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[talking politics]

Parochial politics
Gary Conditís affair with missing intern Chandra Levy is big news everywhere in the country except Boston. What gives?


WITH JORDAN MARSH replaced by Macyís and the Boston Globe owned by the New York Times, the case for Bostonian exceptionalism is tough to make these days. The Vault, that storied organization of the cityís leading business leaders, vanished years ago along with many locally owned institutions. Even Locke-Ober, the former lunching place of Boston elites, has closed (though itís scheduled to reopen with a new owner in the fall). But there is one ray of hope. Boston seems to have turned up its collective nose at the story of California congressman Gary Conditís possible involvement in the disappearance of 24-year-old former Washington, DC, intern Chandra Levy.

Turn on cable news these days and youíll hear only one story ó Condit. When the congressman appeared on ABCís PrimeTime Thursday with Connie Chung on August 23, the three 24-hour cable news stations treated the event as if the 101st Airborne had just parachuted into Baghdad. The Fox News Channel presented a special edition of Hannity & Colmes well into the night. The pundits were fully arrayed on MSNBC. And even CNNís Jeff Greenfield, a Yale Law School graduate usually given to serious political analysis, used his show to focus on the sordid saga. The same treatment can be found in the glossy magazines: this month both Vanity Fair and Talk carry detailed Condit stories.

Here in Boston, however, Condit hasnít reached first-tier status. The Globe has fronted the story just once since June ó the morning after Chungís interview. The Boston Herald has given it front-page treatment twice: on July 14 to report on a polygraph exam administered by Conditís legal team, and again the day after the Chung interview. Beyond that, nobody around here seems all that interested. Weíve been too busy with Max Kennedyís abandoned bid for Congress, Tom Finneranís power plays, and Jane Swiftís husbandís previous marriages.

During a July debate among the candidates vying to replace the late Joe Moakley in the Ninth Congressional District, Channel 56 political analyst Jon Keller asked: what would they tell Condit if they got to Capitol Hill? None of the candidates seemed willing to discuss it. State Senator Stephen Lynch of South Boston went so far as to say he didnít think it was his place to say anything at all to the man. No problem. None of the voters seemed to mind, and the question was quickly forgotten.

WBZ Radio talk-show host David Brudnoy says heís devoted only three hours to the subject ó all of which seemed to lack energy. " Iíve declared the show Condit-free territory until they find Chandraís body or Condit resigns, " he says.

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Issue Date: September 6 - 13, 2001

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