COMMENTS: You Cannot Libel a Dead Person

NBC also skipped the follow-up to Friday's Story of the Day, the decision by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to end its seven-year investigation into the inhalation murders of five people by sending anthrax spores through the mail. The probe is ending without an arrest, trial or guilty verdict because the FBI's chief suspect Bruce Ivins committed suicide. Ivins, a civilian germ warfare microbiologist at Fort Detrick, protested his innocence before he killed himself--but that fact was mentioned by neither CBS' Bob Orr nor Pierre Thomas in ABC's A Closer Look. Thomas was relatively temperate in his investigation into why it took the FBI five years to focus on Ivins. He insisted that even now it is "a strong circumstantial case, perhaps, but the FBI has a lot of skeptics."

Astonishingly, CBS' Orr showed no such circumspection. Without skepticism, he quoted anonymous "law enforcement sources" as dubbing Ivins "a sociopath intent on doing harm" and Orr asserted that Ivins "had a longtime obsession with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma." So much for not speaking ill of the dead. If Orr is as certain as he seems to be that this man Ivins was deranged, surely that should have been his lead. Do not cover the late Ivins' presumed guilt but the shocking question for the Pentagon--what in the world was the army doing hiring such a mad scientist homicidal pervert to work with germ warfare?


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