"I contend for the liberty of publishing truth, with good motives and for justifiable ends, even though it reflect on government, magistrates, or private persons. I contend for it under the restraint of our tribunals. When this is exceeded, let them interpose and punish." -- Alexander Hamilton, February 13, 1804
Two and one-half years have passed since a promising young co-ed at Yale -- Suzanne Jovin -- was murdered on a warmish night in early December. She was stabbed seventeen times in the head and neck and then dumped on a streetcorner in a very ritzy area of the City of New Haven, Connecticut, where Yale is located.
She was not, however, murdered on or near the campus itself. The feelings of horror and shock which permeated a university that was going into final examinations for the autumn term, were strongly augmented by the accusations which began leaking out of the New Haven Police Department a few days after Jovin died.
A capital crime which had, initially, the appearance of being the kind of random street-killing which had made New Haven infamous during the previous ten years was suddenly converted into a more scandalous event. The New Haven Register, the only daily newspaper left in what was once a prosperous port and manufacturing center, was quoting unidentified police sources in naming Jovin's senior thesis advisor, on James Van de Velde, as being the principal suspect in her killing. As the days and then the weeks went by, it became painfully clear that he wasn't just the 'principal' suspect, he was the only suspect in the alleged "pool of suspects." Not long after the Christmas break was concluded, the administrators at Yale cancelled Van de Velde's spring term teaching assignments and he was put on the shelf, although they continued to pay him during the semester. He was booted from a graduate program at Quinnipiac College in Hamden -- now known as Quinnipiac University -- where the rising young scholar of foreign affairs and intelligence matters was hoping to get a Master's degree, one that would make him a viable candidate for 'the chattering class' of political experts.
The scuttlebutt which had Van de Velde, who was raised in suburban Orange, Connecticut, perhaps running against Rosa DeLauro for Congress was converted into whether or not the police and the Jovin family could somehow 'shame' him into confessing. But confessing what? Try as they may, the police in New Haven could not find anything to link the lecturer with Jovin's December 4th murder, except for the fact that he had seen her earlier in the day, when she turned in a draft of her senior essay, and the curious fact that she was found on the same street where he was living at the time. The distance from the point where she was found, bleeding to death, to his apartment was a little under one mile. In the weeks which followed Jovin's death, the New Haven police tried many tactics to discover whether or not Van de Velde had a sexual or romantic relationship with the young woman, or any female at Yale or in New Haven's media.
"Alison Cole, a student in Van de Velde's Art of Diplomacy seminar that fall, says she was twice quizzed by police -- the second time while they drove her aimlessly around New Haven in a cruiser -- and pressed to acknowledge she might have had more than a teacher-student relationship with him.
'They were just looking for me to say something that could incriminate him. But I didn't know him that well. It was very apparent in my speaking with them that I felt like they wanted him to be guilty.'
"In other words, police [believed] that a student might be willing for months to cover up a romantic relationship with a professor rather than help solve a horrible murder of a fellow student. Cole says she find the whole police approach 'kind of ridiculous.'" This comes from an in-depth article on the Jovin murder written by Les Gura and published by the Hartford Courant (April 15, 2001). Gura had been Van de Velde's instructor at Quinnipiac for a class called Newsroom Clinical.
"I know the best of men are not exempt from the attacks of slander. I consider this spirit of abuse and calumny as the pest of society", said Hamilton, who in 1804 was the founder and editor of the Evening Post, now known as the New York Post.
Compare the role and attitude of the mass media in the Van de Velde case with the treatment of Gary Condit in the disappearance of Chandra Levy, of Modesto. Condit represents her hometown, and thus, her family, as a member of Congress: it is now public knowledge that he had an romantic and sexual relationship with her for about six months prior to her disappearance. He has refused to be forthcoming with the police when interviewed by them about her and her state of mind. It is clear she visited his apartment on numerous occasions, and one media group maintains that they were engaged in "a trial marriage."
Van de Velde, by contrast, was Suzanne Jovin's senior thesis advisor and the leader of a seminar she was taking that autumn. He was never seen with her in any other capacity and there is no indication that she ever visited his apartment, off campus, near the Yale Divinity School. No one ever reported seeing him go to her apartment, located right off the Yale campus on the side farthest from where she was found that night. Like Chandra Levy, Suzanne Jovin was logged onto her personal computer and was using e-mail in the last hours of her life. Like Levy, her father is a prominent man of science, albeit a professor of chemistry. Like the Levy family, the Jovins have chosen to blame James Van de Velde -- if not for her murder, then for being 'the teacher from hell,' to coin a phrase -- yet that characterization does not jive with the facts as discovered by Les Gura.
"If any group merits close attention, it would be students familiar with both Jovin and Van de Velde. Students interviewed for this story said they believe Van de Velde is being scape-goated."
"The handwritten cover letter Jovin included to Van de Velde with the second copy of her senior essay draft,submitted the day she died, belies no tension."
"Earlier in the semester, in mid-October, Van de Velde had, at Jovin's request, written her a letter of recommendation for a grant application for graduate school. In it, he calls Jovin an excellent student ...." How odd, then, for her father and other members of her family to characterize Van de Velder -- after her death -- as some kind of terroristic monster, a bad man with a bad personality, the kind of person who should have been weeded out of the Yale faculty (even though he was just a lecturer on contract).
