Remember last Friday? Their EXCLUSIVE that wasn’t an exclusive about Rumsfeld being sued in Germany over Abu Ghraib? Big news in the afternoon…

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…and even bigger news by late afternoon — as big as Drudge could make it…

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…finally settling in the early evening on the multi-teaser/ital headline/glum photo triple whammy.

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Remember? Yeah, well, you can forget about it now. Because it’s within the discretion of German prosecutors to pursue it or not, the odds that anyone’s going to be charged are slim and none. Which even an idiot like me recognized instantly. So why wasn’t that fact emphasized in Time’s original story?

Because, silly: you can’t own the news cycle, even for a day, if your big scoop is self-deflating. Better to wait a week until no one’s looking and you’ve already gotten your Drudge splash.

Just a little vignette about how the media operates. Do with it what you will.

Update: In semi-defense of Time, the story might never have risen to such prominence if Drudge had read it more carefully before posting. They were pitching it as a big scoop, clearly, but the article did explain — albeit a ways down the page — that criminal charges wouldn’t necessarily be filed. Drudge didn’t grasp that fact initially; compare the headline in the first two screencaps to the one in the third. It may be that he didn’t realize until he had already splashed it that it wasn’t as big of a story as he thought and he felt compelled to stick with it at the top of the page for awhile. It got bumped later that evening for news about McCain’s presidential maneuverings, so maybe that was his way of quietly backing off.