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Nancy Grace says 'the devil is dancing' at Casey Anthony verdict

July 5, 2011 |  3:55 pm

Nancy Grace has never hidden her feelings about the Caylee Anthony murder case, and the HLN host didn't hold back Tuesday when the 2-year-old's mother was acquitted of her murder.

Grace, a trained lawyer who'd derisively dubbed the defendant, Casey Anthony, "tot mom," said Caylee's "death has gone unavenged" and that "tot mom's lies seem to have worked."

Grace, via her prime-time talk show, has been covering the case extensively for the past three years, since the toddler was initially reported missing in summer 2008. Her attention helped take it from a local case to a national spectacle, and Grace became somewhat of an expert on the investigation, appearing on other HLN shows, sister network CNN and sparring with legal analysts like Dan Abrams on ABC News.

The network, with Grace leading the charge, kept expanding its coverage of the murder investigation, the arrest of Casey Anthony and the trial, which just ended its five-week run. It was practically all-Casey-all-the-time for the last month, with record-breaking ratings as a result.

Grace said Tuesday that "there's no way this is a verdict that speaks the truth," appearing stunned moments after the jury decision. "But this is our jury system."

As she's done all along, Grace tugged at heartstrings by reminding viewers that an angelic child had been murdered, with her body found "15 houses from where tot mom put her head on a pillow each night... Little Caylee, thrown away like she was trash."

She criticized the defense celebrations and said "the devil is dancing" at the case's conclusion.

In televised comments shortly after the verdict, one of the defense attorneys slammed what he called the media's rush to judgment, not naming Grace but pointedly saying some anchors and talking heads crossed a line and convicted Casey Anthony long before trial. He said he hoped they learned a lesson from the acquittal. (Casey Anthony was convicted of four misdemeanors for lying to police during the investigation.)

Bryce Nelson, journalism professor at USC's Annenberg School, said there is a difference between talk show hosts and news professionals, though viewers may not always make the distinction.

TV personalities like Grace, who clearly pick sides, have "a lot to answer for" when the verdict goes the opposite way, he said. Will they learn from it, as Casey Anthony's defense lawyer said?

"It might cause more people to think about how they report the news, or we can at least hope so," Nelson said. "But unfortunately it won't last for long. The rewards for sensationalism are all too great."

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 — T.L. Stanley

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