We all have a lot of questions about what happened to Annie Le, the Yale graduate student who went missing a few days before her wedding and whose body was found stuffed in the ceiling of a Yale laboratory. Now that her killer has been apprehended and will be brought to trial, one question that lingers for media pundits is, why did her story garner so much press? What was it about her story that called for it to be splashed across The New York Times, Google News and Bloomberg, not to mention all the tabloids? One can only conjecture. Was it that she was a Yalie? On Thursday, 9/17, Slate columnist, Jack Shafer, noted:
"If you plan to be murdered and expect decent press coverage, please have the good sense to be a Harvard or Yale student or professor. America's top dailies and the cable networks will rush to the scene of the crime and sniff the vicinity for clues to your demise. They'll scrape your personal history and publish enough information to serve as a foundation for a made-for-TV movie about you."
Apparently the media elite comes from either Harvard or Yale, so almost any news emanating from these places is considered newsworthy. Furthermore, a violent crime at a place as seemingly powerful and invulnerable as Yale, the institution associated with George and George W., Bill, Hilary and the last 3 Supreme Court justices, is a sensation.
Was it that she was a bride-to-be? Annie went missing only days before her wedding, and her body was discovered on the day that she was to be married. As if to highlight the tragedy of a young woman snuffed out at the height of her promise, many stories focused on Annie’s upcoming nuptials. We know that Annie embroidered her own veil and gushed about marrying her “best friend” in her Facebook pages. The New York Times even went so far as to interview Ms. Kiley, Annie’s hairdresser, who was quoted in the paper as saying: “I was going to be part of a beautiful day, which is the most important day of a girl’s life other than the day she gives birth.” Has anybody heard this much attention being paid to a guy getting married before?
Was it because she was, pick one, young, female, pretty, Asian? Pretty young faces, as we know, sell newspapers. And what a novelty it was to see an Asian face on a tabloid cover. Asian immigrants are generally taught to work hard and fly under the radar. When Raymond Clark III emerged as Annie’s killer, it was as if two sides of the socio-economic and racial spectrum that makes up America’s workplace was laid bare.
We may never know the motives behind Raymond Clark’s killing of Annie Le, but it makes sensational news.