Series post today - Jun. 21, 2006


I'm sorry there'll be no post today.

It the workload. I'm also directing most of my blog time to the Duke lacrosse case.

Thank you for your understanding.

I hope you come back tomorrow.


Duke lacrosse: McClatchy editor is not believable

Melanie Sill, the exec editor for news at the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer, has told readers complaining about the paper’s biased and inflammatory coverage of the Duke lacrosse case (Ninth comment on "Duke lacrosse comments" thread):

"We're not in the business of news coverage that condemns or takes a side."
The N&O broke the Duke lacrosse story with a report on Mar 24 in which it referred seven times to the accuser as either “the victim” or with the possessive “victim's” without ever once preceding them with “alleged” or “reported.”

The following day the N&O headlined across five columns on page one a very sympathetic interview with the accuser who was granted anonymity.

The N&O explained it granted anonymity to “victims of sex crimes.”

I’ve now read most of the NY Times stories on the Duke lacrosse case looking for instances where the Times told readers the accuser was “the victim.”
I haven’t found one.

An editor at the Durham Herald Sun said in situations like the Duke lacrosse case his paper avoids calling the accuser "the victim" because "it’s not fair to the other person or persons." The editor added:
If you see where we used "victim," than it got by us. If you point it out, we’ll make a correction.
And then there’s Sill telling readers:
We're not in the business of news coverage that condemns or takes a side.
Sill is simply not believable

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Churchill Series - Jun. 20, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Yesterday we looked at some of what Jon Meacham said in Franklin and Winston about Churchill and Roosevelt's first meeting in July 1918 at a formal London dinner. FDR attended in his capacity as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and delivered a brief speech. Today, more about that meeting and some of what followed.

Here's more from Meacham:

In later years, Churchill would not recall meeting the American visitor. Roosevelt certainly recalled meeting Churchill, however, and long remembered Churchill’s brusqueness. “I always disliked him since the time I went to England in 1917 or 1918,” Roosevelt said to Joseph P. Kennedy, the American ambassador to Britain, in a conversation in 1939. “At a dinner I attended he acted like a stinker.” Roosevelt and Churchill would not be in contact again for another twenty-one years. When they were, Churchill, not Roosevelt, would be the one sounding the trumpet about the indispensability of an “intimate personal relationship.”
Every historian I've read on the subject says Churchill didn't remember their first meeting and FDR was bothered by that. I don't doubt what the historians say.

As to whether FDR told Kennedy in 1939 that he'd disliked Churchill for acting like "a stinker" at the dinner, I want to pause and consider with you.

Kennedy is the source of that remark, which FDR may very well have made.

The question is did FDR really mean what he said about Churchill, or was he perhaps doing a little play-acting for Kennedy?

We know Roosevelt wasn't above such things. In fact, we know that, along with his many admirable virtues, FDR frequently lied to people if doing so advanced his aims.

In 1939 Kennedy was an outspoken appeaser and critic of Churchill. FDR needed Kennedy's support in the 1940 presidential election. Kennedy was the country's best known Irish-American and Catholic.

So you can see what FDR might have been doing.

Tomorrow I'll say some more about the interplay in 1939/40 among FDR, Joe Kennedy and Churchill.

You'll see that for all Joe Kennedy's drive, intelligence, ruthlessness, and experience, he was no match for Churchill or FDR, who used Kennedy for his political ends and then abandoned him.
The quote from Meacham's book can be found here.

Who did the headline?

Organizations large and small, decent and hateful, terrorist and peace loving are reporting and commenting on the barbaric killings of two American soldiers in Iraq.

One of them headlined its report:

Al-Zarqawi's successor gets the credit
So which organization put out the headline giving al-Zarqawi's successor credit for the barbaric killings?

Did you guess al-Qaeda? That's very reasonable.

Al-Qaeda certainly wants to build up al-Zarqawi's successor.

What's more, al-Qaeda encourages its members and anyone else to kill American soldiers in Iraq. It's eager to give anyone credit for doing that.

But it wasn't al-Qaeda.

The headline comes from the Associated Press.

Are you shocked? I was.

I long ago decided the AP is an untrustworthy, liberal/leftist agenda driven outfit passing itself off as a news organization.

Still, the AP's
Al-Zarqawi's successor gets the credit
headline shocked me.

