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March 27, 2007

U.S. Attorneys story is officially the big story

Posted by David Postman at 12:01 PM

A new report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism on news coverage of the firing of federal prosecutors says:

While journalists appear fascinated by this battle between Congress and the White House, the public has yet to evince great enthusiasm for it.

PEJ say the U.S. attorneys story was the biggest story in the press last week and "it really amounts at this point to a mega story. " Mark Jurkowitz of PEJ writes:

Filling 18% of the overall newshole, it was the second-biggest story of the year. The only one to receive more coverage was the debate over the Iraq war, which filled 34% of the newshole the week in January when President Bush announced his troop "surge" plan.

Already the level of coverage of the U.S. attorneys flap has substantially exceeded that of two other major Washington scandals — the Scooter Libby trial and conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

No news outlet has focused as much on the story as Talking Points Memo. Josh Marshall says that he has gotten a lot of questions about why the site has dug into the story so much, and some that he thinks were sincere. He does an admirable job explaining his reasoning. And that includes:

We all understand that politics and the law aren't two hermetically sealed domains. And we understand that partisanship may come into play at the margins. But we expect it to be the exception to the rule and a rare one. But here it appears to have become the rule rather than the exception, a systematic effort at the highest levels to hijack the Justice Department and use it to advance the interest of one party over the other by use of selective prosecution.

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