Yellow Journalism

Yellow.  As in, Rubber Duck Yellow.  Yes, I have been accused, by a reader, of Yellow Journalism.  OK. I can work with that.  I can work with it because all my data came from local news, who got it from the Nashua police.  If there is other news to be had, no one is sending it to me.  So I figured, at this point, I should recap what we have on Duck-Gate so far, and point back to the original sourceagain.

So where do we begin?  The Nashua Telegraph drove almost every post I wrote, at least a dozen of them now,  so let’s see what they had to say and why?  What were their sources, and how did I piece them together over time to arrive at the content I produced along the way.

Jan 16th, Nashua Telegraph.

These excerpts are all from the linked article, and reference police reports or information provided by  witnesses or the police, to the Telegpraph.

Hotel manager says Campbell is drunk.

there’s a gentleman who’s drunk,” the hotel manager said to a police dispatcher. “He ran over four or five ducks right in the parking lot..”

Campbell left the scene, knowing the police were en route

Campbell told police that after parking his car in the garage, he headed to the hotel lobby because he felt threatened by one of the witnesses. He then left on foot after being advised that police were on the way, according to police records.

Pappas receives a call, comes and fetches Rep. Campbell.

“Campbell left the scene on foot and called Pappas, one of his longtime friends, who escorted Campbell away from the scene, according to police records released to The Telegraph last week.”

-Pappas did not call until two hours after the incident.  18-16= 2.  10am incident minus 12:15a documented call by Pappas to the police, also equals two hours.

He (Campbell) was interviewed after 4 p.m. Christmas Eve, 16 hours after Pappas called police on his behalf and 18 hours after striking the ducks and leaving the hotel grounds.

Pappas then called the police station on Campbell’s behalf at 12:15 a.m. and spoke with Sgt. Charles Camacho.

There are multiple contradictions about whether Pappas asked if Campbell should come right in to speak to police or if he should wait.

During an interview last week, Pappas said he has a clear memory of asking the desk sergeant whether Campbell should visit the station to talk to police that night.

The recordings do not appear to document such a request.

There are contradictions as to Pappas’ role as an attorney, and whether Campbell had access to a phone or not.  Pappas said Campbell had no access to a phone. But Campbell says Pappas left him at home, where he has a working landline.

According to police reports, Pappas later refused to answer any questions from Nashua police, claiming that he was acting as Campbell’s attorney Dec. 23 and that their conversations are protected by attorney-client privilege.

It’s unclear where Campbell was taken after running over the ducks. Pappas told police that Campbell was “at another friend’s house.”

During an interview Dec. 24, Campbell told police that he received a ride back to his own home and stayed there for the night.

Pappas says he left Campbell at a friend’s house and Campbell’s phone had died.

We also learn that the investigating officer’s shift had ended and they had since gone home by the time Pappas called police (reported by police as two hours after the incident).

“I understand that you folks are looking for a David Campbell,” Pappas said.

The sergeant then inquired with someone else at the police department whether police were seeking someone by that name. A man in the background can be heard saying that Campbell is the person who ran over and killed five ducks.

“Oh, is that the accident?” Camacho replied. “Yes, sir, they were looking for him earlier on second shift.”

“Yeah,” Pappas said. “He’s a friend of mine.”

“OK,” Camacho said.

He’s, he’s at a friend’s house,” Pappas said. “I don’t – his phone died. I can – is it OK if I have him come to the station tomorrow morning?”

They were looking for Campbell, but then, David Campbell knew that, which is why he left before they got there.

In another Telegraph Article, most of these facts are repeated or confirmed

Remember, Pappas could have brought Campbell over to the hotel where police were arriving, 1000 feet from where he picked him up–and the police were looking for Campbell and Campbell knew the police were going to be there, because he is why they were called in the first place.

According to police reports, Pappas drove to Campbell’s office and picked him up, whisking him away from the heated scene around the same time officers from the Nashua Police Department were beginning to arrive at the hotel to investigate the circumstances and piece together what happened.

As police searched for Campbell, they couldn’t find him at the hotel or on the grounds and discovered he wasn’t a guest or checked into any room.

Pappas maintained that he never knew police were looking for Campbell.  But Campbell knew.  He had been advised that the police were on the way before he left the hotel, according to reports noted above.  But that only leads to a lot of unanswered questions. (some others here, I think as well)

Why did Campbell need to call anyone?  His car was in the hotel garage.  If he planned to leave before the police could speak to him, why not just get back in his car–which is closer than his law office across the parking lot and down the road?

