Saturday, August 04, 2007

Good Hoax Video


I enjoyed this takedown of Nifong, Brodhead and some of the 88.

Give it a look. It may a few seconds to load.

Barone on Hoax Believers

Here's one of my favorite pundits, Michael Barone, offering his explanation for why people like Duke faculty's Group of 88 and so many in the media fell for an obviously false story.

How could anyone believe that a brutal thirty minute beating, chocking and gang-rape of a young black woman by three strong white male athletes would leave the woman without so much as a small cut requiring even one stitch or any swelling that required ice pack treatment?

Many academics, news reporters and editors, and "victims' advocates" fell for such a story, Barone says, because of a need:

to believe that those they classify as victims must be virtuous and those they classify as oppressors must be villains. A need to believe that this is the way the world usually works.

Except it doesn't. Cases that fit this template don't come along very often. In this country, black-on-white crime is far more common than white-on-black crime (black-on-black crime is far more common still).

You won't see the characters exercised by the Duke case looking at the recent case of three University of Minnesota players accused (whether justly or not) of rape -- they happen to be black.

This need to believe that the victim class is always virtuous and the oppressor class is guilty is widespread, and perhaps growing, in this country and abroad.

It is particularly strong among those lucky enough to get paid to observe the way most people work and live -- academics, journalists, apparatchiks of advocacy organizations.
That may be a big part of it.

But I still find it hard to believe that such people have let their ideology carry them to a point where they actually believe absurdities such as those Crystal Mangum invented.

I'll be writing about this again soon. In the meantime, what do you think?

Barone's entire column is here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 3, 2007

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

Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, recounts how his decision to make the best of a “massive downpour” led to a remarkable discovery:

[In 1965,] on a cold January afternoon, I entered the New York Public Library in search of letters written by Winston Churchill to an American friend, Bourke Cockran.

I knew from Churchill's archive that he had been in correspondence with Cockran since their first meeting in New York in 1895, when Churchill was nineteen. I also knew that Cockran's private papers were deposited in the New York Public Library.

Approaching the archive desk, I asked if they had any letters in the Bourke Cockran collection from the British statesman Winston Churchill. After a short while the archival assistant returned to say that they did not.

They did, however, have quite a number from Churchill's American namesake, the novelist Winston Churchill, a popular writer at the end of the nineteenth century. The novelist being of no interest to me, I left the library and found myself in a massive downpour. I had no umbrella and dared not risk a soaking.

Returning to the archive desk I asked - since I would not be able to leave the library until the rain had stopped - if I might read the novelist Winston Churchill's letters. With pleasure, I was told, and the archival assistant hurried away. She returned with a box full of letters.

As I looked at the first letter I was astonished. It was obviously from the British Winston Churchill, as were all the other letters in the box.

At the time of cataloguing, the library had not imagined that Bourke Cockran, a little-remembered American politician and three-term Congressman, would have had any connection at all with a young Englishman, a lieutenant in the British army in 1895.

It was my finest discovery - thus far!
A wonderful story. You'll find it here (scroll down to Personal Anecdote ).

And I loved the optimism in Gilbert's words: "my finest discovery - thus far!"

I hope you all have a very nice weekend.


Letter to AJR Editor re: Hoax

Readers Note: The lead article in the Aug/Sept. American Journalism Review is Justice Delayed , AJR managing editor Rachel Smolkin’s 8,000 word assessment of the media’s coverage of the Duke lacrosse case.

As JinC Regulars know, I’ve been critical of Smolken’s article, particularly the portions concerning the Raleigh News & Observer.

I’ve just sent Smolkin the following electonic letter.

I’ll post if she responds.

If you wish to contact her, the email is:

It’s important that Smolkin, a journalism leader, hear from news consumers.


Dear Editor Smolkin:

I blog as John in Carolina and post often concerning media coverage of the Duke Hoax.

There’s no mention in Justice Delayed that the Raleigh News & Observer’s March 24, 2006 story which “broke” the Duke lacrosse case referred seven times to Crystal Mangum as “the victim” or with the possessive “victim’s” without once using a qualifier such as “alleged” or “reported.”

Why didn’t you mention that?

The N&O’s decision to repeatedly and without qualification tell readers and other news organizations in the first Duke lacrosse story they’d read that Mangum was “the victim” was a deliberate prejudgment the paper knew would cast the lacrosse players as her victimizers.

