updated 8/18/2005 11:01:48 AM ET 2005-08-18T15:01:48

5 p.m. EST

Out on the blogosphere today it's the tale of two blogswarms, with left and right each focusing on very different stories.

For the liberals right now the topic is support for military mom Cindy Sheehan as she camps out beside the President's Crawford ranch.

The conservatives are blogging about allegations of a financial scandal at Air America Radio.

Brian at the blog Radio Equalizer has teamed up with Michelle Malkin to conduct a blog investigation, the first installment of which was posted today.

This story kicked off with a report in late July that the original CEO of Air America, Evan Cohen, may have borrowed over $400,000 from a nonprofit charity in New York to help finance the network.

Michelle Malkin and other conservatives allege that's just the tip of the iceberg for the scandal.

The liberals haven't been quick to defend Air America, but Mahablog does a nice job of countering the right. She says that the money was loaned to Progress Media, a parent company for Air America, and the radio network is not to blame.

The second installment of Michelle and Brian's investigation gets posted tonight.

Out on the left side of the web, Cindy Sheehan is the star today.

Daily Kos says that this is a no win battle for the administration. If she continues to speak out she'll gain more fans, and if they smear her they'll lose respect.

Blogs for Bush sees it a different way though. A blogger there believes that Cindy is making a fool out of herself, and neglecting her son Casey's legacy of helping to bring freedom to Iraq.

So, now to the score card. I made a Blogpulse trend graph to find out which story is getting more attention on the blogs, and Cindy Sheehan is winning by a landslide. There has been much made of the fact that MSM has a "blackout" on the Air America story, but the blogosphere hasn't been quick to pick it up, either. I think this is a case of great marketing from a few well organized conservatives.

On the show today, newspapers across the country are trying to bring "good news" back from Iraq, and a look at one town's efforts to curb illegal immigrant activity.

Email me. maciulis@msnbc.com

12 p.m. EST

The sentencing phase begins today for convicted BTK killer Dennis Rader. In June, Rader stood before the court and recounted in chilling detail how he bound, tortured and killed 10 people.

His emotionless retelling had the tone of a high school shop teacher explaining how carburetors work. If you're a spiritual person, you'd imagine that inside he's just black, hollow.

Despite the horrible murders and obvious lack of remorse, Rader is not eligible for the death penalty, as it did not exist in Kansas at the time of the crimes. This begs the question--If not him, then who? People have been put to death for far lesser crimes.

Today on the show we're going to dig into this issue. I don't think it's a stretch to say that the death penalty in America is inconsistent at best.

We'll also talk about the statements that relatives of victims make in these hearings. They are emotional, perhaps cathartic for them, but what legal purpose do they serve?

I must tell you we cover our share of these gruesome crime stories, perhaps too many of them. After awhile one blurs into the next, and I think we lose a sense of the emotion and just focus on the story, the way a surgeon focuses on the body part, the tumor, and not the "person." You need to do this to avoid going crazy.

One case, though, really moved me. The murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion was one of the most difficult stories I have covered. It was her photo, her class picture that we used every time we told a story about her. I couldn't shake an image in my mind of this child getting ready for that picture, standing nervously in line with her little girlfriends. Laughing, teasing. Then that big, happy smile.

Her killer, 30-year-old Alejandro Avila, was sentenced to death. At the sentencing hearing Erin Runnion, Samantha's mother, tearfully stated that while she knew he deserved death, his death would bring no glory. It wouldn't give Samantha a chance to go to first grade, to learn to read, to have a prom.

Today: A look at the death penalty.

And later, a dad who lost his son in Iraq. He has a message for Cindy Sheehan--he still supports the President and this war.

Email me. maciulis@msnbc.com

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,