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Friday, October 20, 2006


One pet peeve of long-time bloggers is link rot. Link rot refers to invalid links on the web. As time passes, link rot creeps into websites and web pages. It stinks when web pages that have been carefully linked to are redirected to new locations, are changed, or deleted. Link rot is rotten, because it hurts the value of web content that contains decayed or bad links. Given a choice, most serious bloggers and website builders would not link to websites or authors, who they know will not keep their links and content intact on the web.

Cash MichaelsThe poster boy for link rot in hoax land is Cash Michaels. Every article Cash Michaels writes for the Wilmington Journal, the Amsterdam News, or BlackPressUSA.com that goes on the web gets deleted in about six months. Some Cash Michaels columns disappear even before that. Cash Michaels has allegedly been writing as the "entertainment columnist" for the Wilmington Journal since at least March of 2004, but good luck trying to finding anything he has written before May of 2006. Google currently shows hundreds of web links to Cash Michaels stories, but many of the links are broken, there is no more content, and you get the error message "current record has been deleted."

Some of Mr. Michaels' infamous "Hush Money" series of articles from this summer have already been deleted from the BlackPressUSA.com website. For example, these two Cash Michaels gems of investigative journalism were deleted:


EXCLUSIVE - Cousin: Duke alleged raped victim turned down money to drop case

The cousin of the alleged victim in the Duke University lacrosse rape case says "alums of Duke" quietly offered the accuser lots of money - a staggering $2 million - early on to drop the charges, and go on with her life.
Back to the Jakki interview - during the course of that and several other conversations with her at the time, the allegation about the hush money came up. Jakki made it clear this is what her cousin told her, beyond which she knew nothing else. The alleged offer, as best as I understand it, was not made to the accuser directly, but to her family as a message to her.
Note: freerepublic.com saved a copy of the June 22nd article.

The hunt for "hush money" stories clearly demonstrated Mr. Michaels mastery of fictional story telling as he constructed a tall tale of a grand Duke 'Alum' conspiracy to silence the Duke rape accuser. However, the fictitious "Hush" money that Cash "in the bag" Michaels was tracking with the aid of his trusty inside source "Cousin Jakki" just disappeared. The story was a total fabrication according to the accuser herself as quoted in a police report.

Now the stories about the "Hush" money have also started disappearing. Michaels should have a warning label on all his work: "This story will self destruct once more than twenty people believe it is all true."

Mr. Michaels' recent concern about web linking policies is somewhat surprising given the proclivity of his own media outlet to treat web links as disposable garbage. Michaels chided 60 Minutes in his column this week for linking to just two websites: the Friends of Duke University and Duke University. Michaels said:
For example, on the 60 Minutes website, there are two links – one for Duke University, which has certainly been at the center of the legal controversy, and whose president, Richard Brodhead, has been immeasurably criticized for what many Duke supporters believe to be his weak handling of the controversy early on.

But the second link on the 60 Minutes site pertaining to the Duke case is to Friends of Duke University, a very supportive and most times constructive blogsite for parents and alumni of the institution who believe the Duke Three are victims of prosecutorial misconduct. In fact, several letters demanding that both North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and State Attorney General Roy Cooper immediately find cause to remove Durham DA Nifong from his post have been formulated and published there.

At that site the day after the broadcast, “Friends” spokesman Jason Trumpbour posted, in part, the following message:

We welcome those of you who followed the link on the CBS News site to our own. We are very happy that a news program of the stature of 60 Minutes chose to look at the Duke lacrosse case and bring the facts of the case to a wider audience that may not have heard much about the case since it first broke. 60 Minutes also gave us some interesting insights as well.

The “Friends” site then refers visitors to other blogsites that are even more virulently critical of both DA Nifong, the Duke rape accuser, and those who support her.

Given the one-sidedness of the report, the “Friends” link raises questions about the bias of CBS News and 60 Minutes regarding this story. Critics say it is especially troubling given that the president of CBS News, Sean McManus, is a Duke University alum.

Kevin Tedesco, spokesman for CBS News and 60 Minutes, said he “wasn’t unaware” that the “Friends” link existed on the 60 Minutes website, adding, “but that’s not unusual to have anybody connected to both sides of the story to put a link on our site.”

But when reminded that there are only two links listed – Duke University and the Friends of Duke University – Tedesco quickly added, “and if somebody had approached us from some other organization that would presumably be on the other side of this story, they would be allowed as well.”

When pressed if another organization “on the other side of this story” would have to actually approach CBS News to be linked, Tedesco gave a halfhearted, “Yeah.”
Note: the entire blurb is posted here for the record, because again if we just linked to a Michaels article the link would soon go bad.

CBS News unlike the Wilmington Journal/BlackPressUSA maintains very good web integrity of their old story links. For example, here is a link to a 60 Minutes story from 2000. So one good reason for 60 Minutes not to link to someone like "entertainment reporter," Cash "in the bag" Michaels, is that the link just like the reporter does not have any integrity.

Who exactly does Cash Michaels think 60 Minutes should have been linking to? Mr. Michaels does not say, but he loves to suggest something untoward about 60 Minutes. That is his writing style, find some obscure "unstable" source or factoid about a story and then use it to construct some big conspiracy. At 60 Minutes the conspiracy is that "the president of CBS News, Sean McManus, is a Duke University alum," and therefore something nefarious happened at the 60 Minutes website or with their story. This is just ridiculous and asinine. Just look at the body of work of the two producers: Michael Radutzky and Tanya Simon.