What to do?

Letters to the editor? Most certainly.

We need to let our local editors know they can't fool us any longer with the old "the AP did that" brush off.

The editors of our papers pay the AP to do what it does.

After we've done that, we need to do more.

We need a national conversation about how to provide our country as quickly as possible with an alternate news media that supports what America supports, civilization.

Hat Tip: Mike Williams
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Talking with JinC regulars - 6 - 20 - 06

(One of a series of posts in the original web log tradition: notes and "thinking out loud." These posts will be most easily understood by regular visitors and are written with them especially in mind. But others are welcome.)

Item number one: Lots of people in media who’ve been unfair and worse to the Duke lacrosse players are now in full “climb down” mode.

I have nothing but respect for those like the NY Times’ David Brooks who say in effect, “I was wrong. Here’s where I was wrong. I’m sorry. I apologize.”

But many others in media are trying to avoid their responsibilities by saying, “It all Nifong’s fault.”

And people who say they support the players are praising the “Blame it all on Mike” media.

That’s not right. Nifong should only be blamed for his part.

Media involved should be held to account for their parts.

If we don’t hold them to account, we make it more likely they’ll do the same in the future to some other person or group.

You were leaders as commenters in speaking up for fairness and good sense at the start of all of this.

I hope you’ll now help well-intentioned people see that while it’s reasonable, for example, to say to a Ruth Sheehan, “I’m glad you think Nifong should be off the case,” it’s also important to continue to tell Sheehan and those like her they need to look at what she did and stop blaming Nifong for it.

I'm thinking about a major post on this theme: The Duke lacrosse case got the way it got not just because of Nifong but because of the energy, drive and influence of some media and a collection of individuals and groups that include some liberals and leftists, rights organizations, and individuals of the sort who on Duke campus in late March and April were proclaiming “a culture of rape.”

What are you thoughts about that theme?

Moving along.

I’m sorry for all the spam. I’ll keep trying to get at it.


I’ve put responses to all comments on the threads going back to Jun. 12. If you don’t find a response to something you said, leave a comment at my most recent post, regardless of topic. I’ll respond.

There have been some anonymous commenters who’ve come by from Court TV and other places. For the most part they’ve criticized my post about Judge Stephens.

That’s fine.

What I want to tell those folks is that I couldn’t find their comments today on the threads. That may be because they put their comments on a post from more than a week ago which is as far back as I went today.

Anyway, if you’re one of them or can contact them (I think they come from links provided by Locomotive Breath and NNNN4 or something close to that) please tell them I welcome their comments.

I’ll post tomorrow something like “Judge Stephens and his critics.” I hope the commenters see it and know I’m glad to receive the kind of thoughtful, measured and civil comments they’re making.

On another matter some folks who looked at my Duke lacrosse notes post in which I mentioned cherry picking think I was criticizing the defense attorneys. Not so.

I’ll say more later tonight in a Jun. 20, 2006 Duke lacrosse notes post.

Last item: I plan to follow up with attorney Charns on the CrimeStoppers case in the next few days. I’m sending him a link to my post reporting the interview with DPD’s Maj. Lee Russ.

When I get up with Charns, I’ll ask for his reaction to the interview post and updating on the case. I'll then post on all of that. That may not be until next week depending on my schedule and when I get up with Charns.

One important thing that came out of the interview with Russ was his repeated denial that DPD had anything to do with the “vigilante” poster, which was also distributed in flyer form.

I’ll be posting on that tomorrow, including looking at the N&O’s publication of the poster and N&O editor Sill’s comments at the Editor’s Blog about that. Sill’s comments leave out a lot.



A Duke lacrosse post mostly for regulars

(Readers Note: Regulars can skip this note.

For those fairly new to this blog, the post below is a comment I left at the blog of a Raleigh N&O columnist, Ruth Sheehan, who wrote two columns savaging the Duke Men's lacrosse players and demanding their coach be fired.

Yesterday Sheehan wrote a column saying that Durham DA Nifong is to blame for everything that's wrong with the Duke lacrosse case. She excused herself and her N&O colleagues from any responsibility for helping create the witch hunt.

I'm not providing links because I'm under some deadlines. The regulars here are familiar with the reference and sourcing.

If you decide to move on, I hope you'll first look around and come back another time.

