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Morrissey Accuses Style of Cover-Up, Ulterior Motives

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I recently read your analysis of Gov. [Tim] Kaine's pardon of the Norfolk Four. How is it possible for Style Weekly journalists to so thoroughly botch an analysis of a criminal case (“Until Proven Innocent,” News & Features, Aug. 12)? Margaret Edds, a seasoned reporter, wrote: “The parents of the victim have also petitioned for their [Norfolk Four] release, issuing a statement that they [family] were ‘devastated’ after Kaine declined to grant full pardons for three of the men.”

This statement is 100 percent inaccurate. I have researched the matter and the parents never “petitioned for their release,” and never issued a statement that “they were ‘devastated’ after Kaine declined to grant full pardons for three of the men.” Indeed, the truth is just the opposite. … the parents of the victim think the Norfolk Four are guilty and were rightfully convicted.

The above quoted material was a crucial component of Ms. Edds' story and it was dead wrong! Both Ms. Edds' inaccurate reporting as well as Style's poor editing were deplorable. Everyone realizes what Style was trying to do. Ms. Edds and Style were attempting to show that Gov. Kaine erred in granting only a conditional pardon (instead of an absolute pardon) because, hey, even the parents of the victim were petitioning for both their release as well as absolute pardons. As my Irish mates would say: “Rubbish!”

But alas, there's even more mischief on behalf of Style. After I brought this egregious error to Style's attention, you printed a correction in the Aug. 19 edition and suggested that Style inadvertently put the words “the parents of the victim” instead of “lawyers for the three men.” Sorry. This excuse just doesn't pass muster. Firstly, if you make this suggested “lawyers for the three men” substitution, the balance of the sentence, which referred to the family, is nonsensical. Secondly, a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed (Aug. 12) got it right when they correctly quoted the family: “Our family is devastated to learn that Governor Kaine. … granted a conditional pardon to these confessed and convicted rapists.” Finally, if we are to believe your correction that these words, “parents of the victim,” were inadvertently substituted for the words “lawyers for the three men,” then we are left to conclude that the lawyers were the ones who were “devastated.” No such quote by the lawyers exists — I checked!

Admit it guys. You botched the reporting, you botched the editing and you attempted to gloss over this horrific error by botching the correction.
Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey
Highland Springs

Editors' note: We stand by our original correction and regret the editing error.

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