Somebody finally got the chance to tell The N&O to stick it where the sun don’t shine BIG TIME. (Mr. Cash, as you can see by the graphic accompanying this post, is pretty happy about this.) :
A Wake County jury returned a $1.5 million verdict Tuesday against The News & Observer and reporter Mandy Locke after a three-week libel trial.
The jury took about a day to decide that the N&O libeled State Bureau of Investigation agent Beth Desmond in six statements the paper published in 2010 in an investigative article. The jury’s award represents damages to Desmond to compensate her for suffering, humiliation, lost wages and medical expenses she incurred as a result of the N&O coverage.[…]
*Wow. You have to wonder where your career is headed when you get assigned to cover your OWN paper losing a libel suit.*
But wait, this could get, um, worse.
[…] The jury will now return to Wake County Superior Court on Wednesday to hear additional arguments in the punitive phase of the trial, at which point the 12 county residents will be asked by Desmond to award additional financial damages against the newspaper.
At trial, Desmond and her lawyer, James Johnson, told jurors the N&O article triggered events that resulted in Desmond developing post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, Desmond, a forensic firearms examiner, testified she had to request a transfer within the SBI because she was no longer capable of testifying in court about her lab work without experiencing panic attacks.
[…]At issue were six statements, five published in Locke’s August 210 story and one published in a follow-up article written by reporter Joseph Neff in December 2010. The jury’s task was to determine whether the N&O accurately quoted or paraphrased the sources who allegedly questioned Desmond’s qualifications and made critical statements about her lab work and courtroom testimony.
Four sources who spoke to Locke in 2010 testified in court they were either misquoted or taken out of context.
The jury found that all six statements the paper published to be materially false – that is, that the sources never told Locke what was attributed to them. To decide in Desmond’s favor, the jury also had to find that there was strong, clear and convincing evidence that Locke and the N&O knew the statements were false or had serious doubts about their truthfulness.
The jury awarded Desmond $1.5 million for five statements in the August story and $11,500 for the sixth statement in the December story.
I hate to revel in other people’s misfortune. But THESE people have been doing it for YEARS. Under the Daniels clan AND McClatchy, they’ve conducted partisan hit jobs and smears galore. Previous reporting on this revealed, among other things, a suggestion that N&O staffers were mocking Desmond’s background as a former ballerina.
Oh, this is going to get appealed. But it’s great to see them get called out on it. The N&O’s coverage is packed full of so much misinformation that you have to conclude (1) incompetence, or (2) evil intentions to mislead. Then, you notice the revolving door between The N&O newsroom and the staffs of liberal politicos over the years. Option Number TWO starts looking more and more plausible.
From its early days as a pro-Jim Crow propaganda organ, The N&O has done more harm than good to the cultural fabric of North Carolina. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end.