Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Casey Anthony and the Media

I feel this should start with a significant disclaimer. A few of them, actually.

One, we’re obviously about to venture outside of Count3rCu1ture’s normal realm of conversation, that being the lesser-noticed elements of entertainment/pop culture. Just for this piece, the scope is about to broaden to lesser-noticed elements of mass-media - which there could certainly be justification in covering as far as this site is concerned.

Two, this is not a discussion about whether or not Casey Anthony murdered Caylee Anthony. A verdict on that has already been reached by those much more qualified than myself. It’s over and done. This is not the particular time or place to have that particular discussion. More on why that is will be below.

And finally, three: what you’re about to read, just like everything else said about this by anyone who wasn’t involved in the case, is merely opinion and conjecture. Feel free to take it as the same gospel word or with the same grain of salt as everything else that’s been said or written about the Anthony case.

In the case of State of Florida vs. Casey Anthony, the defendant has been found not guilty on all but four counts of lying to investigators. It is the culmination of three years worth of sensational posturing, fake outrage, tears, and bold statements of opinion. And that’s to say nothing of the Anthony family themselves.

The phrase about seeing a case “tried in the media” has never been more prominent than it was with the case of Casey Anthony. And yet the nation is shocked when the real verdict...the one reached by an actual far different from what the media has pounded in to our consciousness for three years straight. Everyone from Nancy Grace and Jane-Velez Mitchell to local “reporters” (such as WFTV’s Kathi Belich) has proclaimed Anthony guilty as sin from day one and never stopped.

The press, putting themselves in a position of righteous indignation, have caused much more harm than good. The “lynch mob/pack-dog” mentality has been fostered for a full three years now, to the point where the public is ready to take Casey Anthony down vigilante-style despite the fact that the justice system held in such high regard along with the rest of this country’s values has done what it was intended to do.

The reaction to the actual verdict after the media had spent that much time sucking up to the decency standards of the public has resulted in...well, have you seen Facebook or Twitter at all in the last couple days?

Speaking of that, an aside if I may. David Boreanaz just became my hero. Sharon Osbourne just reinvented the pot calling the kettle black. And does Kim Kardashian fail to realize that her own father was on OJ Simpson’s defense team?

The problem is, not many in our realize that the “news media” is just another business looking to make money. Their revenue comes from ratings and ad sponsors just like any other television show. Because of coverage of the Anthony trial, HLN doubled its ratings last month from the year prior. That’s great news for sponsors who all want to jump on board the Nancy Grace gravy train.

And why would that train stop? Grace is still on the trail of “vengeance”, even after the verdict has been handed down - even though Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press posits that Grace may be somehow responsible for Anthony’s acquittal. Man, wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Be that as it may, she’s not alone. And please don’t think that she or any other “media watchdog” did this for any sort of “justice for Caylee.” Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Geraldo Rivera, or any of the rest of ”the incompetent talking heads” that defense attorney Cheney Mason lambasted after the trial was over (good for you, dude!), all of them were after the same thing. Anyone can feign shock at anything when there’s this much money to be had.

The “news” anchors (I notice I’m having to use an awful lot of quotations in this piece) did their job. They fed the public what they wanted to hear, became “outraged” whenever the case looked like it might even remotely favor Casey Anthony, and kicked the hornet’s nest of public consciousness every time it came time to pop a rating. Now we’re left with a call for blood for a woman who has been acquitted by the same justice system we point to as one of the reasons we’re the best country in the world. Though, judging by social media, there seems to be a bit of a backlash against this sort of practice. I can only hope I’m right about that, because this is one of the main reasons I hate mass media.

It’s times like this I’m even ashamed to admit I’m in media (on whatever miniscule level that may be) because of the “media assassins” and their refusal to own up to their rhetoric when they’re proven wrong. Unlike many other pundits who suddenly disappeared from the public eye once they realized they had to eat the foot they stuck in their mouths in the past three years, I have no real opinion on “who did it” or what may have happened or any of that. This isn’t about Caylee Anthony - but then, much of the past three years of absurdity hasn’t really been about ‘Justice for Caylee’, either. The only difference is I’ll admit my motives up front, and that’s the examination of trial by media.

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