Monday, October 18, 2010


The people at had the unmitigated gall to post this column by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro today:

Nine years after her murder, the Chandra Levy trial started Monday in Washington, D.C., and although there may be justice for the victim, there's little that can be done to even the scales for Gary Condit, the man who was falsely accused of killing her.

...Condit's problem was that he had a brief relationship with Chandra while she was interning for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons back in 2001. Naturally, when she disappeared, the media assumed Condit had something to do with it.


Because thanks to Hollywood and the tabloid press, the American public has believed for decades there is a secret Washington underground network for powerful politicians and corporations that enables them to have 'troublemakers’ removed and 'taken care of.'

... The tabloids crucified Condit, and late night cable news channels followed those stories featuring so-called 'experts' who didn’t hesitate to ramble on and on with baseless theories....

Does Shapiro's piece mention the name of any specific tabloid papers or cable channels? Nope. Does it say, "A lot of people were guilty, some of whom worked (and continue to work) for this news organization"? That's what would be done by a responsible news organization that had made bad judgments, but no -- this is no mea culpa.

And as media critic Jeff Cohen noted last year, mea culpas from quite a few news outlets are long overdue -- with Fox near the top of the list:

... I experienced that loony summer inside Fox News Channel, where I was an on-air contributor.

...Amid the conjecture that filled hundreds of hours of cable news, Paula Zahn on Fox News interviewed a "world-renowned psychic" from California, who asserted that Chandra Levy's body was in a Washington. D.C. park by "some trees down in a marshy area."

... This embarrassing chapter in TV news history also played a role in the cable news ratings war, as Broadcasting & Cable reported in Aug. 2001: "Helped by the Chandra Levy mystery, Fox News Channel is continuing its ratings tear, besting CNN for the sixth consecutive month. Fox News' prime-time ratings have climbed one-tenth of a point each month since the former intern vanished in May."

The public humiliation of Gary Condit cost him his political career. But it boosted many TV careers, including mine. My role was peculiar -- I was part of the media frenzy while constantly denouncing it: "In the dictionary, when you look up 'media circus,'" I said on Fox, "you'll see a picture of Condit, and behind him Geraldo and O'Reilly and Larry King." ...

Oh, and as for the tabloids? Back on July 14, 2001, Rupert Murdoch's New York Post actually chastised Dan Rather for not filling the airwaves with even more Gary Condit stories:

Dan Rather is tongue-tied when it comes to missing intern Chandra Levy -- much to the shock and dismay of media mavens everywhere.

Rather has yet to utter a single word on the air about Levy's disappearance or Rep. Gary Condit's alleged affair with her -- but the scandal has been getting major airtime on Fox News Channel, CNN, ABC and NBC for weeks.

Rather's "No Condit" streak on the CBS Evening News continued last night, when he ignored the news that the Modesto, Calif., congressman had passed a lie-detector test arranged by his lawyers.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

"They're spiking news -- there's no question about it," says Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center. "It's rather extraordinary editorial judgment being used."...

That was the Murdoch press nine years ago -- bitching that there wasn't enough coverage of Gary Condit and Chandra Levy. Now the message is a high-minded who were those awful gutter-crawlers and why did they destroy an innocent man's life?


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