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Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

With the verdict behind us and Conrad Black’s freedom (restricted though it may be) assured until his sentencing four months hence, the practical question facing journalists is how best to move the story forward. For the moment, this seems to be a variant on an old Soviet tactic aimed at ensuring the obedience of soldiers on the battlefield. Whether advancing or retreating, state security formed the rearguard, and if anyone strayed from formation they were shot, no questions asked. This, in turn, led to a chilling description of the Soviet military mindset: “In the Red Army, it takes a brave man to be a coward.”

Maclean’s 30-page take-out on the trial includes a summing-up from Mark Steyn who, having stood four-square behind the defence, has taken this opportunity to shoot those charged with executing that defence squarely in the back. The Eddies are pilloried pillar to post, accused of, among other things, avarice, sloth, hubris and, in the end, just plain missing the point. In style and tone it reminded me of nothing so much as Conrad’s statement of claim against Tom Bower.

That aside, Maclean’s coverage was reasoned and arguably the best of the summaries so far. The Saturday Globe offered a subtle and sound analysis from the always reliable Richard Siklos. He points out that because Black is a sort of fatted calf offered up as a penitential sacrifice, his punishment can’t by definition fit the crime, something about which the Eddies might know a thing or two.

Beyond that, the cheap shots just keep on coming. In this morning’s Star, there’s yet another piece examining Black’s prospects in the American prison system that includes this bit of insight offered by a former Bureau of Prisons official: “It’s not Yale. It’s jail.”

U.S. prison unlikely to be a ‘Cupcake’ walk for Black [Toronto Star]Shades of Black [Globe and Mail]Canadians unsympathetic to plight of Conrad Black [Washington Post]

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