Why does the Casey Anthony case continue to generate such interest?
We keep writing about it, because the case keeps producing stories. A prediction: You’ll hear a lot more in 2012.
And we keep writing about it because many of you tell us you’re interested in the saga.
Yes, I realize not everyone is interested. Still, we receive the daily online reports that reflect the public’s fascination, and those numbers have been instructive during a confusing and harrowing time for newspapers.
For decades, we told you what you should be interested in. In the Internet age, you tell us what you’re interested in. We’d be sunk without your feedback.
I often hear that the media is responsible for the Anthony story’s popularity. I don’t agree.
This saga began as the story of a missing child, and the public was interested in Caylee Anthony for months before her remains were found in December 2008. Why did Caylee gain so much coverage over other missing children and other crime victims?
These things aren’t fair. John F. Kennedy wasn’t the greatest president, but people continue to dwell on him. Marilyn Monroe wasn’t the greatest actress, but the public keeps talking about her.
The public kept talking about Caylee Anthony. Maybe footage of the toddler made the difference. Perhaps the family dynamics hooked readers: What was Caylee up against in that household? The many TV appearances by George and Cindy Anthony deepened that mystery.
Ultimately, Caylee became a symbol for crime victims, especially discarded children.
Dr. Jan Garavaglia will put the focus back on Caylee in a TLC special that debuts at 8 p.m. Sunday. In “Dr. G: Inside the Caylee Anthony Case,” TV’s Dr. G has said she will explain the forensics in a way that she couldn’t when she testified at the trial.
In July, Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder in her daughter’s death. The verdict outraged many people, but there’s the issue of whether she should have faced the death penalty at all. Could this be a political issue in the coming year?
“The state attorney decided that it should be a death-penalty case, and as his assistants, we go forward with that,” former prosecutor Jeff Ashton told WESH-Channel 2 in November. “The ultimate decision of whether to waive the death penalty or, in this case, to reinstate it was Lawson Lamar’s decision.”
Without the death penalty, the Anthony case would never have drawn such attention, and the caravan of out-of-town news organizations would never have descended on Orlando. Before the trial, reporters and attorneys kept telling me it never should have been a death-penalty case. You may disagree. But the Anthony trial and verdict raise another point: Is something wrong with our system?
Ultimately, the Anthony saga has become about responsibility. At first, Casey Anthony said a nanny had the child. Anthony also said she was looking for her daughter.
At the trial, the public heard a new version of Casey’s story when defense attorney Jose Baez announced that Caylee had died by drowning. Baez also claimed that George Anthony had abused Casey.
Many people are still so outraged by the murder acquittal that they don’t want to see Anthony or her attorneys profit in any way. These readers repeatedly point to how the Anthony saga pulled back the curtain on TV news deals. It is indeed still shocking that ABC paid $200,000 to license photos and video from Anthony.
Some very vocal trial observers are determined to scuttle any interview, book or movie deal with Anthony and her attorneys. So the Anthony saga, with its civil suits, will continue to generate headlines.
The central mystery — what happened to Caylee? — has ensured that this story will have a place in crime history and lore.
“We’ll never know what happened until the perpetrator states what happened,” Dr. Garavaglia told NBC’s “Today” this week.
Garavaglia highlighted that Casey Anthony was the last person with Caylee and was responsible for her child. “We never did get anything from her of what happened, yet we found her [Caylee] with duct tape discarded in the woods,” Garavaglia said. “That tells a lot.”
But Casey Anthony isn’t saying a lot, evidently, unless she is paid. How valuable would her latest take be? Her version of events has gone through striking revisions. As Judge Stan Strickland so memorably said, “The truth and Miss Anthony are strangers.”
We can also add that responsibility and Miss Anthony are strangers. She doesn’t take responsibility, unless forced to. Remember her apology to Amy Huizenga for writing bad checks?
So what would be the point of interviewing Casey Anthony, who was convicted of lying to law enforcement? And wouldn’t she lose her mystery if she started talking?
The Caylee side of the story, however, endures. She was discarded, but she’ll never be forgotten.
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