North Jersey’s Propaganda Machine & The Campaign Against Camden High

The Star-Ledger ( is the largest New Jersey Daily Newspaper by circulation. As such, serves as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general NJ populace. Despite claims of journalistic objectivity and impartiality,’s sports columnists have not been calling balls and strikes fairly. This is especially observable when one examines recent coverage of the mighty Camden High School Panther basketball club.

D.J. Wagner, ’23 Camden High School

One could argue,’s function is to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate NJ sports fans with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger New Jersey society. Specifically, North Jersey basketball is good… South Jersey basketball is bad… In a world of concentrated basketball talent and major conflicts of interest between North Jersey and South Jersey, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.

Over a 4 day period spanning 06/21 to 06/24 rolled out three stories with headlines intended to disparage Camden High’s basketball program… We are witnessing an orchestrated smear campaign…

Kevin Armstrong and have been more than up to the task of smearing the Camden program and the Wagner family. How else are they going to deal with Camden’s rapid ascension? Camden has lost on the court to exactly ONE (1) NJ opponent in 3 years. This was an upsetting turn of events for some… North Jersey had become accustomed to having an excess of basketball talent when compared to South Jersey. DJ Wagner, Aaron Bradshaw, Rasheer Fleming, Cornelius Robinson and Cian Medley have flipped the script. Camden has become the disruptive force on NJ’s scholastic basketball landscape.

The North Jersey bias and assumption of basketball superiority has had a multilevel effect on mass-media interests and choices. Powerful North Jersey stakeholders have been able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the NJSIAA and dominant North Jersey private school programs to get their messages across to the NJ public at large.

Countering these bullshit narratives is the core of the Black Cager mission.

What do we know?

Let’s take a look at some of the “findings of the six-month investigation of the Camden High School basketball program conducted by Kevin Armstrong under the auspices of New Jersey Advance Media and

Armstrong uncovered the following:

1) Camden has “boarded-up houses” and “derelict brick edifices scheduled for demolition” within the city limits.

2) “Five of Camden’s top six scorers do not reside in the city of 73,000 people… and are the only out-of-district students in the school.”

3) Colleen Maguire, Executive Director of the NJ State Interscholastic Athletic Association, “said she will begin a review to determine whether rules have been broken.”

4) Dajuan Wagner was involved in a fight as a teenager 21 years ago.

5) William Wesley took Wagner to a strip club after he scored 100 points in a game, also 21 years ago.

6) Dajuan Wagner’s stepfather Leonard Paulk “was convicted and sentenced to life in prison” 18 years ago.

7) “In 2014, [Former Camden High Coach Rick Brunson] was accused of sexual abuse but was acquitted.”

8) NJ Scholars Administrator Pervis Ellison “fundraised aggressively.”

9) John Mirenda, CEO of Greentree Mortgage is “listed as treasurer and financial director for Scholars Elite.”Right after Dajaun was drafted and signed a $7.4 million dollar rookie contract Greentree provided him with a $258,000 mortgage for a West Deptford house for his mother.

10) “On a Tuesday in May. Two schoolchildren dribbled until their yellow bus picked them up around 8 am. Soon after, Bradshaw walked out of Juanny’s house and Perkins followed him. They got in a red Chrysler, which Perkins drove to school.”

Six months… these are the findings of the “Special Report”

Major outlets like dominate New Jersey media. Marginalization of South Jersey programs, like Camden High, results from deeply ingrained, yet unacknowledged, biases. The propaganda filters function so naturally that seasoned media news people like Kevin Armstrong, can convince themselves that they are operating with complete integrity and goodwill. In this way a hired “hitman” is able to convince himself that he chooses and interprets the news “objectively” and on the basis of professional news values.

Nonetheless, if one exercises even a modicum of discernment, it becomes obvious that the recent barrage of negative and defamatory headlines emanating from the North Jersey-based media outlet are part of a well conceived propaganda campaign. The raw material of the most recent high school basketball season, was passed through successive journalistic and editorial filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print.

Armstrong and made choices… Real consequential choices… Over the course of six long months, they attempted to fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and define what was newsworthy in the first place.

Thus, readers were informed about fisticuffs and strip club excursions that took place while George W. Bush and Dick Cheyney ran the White House in 2002. Armstrong and let readers know that upon becoming a multimillionaire 20 years ago, Dajuan Wagner bought a suburban home for his mother. This is what passes as relevant information in the newsroom.

What don’t we know?

Within the limits of the constraints established when given the assignment in January, Armstrong would surely claim that his “special report” is objective. However, the fact remains that the North Jersey constraints are so powerful, and are built into the system in such a fundamental way, that alternative bases of news choices are hardly imaginable.

Armstrong looked at everything but the prevailing rules…

The readers of the special report resulting from a six-month investigation were never informed that according to “RULE AMENDMENTS” NJSIAA Bylaws, Article V [Eligibility of Athletes], Section 4(K) [Transfers]… The parents and coaches of the Camden High School Basketball players didn’t do a damn thing that was wrong…

Somehow, these Amendments modifying the governing rules and regulations were overlooked by the investigative “journalist” during the six months he spent on the Camden “case.” That, it should be noted, is a generous assessment of Armstrong’s work. A far more sinister account would assume that the “hitman” knew about these amendments and purposely chose to exclude them from the context in which he chose to discuss parental educational choices.

Maybe he will respond… It would be very interesting to know why Armstrong chose to discuss “boarded up buildings” and ancient arrests but not amendments to NJSIAA “transfer rules” while conducting a six-month investigation of transfers to Camden City schools…

Until they are considered and applied to the individual transfers to Camden City charter schools, these facts truly FUCK UP the carefully crafted narrative that Camden somehow “cheated.”

For the 2020-2021 season, each NJ student-athlete was permitted one “free transfer.” For that free transfer, the amendment clearly stated “there SHALL NOT be a requirement that the parent or guardian move with the student-athlete…”

As you can, see the transfer rules were relaxed considerably. Talented young people chose to take advantage of the temporary rule modifications and enroll in Camden Charter High Schools.

How do you highlight the fact that “Five of Camden’s top six scorers do not reside in the city of 73,000 people… and are the only out-of-district students in the school” while avoiding a discussion of the rule modifications that made some of these transfers possible and LEGAL?

One could convincingly contend that Armstrong and did not set out in search of truth. The aim, as best I can tell, was to further inculcate NJ sports fans with the belief that North Jersey scholastic basketball is superior to that played in South Jersey. Moreover and more importantly, the goal was to reinforce a codes of behavior where it is unimaginable to leave North Jersey private schools to pursue an education in Camden, New Jersey.

Camden folk are smarter than Kevin Armstrong and think they are… Camden High has a really, really good basketball team. The adults, the parents, coaches and administrators reviewed the rules closely and very carefully.

Apparently, they looked closer than the guy paid to spend six-months trying to besmirch and sully the good name of the Panther program.

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