Suzanne Smalley recalls the media's failure during the Chandra Levy case. You will recall that much of the MSM and key parts of the blogosphere, like Mickey Kaus, assumed Condit's guilt. There was much much less fuss about accusing a public figure of murder than in describing a public person as a lesbian. But the blogosphere also maintained some skepticism - the Dish primarily among them:
The summer of Chandra Levy seems like yesterday, though almost a decade has passed. I'd like to think I'm a better reporter now, less likely to follow the pack. More important, the media landscape has changed. Blogs barely existed in 2001. Now, when I cover any high-profile crime, I make sure to check out Web Sleuths, an Internet forum for armchair detectives who analyze cases and post court filings. ... Bloggers are unrestrained by the orthodoxies of the professional reporter. They don't need to follow the conventions of the 800-word newspaper story and can instead toss out an idea in two sentences that will nonetheless spur national discussion. They can ask questions without necessarily supplying an answer. Critically, bloggers also do not typically rely on official sources for information. Reporters and their anonymous sources both benefit from the relationship. Reporters get exclusive information, which earns them promotions; sources weave narratives that serve their interests. This corrupting symbiosis makes the reporter all too quick to take an official's word at face value.
In the Levy case, this dynamic was clearly at work. At routine press conferences, all that reporters wanted to hear about was [Congressman Gary] Condit.
But some of us stayed fair. And were eventually proven right.