COMMENTARY – Situation in Orlando becoming more dangerous as cable TV feeds the frenzy

Some of the hundreds of angry protesters wailing for Casey Anthony to leave. When Anthony exited the jail house building, people tried to block her car from leaving the parking lot, and new helicopters reported several vehicles following Anthony's car at high rate of speed. Anthony arrived at her destination safely (FOX-Orlando News/Pool Video)

Some of the hundreds of angry protesters wailing for Casey Anthony to leave. When Anthony exited the jail house building, people tried to block her car from leaving the parking lot, and new helicopters reported several vehicles following Anthony’s car at high rate of speed. Anthony arrived at her destination safely (FOX-Orlando News/Pool Video)

NOTE: As published on AllVoices on July 6, 2011 at 11:37am

“Calm down … This is getting to the point of danger. Vigilantly justice is not OK. You don’t take the law into your own hands.” — Dr. Drew Pinsky

“Everybody needs to turn the energy that they have into something positive. If you want to do something to honor Caylee, then do something to help other children. Don’t try to turn it into rage, turn it into something positive, because that honors her. Anything other than that dishonors her.” — Jeff Ashton

ORLANDO, Fla, (July 7, 2011) — TV lawyers are not real journalists. They do not have the training a reporter has, and by the very nature of their job, they cannot be objective. And while local news stations are doing their part to bring unbiased news to the public, HLN and its non-journalist lawyers continue to broadcast stories and views that are so one-sided, they are beginning to create a very dangerous situation in Orlando.

Traditional media has begun writing stories condemning cable TV coverage and their practices, and it just might be getting to them. But is it too late to prevent something serious from happening?

For example, a CNN story titled “Nancy Grace: I don’t have to agree with Casey Anthony jury” brags that she made the Casey Anthony case a national story. If she didn’t succeed, she would probably be out of a job, and ratings for HLN would plummet to nonexistence.

It has been said that the Casey Anthony trial has lifted HLN into a major player in the cable TV market, and they may be here to stay. For if it was not for this trial, HLN might have faded away. One story claimed that without a boost in the ratings, HLN would have disappeared as early as September this year. Or at least it would have remained a little known network.

Casey Anthony, 25, was on trial for first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated child abuse, and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. If convicted on the murder charge, Anthony would have faced a possible death penalty.

A jury spent close to seven weeks hearing the case, and spent 11 hours in deliberation. They found that the state had not proven their case beyond all and every reasonable doubt. Anthony was found “not guilty” of all the felony charges. She was found guilty only on the four counts of lying to police.

And as HLN continue to broadcast its bias, George and Cindy are receiving death threats. And the continued hype that instigates their followers is only going to make things worse. Now, Casey is in danger the moment she’s released from jail, according to lead defense attorney Jose Baez.

Wensday’s Vinnie Politan show was different in some ways, and more of the same in other ways.

I noticed a change today when Politan started his show. Politan’s first words were, “I am a lawyer,” and as the show progressed, he identified everyone who was also a lawyer. Never did he refer himself or the others as journalists. Could it be that the media blitz against HLN and other sensational journalists are starting to reach them, and caused Politan to start his show differently than he has in the past?

Wednesday, he surrounded himself with lawyers who think like him, except for TV Judge Alex Ferrer, of the TV show Judge Alex. When Judge Ferrer disagreed with the way Politan was acting, and stood up to him, saying the system worked, we didn’t hear much from the judge for the rest of the show.

And the negative bias continued, and many in the field of journalism, and those in other fields, feel that every negative bias broadcast adds to the public frenzy that’s growing.

Between last night and all day today, many traditional journalists came out with stories condemning the way cable TV has covered the trial, and the way they are instigating their followers.

Roy Peter Clark, of the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., likened the scene around the Orlando courthouse to a scene from the original Frankenstein movie.

“As I watched angry citizens outside an Orlando courthouse outraged at the acquittal of Casey Anthony, I could not help but remember the scene from the 1931 film ‘Frankenstein,’ in which townspeople light their torches in the town square and set off to track down the monster,” Clark wrote in his lead.

His article, “How Nancy Grace has reinvented journalism’s ‘Sob Sister’,” Clark said that, “They are directed by the invective of a hammy burgomaster, who, if he wore a blond wig, would look more than a little like Nancy Grace.”

So now, Grace has a nickname of her own: “Sob Sister.” Clark also compared Grace’s show to the Salem Witch hunts, where Sarah Good, who was a nonconformist, was branded as a witch. Care to see where Grace got her “The Devil is dancing tonight” simile from?

USA Today, Time, the Hollywood Insider, and many other traditional media outlets blasted the way cable TV is hyping up the news. Blogs, including the Huffington Post and even the Gawker, who called her a “grief pornographer,” are condemning the coverage.

Even HLN’s parent company, CNN, called HLN’s broadcasts into question. “The way TV has handled this is an embarrassment,” said Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s media-criticism show ‘Reliable Sources.

The Miami Herald said, “Many there complained that some television news shows built their ratings up by taking an openly prosecutorial stance against Anthony, leading to public expectations that a conviction was a slam-dunk certainty.”

On Dr. Drew Pinsky’s show on Wednesday, he asked people to “calm down,” as the level of frenzy is very high.

“This is getting to the point of danger,” Dr. Drew said, “vigilantly justice is not OK. You don’t take the law into your own hands.”

Then Dr. Drew asked prosecutor Jeff Ashton, who was a guest on his show, to also comment on the frenzy.

“Everybody needs to turn the energy that they have into something positive,” Ashton said. “If you want to do something to honor Caylee, then do something to help other children. Don’t try to turn it into rage, turn it into something positive, because that honors her. Anything other than that dishonors her.”

Article Copyright ©2011 by George McGinn. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and link backs to this story may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Violators will be prosecuted to the extent that the law allows. For reprint requests, contact author at george.mcginn@gmail.com.

George McGinn is based in Sarasota, Florida, United States of America, and was an Anchor on Allvoices.

 

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