Free Congress Commentary

Congressman Condit - Dem or GOP? Do YOU Know?

By Nicholas Sanchez
July 25, 2001


Even now that we are eleven weeks after she was first reported missing, the case of Chandra Levy shows no signs of slowing down as a major news story. All of the national newspapers continue to report on the latest developments -- and the fact that there really haven't been any hasn't slowed them down a lick.

The producers at both Fox News and CNN seem hopelessly obsessed with this story as well. They have assiduously reported every movement made by Congressman Gary Condit, the 53 year-old Democratic, married California representative who had an affair with the 24 year-old intern and who has been surprisingly uncooperative with law enforcement officials who have been given the task of finding Miss Levy. And although the nation collectively hopes that this young girl will surface somewhere, it becomes increasingly unlikely that she will be found… alive.

Herewith I must confess that I have, like most people, been absolutely fascinated by this story. It is tragic that a young girl would end up missing. It is scatological that she has been having an affair with a married man old enough to be her father. And the combination of these two make good copy for the tabloids and newspapers. But what has really intrigued me has been the coverage of Mr. Condit.

A couple of weeks ago I was on the phone with my mother. During the course of our conversation -- surprise, surprise -- the topic of the Chandra Levy case arose. After discussing the particulars of the case, I asked my mother, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, as to whether or not she knew to which political party Congressman Gary Condit belonged.

I asked this question not to prompt a fight, but rather out of genuine curiosity. In reading the newspapers and following this story in the news, I was very struck by the fact that Condit was identified as Congressman Condit... as Representative Condit... but not as Democrat Congressman Condit... not Democrat Representative Condit. In fact, my mother replied, she did not know what Condit was and was very surprised when I informed her that he was indeed a Democrat. "Really?" she replied.

Not long after that I was conversing with some friends from Mississippi. Likewise, the conversation eventually turned to the Levy case. After we each offered our pet theories as to Levy's whereabouts, I decided to proffer my question once again: "Do you know whether or not Condit is a Republican or a Democrat?" I asked my friends. The question caught them by surprise. And as with my mother, they could not identify Condit as a Democrat.

Do you think that these two instances are isolated incidents? Think again.

The Media Research Center (MRC) did a study and found that for the first several weeks that this item became a major news story, the major television networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- played down Condit's partisan affiliation. In fact, they found that from May 14th to July 11th there were a total of 179 stories about Gary Condit. During the course of those stories, he was labeled as a Democrat only 14 times!

Now, far be it from me to say that there is a bias in the media... however, I have to wonder if the media would have been so discreet had this been a Republican Congressman instead of a Democrat. I don't think so.

After the media felt that they could hide his party affiliation any more, they picked up the idea that Condit is a "conservative" Democrat, the kind of guy who couldn't be counted on to vote with his party. Everyone from George Stephanopoulos to Peter Jennings quickly jumped on this bandwagon.

Of course, the reality is quite different. MRC reported that Condit scores higher with the liberal Americans for Democratic Action than he does with the conservative American Conservative Union. So much for his conservative bona fides.

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that the so-called mainstream media continues to bash the Republican Party and conservatives. It is surprising that the media would use the instance of a missing person to pursue this agenda.

© This column is the property of the Free Congress Foundation and may not be reproduced without their permission. For comments and inquiries, contact Angie Wheeler at awheeler@freecongress.org Visit our website at www.FreeCongress.org


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