A military judge today announced that Pfc. Bradley Manning is not guilty of aiding the enemy in the largest leak of classified and diplomatic information in American history. But you wouldn’t have known it if you were watching one of the Big 4 TV networks. Unlike when the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling came down on June 26 and the birth of the royal baby earlier this month, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox all stayed with their regularly scheduled programming today. Over in cable newsland, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC all reported live on the verdict, with FNC first at 10:05 AM PT. MSNBC was next at 10:08 and CNN right behind at 10:09 AM. All of the cable news networks stayed on the immediate story for several minutes before updating later as more information on the verdict came in. The timing of the verdict was no surprise, as it had previously been announced by a spokesperson for the military district of Washington DC. Manning today was found guilty of other charges including espionage and theft which carry hefty sentences. The sentencing process starts Wednesday.
Formerly based in Iraq, the U.S. Army soldier was accused of delivering vast amounts of data to WikiLeaks, though the organization has never officially confirmed Manning was the source of the information. Manning was arrested in May 2010 not long after WikiLeaks posted a video from 2007 showing an American helicopter firing on a group in Baghdad. The soldier plead guilty to 10 of the 22 charge leveled against him by the government, which held jail time of up to 20 years, in February of this year. The trial on the other charges, which including the aiding the enemy claim, started in early June.
The Fifth Estate, a feature about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, is set to premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The DreamWorks and Participant’s Bill Condon-helmed film stars Star Trek Into Darkness’ Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange along with former Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens.