A multitude of new questions arise each day in the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit saga. The most poignant question is probably the most general one, “Is this actually a news story?” CBS’s Dan Rather thinks not, and has refused to report on it.
Rather is right for two reasons. First, if the media blitz over Levy’s disappearance has to do with actually finding her, then why does her case take precedence over the thousands of other missing person cases that are currently unsolved?
Second, many news outlets have stated that the involvement of a United States Congressman makes the case unique and profound, and therefore newsworthy. There is a basic problem with this argument, no law enforcement agency has charged Congressman Condit with a crime, or even named him as a possible suspect. The constant media inference of Condit’s guilt is dangerously unethical, unfair to all parties involved, and harmful to a possible future investigation focused on Condit.
To be sure, Chandra Levy’s disappearance is tragic and hopelessly frustrating for her family, friends, and entire community. The Washington intern from Modesto, California has been missing for over four months now, with the investigation proving to be almost completely futile. But the media’s egregious and unapologetic sensationalistic coverage of the story has trivialized the matter and done irreparable damage to many people.
Condit has certainly exhibited some peculiar and questionable behavior. He remained silent for the first three and a half months of the affair, but has talked to anyone who will listen in the past week.
The status of his morality has definitely been weakened by his admittance to various extra-marital affairs, including one with Chandra Levy. While this behavior displays a pattern of Condit as a serial adulterer, it does not create a pattern of Condit as a violent criminal with a penchant for kidnapping or murder.
While the uncertainty of Condit’s congressional career and House committee assignments do hold possible political ramifications, they are in the future and not involved with any current investigation. So, at least this time, we must say “Bravo!” to Dan Rather, for having the knowledge to know what’s right, and the strength to stick to his conviction.