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Casey Anthony verdict feeds media frenzy

Broadcast, cable news outlets preparing nightly specials for murder trial

Newsies are making the most of the Casey Anthony acquittal: The media-saturated murder trial prompted several specials Tuesday night, with more set throughout the week on multiple broadcast and cable news outlets.

The award for quickest turnaround goes to Fox News, as the network preempted 5 p.m. Tuesday reruns of the now-defunct “Glenn Beck Program” for a special on the trial. Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer hosted the hourlong special, with legal experts weighing in on the verdict’s significance and the strategies of the lawyers. CNN continued coverage throughout primetime, as did MSNBC.

Also, CBS newsmag “48 Hours: Mystery” ordered a special Tuesday edition and “Nightline” on ABC was extended to an hourlong special looking back at the trial and forward at the sentencing. NBC has an hourlong “Dateline” skedded for Friday.

The cable networks have covered the case extensively and are continuing to do so as interest peaks in Anthony, an Orlando, Fla. mother accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter and hiding the body. On Tuesday she was acquitted of murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter, and convicted only on misdemeanor counts of providing false information to the police.

The case has drawn considerable media attention from the beginning, led by HLN’s Nancy Grace, who branded Anthony “tot mom” and regularly sympathized with the prosecution and had contempt for Anthony. “State attorneys invested their heart, soul, lives to this case. They must be crushed,” Grace tweeted after the verdict was read.

Grace’s coverage paid big dividends for the net — in June, HLN boasted an 86% gain in overall audience (an average of 982,000 viewers vs. 529,000 a year ago) and 79% in the 25-54 demo (292,000 vs. 163,000) in Monday through Sunday primetime. June was also was Grace’s highest-rated month ever, with her eponymous 8 p.m. show logging 1.5 million viewers, 452,000 of them in the demo.

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