Why is the Peterson case getting national attention?

It seems like Fox News covers the Scott-and-Laci-Peterson case practically every day. CNN’s not far behind. Perhaps I missed something, but I never heard of Scott or Laci Peterson before he was accused of killing her. In other words, it’s not a celebrity murder. Is it? Nor are the circumstances remarkable, not even as remarkable as the inexplicably overhyped Amy Fisher case. I mean, if a husband is accused of killing his wife so he could be with his mistress – what could be more ordinary than that? So why is the case receiving national attention comparable to O.J. Simpson’s or Kobe Bryant’s trial?

I’d say it is similar to the Chandra Levy story. People “like” this sort of story, it is easy to speculate on and networks figure it is good water cooler talk. They know that all the election talk will bore a large segment of the audience so they focus on sensationial crime. I have a feeling after the election we are going to see more of Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Mark Hacking, and Kobe Bryant than we ever wanted to.

Laci’s a white woman who went missing during Christmas, which is considered a difficult time to ‘feed the goat’ of network news. If she disappeared three weeks later, network news would have had something else to occupy time, and you’d never have heard of her.

It seems like Fox News covers the Scott-and-Laci-Peterson case practically every day. CNN’s not far behind.QUOTE]

MSNBC has them all beaten. They’re pretty much turning into all-Lacy, all the time. You haven’t been paying attention if you think FOX is leading the way on this.

[QUOTE=John Mace]

Actually, I just don’t watch MSNBC, nor could I tell you why not.

Attractive. White. Woman.

Isn’t it at least partly because of all the discussion about whether or not her unborn baby is a murder victim or not yet a "person’?

It always blows me away when not very interesting cases like the Peterson trial are covered round the clock, but stunning and shocking cases like The West Memphis Three ( www.wm3.org ) are all but ignored.

Attractive. White. PREGNANT. Woman.

… and Christmas.


It gets so much press because it’s a sordid, real-life soap opera. And it gets ratings.

The whole thing just turns me off. Even as a part-time news junkie, I turn the TV off as soon as the case updates start rolling.

What Kizarvexius said. It pushes just about every button that can be pushed for white females.

I keep hearing this, but I know of other “Attractive. White. Women.” who have been kidnapped/murdered and received almost no media coverage whatsoever.

When I lived in CA two-and-some years ago, an “attractive white woman” went missing from the Rancho Palos Verdes area (note: RPV is the third-wealthiest zip code in America). She was last seen on her way home from Sunday school–walking home, if you can believe that about a wealthy Southern Californian. The case had all the elements of a good Dominick Dunne story; yet it received zero national attention, and barely even dented the LA media.

Yes, it’s rare for “attractive white women” to go missing or be murdered. But it’s not that rare, not to the extent that Laci Peterson was the only such woman during the last two years to be so victimized. But Laci’s case has been the only one to receive such attention.

It is MHO, and I stress only an opinion, that the media interest in the Peterson case largely originated from the authorities. It was clear from the outset of the case that the husband was the prime suspect; yet, without solid evidence to indict him, media exposure became the only legal pressure point. Hence the TV appearances of so many police and prosecutors, long before either Laci’s body was found or Scott was officially charged. At that point–and I’ll admit, the fact that Laci was attractive and white played a large part–the media went from “interest” to “feeding frenzy.” The media loves a cheap, easy story…and how much more cheap and easy can you get when the cops are coming to you?

The ironic thing is that, if that is correct, is that the media attention in the case will be in the final analysis will likely be what prevents Scott Peterson’s conviction, should, as some trial observers believe, he is found innocent. While media attention probably stopped him from being able to flee the country, at the same time without said media attention he wouldn’t have had such a high-caliber attorney as Mark Geragos, seeing as he’s declared bankruptcy. Most damning of all, if there hadn’t been such media pressure to file charges against Scott, there would have been more time to correctly collect and examine evidence. It’s looking more and more as if bad evidentiary work is going to doom the prosecution case; given a few more months, could the prosecution have had more to work with?

Duke, I hardly think that one case of a white woman being kidnapped that didn’t get a lot of media attention disproves the point. I believe that the fact that this woman was attractive and white was a big factor. I didn’t say every white woman who ever gets kidnapped gets a huge media blitz. But this one did.

Rare doesn’t have anything to do with it. What I’m saying is that when crimes are committed against attractive and/or famous people, it’s much more likely to be a big story. People get kidnapped/murdered every day, but if they’re not beautiful/white/famous, nobody cares.

I dunno. If the police are entirely responsible for the media blitz because they thought it would help the case (and I don’t know that they even have the power to dictate what the media’s going to cover to such an extent), why is that a strategy that’s only used to solve cases involving attractive white women?

