Under the Big Top: Today and One Year from Today
The DC press corp is gearing up for the start of a trial; one that had an innocent victim and what appears to be a less than savory cast of characters. A murder that captivated many and confounded investigators, families and lives were ruined in its wake.
Outside the Moultrie Courthouse, satellite trucks will line Indiana Avenue and familiar faces will do their live shots; Pat Collins, Paul Wagner, Roby Chavez, Steve Tschida, and William Hennessy on the pastels: that old gang of ours.
This describes precisely what we’ll see one year from today as the Wone civil trial gets underway, but it also sets the scene for this morning at Judiciary Square with the start of the Chandra Levy murder trial.
With the pending defense media gag order, a motion that could seriously impact the case coverage, please compare and contrast. Also ahead, a new face on the scene.
The vanishing of Chandra Levy in May 2001, sparked the last bona fide media frenzy until the day that supposedly changed everything, September 11. She disappeared again that day in the media until her remains were found in May 2002. And for the most part, compared to a year earlier, the story again went dormant. In July of 2008, the Washington Post began a 20,000 word 13-part investigative series on her murder. That was a lot of real estate and it ran in the print edition.
“Chandra Levy’s father told the paper, “The Post series really helped the police, because it brought new things out.” The Los Angeles Times says, “The Levys said that they were told that a possible breakthrough in the case came, at least in part, due to the increased attention spurred by a Washington Post series last year about the slaying and the Police Department’s handling of it.”
Never sell the MSM short for affecting change.
Nine years after Levy’s murder, voir dire starts today and opening statements should come soon. The majors networks could be all over it but may then disappear until the closes. There could be plenty of cable hysteria between now and the trial’s December wrap, but no cameras in Superior Court makes the fare far less attractive for producers.
A six week trial is a big TV commitment, even for the locals. A veteran TV reporter at the Wone trial said he couldn’t remember the last time his and the competitions’ stations staked out such a lengthy proceeding, every day for five weeks straight. The Barry trial?
The Post will cover the Levy trial extensively, City Paper and the Examiner too, and now there’s a new outfit slinking around the courthouse, a DC area crime and courts blog and their venture begins in earnest today. TBD.com, the Politico’s local baby brother and the online destination for Robert Allbritton’s DC ABC affiliate WJLA and cable’s NewsChannel8 operations, just launched TBDJustice with Sarah Larimer on the police blotter.
Gavel-to-gavel coverage, docs, pics, the works we hope. We heard they had a model.
Welcome to the Big Top Sarah, and remember, use the C Street entrance to beat the crowds and no tweeting from the courtroom. And see what you can do about getting us on the TBD local blogroll.