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Jewish World Review Agust 6, 2001 / 17 Menachem-Av, 5761

Steve Young

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Reporting on and talking about nothing has never been a problem for us. Showing nothing is a bit more difficult, but we're up to it. The question has never been, "is it new" as much as it is "will it garner your attention." And as you know...we do this for you.

From Bill Clinton's impeachment to anything else where we can tie in Bill Clinton negatively, we have continued to bring you the news and news talk you want to talk about. But now we face a rather dicey dilemma and frankly, this one scares us.

We refer to the lack of new news on the Gary Condit-Chandra Levy case. It's been going on (actually, not going on) for quite a while and it's entirely possible that people are starting to notice.

We have given this story 24/7 attention because, well, because that's what YOU wanted to talk about. And whenever there was a lull in the news flow on the story, we repeated what we already knew as many times and as many different ways as we could.

We not only made it our lead story every hour on the hour and every half hour on the half hour, but when there was a rumor in between the half-hours, we made sure not to substantiate it with any cross-checking, lest we'd find it untrue and therefore unreportable. We did that for you. And when we didn't do it as part of the news, we did it on every 24 hour cable news and radio talk show.

We demanded answers and when we didn't get the answers, we demanded questions. And when all we had were questions, we showed our reporters asking those questions and not getting the answers. We asked that a polygraph be taken to answer our questions, and when a polygraph was taken, but not the one we wanted taken, nor the questions we would have asked, we asked that another be taken by someone else who would ask the questions we would have asked to be asked.

We rounded up every darn correspondent, pundit, and politico this side of Robert Novak's comb over. We asked them every question we could think of and when we ran out of those questions we asked them again.

We asked Chandra's parents and we asked her parent's lawyer. We asked her aunt and we asked her aunt's lawyer. We asked polygraph experts and people who had once seen a polygraph expert. We asked her neighbors, we asked doormen, we asked airline stewardesses, we asked former boyfriends, we asked former girlfriends, we asked gardeners and locksmiths, we asked interns, congressmen and senators. If we could have afforded Monica, we would have asked her. And we asked the Washington Police Chief until even we were sick of him. When we ran out of new people to ask we asked the old ones again.

We would have asked Dan Rather, but the chump wasn't talking. Probably because he knew something.

We have showed tapes of Condit walking and not asking our reporters' questions. We showed home videos of Chandra at home. And we it, we showed it over and over and over again. We showed Chandra's grieving mother and father grieving in their driveway every single morning, just to make sure they hadn't stopped grieving or changed the way they were grieving, without letting us know. And we did it for you.

We demanded that the Congressman talk to the police, and when he did, we demanded that he talk to them over and over again. We demanded he talk to us (which would include talking to you) and tell us all that he knows. We demanded this because, in our positions as talk show hosts we would be able to pose the questions, make the assumptions, and perpetuate the groundless theories, without once having the obligation to admit when we were wrong, apologize if we libel, nor feel any sense of guilt when we ruined anyone's life. Ask Mike Espy.

But we just didn't do this so you would watch, we also did it for all the virtuous reasons we could think of. I don't want to use real names here, so for this letter's sake let's call this show, "Conservative Loudmouth and Liberal Toady." Tuesday, Conservative Loudmouth said that their reason for keeping the story in the spotlight was to keep the pressure on the Congressman, the Washington Police force, as well as letting America know that there are thousand of missing persons out there.

Well, now we hear that there is a fifty-fifty chance that Chandra will ever be found. Now, we can easily keep that news item itself recycling for two or three weeks. Our problem, or should I say, our challenge is, what do we do after that.

Sure we could jump on the what did Clinton did in Harlem on any day that might lead to some sort of retroactive impeachment, but that's what other media for those who want to know the "truth" are for.

So it is that we go to you, the American public, our audience, to ask for your help. If you really want us to keep talking about the news that you want us to keep talking about, please get out there, connect with someone famous and do something. Anything. Just be sure, whatever you do, make it something that can be newsworthy for at least a year. That way we can talk about it for at least three. Because, remember, we do it for you.

Steve Young is a Prism Award winner and a Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing and is author of "Great Failures Of The Extremely Successful. (Tallfellow Press). Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, Steve Young