ABC’s Cuomo Admits Media Interest In Natalee Holloway Case Debatable


Why did ABC News’s 20/20 program send anchor Chris Cuomo to Aruba to interview the ex-girlfriend of Joran van der Sloot, the suspect in the 5-year-old Natalee Holloway disappearance and in a murder in Peru? Cuomo tells Howard Kurtz of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” “There is such keen audience interest, and there is something about crime, especially homicide investigations, that lend themselves to American curiosity. You have two sides. You have a narrative arc that goes up and down. You have consequences. You have the worst of fates — death. And they do very well. He adds, “I see the story with Van der Sloot as a window into criminal investigation.” Kurtz replies: “When you say there’s audience interest, that audience interest was completely created by television. Nobody had ever heard of Natalee Holloway. She disappears in Aruba, it becomes this televised soap opera, and it becomes part of this parade of what I call missing white women. They’re usually young, they’re usually pretty.”

Cuomo answers with a series of questions of his own, “Why her? Because she’s blond and attractive, Natalee Holloway? What about all those African-American kids? What about the kids when their skin sheen is different? Their deaths don’t matter? [] Why do you have to be good looking? Why do you have to affluent? These are all good questions. This is a difficult business in that very often, we cater to the interest where it lies.” Cuomo does not deny that ABC paid the ex-girlfriend for text messages and photos, saying, “To be competitive today, when something happens to someone who is considered a guest, there’s almost always a price tag attached.”

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