Commentaries, Global Warming, Opinions   Cover   •   Commentary   •   Books & Reviews   •   Climate Change   •   Site Links   •   Feedback
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
WEBCommentary Contributor
Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  October 6, 2006
Print article - Printer friendly version

Email article link to friend(s) - Email a link to this article to friends

Facebook - Facebook

Topic category:  Other/General

The N & O's Hypocritical "Fairness" Policy

On October 5, 2005, The News & Observer reported a bit more about its March 25 interview of Crystal Gail Mangum, the accuser in the Duke case whom News & Observer (among others) initially referred to as a victim and, in doing so, exposed its hypocrisy and bias in reporting on the Duke case.

The News & Observer:

"Our March 25 article that included an interview with the woman who accused Duke lacrosse players of rape has been the subject of questions and speculation on blog posts. There is a mistaken assumption that the N&O conducted an extensive interview with the woman and deliberately withheld a substantial portion of the interview.

"Those assumptions are false.

"The reporterís interview with the woman was brief, an encounter that lasted a few minutes outside the womanís parentsí home in Durham. Only two things the woman said at that time did not make publication. She provided a description of the then-unidentified second woman who had also been hired to dance at the lacrosse team party. She also offered an opinion about the other womanís actions that night. The latter was clearly an opinion, offered without any substantiation. Omitting from published news articles unsubstantiated opinions is a standard, normal part of the journalistic process. The description of the second woman proved to be accurate when Kim Roberts exposed herself at a later date. That description was withheld in March, not because of doubts about its accuracy, but because it was deemed irrelevant since we had no other information to tell readers about the second woman.

"The decision made prior to the March interview to limit it to the information in the police report was the correct decision and I stand by it. Our purpose was to hear from the woman in her own words the accusation she made to the police. We also wanted to know if she would say anything that contradict the police report. In the brief interview, she repeated the information we knew to be the gist of the police report that we had access to at that time. "The fairness issue we discussed was that we would not allow her to use the interview for unlimited comments about the men she accused. That would have been the governing decision in any situation where we were interviewing a subject about formal charges made against another person and that other person is not immediately available to respond." The heart warms at the thought of The News & Observer's professed concern that Duke lacrosse players be treated fairly.

Of course, describing Ms. Mangum as a victim was supporting her rape claim, even though it was unsubstantiated. (Note: It still is unsubstantiated and always will be, because it was a fabrication, not a fact.)

Apparently The News & Observer's fairness policy prohibited "unlimited comments about the men [Ms. Mangum] accused" and permits picking and choosing which unsubstantiated claims to report and which to cover up.

Yes, cover up.

Readers of The News & Observer should be disgusted.

The evidence, including DNA and toxicology test results, debunks the claim that Ms. Mangum was a rape victim at that party last March.

But there IS an unresolved question as to what happened to Ms. Mangum's money that night.

The News & Observer is still deliberately withholding what it describes as "an opinion about the other womanís actions that night." That "other woman" is Kim Roberts, an ex-convict and stripper like Ms. Mangum.

The opinion that The News & Observer is deliberately withholding is both newsworthy and relevant to the Duke case. Posted on The News & Observer's Editor's Blog is an email from "H. L. M." to Editor Linda Williams stating in pertinent part as follows:

"Ms Williams, your personal decision to hide CGM's statement to your reporter that she felt that Kim Roberts had robbed her that night was on-its-face a wrong decision.

"Depriving your readers of a very important part of the story.

"it was likely motivated solely by your own agenda, Ms Williams.

"Bad enough.

"But worse is your arrogant unwillingness to own up to your mistakes. That is a very bad sign, Ms Williams. It makes people wonder what else you are hiding."

In addition, e-mailer "Jenniferd" pointed out the hypocrisy of it all:

"Funny, how you were worried about unsubstantiated statements the accuser made regarding Kim Roberts. But unsubstantiated rape allegations-that must have not bothered you one bit?

"Rather pathetic excuse, in my view."

