Volume II of a lengthy Washington saga that captured the media's attention -- and pretty much no one else's -- is over. 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.
The New York Times includes the most vivid description of Libby's reaction to the verdict: he "grimaced briefly before resuming his expressionless demeanor."
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."
And beyond that, each paper also has its own opinions on what this trial and the conviction represented for America.
"The trial highlighted the nation's divisions over the war, the Bush White House's intolerance of critics and the uneasy symbiosis between an elite tier of Washington journalists and their confidential sources inside the government," writes the Washington Post.
Other papers focus on the consequences for the Bush administration. USA Today writes that the conviction "could further burden a White House struggling with a 4-year-old war in Iraq and low poll ratings," and the Los Angeles Times echoes that sentiment, writing that the conviction "was one more setback for the Bush administration, already laboring under low approval ratings, public impatience with the war in Iraq and a new Democratic majority in Congress."
The LAT expends another front-page article discussing the potential of a presidential pardon for Libby, since the verdict "was also seen as an indictment of the White House political operation [Libby] helped design and direct."
The Google Factor
Meanwhile, in the real world, some job applicants are finding that Google searches are having an impact on their job searches.
A few law students interviewed by the Post reported that they were top-tier candidates for law firms, but were having trouble getting hired because of what they thought was "a new form of reputation-maligning: online postings with offensive content and personal attacks that can be stored forever and are easily accessible through a Google search."
The students were the subjects of "derogatory chats on a widely read message board" run by another law student. While it's "difficult to prove a direct link" between the messages' presence and their lack of job offers, the students' stories do raise some questions – especially since, according to the Post, "roughly half" of employers use the Internet to vet job applications and "about one-third of the searches yielded content used to deny a job."
Which means that there is a new service in town: ReputationDefender, "whose mission is to search for damaging content online and destroy it on behalf of clients."
More Fun With Financial Disclosures
The big question surrounds a $50,000 stock purchase in two companies "whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors."
One was a biotech company that was developing a drug to treat avian flu, and after buying $5,000 in shares, "Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease."
But, according to an Obama spokesman, the senator "did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005," because his broker purchased them as part of a blind trust. Once Obama learned of the purchase, he sold the shares at a $13,000 loss.
"Even so," writes the Times, "the stock purchases raise questions about how he could unwittingly come to invest in two relatively obscure companies, whose backers happen to include generous contributors to his political committees."
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