Archive for Maryland

Report: Clemson “hate crime” possibly a hoax

Clemson BananasA picture emerged last month showing rotting bananas hanging on a sign about African-Americans at Fort Hill. Clemson University is built on the land that was John C. Calhoun’s Fort Hill after a bequest from his son-in-law Thomas Green Clemson.

It’s not clear who put the bananas there, but outrage ensued, as an Associated Press story details. The AP story discusses a sit-in by black students and fthen tries to smear Clemson’s response to the Emmanuel AME shootings in Charleston by saying the wreaths honoring the victims were in a location that Tillman Hall could be seen from. There has been a move by some faculty to change the name of that building.

One of the organizers of the sit-in with See the Stripes even tried to say Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter, would have been a Tillman supporter. The AP story by Jeffrey Collins only refers to one arrest. At the time, South Carolina blog FITSnews had little other details either.

However, last week FITSnews broached the subject of whether the whole thing was a hoax. A roundup of what happened:

There were sit-ins, hunger strikes, campus-wide protests, a Selma-style march, obligatory “arrests” – and of course doleful hand-wringing from the government-run institution’s “higher educrats.”  Also, fresh rounds of “diversity and inclusivity training” were mandated for all students and faculty.

It was a Mini-Missouri, in other words …

FITSnews also reported that there appeared to be a hoax and a cover-up going on:

Clemson University president James Clements claimed on April 11 that the school was “investigating” the banana-hanging incident – and university officials told local media that same day they hoped surveillance videos would assist them in identifying the guilty party.

Nearly three weeks later, though, nothing …

Some might use this opportunity to shoot the messenger of FITSnews and Will Folks. However, an editorial appeared on his site today by six Clemson students that examine the incident and investigation in-depth in their own words.

From the editorial

Since campus wide unrest was the direct result of the four bananas being hung it seems natural to ask who hung the bananas and what their motivations were.  The Clemson administration knows the answers to these questions, but has not revealed them.  The only thing most people on campus are aware of is the suspicious behavior and activity from the administration and the student protest leaders.

This leads to more questions than answers.

Some of the questions and issues they raise include:

  • When it was pointed out that the 5 students protesting were violating the code of conduct, the administration cited them for trespassing with rumors indicating it was all pre-planned after administrators met with the protesters.
  • Alesia Smith, who serves as director of the Office of Community and Ethical Standards on campus, is the mother of one of the Clemson 5 protesters while also being in charge of investigating them. According to the students writing the op-ed, she “refused to admit” there was a conflict of interest but then later said she had recused herself.
  • No charges have been brought against the known person who placed the bananas and no information on motive or any personally identifying information has been released. However, someone who posted a racist message to the Yik Yak app was publicly identified.
  • There are also questions about the picture itself.

The picture’s provenance and the chain of evidence are questioned by the students writing the editorial (emphasis added)

Finally, only one picture exists of the bananas at all.  Who took this picture?  When did the bananas come down?  Who took them down?  In the police report it is noted that an email was sent to the University police.  Who sent this email?  The individual who is cited in the school newspaper as taking the picture of the bananas, posted the picture two hours after the social media account of “See the Stripes”- the group that organized the Sikes Sit In protest – had posted the image to begin a viral hashtag campaign.

The six students call on Clemson administrators to act:

The university must act quickly and decisively to resolve these questions; they cannot remain silent any longer.  As students, we are hurt by this administration’s failure to protect our reputation, and we expect that they will do what is right and reveal the truth.

If it turns out that the person who placed the bananas did so with racist intentions, then he or she should be held responsible.  If this is not the case, then the administration has willingly participated in a smear campaign against the student body.  The administration must make right the lies that have been told, and make open the information which has been kept secret.

Of course, the only reason I’m writing this is a wave of fake hate crimes over the past few years.

Clemson Wouldn’t Be Only Recent “Hate Crime” Hoax

Most recently, students from the State University of New York at Albany were indicted for perpetrating a hoax. The women claimed they were assaulted by 10-12 white men hurling racial slurs at them on a bus. Hillary Clinton came to their defense on twitter. However, the audio and video from surveillance footage on the bus proved they made it all up. They were indicted and are now headed to court because they refused to accept a plea deal that would require their apologies.

Last month, a drawing of a noose with a racial slur and #whitepower hashtag was made on a whiteboard at Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. After investigating, it was determined the drawing was made by black students. Police declined to press charges.

According to one report, there have been over 100 hate crime hoaxes in the past 10 years. Another report details all the cases in 2015 alone.

Universities are good at covering things up and Clemson is no exception. This situation needs to be resolved publicly.

