Media’s prodigal son comes home

Tim Paluch

On Oct. 6, Gary Condit opened a re-election office in California. He also began gathering the 3,000 signatures needed to get on the Democratic primary ballot.

“Big deal,” you may say.

“Who cares?” you may ask.

Yes, Condit may be old news; I’ll give you that.

But let’s not abandon America’s forgotten star. Someone has to start giving him that media attention he so rightfully deserves.

Since the terrorist attacks, Gary’s been out of the loop. But now that the spotlight’s off, he’s making his way back in.

For a good couple of months this summer we were treated to Condit’s boyish good looks and unparalleled charm on a hourly basis:

Breaking news – Condit is entering the Capitol building. We take you live to footage of him, well, entering the Capitol building.

We interrupt our hour-long roundtable discussion on Gary Condit to bring you live footage of Gary Condit leaving the Capitol building.

“He looks like a deer in headlights, Wolf. I think he’s got something to hide.”

“Good point Mort. Look at the way he turns away squinting when our camera man points the high-powered light in his face as our reporter asks him if he killed Chandra Levy. Seems a little suspicious to me.”


He owned the coverage on the summer cable news networks, and while the man-eating sharks gave him a run for his money for a little while, Summer 2001 was all Condit, all the time.

Before I go any further, let me refresh your memory with a brief rundown of the events that surrounded Condit this summer.

First, Washington intern Chandra Levy disappears, leaving no trace of her whereabouts. The media immediately suspects California Rep. Gary Condit.

First clue – he’s a Democrat. And we all know what those Democrats do to interns.

Second clue – he had an affair with Levy, but fails to let the authorities know that during the first few interviews.

Once the public finds out Condit has an extensive history of infidelity (he’s had more side projects than P-Diddy), the Condit kids make their rounds on the TV circuits, where we are treated to sob stories of how great their adulterous justice-obstructing father really is.

The media got it all wrong, they say.

Finally word comes down from the Hill that Condit most likely will not seek re-election. His approval ratings had fallen to a Calista Flockhart dress size, and it was clear “Condit country” was on the verge of secession.

Then came Sept. 11 and opportunity came a-knockin’. Actually, it came a-tumblin’, under the thousands of tons of wreckage in New York.

In the span of a few hours, Chandra Levy became just another missing person.

And Gary was back in business. Re-election suddenly got a lot more appealing.

Now I’m not saying Condit is glad the Twin Towers came down. And I’m not saying the first thing he thought when he woke up and saw the horrible footage was “Maybe now I can get re-elected.”

But I bet it was the second or third.

Condit’s political future, which for a while looked about as promising as a Cubs game in October, suddenly was reborn.

But Condit still hasn’t made it official one way or another. Will he run or not? I felt I was the one who should ask him. So I did.

Now, you remember his now-famous interview with Connie Chung, where Condit was extremely hush-hush.

This time, again, Condit said little about anything. Here’s our conversation, in its entirety.

Me: Rep. Condit, my first question is, now that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have taken you out of the national spotlight, it appears your chance of being elected again may have increased. You’ve recently opened a re-election office in California. Is this a sign you are planning to run?

Condit: Got any sisters?

Some guys never learn.

Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.