Identity Politics And News Media Bias
April 3, 2001
Over at the New Republic, some readers note, the wider their deviation from liberal orthodoxy, the more vituperative the rhetoric necessary to soften up readers for the unpleasant revelation that conservatives are sometimes right.
Thus Andrew Sullivan reluctantly agrees with the opinion of the "gay-baiting right" found on "rabid right-wing" Internet sites -- the opinion of "gay-hating right wingers" and writers in the Weekly Standard, which "never misses an opportunity to demean and disparage homosexuals"-- that the news media obsessed on Matthew Shepard's murder in order to push "hate crimes" legislation, while ignoring the 1999 rape and murder of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising by two homosexual predators because it was "off message."
- Thus, for example, the New York Times has yet to run a single story about the Dirkhising murder, and the Washington Post ran only an explanation of why the case merited no further coverage.
- In the month after Shepard's murder, Nexis recorded 3,007 stories about his death; by contrast, in the month after Dirkhising's murder, it recorded only 46 stories about his.
- In all of last year, only one article about Dirkhising appeared in a major mainstream newspaper, the Boston Globe -- the Washington Times being beyond the pale.
- The New York Times ignored the incident completely, while publishing 45 stories about Shepard.
Both crimes were of relatively rare types, notes Sullivan: in 1997, the FBI identified a total of eight hate-crime murders in the U.S. That same year, there were 1,449 murders of minors. But due to "identity politics," he says, one murder was ignored and the other made to appear a trend.
Source: Andrew Sullivan, "Us and Them," TRB from Washington, New Republic, April 2, 2001.
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