Michael Gaynor
April 4, 2007
NYT disgrace: for Duke hoaxer, support; for actual victims, no space
By Michael Gaynor

The New York Times' motto is "All the news that's fit to print."

But The New York Times really chooses what news to report in accordance with its biased agenda as "higher truth" trumps objectivity.

The phony gang rape story that became the Duke case fit perfectly into that agenda. The accuser (crystal Gail Mangum) was not telling the truth, the accused (Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans) were not guilty of the charges against them and the prosecutor (Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong) was pursuing the case anyway as the way to win a Democrat primary, shamelessly playing the race card, making grossly improper public statements and concealing highly significant exculpatory evidence, but The New York Times wanted the story of race, sex, class and violence to be true (and probably figured it might help turn some red states blue).

But, for the Channon Christian/Chris Newsom case, The New York Times does not have a place.

THAT is yet another disgrace.

Americans should know about the Channon Christian/Chris Newsom case, even if they don't live in or near Knoxville, Tennessee.

On January 9, 2007, Whitney Daniel of CBS affiliate WVLT reported that "a body that was found Tuesday on Chipman Street in East Knoxville" had "been identified as that of 21-year-old Channon Christian," "only blocks away from the area where the body of her boyfriend, 23-year-old Chris Newsom, [had been] found" two days earlier.

On January 13, 2007, the Knoxville News Sentinel's Jamie Satterfield and Don Jacobs reported details of the double slaying.

"They wanted the 4-Runner but wound up taking the lives of a young Knox County couple in brutal fashion, court records made public Friday reveal.

"'Originally the plan was to do a carjacking,' a pal of fatal carjacking suspect Lemaricus Devall Davidson told a federal agent."

Satterfield and Jacobs:

"[I]t ended early Sunday morning in a seedy rental house on Chipman Street, where Christian and Newsom were forced inside at gunpoint, according to state and federal court records.

"Newsom was shot, bound and his body wrapped up in bedding and set afire, according to a search warrant application drafted by Knoxville Police Department Investigator Todd Childress.

"Police would find his body later that day discarded like trash along nearby railroad tracks. Two days passed before Christian's battered body was found stuffed in a trash can in the Chipman Street house where, records show, Davidson and Cobbins had been living."

Horrific, but not the whole story.

Satterfield and Jacobs: "None of the records released Friday indicate how Christian died. Her body wasn't discovered until Tuesday. Authorities have not disputed Knighten's account that she had been raped."

Still not the whole story.

On January 16, 2007, Katie Allison Granju, an NBC affiliate WBIR producer, revealed more details.

"The bodies of the young Knoxville couple were found separately last week. Four men, Lemaricus Davidson, Latalvus Cobbins, George Thomas and Eric Boyd, have been taken into custody as part of the investigation."

But some key details as to the savagery of the crimes being investigated were missing.

If you want them, there are in the University of Maryland student newspaper, in an article by Stefanie Williams(www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2007/04/04/Opinion/Not-A.Black.And.White.Issue-2820754.shtml , a junior with liberal and feminist credentials as well as personnel knowledge of lacrosse, who approached the Duke case sensibly, instead of sexually or racially, and defended the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team against those kidnapping, raping and sexual assault charges and cover up claims when The New York Times was promoting them enthusiastically.

For a better understanding of Ms. Williams, it helps to read her article entitled "All Crimes Are Hate Crimes" published in the University of Maryland's student newspaper on April 7, 2006.

The gist of the article:

"What distinguishes a crime from a hate crime? A hate crime is typically defined as a crime committed against a minority; for example, gay bashing, anti-Semitism or racial discrimination. I'm sure by now everyone has heard of the allegations being presented against Duke's men's lacrosse team. And yes, the media too have slandered this a hate crime. But in the midst of all this white privileged people vs. black underprivileged people, I have to wonder: Aren't all crimes acts of hate?

"I grew up in the most segregated town on Long Island. Yep, almost entirely white. However, unlike most people I grew up with, I like to consider myself a fair and unbiased person when it comes to issues such as race, religion and sexuality. In my world, it doesn't matter if you are black, white, pink or tangerine-orange; we all have to get by and live our lives. Clearly, a lot of people don't agree with me. But when I read about hate crimes, I get infuriated — not because I'm racist by any means, but because I think the majority of racism is created not by our actions but by our categorization of our actions."

On the diabolical double murder, Ms. Williams wrote:

"A Google News search of the names Channon Christian or Christopher Newsom would bring up few mainstream sources. Maybe you'll find a couple of blogs and local stories from Knoxville, but you won't find anything from Fox, CNN or MSNBC.

"Trust me when I say this story is more newsworthy than the Natalie Holloway case, the Duke lacrosse scandal and Anna Nicole Smith combined. A young couple, students from the University of Tennessee, were victims of a carjacking and were kidnapped, raped, tortured and eventually murdered by five people. Descriptions of their deaths were so brutal that I had to read them several times to fully process the implications.