Thank you, John


Comment from: John [Visitor] ·
06/20/06 at 15:32

Remember when you removed the lacrosse Mom's comment along with your dismissive comment to her and reader comments supporting the Mom?

You later claimed you removed them because you were unfamiliar with how blogs work.

If that was the case, then you may not know it’s common at many blogs for commenters to "continue the conversation" from one blog post to another. That's what Daryl's doing above.

Some bloggers welcome "continuing the conversation." The discussion can deepen and broaden, errors are identified and corrected, and new thinking generated.

Other bloggers hate "continuing the conversation" and do everything possible to stop it. For examples of what I'm talking about, take a look at all the treads relating to the Duke lacrosse case at the Editor's Blog. Your exec news editor, Melanie Sill, is doing everything she can to prevent reader-commenters from "continuing the conversation" about the N&O's biased and inflamatory coverage which took a terrible situation and made it worse, including more dangerous.

Now back to talking about you blog here.

At your post, "Nifong: Should he stay or go?", what I'm about to say continues the conversation from your post, “More lovenotes from my fans re: Duke....”

At "lovenotes" you responded to nothing any of the commenters, including me, said.

Some of what I’m about to say here I said at “More lovenotes from my fans re: Duke….” And some of it is new.

Here goes.

Ruth, have you noticed that all the people you sarcastically call your "fans" aren't writing about Duke?

No kidding, Ruth. Read their comments.

They're writing about fairness, due process and in opposition to reckless and self-righteous journalism.

Regarding you’re Monday column. I’m glad you want to see Nifong removed from the case.

I’m sorry you used the column to dump responsibility for what you and the N&O did onto Nifong.

Please stop doing that and take some responsibility for your own actions and those of others like you in media.

It certainly wasn’t right for Nifong to blame others to help himself; and it isn’t right for you to do it, either.

You say, ",,, you had to figure he had incontrovertible evidence."

No you didn’t. That’s nonsense!

We’ve all heard some defense attorneys spin cases; some DAs do it too. You know that.

You also know that in recent years, we’ve had in North Carolina a number of highly publicized cases in which DAs committed very serious wrongs, including withholding evidence that proved innocence.

Then there were all the pressures of a tough election campaign weighing on Nifong.

Most of all, you know about presumption of innocence and due process. And you knew the players were entitled to them as is any citizen.

But you went ahead and savagely attacked a group of college students for doing nothing more than following advice of counsel.

In a subsequent column, you also demanded Duke "dump" their coach, something Duke did a few days later. Coach Pressler is a husband, father of three young children, and a good neighbor and citizen here in Durham.

You know the Coleman report stated Pressler was one of only two people at Duke who always took some action when he was made aware of any unacceptable conduct by the Men’s lacrosse players.

Will you next column tell readers how upset you are that Nifong helped get Pressler fired?

I hope you don’t do that, Ruth. You’d only be avoiding responsibility for what you did.

Such a column won’t fool intelligent and fair-minded people.

The column would only go down with those who are really your fans: People who wanted the team shut down and the coach dumped. People who wanted the players expelled, were glad the N&O published the “vigilante poster,” and wondered why “they aren’t all in jail now.”

Moving on.

Ruth, I hope we agree on something else about blogs. Commenters often talk to each other as well as the blogger. It’s common practice although some bloggers just hate it.

I’m going to talk now to commenters.

To the other John,

I enjoy your comments.

To the other John and all the rest of the commenters on the “More lovenotes from my fans re: Duke….” thread,

I hope you keep commenting. The “lovenotes” thread is a first-class example of what the new, interactive journalism is supposed to be.

Well done.


Finally, back to you, Ruth.

I hope you’ll no longer ignore or dismiss the sentiments and advice contained in the lacrosse Mom’s and so many others’ comments here, and in emails to you they’re copied to me.


FDR would have laughed at this AP item

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt read the newspapers he kept his eye out for what he called “howlers.” They were false or just downright foolish news items that gave him at least a chuckle and sometimes left him howling with laughter. He loved sharing “howlers” with friends.

I thought of FDR when I read an Associated Press report of the recent Iowa Republican convention ("GOP contenders court activists in Iowa").

The AP said:

Generally cast as a moderate, [Gov. Mitt] Romney sounded a theme of social conservatism before delegates at the state convention who are generally more conservative than most Republicans.