That deserved mention. AJR readers also deserved to know the N&O’s explanation for why it acted with such bias.

You fail to mention that by no later than March 26, 2006, and perhaps before, the N&O was using then DA Mike Nifong as an anonymous source. The N&O’s use of Nifong is documented here and here.

Why didn’t you report and discuss the N&O’s use of Nifong as an anonymous source?

Why didn’t you examine and discuss the impact the N&O’s use of Nifong as an anonymous source had on its Duke lacrosse coverage?

Did Nifong’s involvement with the N&O influence its decision to make no mention in its early Duke lacrosse coverage of the players’ extensive cooperation with police; and to instead promulgate the malicious and dangerous lie that the players were not cooperating?

Did the N&O ever tell you when and in what detail it first reported on the players' cooperation? I’ve never gotten a specific answer to that question despite asking it of many people at the N&O?

The N&O’s never told readers about Nifong’s early involvement in its coverage.

Shouldn’t you have asked N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill why it hasn’t?

Some N&O staffers now make the false claim that in its Duke lacrosse coverage the paper never used “anonymous or unnamed sources” (Is there really a difference?). See, for example, investigative reporter Joe Neff’s recent remarks at the National Press Club.

In truth, the N&O frequently used anonymous sources, most notably in its March 25, 2006, “anonymous interview” story in which, without verification, it published Mangum’s false claims she was a gang-rape victim of drunken, racist, white males.

There was even one N&O story in which it referred to so many anonymous sources that it took to referring to them as “neighbors,” “family members,” and “former classmates.”

Yet you say in Justice Delayed:

[N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill said,] "People we would normally just go interview were having press conferences, or wouldn't talk, or would only talk in a leaking situation." But top editors told the staff that quoting unnamed sources was unacceptable.
Why didn’t you examine and discuss the N&O’s use of anonymous sources as well as its false claim that it didn’t use them?

Why did you just pass the claim on to AJR readers as though it were true?

In this post I documented and discussed your failure to mention the N&O’s decision to withhold for thirteen months from readers and other news organizations critically important news that was exculpatory for the players.

I’m referring, of course, to the N&O’s admission the day after the NC Attorney General had declared the players innocent that it withheld from the March 25 “anonymous interview” story statements Mangum made during the interview.

Those statement included her assertion the second dancer had also been sexually assaulted at the lacrosse party but didn’t report it for fear she’d lose her job. Also, that the second dancer would “do anything for money.”

Why didn't you tell AJR readers the N&O tailored its March 25 "anonymous interview" story in such a way that it fit neatly with the false story Nifong began telling the public two days later?

Why didn't you discuss the impact the N&O’s news suppression and cover-up had on the case? For example, the problems Nifong would've had on March 27 explaining why he wasn’t accusing the players of raping both dancers? Or why the request his office made to the court on March 23 that it order DNA testing of the white players made no mention of an assault on the second dancer?

Your failure to even mention in Justice Delayed the N&O’s withholding and then covering up for thirteen months critically important and exculpatory news is somewhat like a person writing a history of baseball and failing to mention Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees.

There is much more about the N&O’s Duke lacrosse coverage that’s very significant, and which you either ignore or get wrong. I’ll be in touch with you soon about some of that.

For now, I want to put the matters I’ve already posted on before you and do the following:

1) - Urge you to correct in the next issue of AJR the important factual omissions and errors noted here.

2) - Invite you to respond to this letter. I’ll publish your response in full at my blog.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.


John in Carolina

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 2, 2007

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

Yesterday’s post included the recollections of one of Churchill’s WW II Private Secretaries, Sir John Peck, who described how Churchill went about preparing a major speech.

Since Churchill often worked late into the night, he would estimate how long he was likely to work after dinner and then alert his staff “that I shall need one (or sometimes two or three) woman tonight,” who would then work in shifts with one starting off taking dictation, then going off to type what she’d recorded while the next secretary began taking dictation. And so it would go until he’d finished, often in the early morning hours of the next day.

Churchill had been using this “system” since well before the war. He used it in the 30s when he worked on his biography of Marlborough and his History of the English Speaking Peoples.

