Monday, July 23, 2007

Stepha Finally Gets Some Press

I just happened to tune into my new favorite show this weekend, and lo and behold, look who got a full 30 minutes dedicated to her?

The Nancy Grace Show's feature on the Stepha Henry case didn't really present any new information to anyone already familiar with the case, but at the very least it makes the general public more conscious of the story. That, of course, is the entire point.

Given the subject, I guess this would be the proper time to admit a past wrong. While watching coverage of the Bobby Cutts case develop, I gave cable news shows, specifically Nancy Grace, a lot of grief about how they were jumping all over Cutts without any evidence. This was a good thing for my blog, since our daily readership has increased tenfold as a result. I still don't think it's a best practice for a media outlet to start painting a person as guilty before evidence is presented. But then again, television shows, especially those on cable, are not responsible for presenting nuanced coverage of a breaking story, they are responsible for pulling in ratings. Just like talk radio shows bait listeners by presenting controversial viewpoints that the host may or may not fully agree with, television, a far higher stakes medium, plays the same card.

I mistook the Cutts case as being sensationalized primarily due to race. This may still be the case, and probably is to some degree, but then I saw how the Grace show handled a very similar case in New Jersey, involving Margaret Haddican-McEnroe, a mother of three who has gone missing, and a husband without a solid alibi. The formula was the same as the Cutts case; Grace and her female guests bashed the husband mercilessly, male guests mostly defended the husband on the grounds that little evidence was available. You can chalk this one up to fool-proof automatic ratings or journalistic laziness, but just maybe, race isn't as much of a factor here as in other more egregious cases.

Besides, it's summertime, and TV absolutely sucks, so what else is there to watch? I've come to enjoy Grace's birdbrain act far more than the ego maniacal rantings of Bill O'Reilly or the smarter-than-thou condescension of Keith Olbermann. Her regular guests, like the robotically comical Susan Moss or lovely, but mouthy sistagirl Lauren Lake add a "don't take this too seriously, it's just about ratings" undertone to the show. And by covering the Henry case far more extensively than any other televised outlet to date, I have to give a few cool points. Plus, the woman is 47 years old carrying twins. How gully is that?

Nancy Grace Show website [CNN]

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