- Text smaller
- Text bigger
Well, folks, I guess I hit a nerve in the establishment press.
My coverage of the brutal homosexual rape and murder of 13-year-old Jesse
Dirkhising prompted a nearly hysterical and completely vicious and gratuitous personal smear of me by the Washington Post’s ombudsman in Sunday
In a column called “Reporting Two Killings,” the Post’s E.R. Shipp defends
his colleagues’ coverage of the Matthew Shepard murder in Wyoming as well as
the non-coverage of the slaughter of young Jesse in Arkansas.
“By the time Matthew Shepard died on Oct. 12, 1998 — nearly a week after he
was savagely beaten and left ‘tied to a fence like a dead coyote,’ as the
Post reported on Oct. 10, 1998 — his story had spread around the world, and
he had become a symbol for those who urged Congress to adopt a stronger
federal hate crimes law. From Capitol Hill to Hollywood to college campuses
across the nation, the assault on an openly gay man was denounced at rallies
and candlelight vigils,” Shipp wrote. “And in editorial pages, including The
Post’s. Since the first front-page story, ‘Gay Man Near Death After Beating,
Burning,’ this newspaper has carried about 80 items — including news
briefs, editorials and columns — that have referred to Shepard.”
He continues: “I recount this because some readers, prodded by commentators
who are hostile to homosexuals and to what they view as a ‘liberal’ press,
have inquired why the Shepard case garnered so much attention while another
case involving homosexuals — as possible predators rather than as
victims — has been all but ignored. There is an explanation for the absence
of coverage of the brutal rape and asphyxiation death of 13-year-old Jesse
Dirkhising, but those who are inclined to believe the David Dukes, Joseph
Farahs and Tim Grahams of the world — who have asserted that the story has
been suppressed so that homosexuals won’t be portrayed negatively — will
not be satisfied.”
Now, I don’t know who Tim Graham is, but I do know who David Duke is. And I
don’t like the implication that I have anything in common with a Ku Klux
Klansman. It seems Shipp and his paper are getting a little testy.
Interesting. I hadn’t even criticized the Post’s coverage of the two cases.
I guess someone over there has a guilty conscience.
Shipp has taken the guilt-by-association ploy to a new extreme. I have no
association with Duke, nor, to my knowledge, any of his ideas. Yet, merely
by stringing my name together with his, he attacks the messenger by
suggesting this irrelevant white supremacist hater and I are somehow on the
same page. That is not an argument. That is not reasoning. That is beneath
the professional standards of the Post’s ombudsman position, which, in the
recent past, has been occupied by some class acts.
Let me set the record straight. I don’t know what David Duke has said or
written on this subject. Nor do I care. But I have never, in all of the
hundreds of thousands of words I have written in this daily column in the
last three years, labeled the press “liberal.” I don’t believe there is
anything “liberal” about the establishment press. I consider it to be
reactionary, incompetent, statist, socialist, pro-government, fear-mongering
and characterized by many other negative traits. But I don’t use the term
“liberal.” As someone who has spent more than 20 years working in the
establishment press and running daily newspapers in major markets, I
consider it much too flattering a term.
I also never considered myself “hostile to homosexuals.” Not approving of
sin does not necessarily make one hostile to sinners. On the contrary, I
recognize that I, too, am a sinner. However, I am very hostile to
homosexuals who rape and murder little boys for a sexual thrill. I am also
losing my patience with apologists for such activity in the press and the
government, as well as people like Shipp, who apparently believe there is
something wrong with shining a little light on a heinous crime that was
clearly covered up for political reasons.
Shipp says the explanation for the Post’s silence on the story has to do
with the paper’s policy on covering crime news.
“Our policy is not to cover murders from out of the Washington area at all
unless it’s a case of mass murder or has caused a large local sensation or
has raised a larger social issue,” he quotes Jackson Diehl, the assistant
managing editor for national news, as saying. Diehl explained that the
Shepard story was news 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,” he added. More “routine” crimes
may be ignored or limited to news briefs culled from wire services, he
Precisely the point I made in my first column on this subject.
Clearly the Shepard case was “more than a murder story” for the Post and
other establishment press outlets because they are promoting hate-crimes
legislation under the guise of reporting news. The Post’s own national news
editor characterizes the sensational murder of Jesse Dirkhising as “routine.” God help us if it is
“routine.” I don’t doubt, for a minute, given the media myopia on such
stories, that there are many other Jesse Dirkhisings being ignored. But, God
help us if it ever becomes “routine.”
“The story of the Sept. 26 death of Jesse Dirkhising in Rogers, Ark., and
the arrest of two male suspects, wasn’t transmitted on the Associated Press’
national news wires until Oct. 29,” Shipp continues. The Post, considering
this a “routine” story, carried a news brief on Oct. 30.
True, the monopoly establishment news organization known as the Associated
Press didn’t cover the story until Oct. 29. It was forced to do so primarily
by the coverage of the case in this column and in a news story in the
Washington Times the very same day — Oct. 22. Still, aware of many of the
details of this horrendous murder case, the Post still considered it
“routine” and briefed it Oct. 30.
Even Shipp seems to agree the Post underplayed it. And the Associated Press
now acknowledges blowing the story in the first place. But rather than thank
a colleague for bringing an admittedly important national story to light on
the fastest-growing news service on the Internet, Shipp chose to demean me
by linking my name with David Duke.
“For a variety of reasons, some people insist upon depicting the Shepard and
Dirkhising slayings as equivalent,” writes Shipp. “Here at the Post,
however, the two are seen as quite different. A hate crime homicide such as
Shepard’s and, four months before that, James Byrd’s in Jasper, Tex., is, ‘a
special kind of killing,’ the Post has editorialized. ‘It tells a segment of
American society that its physical safety is at risk.'”
Well, I’ve got news for Shipp and his friends on the Post’s editorial page:
The Dirkhising case illustrates that there is a physical risk to a segment
of American society — namely young boys. Keep in mind that Jesse’s guardians
saw nothing wrong with a 13-year-old boy spending weekends with a homosexual
couple. That’s crazy. But the national climate that fosters such poor
judgment was created, in part, by the kind of selective, politically
influenced reporting we witnessed at the Post and the AP.
“Arkansas authorities have not characterized the Dirkhising death as a hate
crime,” Shipp continues. “Matthew Shepard’s death sparked public expressions
of outrage that themselves became news. That Jesse Dirkhising’s death has
not done so to date is hardly the fault of the Washington Post.”
I don’t recall the Post and the AP waiting to see if Wyoming authorities
characterized the Shepard case as a hate crime. They declared it one. Jesse
Dirkhising’s death has, by now, also sparked public expressions of outrage.
Yet, the Post has still not covered it with an enterprising news report —
only with Shipp’s pathetic excuses and rationalizations. What does that tell
If Shipp would like to debate this issue with me personally — online, on
radio, on television or in print — I invite him to stand toe to toe with me
like a man rather than use his Post column to make ad hominem slurs and
innuendoes. Just name the time and place. Of course, I won’t hold my breath.
But, just in case he’s got the cojones, I can be reached by
e-mail and eagerly await the challenge.
Shipp, by the way, can be reached at