In CNN’s transcripts archive, the segment is titled, “Still No Decision from Ferguson Grand Jury.” Perhaps a more honest title would have been, “Still Nothing to Talk About in Ferguson.” The segment took place on today’s “Legal View” with host Ashleigh Banfield and included this summation from CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin on location in Ferguson:
Since I got here, Ashleigh, last night, this is all everyone is talking about. I’m talking about the person that rented the car to me, the person that was driving the airport shuttle, everyone at the hotel, everyone at the local stores. This is all everyone is talking about. And as you know, I was in Sanford, I was in Jacksonville covering other cases. This definitely feels different. This feels very tense. It’s surprising to me how many people are keyed into this, clued in and know about it and really seem to care about it. And, remember, this is — we’re just waiting for a grand jury decision. We’re not waiting for a verdict in a trial. So there certainly does seem to feel — there seems to be a lot of unrest waiting for this decision.
In the previous hour, host Michaela Pereira asked CNN’s Ana Cabrera what was happening “on the ground.”
We are just in a waiting game right now Michaela and John, as you mentioned. We believe the grand jury is currently going over their proceedings and deliberating behind me in the justice center in St. Louis County. I can tell you there is a fairly large law enforcement presence here around the media staging area across the street just making sure everything stays peaceful but as you can see behind me, pretty quiet here, it’s a cold day here in the St. Louis area and perhaps that’s keeping people indoors for the moment. But people are certainly very anxious to hear what the decision will be and at this point we don’t know even exactly when that announcement will come following a decision that’s made.
Cabrera earlier in the morning told colleague Carol Costello:
Now it was about a week ago that the governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency. The National Guard is on standby. We have extra FBI agents who have come into town, we know businesses are boarded up. There’s definitely a sense that people preparing for the worst, but we’ve talked to a lot of people who hope that that preparation ultimately is unnecessary
Good thing that something finally happened. And CNN, to its credit, was there. At 1:32 p.m., host Wolf Blitzer informed viewers, “We’re getting significant breaking news coming in from Ferguson, Mo. — U.S. and local law enforcement officials telling CNN that a decision by the grand jury in the Darren Wilson case is expected to be announced later today.”
“Later today,” however, has left CNN in the same pre-game bind that has dogged it for days. Just a little while ago, CNN host Don Lemon spoke with activist Tory Russell, a co-founder of Hands Up United. Here was Lemon’s first question: “As we wait for the announcement . . . what is going on, what’s going through your minds, through the minds of the community here in Ferguson and through the St. Louis area?”
Russell started out by saying, “We’re just waiting on an indictment.” Well said!
And moments ago, host Jake Tapper chatted with correspondent Sara Sidner, who was on the ground outside of the Ferguson police station. The question for Sidner was whether there had been “any movement” by protesters or law enforcement in this critical spot. In a moment that has a good shot of getting repeated on the “Daily Show,” Sidner said yes, there had been some movement: “These gentlemen were not out here a few minutes ago,” Sidner said. “They now are out here.” The camera panned to show three people. At right is how it looked.
Ask any cable talent: Filling airtime when news comes slowly or not at all is a skill acquired through grinding and unrewarding practice. The trick is not to get ahead of events, not to speculate too much, not to say anything stupid, not to pan to three people standing around, as if that’s indicative of anything. Yet once your network decides it’s going wall-to-wall, this stuff becomes inevitable and sometimes a little amusing. All of it, of course, is good for the media-blogging industry.