It was often a source of fun for him as follows: If Clementine were away and he was entertaining guests for dinner, he would say to the butler as dinner was ending something like:

We shall have coffee and brandies in the library. Then after our guests depart I shall want two women. No, I’m a bit tired. One will do for tonight.
The butler would play it straight and after a few minutes Churchill would let his surprised guests in on the joke.

Duke lacrosse bathroom questions ( A repost)

Readers Note: The following post, "Duke lacrosse bathroom questions," was published on April 25, 2006, a week after Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail.

It was a time when both the Durham Herald Sun and Raleigh News & Observer were cheering on Nifong while Duke's Dick Brodhead, the school's president, was telling a Durham Chamber of Commerce meeting "whatever they did was bad enough."

I'm reposting now for two reasons: 1) to try to generate interest in finally forceing news organizations to give the public a good, full look at that bathroom; and 2) because I just read another statement by President Brodhead about how tough it was to figure out back then Nifong was lying about what happened.

The bathroom questions post makes clear how easy it was to realize the players and their families were victims of a vicious hoax followed by a frame-up. As my parents would have said, "All you need to know that is a little common sense."

A special hat tip goes to blogger Betsy Newmark, a Duke mom. She linked to the post and spoke out against the absurd falsehoods Nifong and others were spewing.


"Duke lacrosse bathroom questions"

(Welcome visitors from Betsy's Page.)

The alleged victim says three men took her into the bathroom where they brutally raped and choked her. She says she tried hard to fight them off.


Have you and someone else ever helped a cooperative elderly or very ill person into a bathroom to shower?

Didn’t you have to be extremely careful and move very slowly lest you accidentally injure the person or yourselves by hitting one of the hard, angular, and large objects found within a bathroom, particularly a smallish one?

In order to avoid serious injury to any of you, didn’t you carefully plan and coordinate with the person and your helper every move you all made within the bathroom?

Nonetheless, all the while you knew the smallest accidental slip or bump could result in injury, didn’t you?

Did you think about getting a third person to help?

Did you reject that idea because a third person would’ve made things too crowded and harder for everyone to maneuver safely around the shower/tub, toilet, sink, medicine cabinet and towel rack?

Have you ever been asked to help a person who would resist a shower, say an Alzheimers patient with paranoid ideation?

Did you try to help; or did you reject the idea as simply too dangerous to the person and everyone else involved?

Did you think instead of a bedroom where you could give the person a sponge bath?

That would make a lot more sense, wouldn’t it?

The papers report the house at 610 North Buchanan Blvd. has three bedrooms.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 1, 2007

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

One of Churchill’s private secretaries during WW II, Sir John Peck, gave historian Martin Gilbert the following account of Churchill’s wartime speech-making which Gilbert reported in In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey :

There would be a big speech coming up. For days he would go broody. He wouldn’t touch the work in his box. You had to jam things down his throat.

After dinner he would say to his Private Secretary, “I shall need two women tonight.” This was usually Mrs. Hill and Miss Layton. Mrs. Hill would come first. He would then sit down and dictate for one or two hours. He’d break off at about half time and start with the second woman, while the first one went away and typed out what he had already dictated.

His own amendments tended to be minimal. He obviously had it all in his mind.

Different sections would be sent off to the ministers concerned with a deadline put to the minister’s Private Secretary: “Phone in your comments by ….”

There was often a damned short deadline, as Winston had left it so late.

A Private Secretary would ring up to say that his minister wanted such-and-such changed. We’d either say, “All right, we’ll write it in” or “Quite frankly, the Old Man isn’t going to wear that. How strongly does your minister feel? Well, if he feels that strongly, he’s going to have to fight for it himself.”

You wouldn’t make a change unless there was a good reason. We would add or change the passages that seemed to need it, from the various ministerial points of view.

Then he would pronounce himself satisfied. Then we would send it back to Mrs. Hill, to be typed in “speech form. (pgs. 187-188)
I’ll just leave things as Peck and Gilbert shared them with us.

I hope you’re back tomorrow.

Congratulations, Liestoppers.


Have any of you been fighting for justice for the Duke lacrosse players since the Raleigh News & Observer began framing them on March 24, 2006?

Or did you join the justice fight after that?

Whatever the case, can you believe that is only now celebrating its first anniversary?

Hard to believe, isn’t it?

When Liestoppers stepped into the fight last year all the “smart people” were saying DA Mike Nifong was a shoe-in for reelection.

