Is America’s Interest in TV True-Crime Programs Waning?


Television shows like “Nancy Grace” and the to-be-cancelled “America's Most Wanted” — along with “Cops,” prison reality shows, and Court TV re-enacts — may serve as a window on crime, but the fundamental appeal is more primal, says New York Times columnist David Carr. He calls the programs “the adult version of the scary stories we were told as children.” Carr says Grace “races toward judgment, heedlessly ignoring nuance and evidence on her way to finding guilt.”

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, says she practices a hybrid of journalism and law that manages to be neither. “I think she has managed to demean both professions with her hype, rabid persona, and sensational analysis,” Turley said. “Some part of the public takes her seriously, and her show erodes the respect for basic rights.” Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and sees Grace as one of the last people standing up for victims. Grace’s audience has dropped from 943,000 two years ago to 583,000. Carr concludes that “as the cancellation of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ suggests, the interest in the scary unknown isn’t as high as the interest in what is actually scary and known.”

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