TJN once gave Michael Gaynor some friendly advice: stop pandering to and do not including full length Cash Michaels articles in your own "articles." It is spam-blog behavior. But perhaps it is really doing Mr. Michaels a big favor, because how will anyone really know what tall tales and conspiracy theories Cash Michaels was weaving on such and such a date years from now? As if anyone would care.

In retrospect, it is really a very appropriate archival strategy that the Wilmington Press and BlackPressUSA.com are following. Normally the words of Cash Michaels should not be saved or archived, because when he's talking about serious subjects, like the Duke lacrosse case he is full of rhetorical rot or to put it politely "trash talk." He should stick to reviewing movies - it's a good fit.

One Cash Michaels article that has not rotted away just yet is his "Duke Case Victim Target of Hate" article from May 2006. It is still online, but this is one article that should be noted, put in a time capsule, and saved.

In that article Cash Michaels was extremely supportive of the "alleged victim," but he preferred calling her the "victim" in his title. Some snippets from that Micheals' article:
Several Web sites have revealed her name (something media organizations voluntarily do not do in order to protect rape victims from further harm), address and other personal information, including her limited criminal record, in an effort to embarrass the accomplished North Carolina Central University student, US Navy veteran and mother of two....

Ironically, it is a community-based Web site that was launched Mother’s Day in support of the victim, www.ourheartsworld.com, that has attracted a fair share of hate e-mail directed at the 27-year-old woman after only one week...

Toxicology tests are considered standard when rape victims are brought in to determine whether a so-called "date rape" drug was used...
The use of the term victim in the title for the Michaels article certainly sets the tone that the Duke lacrosse players are guilty bad guys and the alleged victim, Crystal Gail Mangum, is well, an innocent victim.

Cash Michaels refers to Ms. Mangum as "the accomplished North Carolina Central University student, US Navy veteran and mother of two." Accomplished what? She is an unaccomplished unprofessional sex worker. And no, she is not an "exotic dancer." Calling her an "exotic dancer" is an insult to all real "exotic dancers." When the false accuser has her drivers taking her to private appointments in hotel rooms, where she uses a vibrator on herself, that is not even close to being correctly called "exotic dancing." But, that is another topic.

What exactly has Ms. Mangum accomplished at NCCU? Kristiana Bennett was a student reporter at North Carolina Central University, who researched an article about Ms. Mangum. She did not find any "accomplishments" worth repeating, instead she found out bad things about Ms. Mangum. Ms. Bennett and the NCCU paper eventually decided they "should not print disparaging information about the accuser without balancing it." The problem was they could not balance it so Ms. Bennett's story was killed.

The use of the description "US Navy veteran" is another distortion. Using the term "veteran" implies honorable service to one's country and an "honorable" discharge. Otherwise, how well did one really serve their country. It dishonors real veterans to call someone, who did not meet their full military obligation, a veteran. Ms. Mangum did not meet her full military obligation. She was discharged early from the Navy and it is unclear exactly what type of discharge she received. It does not sound like she received an "honorable discharge." The N&O said:
she signed up in the fall of 1996 for an eight-year enlistment -- two years of active duty followed by six years in the reserves. She began active duty in the summer of 1997...

A U.S. Navy spokesman would not release the reason for the discharge, though records indicate it came less than nine months before she had her first child, a boy, named after his father.
Any "effort to embarrass" Ms. Mangum is simply reporting the truth about her troubled life and how her problems have impacted three innocent men.

The News & Observer has been roundly and deservedly criticised for calling the alleged victim a victim in their very biased and distorted March 25th article, "Dancer gives details of ordeal."

Cash Michaels did the same thing in his own "victim article" in May. Mr. Michaels even wrote his opinion piece about two months after the N&O article. This of course, is long after many of the problems concerning the false accuser and the hoax rape case started getting noticed. Michaels for whatever reason is getting a big pass on his crapola reporting.

"Tony" at TalkLeft also puts a hit on Mr. Michaels regarding him daring to criticise 60 Minutes about fairness. A couple of clips:
Cash Michaels where has your concern for FAIRNESS been?

Cash quotes Barry Saunders of all people in his piece criticizing the JOURNALISM of the 60 minutes program...

this is what the N&O said about Cash:

"'What we're seeing currently are defense attorneys playing the media like a banjo,' said Cash Michaels, editor of The Carolinian Newspaper, a twice-weekly black-owned newspaper in Raleigh."

"Michaels launched a Web site on Mother's Day where people could write in and show support for the accuser."
Ditto Tony.

Regarding issues of balance and journalism.

Why should news stories about an unbalanced person be balanced? Should a story about John Hinkley, the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, be a balanced story? A hoax is by definition an unbalanced story. How can one ever balance a story about a false accuser, and a lying opportunistic district attorney who have ruined the lives of three innocent men. This hoax is dealing with unbalanced dangerous people. They are getting far more balance than they deserve.

source that is not credible and won't be around very long:
DUKE ALLEGED RAPE CASE: HOW '60 MINUTES' FAILED THE FAIRNESS TEST'', WEEK OF OCTOBER 19-25, 2006 [Cash Michaels | wilmingtonjournal.blackpressusa.com]

Cash - where has your concern for FAIRNESS been ?? [forums.talkleft.com]

Special Ed. for Doubters with Hoax Dyslexia [TJN, Sept. 8, 2006]

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

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