Liestoppers helped change that.

With one of its principals, Beth Brewer, leading it helped rally decent people in Durham who didn’t want Mike Nifong to have a prosecutor’s power to put innocent people in jail.

They almost got him out of there last November.

I’ll always believe that the fight Liestoppers helped lead against Nifong’s election distracted him enough from his cover-up of the framing of three innocent young men that it contributed to the errors he made that helped expose him to the point where the NC State Bar had no choice but to disbar him.

That would be quite a bit for any blog in its first year. But Liestoppers gave us so much more.

Joan Foster’s odes and “breakfasts with Brodhead.”

Baldo’s parodies which a journalist friend keeps telling me are more effective than dynamite and don’t make so much noise. All the better not to wake Bob Ashley in the Herald Sun’s snooze room.

Philip Wood’s carefully researched posts drawing on law and reminding us of right and wrong.

Momtothree’s terrific post documenting how race was used to fuel the frame-up.

The recent unsigned post revealing a series of Duke/DPD/FERPA fakes that may yet help to bring the Feds to Durham to launch a much needed investigation.

Liestoppers forum where many citizen journalists helped lead the exposure of wrongs committed against the players and others.

All that and so much more.

Congratulations and thanks, Liestoppers.

Justice seekers are in your debt. .

I’ll be saying more about Liestoppers in the next week or so.

Let’s See That Bathroom.

Within a few days of the Raleigh News & Observer’s March 24 and 25, 2006 stories hyping Crystal Mangum’s lies about what went on in a bathroom in a house on N. Buchanan Blvd owned by Duke University, I began hearing from Durham Police officers and people who’d been in the bathroom in times past..

They were all saying the same thing.

It wasn't their disbelief of what Mangum was saying based on the impossibility of four people having a violent struggle in a bathroom with none of them getting a cut or worse, although many of them mentioned that.

What they were all saying was that if I could just see the bathroom, I’d find it impossible to believe four people could all have all squeezed in there and had room to even breathe, much less do what Mangum was claiming.

Since news organizations always want to describe “the crime scene” I really thought in a few days we’d be reading descriptions of the bathroom and watching TV news reports showing it .

But we never read descriptions of the bathroom or saw it.

The Raleigh News & Observer busied itself with searching the “criminal records” of teenagers on the Duke lacrosse team and reporting on its front-page the names and ages of those “convicted” of carrying open beer cans.

The N&O even reported Mangum had “earned an ‘A’ in a hard course” at NC Central.

But nothing about the bathroom.

It’s been the same with all the other news organizations.

Why didn’t they show us the bathroom last March? Why won’t they show us now?

I’ve just sent the following email to WRAL – TV general manager Jim Hefner. I hope many of you will contact news organizations and ask them to let us see and read about that bathroom. I explain to Hefner why it’s important that happen.


Dear Mr. Hefner:

Right from the time Crystal Mangum first made her false charges about being gang-raped in that bathroom, people who'd been in it in times past were unanimous in saying they didn't see how four people could've squeezed into it, much less done all the things Mangum said happened.

People who've been in the bathroom in times past have said if we could see the bathroom, the public would understand that.

But as far as I know, the public has never been shown the bathroom by a news organization such as WRAL.

I hope you'll consider doing that now.

The public has a right to see that bathroom just as we have a right to know why Durham Police told us horrific "crimes" had been committed there when even Mike Nifong now admits there never was any evidence of a crime.

Showing the bathroom will be consistent with WRAL's history of showing alleged or actual crime scenes to your viewers. It will also help all of us who must live together in Durham better understand a very important part of what was a terrible hoax played on a community where most people try to get along.

Thank you for your consideration of my request which I'm publishing at my blog,

I'll also publish in full there your response.


John in Carolina

Nifong N&O Anonymous Source (Post 2)

Some JinC readers have questioned my report that the Raleigh News & Observer used then DA Mike Nifong as an anonymous news source last March when it ran a series of false and racially inflammatory stories trashing and publicly framing 46 white Duke students who played on the school’s Men’s lacrosse team. ( “ Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 1)” )

The readers have noted a source for my report, N&O news columnist Ruth Sheehan, has a less than outstanding reputation for reliability.

I won’t dispute that.

But there’s a great deal more than just Sheehan’s statements that supports my report.

I’d like to tell you about it.

