Television host Nancy Grace is again being sued this week over the latest example of her low-grade, gotcha programming. Grace is being sued by a man who she labeled the “selfie stalker” for allegedly taking a picture with a crime victim’s cellphone. The problem is that Ben Seibert is not a stalker and did not take such a picture with the phone. He was cleared of the allegations but that did not stop Grace from continuing to shred his reputation on-air. It is always shocking to see Grace appear not just on CNNHD but CNN generally. If, as the tagline reads, “this is CNN” it has truly experienced a fall from Grace.
The case brings back memories of the earlier lawsuit against Grace in the suicide of a young mother who was hounded by Grace who effectively declared her guilty of the murder of her own child. A Harvard professor has concluded that CNN Headline New’s rabid host, Nancy Grace, contributed to the death of a mother, Melinda Duckett, who committed suicide three years ago after being savaged by Grace.
Grace has made a career out of snarling and sensational segments on criminal stories. She was hired by CNN despite a very controversial career as a prosecutor during which courts repeatedly cited her for abusive or unethical conduct. For a prior column on prosecutorial abuse by Grace, click here. Any criticism of Fox by CNN is remarkably hypocritical in light of its long association with Grace.
In this case, Grace all but pronounced Melinda Duckett as involved in the disappearance of her 2-year-old son in 2006. In a signature segment, Grace virtually mocked Duckett’s claims of innocence. Duckett shot herself in the head the next day.
The family has sued Grace, here, and a Harvard clinical professor of psychiatry has written that the CNN interview inflicted public humiliation and was “a substantial contributing cause” of Duckett’s death.
The most recent lawsuit details the same signature sensationalism from Grace who told millions of viewers that Ben Seibert invaded a woman’s home and snapped a photo of himself on her phone, which she described as a “textbook serial killer’s calling card.” His photo was released by Denver Metro Crime Stoppers after a woman called police saying a man had entered her home while she was putting her children to bed. Police said she was especially fearful because she believed the man had taken a selfie with her phone inside her home. However, an investigation showed the picture was Seibert’s Facebook photo that had been taken elsewhere. Seibert quickly called police when friends saw the story and was cleared. Grace’s show was allegedly told that her broadcast was false, but she continued to air it. He is not seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
While we often joke about the antics of Grace like her attacking the weather or demanding to know who killed Whitney Houston, her rabid approach to legal cases is degrading not just for victims and defendants but our legal system as a whole. She uses people as props in her rather macabre night circus. Of course, there remains an element of people who love such displays like a WWF version of legal analysis. However, Grace conveys a consistent contempt for such principles as the presumption of innocence and due process. While it is clearly just entertainment, it is the safest form of entertainment. Nevertheless, CNN continues to air her show and even call upon her for legal analysis in high-profile cases. CNN continues to hold up Grace as a legal expert — a position that must be truly demeaning for the real legal analysts and journalists who work at Turner. Grace can claim the singular distinction of degrading two professions — the law and journalism — simultaneously. However, she could not succeed with such excess without the help of executives who are willing to trade integrity for ratings.
Source: NY Post