In the People’s Forum of today’s (October 27, 2009) News & Observer, there is a letter from Appellate Defender Staples Hughes titled “Trumped-up danger." The open letter reinforces what the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong has longed complained about… the media bias. He accurately points out how the most subtle change in a headline or article can have monumental influence on how the public perceives the message delivered.
In referring to the imminent release of twenty-some inmates who have served their life sentences (as defined by the General Assembly years ago), Attorney Hughes makes the following statement: “The governor (Bev Perdue) distracts the public from the real problems facing North Carolina. The attorney general, having lost in our cautious and conservative appellate courts, pressures the next elected Superior Court judge before whom the Bowden case comes to make decisions based not on the law, but on the headlines. The strategy would be quaint were it not so irresponsible and dismissive of the rule of law.” Staples Hughes is right on with his assessment.
Manipulation of the media was never used as successfully as it was in the persecution of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. The prosecutor of the Duke Lacrosse case, Mike Nifong, who was for nearly three decades a conscientious public servant of the highest professional integrity, was blatantly and falsely painted by the media, locally and nationally, as an unethical monster eager to destroy the vulnerable and innocent Duke Lacrosse defendants. Nothing could be further from the truth. However the media has much sway, as is evidenced by its successfully ambitious campaign to malign and destroy Mr. Nifong in the public view.
The Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong applauds Attorney Staples Hughes for his courageous statements in the interests of justice. He serves as a true role model for attorneys and laypeople who believe in equal justice for all and the rule of law.