I began tracking the story of Nifong as an anonymous N&O news source last March when the N&O first reported Crystal Mangum’s lies and the false claims the players were not cooperating with police. I heard people say the N&O was using Nifong as an anonymous source but I didn’t feel I had enough credible evidence on which to base a report.

I did repeatedly point out last Spring that although the media was saying they were only reporting what Nifong was telling them, in fact what he began telling them publicly on March 27 was exactly what the N&O had been telling readers and the rest of media since the N&O “broke” the lacrosse story on March 24.

But I didn’t say Nifong was an N&O anonymous source for some of the N&O’s March 24 through 27 stories framing the players even when Sheehan said in a June 19, 2006 column he was the source for her March 27 column attacking the players:

“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.”
What I did then was just remind readers’ Nifong’s public statements followed Sheehan’s column. So how could she use what he said as an excuse? I didn’t add: “unless Sheehan used Nifong as an anonymous source?"

I didn’t add that because I was concerned that when confronted with the obvious implication of what she was saying, Sheehan might back off and say something about being under deadline and a little confused about time sequences. She might have said what she really meant was Nifong’s statements had influenced her when she wrote her April 3rd column about the lacrosse team and called for its coach, Mike Pressler, to be fired.

But my hesitation about using Sheehan as a source confirming Nifong’s anonymous involvement in the N&O’s framing of the players disappeared with the publication of Don Yeager’s book, It’s Not About the Truth, which he wrote in collaboration with Pressler.

Yeager quotes Sheehan repeatedly on the use she and the N&O made of Nifong as an anonymous source at least by March 26, if not before.

Yeager tells us Sheehan said ” …I called in [to the N&O on March 26] 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.” (p. 154)

Yeager quotes other statements Sheehan made the leave no doubt Nifong was an N&O source. You can read some of them in this post.

Yeager also describes Sheehan on March 26 preparing her next day’s column: “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.” (p.155)

There are at least three reasons why I have no doubt Yeager quoted Sheehan accurately and she can’t disown what he says she told him:

1) - Yeager, a veteran reporter, must certainly have taped what Sheehan said, retained those tapes and been very careful to quote accurately from them;

2) - It’s now common practice for publishing houses to require that interviews of the sensitivity the one(s) Yeager conducted with Sheehan are taped so it/they can be reviewed by the publishers’ attorneys for liability issues.

I believe Yeager, Pressler and their publisher, Simon & Schuster, would’ve been very careful to quote Sheehan accurately in any case; but they were no doubt particularly careful because at the time the book was being prepared for publication Nifong was the subject of State Bar ethics charges; three lacrosse players were still under indictment; and Pressler’s suit against Duke was still active.

3) - Sheehan has not disputed anything Yeager attributes to her.

So as reported in a previous post and now here we have Sheehan on the record and not disputing the record. We have her saying that by March 26 other journalists at the N&O reported to her what Nifong was telling them; that what her journalist colleagues said Nifong told them was of sufficient detail and emotional power to convince her to forgo a column she’d already written and instead write a column based on what she was told Nifong said.

To all of that we can add the fact that in the three months since Yeager’s book's been released, no one at the N&O has disputed anything in his account of what Sheehan says she was told when she phoned the N&O on March 26.

The N&O own May 4 story reporting the book's publication doesn’t dispute anything attributed to Sheehan. It doesn’t even mention her although Yeager not only quotes her as using Nifong as a source but on many other matters related to the paper’s Duke lacrosse coverage and bloggers.

When I emailed the story’s reporter, Jim Nesbitt, asking him specifically about what Yeager said about Sheehan’s March 27 column, Nesbitt never responded nor did he respond to phone messages.

I hope, folks, you all now see why after 16 months I felt I had enough evidence to go with my report and why I’m standing by it.

I don’t have any doubt that no later than March 26, 2006, and perhaps earlier, the Raleigh News & Observer was using Nifong as an anonymous news source.

That no doubt helps explain why so much of its Duke lacrosse coverage was false and racially inflammatory.

Nifong and the N&O need to level with the victims of those stories - the players, their families and decent people who trusted the N&O to tell them the truth.

Folks, what do you all think?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Churchill Series – July. 31, 2007

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

It is the early evening of September 1, 1898.

