- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2002

A notorious murder case that some observers say has been ignored because the victims are not minorities finally comes to court and television. The "Wichita horror" trial will be broadcast by Court TV once jury selection is complete late this week.

The case involves brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr, who face 113 counts of capital murder, rape and other charges in a Kansas courtroom. The Carrs, who are black, are charged with attacking, robbing and shooting four white roommates in Wichita in December, 2000.

For almost two years, some advocates have argued in smaller magazines, regional newspapers and online news sites that the Carr case has received virtually no national print or broadcast coverage because of "racial favoritism."

Major news organizations were not interested in the story, they maintained, because the victims were white, rather than black or homosexual. One woman survived to share the ghastly details.

Sedgewick County District Court spokesman Kirk Longhofer confirmed yesterday, "Other than Court TV, no out-of-town media organizations have told him they plan to attend the trial," according to the Wichita Eagle, a local paper.

"Nearly every day for the last couple of weeks, I've heard from at least one outraged citizen who wants to know why there's been a 'media blackout' of stories about these monstrous crimes," wrote Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper in March 2001.

"All murders are hateful," Mr. Roeper wrote. "But all aren't hate crimes."

District Attorney Nola Foulston did not charge the Carr brothers with a hate crime because Kansas has no hate-crimes statute; she called the event "a random act of violence."

Earlier this year, Front Page magazine featured the case in its "politically correct hate crime" section while American Renaissance magazine noted, "Police and media reactions to these crimes a refusal to think about race, to draw larger conclusions or even express outrage are typical of today's whites, and in stark contrast to the sustained fury we could expect from blacks if the races were reversed."

Court TV, which is available to 70 million homes, decided to broadcast the trial last week.

"We have a system of picking what trials we cover," said anchorman Fred Graham. "We have trial trackers around the country who put us on to interesting cases in their area. We got our first memo on the Carr brothers shortly after it all happened, in early 2001. We hadn't seen much going on in Kansas at the time."

The New York-based cable network will set up shop in court and broadcast from what the Wichita Star called "the most public display of Kansas justice in years."

"It's obviously a very troubling case," said Mr. Graham. "The home invasion at night, the bizarre sexual attacks. It's a nightmare. Whatever light can be shed on it is important and interesting."

Mr. Graham said his network was unconcerned that the case had not received "the coverage one might expect," adding, "We accept at face value that this is not a race case."

To date, the Carr case has been covered by The Washington Times, the Wichita Eagle, Kansas City Star, Topeka Capital Journal, Shreveport Times, News Max, local CBS affiliate KWCH and local radio station KBSD, which plans to broadcast live from the trial when it gets underway. There has been limited mention by MSNBC, Associated Press, the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Arguments rage, meanwhile, at the Court TV Web site (www.courttv.com), which offers an opinion poll. About 53 percent of the respondents agreed that "The case is egregious, the nation must know" and that "America is entitled to an explanation of the national media cover-up." Just 5 percent disagreed with those statements.

•Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.


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