The Press Botches the Carter Case

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COMMENTS ON PRESS COVERAGE
By Cal Deal

News coverage of this case in the 1970s was a great disappointment, particularly the work of Selwyn Raab of The New York Times and Herb Jaffee of the Newark Star-Ledger. Those two, it seemed to me, were extraordinarily biased in favor of Carter and his defense team. According to former Carter insider Carolyn Kelley, Jaffee even invited Carter to his son's bar mitzvah. That was in 1976, less than a month after Carter got out of prison to await his second trial, Kelley said.

It appeared that most of the press just tagged along, never looking into the facts of the case, indiscriminantly printing whatever Carter and his team said, and otherwise enjoying the circus around a man who had become a cause celebre.

UNBIASED PRESS?

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter gives a goodbye kiss to New York Times reporter Leslie Maitland following a press conference in Paterson on Dec. 23, 1976, two days after his second conviction for triple murder. At right is John Artis.

On Dec. 28, 1999, Raab wrote a critique of the movie "The Hurricane" for The New York Times. Not surprisingly, the main thrust of his article was to complain about how little credit Carter's lawyers got in the movie. Why does he care?

Also in the New York Times (2/6/00) columnist Dave Anderson complained about how "shameful" it was that Fred Hogan got so little credit in the movie for obtaining the recantations of Bello and Bradley.

What that article did not disclose is that Dave Anderson had allowed his name to be used in the 1970s by the pro-Carter Hurricane Fund. [Inset: Portion of Hurricane Fund brochure with names of Carter supporters.] He also failed to mention testimony about bribe offers by Hogan, and did not disclose that a judge rejected the recantations because they defied common sense and lacked "the ring of truth."

After all of the incredible testimony about the conduct of Raab and Hogan, it's surprising the Times ran those articles. It appears that memories are short.

TO HELP REFRESH THOSE MEMORIES, I call your attention to a portion of the prosecutor's January 1987 brief concerning bribe offers, recantations, obstruction of justice, perjury -- and the roles of Raab and Hogan.

-- Cal Deal, 2/21/00

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MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR THE PRESS

From columnist Paul Mulshine of The Star-Ledger in Newark in a story about the beating of Carolyn Kelley:

"At the moment, Carter has reduced the journalists of America to the status of starstruck groupies, but maybe [Carolyn Kelley's] revelations will get a few of them to take a look at the facts of his life. Article after article has Carter being "framed" or "jailed for a crime he didn't commit" when in fact he was convicted by two juries. He had his conviction overturned only because it was heard by a federal judge who had a reputation for being among the most pro-defense judges in the nation."

From Larry Elder, one of L.A.'s most popular radio talk show hosts and a black conservative, on the importance of getting out the true story:

Why does all this matter? After all, even if the movie distorts it, surely America's criminal justice system was, and remains, racist and corrupt. This matters because most children who see this movie know nothing about Carter. The message: no matter who you are, how much you have, how prominent you are, how innocent you are, the white racist criminal justice system stands ready to smash you down.

How bad is the criminal justice system? In the film, a black teenager helps lead the effort to free Carter. And, today, what does he do for a living? Works as a prosecutor.

And it matters for this reason. At the recent Golden Globe Awards, "Hurricane" Carter received a standing ovation from the Hollywood-ites in attendance. Did they love-serenade a man who killed three people? Chilling.


Comments on a Feb. 22, 2000 Omaha World-Herald story

Posted on the paper's news forum by Cal Deal

Once again the press and the public have been fooled by Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

The World-Telegram story quotes Carter as saying "The courts said that I was not guilty."

Not true. No judge or jury has ever found him not guilty.

He says the movie is absolutely true, according to the World-Herald story.

Not true. The movie is shockingly false in its depiction of Carter and the crime.

Carter reportedly told the audience that he overcame an all-white jury and unreliable witnesses and, the story says, "the dismissal of a passed lie detector test to win his innocence."

Not true. There were two blacks on the 1976 jury (and the prosecutor had been a member of the NAACP). Pat Valentine's identification of Carter's car as the killers' getaway car has stood the test of time. And Carter failed his lie detector test and refuses to take another one. [Read Prosecutor's 1976 letter.] He even rejected a pre-trial offer from the prosecutor in 1976: Pass a lie test and go free.

I believe Rubin Carter is a triple murderer. Reading about him getting standing ovations from trusting citizens is very disturbing to me. That's why I've put information about the case online. The public needs to know.


ABOUT CAL DEAL

New York Times column by John Tierney
"'Hurricane' motivates a real critic"

Miami Herald column by Sue Reisinger:
"Ex-reporter rains on Denzel's parade"

Cal Deal, who built this web site, is a former Deputy News Editor of the New York Daily News and held news department supervisory positions at The Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, The Boca News, and The Herald-News (NJ). He was graphics director of The Miami News for seven years until the day it died in 1988.

Deal covered the Hurricane Carter case in 1975-'76 and interviewed Carter in August and December of 1975. His stories were mostly enterprise pieces that revealed new information about the case or explained its key elements. Deal got to know the star witnesses, Pat Valentine and Al Bello, and first saw the movie "The Hurricane" with Valentine at his side. Because of his frequent contact with those key players, he was asked to leave Carter's second trial because he was considered a potential witness. Deal also got to know some of the relatives and friends of the murder victims, who in the 1970s gave him some of the photos and materials that are used in this web site.

For more, read his introduction.

E-Mail Cal

Irish Times Criticizes Kansas City Star

"Truth is swept aside by Hurricane"

The Irish Times focuses on "preposterous" claims by Carter and severely criticizes the Kansas City Star for printing them without question. Among other things, Carter has been saying that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were out to get him. "And here's the worst part of it all" says the Times, "[Star columnist Jason] Whitlock fell for it - hook, link and sinker." Read George Kimball's excellent May 11, 2000 column.


Pittsburgh reporter takes on Carter

A terrific job by Milan Simonich. Story ran March 27, 2000


The New York Times corrects Carter

In a New York Times Magazine interview (1/16/00), Carter states:

"I've been a so-called celebrity since I was 17 years old, since I was the European light welterweight champ and made the Olympics in 1956."

He also says, "For 20 years, I was in solitary confinement, reviled as a racist triple murderer, just narrowly escaping the electric chair."

Three days later, the paper printed this correction:

"He held a United States Army boxing title while stationed in Europe but was not the European light welterweight champion or a member of the Olympic team in 1956. He was held in solitary confinement sporadically for a few months during his 19-year imprisonment, not for the entire time."

Also the correction clarifies that he received a life sentence, not a death sentence.

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