Our around-the-clock media circus is at its most intense when it sinks its teeth into a juicy crime and the inevitable court trial that follows it.
Ever since the O.J. Simpson case back in the 1990s, media outlets have always been on the lookout for the next big thing. The type of story that will allow cable news channels to fill huge blocks of its programming with constant discussion of a story.
Of course, the most recent example of this was the case involving Casey Anthony in
Much like Simpson, Anthony was convicted by the media almost from the beginning. Led by carnival barkers like HLN's Nancy Grace, it appeared inconceivable to the media that she would be acquitted. Each night, this point of view was fed to a national audience.
However, as we all know, that is what happened. Except for four counts of lying to law enforcement officials, Anthony was acquitted of all charges and was released from jail today.
Please understand that this column is not meant to be some sort of defense of Anthony. She is a convicted liar, and her behavior in the aftermath of her child's death was astonishing. I do not know what makes this woman tick, but she appears very troubled.
The point of this column is about the media's tendency to overreach when covering these trials and the public's willingness to go along for the ride. This is clearly a partnership. Many people want to heap all the blame on the media, but the media would not supply this if there was not a willing audience for it.
My frustration is that the public simply does not expect more out of the media. People appear content to simply watch and latch on to whatever story is served up for them.
At a time when our nation has numerous economic problems and is at war, we appear more concerned about a murder trial that deals with sex, mystery and betrayal.
Where are our priorities? While I agree that the murder of a two-year-old girl is important, the sad truth is that crimes like this happen on a semi-regular basis. So, why did this trial grab our attention?
It appealed because it had an attractive defendant who liked to party at the most inappropriate times. It appealed because that defendant would say just about anything to explain what happened no matter how preposterous or unsupported it was.
In the aftermath of all this, I think we all know what will happen to Anthony. Though she will likely become a social pariah, she also will get rich. Media outlets will pay to get her story, and it would not surprise me if she helped write a book about her life that will be on the shelves by Christmas.
Her story is not going away anytime soon. We live in a 'reality TV show' world and her life has been one for the last three years. Why should we expect that to change?
As for the public, my hope is that we take some time and reflect on these 'made for TV' court trials that are served to us. Lots of important stories go unreported while we focus on events like this.
Our priorities likely are a primary reason our country is so messed up. We lack the patience or commitment to deal with the real problems we face. So, we bury our faces in stories like the Anthony trial.
We get what we deserve.