Monday, December 04, 2006

H-S "Opinion-News"

The Herald-Sun could be inventing a new item in a newspaper—”opinion news,” or opinion pieces masquerading as news articles. As John in Carolina notes, one such “op-news” piece occurred in Saturday’s paper, where the H-S reprinted, under the guise of “staff reports,” a news release from Duke about the elevation of the African-American Studies program, 80 percent of whose faculty affiliated with the Group of 88.

Today’s “op-news” column comes from—of course—John Stevenson, who always can be counted upon to spin the news in a pro-Nifong direction. The story involved the restoration of the Durham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, whose dissolution was the subject of an earlier pro-Nifong puff piece by Stevenson that quickly appeared on the Nifong website. So the re-creation of the group couldn’t be viewed as a positive for Nifong, right?

Not in Stevenson’s “op-news” column, which concludes with the following two sentences: “But for the most part, defense lawyers now seem satisfied with Durham prosecutors. Even if they aren’t, they no longer are in the strident mode they once were.”

A remarkable conclusion, since none of the statements by defense attorneys in the article deal with their satisfaction (or lack of satisfaction) with “Durham prosecutors.” But Editor Bob Ashley is “satisfied” with Nifong—and that’s all that counts.


Anonymous said...

Editor Bob Ashley justs makes things up. Isn't there any kind of ethical journalism oversigt for this kind of reporting?

Anonymous said...

Chicago writes:

The Herald-Sun's circulation, or lack there of speaks for itself. My guess is that at some point the News & Observer will swallow up the Herald-Sun.

One question, what is the motive of the HS to be so pro-Nifong? After all, the majority of the people know the truth behind the Duke Lax situation and the people who know the truth are the people who actually read newspapers because they are educated and want to stay up to date on the world.

TombZ said...

Chicago -

It's been speculated that Ashley is in Nifong's pocket due to the advertising done during the election cycle. Maybe it's meaningful money to the Hopelessly-Senile.

Another possibility is laziness. The paper needs access to government officials, after all they're easy to find and always want to talk. Cross Nifong and they get cut off. Talking to the government means you don't need to pound the pavement to develop sources for your column inch.

That, and it's hard to change while you're drowing in quicksand.

Anonymous said...


Why is there not national news coverage on this case?? Every once and a while it will make a headline, but not usually. Also, now that Nifong's political agenta has been exposed, the majority of national outlets are now pro-justice... meaning pro-lax players. Primetime news can put a lot of pressure on local and state governments. Have you made any efforts to contact Fox News, CNN, etc? If so, what are they saying in return. I mean, if people falling overboard on a cruise ship becuase they were drunk still makes nightly news, why isn't this Duke case anywhere to be seen (relatively speaking)?

Anonymous said...

4:30 edit-

Why is there not *more* national news coverage on this case?

WJD said...

Tombz, you reason for the laziness doesn't pass the smell test. When this case broke I was in communication with Stevenson, that was his excuse, until after I asked him how Dan Abrams of MSNBC and the reporters at the N&O got the first 1800 pages of discovery and he didn't. His reply was that he would no longer communicate with me.

Anonymous said...

Chicago writes:

Oh yeah that's right. I totally forgot about the fact that the HS did not get the first 1800 pages of Discovery. I am sure that was part of it. Also, as mentioned, they were so invested in fingering the players guilty to sell newspapers at first they got in too deep.

TombZ said...

I appreciate your answer, but perhaps they did get the discover and were in deep denial.

Pro-Nifong? Anti-Duke lax team? I guess you have to make a choice now and again...

Anonymous said...

I am not KC, but I have a couple of ideas about your question. I think the indifference of the national networks is due to the fact the defendants are "rich and white." What I was told by one of the network anchors is that the defendants are not "sympathetic" enough. People like to hear about and root for underdogs, and it is difficult to portray these guys as underdogs. It smacks of just plain prejudice to me...and a lack of understanding that we all suffer when our legal system promotes injustice.

Michael said...

7:05 - I think that has become one of the most important issues in all this - the idea that the fight for civil rights and for due process must include those for whom it is assumed that those have been secured, but for whom, in this case, those rights have been diminished because of their affiliation. Hopefully this will open eyes that things are not all well in the land of those elected or hired to protect us, but I had rather hoped that the eyes would be opened all 'round... G

Anonymous said...

anyone know when the next hearing in this case is? my guess is the national coverage is lacking because nothing is happening of any real substance in the case right now, and has not for months. once a motions hearing is set coverage will pick up again.

bill anderson said...

A legal system should be about truth, not "underdogs." The reason this story got legs in the first place was "rich white boys rape poor black girl," and everyone in the media WANTED it to be true.

Since they wanted it to be true, then it JUST HAD to be true, and when the evidence began to point the other way, they decided to dwell on conspiracy theories or just ignore the evidence altogether.

Seeing the performance of the NY Times is pretty typical of how these people thing. (I cannot believe that I actually went to high school with Tom Jolley -- Baylor School, Chattanooga -- who is now the sports editor for the NY Times. He brings shame to his alma mater, as far as I am concerned.)

Anonymous said...

10:36 pm
Next hearing is Friday Dec 15th.
I predict Liefong begins to back peddle out of the case to save his own butt from NC Bar and Feds. He used "Precious" as a political pawn to get elected and will now use her incredulity to avoid reprimand.

HMan said...

It is written somewhere in the book of final wisdom that a smart political system would not set out to aggressively disregard and trample on the civil rights of the beloved children of the elite. Because their parents can (and will) do extremely serious damage to the doers of this harm. Shit, if I had a son that was similarly indicted, I would have killed someone a long time ago. I am, like, old anyway and have not much to lose. Besides, it woud feel SO GOOD.

bill anderson said...

I think that people really misunderstand Nifong and his intentions:

1. He really believes he can get convictions in this case. Nifong is someone who sees the courtroom as being "all about winning." This is a game to him.

2. A conviction would stand as "proof" that he didn't violate anyone's rights. After all, he will reason, how can one violate the "rights" of someone who is a guilty rapist?

3. He is counting on a Durham jury giving him his "prize."

Don't kid yourself. Nifong has seen how other prosecutors, like David Hoke and Debra Graves, have been able to get away with what was, in effect, attempted murder. (Deliberately withholding exculpatory evidence in order to win a conviction in which the person is sentenced to death is the same as trying to kill that person.)

Thus, Nifong believes that the system will enable him to come out on top. Do not underestimate Nifong's ability here, and don't underestimate the perfidy of the NC Bar. I can guarantee you that the defense has not underestimated Nifong. They know he can win.

Furthermore, this case is the ultimate challenge: Win a conviction when there literally is NO evidence against those being charged. A moral person would see the folly and wrongness of pursuing such charges, but Nifong is NOT a moral person. He is the archtypical modern prosecutor. The man is not the exception, no matter what other prosecutors out there are saying; he is the rule.

This is not to say that ALL prosecutors are as morally challenged as people like Nifong and David Hoke. It is just that the job attracts such immoral people because they can lie, bully, and "win."

Anonymous said...

Nifong will not win this case by a long shot. If it comes to race there are alot more rich white people out there who support these innocent young men than AA's. This political correctness has gone to far and its time the white race stands up for the abuses the AA community has put upon them, the reverse discrimination has gotten out of control and this case is a perfect example of it. The NC politicians don't want to step in and stop what they know is wrong because they want the AA support for their own political gain. How pathetic. No, Nifong will not win this case because the families, friends and supporters of these falesly accused see this as war and we will stop at nothing to win.