Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What's Going On At The Herald Sun?

In a piece entitled, "Lawyers haggle over DNA matches," John Stevenson presents some very old news as breaking revelations in an apparent public relations effort on behalf of the Governor appointed District Attorney, Mike Nifong. Coming on the heels of this weekends blatant attempt to discourage Durham voters from participating in this November's Nifong Referendum Election, also known as the Anybody but Nifong election according to the DA himself, today's effort only further casts doubt on the integrity of the Herald Sun.

In this weekend's unsigned opinion piece, the Herald Sun falsely states of Lewis Cheek: "Yet he still withheld a formal decision on whether he would actually campaign for the office." In fact, Mr. Cheek stated very clearly in a formal news conference that he would not campaign for the office. Statements by Mr. Cheek that directly contradict the Herald Sun's inaccurate assertions include: "I will not run a campaign." and "I'm not going to have any further connection with the campaign, with the election, with anything after I finish answering questions today."

The editorial continues to disseminate false information when it offers the evaluation that Mr. Cheek said supporters shouldn't vote for him: "Cheek said being district attorney would be too much of a distraction from the business of his Durham law firm, so supporters shouldn't vote for him after all." While a creative imagination is to be applauded, we can't say that we find its proper place of expression to be the opinion pages of a pseudo major daily newspaper. How they came to the faulty conclusion that Mr. Cheek encourages his supporters to not vote for him after all is beyond us. More accurately, what Mr. Cheek said publicly was "The people will be able to directly state whether they are satisfied with the status quo. They will state that themselves...In June the people spoke with signatures on a petition. In November the people will speak with votes at the ballot box. I want to emphasize to you that what I am saying is that the people will speak... Lewis Cheek isn't going to be speaking. It's up to every individual voter to make up his/her decision on what they might believe is the right thing to do." Lewis Cheek clearly DID NOT say that his supporters shouldn't vote for him after all.

The effort by the Herald Sun to offer an exact opposite version of what Mr. Cheek stated, makes it appear that they are disinterested in reporting the truth. Mr. Cheek spoke very clearly about what he thought the voters should do. Some might even say that his words and direction were a clear endorsement of Anybody But Nifong. We question whether the Herald Sun's blatant misrepresentations were an effort to manipulate the community which it should be expected to serve. It appears that even the Nifong camp is accepting the reality that this election has become a referendum on Mr. Nifong himself. According to the News and Observer, Nifong's campaign director, Julie Linehan, admits that Cheek's decision has offered a situation where the choices on the ballot would be Nifong and Anyone But Nifong. "I wish he had said, 'Don't vote for me,' " she said. "Voting for him [Cheek] is voting for 'Not Nifong.' " In light of the fact that Mr. Cheeks own words and the statements of the Nifong campaign directly contradict the statements made by the Herald Sun we expect that a printed, front page retraction of these false statements and a public apology to the good people of Durham might help us to reconsider our assessment of this apparent propoganda campaign.

As for the article referred to initially here, we find the title to be quite deceptive. Please tell us, Mr. Stevenson, which attorney's are haggling? The article offers several legal opinions to the effect of his "revelation" being harmless to the defense and but a single opinion to the contrary. The several to one ratio of disagreement hardly seems to demontrate the controversy implied by the title. While we seem to recall reports of semen from two residents of the home being found at the time results from the initial DNA testing were released, we do concede that news of Mr. Evans being the source of DNA found on a towel in hallway to be genuinely a new report.

We can't help wondering if the more significant detail, which was conveniently glossed over in this article, was that semen from an unindicted person was found at the scene of the alleged crime. An objective observer might conclude that the semen on the floor of the bathroom not belonging to any of the falsely accused young men might be as relevant as the discovery of semen inside the accuser also belonging to someone other than than any of the three people accussed. It appears, however, that objective observers are as difficult to find at the Herald Sun as they are to find in the District Attorney's office.

Links to articles referenced above:


Anonymous said...

Do you remember
What happens this November?
Durham County elects a solicitor
Vote for justice over Blinco Drunks
Write in Steve Monks
Or give Lewis Cheek a check
Anybody but Nifong – that lying fuck
Incited a media riot, acting above reproach
Fed race bait, caught 881 of da cockroach
Vote Nov. 7th - Anybody but Nifong

Anonymous said...

