UPDATED: Casey Anthony and America's new 'summer of the shark'

To the extent that I thought about the Casey Anthony case -- which was as little as possible, although my cable TV news addiction made that difficult -- it reminded me of 2001, TV's famous "summer of the shark." when massively overhyped beach attacks competed with the soap opera of Washington's Chandra Levy case to opiate the masses on the eve of 9/11 and the future travesties of the Bush 43 administration.

So when they asked me to write for tomorrow's paper about the Anthony verdict and the big picture...that's what I wrote about. Here's a snippet -- I'll link the entire piece after it goes online tomorrow morning:

UPDATE: Oops, forgot to add the link. Actually, there wasn't much interest in this story, which is what I would have predicted. If the Daily News wanted to "do" the Casey Anthomy case and sell newspapers, we probably should have found someone who actually cared -- but that would have meant going outside the paper, since I have yet to meet a single real journalist who cared that much, or was following this story.


It was a long hot summer of great import for the United States — only months after a course-changing election, and on the cusp of monumental decisions about war and tax cuts and, as it turned out, a national tragedy of epic proportions.

And America’s couch potatoes and their fix-feeding TV producers got lost in the news that fateful summer of 2001 — none of that serious stuff, but the case of an attractive missing-and-later-found-murdered Capitol Hill intern named Chandra Levy who’d also had a fling with a congressman. The 9/11 terror attacks at the end of that season made America’s TV obsession with the Levy case look more than a little silly, and some news execs even vowed never again.

Now, exactly 10 years later, it’s “the summer of the shark” — another cable news obsession in 2001 — all over again, with the only plot twist that this time America went gaga for a real-life legal thriller in which the attractive young white female was not the missing but the accused.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. yesterday, Americans crowded around TV sets in offices and in airports and streamed onto the Internet in record numbers for the dramatic conclusion of the case of Casey Anthony and her murdered 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The verdict — not guilty of the killing, but guilty of lying to the cops — left millions of viewers who’d been watching salacious coverage of the so-called “Tot Mom” for months in a state of shock.

There was, as I note in the article, one piece of good news yesterday, which was that despite a mountain of prejudicial news coverage (see "Grace, Nancy") a jury was still able to look for reasonable doubt, and found it. But time will tell whether the media and the American people look back on the insanity of its Casey Anthony overkill, and the stories we should have been covering instead, as another moment of national insanity -- Chandra Levy redux.