What isn’t news exposed

Rena Picou Trevathan
July 12, 2011
Jeanne R. Lefort
July 14, 2011

July 6, 2011. It was like any other day. Or was it? For sure, it was the day most Americans were shocked that Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter, Caylee. She wasn’t found guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder. She wasn’t even found guilty of aggravated manslaughter. How could this happen?

For a week, the national media covering the last days of the trial and every legal expert predicted the same thing. Casey was clearly, undoubtedly, for sure, darn straight guilty. The only question was how long the jury would take to come to that conclusion.

Granted, some pundits said she might be found guilty of aggravated manslaughter, but most knowingly and professionally said Anthony was either looking at life or death.

And long before the legitimate national media arrived, the Nancy Grace-type TV shows that regularly turn trials into reality shows covered it day and night, night and day (with apologies to Cole Porter).

I understand this case had some uncommon elements that added to human interest. What mother parties when her child is missing?

That was the hook for the audience. Grace and imitators latched onto the trial like it was the case of the century. It wasn’t. Not that Grace and her cohorts didn’t try to make it so. With all the coverage, it was easy to be swayed into thinking there was more to this case. (Pay no heed to the fact that murder cases are as common as nutrias in Louisiana bayous and that terrible things happen to good people every day.)

News-deprived networks such as MSNBC, CNN and FOX News, all of which pretend they are 24-hour new sources, when they are really argument stations that push political, economic and legal debates as news and are happy to find something that looks like big news, even if it’s not, converged on the Florida courthouse.

The Casey Anthony trial quickly became manmade news. The Grace-type ilk, stations dedicated to the new fabrication business, made it so. They fabricated emotions and audiences bought it. Appalled by the goings-on, viewers watched attentively daily.

Grace talks about justice and the American way, but she’s in it for one reason: ratings. But as Grace sees it, her job is to convict suspects before a jury does; to rile up audiences; to push the notion that she’s justice’s personal watchdog.

That TV has corrupted itself to this extent is sickening. That the public is confused is understandable. After all, if you can’t trust the media, whom can you trust?

Clearly, we all care deeply about the fate of this little girl. But if this case is as big as the media made it, then every similar scenario deserves the same treatment. That’s just not the case, however.

The Casey Anthony trial was based on supposition because so little was known and everyone appeared to be lying. With next to no facts, what is left is a horrible story with a horrible outcome. A child is dead and the killer will (or has?) get away with it. The media ignored the possibility that Anthony might get off … it wasn’t a fulfilling ending and the press was too caught up in the hoopla.

Now, we’re left frustrated by the overblown coverage. Most of us are still trying to figure out what happened. I’ll tell you what happened. We listened to the media.