I have always maintained that the media has been in cahoots with the Carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants and the state of North Carolina in meting out vendetta justice to Mike Nifong et al. True to form, the biased media reinforced my premise by the way it approached the press conference that was held by Crystal Mangum at her residence of house arrest on Wednesday, June 30, 2010. This important conference with the media was scheduled to give Ms. Mangum an opportunity to set the record straight regarding events that occurred the night of February 17, 2010 which resulted in her arrest. It was also held two days before her upcoming court appearance on Friday, July 2, 2010. Grading the local media ranged from a high grade for NBC-17 News, to a low one for Durham’s daily newspaper, The Herald Sun.
In addition to the statement by Ms. Mangum and the question-answer interval that followed, all media in attendance received a signed written statement as well as a complete 8 page formal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Lay Advocate Sidney Harr filed the complaint two weeks ago, and in it he complained about the discriminatory and selective treatment Ms. Mangum received by police, prosecutors, and the courts.
In assessing the media coverage, content, presentation, and objectivity were taken into consideration. Broadcast, publication, and online works were evaluated when available. It should be noted that the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong, which arranged the press conference, was never mentioned by name in any of the media reports – in writing or video, or online. Grades were doled out, from best to worst, as follows:
Grade of B for NBC-17 News - it garnered the highest grade based mainly on its online video which includes the entire extemporaneous statement by Crystal Mangum which lasted three minutes and 47 seconds. The online text and the broadcasted segment on television also made mention of the fact that a complaint was filed with the federal government about Ms. Mangum’s treatment (although the name of the complainant was never mentioned). It is the only media outlet to mention the complaint. My main complaint with NBC-17 is that it was difficult for me to find the story by searching for it. Kendall Jones was the reporter for the event.
Grade B- for ABC-11 News. Reporter Anthony Wilson did a good job in reporting on the main points made by Ms. Mangum during its segment which lasted two minute and 17 seconds. Points were detracted from ABC-11’s grade because it dwelled too much on the Duke Lacrosse case, showing file video of the Duke Lacrosse defendants at their news conference, Ms. Mangum in a correctional jumpsuit, etc. Although the Duke Lacrosse case was the proximate impetus of the mistreatment of Ms. Mangum, it had no direct bearing on the incidents of the night of February 17, 2010.
Grade C for WRAL/Fox 50. Reporter Erin Hartness did a good covering the major points in the one minute 54 second video. Again, file video showing Ms. Mangum in the jumpsuit resulted in deductions to the final grade.
Grade D- for the News & Observer. The article by Stanley Chambers gives the police’s story of what happened the night of February 17th and not Crystal’s version of events. Although it covered a few points made by Ms. Mangum accurately, the article was obviously biased by its misleading rehashing of the Duke Lacrosse case. In particular is the false statement “State Attorney General Roy Cooper cleared the three men in 2007.” It has been brought to the media’s attention time and again that the attorney general does not have the power to clear anyone. He has the power to dismiss a case, which is what he did in Duke Lacrosse. There is also the implication that Ms. Mangum should have faced charges. The media failed to view Ms. Mangum as the victim even though she was the one who was sexually assaulted at the beer-guzzling stripper party in which Ms. Mangum was hired to perform under false pretenses by a lacrosse player who used a false name. The article failed to mention the most important point by Ms. Mangum, which is that she did not have any prior knowledge or involvement in setting clothes on fire in the bathtub or in vandalizing the car. The article is also misleading in stating that the house was on fire (which it wasn’t) and that her ex-boyfriend was the only other person in the home (again, false, because the police were in her apartment). What is extremely objectionable about the News & Observer is the fact that the article was placed on the third page of the local news section and not on the front page of that section. Instead, the front page article of the local section featured the milk-chugging contest between the senators and representatives at the General Assembly, and the color photograph showed a picture of a representative being served some ice cream.
Grade F+ for 14 News Carolina. This was truly pathetic example of journalism. The clip of the press conference, which lasted all of 33 seconds, featured no actual video from the press conference, although the reporter was there with the camera. Only file footage of Ms. Mangum wearing a jail jumpsuit and scenes of her apartment with crime scene tape sloppily strewn around were shown during the 33 seconds. The voiceover was in a monotone which sounded as though the individual making the statement was extremely bored. There was no effort put forth by 14 News Carolina. The journalist/cameraperson wasted time covering the event, as none of her efforts were utilized. Pathetic and unprofessional.
Grade F- for The Herald Sun. This newspaper is the daily local newspaper for Durham and the surrounding area, and although the assignment editor was notified well in advance of the press conference, she stated that no one would attend, because some reporters were on vacation. She requested, and was e-mailed hours after the morning press conference, a written statement by Ms. Mangum as well as the copy of the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice. Yet nothing appeared in Thursday’s newspaper or online. One member of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong was told by someone at the newspaper that the press conference would be covered along with an article about Mangum’s Friday, July 2nd hearing. Only one problem, and that is that the hearing was cancelled without notice. The public defender did not even have the common courtesy to notify Ms. Mangum of the cancellation, and she showed up at an empty courtroom along with three other members of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong. The Herald Sun’s failure to cover this story is beyond outrageous… it is journalistic malpractice.
In conclusion, the coverage of Crystal Mangum’s press conference of June 30, 2010, solidly reinforces my premise that the media is biased against Ms. Mangum and will go to great lengths to represent her in a negative light.
For decent coverage of Ms. Mangum's press conference of June 30, 2010, go to the following link and click on the button with the story posted for the date of July 6, 2010: