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HLN anticipating post-Casey Anthony withdrawal

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Law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks looked rueful on Tuesday morning as HLN awaited the verdict of the Casey Anthony trial. “There are no winners here,” he said.

That wasn’t true. Atlanta-based HLN is a winner.

The network became the de facto home for anyone interested in the Anthony case, which began in 2008 when her daughter Caylee went missing. Interest peaked last Tuesday when Florida jury deemed Anthony not guilty of the most serious charges against her.

At that moment, 5.2 million people were watching HLN, more than any of its rivals and a record for the network. Nancy Grace, who attacked the case with her usual prosecutorial zeal, drew 2.9 million viewers that evening, the most in her six-year history with HLN.

“She gave it the full P.T. Barnum treatment,” said Robert Thompson, a TV and pop culture professor at Syracuse University who is savvy with the soundbites. “She was like a circus advance man whipping up the crowds before the elephants arrive.”

Grace herself is not the type to apologize.”It’s not about me or any other media related person,” she told Broadcasting & Cable this week. “It’s all about Caylee, and there’s been a huge miscarriage of justice.

Scot Safon, executive vice president overseeing HLN, said he expected big numbers for the opening and closing arguments and verdict, “yet we had sustained interest every day of the trial, even during a week of data-driven forensic evidence.”

HLN in its current incarnation is a far cry from its days as CNN Headline News, a format rendered irrelevant in this day of immediate news access on the Web. It has taken the trial mantle from sister station Court TV, now called TruTV. Though TruTV continues day-time trial coverage using HLN staff, its primetime mission is now reality programs such as “Hardcore Pawn” and “Storage Hunters.”

Jane Velez-Mitchell, an HLN host, dubbed this the “trial of the century,” a hyperbolic title given to many other cases such as O.J. Simpson 16 years ago. She also said it was the first “social media trial,” with followers burning up Facebook and Twitter.

HLN said Grace’s Facebook page drew 92,000 new fans since the trial began May 24, with 616,000 comments and likes. “Social media,” Safon said, “spurred a very widespread news conversation.”

The station spent months prepping for the trial, ensuring proper camera placement in the courtroom and logistics to keep 30-plus employees in Orlando for weeks on end.

Critics note that this case has no relative import beyond its salacious details. But this also meant HLN owned the story while other networks focused on weightier subjects such as the debt ceiling and yes, even Anthony Weiner.

Now that the case is effectively over, HLN is going through withdrawal. Safon hopes some of HLN’s loyal Anthony trial viewers stick around to take in a daily dose of, say, its new Dr. Drew show. But it’s planning blanket coverage this fall of Conrad Murray, the doctor on trial for manslaughter relating to his role in the death of Michael Jackson.

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

21 comments Add your comment

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July 8th, 2011
9:32 am

I remember when HLN actually showed NEWS! What a concept. Someone please get Nancy Grace off TV.

Mercer Law grad

July 8th, 2011
9:38 am

Nancy Grace is an embarrassment to the legal profession. Thank goodness that woman no longer practices.

Memememe

July 8th, 2011
12:37 pm

I think Nancy Grace is a wonderful advocate for victims of horrible crimes. If you don’t like her, don’t watch her.

Ken Rohde

July 8th, 2011
12:39 pm

Did the court forget to add the time in jail for Casey Anthony’s check fraud????

dw

July 8th, 2011
1:09 pm

NANCY GRACE SUCKS!! Please get that idiot off tv

S Mancuso

July 8th, 2011
3:39 pm

I got “sucked in” to watching HLN during the trial but when given the opportunity, I changed the channel in. Heartbeat. I have never seen so biased covering of a mile news event in my life. Vinnie, Jane & Nancy were embarrassing to watch. Whatever happened to reporting the news as a news channel instead of “riling up the troops.”
Of course this was about justice for beautiful little girl, but it semed like their goal was to instigate vigilanty concerns.

Let.s just hope that “some mis-guided crazy” doesn’t do something just as “sic” as Casey Anthony might have done.

theresa flores

July 8th, 2011
4:06 pm

Is there not anything anyone could do to the jury they all say it was the punishment that made them find the not quilty verdict? If I’m not mistaken there is a miscarriage of justice due to them not doing their job because their job was not to worry about punishment but to find quilty or not based on at least one of the counts beside lying since they say she wasnt innocent? The judge should have explained their job and tell them punishment wasnt their job.to base their verdict?

T Boone

July 8th, 2011
5:56 pm

If someone harms Ms. Anthony after all this, I think we can safely lay the blame at the feet of Ms. Grace, Ms. Velez-Mitchell, and the rest of HLN.

Whether you think she comitted the crime or not, this woman was found not guilty by a jury of her peers. We should respect the decision that our court system has made and try to move on with the world.

Then again, Nancy Grace has never been one to quit beating a dead horse. She still thinks that the Duke lacrosse players are guilty, despite the fact the charges were dropped and the prosecutor was disbarred.

Speaking of disbarred prosecutors, Nancy has quite the disciplinary record as a former ADA for the city of Atlanta.

