Monday, April 16, 2007

Dear Bob

Dear Bob,

As only a humble contributor to an online blog, I'm a bit intimidated at writing to a big-time, professional Editor like yourself. But your headline and article today, misrepresenting Sunday's 60 Minutes segment about the end of the Nifong/Mangum Hoax, just spurred my compassionate nature to reach out to you with some sympathy and advice.

Your article today begins:
"Racial strain factor in Cooper declaration"
"State Attorney General Roy Cooper says the strains the Duke lacrosse case inflicted on Durham's racial climate played a role in his decision last week to declare the three defendants innocent of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer.

"Cooper made the comments on Sunday night's CBS "60 Minutes" news program in response to a question from interviewer Leslie Stahl, who described Durham as a "racially roiled" city because the dancer was black and the players white."
Bob, I know you're under a tremendous strain these days, being humiliated once again before a national audience and all ... so, to refresh your memory, I'm enclosing a clip of AG Cooper's actual words from the actual broadcast to refresh your memory.


I want you take a few deep breaths, sip your frappuccino, turn the volume way up, and play this a few times.

Done? Alrighty then. Now tell Joan what you heard. Cooper said racial strains may have played a part in his decision NOT TO CHARGE THE DEMENTED CRYSTAL MANGUM. He said nothing about racial strains impacting his decision to declare Collin, Reade and Dave innocent!

There's a big difference, Bob. Fair-minded readers see it. Angry lacrosse parents see it. Curious civil attorneys see it. You need to progress beyond the "denial" stage of your grief and see it too. Wishing does not make it so. This type of flagrant misreporting begs the question of whether you, as an Editor, are derelict in duty or just stupid.

Bob, I know dreams die hard. I've read every bit of your coverage of this case every day. I have absorbed every one-sided editorial. You've championed the strange notion that an allegation without a scintilla of evidence must advance to trial at all costs. You saw two benefits in this. First, the falsely accused players would um-m-m. get "to prove their innocence" ... albeit in front of a local jury your coverage had whipped into a frenzy. Secondly, a trial would serve as sort of a healing "judicial rap session" for the community at large. "Evidence" presented for months in the media by fair-minded journalists like yourself, Nancy Grace, Wendy Murphy, Georgia Goslee, and the NC NAACP might just compensate for the true fact that there was, as Dave Evans said "no there, there."

Readers will never forget the palpable euphoria at your newspaper when one DNA cell was thought to have shown up on a press-on fingernail retrieved from an innocent victim's own overflowing trash can. This was the "hallelujah" moment that indicated that a single "one in fifty could not be eliminated" speck might prove, in the absence of everything else ... a vicious 30 minute rape and beating had taken place. Here was vindication for your DEMANDS for trial. A constant stream of pro-prosecution guest editorials. And for twice issuing a Nifong election endorsement. Bob, that's quite a track record there at the Herald-Sun under your leadership!

So, I do understand that you still may hear voices that aren't there and hear things as you'd wish them to be. My heart goes out to you. But, Bob, someone has to tell you ... it's time to STOP.

Here's some friendly advice. On our little blog, we've come up with a revolutionary process. It's called screening. After any of us writes a piece, our whole team critiques it for accuracy and reliability of content. We add links where necessary and must defend our premise when pressed. No excuses. Perhaps twice in this whole process, an error has survived scrutiny. We pulled the article and apologized, because our editors have this strange predilection for credibility and integrity.

But who am I, a little blogger, to advise big-time, important newspaper Editor like yourself. And it has occurred to me that you may have some sly Machiavellian purpose in your strange reporting today.

Perhaps, having been excoriated on national TV by the universally admired attorney, Jim Cooney, you knowingly offered today's egregious factual error as confirmation of your paper's shameful coverage. Hey, Bob, is this your way of ingratiating yourself with the brilliant Cooney... by so blatantly proving his point in such a speedy and humiliating fashion?

Joan Foster

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ouch!!

Talk about a bitch slapping..

Way to go Joan...

You'll have to let us know what kind of (if any) response you get from the Boober.

~ground n pound ~

Anonymous said...

Way to go Joan! If he does not respond why not try a poem!

kbp said...

Thanks Joan!!

I'm lost as to why he keeps trying to cover up. I expected him to ignore all he has done in the past, as he jumps on board to catch attention addressing various issues surrounding the case.

It wouldn't have even surprised me if he did not mention the charges were dropped. But to distort WHY the charges were dropped is rather evil of him.

What a POS !!

emmy said...

If there was ever any question if Bob and his gang should be charged with libel, well, QUESTION ANSWERED!! War of attrition...NO MERCY on these co-conspirators...just outrageous, shameful, and pathetic...awesome as usual, Joan...

Anonymous said...

The Snooze Room wakes up for a second and gets it wrong, again!

Please Bob go back to snoozing!

ZZZ ZZZZZ ZZZZZ

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Doesn't anyone at the Herald Sun read their stuff before they print it?

Anonymous said...

