Years and years ago, I read a story (possibly apocryphal) from the 1970’s, involving England’s Prince Charles and some paparazzi. It seems that one of the more enterprising photogs managed to capture a photo of the heir to the throne while changing clothes, getting a fairly clear photo of… er… the Crown Jewels, including the Royal Twig And Berries. Naturally, the British tabloids fell all over each other to get the picture and publish it. The royal family went to court to block the publication, and the judge — in his ruling — used a phrase that has stuck with me for years.
“‘Interesting to the public’ is not synonymous with ‘in the public interest.'”
I find that phrase coming back more and more as I suffer through the wall to wall coverage of the Casey Anthony case. As horrific as it is, there is absolutely nothing about it that raises any kind of issues outside the immediate, local area. It is absolute and perfect tabloid fodder. It is rubbish.
And I’ll put Fox News right at the top of the list. They sent I dunno how many people there, dumped their entire normal schedule to cover it, and did everything short of offering to underwrite the whole trial just so they could tag it as “brought to you by Fox News.” They must have been heartbroken every time they had to interrupt it for the latest non-news about the current missing blonde co-ed. I almost wore out the mute button on my remote.
I know I’m asking too much to dump the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality. But for heaven’s sake, can’t we at least put a hint of some reins on it? And, most horrifyingly, will someone eventually, in a quest for fame, commit some horrific crime purely so they can be the “star” of this kind of spectacle?
Maybe I’m just turning into an old fart here. (OK, I’ve always had a bit of that in me. Maybe I should say “getting in touch with my inner old fart.”) But the whole Casey Anthony case just makes me feel like I need to take a shower.
Several showers. With Lava soap.