Both the New York Times and the Washington Post offer longish articles on their front (web) pages today on the background of Wichita's alleged BTK serial killer, Dennis L. Rader. The similarities are plain: both newspapers sent a female reporter to interview neighbors and acquaintances.

This in the NYT article struck me as telling:

Most stunning for the Wichita area, where Mr. Rader has spent his life, is not just that he was viewed as an ordinary fellow, someone who blended in at the Taco Bell, but that he seemed to have stayed meticulously and constantly within the strictest mores of society - more so, at times, than many other residents.

One almost wishes Sgt. Joe Friday had been around at this point in the article:

"But he was different in one way, ma'am."

"What's that, Sergeant?"

"He killed people."

The NYT article, with all its blabber about "mores" seems to be struggling to prove a point that never quite gets explicitly stated, let alone supported.

On the other hand, the Post article seems more perceptive:

Rader, however, exhibited some classic antisocial traits -- superiority, narcissism and anger -- and was seen by some as a man imprisoned in a life he believed was beneath him, associating with people he believed were not up to his intellect.

The Post reporter also gets a neighbor to note: "He was mean-spirited and a coward ... He always picked on the single women on the street who he could bully." All except the first of the BTK murders were of women. The NYT reporter also interviewed this neighbor, but didn't get this detail.

Advantage, Washington Post.