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The Larry King Effect

December 14th, 2004

Can we stop hearing about this guy now?

There’s come to be a certain phenomenon whereupon relatively average cases with no celebrities or political figures come into the national spotlight because of initially isolated media coverage, and the Scott Peterson case is one of them. One nexus where these cases begins is the Larry King show, which, when not commemorating Republican presidents, 60’s crooners, psychics or other assorted guests, can, at the drop of a hat, become almost solely dedicated to a single criminal case. Although centered around a politician, the Gary Condit/Chandra Levy case was similar in nature; until 9/11 hit, the Larry King Live Show was practically the Condit/Levy Show, nonstop. When Peterson’s case came up, despite the fact that it was a relatively average homicide case, King’s intense coverage made it a media circus.

What real need is there for us to focus on this stuff? I really believe in curtailing the freedom of the press in cases like these, where it can be pretty certainly determined that the vital interest of the public is pretty much nil, and the destructive influence on fair trials is maximized. We should have laws that shroud criminal proceedings unless some actual public interest is being endangered; whoever said that the free press right in the Bill of Rights should outweigh all other rights, like that to a fair trial? The public’s rubbernecking peep-show interest in cases like this is surely not as important as making sure that justice is done.

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  1. mashu
    December 14th, 2004 at 21:14 | #1

    I agree with your point, (although i NEVER watch american news programs–living here in Japan and all). Just as a general obsevation the American press sucks.

  2. mashu
    December 14th, 2004 at 21:24 | #2

    I agree with your point. A general thought—the American press sucks. It has sucked since 1990 and looks like it will continue to suck.

  3. December 14th, 2004 at 23:59 | #3

    Curtailling the freedom of the press is not a slope you want to go down. The sad thing is, I agree with you, I am sick of superstar-like trials, but once you give an inch on press, where does it stop? “Well, just like the press made trials difficult, we think press coverage are making city council meetings a problem.” “Well the press coverage of trials and city council meeting caused problems, the state level congress thinks the same thing.” Once you close one door to the press, it is all to easy to close more doors.

    Like I said, I agree with you. I came over to Tokyo on business during the whole Condit/Levy thing…I loved it. I didn’t hear their names for 2 whole weeks! However, to just close courtroom doors to the press is a dangerous, dangerous avenue that I don’t think we really need to explore.

  4. Luis
    December 15th, 2004 at 03:30 | #4

    Sean:

    I agree on the slippery slope for press rights, but I see this differently: not as curtailing the rights of the press but as weighing the balance of rights between freedom of the press and the other rights. Where they conflict, a judgment must be made as to which outweighs which. Does freedom of the press outweigh the right to a fair trial? Sometimes, yes–but not when the press is simply covering a trial for the sensationalism of it. And I would not rule out all press reporting of trials–ones which have a true public impact would be exceptions–and all trials would become fully public after the verdict was handed down, which would make moot any argument that things were being kept secret, or that people could be railroaded in trials without the public knowing about it. But to deny anyone the right to a fair trial simply because the press abuses their right in order to sell soap, with no redeeming public value to the coverage, is simply an obscenity, and in my opinion, should not be allowed.

  5. December 15th, 2004 at 11:14 | #5

    Luis,

    So long as their is an openess afterwards, then I can fully agree with you. I just fear a closing of any doors. Coverage afterwards would be okie dokey with me. (as if anyone cares if it is ok with me:))

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