"The family is the absolute foundation of our culture," Romney said.
OK, so we know what social conservatives believe is "the absolute foundation of our culture."

But the AP, as usual, didn’t provide balance. It failed to tell us what social liberals believe is "the absolute foundation of our culture."

So we’re left to wonder. Is it Hollywood? George Soros’ money? The Constitution of France's Fifth Republic?

Speak up, social liberals.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

The Churchill Series – Jun. 19, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Many people think Churchill and FDR meet for the first time at the White House in December 1941 or at Placentia Bay in August 1941.As some of you no doubt know their first meeting was at a dinner on July 29, 1918 at Gray’s Inn, London.

Jon Meacham, author of Franklin and Winston, tells us something about the event:

In the opening hours of a mission to wartime Europe in July 1918, Franklin Roosevelt, then thirty-six and working for the Navy Department, looked over a typewritten “Memorandum For Assistant Secretary” to discover what was in store for him in London. Reading the schedule’s description of his evening engagement for Monday, July 29, Roosevelt learned that he was “to dine at a function given for the Allied Ministers Prosecuting the War.”

Hosted by F. E. Smith, a government minister and good friend of Winston Churchill’s, the banquet was held in the hall of Gray’s Inn in London. It was a clear evening-the wind was calm-and Roosevelt and Churchill, the forty-three-year-old former first lord of the Admiralty who was then minister of munitions, mingled among the guests below a portrait of Elizabeth I. […]

The Gray’s Inn dinner was a glittering occasion, with high British officials going out of their way to pay homage to Roosevelt as the representative of their American ally. […]

Then Roosevelt — to his “horror,” he said-was unexpectedly asked to say a few words. He stumbled a bit as he began. Uncertainly, trying to find the right note, Roosevelt said he had been “given to understand that I should not be called upon to speak” and in his nervousness, looking around at the faces of his hosts, began to talk about the importance of the personal in politics and war.[…]
When they met again in 1941, Roosevelt reminded Churchill of their first meeting. Churchill couldn’t recall it which, as you'd guess, irritated FDR.

But the two leaders got on with doing their work.

Tomorrow I’ll post again about the two statesmen’s first meeting and some subsequent events related to it.
The passages from Meacham used in this post may be found here.

The editor, the principal and “a pretty fine place”

If you’ve been visiting the McClatchy Company’s Editor’s Blog where Raleigh N&O exec news editor Melanie Sill posts and responds to readers questions and complaints, you know it hasn't been a happy blog for months.

Since late March when readers were first exposed to the N&O’s biased and inflammatory coverage of the Duke lacrosse story, many have complained the N&O was making a terrible situation worse, including more dangerous.

Sill’s let readers know she's very proud of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage, which she regularly praises.

But many readers have continued to complain and question.

Sill’s responded with threats to ban certain readers from the Editor's Blog; and she's deleted comments she claims were off topic. (Full disclosure: I'm one of those she treatened to ban. I've not commented at the blog for about a month. - JinC)

Now the latest:

Today, on the "Duke lacrosse comment" thread, Sill told readers :

I don't have endless time to remove off-topic comments. If those who post comments can't follow the guidelines, we'll have to find another approach.

As to some of the coverage above [By “coverage above” I think Sill mean comments critical of the N&O – JinC]:

We're not in the business of news coverage that condemns or takes a side. We've pushed hard on the story from the beginning and will continue to report in depth. Though I keep up with your comments here, our coverage is not aimed at appeasing complainers or critics.
Gee, I didn’t think what the readers were saying was all that bad.

But then I'm not a McClatchy Company news editor.

Why don’t you take a look at the readers’ comments. There are 47 of them there right now plus some responses from Sill. See what you think. Decide for yourself.

Moving on.

Sill’s foot-stamping remarks reminded me of the school principal who was asked, “What’s your school like?”
Well, it would be a pretty fine place but for the kids, teachers and parents
McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt tells stockholders they shouldn’t worry that the company’s stock has fallen in the last few years from 70 to the low 40s.

Pruitt says that's because McClatchy has a great future in interactive journalism.

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Duke lacrosse: Seeking to avoid responsibility

Raleigh News & Observer news columnist Ruth Sheehan is getting kudos today for acknowledging that Durham DA Mike Nifong may not be all he should be and ought to step out of the Duke lacrosse case.

