Every minute spent by Larry King or Fox News on Lori Hacking or Laci Peterson is a minute they don’t spend on health care, education, environmental quality, national security, the economy or other real issues that should be the center of public attention, especially in an election year.
A nation full of people who know more about Scott Peterson’s defense strategy than they do about Donald Rumsfeld’s is not a nation that shows much ability to govern itself.
Local folks have a right and a duty to look over the shoulder of their criminal justice system as it does its job. Reporters from other media outlets can and should be available to backstop the locals whenever there is reason to believe that those closest to the story were seduced into joining either a lynch mob or a whitewash.
But for so much of the talent, time and resources of our worldwide media to be spent on a story of strictly local importance displays no courage and little imagination. Instead, it is a symptom of a perverse laziness on the part of both the media and its audience.
This says everything I could say about Lori Hacking and Laci Peterson. Why do I know how to spell their names? I’ve avoided news coverage of their killings because every single fucking day in my town young black men are shot to death on the street and we can’t even get our own media to descend on the scene (with the exception of the Chicago Tribune’s excellent Homicide in Chicago series) en masse, much less CNN and MSNBC and everybody else. I’ve avoided this coverage in order to read good stuff, and I still know more about them than I want to know.
In these women’s cases we don’t even have celebrity to blame. We knew Kobe Bryant because he was a great basketball player before he was an accused rapist. The only reason we know Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking is because they’re white, pretty and dead. And that’s revolting.