Bradley Manning Coverage: Networks Move On Quickly After Verdict

07/30/2013 01:52 pm ET | Updated Sep 29, 2013
AP

The verdict in the Bradley Manning trial on Tuesday did not receive the kind of rolling network coverage afforded to other recent court cases.

Whereas trials like George Zimmerman's or even Jodi Arias's were treated to hours of analysis, dissection and attention, the news that the man responsible for the biggest leak of classified material in American history had been hit with charges that could keep him in prison for over 100 years was deemed worthy of one, or at most two, segments during the hour following the verdict.

Fox News was both the first to break the news of the verdict, as well as the first to break away. MSNBC broke away from its coverage of Hillary Clinton's lunch with Joe Biden, got the news of the verdict, spoke to an analyst and then moved on. CNN had the most coverage, though at the moment of the verdict it happened to be talking about a tax fraud case involving Teresa Giudice, the Real Housewife of New Jersey. After initially covering the verdict and then going to a break, CNN then returned to the story when its Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence had exited the Fort Meade courtroom where the trial was being held. After a back-and-forth with Lawrence, Wolf Blitzer turned to a story about housing prices.

BuzzFeed estimated that the three networks spent an average of just four minutes on the story.

All in all, the message was clear: the Manning story was big, but not big enough to fully alter the networks' overall plans for the day in any big way. The lack of sustained coverage was not necessarily surprising; the major networks have, by and large, avoided the Manning trial almost entirely, and even papers like the New York Times have been criticized for the level of attention they've given to the story.

If viewers wanted wall-to-wall coverage, they could go online, where "Democracy Now" was running a live show devoted to the story.

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