My Word for July 19, 2001

Listen to this quote:

"There's news tonight of national note in the case of missing person Chandra Levy."

That's how Dan Rather finally got around to doing the Condit-Levy story last night on the CBS Evening News after 11 weeks of silence on the subject.

Dan Rather and CBS have avoided the story because it's just another missing person, because the cops say it's not a murder yet, and because Condit is in the story only because of the sensational aspect of his sexual relations with the now-missing woman.

Okay. The high road. In this case, the road less taken.

But I don't think me and the many others who are doing this story in depth are on the low road.

People are divided about hearing about other people's sex lives. Some want to hear it all, some want to hear none.

So let me make this point again. The sex life of Gary Condit and Chandra Levy is interesting only as it has to do with her disappearance, and what is seeming more and more likely, to be her murder.

Once again, for the hard of hearing ... this story is about murder. Or if you want to stick with the D.C. cops' line, about what is possibly a murder.

Where I come from, a possible murder that involves a congressman who was intimate with the victim, a congressman who refuses to step forward and say in a loud and clear voice: I had nothing to do with this woman's disappearance and murder ... that's a story.

If it's not a story at the Tiffany Network, fine. Dan et al can do what they want.

With me, it's a story. Is it a national story? Of course. Every missing person should be a national story, and the only reason every one isn't is simply that there's so many of them.

Ok. We can't get to them all. We do none? Or we only do one when there is some super national angle? No, you do the story when there is a confluence of interesting angles that keeps the attention of people.

What I find interesting about this story at this time is that we have a congressman whose name is being used in the same sentence as the word murder, and he avoids the opportunity to say loud and clear: It had nothing to do with me.

Now tell me, who do you know who would maintain a disciplined silence when they are being connected to murder?

I think that is odd, and if nothing else, I think that makes a really good story.

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