- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rape stories, when they can be used to vault social-justice issues into the nation’s psyche, get exhaustive coverage and opining by the mainstream media, regardless of whether they’re even true.

But if a 14-year-old girl gets gang-raped while attending high-school by two illegal immigrants? Crickets. That’s a narrative that doesn’t need to be advanced. Lord forbid, it may even help persuade some that President Donald Trump’s positions on illegal immigration may be correct.

The bias is almost too much to bear.

The news media’s ultimate power is the ability to suffocate stories they disagree with, and fan the flames of narratives they want to advance. And in many cases, those narratives are false.

Remember that fateful off-campus house party in March 2006 in Durham, North Carolina, where members of the Duke Lacrosse team hired two strippers for a night of drunken debauchery?

One of the exotic dancers, Crystal Mangum, was a black, single mother of two children, and a student at the much less prestigious and inexpensive North Carolina Central University. So when she accused three members of the Duke team of a brutal gang-rape that night, her story went viral — for she was the perfect example of white-privilege gone wrong.

The New York Times called the case “a national cause celebre, yet another painful chapter in the tangled American opera of race, sex, and privilege. Over the course of that year, they wrote or reported from wire services 155 stories on it.

Of course, none of it turned out to be true. A little more than a year after the alleged assault, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the three men charged innocent, saying there was a “tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations.” Prosecuting Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was charged of contempt and disbarred for his negligence in the case.

New York Times Public Editor Dan Okrent, in an interview with ESPN on the 10-year anniversary of the case, explained why the media was transfixed by the story.

“It was white over black, it was male over female, it was rich over poor, educated over uneducated. All the things that we know happen in the world coming together in one place and journalists, they start to quiver with a thrill when something like this happens,” Mr. Okrent said.

You’d think the media would learn not to be so eager to run with its own preconceived notions, but as the University of Virginia case taught us nearly a decade later, that wasn’t to be the case.

In 2014, a Rolling Stone reporter detailed a gruesome 9,000 word portrayal of gang-rape victim “Jackie.” At the time, a heated conversation was being had within liberal circles of the increasing amount of sexual abuse cases on college campus’s.

The victim was at a fraternity party — you know those associations only rich, elite, white boys join — when she was brutally gang-raped. And the school — the stuffy, upper-crust university — was unwilling to help her out.

Except, much like in the Duke case, the entire incident never happened. The University of Virginia filed a defamation case against Rolling Stone and won, and the magazine had to retract the story.

But even after the story was discredited, the national news media fought to maintain its narrative. CNN ran a headline declaring: “Advocates: Rolling Stone controversy a distraction from rape problem.”

PBS gave her cover: “‘Jackie’ of retracted Rolling Stone story says PTSD fogged her memory.”

Bustle gave instructions on where to read the article, after it was deleted. And Slate wrote how “Feminism can stand without Jackie,” and hashtags #IBelieveJackie and #IstandwithJackie went viral.

Which brings me to Rockville, Maryland.

The gang rape of the 14-year-old girl a week ago by two older illegal immigrants while she was in school, is every bit as horrifying as what the debunked tales in North Carolina and the University of Virginia depicted. Police evidence collected so far, supports the case as described — that she was forced into the boys’ bathroom, then into a stall, where the two men made her perform oral sex, sodomized and raped her.

Yet, the story has received scant attention in the mainstream media. Yes, conservative-leaning Fox News has covered it exhaustively, but The New York Times and CNN only gave it a mention after it came up at a White House press briefing this week. The major broadcast networks of CBS, NBC, and ABC, haven’t given it any airtime in their nightly news coverage.

The Washington Post consigned the story to its “local” section and even went so far as to try to discredit the report, saying both local officials and the president’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, “conflate[d] some issues” when describing it to the public.

This is all because the Rockville story is just too sensational in all the wrong ways.

As the state of Maryland looks to become a sanctuary state, it demonstrates the lack of sanctuary given to its own citizens. It depicts how through federal law, 17 and 18 year-old illegals can be placed in ninth grade classes. It shows how schools have no authority to check legal status, or even the criminal status of the undocumented. It proves the failings of many liberal policies.

And for those reasons, the story will be suffocated and buried in the back pages. For if it were to be given too much attention, liberal values may be questioned.

It might become clear, liberals are social-justice warriors for some, but not for all. That they pick sides. So where’s the justice in that?

• Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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