Internet reacts quickly to ruling in Paula Jones case

Summary:Netizens rushed to offer their two cents in the aftermath of the decision by an Arkansas judge to dismiss Paula Jones' sexual harassment and employment discrimination case against President Clinton.(Read Judge Susan Webber Wright's Judgment Order.

Netizens rushed to offer their two cents in the aftermath of the decision by an Arkansas judge to dismiss Paula Jones' sexual harassment and employment discrimination case against President Clinton.

(Read Judge Susan Webber Wright's Judgment Order. PLUS: Excerpts of the ruling from the New York Times' Web site.)

And as news of the surprise ruling spread Wednesday afternoon, major news organizations had a chance to strut their stuff before their morning editions were ready for publication.

Dailies lag behind
However, the performance of the big dailies lagged far behind their competitors from television who also operate Internet news sites. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal -- to name only a few newspapers -- used wire copy from the Associated Press as their reporters scrambled to catch up.

In contrast, MSNBC.com's editors must have had their fingers on the post button all afternoon as they put up the news just as it broke. What's more, they used NBC sources and linked to a site that posted the ruling. For its update, MSNBC.com added a poll on the subject, asking: Do you agree with the judge's decision?



Have an opinion on this story or on the judge's decision? Add your comments below.





Similarly, CNN.com, which ran a brief story based on unnamed sources talking in advance of the publication of the decision, had a full story on its site by 1:48 p.m. PT -- along with the text of the official dismissal, a radio clip and an on-the-record quote from Jones' lawyers. ABC.com was slower off the mark with a full offering, although it did have a story on its home page shortly after the decision was announced late Wednesday.

"We've had ongoing coverage of this story since the whole thing broke," said Loren Pomerantz, a spokeswoman for MSNBC, adding that the company's Web site attracts a disproportionately high number of hits when big news breaks.




Internet a major player in the reporting of the White House scandals.




"I think it's hard to gauge because it's drawn a steady stream of traffic, so it's a bit different from Lewinsky-gate," she added, noting MSNBC.com's numbers went off the chart when reports first surfaced of an alleged sexual liaison between the president and Monica Lewinsky.

The people speak
But as always, the Internet served as a sounding board for the plugged-in generation and again demonstrated how it's turning into the late-1990s version of talk radio.

"Well, it seems as if the president has dodged the bullet again. This really does not surprise me at all, in fact I knew that he would slither away like he always does," wrote one message writer on a CNN bulletin board.

"The American people are not stupid!" another writer averred. "It has been obvious from the beginning that the whole Paula Jones case and related matters have been politically motivated. Thank you Judge Wright for seeing through it."

Contributions from ZDNN's Tom Dunlap, Mike Fitzgerald and Pat Houston

Topics: Tech Industry

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