The name “Crystal Mangum” only appeared on the news pages of the New York Times after Mangum published her “memoir.” Carrying its policy of not naming sexual assault accusers to an absurdist extreme, the Times refused to use Mangum’s name when reporting on Attorney General Cooper’s announcement that Mangum’s myriad, mutually contradictory claims were wholly false and without any evidence.
While the Times made coverage of an alleged rape hundreds of miles away a priority (more than 100 articles), it has devoted scant attention to an equally spectacular claim of sexual assault just outside of New York City. (Doubtless the fact that the suspects in the Hofstra case were non-white had nothing to do with the Times’ editorial judgment.)
In the one non-AP article the Times thus far has seen fit to run (on the dismissal of the charges), reporter Anahad O’Connor did not reveal the name of the false accuser, Danmell Ndonye, while he did mention the names and ages of the four people Ndonye had falsely accused.
I e-mailed O’Connor to ask about his rationale for this decision; he did not reply. But he did reply, through the Times automated e-mail system, to a DIW reader. His explanation: “The reason the article did not contain the accuser’s name is really quite simple. [Note in the e-mail, O’Connor still declines to use Ndonye’s name.] At the time the article was published, the authorities had yet to release it. It only came out at a later time. If you’re upset, you should direct your outrage at the district attorney’s office.
This explanation of what passes for Times journalism is an intriguing one. Perhaps the Times should change its motto from “All the News That’s Fit to Print” to “All the News Government Officials Have Seen Fit to Supply.” The latter motto certainly would have covered Duff Wilson’s role as a de facto stenographer for Mike Nifong during the lacrosse case.
In any event, O’Connor’s explanation is simply untrue. On the same day that the Times left its readers ignorant, the New York Post reported Ndonye’s name. Perhaps, on sexual assault cases, the Post understands that newspapers must do more than simply copy down what the authorities say.