Why Do Unthinkable Crimes Make Unavoidable TV?

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Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
Has any one else checked out this Jodi Arias trial that has been showing daily on Headline News? It has hooked me like a fish. It has everything: a brutal stabbing, bondage, sex tapes, religion, the shooting death of her lover, a confession, and the death penalty. CNN's Headline News has found another captivating trial to show daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Casey Anthony trial of 2011 must have scored big numbers for Headline News (as they showed that trial every day too), and the braintrust at CNN have seemingly scoured the crime files of the U.S., to bring us this new gem of a murder trial.

Nancy Grace is having an absolute field day with Arias. It is more that apparent that Grace doesn't believe one word Arias has said in court. This isn't a murder trial really (Arias has already admitted , finally, to killing Travis Anderson)--this is a death penalty trial. Nancy Grace wants Jodi Arias dead. And that, too, has been just as fascinating to observe.

HLN makes this all really easy and convenient to watch. Most of us don't have our whole days free to watch a whole damn trial all of the way through...and you don't have to. Just turn on HLN, and they will encapsulate the whole thing for you, about three or four times an hour. The Nancy Grace bits are shown fairly frequently too.

How does a major news outlet like CNN actually choose which cases they are going to highlight? How was it that the Casey Anthony story (her 3 year-old daughter was found duct-taped and dead in a field a block from her house) was suddenly a national furor? These cases are grim and outrageous for sure--but this Jodi Arias case, and that Casey Anthony situation--are, sadly, just two of the hundreds of these types of cases that happen yearly in America.

Do you ever wonder how a jury in a massively high-profile case like this Jodi Arias one, or the OJ Simpson trial, or the Phil Spector spectacle,actually stay hidden from all of this news on the TV? I can't help but be somewhat curious at how they stay away from it all.

This whole thing makes me curious. What makes someone tick who can kill another human being? What goes through someone's head when they are faced with the death penalty or life in jail? How does a lawyer defend someone who may be obviously guilty of a morose crime like killing a child? How does a jury process and act on information that only has hard evidence, and how does that jury 'disregard' everything else?

I guess this all taps into that human trait of watching a car crash or an arrest on the side of a road. We can't help ourselves...and Headline News knows this.

 
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