Gregory Paul Raymer Arrested

Greg Raymer Nabbed in NC Prostitution Sting; Media Outlets Foul It Up

Greg Raymer’s arrest earlier this week in Wake Forest, NC on charges of soliciting prostitution shows just how quickly the media can make a big mess out of a salacious tidbit of news.

First, the story itself, which broke this morning from several local North Carolina news stations, wherein the “FossilMan” was among six people nabbed when local authorities set up a sting operation, running an online sex offer on what one local station referred to as “a website often used by prostitutes.”  That sounds like one of those Craigslist “roses” solicitations — so 2009-ish.

Enter the mugshots, in two different versions of the same story, which is a part of this story as well:

ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 15 16.16ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 15 16.17If you look at those two images, you’ll see some differences, even though they’re the same story.  Onward.

Raymer’s a pretty smart guy, but this was a pretty dumb idea, and sure enough, he and five others arrived at the unnamed hotel only to be greeted by undercover officers.  Raymer was probably the biggest celeb of the six, though among the other five was the lawyer who represented the woman involved in that strange lacrosse murder case at Duke University a while back.

So the prostitution sting picks up a small-time celeb, and the matter gets a few headlines and quickly fades away, right?  Well, perhaps if the local outlets hadn’t all first reported that Raymer and the other hadn’t been arrested for attempting to solicit male prostitutes, which wasn’t true at all.

Whether this was an honest mistake by the Wake Forest police department or an attempt by the authorities to do some Bible Belt-style public shaming remains undetermined.  After all, as the WRAL.com piece linked above reported, “Police said they conducted the operation ‘as a preemptive measure to combat the nationwide growing trend of prostitution.'”

As the afternoon progressed, lots and lots of stories appeared claiming Raymer and the the five others were picked up for soliciting male prostitutes, and even after a major round of editing, the WTVD story (also linked above) still includes the line that Raymer and the others were charged with “attempted crimes against nature.”

Such a fouled-up mess, all of it, whether innocent mistake in the reporting or smear job, and then carried quickly across the internet and appearing all over the place, both in mainstream and poker news reports.

Then the silent edits started happening, probably when one of the six arrestees squawked about the misinformation being published, and one of the local outlets bothered to check.  Within hours, most of the reports had been changed to lose the “gay” or “male” reference in the original stories.  First they did it quickly, with no mention of the original error; later they ended up adding explanations, meaning most of these reports ended up with mutliple edits throughout the day.

A lot of fingers were pointed.  The local North Carolina outlets blamed the police for giving out bad info.  Poker sites such as CardPlayer and PokerNews, who rewrote the initial NC reports virtually verbatim, in turn blamed the local NC outlets for getting it wrong in the first place.

A few outlets didn’t even bother to change the original wrong story.  Charlotte’s FOX TV station still has this stinking turd of a story up on its site as I write this:

ScreenHunter_07 Mar. 15 16.31Let’s see… we have bad, uncorrected facts, at least seven grammatical errors in four sentences, and the general tone of a seventh-grader going “Neener neener” after the class cut-up is sent to the principal’s office.  In other words, your typical FOX quality.

The same holds true for New York’s Daily News, which pulled the “gay” stuff from the story but left the original URL intact (with a referral), just for the sake of some extra, cheap SEO”:

ScreenHunter_05 Mar. 15 16.26ScreenHunter_04 Mar. 15 16.26

Come to think of it, CardPlayer did the same thing.  Check out the URL in this screen grab, which points to the corrected story:

ScreenHunter_06 Mar. 15 16.27Examples like this abound today, of outlets rushing to get the story out, then showing rather less exuberance in correcting their errors and undoing the mistakes they’ve compounded.  There’s no shame in being wrong, but there is some shame in being wrong and then not properly cleaning up your own mess.

Which brings us back to Raymer, whose attorney issued a brief statement later this afternoon.  According to the statement, “Mr. Raymer is very sorry for this lapse in judgment. He regrets deeply the pain he has caused his family, friends and fans. Mr. Raymer is grateful for the many expressions of support he has received.”

Raymer and the other five Wake Forest men arrested were released on $1,000 bond, and are scheduled for an April 18th hearing in the case.

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