Here is a story of two trials and how they were covered in the
news. Or not covered. You tell me what it says about the media's twisted
The first trial was held in Beverly Hills. The accused was
Hollywood starlet Winona Ryder, charged with shoplifting at a Saks Fifth
Avenue store. A Nexis search turned up more than 500 stories on the trial
published over the past week alone. Television, news and radio reporters
from around the world breathlessly described Ryder's daily court attire --
her hairbands, her coatdresses, her shoes, her bra straps, her lipstick.
We learned the all-important details of how she appeared "pale"
one day, "chipper" the next. Crack news reporters informed us that she is
"doe-eyed" and "petite." Talking heads endlessly scrutinized the trial
evidence, tapes and testimony. Psychologists explained the motivations of
kleptomaniacs. Entertainment insiders parsed Ryder's film career for clues.
On Wednesday, the cable shows provided "breaking news" coverage
of the guilty verdicts and wall-to-wall analysis of What This Means For
Winona. The New York Times and Washington Post followed up with bylined news
This, you see, was news that mattered. News fit to print.
Meanwhile, in unglamorous Wichita, Kan., the eight-week trial of
Jonathan and Reginald Carr came to a close. The brothers were found guilty
of four counts of capital murder, along with numerous charges of rape,
aggravated robbery, burglary and theft, committed during an unspeakably
brutal killing spree in December 2000.
The perpetrators were black. The victims -- including friends
Jason Befort, Heather Muller, Bradley Heyka and Aaron Sander -- were white.
The Carrs were convicted of murdering these four young people,
execution-style, on a frozen soccer field after a night of terror in Befort,
Heyka and Sander's townhouse. After breaking into the residence, the Carrs
forced Muller and Jason Befort's unnamed fiance to perform sexual acts on
each other; the men were then forced to participate. Next, the Carrs raped
the women, drove all five victims to an ATM machine, forced them to withdraw
money from their accounts, and headed to the soccer field.
The five victims were forced to kneel in the snow and beg for
their lives before sustaining gunshots to the head. The Carrs then ran over
their victims with their truck. Befort's fiance miraculously survived. She
walked more than a mile, bleeding and naked, in the snow, before finding
When such senseless, evil savagery takes place against
politically correct victims, the mainstream media is quick to make national
news of such crimes. "If this had been two white males accused of killing
four black individuals, the media would be on a feeding frenzy and every
satellite news organization would be in Wichita doing live reports," wrote
Trent Hungate of Wichita in a letter to the Wichita Eagle after the killings
two years ago. Indeed. The horrific James Byrd dragging case in Texas and
the Matthew Shepard murder in Wyoming, for example, garnered front-page
headlines and continuous coverage.
But with the exception of local Kansas newspapers, the
Associated Press, The Washington Times, Fox News, Court TV and conservative
Internet sites, the Carr trial made almost no news.
If you read The New York Times or The Washington Post or watched
the evening news this week, the Wichita Massacre never happened. Not to
worry, though. The latest investigative report on where Winona Ryder got
that Hermes handbag is coming up next. Stay tuned.