"H. L. M." then deemed Ms. Williams' "censorship" inexcusable:

"Whether your censorship of uncomfortable facts and your malicious editorializing and headlining of a number of news reports on the Lacrosse case in March and April was motivated by righteous outrage, 'activist' journalism, or personal animus towards the Lacrosse players doesn't much matter

"You did a lousy job and nearly discredited the work of your paper. A disgraceful performance made worse by hiding behind Melanie Sill all these months.

"Melanie: You want to play the new media game, play it. Your deputy editors need to be accountable. Linda Williams made at least 3 terrible news judgments on this story (hiding the accuser's real story, publishing the 'wanted poster' and the gratuitous use of the word 'Nigger' in a news story).

"Williams is still bluffing and trying to hold back on your readers.

"You might let her know that it won't work."

"Newport" recognized the hypocrisy and deftly highlighted it:

"I hate to do this to you, and I am going to try and do it in a nice way, but I am about to point out in dramatic fashion that you are not being real truthful here.

"You said you did not publish the quote from the interview of the accuser because it was unsubstantiated opinion. You said that was standard journalism at your paper. I say -- NONSENSE.

"Here is what your paper wrote in an article entitled, 'DA changed bond status for second dancer,' on April 22:

'I was not in the bathroom when it happened, so I can't say a rape occurred -- and I never will,' Roberts told the AP Thursday in her first on-the-record interview. She previously told her story on television; she was pictured in silhouette, and her name was not used.

"She began wondering about the character of the players after defense attorneys released photos of the accuser and leaked information on both dancers' criminal pasts.

"'In all honesty, I think they're guilty,' she said. 'And I can't say which ones are guilty ... but somebody did something besides underage drinking. That's my honest-to-God impression.'

"http://www.newsobserver.com/1185/story/431417.html

"Did you get that? Let me repeat it for you:

"'In all honesty, I think they're guilty,' she said. 'And I can't say which ones are guilty ... but somebody did something besides underage drinking.'

"Is that unsubstantiated opinion? Well, I certainly think so, and so do your readers. Do you really think that we are so stupid that you can pull this bull on us?

"This is not even the most important point. It is irrelevant whether the accuser was stating unsubstantiated opinion or not from both a legal and journalistic standpoint. The mere speaking of the words that she uttered is legally relevant AND NEWS.

"The accuser's statements about her fellow dancer should be printed in your paper to show the state of mind of the accuser. The issue here is not whether 'the opinion' meets some level of quality for opinion, the question is what does this woman think about her fellow dancer WHO IS A PUBLIC FIGURE BY VIRTUE OF HER NOTORIETY. That is important from a legal standpoint to show her state of mind, bias, etc. This is very important. Whether the words of the opinion are true or not is not at issue. They are not relevant for their truth, they are relevant as a window into the mind of a very public figure. This makes the mere utterance of the words important and newsworthy.

"If George Bush stated that Dennis Hastert is a crazy fool, would that be withheld from print because it was an 'opinion?' Of course not. The mere speaking of those words, whether opinion or not, is NEWS. I can see refraining from printing scurrilous accusations, but when the speaker is the accuser in a very public and very notorious rape case, her opinions are NEWS (regardless of whether they are 'substantiated') and they should be printed.

"This editor is hiding behind the standard canard used by reporters when they don't want to print something. Oh, that's not fact, that's opinion. Trust me, if it was something they wanted to print, you wouldn't hear anything about it being opinion, it would be printed.

"This entire episode is Shameful, and the N&O's conduct in perpetuating and fueling the HOAX with it's abysmal early coverage is equally shameful. Do not add further to the shame by hiding the accuser's accusations against her fellow dancer."

Is The News & Observer deliberately and hypocritically concealing pertinent evidence that the voters of Durham County, North Carolina should be aware of before Election Day?

In a word...YES!

Should people buy such a newspaper?

NO!

Michael J. Gaynor

Send email feedback to Michael J. Gaynor


Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.


Read other commentaries by Michael J. Gaynor.

Copyright © 2006 by Michael J. Gaynor
All Rights Reserved.

[ Back ]


© 2004-2017 by WEBCommentary(tm), All Rights Reserved