In the Primary election, 45% of voters backed Nifong while 55% voted for Anybody But Nifong. I seriously doubt that his percentages have improved given that he has been beaten on routinely over the past few months on prime tv and in the press. Add in the republican voters who were excluded from the primary and it would seem that Anybody But Nifong has a huge lead at this point in time. It's no wonder that Nifong's pals at the newspaper have come out swinging in his defense. He needs all the help he can get or he is going to lose to his own shadow.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what's going on at the Herald Sun either. I just sent this letter to Stevenson and Ashley at the Herald-Sun:

Dear Mr. Stevenson:

I was perplexed by your article in this morning's Herald-Sun claiming to reveal "previously undisclosed matches" to DNA of Duke lacrosse players. On April 10th, when the District Attorney turned over the first round of DNA tests to the defense attorneys, this information was widely reported. Here is what the News & Observer wrote in their April 11th edition:

"They also found no DNA on the woman's clothing or belongings, players' attorneys said. The tests found DNA matches to two players, from a towel outside the bathroom and on another object, Cheshire said. The sample was from a player's semen and another was a different type of DNA, Cheshire said. He said that was to be expected in a bathroom shared by the three men who lived in the house."


I am very troubled by the Herald-Sun's description of this information this morning. Your article states, "Attorneys disagree on the impact of the new DNA information" (emphasis added). Yet, the information isn't at all new. You then obtain quotes from two defense attorneys (who clearly knew this information was old), John Fitzpatrick, and Irving Joyner. All of these quotes leave the impression that the information was new. Your article states, " Lawyer John Fitzpatrick, who is not connected to the lacrosse case and who teaches periodically at the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill, said Monday it could have great impact for the prosecution," and " At the same time, Joyner said the previously unreported evidence 'would not be conclusive'" (emphasis added).

I am confused about why the Herald-Sun would chose to run this article at this particular time. Who were your sources for the information? Did they lead you to believe that the information was new? Were you unaware of the fact that this information had been revealed immediately by the defense attorneys?

Recent editorials in your newspaper have communicated that the Herald-Sun believes this case should go to trial regardless of the evidence. If your newspaper believes it should report stories with an agenda to advance this goal, I encourage you to do so in a more honest manner.


Keep up the good work LieStoppers!

Anonymous said...

Re another nifong tantrum:

The Pout

I'm not coming to your meetings
I'm helping anymore

I'm quitting! Yes, I'm quitting!
I'm walking out the door.
I saw Cheek's petitions!
How dare you sign your name!
How dare you cross the Nifong!
I'll get even all the same.

Did you forget my potty mouth?
Heard in the courtroom Hall?
The nasty stuff I always say
No judges make me stop at all.

I'm quitting! I'm leaving!
Let the dogs run wild
Let postmen fear their life and limb
Who cares who bites your child!

This will teach the bunch of you
I can be a vengeful Troll
I might just indict the bunch of you
Nifong takes down ....Animal Control.

Anonymous said...

Nifong is quitting animal control?
I am happy for the dogs.

Anonymous said...

The Herald Sun article on "new" DNA evidence identifies Irving Joyner only as a law professor at NCCU. They left out his involvement with the NAACP in this case:


[from the April 19,2006 Daily Record]: The faculty is involved, too. Irving Joyner, an N.C. Central law professor, is monitoring the case as requested by the state chapter of the NAACP.

"It was important that arrests were made and more that it was explained why (additional) arrests weren't made," said Joyner, who teaches criminal law, civil rights and race and the law.

LieStoppers said...

Thank you for this last comment. We agree that it is most disturbing that Irving Joyner's role as monitor for the NAACP is not mentioned in this article. Rather than disclosing this fact to his readers, Mr. Stevenson chooses instead to further manipulate us by presenting Mr. Joyner's comments as if they are the views of an objective and uninvolved law professor. We may offer further thoughts on this specific later in the week. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

1.how does being from the Naacp make one unobjective?-the Naacp is not directly involved in this case. The only thing the Naacp has said about this case is that they hoped it got a fair hearing and that justice is done.

2.the fact that the semen belonged to Dan Evans, one of the accused is the part that was undisclosed in the previous stories on the case and in Cheshire's news conference in which the semen was mentioned.

3. Although the presence of semen on a towel was known before, the defense DID NOT disclose at any time that the match was positive for a member of the Duke 3 and now the press is calling them on it and making sure the jury pool knows what they are really dealing with--selective disclosure from the defense--not the whole truth as they have been trying to portray

4.The News and Observer ran the exact same story today--with more details of who else tested positive as well. The News and observer also did not report Cheek's rebuttal interview about the meeting--the newspaper let Nifong's comments stand about Cheek and his backers trying to influence the DA. Obviously they do not consider him credible and they are now siding with Nifong--and so is the Herald sun. Get used to it. The Herald Sun came right out and pratically said in their editorial--DO NOT VOTE FOR CHEEK.

LieStoppers said...

Thank you for offering your comments here.

