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Nancy Grace's Coverage of the Casey Anthony Trial Posts Record Ratings for HLN

Date July 06, 2011
Nancy Grace Nancy Grace's outraged disbelief at the verdicts in the Casey Anthony trial led many to question if her head would, actually, explode on-air. It did not. However, her stunned reaction -- "somewhere out there, the devil is dancing tonight" -- did set the Twitterverse afire.

Grace has been covering the story on her eponymous primetime show since...

Nancy Grace Nancy Grace's outraged disbelief at the verdicts in the Casey Anthony trial led many to question if her head would, actually, explode on-air. It did not. However, her stunned reaction -- "somewhere out there, the devil is dancing tonight" -- did set the Twitterverse afire.

Grace has been covering the story on her eponymous primetime show since two-year old Caylee Anthony was reported missing in mid-2008.

Her intense, often controversial, scrutiny of the case produced record ratings for CNN's Headline News and may also have influenced the other TV networks' coverage who acted as they saw her ratings escalate.

'The Wrap' reports that Grace's single-minded pursuit of the "truth" about Caylee Anthony's death put HLN in second place during June, the 29-year-old channel's best ratings month ever. And it also helped the network challenge Fox News in the coveted adults aged 25-54 demographic during primetime.

The bigger cable news outlets noticed HLN's ratings success, and as the numbers looked better and better for HLN, MSNBC, FNC and even CNN began devoting more and more of their air time to the trial. By the time the verdict was announced Tuesday, almost every major U.S. and foreign media outlet was covering the story.

A cable news producer said that Grace first pushed the story because, as the mother of young children, "she felt a visceral reaction. And because she had that visceral reaction, the producers there said we have got to do this story."

Known for her combative on-air style, Grace set herself up as a crusader for the the dead child, consistently deriding suspect/defendant Casey Anthony as "tot mom."

When the trial started in late May, HLN was mired in a ratings slump, facing a double-digit dip in ratings year-to-year. Grace's passion for the case became the channel's way of ending its slump.

According to 'The Wrap,' as she began devoting more and more time to the trial fellow primetime hosts Dr. Drew Pinsky and Joy Behar were advised to do the same, and HLN even created a 5PM ET show -- 'Special Report' -- to cover the Anthony trial, as well as the upcoming trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson.

As HLN devoted more and more time to the story, its ratings grew -- Grace's in particular, and all of a sudden she found herself competing with the big-hitters like Fox's Bill O'Reilly (not to mention leaving MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell in the dust).

According to Poynter Institute senior faculty member Al Tompkins, "The whole franchise, the entire channel is built around [Grace] at this moment."

Doubtless Grace will be on-hand for Casey Anthony's sentencing on charges of lying to police, which Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. scheduled for 9AM ET Thursday. Anthony faces up to one year in jail per charge.

Read more http://www.aoltv.com/2011/07/06/nancy-graces-coverage-of-the-casey-anthony-trial-posts-record-r/

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