The Chicago Tribune has weighed in on news coverage of the brutal killing of Knoxville couple Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in January. Whether the attack by five blacks on the white couple was a racial hate crime worthy of national media attention is the question. The failure of the story to gain much media attention outside of the Knoxville area has galvanized conservative commentators, who insist the case offers clear evidence of liberal bias in the major media. “There is a discomfort level [in the national media] with stories that have black assailants and white victims,” said Michelle Malkin, a conservative commentator who has featured the case on her Web site. “If it doesn’t fit some sort of predetermined narrative of how we view taboo subjects like race and crime, there’s a disinclination to cover it.”
Knoxville authorities strongly deny that the crime was racially motivated. “There is absolutely no proof of a hate crime,” said John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols. “It was a terrible crime, a horrendous crime, but race was not a motive. We know from our investigation that the people charged in this case were friends with white people, socialized with white people, dated white people. So not only is there no evidence of any racial animus, there’s evidence to the contrary.” Newsom’s parents do not accept that. “If this wasn’t a hate crime, then I don’t know how you would define a hate crime,” said Mary Newsom, Christopher’s mother. “It may have started out as a carjacking, but what it developed into was blacks hating whites. To do the things they did, they would have to hate them to do that.” Statistics from the U.S. Justice Department offer a mixed picture of crime and race. African-Americans bear the brunt of violent crime in the U.S.: In 2005, blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to fall victim to serious violent crime, most often at the hands of other blacks.