The higher they are, the harder they fall. The populist schadenfreude at a powerful man forced to do the "perp walk" is always an easy sell for the media. In the case of Strauss-Kahn, the metaphorical baggage of being the head of a Western-dominated organization that is often accused of exploiting Third World countries being charged with raping an African immigrant (As the Daily Show's Jon Stewart put it, "It's like he's posing for his own editorial cartoon!") made it irresistible. New York's tabloids, always in the mood for a bit of France-bashing, were quick to pounce: "Frog Legs It," screamed an article detailing DSK's attempt to flee the country -- just one of many memorable New York Post headlines. Even the more restrained New York Times peppered its coverage with details about the "caviar leftist," with his $3,000-a-night hotel room and expensive Porsche -- though it was unclear what any of this had to do with his predilection for sexual assault. Newspapers and magazines (including this one, to be fair) were quick to opine on the deeper meaning of Strauss-Kahn's alleged behavior and what it said about French society and international organizations, though he had never been convicted of any crime.
The treatment of Strauss-Kahn's accuser was similarly unfair. While the French media refused to show photos of DSK's New York perp walk, several news outlets there showed no such reservations about publishing the name of his accuser. (In the United States and many other countries, newspapers do not publish the names of plaintiffs in sexual assault trials.) The chambermaid is now suing the New York Post for libel over a thinly sourced front-page story labeling her a "hooker."
In the end, the scandal has provided a much-needed moment to reflect on how high-profile criminal trials should be covered. If a plaintiff can have character flaws or even a criminal record and still be a legitimate victim, surely a defendant can be rich, sleazy, and powerful and still be unfairly accused.