Alev said,

It's corrected now online.

How could they get that wrong? It was either jaw-droppingly sloppy and incompetent , a deliberate attempt to inflame the community, or the author was someone whose preconceived notions caused them to misread the transcript: i.e. he saw or heard what he had expected to see or hear.

Anonymous said...

I guess the thought of a libel suit got the H-S's attention!

Good work Joan and LieStoppers. (I include all of you as you all reviewed this post.)

Eric said...

It has been corrected, but I'm used to seeing the original article with corrections noted, rather than seeing an adjusted article with the error not acknowledged. If the original article made it into the print edition, that's massively dishonest. Does anyone know whether the incorrect article hit the print version? For some reason, we don't get it here on the West Coast...

Also, in view of the outrageously misleading nature of the original lead, it seems like it would have been much better to also adjust the title to be more clear which decision was referenced, if it *was* adjusted in time to make it into the print edition.

Here's the Herald-Sun's adjusted version of the opening of the article. Note that a careful read of the inserted comment on what "it" is in the second paragraph means that the second paragraph is *not* documentation of the revised first paragraph. The second paragraph is saying that they talked about filing charges, *not* that they talked about the race issue.

DURHAM -- State Attorney General Roy Cooper says the strains the Duke lacrosse case inflicted on Durham's racial climate played a role in his decision last week to not pursue false report charges against an exotic dancer who had claimed three Duke lacrosse players sexually assaulted her at a party.

"We did consider it [filing charges against the accuser]," Cooper said. "We did talk about it. But we think in the best interest of justice, that it was not the right thing to do."

Anonymous said...

Nifong read Bob the transcript
himself?

Anonymous said...

You have nailed this correctly. The hangers-on are so furious these boys shattered their agenda they are beside themselves. I hope they are all on the unemployment line tomorrow, Most of all the "I can't go into detail" Duffer, You have been and continue to be the best.

Anonymous said...

Joan: You are magnificent! Are you available to run for POTUS? You'd have my vote fer shure. Luv ya gal.

Eric said...

So far there are at least three versions of the article. For comparative purposes, here are the first two paragraphs of the article.

VERSION #1

DURHAM -- State Attorney General Roy Cooper says the strains the Duke lacrosse case inflicted on Durham's racial climate played a role in his decision last week to declare the three defendants innocent of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer.

Cooper made the comments on Sunday night's CBS "60 Minutes" news program in response to a question from interviewer Leslie Stahl, who described Durham as a "racially roiled" city because the dancer was black and the players white.

---------

VERSION #2

DURHAM -- State Attorney General Roy Cooper says the strains the Duke lacrosse case inflicted on Durham's racial climate played a role in his decision last week to not pursue false report charges against an exotic dancer who had claimed three Duke lacrosse players sexually assaulted her at a party.

"We did consider it [filing charges against the accuser]," Cooper said. "We did talk about it. But we think in the best interest of justice, that it was not the right thing to do."

---------

VERSION #3

DURHAM -- State Attorney General Roy Cooper says he considered filing false-report charges against the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case but decided not to "in the interests of justice."

"We did consider it [filing charges against the accuser]," Cooper said in response to a question from "60 Minutes" interviewer Leslie Stahl, who described Durham as "racially roiled" because the accuser is black and the players she said sexually assaulted her are white.

---------

Is anyone aware of any *other* versions they've posted???

So far they've corrected it once to fix the lie about the declaration of innocence, and they've changed it a second time to remove the connection of race to *any* decision. Yet the article still shows up at the same original URL, despite having *NO* indication that it's been corrected at least twice...

So much for journalism in Durham...

Anonymous said...

Joan, Way to kick that pathetic old queen's scrawny worthless ass. I hope he gets sued to death. He is a malicious worm and deserves all the misfortune he seeks. sst

Eric said...

After posting my last comment (with the three versions of the story), I happened to glance at #1 and then #3, and busted up laughing. I realized that there was no longer *ANYTHING* left of the original point of the story. The story was about the influence of race on the decision to exonerate the players. Then it changed to the influence of race on the decision not to charge the accuser. Now it is just about the decision not to charge the accuser. But that part was covered just as fully in last week's press conference. In other words, there's no actual news left!

A story about the influence of race on the decision to exonerate becomes a story about the fact that the AG decided not to prosecute over the false report, and *NOTHING ON THEIR WEBSITE* would give you any impression that anything changed...

If the original story was in the print edition, and tomorrow's print edition doesn't contain a mea culpa at least as prominent, then they will be, in my opinion, guilty of blatantly stirring up racial hatred through false statements. Frankly, that would in my opinion *become* the next story on this case.

Eric said...

Twenty years from now there will be people in Durham who will swear to you that the decision to exonerate these men was made based on race -- they know, because the AG admitted it, and it was on the front page of the newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Joan,

Once again I am impressed by your passion and eloquence. You are an amazing writer!

Anonymous said...

Print version = version #1, front page.

Eric said...

Any retraction in today's paper? If so, where and how prominent?