Remember the Gary Condit and Chandra Levy scandal in the summer of 2001?
For the three months prior to the terror attacks on September 11 that changed everything, all we heard about were shark attacks and Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old intern in Washington, DC, who went missing. At the time, the number one suspect in the media was Gary Condit, the California congressman whose career ended over the allegations.
Her body was found in May of 2002 in the wooded park where she had last gone jogging and Condit was cleared of any culpability in her murder, but not before the scandal had murdered his career.
Does anyone know who Ingmar Guandique is? Doubtful. He's the illegal immigrant from El Salvador who goes on trial today for Levy's 2001 killing. And even though Guandique was convicted of assaulting two other women in the park and it appears to have been random, many still believe Condit had something to do with it.
Is that fair?
You cannot pick up anything about the case without seeing Condit's name. After the case, he did some stupid things and looked like a hypocrite. The "pro-family" politician committed adultery with a woman who was two years younger than his own daughter. He was also caught trying to hide a gift box in a dumpster and did seem highly suspicious.
But the focus on Condit destroyed his career -- he lost his election in 2002 -- and ultimately took the focus off the case itself, which may be part of the reason it has taken nearly a decade to get any justice for Levy.
Condit did something bad, but not so bad that it justifies the media treatment. People cheat, they lie, they try to hide evidence of their transgressions. That doesn't make them murderers.
The Washington Post ran a 13-part series on the investigation and how it was derailed by the media. The media scrutiny and desire to turn a tragic case into an even more salacious and lurid one is a dark chapter in media history.
According to the Post, Guandique was questioned soon after Levy's disappearance and even admitted to having seen Levy, but his answer ("yes") was dismissed. We may never know why. There could have been reasons beyond Condit, but it seems that once the media's claws were on him, he was never going to escape.
Do you think he was treated fairly by the media?
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