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The Tale of the Tape
March 25, 2002
By Gil Christner

Gary Condit, thankfully, will no longer provide fodder over which Greta and the gang on our cable news outlets will vent their sanctimonious outrage. He lost the primary in California this month, which means that he and the Chandra Levy story will become as relevant to the national zeitgeist as Jon Benet Ramsey, for whatever that's worth. Now, I suppose, the pundits can move on to the really important news, like who should we nuke first, North Korea or the Southern Phillipines?

But one has to wonder if Gary isn't just a wee bit bitter about all the news coverage that was heaped upon him in the last year. You see, it's not as if he was the only Congressman, surrounded by accusations of infidelity, who had someone from his office disappear under mysterious circumstances. Joe Scarborough, a Republican Congressman from Florida (up until his resignation on Sept. 6) also had a bit of bad luck with staffers checking out…however, his staffer, aide Lori Klausutis, checked out permanently. She was found dead in Scarborough's office on July 20, 2001.

Although the Okaloosa county medical examiner, Michael Berkland, officially pronounced Ms. Klausutis' death as one of natural causes (thus exonerating Mr. Scarborough), I'm sure that Mr. Condit has got to be fuming. I'll bet very few of you had heard about the Scarborough/Klausutis story, and that none of you had heard about it on the major news media. Compare this to the 24 hours All Condit All The Time screamfest that was on the cable news channels all last summer, as well as recently again just before the California primary.

What was it about Condit/Levy that made the news media unable to turn their collective head, as if rubbernecking a particularly gruesome freeway accident? What was it about Scarborough/Klausutis that infused the same media with a curiosity level of a pet rock?

The Question we are attempting to answer is simply this: Who had the advantage when it came to ducking the Media Spot Light? Let's take a look at the Tale of the Tape, examine the factors involved in both stories, and see why America will Always Remember Condit, and Can't Even Pronounce Scarborough.

Factor

Condit

Scarborough

Advantage

Political Affiliation

Democrat

Republican

Scarborough

Job Title of staffer in question

Intern

Aide

Scarborough

Disposition of staffer

Unknown

Found dead in Congressman’s office

Condit

Connection of Home State Governor to George W. Bush

Gray Davis:  Man who opposed Dubya in the energy crisis during same summer that both news stories unfolded

Jeb Bush: Brother who opposed Dubya during B-B gun fights as children

Scarborough

Cause of Death of Staffer

Not pertinent, as Chandra is not known to be dead

Previously undiagnosed heart condition lead to shortage of blood to the brain, causing fainting, causing Lori to hit her head on the desk, and die of subdural hematoma, ie, internal bleeding.

Condit

Similarity of staffer’s mishap to any incidents involving pretzels and world leaders

None

Makes you wonder why they can’t think of another explanation besides no oxygen to the brain for Republicans falling down

Condit

Admit to affair?

Eventually

Never

Scarborough

Statements made by Congressman, proven later to be outright lies

Just good friends

Lori had a complicated medical history, surrounding stroke and epilepsy

Toss Up

Number of bad Law and Order episodes the whole mess inspired, causing spouse to threaten NBC with law suits.

One

None

Scarborough

Number of jokes made by Leno, Letterman, Saturday Night Live, Dennis Miller, Politically Incorrect, Mad TV and the Daily Show

In the 1000’s

None

Scarborough

Crime scene evidence

Nothing disturbed, Wallet and ID left behind

Desk, which Lori’s head supposedly hit as she fainted, was nowhere near her body

Condit

Campaign contributions from officials in charge of investigation

None

$3000 from Gary Cumberland, supervisor of medical examiner Berkland (not to mention $2607 from Mrs. Cumberland)

Scarborough

Recent foul ups by the office investigating the crime

FBI: 
Wen Ho Lee, Richard Jewell

Dr. Berkland: 
9 cases jeopardized due to his faulty autopsy reports;
Missouri license revoked for incompetence and making false statements in a connection with cases; 
Suspended in Florida for failing to disclose that he was under investigation in Missouri.

Toss Up

Number of rumors about sex with underage daughter of local minister which later proved to be false

One

None

Scarborough

Resign or Voted Out?

Voted Out

Resigned

Scarborough

So, there you have it. By a margin of 9 to 4, with two Toss Ups, Joe Scarborough had the distinct advantage when it came to avoiding the media spot light. We can only hope this helps future members of congress avoid the same pitfalls. You might think that finding a dead body in your office could present a problem, but you never really know until you look at the Tale of the Tape.


I am indebted, for my on-line research, to the articles "Never Bound By the Truth" by Chris George and Denis Wright from the American Politics Journal, "Unwrapped: A Strange Way to Die" by the same authors from the OnLine Journal, and the "TRUTHOUT Series on the Death of Lori Klausutis" by Jennifer van Bergen from Truthout.com. These authors distilled many local Florida newspaper reports into essays that are concise and assessable.

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