MD woman charged in Snapchat stabbing

snapchatOn Thursday 4/21, the Aberdeen Police Department announced they were looking for a suspect in a stabbing of a 17-year old juvenile during an “altercation” about Snapchat that took place Wednesday (4/20/16) evening.

The victim was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview and was in stable condition the next day.

The Baltimore Sun reported earlier today (Friday) that the stabbing was related to an argument over Snapchat and that a suspect was arrested on 4/28/16. The suspect who was arrested is Gabrielle Joyner of Havre de Grace. Joyner was charged with attempted murder (both first and second degree), reckless endangerment, and charges relating to possessing a concealed weapon and a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.

Specifically, The Sun reported:

The week-long investigation revealed that Joyner and the victim had argued over posts on the image messaging application “Snapchat” prior to the assault, police said. The argument was allegedly about Joyner’s boyfriend.

 

 

Baltimore Sun finally corrects Jack Mehoff story

Jack Mehoff Story

As I wrote before, The Baltimore Sun published a story quoting “Jack Mehoff” after reporter Ian Duncan fell hook, line, and sinker when interviewing a Donald Trump supporter at an event Wednesday night on the Eastern Shore. The Jack Mehoff story was published online at 10:44 p.m. Wednesday and remained untouched until midday today.

Today at 12:55 p.m., Duncan made the following tweet:

The Sun retweeted it shortly thereafter. I asked both Duncan and the Sun via Twitter if correction notice would be added to tomorrow’s print edition of the paper. So far, I have received no reply from either.

I received a response after this piece was posted via The Sun on Twitter:

If you look at the story you’ll see the line the original error was in changed just the last name from Mehoff to Morris:

Jack Mehoff Story

Here’s the text:

Jack Morris, 19, praised Trump as a “hardworking, smart individual that wants the best for all people in this country that are allowed to be here.”

There was also a correction notice at the bottom of the story:

Jack Morris, 19, praised Trump as a “hardworking, smart individual that wants the best for all people in this country that are allowed to be here.”

Here’s a screen capture:

Jack Morris - Pull

The time stamp at the top of the story still shows 10:44 p.m. on April 20.

How The Sun Screwed Up – Then fixed the Jack Mehoff Story

The prank was totally missed by the reporter Ian Duncan it seems. I noted yesterday his tweet following the attention the story got indicated he was totally fooled and maybe even that he didn’t care. Ultimately the fact that it appeared in the print edition, went viral online, and ended up being corrected is above his pay grade.

At least one editor let it slip through. As I asked on Twitter, did any editor even ask a question about the name?

Since then, there have been attempts to defend the fact that the name could have been real, citing phone listings. I noticed the phone listing research was flawed and showed what I found when I researched state judicial records (both civil and criminal.)

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite flat out said there would be no correction, based on his misreading of the Duncan tweet on Thursday.

I will be checking now to see if a correction appears in tomorrow’s print edition, assuming I get no reply to my queries with Duncan and The Sun.

I also wonder how they tracked down Jack Morris. I assume they verified his identity by requiring him to produce his driver’s license, passport, or another method of identification. If not, they should have after being burned once already. If they didn’t already have protocols in place for this kind of thing, I’d hope they learned from it this week enough to develop them.

The Sun’s former corrections and clarifications page on their site still shows their committment to transparency with a 404 Not Found error.

Multiple people were to blame including the reporter and his editor(s). I’m not sure how the process unfolded on their end, but it took them from 10:44 p.m. Wednesday until midday Friday to get it fixed. I’m not sure that is a short or a long period of time because they’ve been so silent on the issue. It’d be nice if they actually talked about how it happened and how they’re making sure it doesn’t happen again.

Baltimore Sun hasn’t corrected Jack Mehoff story

Jack Mehoff 3

The above screen capture is from a search of baltimoresun.com for story corrections. The search result indicates it’s the Corrections and Clarifications page at http://www.baltimoresun.com/corrections. The Baltimore Sun has apparently decided it no longer has a need for a page detailing corrections. They apparently don’t even see the need for correcting a story in which they quoted someone named “Jack Mehoff” this week.

That would match the philosophy they are following in their non-response to the Ian Duncan story in The Baltimore Sun Thursday quoting someone named “Jack Mehoff” at a Donald Trump event on the Eastern Shore.

As of 11 a.m. today, the original Ian Duncan story filed online at 10:44 p.m. Wednesday night still contains this line:

Jack Mehoff, 19, praised Trump as a “hardworking, smart individual that wants the best for all people in this country that are allowed to be here.”

When I originally wrote about this yesterday morning, I expected a correction or update of some sort, perhaps with an editor’s note. Maybe I should’ve known better, but my expectations for The Sun to do the right thing were apparently too high.