Obviously being from the NAACP does not in and of itself make a person unobjective. Serving in the role of monitor for the NAACP, however, does not make one disinterested nor uninvolved. Presenting Mr. Joyner's opinion as if they were coming from an uninvolved academic without mentioning his formal role on behalf of the NAACP is deceptive. While perhaps not as deceptive as if an opinion on the case from Joe Cheshire was preceded by a description of him simply as "an attorney from Raleigh," non disclosure of his role does serve to mislead the reader as to its source.

Yes, we conceded in our opening post that it was not disclosed previously that David Evans was the source of semen found on the towel. As far as we can tell, this is the only new news presented. At the time of the previous stories and the press conference where the two non-relevant DNA matches were disclosed, it was made known by the defense attorneys and the media that the sources of the DNA were two of the three residents of the house.

Your third suggestion is most revealing and very much in line with our suspicions. We do agree that the defense is being called on not revealing an inflammatory item that appears to be irrelevant to the charges but meaningful in terms of perception. We further agree that this is being done to manipulate the jury pool. We see, as well, that this is being done after both sides were instructed to not do so by Judge Titus. As you suggest, this leak does not appear to be a selective leak from the defense. Is it fair to suggest, further, that it must likely, then, have come from the other side of the table? If your conclusions are correct that the leak did not come from the defense and was intended to influence the jury pool, it must certainly mean that the manipulation extends beyond the author and to the prosecution. While we are not prepared to go so far as to suggest what it appears you have suggested, he applaud your courage in doing so. It is coincidental that these leaks begin again just as Nifong begins another election campaign?

Today's article in the N&O appears to present an objective report with additional detail. There is a significant difference between the two. We are pleased you bring up these two articles and would like to refer you to two articles from the same writers, Stevenson and Noliet, regarding Mr. Nifong's email to the Animal Control Advisory Board. A comparison of the two contrary representations will further reveal the bias from one side and the objectivity on the other. We intend a further inspection of these two pieces in this regard and hope to have more to offer on this subject at a later time.

We could not agree more that the Herald Sun has taken sides, not only in covering the lacrosse drama, but in all things Nifong. This obvious bias that you reaffirm concerns us greatly as we expect objectivity in journalism. It one thing to editorialize on the opinion pages but quite another to do so in coverage presented as reporting.

In all of this, what we find most troubling is the presentation, within an opinion piece, items of fact that are the opposite of true. When the basis of an opinion piece is made on a foundation of invented statements, a frightening manipulation results. We are not comfortable with that and would hope that we are not alone in that regard.

A disgruntled ex-wife said...

Poor ol Nifong, wailing a sad country song on his website.

"To win in November, I must run an aggressive, highly visible campaign. Your generous support in the past has shown your commitment to my campaign and to me. Your continued financial support now is necessary for me to keep this office. I ask that you consider making a substantial contribution so that I will have the funds necessary to accomplish our goal: to win this election."

Good F#ck@ng Luck, Liar. I would hire Precious before I give him one cent.

Why is Nifong violating copyrights by using the City of Durham's logo as the background for his dona$hun site. Isn't this a violation of ethics?

Anonymous said...

As of mid July, he had a whopping $1,900 in his campaign fund. I don't think the song is working.

Anonymous said...

1.how does being from the Naacp make one unobjective?-the Naacp is not directly involved in this case. The only thing the Naacp has said about this case is that they hoped it got a fair hearing and that justice is done.

The NAACP most certainly is involved. Read the following from the Wilmington Journal:

McSurely, who also heads up the NC NAACP's Legal Redress Committee, announced last week that he will file a motion for what is effectively known as a gag order to stop the defense attorneys from trying to either poison the potential jury pool, getting the trial moved out of Durham County, or so scaring the alleged victim, that she backs out of testifying.

Legal observers say, however, that McSurely and the NAACP will have to demonstrate legal standing in the case to the court in order for the motion to have any chance. --


Anonymous said...

Nifong Feeling the Heat

While we are all suffering from this heat wave, Mike Nifong sure is feeling the heat. Poor Mike. Here he thought since he won the primary, he was a shoe in for DA. Then Cheeks and that Anybody but Nifong come along. And now Monks. Steve Monks seems like an OK guy, but he can't win. That's why I'm voting for Cheeks/Anybody but Nifong. Then let the Gov. decide.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the NAACP -
The statements made by the organization in April were carefully phrased and emphasized the importance of justice and fairness.
The state NAACP website had/has a letter up from McSurely that shows a position in this case which is far from objective.
That plus the printed resolve to intervene in the case asking for a gag order means the newspaper really should not have used Joyner as a presumable disinterested authority.