“Cracks in the Justice System: Victims of Money, Media, and Misconduct,”
About 80 folks showed up to see and hear Crystal Gail Mangum talk, about being a victim in both the courts and media. The crowd was courteous and respectful, giving Crystal Gail Mangum va polite welcoming applause even though she showed twenty minutes late. The presentation was a bit of a bait and switch as the sponsoring sorority wanted to discuss other cases that similarly involved mass media reporting of blacks, not just Crystal's hoax. Still, she spoke in a question and answer format that was clearly rehearsed with Ed Clark, her publisher.
Clark lead off the show with a six minute video apparently shot in the spring of 2008 to promote Crystal’s memoir. The video claimed she had been raped and was a victim of media bias and sensationalism. In her video montage she showed pictures of Dr. King and a lynching. I suppose she was trying to equate herself with the civil rights struggle. During the video, two of her drivers were quoted as denying that she was a prostitute. One said he only drove her around five times.
Ed Clark wore his shirt tail out and generally looked like he was about ready to wash the car. Crystal was wearing a pink ball cap, an Old Navy hoodie and jeans. She looked pleasant enough. Though certainly not well dressed.
Ed began the live portion of the show with a short monologue explaining who he was and making the claim that he now handled “crisis public relations for government agencies.” He left without taking questions, so he never answered my question of which government agency he handled PR for. As a matter of fact, I went prepared with 11 pre-drafted questions for Crystal. None of them pertained directly to the lacrosse hoax as the sorority asked. She too left without taking questions, even though she had said she would answer questions.
After the Ed Clark monologue, he introduced Crystal. But, he immediately launched into a vigorous narrative, again rehearsed, about how the CBS show 60 Minutes would not pay for Crystal’s interview and he claimed to have a copy of an email from CBS saying that one of the families had total access to 60 Minutes and they would bury Mike Nifong. He continued on that HBO had been in contact with him about interviewing Crystal and doing a promotion for the book. He then complained that HBO had a line producer call to kill the project. They pushed back the publication date while they hunted for another media outlet for the launch. Then he claimed that the NBC Today Show sent a vice president, and a camera crew to interview Crystal The NBC crew allegedly followed her around North Carolina Central’s campus, talked to her Pastor, family and friends. She gave them a four hour interview where they could and did ask any questions. Clark never disclosed the questions. According to Clark, the “contract” between NBC and Crystal would have her on the Today Show, Dateline, MSNBC and CNBC all on the day the book launched. Again a “line producer,” not the VP or producer they had met, called to tell them the promotion was off and the book launched without a major network availability. After Clark’s recitation of his difficulties launching the book, Crystal Gail Mangum spoke.
She opened immediately by stating unequivocally that she was raped. She did not name names though. She did mention Duke Lacrosse in the same general time frame, but it seemed like they were being careful not to make too close a linkage between the two. She also claimed that she had never been heard. She claimed that on the night she was “raped” she was not on medications.
She claimed that the defense team had her medical records and was taking a whole year’s worth of medications and claimed that she was on them the night of the “rape”. Crystal then described some symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder that she suffered, and closed with a pitch for the book.
Occasionally Ed Clark would prompt Crystal with some questions in what was a well rehearsed presentation. Crystal continued talking about how she felt: dirty, embarrassed, ashamed, not wanting anyone to know, but afraid they all did know she had been raped. She admitted that early in the investigation, she had a lawyer or lawyers advising her, but they were expensive, $150/hour. She also wanted to get psychological treatment, but was afraid to as the defense had access to her medical records. She said she was not sure whom to trust, the Durham Police Department, the District Attorney? She said she felt like she was being made the victim again for something that was not her fault. She said the DPD and the DA let her down.
Then she got to the part of the show where she blamed the media. She said the media, 60 Minutes especially, put on Kim Roberts without “checking their resources.” Ed Clark jumped in to tell how Variety was reporting that HBO had optioned the stories of the various lacrosse books and even some blogs. He wanted to option Crystal’s story to HBO. They refused to buy and told him they were coming to Durham and she could cooperate with their movie or not, but she wouldn’t be paid. Later though HBO, through a line producer, told Clark that they wouldn’t even show the footage and interviews they did in Durham.
Crystal then talked about an interview with Soledad O’Brien of CNN. She said she gave Ms. O’Brien four hours of unrestricted access and answered all her questions. Again, she let a CNN crew follow her around and tape whatever they wanted. She had only nice things to say about O’Brien and her producer and the CNN crew. But again, a “line producer” called to tell her that CNN would not air the interview.
Finally, Ed Clark claimed that the website Daily Beast wanted to feature Crystal Mangum on their launch. That too fell through after a long interview with the site’s host. In case you were wondering, a “line producer” also called to tell Clark and Mangum that the site was launching with another story.
Clark then said the Crystal had the flu and apologized for Crystal leaving early. He never said why she wouldn’t take questions from the audience. The both left through a side door and the sorority sisters moved on to another case. About half the audience left as soon as Crystal Gail Mangum and Ed Clark slipped out the side door.