Without a doubt the case’s least distinguished performance of any editorial page in the country came from the Herald-Sun.
This is, after all, the editorial page that told us:
When police officers arrived at the house with a search warrant on March 16, none of the players would cooperate with the investigation [sic] . . . The allegations of rape bring the students’ arrogant frat-boy culture to a whole new, sickening level. ‘Get a conscience, not a lawyer,’ read [potbangers’] signs waved in front of the house on Sunday. We agree that the alleged crime isn’t the only outrage. It’s also outrageous that not a single person who was in the house felt compelled to step forward and tell the truth about what happened [sic].
But even in the wake of compelling DNA evidence, those who would echo team members’ attorneys and declare the case shut would be smart to wait to see what District Attorney Mike Nifong has up his sleeve. Nifong was convinced early on that a crime occurred and he has not ruled out filing charges.
Roberts was separated from the accuser for two periods of at least five to 10 minutes. We still haven’t heard why an assault couldn’t have occurred during those gaps.
It would be better for the players to have an opportunity to prove their innocence at trial.
Defending the March 28 editorial, Editor Bob Ashley told the Chronicle’s Adam Eaglin, “We were reflecting the circumstances and situation as it was known at the time, and I don’t have any regret in doing that. I don’t think we need to apologize for that conclusion.”
In general, he described the paper’s editorial coverage—which combined a presumption of guilt with silence as the highest-profile case of prosecutorial misconduct in modern American history unfolded before his eyes—as “opinionated but . . . fair.”
So, after this record, what is the latest move for the H-S? Expanding its coverage, to include decisions to endorse local candidates. Just in time, presumably, to champion Diane Catotti and Victoria Peterson running for City Council on the “Something Happened” ticket.
People who followed last year’s DA’s race might well have believed that the H-S did endorse candidates—since, for months, the paper listed Mike Nifong as running “unopposed,” wholly ignoring the Lewis Cheek line on the ballot. But officially, the H-S was “neutral” in the race.
Editor Ashley explains that “we intend to spend a good bit of time on our choices, just as we know many of you will. We’ll interview each candidate, review their records, rely on our own knowledge and that of others to make the most reasoned judgment we can.”
After the Herald-Sun’s performance in the lacrosse case, who in their right mind would take advice from the editorial page on how to vote?