I’m glad Sheehan’s saying that but I’m very troubled by something else she does in her column.

Sheehan excuses herself and the rest of media from any responsibility for the hysterical, vigilante atmosphere that’s targeted the players and made a terrible situation worse, including more dangerous.

According to Sheehan, it’s all Nifong’s fault. She tells readers :

Say all you want about the media's rush to judgment. But the truth is we report on allegations and charges out of district attorneys' offices every single day. And when a DA, especially one with Nifong's reputation for being a quiet, behind-the-scenes guy, comes out not only saying that a rape occurred, but that it was a brutal gang rape, in which the woman was strangled and beaten, you had to figure he had incontrovertible evidence.
No you didn’t. That’s nonsense!

We’ve all heard sometimes defense attorneys spin cases; DAs do it too. Sheehan knows that.

She also knows that in recent years, we’ve had in North Carolina a number of highly publicized cases in which DAs have committed very serious wrongs, including withholding evidence that proved innocence.

Then there were all the pressures of a tough election campaign weighing on Nifong.

Most of all, Sheehan knows about presumption of innocence and due process.

What all of us had to figure out when the Duke lacrosse case broke was how to be fair and respect the rights of the accuser and the accused.

For Sheehan and the N&O that proved to be a “Mission Impossible.”

Let’s take a look at just how the McClatchy news organization’s N&O (Its motto: “Fair and Accurate”) and Sheehan went about reporting the story as it first became public.

On Mar. 24 the N&O broke the Duke lacrosse story with a report calculated to turn public sentiment against the lacrosse players.

The N&O referred seven times in that report to the accuser as either “the victim” or with the possessive “victim’s,” never once preceding them with “alleged” or “reported.”

Thus, in the first story other media and the public would read about the Duke lacrosse case, the N&O cast the accuser as the victim leaving the accused players cast as victimizers.

The next day the N&O produced a sympathetic interview with the accuser which it headlined across five columns on page one:

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
But the N&O’s Mar. 25 story was about more than a sympathetic interview with the anonymous accuser.

A police officer was quoted as saying the police would “be relentless in finding out who committed this crime." The N&O followed that with an explanation that it granted anonymity to “victims of sex crimes.”

The N&O told readers authorities had vowed to crack the players’ “wall of silence.” The N&O didn’t tell readers about the cooperation players had provided police until advised by counsels to remain silent until counsels were certain the players’ rights would be respected.

The N&O ended its Mar. 25 story with this:
[Duke’s Paul] Haagen, a law professor who specializes in sports law, said studies show that violence against women is more prevalent among male athletes than among male students in general -- and higher still among such "helmet sports" as football, hockey and lacrosse.

"These are sports of violence," he said. "This is clearly a concern."
Prosecutors try to end their jury summations with something that helps the jurors understand why the accused would have committed the crime or crimes. They call it “the clincher.”

I don’t know if N&O reporters and editors have a name for their placement of Haagen’s remarks at the end of an interview in which the accuser “told her story.” (Well, one of them.)

I also don’t know whether Professor Haagen was told his remarks would be part of the accuser interview story or how they would be used. I plan to email him and ask. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

On Mar. 26 the N&O reported on a vigil at the house on Buchanan Blvd held by supporters of the woman the N&O reported two days earlier was the “victim” of an horrendous crime.

Here’s an excerpt from the Mar. 26 report:
"This is to let her know that we're with her," Tompkins said. "If anyone could come and take a piece of her grief, we would."

Religious groups, neighborhood associations, and students and faculty from the university sang "Amazing Grace" and prayed.

Allyson Van Wyk challenged parents of the lacrosse players to talk to their children.

"The parents need to make them stand up and be men," she shouted.
The next day, Mar. 27, Sheehan followed that with her “Team's silence is sickening” column, in which she savaged the players for doing no more than following advice of counsel. She ended with:
Every member of the men's lacrosse team knows who was involved, whether it was gang rape or not.

Until the team members come forward with that information, forfeiting games isn't enough.

Shut down the team.
But what did the N&O report Nifong said as the N&O broke the story and during the next few days?

I undertook a customized search of N&O archives for the period Mar. 24 to Mar. 30 using the input word “Nifong.”

