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Dirty Laundry
By Ed Driscoll · March 30, 2005 12:47 PM · Oh, That Liberal Media!

Johnnie Cochran died yesterday of a brain tumor. Jim Geraghty has a good recap of what his 15 minutes of fame meant to America:

Here's news that shocks me Johnnie Cochran dead at 67.

Hard to believe the O.J. Simpson trial was a decade ago. It feels more like ancient history. Was all of American news obsessed with one salacious celebrity murder trial for an entire year? Did race relations really get torn asunder over one abusive ex-jock? In retrospect, what the heck had gotten into us?

Actually, in light of other recent media obsessions - the Michael Jackson trial, the Scott Peterson murder case, and even the Schiavo controversy... we can conclude that the U.S. media, in particular the cable news networks, love covering court cases. Even though the only visual is usually the suspect walking in and out of the courthouse, it works, as Michael Jackson has found a way to turn even that routine into an unpredictable spectacle, weirder than a David Lynch movie.

The thing is, covering salacious trials are cheap, easy, and full of what many news producers think is "human interest" i.e. the same tearjerking schlock they added to the Olympics a few years ago. Real news - like a bunch of guys overseas plotting to kill us, or the spread of democracy in the Middle East - is hard, expensive, and complicated to cover.

Sorry, I've got Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" playing in my head...

I think that's exactly right--and one of the reasons why the long drawn-out set-piece type stories like the Terri Schiavo case and its wall-to-wall 24/7 coverage by cable feel to many like the calm before the storm of another 9/11 or Oklahoma Federal Building bombing.

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"'Now We're Talking!' cheers self-described 'classical liberal' and freelance journalist Ed Driscoll"--David Wallace-Wells, Slate.com

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