Race, Crime, and the Media
If five whites carjacked a black couple, tortured them for hours, then dumped the bodies, the national news media would descend upon the benighted city in which the dastardly crime occurred and, having reported the unspeakable deeds, subject the rest of us to rants on racism and harangues on hate. It happened with James Byrd, the black man dragged to death behind a car in Jasper, Texas, and it happens even when the crimes are fictive, as with huckstress Tawana Brawley and, more recently, the lacrosse team at Duke University. In such cases, we are told that whether or not the crimes actually occurred does not matter: We learn a lesson simply in contemplating them.
The truth is, we are never permitted to contemplate the truth about race and crime. Most interracial crime involves blacks harming whites, and federal statistics show that blacks commit more hate crimes than whites. The news media’s stiff-necked refusal to report these facts is escalating and indisputable, as several recent cases show, and invites us to question why so many news professionals—so dedicated to disclosing so many unwelcome facts about so many subjects—are so unwilling to examine this one. “Liberal media bias” isn’t the only answer. Something else is at work.
First, a few examples. The murders of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian in Knoxville, Tennessee, merited almost no attention from the national news media and none from the New York Times. According to police, on January 7, a band of black criminals carjacked the pair, then treated them to a nightmare of sexual torture. The gang raped Newsom, shot him, burned him with gasoline, wrapped him in bedding, then set him ablaze. Afterward, they dumped his body on nearby railroad tracks. They forced Christian to watch this and repeatedly (and savagely) raped her, then sprayed liquid cleaner in her mouth to erase their residual DNA. After killing her, the thugs placed her in trash bags and stuffed her in a garbage can. Five suspects await trial.
On Halloween, three white girls approached a haunted maze in the backyard of a home in Long Beach, California. A group of a dozen black boys, according to newspaper accounts, began taunting them. The boys grabbed their crotches, asking, “Are you down with it?” The girls went through the maze, but when they returned to the front yard, the boys were waiting to taunt them again. Then they heard another male voice declare, “I hate white people.” “White bitches,” others shouted. The girls started to leave, but a mob of about 30 blacks, including young girls, gathered and pelted them with pumpkins and lemons. “We hate white people,” they hollered, “f--king white people.” When the defenseless girls tried to flee, the mob attacked in full force, beating and stomping the first victim to the ground. When she tried to fight back, a black man smashed her head with a skateboard, then hit her again when she was on the ground, unconscious. The mob kicked her anyway. When one friend tried to rescue her, the mob swarmed, punched her until she dropped, then stomped, and kicked her on the ground. She received 12 facial fractures and severe damage to one of her eyes. The third girl also tried to help, but the mob beat her to a pulp—again, kicking and stomping her when they got her on the ground.
The judge tossed out DNA evidence from a victim’s blood on one attacker’s clothes because, one news report said, it would complicate the case. Ultimately, he sentenced those found guilty to house arrest and probation. Again, the New York Times and other national news media mostly ignored it. No wondering how it could happen. No soul-searching. No lectures on racism from the university professoriate, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton.
In April 2005, a mob of 30 blacks attacked four white girls at Marine Park in Brooklyn, New York, shouting “black power,” according to the small weekly that covered it, and invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. Two of the victims landed in the hospital, one with a broken nose. Immediately, police denied this was a hate crime. The national news media ignored it. And again, the Rainbow Coalition took a powder.
On December 14, 2000, two black brothers, Jonathan and Reginald Carr, invaded the Wichita home of Jason Befort and his two friends, Bradley Heyka and Aaron Sandler, who were entertaining Befort’s girlfriend, Heather Muller, and Sandler’s former girlfriend (“H.G.”). (Sandler was then studying for the priesthood.) As with the carjacking in Knoxville, the black men, ending a week-long feral rampage, subjected their five white victims to an orgy of sexual torture nearly beyond description. After beating the men senseless, they forced the women to have sex, attempted to force the men to have sex with the women, then raped and sodomized the women. They robbed them and drove the naked (the women were clad only in sweaters) victims to a field and executed four of them. H.G., having been shot in the head and run over repeatedly with a truck, managed to survive. Despite H.G.’s testimony, which indicated that the brothers made numerous racial slurs while torturing and attempting to kill her, prosecutors hotly denied that this was a hate crime. Again, the national news media ignored the story.
Stories about all these crimes appeared in local newspapers and on local television news. (Even local media often omit the race of the suspect.) Somehow, these stories never rocketed to the editorial stratosphere of CBS, CNN, the Washington Post, or the New York Times. Some national-news websites published a smattering of AP stories about these crimes. Had they involved whites attacking blacks, all of these news organizations would have dispatched staff writers, photographers, producers, and cameramen to get the story.
