The press hungers for a celebrity trial in the grand O.J. Simpson tradition.
That murder case captured the nation’s complete attention pre-social media. It gave news outlets endless content, and enough ratings to keep their ad coffers full. Every outlet from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live’ to local news stations hung on each new revelation, no matter how minuscule.
The most confounding example of media overreach? “The Tonight Show’s” Dancing Itos sketch.
📺In March 1995, the ‘Dancing Itos,’ a quintet of Judge Lance Ito lookalikes, made their debut on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ pic.twitter.com/v7FdMXz4fN
— RetroNewsNow (@RetroNewsNow) March 3, 2023
More recently, last year’s Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial delivered a similar jolt, although the stakes of their split proved dramatically lower than the former’s double-murder case. Plus, the celebrity trial wrapped before it become entrenched in the culture.
The media likely hope the current Gwyneth Paltrow imbroglio has longer legs.
The 50-year-old Oscar winner is squaring off against a senior citizen alleging she crashed into him on the slopes in 2016, leaving him with permanent brain damage.
The details of the case are complicated, which will hurt the trial’s mass appeal. Plus, Paltrow unofficially retired from acting in recent years which lowered but didn’t erase her celebrity cache.
The trial is generating some attention so far, and not just from curious lawyers. News stations hope live coverage of the spectacle will amplify our focus on the trial. Punch in the appropriate terms in YouTube”s search engine and you’ll find many media outlets streaming the trial live.
They think, or hope, that will help draw attention to the case. Maybe the computer-generated video of the crash could do the trick.
Gwyneth Paltrow ski collision recreated in new video intended to prove fault in Utah crash https://t.co/YilAKRvQA5
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 28, 2023
It goes without saying that there’s little hard news value to the case. The man suing Paltrow seeks more than $300,000 in damages, an amount that could be found in the superstar’s couch cushions.
Her net worth is estimated to be $75 million with Goop worth a reported $250 million.
She is counter-suing for $1.00 plus attorneys’ fees.
In a healthy media environment, the case would be of interest to the main players and their respective families.
Yes, it’s tragic that the 76-year-old retiree allegedly suffered brain damage from the collision, but that’s not incendiary enough to draw the public’s consideration. It’s also unclear if the mental issues stemmed from the collision or pre-existing conditions.
News value now means little to today’s journalists. They frequently ignore genuinely important stories (The Twitter Files … Hunter Biden’s laptop) to focus on narratives that align with their progressive worldview.
When it comes to celebrity trials, though, any chance for a ratings bonanza is enough to try the full-court press treatment.