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When Casey Anthony Pre-Empts Wimbledon

| July 3, 2011

casey anthony trial wimbledon


Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal.

And now Casey Anthony.

Since the days of Evert and the rest of them—that’s about a third of a century—NBC has had a lock on the Wimbledon men’s final, usually on the first Sunday  in July. It does so again this year. Promising match:  Nadal and Novak Djokovic, titan versus upstart. But if you’re in Central Florida, the usual NBC affiliate has opted to pre-empt coverage with the Casey Anthony trial. (As a friend clued me in, fish around a bit and it’ll show up elsewhere.)

Casey Anthony.

Editor’s Blog

It’s not that coverage isn’t warranted. Of course it is. It’s a murder trial, and a somewhat unusual one, although there’s nothing “usual,” ever, about any kind of murder. The life of a homeless, nameless drunk is not one bit less valuable or less worthy of note, when ended by murder, than the life of a photogenic toddler girl. If mothers aren’t often accused of murdering their own child, it’s sadly not entirely uncommon, either, whatever the culture. There are unusual elements that compel a degree of unusual coverage in this case. But saturation, pre-emptive coverage on every local channel, when matters of far greater consequence (war, national default, government shut-downs) warrant less than two minutes on the evening newscast? I don’t think so.

A tennis match doesn’t rate much importance at all, either, obviously. But it doesn’t pretend to. It’s honest, scheduled irrelevance.

I’m all for televising trials. For that matter we’re at the point technologically where every court proceeding from the lowest administrative court to the United States Supreme Court can and should be available in some way electronically, at little to no cost. But all in its proper place. Leave saturation coverage to matters of regional or national importance. The Casey Anthony case isn’t even a matter of local importance: its unraveling and outcome will affect absolutely nothing, other than the bottom lines of television channels and the entertainment quotients of Nancy Grace wannabes, as if we needed more harpies like her pretending to be one-mullah committees for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice. As Shirley Jackson well knew when she wrote “The Lottery,” Stonings don’t happen only in Taliban country, or with stones.

Anthony’s isn’t murder-trial coverage. It’s voyeurism on a bimbo scale. If Anthony had been middle aged, crinkled, overweight, if she’d not been white, this level of media fixation would have been unthinkable. But she’s young. Lithe. White. Allegedly attractive. A party girl. A customized object to men’s puerile fantasies, a ready target for women’s inquisitorial instincts: mothers all over the place playing judge and jury over Anthony’s fate. And when it’s over, no one will give her or her lost child another thought. The show will be over, changing virtually nothing about anyone’s understanding of human psychology or behavior or what makes a human being tick, or kill. This isn’t televised Crime and Punishment we’re talking about. It’s the superficiality of CSI-Orlando hashed over and stretched over weeks of ratings-rich exploitation.

Whatever happened to Caylee Anthony is an atrocity. But so is the circus trailing it.

–Pierre Tristam

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25 Responses for “When Casey Anthony Pre-Empts Wimbledon”

  1. MassMom says:

    I do not disagree that for some this media circus is nothing more than a protracted television drama, but I disagree with the assumption that this is entertainment and that people will forget about it. I disagree this case draws viewers because men think she’s hot and mothers around the globe are carrying pitchforks in righteous idignation. Instead, I’d suggest that this is every parent’s nightmare. Why did this happen and how could this happen? Can we have among us in our own families a Casey Anthony capable of committing this type of crime? It’s our nature as human beings to try and understand what troubles us. This senseless death of a beautiful child who came from a decent home with family who cared for her troubles us. It’s drawn us in. None of us could have predicted the sensational twists and turns of the trial. But as every sensational theory was offered up by the defense it created a snowball effect that picked up more interest as viewers tried to sort out what really happened. I think for many, including myself, it’s a reminder that what you see on the surface isn’t at all what you might find if you do a little digging. It’s kind of a harsh view of humaity to take such a cynical view of people and their interest in this case. There are gawkers and people drawn to sensationalism, but then there are people who want to learn and understand just how something like this could happen. Maybe there’s no preventing these things but if we learn something about the signs we’ll do a better job of digging down and not accepting what is not logical at face value.

