Boy's Death Spotlights Bias in Coverage of Gays

By McCain, Robert Stacy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

Boy's Death Spotlights Bias in Coverage of Gays


McCain, Robert Stacy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


There were no nationally televised candlelight vigils for Jesse Dirkhising. No Hollywood celebrities mourned the passing of the 13-year-old Arkansas boy.

The New York Times hasn't reported how Jesse died of asphyxiation in 1999 after prosecutors say he was bound, gagged and sodomized by a homosexual couple. And the seventh-grader's death has not caused powerful Washington activists to lobby for new federal laws to punish such crimes.

While the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming provoked a blizzard of media coverage about the death of the homosexual college student, the Dirkhising case is just "a local crime story," one TV network spokesman explains.

Joshua Macabe Brown, one of two men accused of killing Jesse, was convicted yesterday of rape and first-degree murder in a trial that began March 13.

Through yesterday afternoon, Brown's weeklong trial produced a combined total of zero stories from the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN.

Conservatives comparing coverage of the Shepard and Dirkhising cases, which both involve homosexuality, have scolded the media for ignoring Jesse's murder. But the disparity in reporting on the two murders is now provoking comment even from homosexual critics.

"This discrepancy isn't just real. It's staggering," Andrew Sullivan wrote in a column in the April 2 issue of the liberal New Republic magazine.

Mr. Sullivan, who is homosexual, cited Nexis database statistics showing 3,007 media stories about the Shepard killing in the month after the Wyoming murder, but just 46 stories about Dirkhising's murder in the month after the Arkansas boy's death.

Outside of Arkansas, the Tulsa World and the Memphis Commercial Appeal were the only large newspapers to carry daily Associated Press coverage of Brown's trial. The Washington Times has carried the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's reports on the trial in Bentonville, Ark.

The only TV network to report on the trial has been Fox News Channel, where "O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly featured a segment on the Dirkhising case titled "Is There a Double Standard in Coverage of Hate Crimes?" on his Monday broadcast.

By contrast, the Shepard murder made front-page news - and the cover of Time magazine - in October 1998. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt were among the politicians who appeared with Hollywood stars like Ellen Degeneres at a candlelight vigil on Capitol Hill to mourn Mr. Shepard's death and demand new hate crimes laws to protect homosexuals.

TV networks featured footage of a weeping Miss DeGeneres - whose televised "coming out" as a lesbian made headlines in 1997 - telling the crowd at the Capitol Hill vigil, "I'm begging heterosexuals to see this as a wake-up call to help us end the hate. Please raise your children with love and nonjudgment. . . . This is a war, we need your help."

Critics have charged that "political correctness" explains the different media treatment of the Shepard and Dirkhising murders. News organizations deny any such bias.

"Absolutely not," responded CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius.

"Every day we have 22 minutes to fill on the `CBS Evening News,' and every day the producers and the senior production staff have to determine what stories make the broadcast and which don't," said Ms. Genelius.

"Obviously, we can't cover every story that happens in this country every day," the CBS spokeswoman said Wednesday, "so each day we make an editorial judgment and, on the days when [the Dirkhising murder] story was unfolding, the overall editorial judgment was that it couldn't fit into the broadcast that day."

"We've been watching the trial and will continue to monitor it," ABC News spokesman Todd Polkes said Wednesday. "Currently, we have no plans to report it in our national newscasts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Boy's Death Spotlights Bias in Coverage of Gays
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.