The first time an article with “Nifong” appeared in the search result was Mar. 28, after the publication of the N&O’s first three Duke lacrosse stories and Sheehan’s column.

Separate searches using the same dates and the input terms “District Attorney” and “DA” failed to turn up any archived items referencing or quoting Nifong in any capacity before Mar. 28.

On Mar. 28 Nifong appears in two N&O stories in the full Nifong mode so many of us have come to abhor.

In one story he calls the players “a bunch of hooligans” and in the other he says, "We're talking about a situation where had somebody spoken up and said, 'Wait a minute, we can't do this,' this incident might not have taken place."

I don’t question that Nifong’s remarks in the Mar. 28 articles were prejudicial to the lacrosse players. But they followed the N&O’s first three stories and Sheehan’s column.

By all means we should hold Nifong accountable for his actions.

But we must do the same with Sheehan, the N&O, and the rest of media that acted in ways that were grossly prejudicial to a group of college students who we may yet learn are the victims of a monumental injustice, and possibly, of crimes.

We must not let Sheehan, the N&O or the rest of media involved in unfairly targeting and framing the players dump what they are responsible for onto Nifong.

That shouldn’t happen because it would be unfair. And it shouldn’t happen because if they avoid acknowledging and correcting what they’ve done, it’s more likely that other individuals and groups will suffer unfair treatment from much of media just as the players have.

Media in America need to be held to a high standard; and it can’t be one it decides for itself.

Which of us would want to receive from a major news organization the kind of treatment the Duke lacrosse players received from the "Fair and Accurate" Raleigh News & Observer?
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Duke lacrosse: More about CrimeStoppers and "vigilante posters"

I've posted concerning the actions of Alex Charns, attorney for one of the unindicted Duke lacrosse players. He's requested from Durham City and its Police Department documents and an investigation regarding the authorization, production and distribution of at least two Durham CrimeStoppers posters/flyers offering rewards for information concerning the Duke lacrosse team.

If you’re not familiar with those matters, the following posts provide background: “Talking with JinC Regulars – 6-13-06,” “Durham Police poster letter raises questions,” and "Texts of Duke lacrosse poster." documents

This current post summarizes a phone interview I conducted with Maj. Lee Russ of the Durham Police Department. My goal was to obtain answers to questions I asked in the “Durham Police poster raises questions” post

The interview was formal and civil. Russ directly answered all but a few questions, in which instances he simple said he would not answer. The interview lasted about 20 minutes.

Russ explained CrimeStoppers does not itself put out posters or flyers. It emails text statements to individuals and groups that includes DPD substations, the Durham County Sheriff, media and others, who can then reproduce, enlarge, make posters, distribute, etc. as they see fit.

Yes, DPD Cpl. David Addison, the DPD’s full-time liaison officer to CrimeStoppers, authorized the release of CrimeStoppers emails. (Readers’ Note: The DPD says CrimeStoppers is an organization independent of DPD, something I’ve noted in previous posts. – JinC)

Where did Addison get the authority to do that?

Russ said Addison had the authority to do that from CrimeStoppers. He stressed that DPD did not authorize any of the CrimeStoppers’ Duke lacrosse emails.

Who at CrimeStoppers gave that authority to Addison?

Russ said he wasn’t going to answer that question other than to say Addison's authority to issue flyers came not from DPD but from CrimeStoppers.

I told Russ I’d tried repeatedly over the course of 4 days to reach someone at CrimeStoppers and had left many Vms but had heard nothing back. Could Russ tell me how to reach a live person at CrimeStoppers?

Russ suggested I keep trying.

Russ said he was the one who directed that the text of the original CrimeStoppers email and at least one subsequent CrimeStoppers email be changed.

Who did Russ tell to make the changes?


And what did Addison do when told to make the changes.

“He made them immediately,” Russ said.

I asked Russ for copies of the various CrimeStoppers emails which he sent me as we spoke.

I’ll put them in a separate text document tomorrow so you can give them a look. Their texts are consistent with what attorney Charns has claimed and what I reported in previous posts.

Who made or authorized the CrimeStoppers flyer containing the header with Durham Police Department superimposed on an outline of Durham's skyline and a DPD badge on one side of the headers and Durham City's logo on the other?

Russ said that was done inadvertently and that he was not going to tell me who did it.

