Casey Anthony

I knew the moment would come when I’d have to watch a full hour of Nancy Grace and I was not looking forward to it. The daytime anchors and hosts had been mere fluffers for Nancy Grace’s performance at night and there were multiple teases to her show throughout the day. For Nancy Grace is the shrieking televangelist of something called victims’ rights. In her worldview, there are saintly victims and black-hatted criminals who roam the earth, preying on the canonized. Previously, I knew she had been criticized for picking the wrong saints. While the Duke Lacrosse case had made fools of many, very few had been as brazen and unapologetic as Ms. Grace.

This, of course, made something like Caylee Anthony’s tragic death a sort of no-lose proposition for Nancy Grace. Caylee is dead and she’ll always be dead and all the wild conjecture in the world won’t change that heartbreaking fact. I planned to watch three solid hours of Headline News last night, starting with the full-frontal assault of Nancy Grace and giving myself two solid hours of cool down with Dr. Drew and Joy Behar.

So I sat up straight on my couch, turned the channel back to Headline News, and steadied myself for the onslaught….

7:00 Annnnnnndddddd we’re back! Nancy Grace is on my TV, staring out at me with her crazy eyes and hectoring me with her cartoonishly southern voice. She immediately starts in about something called “coffin flies” and quickly segues into a discussion of a psychic appearing in court. I… I don’t know.

7:03 Grace calls Casey Anthony the Tot Mom. There’s a certain disgust lurking behind the phrase but I think its utility lies mainly in its monosyllables. Time that is better spent moralizing is not wasted saying names.

7:04 The rhythm of Grace’s show is peculiar. It’s basically a ton of leading questions filled with loaded phrases followed by heavily edited courtroom footage, full of crackling videotape and quick-cuts.

7:06 “Bring on the lawyers!” Jason Oshins and John Manuelian are the two defense attorneys offered up to provide lame rejoinders to Grace’s strident theorizing. They look scared, they mumble almost incoherently, then they’re jettisoned like the no-good punks they are — 30 seconds, tops.

7:10 There’s someone named Jengasaurus? Nancy Grace keeps saying Jengasaurus. I don’t know what this means, but it sounds vaguely threatening.

7:11 We have our first caller and we have our first use of “baby daddy.”

7:12 Jean Casarez. My bad.

7:32 Nancy comes out of commercial break with a trembling voice as she addresses the poor, dead child. She mentions Caylee’s skull and appears to be on the verge of tears. In less than a second, she ramps up the volume and cadence as she launches into an attack on “that liar” Casey Anthony.

7:33 The male lawyers come on again, get chewed up, spit out and are discarded just like that.

7:37 A doctor is brought on to tell America that chloroform should not be used on children by their parents. America nods approvingly.

7:39 A viewer shows up on Skype™ to offer her theory on the case before a commercial break. She uses the word we, as in “We found her off the road…we know that she was missing…” It takes a village of middle-aged women to prosecute a murder.

7:45 A video plays of Caylee dancing in a tutu and Nancy interrupts her own questioning to coo softly, before screeching like a half-crazed badger again.

7:48 Gwen from Maryland garbles some kind of question about the tape and the chloroform.

7:49 A fundraising plea for something called the Wesley Glen Ministries home for the mentally handicapped brings us into the commercial break. Its placement is jarring, to say the least. No context whatsoever accompanies the testimonials from the home’s residents. Just… give money, I guess?

7:55 After a few more minutes on Caylee Anthony, Nancy Grace launches into a perfunctory remembrance of a dead soldier. Less context is given here than was given in the home for the mentally handicapped.

7:57 She signs off by almost crying.

Dr. Drew Pinsky

8:00 Dr. Drew comes on and this case is right in his wheelhouse. Basically, his role is to speculate on sexual abuse and the mental state of the various actors in this drama. I remember listening to Dr. Drew in high school. He and Adam Carolla, consoling women who were afraid the ejaculate in their eye would cause an infection. I miss that Dr. Drew.

8:02 The other thing he’s useful for is bolstering the case of the scientific experts who testify in this case. Like them, he is the master of certainty about things that there is absolutely no way to be certain about. His powers of long-distance diagnosis are the thing of legend and would make Bill Frist jealous.

8:16 Dr. Drew’s show is, shockingly, more one-sided than Nancy Grace’s. His primary sidekick is a prosecutor who pooh pooh’s any possible theory the defense has advanced. The key difference is that Dr. Drew is way more mealy-mouthed than Grace, punctuating his remarks with groans and sissified grunts of displeasure. He is the super-ego to Nancy Grace’s id.

8:25 Dr. Drew encourages parents to talk to their children about the dangers posed by this case. Like… their mom killing them? Good advice, doc!

8:27 Dr. Drew further encourages parents that their job is not to be friends to their children, but to sometimes “bring the axe down.” I’ll take unfortunate imagery for 100, Alex.

8:48 Dr. Drew has spent the last ten minutes exploring Casey Anthony’s behavior in court with an attorney, Matt Semino, who has authored something (I can’t tell if it’s a book or not) about the “cult” of Casey. Pray for our profession.

8:57 Dr. Drew gives his interview subject three options on Casey Anthony: Murderer, Monster, or sick abuse survivor? I don’t listen to the response and I don’t think it really matters. The questions are all that matters. The constant, terrifyingly stupid, shameless, and pandering questions. Just one after the other, driving us all deeper into the abyss.

9:00 I’m tired and I refuse to watch Joy Behar. Shirt’s coming off. Later, nerds.

Earlier: Fear And Loathing On Headline News


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