Many may only know Marcia Clark as a name appearing in recent weeks under an attractive brunette talking head who has been opining on television about defense and prosecution strategy in the case of George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin. As she critiques each side’s strategy, Clark is typically described as a former prosecutor and expert legal analyst. That’s like describing the captain of the Titanic as a former cruise ship captain or nautical expert.
For Clark was the lead prosecutor who lost what may have been the highest profile — and, more important, easiest to win — murder case of the last century: The O.J. Simpson trial 18 years ago.
So why can’t a television or legal reporter use Clark’s popularity as an expert analyst as an opening to ask TV producers if there is anything other than fame (and good looks) that goes into decisions about whom to book for these appearances discussing Zimmerman and other cases?
A related topic would be describing how obsessive some lawyers are about getting on to these shows, hoping to attract clients who might be drawn to someone who’s not only famous for being on TV but famous for being an expert legal analyst. Does it work to build not only to build their egos but also their practices?
As someone who supervised the TV booking of lawyers in the early days of Court TV, I know that many of the best lawyers avoided these TV appearances for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they’re too busy actually practicing law. But others craved the camera even if they don’t need new clients. One morning in the middle of the Simpson trial, one of the country’s busiest divorce lawyers, who had never handled a criminal case, was sitting in my reception area waiting for me so that he could try to talk his way onto the air to critique Clark’s performance.
3. Do publishers think Paula Deen is worse than Hitler?
One of the more curious aspects of the implosion of celebrity chef Paula Deen last week was the way her book publisher, Random House, announced that it had cancelled plans to publish her new cookbook this fall despite the fact that the book had so many advance orders that it soared to the top of the Amazon best seller list the same week.
That major consumer businesses may want to disassociate themselves quickly from someone whose public comments suggest that he or she is a racist is understandable. But isn’t book publishing different?
Right now you can click over from reading this and go to Amazon or the Apple book store and buy what seem to be four different versions of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, including a Kindle edition from Amazon and an iPad edition from Apple.
In fact, Houghton Mifflin, which, like Random House, is a leading publisher, was apparently the first bookseller to bring Hitler’s long, virulent rant to the United States. Houghton Mifflin brought the book to the United States in 1939 and then waged a legal fight with a smaller publisher over which held the publishing rights.
So, I’d like to see a reporter ask Random House about its apparent policy of not publishing authors whose alleged views might be offensive to some or even many people.
One version of Mein Kampf listed on Amazon is the “Students’ and Teachers’ Classroom Edition.” That, of course, suggests the rationale for publishing Hitler’s book: we learn from reading even offensive ideas.
So perhaps if Deen decided to come clean and proclaim that she’s a racist and then wrote a book about it, Random House would be more inclined to publish it than it apparently is to publish another Deen cookbook.
Someone ought to get the editors there to explain that.
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