Ivy League Crimes Are More Equal Than Others

To grab headlines, commit or fall victim to murder at Harvard or Yale
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2009 2:49 PM CDT
Jason Aquino, 23, during his arraignment in Medford, Mass., August 3, 2009. The charges included murder and armed robbery in connection with the shooting death of Justin Cosby in a Harvard dorm.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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(Newser) – The killing of Yale grad student Annie Le dominated headlines around the world, "but every murder is uniquely dramatic," Jack Shafer writes for Slate. Why this one? It involves a magic word. "Three murders at a Midwestern college equal one murder at Harvard or Yale," Shafer calculates. "If you kill somebody and want the press to go all Nancy Grace on your ass, make sure your victim attends or works at Harvard or Yale."

The disparity is well documented, indefensible, and easy to explain, Shafer contends. The tabs are trading in schadenfreude, their nominally tonier competitors in empathetic or aspirational coverage. "Had the Le murder happened at, say, Oklahoma State University," Schafer observes, "you'd have to bribe the night editor of the New York Times with a case of scotch and Hasty Pudding tickets to get him to run a one-inch wire story."