A Code Pink demonstrator was not convicted Wednesday simply for laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing.
Laughter was indeed a factor in the jury's decision this week to convict Desiree Fairooz, a longtime anti-war demonstrator, but the story is a bit more complicated than that.
Fairooz was arrested on Jan. 10 after she laughed out loud during Sen. Richard Shelby's, R-Ala., introductory remarks at Sessions' confirmation hearing, reported the Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly, who has done a fine job tracking this story since the beginning.
The veteran protestor scoffed when Shelby said Sessions' record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented." Fairooz was detained soon thereafter and charged with "disorderly and disruptive conduct" intended to "impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct" of congressional business.
The Code Pink demonstrator also caused a scene when law enforcement officials escorted her from the chamber, which earned her a second misdemeanor for, "allegedly parading, demonstrating or picketing within a Capitol," Reilly reported at the time.
Fast-forward to May, and this is where things become a bit more complicated.
Fairooz was convicted on both misdemeanors Wednesday, but jurors stressed they focused on the parading and picketing charges, and not on the laughing bit.
"She did not get convicted for laughing. It was her actions as she was being asked to leave," the jury foreperson told the Huffington Post. "Ms. Fairooz's comments as she was being escorted out caused the session to stop. It disrupted the session."
Though other jurors reportedly said they thought it was ridiculous Fairooz was removed in the first place, they also said there was no way to deny the disruption charges.
The federal government argued it could convict her on the laughter stuff alone, which is certainly ridiculous. However, to suggest the jury's conviction was about that alone would be inaccurate.
Irritatingly enough, the nation's newsrooms are going with the angle Fairooz was convicted just for laughing.
"Jury Convicts Woman Who Laughed At Jeff Sessions During Senate Hearing" read the Huffington Post's headline Wednesday, which is unfortunate considering the work Reilly put into his coverage.
Time magazine reported, "Jeff Sessions: Woman Who Laughed at Confirmation Convicted."
These headlines, arguably have the virtue of being literally true, while misleading: the woman who was arrested was the woman who laughed. Other publications took the leap from implying causality to stating.
"Woman Convicted for Laughing During Jeff Sessions' Confirmation Hearing," read a Mother Jones headline.
NBC News followed with its own: "Activist Faces Jail Time for Laughing During Sessions Hearing."
Even the New York Times originally ran with a headline that claimed, "Jury Convicts Protester Who Laughed at Sessions Hearing."
(Reminder: Headlines are almost always written by editors, and not by the reporters.)
Earlier this month, Fairooz defended herself and two other Code Pink demonstrators who were also arrested at the Jan. 10 hearing.
"I felt it was my responsibility as a citizen to dissent at the confirmation hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions, a man who professes anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT policies, who has voted against several civil rights measures and who jokes about the white supremacist terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan," she said in a statement on May 1.
She and the two other protesters face up to 12 months in jail, $2,000 in fines or both, the Times reported.
"We'll face the music when we get to that," Fairooz said.
There are arguments to be made against the initial decision to detain her for laughing. The fact that it was the arresting officer's first congressional hearing could say something about the officer's snap judgment.
If the officer made an error in her actions, however, that doesn't require headline writers err, too.