When Push Comes to Shove; Reporter’s Account Unravels in Court

If you think media bias is only a problem at the Katie Couric level, a recent trial in Worcester, Massachusetts shows that journalism can be slanted at the local level, too. A reporter for the Worcester [Mass.] Telegram & Gazette reported and testified that a pro-family activist had viciously assaulted a leftwing demonstrator at a rally. But no credible witnesses agreed, and a jury dismissed the charges.

The paper has refused to issue a clarification, apology or retraction, despite the extreme variance of the reporter’s account with that of people directly on the scene. The Telegram reported last December that a pro-family, Catholic activist, Larry Cirignano, had assaulted protester Sarah Loy at a pro-marriage rally at city hall. Reporter Richard Nangle not only reported the “assault,” but became a star witness for the prosecution. Witnesses who actually saw the incident up close refuted Nangle’s account, and a jury on Oct. 22 unanimously threw out the charges.

Cirignano had, with one arm on her back, escorted a sign-waving ACLU officer, Sarah Loy, from near the podium and into the crowd. After he turned and left, she tripped over a girl’s foot, eyewitnesses testified. But check out this lead in the original story on Dec. 17, the day after the rally:

WORCESTER – 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.

Loy, who sought no medical treatment, began yelling, “This is what hate does! This is what hate does!”

Well, yes. Leveling trumped up criminal charges is a pretty hateful thing to do. For a more detailed account, see the article at www.cultureandmedia.com. Also of interest, a video taken by the pro-marriage group MassResistance moments after the incident indicates no disturbance.

Media Scandals Journalistic Issues Larry Cirignano Sarah Loy Richard Nangle