2002-05-23 - 4:17 p.m.
Chandra Levy and missing the point
Some days I hate the news media. I've talked about this before, but sometimes I get reminded of it.
Yesterday the body of Chandra Levy was found. Back when this story was huge and making headlines every day, even though nothing was really happening, I figured this event would spark a media frenzy. We were already getting "Brutal, bestial, sadistic murderer (alleged) Condit puts sugar on his Wheaties". During that time, I was sick of the focus of the story. Rarely was there anything actually reported about Levy. It was all about Condit. If she hadn't had some form of (alleged) relationship with Condit it wouldn't have been even a blip on the news radar screen. Hundreds, if not thousands, of young women dissappear in this country every year, and the media scarcely seems to care.
I remember a story on NPR (not immune to stupidity, but a damn sight better than any other news source in my life) about worthwhile human interest stories all within a block of Condit's apartment. They made the case that while the reporters were sitting around waiting for news non-events ("I believe that the congressman getting in his car, yes, yes, he's in the car, and now he's flipping off our camera man, and threatening to run us over if we don't get off his hood.") they could have found some *real* news right under their noses. It really brought home to me the stupidity of how things were being reported.
What brought it home more was that yesterday half the report I heard was about why they couldn't believe they
were even reporting it. The attitude seemed to be "Well, in this post-9-11 world, this is hardly news. I mean, we've destroyed the man's political career, so he's not news anymore, and why are we talking about some poor dead girl anyway? Get Geraldo back out into the field with an Uzi. That's news."
I dunno. I guess I'm feeling ... I dunno. Tired, I guess. Pissed off, for sure.
The truth of it is that the media continues to miss the point. The story was important, but not for the reasons they thought it was. It was important because *way* too many people vanish or die without anyone being held accountable. And the story of finding Levy's body is important, because... Well, because she's dead. And she shouldn't be.
She was bright, and ambitious, and together, from what I've seen her family say about her (precious little), and she should be out there somewhere today. Making a difference. Or not making a difference. Maybe just going about her life, the best way she knew how. But instead she's dead. In a park. Rotted away to just bones, and found by a man and his dog, out looking for turtles. And no one seems to care anymore because they already did a trial by media of an (we *must* presume) innocent man, and ruined his career. And really, who knows if the case will ever be solved. I sincerely doubt it.
And they just keep missing the point.
And today, it's just making me tired.