Lt. Winston Churchill, attached to the 21st Lancers, is walking with a comrade along the Nile riverbank near Omdurman. They’re part of a combined British and Egyptian force of about 30,000 that expects to battle that evening or the next day a Dervish army of about 60,000. At stake will be control of the Sudan.

In My Early Life Churchill recounts the following incident:

As I strolled in company with a brother officer along the river bank we were hailed from the gunboat which lay 20 or 30 feet from the shore. The vessel was commanded by a junior naval Lieutenant named Beatty who had long served in the Nile flotillas, and was destined to fame on blue water.

The gunboat officers, spotlessly attired in white uniforms, were eager to learn what the cavalry had seen, and we were by no means unwilling to tell. We had a jolly talk across the stretch of water while the sun sank. After a good deal [of talk] came [a] piece of good fortune.

“How are you off for drinks? We have got everything in the world on board here. Can you catch?” and almost immediately a large bottle of champagne was thrown from the gunboat to the shore.

It fell in the waters of the Nile, but happily where a gracious Providence decreed them to be shallow and the bottom soft. I nipped into the water up to my knees, and reaching down seized the precious gift which we bore in triumph back to our mess. (pgs. 179-180)
It must have been an especially joyful triumph for Churchill, the man who once said cold champagne was one of life’s four daily essentials (the other three were fresh English peas, hot water for a bath and warm brandy).

You can read more about the junior naval Lieutenant here. During WW I as Admiral David Beatty he commended the Grand Fleet and later served as First Sea Lord.

Dept. of Utter Nonsense

The Churchill Center’s quarterly journal Finest Hour contains one of those brief items pages. In the Autumn 2002 edition I found this item:

Dept. of Utter Nonsense

London, July 13th -- After the UK airing of “The Gathering Storm,” which debuted in the United States in May, the BBC ran a silly poll: “Is the life of Churchill still relevant to people today?”

We waited with bated breath for the verdict: Yes, definitely, 83.8%; Maybe, to a degree, 10.4%; No, not at all, 5.8%.

People who devise such things on state-supported media are a waste of the taxpayers’ money. If a poll asked, “Does it rain down – or up? 83.8% would be sure it was down, 10.4% up and the rest wouldn’t know.

Admittedly, we’re not sure they still teach gravity in the grammar schools, any more than Churchill.
For each of the last 25 or so years I’ve spent four or more weeks in the UK. The amount of utter nonsense the BBC purveys along with a leftist political bias is exceeded only by the Beeb's smugness.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 30, 2007

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

Last week I posted a brief series on the challenges Germany’s use of delayed-fuse bombs posed for Britain, Churchill’s response, and the incredibly brave volunteers who, literally at risk of life and limb, worked to defuse the bombs.

Another tactic the German’s began using in 1940 was the dropping by parachute of large mines with delayed-action fuses. These were even more deadly and disabling than the bombs in that the parachutes, as intended, would often get tangled on a buildings cornice or a telephone pole.

You can imagine how much more dangerous large mines in such positions were then a delayed-fuse bomb partially buried in the ground.

By mid-October 1940 Churchill had been demanding for weeks that the Royal Air Force retaliate in kind. But the Air Ministry resisted for a variety of reasons, including fear of provoking the Germans into adopting even more brutal tactics.

But Churchill would have none of it as the following minute reveals:

16 October 1940

Prime Minister to Secretary of State for Air and C. A. S. [Chief of Air Staff].

I see it reported that last night a large number of land mines were dropped here, many of which have not yet gone off, and that great harm was done.

Let me have your proposals forthwith for effective retaliation upon Germany.

I am informed that it is quite possible to carry similar mines or large bombs to Germany, and that the squadrons wish to use them, but that the Air Ministry are refusing permission, I trust that due consideration will be given to my views and wishes.

It is now about three weeks since I began pressing for similar treatment of German military objectives to that which they are meeting out to us. Who is responsible for paralyzing action?
Churchill was an advocate of magnaminity in victory but resolution in war.

We see that resolution here: he would give the Germans measure for measure and more if he could.

We see something else in the minute: that last sentence - “Who is responsible for paralyzing action?”

He’s telling the two Air Ministry leaders he doesn’t want from them a position paper laying out one more time the reasons for not retaliating in kind.

They are to do as he wishes or give him the names of those blocking the retaliation.

