We got beat on some stories I wish we’d had first, but we beat others . . . on some others.
--Bob Ashley, editor, Herald-Sun
In his recent interview with AJR, Bob Ashley vigorously defended his paper’s performance in the case, and made the above claim that the H-S had several scoops on the case. (In recent weeks, it should be noted, the H-S’ Ray Gronberg has had several good articles.)
It is true, as Ashley asserted, that the Herald-Sun sometimes did “beat” other media, and Editor Ashley deserves full credit for this performance. While the case was alive, Herald-Sun “scoops” included:
August 1, 2006 (John Stevenson): “The previously undisclosed [DNA] matches, one involving indicted rape suspect David Evans and the other involving a player not charged, have been confirmed by several sources close to the case . . . Tissue ‘consistent’ with Evans’ genetic makeup was on the fingernail, but the match was not 100 percent conclusive.”
(In fact, the matches had been disclosed, and there was no “tissue” consistent with Evans’ genetic makeup on the fingernail.)
November 1, 2006 (John Stevenson): “Addressing a witness-credibility issue that echoes the Duke lacrosse rape case, the state Court of Appeals has upheld rape and sex-offense convictions against Anthony Michele Lofton of
(In fact, Lofton had almost no similarities to the Duke case.)
November 2, 2006 (John Stevenson): “Platinum Club owner Victor Olatoye said in a sworn affidavit, a copy of which was obtained by The Herald-Sun on Wednesday, that . . . [Crystal Mangum] danced at his nightspot beginning in December 2005 and continued for about three months, stopping in February. In addition, he said he had reviewed the CBS video clip and disagreed that it was shot on March 26. ‘The video is at my club and was prior to the rape,’ Olatoye wrote. ‘I am certain of this because [Mangum] has not stripped at my club since the rape occurred.’”
(Olatoye later admitted he was wrong, and the H-S had to run a correction.)
April 16, 2006 (staff reports): “State Attorney General Roy Cooper says the strains the Duke lacrosse case inflicted on Durham’s racial climate played a role in his decision last week to declare the three defendants innocent of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer.”
(Cooper had said no such thing, and the H-S had to run a correction.)
These instances where the Herald-Sun “beat others” had two items in common. One: the “scoops” all first appeared in the Herald-Sun. Two: they were all factually wrong.