Yesterday morning, on page 1 of The New York Times, readers were treated to a photo of America’s assassin du jour, Jared Loughner, smiling a truly mad smile. Why is Mr. Loughner smiling? He must know that he will at the least be locked up for the rest of his life, and at the most, get a trip into the next world after much legal wrangling and expense. My guess is that he’s smiling because, for the first time in his wretched life, Someone Is Paying Attention.

Matt and Katie and Brian and their colleagues have seen to it, as they always do, that any twisted geek with a gun will get his 15 minutes of fame if his crime is heinous enough.

On page 12 of the same paper was the news that, on the same day that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was fighting for her life in a Tucson hospital, Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, was sentenced to 3 years in prison plus 10 years’ probation, for money laundering and conspiracy.

And on page 19 was the obituary for Major Richard Winters, 92, of Hershey, Pa. Although he avoided notoriety his whole life, Winters was made famous by Stephen Ambrose’s book, Band of Brothers, and by the television mini-series of the same name. I am willing to bet that very few recent college graduates can give the dates of the war in which Dick Winters fought, or who fought, or what they fought about.

“If we’re being honest with ourselves, we in the media understand that our job descriptions do not entirely overlap with the requirements of good citizenship.”

–Matt Taibbi, Taibblog, 1/10/11, “The Giffords Tragedy: Is the Media Partly at Fault?”