Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Worcester Telegram and Gazette's Reporter Discredited at Cirignano Trial

This goes way beyond questions of "media bias". It goes directly to whether a newspaper can be trusted to report facts. The Worcester Telegram and Gazette was worried at Larry Cirignano's trial last week that their reporter's (and therefore, newspaper's) objectivity would be called into question. Their attorney tried to prevent their reporter from being called to the stand.

Ciriginano was found NOT GUILTY by a jury yesterday, on the trumped-up charges that he "assaulted" a pro-homosexual agitator at a marriage amendment rally last December. (See today's Worcester T+G, "Jury finds tripping, not a push; Rally leader found not guilty of assault.")

The ACLU, the Worcester Police, the Worcester D.A., and the Telegram and Gazette must all be in a state of shock.

We knew the Telegram and Gazette's report following the incident was outrageous. Now court testimony has caused a big problem for that newspaper and its reporter, Richard Nangle. Read these accounts and make up your own mind...

See MassResistance coverage of Larry Cirignano's trial (10-22-07).

... Richard Nangle, a reporter for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, had written a hostile first-person account of the incident which was published in a number of newspapers. He told the court he saw someone push Loy to the ground, saying that he was 6-8 feet from Loy at the time. But he wasn't able to identify himself in any of the several photos taken at the time, which covered the entire crowd and showed every person....

... after several witnesses testified, it became clear that Loy had not been pushed by Larry at all. Instead, Loy had tripped over the foot of a thirteen-year-old girl standing in the crowd, after Larry had walked away. The girl testified, her mother testified, another girl standing nearby testified, and several others. Even the prosecutor was forced to give up that argument. Even Loy's claim that she had hit her head on the ground was debunked by witnesses who testified they saw her land on her buttocks, break her fall with her hand, look around for a second, and then l lie down in a fetal position and scream.

See Bay Windows, Woman testifies that Catholic Citizenship leader assaulted her (10-18-07).
The judge also heard a request by Neil McGaraghan, an attorney for the Telegram and Gazette, that Nangle not be forced to testify at the trial. Nangle was subpoenaed to testify by Early’s office. McGaraghan argued that there were other eyewitnesses to the incident and that forcing Nangle to testify could harm his credibility as an impartial reporter, particularly if on cross-examination he was asked his personal opinion about the subject of the VoteOnMarriage rally, same-sex marriage.“You then without a doubt have a supposedly neutral reporter having to reveal private feelings about the matter,” said McGaraghan. (During his testimony, Nangle was not asked about his personal beliefs about civil marriage rights.) Quinlan responded that the prosecution wanted to call Nangle as a witness both because he was allegedly in closest proximity among all the eyewitnesses to the alleged incident and because he is the only eyewitness not affiliated either with Loy or with Cirignano.On the second day of the trial Despotopulos denied the Telegram and Gazette’s motion to quash the subpoena against Nangle.

See Nangle's original report in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette (12-17-06).
Tempers boiled over at an anti-gay marriage rally yesterday when the executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship emerged from behind a lectern outside City Hall, rushed toward a female counter-demonstrator, and pushed her to the ground.Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green "Let the People Vote" signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, "You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now." Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk. "It was definitely assault and battery," said Ronal C. Madnick, director of the Worcester County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.... Counter-demonstrators have been showing up at anti-gay marriage rallies in communities across the state in recent days, chanting and trying to drown out speakers.... [See entire story...]