John McTiernan by Associated Press
A noted Hollywood filmmaker, above, faces prison after a conditional guilty plea July 12 in a wiretapping case so interesting that it deserves two alternative news accounts.
Here's a version that Reuters provided to news organizations serving a vast majority of Americans:
"Die Hard" film director John McTiernan pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement officials in connection with the racketeering case of a private detective who represented many Hollywood stars.
A trial for McTiernan had been expected to begin on Tuesday in Los Angeles on two counts of making false statements to federal agents and one count of perjury. McTiernan, 59, originally pleaded guilty in 2006 to a charge of knowingly lying to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the criminal case against private detective Anthony Pellicano, who has since been jailed.
But the film director later withdrew his plea, saying he had received poor legal advice, had been drinking and was jet-lagged from traveling when FBI agents questioned him. Federal officials again charged McTiernan with crimes in 2009, leading to Monday's guilty plea. A judge set a sentencing date of Oct. 4....
I've written at least a hundred variants of this kind of traditional guilty plea story while covering federal courts fulltime from 1976 to 1980 for the Hartford Courant, Connecticut's largest paper. But times have changed, and IMO the essence of McTiernan's case is better conveyed this way:
Yet again, federal authorities abused their powers by creating a crime that ruined a defendant's career, at needless expense to taxpayers.
Too tough a verdict? You be the judge.