Russ emphatically denied DPD had anything to do with the infamous “vigilante poster” with face photos of 43 white Duke Men’s lacrosse players which the Raleigh N&O published despite warnings that doing so would make it more likely the players would be threatened by hate groups.

“We had nothing to do with those posters," Russ said. "Not ever. Not any way. Tell your readers that.”

Russ repeated “Not ever” a second time. He said DPD didn’t know who produced and circulated the "vigilante" posters which he said were also circulated as flyers. He said DPD would like to know who produced them.

“Whoever did those posters have disappeared,” Russ said. “But we’d like to know who those people are.”

Regarding attorney Charns request for an investigation of the issues surrounding the CrimeStoppers flyers, Russ said there was no need for any investigation because the actions he took in directing Addison to change the CrimeStoppers flyers took care of the matter.

On that point we ended an interview which as I said was formal and civil.

I told Russ I appreciated his time and promised to send him a copy of this post.

Is the matter of an investigation concerning the CrimeStoppers flyers over and done with because Russ will take it no further?

Charns will have a lot to say about that.

Will he press his action? I'm betting he will.

I plan to continue to follow matters concerning both the CrimeStoppers flyers and the vigilante posters/flyers.

Look for more soon.

Duke lacrosse: Today's Newsweek article

(Welcome visitors from Friends of Duke University. I post often on the case.)

On June 12 I posted “Duke lacrosse: Newsweek abandons sinking Nifong”

Today, June 18, I thought of titling this post "Newsweek fires torpedoes at sinking Nifong."

Newsweek’s latest on the Duke lacrosse case includes the following excerpts from a more than 2300 word article. The excerpts leave no doubt about Newsweek's current "take" on the case:

Asked for an interview last week by NEWSWEEK, Nifong declined, but sent an angry e-mail accusing the national media of getting spun by defense lawyers and sticking to his earlier comments to the press.[…]

He said that he was bound by ethics rules against commenting any more about the case or evidence.
Newsweek follows that with this:
After the alleged rape, Nifong estimated to the Raleigh News & Observer, he gave 50 to 70 interviews to local and national media. "I am convinced that there was a rape, yes sir," Nifong said on "The Abrams Report" on MSNBC on March 28.

The next day he told a local TV station, WRAL, "My reading of the report of the emergency-room nurse would indicate that some type of sexual assault did in fact take place." […]
There’s more but you get the "take."

Newsweek headlines its article
Doubts About Duke
Since the article's almost entirely a shredding of Nifong’s statements and other actions, his “evidence,” and his principal witnesses’ credibility, the headline should have been:
Doubts About Nifong
Or to be more accurate:
Huge Doubts About Nifong
But we should give Newsweek credit for this: It’s come a long way since its May 1 cover story: “Sex, Lies and Duke.”

Dare we hope Newsweek will soon give us a cover story: “How Media Aided Nifong.”

Newsweek’s article doesn’t break much new ground but it does a decent job of organizing material and events in terms of many of the questions sensible people have been asking for weeks.

However, Newsweek manages to get at least one important fact wrong. It says:
A prominent Duke law professor, James Coleman, last week called on Nifong to remove himself from the case and appoint a special prosecutor.
Nifong can’t appoint a special prosecutor. Here’s what Coleman actually called for:
Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong should ask the (state) attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for the rape case against three Duke lacrosse players and then remove himself and his office from further involvement.
About Coleman, a former chief counsel to the US House Ethics Committee, Newsweek does get this right:
"Either he knew what the facts were and misstated them, or he was making them up," Coleman told reporters. "Whether he acted knowing they were false, or if he was reckless, it doesn't matter in the long run. This is the kind of stuff that causes the public to lose confidence in the justice system."
Newsweek backs away from directly addressing the full import of Coleman’s statement.

When he says Nifong either knew the facts and misstated them or has made them up, Coleman’s allowing for only two possible explanations for Nifong’s treatment of the evidence and what he told the court and public about it:

1) Nifong has been reckless.

2) Nifong has lied.

In the future people will ask: But with just about no real evidence, how did the Duke lacrosse case ever go so far?

Well, the prosecutor had a lot to do with that. So did the media.

And then there were many people and organizations urging Nifong and the media on. They dismissed Constitutional protections and gave full vent to their biases, resentments and angers.

But that’s all for future posts. The Newsweek article is here.
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