M. Alexander

July 8th, 2011
6:29 pm

Maybe when Nancy Grace gets off the air, there will be a judicial system again. Nancy Grace thinks she is the judicial system. When someone gets away with trial and conviction on national tv, that’s the day we’re all in trouble. Better rethink tv, who’s doing the talking, and who’s making the assumptions. People like Nancy Grace are making a fortune off from the sheep who follow her. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Did those NG followers forget? It’s like some sick cult or suspense junkies who are getting a cheap fix on stupidity. And Nancy Grace really should be ashamed of herself for exploiting children to get her ratings up there.

The Point

July 8th, 2011
10:55 pm

How ignorant can someone be to claim that it doesn’t matter if you like Nancy Grace, “if you don’t like her, don’t watch her”? This isn’t some kind of innocuous tv show that’s worst claim to fame is being crude or trashy, Nancy Grace claims to be an advocate for justice who is really fanning the flames for mob rule. She’s already caused one death in Melinda Duckett and should be to blame if there’s another one here. Whether you think Casey Anthony caused her daughter to die or not (and I really do think she’s guilty of murder), remember that Nancy Grace doesn’t want justice, she wants vengeance and that’s a dangerous thing for TV.

Joe

July 8th, 2011
11:01 pm

I am pretty sure that Ms Anthony killed her daughter but if I were a juror, I would have also gone with the “not guilty” verdict as the prosecution proved nothing. They couldn’t tell me how the girl died, who killed her or why she was killed. It was about the easiest verdict ever.

What I am hoping is that this will be the end of Nancy Grace on TV and/or in the public eye. At times, she, along with other media types such as Keith Olbermann and Bill Mahar make me embarrased to be an American. If we were rid of the three of those douch*bags, this country would be much better off.

Winifred Vanwart

July 9th, 2011
12:11 am

I like Nacey Grace she stays on top of the tot mom from the beging till the end .

Jimmy Baron

July 9th, 2011
7:59 am

Wini, put down the sauce.

BTJr.

July 9th, 2011
5:51 pm

Casey Anthony is guilty. Period. However, Nancy Grace is a hypocrite, a coward, a bully and a danger. Instead of using her vast experience to educate the public on what might have happened, she uses it to fan the flames of hate! I watched some of the trial on TruTV and they were very careful to present both sides of the proceedings. One day, Ms. Grace is going to trip over the flamethrower of a tongue that she has and will be judged as harshly as she judges others.

Stevereeno

July 10th, 2011
2:16 am

Nancy Grace is pobably talking in her sleep.

The Truth

July 10th, 2011
1:49 pm

Finally, I found out what HNL meant!

dtanner

July 11th, 2011
7:22 am

nancy grace is only about ratings not justice,and she is one UGLY BITCH! can’t stand to look at her

LINDA DILL

July 12th, 2011
10:33 pm

I LIKE NANCY GRACE I ALSO DON’T THINK THE JURY DID THEIR JOB, I HOPE THEY CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. ALSO CASEY IS ALSO GUILTY AND NEEDS THE SAME THING DONE TO HER AS SHE DID TO THE BABY. I CAN’T STAND HER LAWYER. ALSO I THINK HE KNEW FROM THE BEGINNING WHAT HAPPEN, TO ME HE IS AS SICK AS SHE IS. TO ME THE JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS BEEN GOING DOWN HILL A LONG TIME, THE VICTIUM HAS NO RIGHTS ,BUT THE ONE THAT DOES THE CRIME HAS ALL THE RIGHTS.

tinkerjenn

July 13th, 2011
11:14 pm

This hypocritical windbag and her cronies have been stirring up a mob for three years. Now that NOT GUILTY was handed down, they continue to hand out pitchforks to the mob who didn’t have access to the information and evidence that the jury did. Many of them say Casey is guilty because Nancy Grace said so. INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary. She’s spit so much venom that even jury members are getting threats. If anything happens to Casey or a jury member, I hope HLN, Nancy Grace and the rest of the hate-spewing crew are punished and taken off the air.

Absolutely deplorable conduct from someone who is supposed to know the LAW.

Harry Callaghan

July 17th, 2011
8:21 am

Since I did not watch TV coverage of the trial, I do not feel qualified to agree or disagree with the jury’s verdict. However, I wholeheartedly agree with those who have spoken here before me as to Nancy Grace. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anything on TV to compare with the malicious vindictive behavior or her and Jane Velez-Mitchell. They are both truly revolting individuals.and are a disgrace to TV journalism. I don’t have very kind words for Dr. Drew or Joy Behar either, but the worst offenders were Grace and Mitchell. Instead of Casey being released without incident, I’m sure they would have preferred to see a “Jack Ruby” form of justice and hopefully catch it on live TV

cecelia asher

July 26th, 2011
12:57 pm

HLN jounalists KEEP IT REAL………………………Obviously most of you who are criticizing what’s being said about Casey Anthony and the jurors live at Disney World in your head. As Jack Nicholsen says “YOU CAN”T HANDLE THE TRUTH”. Crawl back under your rock and hide.