  2. Jan Reeger says:

    I do so agree! Bad News is Anthony trial. Good News is my remote control.

  3. The Truth says:

    It’s being carried on CW18 so if you’re local, you CAN see it despite what the article said.

  4. Gobstopped says:

    You can see it. Most of the Orlando stations have “sister stations” where they’ve co-opted their normal programming (mainly afternoon soaps and talk shows). I just tuned to channel 8 and there’s Wimbledon…live. Why are the stations doing this? Check the ratings on WESH-2 for the closing arguments vs. the ratings for Wimbledon on that sister station (the CW affiliate) and you’ll see why these stations are airing this trial live, gavel to gavel.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Thanks for saving the day. That said, the question remains: should it have been pre-empted, and carried on so many channels (including some national cable channels)?

  5. Gobstopped says:

    We want open government….judicial branch included. Unfortunately, once you let the genie out of the lamp, you can’t put it back in. Is this the seedy underside of our legal system? It is. But there is no debating this case struck a nerve in the public, or else people wouldn’t watch. If Caylee were a small black child and Casey were a single mom, living in the ‘hood, would we see this same coverage? No. This sort of crime happens every week across the country. But I go back to just how many people are watching this. Some stations thought they’d let those secondary channels handle the trial coverage…but they saw the numbers of eyeballs tuning in to the channels which had continuous coverage. They didn’t make these people tune in. That said, if the case wasn’t televised and the jury returned a verdict with which many didn’t agree, all sorts of conspiracy calls would be heard. Watching all this unfold does leave me feeling ‘icky’ but you take the ‘icky’ with the good opening these courts up to television does.

  6. Yellowstone says:

    Hold it here . . .

    There are instances when a young black has been juried and the time prolonged – for whatever reasons. There was a recent case in Atlanta regarding a young black that shot up a room full of court officials. The shooting was televised and everyone could see who did it and why.

    The trial cost a fortune to the taxpayers. And probably put the names of the trial attorneys in textbooks – as well as selling a lot of TV advertising time.

    So, it’s not always about color . . . .

  7. Mario says:

    Casey who?

  8. Craig says:

    Fox 35 interrupted the Yankees-Cubs game three weeks ago for four innings to tell us it was raining.

  9. Stan Buchholtz says:

    I have been equally outraged that some of my favorite programs have been pre-empted by the shameless exploitation of this sleazy trial by the TV stations, and emailed them to complain about it.

  10. P Mc says:

    Casey not only killed Wimbledon but the PGA tour coverage. Baez put on a good story, today. But, the child is dead, and someone needs to answer for it. That whole family is guilty.

  11. Dorothea says:

    I unabashedly admit that I watched the trial and was completely engrossed in it. My interest was not in who the victim was, but the manner in which the trial itself was conducted. I had paid lttle attention to the case prior to the trial, so I had no preconceived notions. It was a trial where almost every witness lied, cops included, the lead male prosecutor was an emotional basket case, the judge was partial to the prosecution, and there was no evidence that there was even a murder. The state of Florida spent a huge portion of its underfunded court budget to prosecute Anthony and came out with little of substance against her. If you want to know what is wrong with our legal system, the Anthony trial makes it very evident.

  12. Edward says:

    @Dorothea This is the FIRST time I have heard anyone with the sense to see this farce of a trial for what it is. The law is supposedly based on truth and what the people can PROVE beyond reasonable doubt and NOT what preconceived notion one might have coming into a trial. After ALL that time, we are no closer to the truth than we were from day 1. I STILL don’t know how the child died. Where she died. Who may have killed her. What’s up with that creepy “meter reader” guy. More importantly why was the body found months later on the EDGE of the woods. (a dog couldn’t find it?) (and YES a cadaver dog would have sniffed the body EVEN if it was under water) I agree this whole process is a mess.

  13. concerned says:

    @ Craig – the final round of the US Open was also pre-empted to tell us it was raining. Has our media has become pathetic or is it our society? Perhaps both, sigh…

  14. Dee says:

    If only we could have a switch that would turn “on” when women were smart/mature enough to have children, then maybe we would have less “girls” having babies they weren’t ready for and/or did not want. If you have to live with Mommy and Daddy, you are not ready for parenthood.