"Newsom was kidnapped, raped and beaten. According to reports, his penis was then cut off before he was shot several times and set on fire, all while his girlfriend watched. His body was then dumped alongside train tracks. Christian was kept alive and gang-raped multiple times over a span of four days. Her breast was cut off while she was still alive and her kidnappers sprayed cleaning fluid into her mouth to cleanse it of DNA. Her body was then put into a garbage can.

"This should have been front- page, prime time news. There is speculation that because all five of the arrested kidnappers were black, and the couple white, this story was swept under the rug. Whatever the case, instead of this legitimate news story, I have been spoon-fed pointless stories about Anna Nicole Smith and the innumerable men she slept with.

"It's the unfortunate truth that the media cherry-pick the news on race. Last year, we saw blanket coverage of Sean Bell, who was shot by plainclothes New York City Police Department detectives, where race became such an unnecessary factor. Even worse was the coverage of the Duke lacrosse case, where very obvious lies were upheld for months.

"It goes beyond the media. In both these cases, prominent politicians such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson rose up in racial condemnation. Members of the Duke faculty even took out an ad in Duke's The Chronicle expressing remorse over the alleged 'social disaster' that took place at the lacrosse house. But no one has so much lifted a finger to condemn such an obvious act of hatred like what happened to Christian and Newsom.

"Tragedy strikes people of all colors, and I think it is imperative that those who print the news as well as those who would claim to seek equality and justice acknowledge that. Christian and Newsom died tragic deaths. Their brutal murders deserved to be acknowledged, and the attackers deserved to be known.

"I can guarantee that I'm not the only one who is suspicious over whether the lack of coverage is a concerted effort to brush the story under the rug. Even if it wasn't, it is a huge fumble not to have reported the case. But if my suspicions are correct, it'll only reinforce a sad truth that I've come to learn: The most devastating and important cases are simply passed over when they don't fit the agenda."

The Knoxville case not only does not fit the agenda of The New York Times and the politically correct crowd, it involves a savagery that dwarfs that of the fabricated savagery in the Duke case.

If the couple was black and the persons allegedly responsible for their barbaric deaths were white, would The New York Times have found room for the story?

On the front page!

The idealistic Ms. Williams emailed me:

"I've been blogging about this case that went on in Knoxville, Tenn...where 2 white kids were kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered by 4 black men and a black woman...the story was ridiculously gruesome, and I was shocked, SHOCKED to find not ONE main stream media outlet picked it up, not even Fox...

" * * *

"In a world where our most prominent news outlets spend 8 hours a day talking about who the father of a drugged up porn star ex stripper's child is, it saddens me that true victims like the 2 kids in this case go unnoticed."

In Durham, North Carolina, there recently was another rape claim involving Duke: a white, female Duke student claimed to have been raped by a black man at a fraternity party. The police included the color of the alleged assailant in their description of him, but Durham's News & Observer excised it and published the rest of the description.

Brooklyn College History Professor Robert K.C. Johnson recently wrote with respect to The New York Times' sports reporter Selena Roberts and her Duke case coverage:

"Basic human decency — if not a desire to uphold journalistic integrity — would suggest that a columnist with such a record would issue some sort of mea culpa, an admission that she got the story horribly wrong.

"Instead, last Sunday, Roberts remained as intense in her criticism of players' character as she had been in March 2006. Now that the case against them has collapsed, she criticized those who linked the case's outcome to a critique of campus culture — even though, when it looked as if the players were guilty, she herself had enthusiastically made such a linkage. She mocked the 'lacrosse pipeline to Wall Street' even as she herself has chosen to live in a lily white Fairfield County suburb whose median household income is more than $100,000 above the national average."

Amazingly, Professor Johnson seemed surprised as well as disgusted.

Why surprised?

Professor Johnson:

"Basic human decency — if not a desire to uphold journalistic integrity — would suggest that a news division with such a record would issue some sort of mea culpa, an admission that the Times got the story horribly wrong. Yet, incredibly, Wilson remains on the story. Just like Roberts, then, he's in a position to end the case by maintaining the Times party line while also minimizing his earlier journalistic failures.

"It's naοve, I suppose, to expect a paper that has been so unfair in its coverage to date would change its approach now. Given what we saw Sunday from Roberts, Times readers should dread what we will see from Wilson if and when charges are dismissed."

Media bias is real, not imaginary.

The Duke gang rape story is imaginary, not real.

The damage done by the Duke gang rape story is real, not imaginary.

The double murder was real, not imaginary.

Did the Duke Hoax and the way the media covered it contribute to the double murders?

I wonder, especially after reading that "her kidnappers sprayed cleaning fluid into her mouth to cleanse it of DNA."

There's an old saying in the media: if it bleeds, it leads.

Apparently not when the victims are white and the alleged assailants are white.

Ms. Williams does not think that's right.

She's right.

So I write.

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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