In war: resolution.
Churchill's minute is found on pg. 365 of his Their Finest Hour (Houghton Mifflin, 1949)

Duke Hoax Questions for the N&O

Readers Note: I’ve posted the following comment on the thread of this post by N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill.

You can check that post thread to see whether Sill responds. I’ll also keep you informed.


Dear Melanie,

Since my comment appears on the thread of a post concerning journalists you say work to “preserve and improve the ability of journalists to produce news in the public interest,” I hope you won’t rule this comment “off topic” and delete or simply ignore it.

Readers deserve answers to the extremely important matters I’m about to place before you.

As you no doubt know when reporter Joe Neff spoke on May 22 at the National Press Club he made false claims that the N&O had a policy against the use of anonymous sources and had not used a single anonymous source up to that date in what he said were 541 stories on the Duke lacrosse case.

In her American Journalism Review article, "Justice Delayed," Rachel Smolkin made a similarly false claim about your use of anonymous sources at the end of a paragraph in which you are quoted extensively.

Now we come to find out in Don Yeager’s book "It’s Not About the Truth" that Ruth Sheehan told him she based her notorious “Teams Silence is Sickening” May 27, 2006 column on information she got from people at the N&O who’d gotten their information from a source the N&O has never identified: Mike Nifong.

Questions, Melanie:

1) Why does the N&O keep falsely claiming it didn’t use anonymous sources on the Duke lacrosse case when you did?

2) If Sheehan is wrong about Nifong being one of your anonymous sources last March when you published deliberately fraudulent news stories, why haven’t you said so by now? Yearger’s book has been out since May? You don’t even mention what Sheehan said in your May 4 story reporting on Yeager’s book. Why not?

3) If, as the weight of evidence suggests, Sheehan is right, why didn’t you tell readers last March that Nifong was one of your news sources the way you did with Duke’s Professor Paul Haagen, Durham Police Corporal David Addison and others who helped frame the players?

Or did the N&O and Nifong have an agreement that as a condition of his “cooperation,” you’d grant him anonymity?

Readers are owed answers to these questions. They were victimized by Nifong and the N&O’s false statements.

And most of all, the Duke students and their families who you and Nifong trashed, framed and greiviously hurt deserves answers.

I’ll publish your answers in full at JinC.

Thank you for your attention to this comment.


John in Carolina

Sheehan & Burness Sighed

On April 23rd Raleigh News & Observer news columnist Ruth Sheehan wrote what she said she hoped “will be my final column on the Duke lacrosse case.” She. apologized to the Duke lacrosse players for vilifying them last year.

I admired Sheehan for admitting her mistakes and apologizing. She couldn’t have picked a better way to end her series of Duke Hoax columns.

But the end was not the end.

Sheehan’s back today with a column headed: “Lacrosse house … what if?”
When I saw that headline, I said to myself, “Could this be it? Finally!”

I began reading:

John Burness, vice president of public affairs and government relations for Duke University, had just begun our tour of the university's community outreach efforts when we turned on Buchanan Boulevard.

He slowed as we passed a ramshackle white cottage with black shutters hanging from the hinges.

"There's a house I've seen before," he said.

Me, too.

We both sighed.

The house [Duke owns], of course, was the scene of the infamous Duke lacrosse team party.
Yes, I thought, it’s about to happen.

Burness is going to park the car in the driveway beside the house.

Then he and Sheehan are going in to look at the small bathroom where Mike Nifong and certain Durham police officers and their supervisors said three large athletes brutally beat, strangled and gang-raped a woman for thirty minutes with none of the four sustaining so much as one cut that required a single stitch, to say nothing of multiple sprains and fractures,

Finally, a reporter is going to go into that bathroom and see what many people who’ve been in the bathroom have been telling me since Crystal Mangum first told her lies: if you know how small the bathroom is, you’ll wonder how four people could’ve even squeezed in there together, much less had room to do all the things Mangum said happened.

But Burness and Sheehan didn’t stop. They cruised right past the house.

Folks, do any of you know of a single reporter whose been in that bathroom? I haven’t heard of one who has even asked to see it.

Yet viewing an actual or alleged crime scene and describing it in detail for print readers or showing it on TV is standard journalism practice.

But in the Duke Hoax case, Sheehan and reporters at the N&O and other news organizations just don’t want to show the public the bathroom in that house on N. Buchanan Blvd.

