News & Observer Editor Melanie Sill: "I'll reply briefly here and perhaps add a longer post on this later, as I'm traveling this week. The N&O includes race in descriptions of unknown persons only rarely, as it is a) relevant to the circumstances or situation described in the reporting and b) part of a detailed description, in which whether someone is fair-skinned or dark-skinned (more accurate descriptions than guesses at ethnicity) is part of a physical sketch that would help someone recognize a specific individual. We did not include the race of the reported victim in the recent case you cite. In the Duke lacrosse case the race was a detail relevant to the accusations for a couple of reasons: the allegations included claims about the use of racial insults, and the race of one player was a factor in excluding him from the DNA screening. There's been a good bit of study about the notorious inaccuracy of racial descriptions offered in police accounts, as well as the lack of usefulness of these descriptions in finding suspects, and that's why we adopted this approach some time back."
If Ms. Sill does provide a longer post, I shall read it eagerly.
I would be fascinated to learn to what further lengths Ms. Sill may go in trying to justify omitting the word "black" from a police description of a person wanted by the Durham police in connection with an alleged rape..
As I wrote in my second article on Duke Alleged Rape Case Two:
"Mary Katharine Ham, in 'A Tale of two Rapes in Durham,' put it more precisely: 'The mainstream media has bent over backward to keep race out of this. Even those who first gave a description of the alleged rapist as a "black man" later redacted that from their reports. The News & Observer never printed it at all.'
"Worse, The News & Observer deliberately deleted that fact in the editing process!
"'The News & Observer's omission of race is laughable:
The man is described as being in his late teens or early 20s, about 6-foot-1 and wearing a black do-rag, a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans, according to a police news release.
"'Why laughable? Because the same story appeared in the Charlotte Observer, written by the same reporter, with "black" included, since it was part of the original police report. It was clearly removed in the Raleigh edition:
Police had not charged anyone late Sunday in connection with the allegations but released a description of a suspect: a black male, in his late teens or early 20s, about 6-feet-1-inch tall and wearing a black do-rag, a gray sweat shirt and blue jeans, according to the news release.
If the police had said they were looking for a young white man suspected of raping a young female of any race or color, would The News & Observer have taken it upon itself to delete the word "white" from the police description, due to claimed "notorious inaccuracy of racial descriptions offered in police accounts, as well as the lack of usefulness of these descriptions in finding suspects"?
Why The News & Observer knows better than the Durham Police Department how a police description of an alleged culprit should be written, I'd love to know.
The News & Observer interviewed false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum after she cried rape (actually, gang rape) and never suggested she might have gotten the race or color of her imaginary attackers wrong, much less concocted a ludicrous story to avoid incarceration..
Is there a good reason to suspect that the accused in the second Duke alleged rape case misstated the race/color of her alleged attacker?
If so, what is it?
If not, why presume she misspoke?
Phi Beta Sigma, the black fraternity that gave the party, has legal counsel, which is a good thing.
Courtney Fauntleroy, Esq. of Durham emailed me that good news as well as assurance that "the Brothers in the chapter are... cooperating with the Durham Police and Duke University Officials" and an invitation to question.
For starters, I suggest that each of the reportedly cooperative "Brothers" address these questions:
What do you know about the alleged rape? Where did it allegedly happen? Who allegedly witnessed it? Who allegedly saw the accuser before or after it? Who allegedly saw someone fitting the description given by the accuser?
Who attended the party? How many of them were Duke athletes? How many of them did not attend Duke?
Is it common for people who do not go to Duke to attend the parties of this fraternity? If so, why? Are they invited? Are the fraternity's parties publicized? Open to all?
What is the fraternity doing to assist the police in the investigation? How many, if any, of its members have given statements to the police? How many, if any, have refused?
What was the accuser doing at the party? With whom, if anyone, did she come? With whom, if anyone, did she leave? What members of the fraternity know her?
Why did the fraternity engage counsel? Is it because a rape happened at or in connection with a fraternity party? Is it because fraternity members witnessed or participated in any way in the incident? is it because the fraternity made no effort to limit attendance to members and their guests, other Duke students?
Has this fraternity had any other incident of violence involving non-members? If so, please describe it or them.
The News & Observer should be interested in the answers, whatever they are, but if into the agenda of The News & Observer they do not fit, in The News & Observer they won't be writ.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.