"Critics from elsewhere simply need to get a life""I have read in your editorial section, over the past several months, many letters concerning the Duke lacrosse case, written by people from around the nation. Their "interest" has puzzled me. Without fail, every one of these letters is pro-defense and vehemently anti-prosecution. Who are these busy-bodies? Do they think they have the right to tell us what's going on around here? Do I smell a rat? I could not care less about the outcome of this thing, but I do know that this team of gun-slinging defense sharks have shown a strong ambition to spin this entire saga by whatever means to their gain. I would not be at all surprised if they have put out a mailer to their colleagues around the country to fill our editorial pages with the kind of spin acceleration that serves only as defense propaganda."These letters also have a strong propensity to denigrate local government, posing them as bumbling idiots and shoddy bureaucrats. How many of them have ever even been here? Why are their lives so boring that Durham consumes them?"Clifton HuntDurhamDecember 23, 2006
"Sick of lacrosse case""I am so sick of hearing about the Duke lacrosse rape case. I thought I was pretty fed up when the local and national press descended like the proverbial locusts earlier this spring."Admittedly I was peeved because I couldn't get my hair done at the Artistry Academy located on the same street. But that was April. This is December and I will be darned if I didn't see the beginnings of another media parade."Here's a question. What is so newsworthy about this story? Has reporting this story ad nauseam effectively changed the relations along the divides of race, gender and class in this city? Someone please explain to me how this "news opera" contributes to information that effectively governs the daily course of our lives."For me, as an instructor of mass communications,the biggest shame of this news debauchery was that pioneer African American journalist Ed Bradley's last piece for 60 Minutes dealt with this episodic, trivial pursuit. This case is not about truth and justice yet ironically it still is about the American way: money. I am sure if these indicted players hailed from lower tax brackets, there would be no high price defense
team."W. Russell RobinsonDurhamDecember 23, 2006
"One of the points I made during the program taping is reinforced by these comments made on Christmas Eve and in the wee hours of Christmas Day: I have never seen a local criminal case that so completely consumed people so far away. It is truly a marvel of our times. The N&O has written countless stories about criminal justice and criminal defendants including the truly murderous as well as the falsely accused. None has induced the kind of obsession that surrounds this case. I'm not sure what it means, but through it all our focus at the N&O has been to work even harder at presenting clear facts and independent reporting. Part of that work involves judgments on what to include and to exclude -- we make these decisions every day, we discuss them to the degree that seems reasonable, and we have continued to try to do so in the face of a MIGHTY WIND here." (my emphasis)
"She provided a description of the then-unidentified second woman who had also been hired to dance at the lacrosse team party. She also offered an opinion about the other woman’s actions that night. The latter was clearly an opinion, offered without any substantiation."
"We did not withhold any key information. Linda was trying to explain that when people are interviewed, some things that are not key to a story are left on the cutting room floor. There is a misconception about this supposed piece of information. It was not an accusation against Kim Roberts."
"Again, for the record."
"As I explained previously, two things the accuser said did not make it in to print. As Ms. Valenzuela said, nothing about that information shed light on what happened that night, nor would the publication have made a difference in how this case has played out. As previously stated, the accuser offered a description of the second dancer hired for the party. The presence of a second woman at the party was already known, but she was not identified at that time. The description was withheld because it was irrelevant in the absence of any other available information about the second woman. The accusers' speculation about the actions of the second woman was also not printed. If we had printed that utterance - an admitted speculation without the slightest foundation to suggest the possibility of truth -- it would have been a conscious act of libel. Some people on this blog have speculated about the content of that specific utterance. You are wrong. Nonetheless, having made the decision not to print the speculation that was highly probably to be defamatory to several people, we have no legitimate reason to ever discuss publicly the specifics. Some of you have suggested that we should have printed it simply to show that the accuser was not credible. Such reasoning is curious. Moreover, it is neither legally nor morally defensible.
"I will not say what it was because it could be harmful to people who need not be harmed, and the accuser said she wasn't sure whether or not it was true. Our story reported what the accuser said happened not what she said MIGHT have happened."
"The 'libel' excuse is not credible. I read the N&O daily and the paper conforms to industry norms, ie, will print what someone says knowing that it is what the person says - not what the N&O thinks.
"The 'reason' this was not disclosed (assuming that accuser stated Kim stole from her) was that if done you would have done all that legwork for nothing, ie, your accuser would not come off as a soft-spoken student that was new to stripping (the latter is not true and something you apparently chose not to investigate prior to publication). You appear to also have bent the meaning of 'student' (does one class count? two?) in a way that left the reader with the impression that she was full time.
"Regardless I read that article in print and noticed the 'charged' language immediately. The N&O generally avoids such tabloid articles but apparently it was too tempting. The only real difference between a 'story' and your 'story' is that in a 'real story' the N&O (and any other paper) does not take an editorial position or express support for an individual where you most certainly did (used language to garner support, excluded information, failed to investigate what was being said)."