When the jury declared I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby guilty on Monday, he became the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a crime in two decades: a crime tied to the biggest U.S. executive branch scandal since Watergate. Considering it's rooted in the manipulation of pre-war intelligence - which led to a war of choice resulting in hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and the loss of thousands of American soldiers – the larger crime for which Libby helped his superiors cover up is dramatically worse than the one perpetrated by Nixon’s bungling burglars in the night.
But what sat prominently on the CBS Evening News website last night? Under a section labeled “news commentary” by journalist Hillary Profita was this headline: “It’s All Libby All the Time in the Media: Guilty Verdict Dominates Nation’s Major News Outlets, But Does Anybody Else Really Care?”
Profita begins, “Volume II of a lengthy Washington saga that captured the media's attention - and pretty much no one else’s - is over.” Thank goodness. All that media focus on real news. Why, it's enough to make people more informed.
She goes on to say, “All of today’s front pages (including the top of the Wall Street Journal’s newsbox) document the details of yesterday’s verdict in which Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby was convicted of lying to investigators in the CIA leak investigation.” Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? This isn't warranted but explicit details of John Mark Karr's in-flight dinner was? Or the round-the-clock "Anna Nicole Smith Is Still Dead" marathon?
Profita then says, “Everyone takes note of a special historical fun fact: Libby is the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-contra scandal. Or, as USA Today notes, he is also 'the highest-ranking Bush administration official to be convicted of a crime.'" Would she prefer journalists didn’t “take note of this historical fun fact”? And what does she mean by fun fact, anyway? Is she actually suggesting that pointing this out is somehow irrelevant or gratuitous?
Profita continues, “And beyond that, each paper also has its own opinions on what this trial and the conviction represented for America.” Oh, no, that would be…what papers do. That’s why they also have editorial sections. You’d figure that Profita, a journalist, would understand the basic structure and content of your average newspaper.
How accurate is this commentary's initial headline and premise, "It’s All Libby All the Time in the Media"? I did a quick check of a few mainstream news sites to find out. Here were the top stories gracing CNN's homepage on the same night:
- Couey convicted of raping, murdering young girl
- Georgia trucker has big lottery haul
- Bush on Latin America, Libby verdict, VA care
- Two charged in abuse of formerly conjoined twin
- NASA fires astronaut | Steamy e-mails
- Beheading threat made doctor flee
- Time.com: Ten notorious presidential pardons
- Cause of Smith's death known, but kept mum
- Potty lockdown has students flush with anger
- Big Bopper autopsy puts rumors to rest
- Britney's antics make K-Fed look like good dad
- Suspected meteorite crashes into bedroom
- Declared dead, elderly man makes a comeback
Libby is in there but not as the main focus of a story. Sandwiched between two other news items is Bush's mention of the Libby verdict in passing. A new national story about a murdered white girl and a belabored pun about a trucker winning the lottery both trumped that Libby crumb. A case of abuse involving a once conjoined twin nearly edged it out as well, only to be followed by the firing of everyone's favorite zany astronaut. Then, of course, there's more news about Anna Nicole (still dead), Britney's "antics," an autopsy of a rocker who succumbed to plane crash nearly a half century ago, a "suspected" meteorite landing in someone's sleeping quarters and a "dead" man's ultimate comeback.
Over at MSNBC's website, only one headline related to the Libby verdict could be found among its top stories: "Juror urges Libby pardon." Some other noteworthy top stories?
- U.S. coins missing "In God We Trust"
- Humans caught "crabs" from gorillas
- Red Tape: How difficult is it to snag text messages?
- NASA fires Lisa Nowak
- Man claims half of $390 million lottery
And the top stories for the CBS Evening News website, for which Perfita writes?
- Congress Takes Aim at Credit Card Policies
- Man Found Guilty of Murdering Florida Girl
- More Bloodshed for GIs, Iraqi Civilians
- Trucker Claims Half of $390 Million Jackpot
- Astronaut in Love Triangle Fired
- Suicides Rock Two High Schools
No Libby, none of the time.
It's All Libby All The Time In Media
By Hillary Profita
CBS Evening News "The Skinny"