"Christina James, a classmate of Jovin's in the Strategy and Policy seminar, says the senior-essay-becomes-motive-for-murder idea is farfetched. 'Frankly, not getting a [quick] response from your senior thesis advisor is really common.'"
What are the major differences between Gary Condit and James Van de Velde, besides age and education? Van de Velde was a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy and had done a tour of duty in Bosnia, was rising as a lecturer and administrator at Yale, and was generally regarded by his students as being a paragon of ethics and virtue, although he was considered to be somewhat cold and distant in his personality. His schedule was all work, study, and working out.
Gary Condit, by contrast, is a political animal and a successful one at that, but one who has left a trail littered with broken hearts and failed romances, a wild-child party-guy who cleverly manipulated the media in his home district and in Washington, D.C. He was married with grown children, and comfortable with other powerful men. Van de Velde was unmarried with no children, no apparent romantic liasons of any consequence and really something of a workaholic. He had the appearance of being a rather cool, somewhat handsome bookworm. Those who have known him since childhood always considered him to be 'buttoned-down.'
So it all comes down to what the media perceives as being the most important things in a story: Gary Condit is a pro-abortion Democrat with a once-powerful political machine in northern California, and a confidante of Governor Gray Davis. His two children work for Davis and Chandra Levy also interned for a while with the Governor's staff. Prior to becoming her thesis advisor, there is no particular indication of any interest in Suzanne Jovin on the part of James Van de Velde. Politically, he was thought of as a conservative, Reaganesque Republican, rather more like Bob Livingston than B-1 Bob Dornan!
The liberal news media had the power to wreck James Van de Velde's career and they did precisely that; they set about doing so without any substantial evidence of his participation in Suzanne Jovin's murder. The nurder weapon has never been recovered. The suspect co-operated fully with the police until such time as he determined that they were attempting to rope him in as their only suspect. He later granted interviews to different press operations, wherein he catergorically denied having a reason to kill his student, and denying the idea that she was furious with him or terrified of him.
There was no motive for him to kill her, since there was no romantic link ever established. The media has done virtually nothing, since, to restore Van de Velde's credibility or to undo the 'calumny' laid upon him. They have, in fact, ignored other credible avenues of investigation into the Jovin murder -- including the fact that she was writing about Osama bin Laden in her senior essay!! They have not excoriated Qunnipiac University for dumping him without cause. They have only mildly criticized Yale for failing to stand behind a lecturer who had done well for them in a variety of assignments over several years.
Those who care to see the machinations of Faction 1, which is the body of men and women who adhere to the paganistic plans of the United Nations, and the apparently Satanic designs of The Two Clintons, in the media treatment of James Van de Velde may have something going there. He was a conservative Republican cut from the Reagan mold, an officer in the Naval Reserve, and a man with some experience in intelligence matters.
Gary Condit is a Democratic honcho, a high-ranking officer in the New World Order, one beloved by the Marxist feminists who dominate that party in California, and a stalwart in the politics of abortion-on-demand. The fact that he occasionally votes for conservative issues, ones which please his constituency, simply shows how very clever he is, and how secure in his position.
These peculiar things -- James Van de Velde's nerdiness and Condit's sexual peccadilloes -- are the things that matter, when a lovely and promising co-ed is murdered, or when a lovely and promising co-ed goes missing in the most bizarre circumstances.
The Chandra Levy case was cold, cold, cold, by the time her parents figured that she was not coming home. Everything done since then amounts to nothing more than official window-dressing, eye-candy for those of us obsessed with the twenty-four hour news cycle on cable television. Without the Globe, the Star, the National Enquirer and Talk Magazine, we would not know much at all about the woman behind the girlish facade of Chandra Levy. And without the tender mercies of the New Haven Register, James Van de Velde might have been completely cleared long ago, and a serious effort made to look towards other players as the ones who plotted to entice, abduct and kill Suzanne Jovin in 1998.
"For, let a party but get into power," said Hamilton, "they may go on from step to step, and, in spite of canvassing their measures [i.e., polling their policies], fix themselves firmly in their seats, especially as they are never to be reproached for what they have done." Hamilton was not a fan of Jeffersonian democracy, being what was then regarded as a Federalist in both nature and political practice. But he would find precious little of the art or science of Jefferson in the news media during the era of The Two Clintons.
Lap-dogs, bootlickers, fellow-travellers and useful idiots -- these aspersions all apply to much of the liberal media, here at the near-end of the Clintonista Years -- but I fear that there is much worse to be revealed about the liberals in the newsrooms, in the days which lie ahead. They are losing their audiences. They are losing shares. Their operations are constricting, some say they are even dying off. CBS is particularly vulnerable now.
But is that a positive social good? Or is it the case, that a painfully corrupt 'free press' is better than none at all?
"The liberty of the press consists, in my idea, in publishing the truth, from good motives and for justifiable ends, though it reflects on the government, on magistrates, on individuals. If this be not done," wrote Hamilton so long ago, "then in vain will the voice of the people be raised against the inroads of tyranny."