That is exactly what happened when three white lacrosse players at Duke University were accused of raping a black stripper at an off-campus party; the national news media descended in full force. The charges smeared the team, and the Duke lacrosse season was canceled. Hundreds of stories appeared about this fictive crime—a case in which the prosecutor was forced to quit and may be disbarred for egregious ethical violations. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the major television networks unlimbered a blunderbuss and sprayed us with stories. It was time to search our souls for racism. For intolerance. For bigotry. For a crime that never happened. Of course, Durham was recently the site of a rape at an off-campus party at which men from Duke were present. The national news media ignored it, and the Raleigh News and Observer eliminated race in its description of both the party and the suspect. A black fraternity hosted the party. The suspect is black; the victim is white.
The leftists who run the national news media know what they are doing, and they won’t confront the truth about race and crime; that would require reforming their thoughts about the world and undermine their declared agenda. The news media are obsessed with “diversity,” as Bill McGowen demonstrated in Coloring the News, his book on how the media spins stories because of race. Some topics, including affirmative action, are taboo in newsrooms. For example, when the New York Times exposed rank incompetence and rampant criminality among rookies in the NYPD, it failed to disclose how or why such incompetence and criminality crept into the ranks: Hiring standards had been lowered to promote minorities in the name of “diversity.”
In journalism, the last few years have been one long chin-wag about diversity. The potentates of journalism discuss it with religious fervor. Editors receive dogmatic flyers and evangelical videotapes importuning them to hire minority applicants and interns and to attend minority job fairs. They receive surveys designed to measure the racial and sex complexion of newsrooms. The American Society of Newspaper Editors proclaims, “We count the number of journalists, their gender [sic] and race” in order to “help newsrooms think about diversity.” The society sponsors a silly project called “Time Out for Accuracy and Diversity.” Of course, accuracy never trumps diversity. The publisher of the New York Times has said that diversity is the most important issue facing his newspaper; this is how Jayson Blair, a serial liar with a long rap sheet of plagiarism and mendacity, slipped through the cracks.
This leftist obsession with diversity and race in the newsroom informs the media’s coverage of crime, particularly interracial crime. In a letter posted on the forum at Romenesko, on the website of the Poynter Institute, David Mills, a former writer for the Washington Times, hammered the Los Angeles Times for ignoring the mob melee at Long Beach. “You don’t have to be a card-carrying Klansman,” Mills wrote,
to point out that the LA Times surely would be treating this story differently if three black women had been attacked by 30 white teenagers hurling words like “F--- black people.” Columnists and editorial writers would be rending their garments, agonizing over the meaning of such a brutal crime. . . .
The Halloween mob assault appears to be the worst instance of black-on-white violence in Southern California since Reginald Denny took a cinder block to the head. Why is the LA Times covering it so grudgingly? The only reference to the beatings on the op-ed page came last Sunday, when Michael McGough, a senior editorial writer, wrote of this case: “I wouldn’t dare to prejudge [it] even if the facts weren’t so murky.” He then fretted that an “unintended consequence” of hate-crime laws is that “such laws could end up punishing blacks who commit violence against whites—which is a far cry from the historical experience that inspired hate-crime statutes.”
Say what? I didn’t realize that hate-crime laws were supposed to punish only white people. Presented with a shocking instance of black-on-white violence, the Times thinks the only larger issue worth discussing is whether hate-crime legislation is wrongheaded?
McGough’s point was that blacks are incapable of racism and hate crimes; they are perpetual victims. No wonder the national news media refuses to report horrific black-on-white crimes. Just as “diversity” trumps competence in the newsroom, white-on-black crime always trumps its converse.
The media’s morality play about unbridled white racism is a perilous fairy tale that justifies the media’s racial agenda not just for newsrooms but for society at large. Moreover, whites are increasingly angry about the media’s treatment of blacks and crime, which undermines what little credibility the media have and energizes unfair and unjust remarks and rage about blacks in general. This, in turn, breeds the very racial animosity the dim bulbs in the news media claim they want to erase. Yet admitting the truth would undermine the media’s hectoring, obnoxious propaganda, which insists that whites are oppressors and blacks are victims, and would deprive the race hustlers and cultural leftists of the crowning symbol that permits them to rig the courts and spin the news: the racist white bogeyman.
R. Cort Kirkwood is the author of Real Men: Ten Courageous Americans to Know and Admire (Cumberland House).
This article first appeared in the May 2007 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.
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