Jewish World Review July 11, 2011 / 9 Tammuz, 5771
Casey Anthony: The TV Show
By Bernard Goldberg
We were drawn to the trial because it was a TV show, and we Americans love a good TV show. This one was a reality TV show with real characters and real drama, unlike the phony reality shows that litter the television landscape and aren't even real. And this real life drama show had a real star Casey Anthony who might be sentenced to death at the end of the show.
Who cares about the bozos on the Jersey Shore, or the Kardashian bozos, when you can have Casey Anthony in your living room? Did she do it? Did her father do it? Did he really molest her? Was he having an affair? Will the jury vote for a lethal injection in her arm?
This is what we call "good television."
And we were fascinated with the trial even though it wasn't even an important news story, except of course, for the people directly involved. It wasn't about race, like the O.J. Simpson trial. It wasn't about fame, which explained why so many Americans were hooked on the John Kennedy, Jr. plane crash story. It wasn't even by the clash of classes in our culture.
But it was about something we can't resist: the pretty girl next door on trial for her life.
Sure, we have two wars going on where Americans are dying for their country. But they don't get one-tenth the attention that Casey Anthony got. Sorry, all you military folks out there dodging bullets and rockets. You don't get ratings unless of course a bomb goes off and kills a whole bunch of people while the camera is rolling.
That's also good television.
What about the debt crisis and the budget and stuff like that? Those are real stories with serious consequences. Why don't we get more of that from journalists who keep telling us how respectable they are?
We will get hours and hours of that on television. I'm sure of it. When hell freezes over.
But not all trials involving young women and their dead little girl make for good TV. For instance, if Casey Anthony were a black woman with a black baby, the TV networks wouldn't have given the story 10 minutes, from beginning to end.
Remember, this was a true crime drama about, Casey, the girl next door. The white girl next door, with the cute little white dead kid.
And if there wasn't any video of the adorable little girl, you wouldn't have seen much of the trial on TV, either. TV rule #1: You must have video if you want to get on the air.
And if Casey was fat. Or ugly, with a big pimple on her nose. No way they'd cover that trial. It's also against the rules. But TV executives aren't the only shallow ones. So are lots and lots and lots of Americans. In fact, we can be a remarkably shallow people at times. And this, my friends, is one of those times.
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JWR contributor Bernard Goldberg, the television news reporter and author of several bestselling books, among them, Bias, a New York Times number one bestseller about how the media distort the news. He is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. Mr. Goldberg covered stories all over the world for CBS News and has won 10 Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He now reports for the widely acclaimed HBO broadcast Real Sports.
He is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni and proprietor of BernardGoldberg.com.
© 2011, Bernard Goldberg