Prosecutors are lucky. In a legal system whose watchword is “Innocent until proven guilty,” they get to presume guilt from the get-go. Journalists have it tougher. Before a character like Drew Peterson has been convicted, charged, or even arrested, they can’t come right out and say he murdered his wife. But they can order no-holds-barred coverage based on the proposition that’s what he did. If journalists thought he was innocent the only decent thing would be to respect his privacy and leave him to his grief.

Casual readers who think the story of the suspicious disappearance of Stacy Peterson‘s been around forever are remembering the story of the suspicious disappearance of Laci Peterson. This one’s even better. It was hard to make Scott Peterson interesting; but the media are now drawing a portrait of Drew Peterson as a Bluebeard, a man whose past wives were lucky to escape with their lives – if they did. Of course, all this coverage wouldn’t be a bit fair to an innocent man, but it’s telling us that innocence is more than Drew Peterson deserves.