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June 24, 2004
Somehow, I Feel Dirty

I'm not really following the Laci Peterson trial, since (a) I'm not a relative of the victim, (b) I don't live in her community, and (c) the media has spent so much time blowing it out of all proportion that I'm getting flashback nightmares of the OJ trial. However, I do follow the media, and Romanesko links to a story at SFGate regarding the juror who just got the boot from the judge -- and the media maelstrom that ensued:

The same media people who maligned Juror No. 5 a few days ago, threw themselves at him Wednesday.

News producers grabbed at him, television bookers blocked his path and reporters stuck cell phones to his ears with famous talk-show hosts murmuring sweet nothings on the other end.

He was wooed with promises of limo rides, hotel rooms and round-trip fares to New York with his whole family. He was even offered a Metallica CD. And all they wanted in return was for him to appear on their morning programs, talk shows and round-table discussions.

Bear in mind that this is the same person who, despite explicit instructions from the judge, conversed with one of the family members in attendance, so we're not talking about a legal genius here. The media quoted Justin Falconer yesterday as expressing his doubts about Peterson's guilt, even though the trial has just begun, and expressing his opinion that pregnant women are crazy. Despite these less-than-stellar qualifications, media outlets went into a feeding frenzy as soon as he was released from his obligations:

Like hawkers at a Turkish bazaar, the media tried to sell him on themselves. A producer from Court TV pleaded with him to go on the air. Someone shouted, "That's Nancy Grace's station. She's the woman your girlfriend wants to kick the crap out of."

The Court TV producer fired back, "Come on, Justin. Take her on."

A booker from the "Today Show" was shouting: "Me. Me. Me." Greta Van Susteren was on the phone, and a Fox producer pushed the cellular to Falconer's ear.

Someone was offering to pick Falconer up at his house and drive him to the studio. He said almost horrified, "You're not coming to my home."

"We'll put you up at the Marriott, then," yelled someone else. "Do you like that hotel?"

I'm surprised that the networks didn't bring on some dancing girls and booze, although it's not clear that didn't happen; perhaps the folks at the Chronicle simply spared us from that spectacle. Apparently, fans of the media, like those who love sausage and the law, need to shade their eyes when news is being made. Especially when the news is non-news like a disqualified juror on a trial that's eating up way too much attention as it is.

UPDATE: Here's the transcript from Larry King with media-star-for-a-day Falconer, explaining the comment about expectant mothers:

KING: I didn't see this but someone said that you made a strange comment today, that pregnant women are crazy. Did you say that and if so, what did you mean?

FALCONER: Now I'm going to have every woman on the planet mad at me. No, I just meant that they're emotional. Women are emotional during pregnancy and their activities can be crazy. The way that they act because one minute they can be completely upset, emotional, not want to move and then the next day they're out shopping or running around, and very very physically active. So the comment that I made was crazy, it wasn't meant like that. Please don't take it that way.

Yeah, well, thanks for that explanation, Justin.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 24, 2004 1:00 PM

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