Last Spring the N&O and other news organizations were eager to tell us about “how it happened.” Then DA Mike Nifong even used himself to demonstrate how he said the alleged “strangulation” occurred in the bathroom and the media duly reported that.

But no one in the media that I’m aware of has ever said to Burness: “Can I please go to the bathroom. I want to tell my readers/viewers about it. ”

So what did Sheehan and Burness talk about as they rode around town?

Well, one of the things was something Sheehan says “still kills” Burness. She ended her column with it:
Burness said that he had advocated for the purchase of the Buchanan Boulevard house and several others four years earlier....

Imagine, Burness said, if the university had made that purchase years earlier. The house might have been renovated and in the hands of a first-time homebuyer.

The Duke lacrosse case might never have happened.

"It would have been a different year," he said.

We both sighed again.
I groaned and wished Sheehan’s April 23rd column had really been her last Duke Hoax column.

I also wondered whether a year or two from now Mike Nifong will be saying:
“Your Honor, if Duke had purchased that house years earlier, the whole lacrosse thing might never have happened. Even John Burness has admitted that.

So I’m really a victim of Duke’s failure to purchase quickly enough. That’s why I’m suing Duke.”

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Responding to Comments – 7/29/07

Here begins a trial at responding to more reader comments. We’ll see how things work out.

Today, my responses to some of the comments on the threads of posts published on 7/21, 22 & 23.

If your comment isn’t one responded to, no crticism is necessarily implied. It may just be I’ve responded elsewhere else the post; the comment my be very positive which I always appreciate but think its somewhat immodest to keep responding to; or I may just miss something.

Let’s begin. My comments in italics:

Comments on:

Whichard Com., Sgt. Shelton & Cpl. Addison

Another excellent analysis.

(Thank you. Some brief, positive comments will slip through the screener from time to time)

John: When one of our two GOP Senators has no clue about what is happening in Durham, do you still think the Feds will be coming down?

(I think there’s a good chance the Feds will come but I don’t think our NC U.S. Senators will be the ones to make it happen)

What about Burr, the other U.S. Senator? Does anyone know him?

( He’s not up for reelection until ’10. He’s kept a very low profile, even for a freshman senator.)

I emailed Burr via his Senate website, asking him to get the US Attorney General to investigate probable civil rights violations by Nifong & Co. That was over a month ago and I haven't gotten a response to date.

( I’m sorry about that. I hope you keep pounding away.)

The letter shown in DiW from Dole shows that she must live on another planet.

( Yes. What’s more Sen. Elizabeth Dole is a Duke alum and former trustee)

Congressman Walter Jones seems to be the only member of the NC delegation in Washington who is not comatose.

( Actually, the others aren’t comatose. They just aren’t moved enough by the injustices to risk doing something that will not be all that comfortable for one of NC’s largest, richest and most powerful corporate citizens, Duke University. )

Justice Whichard Bio Information

For what it's worth, Nifong is also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC!

( I wonder about Nifong really being a PBK. Does anyone know how we can check? )


My understanding from a recent Supreme Court decision is that the person's whose FERPA rights were violated cannot sue for monetary damages. The same Supreme Cour decision, however, said the Federal Government can withhold Federal funds from an institution that has violated FERPA. I think that bloggers, such as yourself and KC and Martin Gaynor ought to start pushing for Federal funds to be cutoff from Duke, if even for a short period of time.

( I don’t know enough at this point to comment on SCOTUS FERPA decisions. But I plan to continue reporting as best I can the DPD/Duke FERPA story.)

I have done my part. I am not giving them an incremental cent this year and in the years to come. No estate planning, as well. And I have given Duke more than most. Duke is not the Duke of old, unfortunately. Moneta, Burness and Brodhead are agenda-driven clowns.

( You’re smart. Hold on to you money until Duke has a President that has you saying, “You know, he (or she) is a lot like Terry Sanford." )

At least now we know why Duke was so quick to get a settlement agreement in place that cut off all liability for the school and its employees.

( I’m happy the people got quick settlements. That suggests it was on their terms and as you suggest Duke was very anxious to avoid public disclosure. That’s sad that the Duke wound up in such a position with more lawsuits likely to come. )

Folks, We are getting storms here so I’m going to shut down but I’ll be back tomorrow.

Thanks for commenting.


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?