Oh, I agree. But I just think there’s more to it than just “attractive white woman.” Why this one, of the dozens of similar cases that are out there? After all, before all this happened, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the Petersons. They weren’t that wealthy, or that well known in their community. The Petersons aren’t the kind of people that Dunne would write about.

Sure, famous people get written about, I’ll agree. But, as I say, the Petersons weren’t famous. As for “beautiful and white,” Laci Peterson wasn’t unique. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, in 2000 an average of 2.0 out of every 100,000 white females over the age of 25 was a homicide victim. (I’m obligated to say that the same table shows that in the same year 100.2 out of every 100,000 black men between the ages of 18-24 was a homicide victim–media silence on that is an outrage.) More deaths of white females between the ages of 25-34 occurred because of homicide than for any reason other than accidental injury, cancer, suicide, or heart disease. One’s got to think that at least some of those victims were beautiful, too.

What I’m saying is that the Peterson case isn’t famous only because she was beautiful and white, not that it’s famous in spite of the circumstances.

Well, partly because I would agree with you that the media is much more likely to cover such a case. But I don’t think it’s the whole story. I think the strategy only works if the police are looking for a particular result. Take the Mark Hacking case of a month or so ago. The wife is missing, under very suspicious circumstances; but the police have no real case–no body and no confession. A few days of extremely intense media scrutiny later, the husband cracks.

Now, I’m not saying that the police in the Peterson or the Hacking cases definitely “fed” the media. But it seems to me that in both cases the authorities had (1) an obvious suspect, but (2) a relative lack of physical evidence. What better way to get your suspect to break down than 24-hour, nonstop media coverage?

I notice that Laci Peterson keeps getting described as a “white woman”. I thought it was common knowledge that she was Hispanic (maiden name Rocha). Not that I want to open the whole Hispanic/white debate, but usually here in CA, Hispanics are not called “white”.

Remember that the Elizabeth Strange case had run its course and as stated it was Christmas and news was scarce. Then along comes an attractive woman, who was pregnant and about to deliver. At first she was missing not murdered, but very soon it was obvious that something was fishy about the case. Then, it comes out that there is another woman. Then her body and the baby’s body floats ashore, where the husband says he went fishing. The husband is obviously guilty, but he gets a damn good lawyer. So this case came along at the right time and kept feeding on new information.

I personally don’t see why the OP made a big deal about it not being celebrity related. Most stuff (not all) about celebrities is dumb stuff that nobody should care about either. So it rubs both ways.

I didn’t know that Laci was of hispanic descent, but she looks white, which is good enough for national news networks during the Holidays.

Well John, that might be important if you’re running census figures, but since we’re talking about appearance and how it affects people’s perceptions as to how important a news story is, I think the fact that she looks white is more important than an analysis of her ancestry.

I suspect that, leaving aside the fact that she was attractive & pregnant, the media is in a tizzy over the story because of the salacious nature of the thing: The husband (also attractive) is accused of murdering his pregnant wife - it then comes out that he was having an extramarital affair around the time that said pregnant wife went missing.

The affair allows “pundits” on news channels to indulge in more pointless speculation about Peterson’s possible motives for (allegedly) killing his wife, thus filling airtime.

I don’t know how you can say that “the husband is obviously guilty”… unless maybe you have access to all of the court documents and have reviewed everything and have all the facts. I sure wouldn’t want you on my jury of peers because you seem too quick to convict. Ever hear of innocent until proven guilty? If you’re basing your opinion off of what the media has shown on tv then you’re only getting about 1/3 of the information about the trial… maybe not even that much. There’s too much evidence that points to his innocence and the little bit of evidence that the prosecution does have is circumstantial and can be explained away by the defense. There’s way too much reasonable doubt here to say that “the husband is obviously guilty.” Go to www.courttv.com and start reading the stories and go through all the phone transcripts and get a little more information before deciding on his guilt.

As for the national coverage… I think the family really pushed for the media to get involved at first because she was missing and they thought that the more exposure they got the easier it would be to find her. The police bungled the evidence gathering and didn’t follow up on some leads and didn’t search out all the sexual offenders in the area… they messed up a lot of things. They started focusing on the husband and that’s when the case went south. IMO the defense saying that someone kidnapped Laci Peterson and dumped her body in the same place Scott Peterson said he was fishing (to frame him) doesn’t seem that far fetched. The media sensationalized this from the beginning and when they, and the police, started focusing on Scott Peterson as a suspect pretty much anyone who watched the news knew what his alibi was. If I’d kidnapped the girl and I knew where the husband was said to be on the day she went missing… you’re damn right I’d dump the body there because they’d focus on him instead of looking for someone else who could have been responsible for it. Like I said… too much reasonable doubt.