  15. elaygee says:

    When ALL news and special events are cancelled so every channel can air an incompetent lawyer defending a moron who killed her child because she was too stupid and selfish to just give it to her parents, its just cause to declare that we’ve become a nation of idiots.

  16. Justice for All says:

    Did this constant “T.V. celebrity coverage” get started with the O.J. Simpson case?

    I had to get out the defib machine to revive the spouse, starting with the preemption of the U.S. Open coverage.

    Pierre, you are right on point!

  17. NortonSmitty says:

    There is an important lesson that we all should learn from this melodrama. As I see it, it is If you really have to kill a little kid, kill an ugly one. No one cares then. But if you kill a pretty one you will be on TV forever. Especially if Mama’s hot and slutty and you release a lot of photo’s and videos. That really sells a lot of commercial time! Don’t believe me? At least 100 little kids have been murdered in Florida since Caylee Anthony. Name one of them.

  18. palmcoaster says:

    Aside from when a program on TV should be transmitted at national level or not interrupting our normal programs that we pay for…is a disrespectfully abuse of our rights for what we pay for and we should all start gathering signatures to present a complaint to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in Washington DC. Wether this is a decision of the big networks or the local cable, satellite whatever providers is a total abuse and disservice for what we pay. I am also fed up with this “Casey Anthony’s innocent child tragedy”
    Let justice prevail in the court room and away from my choice of entertainment that “I pay for up front”.
    Have anyone here give a thought to start gathering signatures for a formal petition to the FCC regarding this abuse? Lets analyze here how we are being gouged and how hig cost this service to us:
    1) we pay for the electricity to power our TV set,
    2) we pay for the TV set,
    3) we pay for the basic cable connection to access any TV transmission.
    4) We also pay big money for the access to those very programs and channels that these corporations move around, switch and or cancel on us, as they please…Is anyone able to watch anymore TV enduring the 10 to 1 advertising abuse? Furthermore now these Rep…kans are wedging an all out war to the only decent programming available, in the public supported channels like PBS and others. Until when are we going to endure this aberration? Back then Ma Bell was cannibalized by the Fed for much less than these abuses.
    Now what the heck are we paying this services for…? Aren’t we supposed to receive the goods we pay for? there is a massive breach of contract here, good enough for the FCC to intervene, as we are treated like morons by these “media corporations”. This is what happens when the abuse of capitalism is given a green flag to the almighty corporations and nobody does s….t about it!
    Then we point fingers to communism…after all here, we are heading that way to.
    Lets Freedom and Rights shine on our Independence Day! Happy Bday America! (the one it used to be and the one we will all go back to, if we fight for it!).

  19. palmcoaster says:

    Sorry should read “these services”…welcome to point any other goof ups, as my mind gets foggy with frustration.

  20. Gobstopped says:

    By and large, all the regularly scheduled programs still air, albeit on alternative channels. These channels are available over the air as well as on the cable/satellite systems. Now, as to the reasons why everyone watches the trial, that’s another question.

  21. Edward says:

    @Dorothea. WE WERE RIGHT!

  22. Dorothea says:

    Edward, the jury also got it right.

  23. david kirkpatrick says:

    You put into words exactly how I feel about this. How many other murder cases have there been since this one that received no coverage. This is a random case out of hundreds of thousands. But the crime, the characters, even the names met the criteria for the reality show. I disagree with you about the cameras. They should be banned from all criminal trials. It’s the only way to stop the circus.
    We have a right to a public trial because in the old days in England, one could be tried behind closed doors and never seen again. So we have public trials to prevent that. It was never meant fro public trials to mean worldwide entertainment in the disguise of news.

  24. palmcoaster says:

    Why aren’t these individuals openly threatening anyone in these Anthony family, properly prosecuted by the law over their “terrorist threats?” Justice have spoken. Why many out there pseudo lawyers are steering these unruly vociferous uneducated mobs…making a Jerry Springer scene of themselves? Justice have spoken and they need to resume their daily chores like going to work, watch their children and or clean house.

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