Here’s a tweet from yesterday showing that the story appeared in the print edition:

The newspaper made one response via Twitter, telling the person who made the above tweet:

Editors are looking into this. Thanks for pointing it out.

I’m not sure what is taking them so long, unless they’re just stalling and hoping people forget about it.

Baltimore Sun embarrased by Jack Mehoff story

Even though they seem to be ignoring the issue and hoping it goes down the memory hole, it has already gotten the newspaper plenty of unwanted attention.

Erik Wemple of The Washington Post wrote the following about it:

Contacted about this dicey name, Duncan declined to comment and instead pointed the Erik Wemple Blog to his Twitter account:

Wemple and media critic Jim Romenesko noted that there were anywhere from 1-3 phone listings for people named Jack Mehoff in Maryland. However, that is meaningless. I know people who have given fake names for phone listings going back 20 years because phone companies have traditionally charged for having an unlisted number, but don’t if you give an alias.

They should have checked other databases, like the Maryland Judiciary Case Search. I discovered searching for the last name of Mehoff there that one person, a Jackson Five Mehoff born in 1985, was charged with disturbing the peace in Upper Marlboro in 2010. The charges were nolle prossed a few weeks later. I suspect the charges were dropped when officials figured out it was a fake name. There was no known address for this suspect, only a date of birth and physical description.

In other words, there’s only one person, who would be 31 now, with the right last name showing up in all of the civil and criminal case information online in Maryland.

Mediaite also wrote about it:

To the delight of fifth-graders everywhere, The Baltimore Sun has set the internet on fire by publishing a report on a Donald Trump rally in Maryland that featured a quote from a Trump supporter with a, shall we say, extremely suspect moniker

Noted hack Tommy Christopher defends Ian Duncan in the Mediaite piece, by saying among other things:

The best part is that the name and the quote remain in the story, because unless he can track down that supporter, as Duncan points out, there’s really nothing to correct

The above Christopher comment is referring to Duncan’s tweet that says

At this point I have no way to prove I didn’t meet a real life Jack Mehoff who is a Trump supporter. But erm… Yeah.

Way to read something into it that isn’t there, Tommy.

In the past, Christopher has been regularly embroiled in controversy for saying dumb things – like his statement that the NSA scandal is a “white people problem.”  Christopher has been fired from Mediaite at least once and later returned.

If the best defense that The Baltimore Sun and Ian Duncan have going for them is the above one from Tommy Christopher, it shows they’ve failed.

Jack Mehoff and the Lack of Transparency at the Baltimore Sun

The fact that The Baltimore Sun published the story in the print edition and still has it uncorrected online shows systemic problems at the paper.

If Ian Duncan had been the only one to fall for the apparent prank, it would’ve only reflected on him in a bad way.

For it to get past the fact checking of an editor possibly shows a rush to get the story published that outweighed a concern for the truth.

I’d like to know if any editor actually questioned Duncan about the Jack Mehoff name Wednesday night as he filed his story.

After the breakdown that led to the quote being included, it doesn’t seem like Duncan really cares that much about it. His tweets on the matter seem pretty apathetic, rather than defensive/accurate like Tommy Christopher asserts.

The fact that what had been a page on the Sun website to list clarifications and corrections is now gone shows all you need to know about the Sun and transparency.

I tried to reach Mike Hunt, Mike Rotch, and Amanda Huginkiss for their comment on this matter but they were unavailable.

Anti-Trump Ad Airing in Baltimore

Anti-Trump

Earlier today, The Washington Post reported on a memo by an Anti-Trump Super PAC that will be airing ads in the Baltimore television market.

The group says in the memo that Trump has a “nearly impossible path” moving forward and counters Trump campaign talking points that he will have 1,400 delegates after the primaries and will win a first ballot nomination in Cleveland.

From the story:

In its Thursday analysis, Our Principles PAC calls the Trump campaign’s prediction “detached from reality.”

“In order to secure 1,400 delegates, he would have to win 82% of all remaining delegates, a task simply not possible for him or any candidate at this stage in the process,” the memorandum states. It goes on to detail how Trump faces many obstacles and that “there are dozens of viable and plausible outcomes that will leave Trump well short of the required 1,237 delegates.”

Looking ahead to the five primaries in the Northeast on April 26, sometimes called the “Acela Primary,” Our Principles PAC concedes that Trump is likely to have sweeping victories: “… our planning assumes Trump can win nearly all of the bound delegates without improving his very slim chances.”

Watch the Anti-Trump Ad

Read the Anti-Trump Memo

Here’s the Our Principles PAC memo:

TO: INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: OUR PRINCIPLES PAC

SUBJECT: DELEGATE MATH UPDATE – NEW YORK REALITY CHECK

DATE: APRIL 21, 2016

Read More…