In the comments section and through e-mail, I’ve had some questions regarding the Mangum Opus. Here are my replies.
Q: What new could come from this book?
A: There are a few items related to the case (Mangum’s April 11, 2006 meeting with Mike Nifong, for instance) for which we have never received a credible explanation. (Nifong claimed in court that Mangum seemed “traumatized” and said only 15 words.) Unfortunately, since Mangum is—at best—a fantasist, anything that she would say, even about Nifong, would have less than zero credibility.
There is, however, one item that could be revelatory. Of the case file, around 1000 pages of Mangum’s psychological records were turned over to the defense attorneys but ordered sealed by Judge Osmond Smith. To my knowledge, no one outside of the defense team has seen these records (I haven’t, and Joe Neff’s articles also didn’t draw upon them).
Mangum’s publisher could comply with Wendy Murphy’s previous demand for the public release of the entire case file by posting these records on its websites. Possible questions such a move could answer:
- What type of mental illness did Mangum have?
- Did she, for instance, hear voices telling her to do things?
- How often had she fabricated charges against people in the past?
- How long had she been taking anti-psychotic drugs, and what prompted doctors to prescribe them for her?
- Did her mental problems have any bearing on her discharge from the Navy?
Given that Mangum has elected to pen her “poignant” memoir, her publisher (who has claimed to have seen the entire discovery file, presumably including these documents) should ensure that the information is released publicly.
Q: Why did Mangum choose to publish a book now?
A: The Occam’s Razor explanation would be money, especially since her publisher/press agent has given less-than-credible alternative theories. In his press release, he claimed that she never had told her story (false: she had given an invented tale to the N&O, and had an opportunity to speak with both ABC and 60 Minutes). Then he said the case was being prolonged by the civil suits, or by bloggers—yet Mangum isn’t a party to the civil suits (though she might now be), and most case-related blogs, including this one, had scarcely mentioned Mangum for months until she re-injected herself into the case.
The idea that Mangum could profit from helping to perpetrate this hoax is obscene; as Joe Cheshire astutely noted, she should be subject to a civil suit unless her memoir concedes that she lied and talks about why she chose to lie.
Q: Do you think that there now exists a completed, copywrited document that will be released in some commercial form in October 2008? Could the press release be referring to a work that is still surreptitiously “in progress” for which the instigating parties are looking for signals of how to best proceed and what content to include by ‘testing the waters’ with this (preliminary) announcement?
A: It generally takes several weeks (at minimum) to several months to move from a completed manuscript to the book actually appearing. Since Mangum’s publisher/p.r. agent claims the book is done, there’s no reason to doubt his statement.
I have received several (anonymous) comments—each of which appears to have come from the same person—claiming to have “exposed” the fact that no Mangum Opus exists, alleging that the Mangum publicist is merely perpetrating a fraud on the public. I haven’t cleared such comments because the anonymous commenter provided no evidence to corroborate what is an extraordinarily serious charge against Vincent Clark.
In his/her most recent comment, the anonymous commenter said that my refusal to clear his/her comments showed that “for you, it’s just not about the truth.” I’d urge the commenter to look at the comments policy: while I try to clear as many comments as possible, I don’t clear potentially libelous comments. I would urge, therefore, the anonymous commenter to produce evidence for his/her serious charges against Clark.
Q: Do press releases announcing book publications typically have a completed “book” to point to?
Q: Do you find the injunction included in the press release by the triumvirate of parties putatively representing CGM that we (the public) desist from contacting her directly a little bizarre? Wouldn’t it be up to her to refer us to them if she chose not to deal with any of us directly? Their verbiage implies a contractual arrangement between them that we are somehow bound by.
A: Yes, this is bizarre: but what else should expect by this stage?!
Q: Does the book have to be cleared by an attorney?
A: With every publishing house I have ever heard of, controversial manuscripts first are cleared by an outside attorney (to avoid possible libel claims). It’s hard for me to see how any reputable attorney could clear a manuscript by someone like Mangum. I e-mailed Clark several weeks ago to ask him the name of his outside counsel; he declined to provide one.
Q: What have been the best responses to the book thus far?
A: Joe Cheshire talking about the Opus in this video.
And Bill Thomas appropriately observing, “Any book written by Ms. Mangum should be displayed in the fiction section. I think it’s very sad she's trying to capitalize off the false and malicious allegations she made against members of the Duke lacrosse team.”