But Campbell does call.  Not from the hotel full of phones, but from his office, away from the scene where he knows the police will be arriving.

And of all the people David Campbell knows, of all the people he could have called to come and get him (for no particular reason, mind you) while the car he just drove sits not far from where he is,  he calls his long time buddy, the Nashua Police Commissioner.

When he calls Pappas, are we meant to believe that Campbell is unclear about the circumstances requiring him to call, for a ride, at 10pm, the night before Christmas eve?

Are we to believe that Campbell does not tell Pappas why he can’t use his own car?  That he never tells Pappas the police are on the way?

And are we also meant to believe that the Chairman of the Nashua Police Commission, asks him no questions about any of this?

Are we meant to presume that the Chairman of the Nashua Police Commission, an accomplished lawyer by trade, cannot put two and two together?  Is this a good time to note that “just in case” he did learn something, he invokes attorney client privilege prohibiting him from having to disclose all those things we are perhaps meant to believe were never discussed in the first place.  Things that would look bad for David Campbell?

I guess the conversation went like this….

“Hey, can you come get me?”

“Sure, I’ll be right there.”

Teenage boys talk more than that. (Not much though.)

Now, these details (minus my sarcastic “guess” at the conversation) are in the press, and obtained from police reports, recorded phone calls, and witness statements, without retraction or amendment–to my knowledge, as of this writing.   These details have also been reported and repeated in other local and national news outlets, and in many posts I have written that I will not bother to link to as the same details can be found in the links I have provided.

How are we doing on the whole Yellow Journalism thing, anyway?  I’d say we’ve clarified every point ever made which lead to this.

It is my opinion that Campbell hit the ducks, believed he was drunk, fled the scene to avoid police, asked for help from a police commissioner, who then removed him from the scene, and placed him out of reach of the police to protect Campbell from being charged with DUI, or DWI, or whatever thousand natural shocks his flesh might have bene air to if he had stayed; problems and or questions that would have resulted in charges, embarrassment, you know- seeing as Campbel is the Chair of the NH House transportation committee and a ranking member of the House majority party.

Pappas calls after the shift change.  Campbell is at a location with no phone, which is either another friends house, Campbell’s home, or no one knows, which is the answer Campbell’s other lawyer gave when asked.

To his credit, and regardless of any good he has ever done, Tom Pappas could no longer bear to juggle all the contradictions, or conflicts of interest, which is why he has finally resigned as a Nashua Police commissioner.

Despite all this information, and the apology by Pappas for his involvement, some may insist he was wronged,  hung out to dry, by the cops, or the press, or by me, and all these events are circumstantial, or something.

I would happily welcome some other source of conclusive data to contradict the police reports, Pappas own words and recorded voice, reported eyewitness testimony, all the reporting by the Nashua Telegrpaph and so on, if it exists.  I will also gladly report it, give it a forum, and give you my opinion.  BUT.

Do not expect the Pappas pronouncement, that he will cooperate fully with the NH AG’s office, to produce anything new of value.

First, it’s the NH AG’s office. Police Chiefs who get caught offering to drop charges against college-girls if they will they just pose for some provocative photographs, go uncharged to retire and collect their taxpayer funded pensions unbesmirched.

Second, Pappas is reported to have claimed attorney client privilege to the Nashua Police for the period of time during which questions would need to be answered.  I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think he has to say anything to the AG, and in fact, might be prohibited from doing so.  And, he knows that, which is why he brought it up, then later changed his story after that privilege was no longer relevant to the details that must remain hidden.

So the only thing Yellow about this story, is the Gadsden Duck logo.  And the one person who has actually wronged Tom Pappas is David Campbell, who could have saved Pappas by doing the right thing in the first place, or at any point after that, in the six weeks since he mowed down some Ducks in his BMW and before Papps resigned.

He didn’t.

That says a lot about David Campbell.

Steve on GAL

Steve is a New Hampshire resident, blogger, and activist. A member of the 603 Alliance, NHCMP, NHRVC, LFGC, and the host of GrokTALK! Please Note: My opinions are my own and not those of my Family, employers, politicians, campaigns, or other contributors or commenters at GraniteGrok