What started as a missing child investigation for Casey Anthony’s daughter three years ago, has turned into a media firestorm surrounding a murder trial, which USA Today referred to as, “the social media trial of the century.”
This week, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder and two other felony charges for the death of her daughter, but found not guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers. Like the verdict reached in the OJ Simpson case, there was shock and dismay from both the media and the general public, as both had been passionately condemning Anthony as a murderer for the past few months. Within two days of the verdict, we are seeing jurors on late night TV and the prosecutor on CNN.
Many have given Nancy Grace the credit for spearheading essentially a witch-hunt against Anthony. Grace’s extensive coverage of the trial earned record-level ratings for HLN with 1.2 million viewers at any given time of day by July 1, five weeks into the trial. To keep up with its competition, other cable news outlets, such as MSNBC and Fox News, began devoting more airtime to the trial.
What might have been a murder trial like any other in the U.S. became a media obsession. With live streaming of the trial available to the public, as well as the “Anthony Updates” iPhone app, and Facebook and Twitter, everyone could follow the proceedings and share their outrage in real time, driving even more frenzy.
Now that Anthony has been acquitted, her lawyers are condemning the media for its treatment of the trial. One of her attorneys, Cheney Mason, said he hopes, “that this is a lesson to those of you that have indulged in media assassination for three years,” and that he is “disgusted” by the, “bias and prejudice and incompetent ‘talking heads’ saying what would be and how to be.”
Maybe this feeding frenzy is just about human curiosity, but it seems pretty clear that this is about ratings and financial gain