Coverage Of Virginia Teen’s Murder Exposes Media Manipulation



The brutal murder of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen in June 2017 gained a lot of media attention when it was suspected she might be the victim in a hate crime.

Hassanen was walking back to her mosque in the suburbs of Virginia with friends after breaking fast during Ramadan. A stranger approached in a car, got out to chase Hassanen before beating her to death with a baseball bat.

That stranger turned out to be Darwin Martinez Torres, an El Salvadoran illegal alien. After an investigation, police determined there was no evidence of a hate crime. But, it was found to be an illegal alien crime. And those receive far different coverage from the media elite. While Hassanen was frequently described as a Muslim teen, Torres was never (and correctly) identified as her illegal alien murderer.

Any doubts? Simply consider how the media handled the sentencing of Torres to life in prison.

In its lede, The Washington Post characterized him as “a Loudon County man” and then identified him in the next paragraph described him “Darwin Martinez Torres, 25, of Sterling.”

The paper also found it important to note that Torres’ defense attorney believed he had an IQ of 68 or less and “is probably intellectually disabled from exposure to toxins from a mine near his childhood home in his native El Salvador.”

The paper failed to mention, however, that he was a citizen of El Salvador who was in the country illegally.

In the opening of a story that was carried by multiple outlets nationwide, The Associated Press simply called him “a man” and like the Post, described him in the second paragraph as “Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling [Virginia].”

Although less outrageous than the Post handling, the AP stumbled over how to phrase the killer’s immigration status when it did finally addressed it in the sixth paragraph. Rather than stating the fact that Torres was in the country illegally, the AP said he was “a native of El Salvador who federal immigration authorities have said is in the country illegally.”

The local Washington, D.C., radio station, WTOP, had an online story which followed suit by first referencing him as a “Northern Virginia man” and only three lines from the end of the story do they mention Torres was an illegal alien.

Even the local Loudoun Times could not help but downplay his immigration status, while playing up the religious background of the victim. The media’s evasive reporting and politically-correct language makes them feel better about themselves, but it does cannot cover up the fact that Darwin Martinez Torres is an illegal alien who should never have been in Virginia driving a car and ready to kill.

Two outlets which rightly noted in the headline that Torres was “illegal” were The Boston Globe and Breitbart News.

If a majority of the news media cannot accurately write about the sentencing of an illegal alien murderer, how can the American people trust them on any other matter related to immigration?

About Author

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

6 Comments

  1. avatar

    We saw something similar last summer with the murder of Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa. However, in that case it was not only the media that changed their behavior after the suspect was revealed to be an illegal alien, but the parents themselves. After a month long nationwide media blitz when she went missing, the reaction to the discovery of her body and the subsequent arrest of the illegal alien suspect was treated considerably toned down, both from her parents and from the media. The father even went as far as to apologize to the owner of the dairy farm that illegally employed him, who as far as I am concerned is an accessory to murder.

  2. avatar
    Don Richardson on

    Seems odd that black lives matter, Muslim lives matter, invading criminals are saints and white Christian men are evil as seen by the media and the Democrats.

  3. avatar

    WOW….It’s really bad when a Leftie paper like the Boston Globe identifies an Illegal Alien, and nobody else does.

  4. avatar

    One could literally write a book the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the endless bias of our media. One of the prime examples is how they always ran pictures of Trayvon as a ten year old, and not the 6 foot tall 17 year old who was suspended 3 times in one year and with a penchant for fighting who sucker-punched Zimmerman. Yesterday Chuck Todd, who never lets anyone say anything good about Trump, was saying on Meet The Press that the Mueller report did not clear Trump of Russian collusion. Mueller’s report did exactly that, saying explicitly they could not find one trace of evidence of collusion by Trump or anyone else.

    All of a sudden the media is having to address Joe Biden’s propensity for putting his hands on women. But that is solely because a couple prominent women have come forward in the last week. But the media has ignored the dozens of creepy videos going years back of him putting his hands all over women and young girls. If videos were available of Trump doing the same thing, it would be 24/7 by the media. The one and only difference is the D behind Biden’s name. And most of the “you must believe the woman” people are silent or attacking the women who came forward.