The Untold Knoxville Murders

Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans are household names because of a “crime” that never happened.  

Channon Christian and Hugh Christopher Newsom were victims of a horrible crime that most certainly did happen, but for some reason, their names wouldn’t ring a bell with the average American, no matter how well informed. 

The Duke University lacrosse team’s falsely accused troika had their young lives disrupted and good names dragged through the national media mud for more than a year based on evidence that was suspect almost from the start.  The national media took great pride in figuratively lynching the three students because they are white, privileged and went to a prestigious school.  It didn’t matter that the case had crumbled — that the media were left with a mentally unstable accuser and a corrupt, power-abusing, race-baiting, liberal, “rogue” prosecutor.  To many, the three young men were still the bad guys. 

The underlying narrative is that Dukies, Enron, Halliburton, George W. Bush, and mainstream America are all the same.  They are “the problem..”  They’re racist, sexist, “homophobic,” and they get away with it.  The Duke case affirmed this premise.  The fact that no crime was ever committed seemed unimportant.  The frenzy in the national media served its purpose.  For more than a year, they were the bad guys

In the absence of an agenda, why would this story have the resonance it had in the MSM?  Was it really the alleged “crime” itself that drew the news-sharks to the smell of blood in the water?  No. It was the socio-political (i.e., liberal agenda) factors.

If it had actually been the “crime” that drove the coverage, then the people of Tennessee would have been overwhelmed last January by an invading army of reporters coming to cover a terrible real crime there. 

On January 6th, 2007 a double murder was committed in Knoxville that would make Dirty Harry throw up.  It has many of the elements that the Duke not-a-rape story had.  It has race, and class and gender, as well as rape — but made more horrific by murder.  A terrible injustice had been committed against innocent, helpless people at the hands of vicious thugs. 

On that night, 21-year-old Channon Christian, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Hugh Christopher Newsom were carjacked in Knoxville by three thugs.  Their attackers were sadly not satisfied with the Toyota 4-Runner that they commandeered at gunpoint.  They kidnapped the young couple and took them to the house where one of the perps lived.  They were joined by a fourth man and a woman.  They proceeded to commit the stomach-churning crimes. 

All four men are charged with the anal rape of  Christopher Newsom.  They did so in the presence of Channon Christian.  They then shot him to death, wrapped him in bedding, soaked him in gasoline and set him on fire.  He was the lucky one. 

Channon Christian was a senior at the University of Tennessee.  According to the charges and a source close to the investigation, she was repeatedly gang raped by the four men — vaginally, anally and orally.  Before she died, her murderers poured a household cleaner down her throat, apparently in an effort to kill the DNA they had placed there.  She was left to die, either  from the bleeding caused “by the tearing,” or from asphyxiation.  Knoxville officials won’t say.

It was several days before the police found her body.  She had been stuffed into a garbage can in the house.  According to a story posted on the WATE T.V. News web site, she was, “in five separate dark trash bags.” 

The four men and the woman were eventually arrested.  They are all black.  Christian and Newsom were white.  Two of the murderers had prior felony convictions. 

So why would the national media treat America to full-immersion coverage of the Duke not-a-rape case, while burying this horrible story?  Certainly the editorial yardstick here is not the nature of the crime or the Knoxville murders would easily supercede the Duke not-a-rape. The appalling truth is that the railroading of the Duke students served an ideological purpose, and the Knoxville case does not.

The news media’s collective decision to studiously ignore the Knoxville horror reveals their consistent practice of burying stories whose facts conflict with their established narratives. You don’t hear much good out of Iraq but Paris Hilton’s DUI gets more attention by far than the Knoxville horror.  It’s politics, not news.

In “newsroom-think,” giving the Knoxville story the coverage it merits would serve only to reinforce negative notions and contribute to hurtful stereotypes.

Any editor in any major newsroom that showed the poor judgment to push the Knoxville story would be accused, or at least suspected, of racism by their peers.  So it doesn’t happen.  It’s not as if they sit around the newsroom and openly conspire.  They don’t have to.  The rules for this sort of thing were laid down years ago.  They all know how the game is played.  These are the institutional and cultural norms.  There is very little dissent.

Importantly, although it is unarticulated, pursuing this story would not contribute to the broader liberal social narrative as the Duke story did.  It wouldn’t be another example of white racist violence, as was the case when the media focused extraordinary attention on terrible murder of a black man named James Byrd who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas by three sick white racists.  I’m not arguing that was not a legitimate story: it was.  But if it is legitimate for the media is to burn the name of James Byrd into the national consciousness, then why not the name of Channon Christian?  Is it because we are not certain that her murderers used racial slurs during the commission of their crime?

Calculated or not, the fact is that the news media’s obsessive focus on stories that fall into the “America bad” category — to the exclusion of stories that may conflict with their narrative serves only to misrepresent the broader realities of our society.

Like it or not, the demonization of mainstream, establishment America is perceived in newsrooms as legitimate.  It is also — coincidentally — the goal of the liberal left.  On the planet “News,” the perpetrators of this hideous crime in Knoxville can’t be vilified because they have been pre-designated as “victims.”  The Dukies on the other hand are ideally suited for vilification because they represent “the establishment” and he “power structure” and are therefore pre-designated as “victimizers.” 

The narrative is there to convince us that, “this is who we really are.”  It is not.

While the national news media was advancing the agenda by destroying Don Imus for uttering five insulting syllables (“nappy-headed hoes”), they were ignoring this terrifying Knoxville story because it doesn’t contribute to the narrative.

While they were hanging on Duke prosecutor Mike Nifong’s every self-serving and duplicitous devious word, they were ignoring this terrible crime.

Once you view the media product through this prism, it all makes sense again.  It doesn’t make it right, but it makes sense.  And we can continue to expect blitzkrieg coverage of  stories that advance their talking points.

Now back to the latest on Paris Hilton, followed by an update on Natalee Holloway.  But that’s a discussion for another day.