One of two homosexual men charged with raping and murdering a 13 year-old boy in Arkansas was found guilty by a jury last week of rape and first degree murder in a case in which even a prominent homosexual writer for The New Republic now sees media bias in how journalists have avoided covering it.
Contrasting media obsession with Matthew Shepard, the murdered gay college student, with how reporters have avoided the Jesse Dirkhising case, Andrew Sullivan conceded in the April 2 New Republic: “But, difficult as it may be to admit, some of the gay-baiting right's argument about media bias holds up.” Sullivan argued: “The murders of Shepard and Dirkhising are both extremely rare, and neither says much that can be generalized to the wider world. So why the obsession with Shepard and the indifference with regard to Dirkhising?
“The answer is politics. The Shepard case was hyped for political reasons: to build support for inclusion of homosexuals in a federal hate-crimes law. The Dirkhising case was ignored for political reasons: squeamishness about reporting a story that could feed anti-gay prejudice.”
When the trial started last week in the case of Dirkhising, murdered in 1999 by two gay men who bound him to a bed where he choked on his underwear, the major media outlets, other than the Fox News Channel and the Washington Times, all ignored it. The New York Post’s “MediaWatch” column, however, pointed out that unlike in the arrests and indictments in 1999, the AP decided to cover the trial. As in 1999, the Fox News Channel assigned Bret Baier to the case as FNC has been the only national network covering the crime.
From Bentonville, Arkansas the AP’s Brian Skoloff reported on March 22:
A jury convicted a man of first-degree murder Thursday in the rape and killing of a 13-year-old boy, sparing the man from the death penalty by rejecting a more serious capital murder count. Joshua Macabe Brown, 23, faces up to life in prison for the death of Jesse Dirkhising. The jurors already had voted Wednesday to convict Brown on a rape charge, which also can carry a life sentence….
Jesse was drugged, bound, raped and sodomized in September 1999 at the apartment Brown shared with his gay lover, Davis Don Carpenter, 39. Prosecutors said the boy suffocated because of the drugs and the way he was trussed up and strapped down to Brown's bed. The defense said Brown didn't intend to kill the boy and suggested the bondage-sex was consensual….
…defense attorney Louis Lim contended Brown was guilty of nothing more than statutory rape and manslaughter….
The eight-woman, four-man jury did, however, receive piles of evidence it requested to review. The items and papers included notes and a diagram, a bloody pillow, duct tape and underwear that the state said was stuffed into Jesse's mouth.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Bob Balfe told jurors that logic shows the boy wasn't a willing participant in a sexual bondage game.
Making a late-night run for more duct tape, picking up only two sandwiches instead of three, and leaving the child unattended all prove the men weren't concerned about Jesse's welfare, Balfe said.
Now an excerpt from Andrew Sullivan’s column in the upcoming April 2 New Republic which should hit newsstands today. On FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume on Thursday night, during the “Grapevine” segment, fill-in anchor Tony Snow noted Sullivan’s article. Sullivan, who is a prominent gay journalist, once was Editor of the magazine and is now one of its Senior Editors.
The excerpt follows on the next page:
(This report courtesy of the Media Research Center.)
What happened on September 26, 1999, to 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising can only be described as evil. Two men who had become friendly with Jesse and his family invited the boy over for the day. According to prosecutors at the trial now under way in Bentonville, Arkansas, the two men drugged Jesse, tied him to a bed, shoved his underwear into his mouth to gag him, added duct tape to silence him, raped him for hours using a variety of objects … and then left him in such a position on the bed that he slowly suffocated to death.
Unless you frequent rabid right-wing sites on the Internet or read The Washington Times, you've probably never heard of this case. The New York Times has yet to run a single story about it. The Washington Post has run only a tiny Associated Press report and an ombudsman's explanation of why no further coverage is merited. Among certain, mainly gay-hating right-wingers, the discrepancy between the coverage of this case and the wall-to-wall coverage of the similarly horrifying murder of Matthew Shepard proves beyond any doubt that the mainstream media is guilty of pro-gay bias…
But, difficult as it may be to admit, some of the gay-baiting right's argument about media bias holds up. Consider the following statistics. In the month after Shepard's murder, Nexis recorded 3,007 stories about his death. In the month after Dirkhising's murder, Nexis recorded 46 stories about his. In all of last year, only one article about Dirkhising appeared in a major mainstream newspaper, The Boston Globe. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ignored the incident completely. In the same period, The New York Times published 45 stories about Shepard, and The Washington Post published 28. This discrepancy isn't just real. It's staggering.
In The Washington Post, a news editor argued that the paper covers only crimes that are local, inflame local opinion, or have national policy implications. The Shepard story was news in a way the Dirkhising story wasn't because it “prompted debate on hate crimes and the degree to which there is still intolerance of gay people in this country. It was much more than a murder story for us.” But wasn't the media's instant blanket coverage part of the reason for the debate? If the Dirkhising murder had been covered instantly with the same attention to gruesome detail, wouldn't it, too, have prompted a national conversation?
You might argue that the Shepard murder was a trend story, highlighting the prevalence of anti-gay hate crimes. But murders like Shepard's are extremely rare. In 1997, a relatively typical recent year, the FBI identified a total of eight hate-crime murders in the United States. The number that were gay-specific was even smaller. Most years, two or three occur at most. How common is a rape-murder like that of Dirkhising? In 1999 there were 46 rape-murders nationwide. If you focus not on the rape-murder aspect but on the fact that Jesse was a child, there were 1,449 murders of minors. There are no reliable statistics on how many of these murders were committed by homosexuals, but let's generously say 5 percent. That's a paltry 72 cases. In other words, the murders of Shepard and Dirkhising are both extremely rare, and neither says much that can be generalized to the wider world. So why the obsession with Shepard and the indifference with regard to Dirkhising?
The answer is politics. The Shepard case was hyped for political reasons: to build support for inclusion of homosexuals in a federal hate-crimes law. The Dirkhising case was ignored for political reasons: squeamishness about reporting a story that could feed anti-gay prejudice, and the lack of any pending interest-group legislation to hang a story on. The same politics lies behind the media's tendency to extensively cover white “hate crimes” against blacks while ignoring black “non-hate crimes” against whites.
What we are seeing, I fear, is a logical consequence of the culture that hate-crimes rhetoric promotes. Some deaths if they affect a politically protected class are worth more than others. Other deaths, those that do not fit a politically correct profile, are left to oblivion. The leading gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign which has raised oodles of cash exploiting the horror of Shepard's murder has said nothing whatsoever about the Dirkhising case. For the HRC, the murder of Jesse Dirkhising is off-message. Worse, there's a touch of embarrassment among some gays about the case, as if the actions of this depraved couple had some connection to the rest of gay America. Don't these squeamish people realize that, by helping to hush this up, they seem to confirm homophobic suspicions that this murder actually is typical of gays?….