“If Michael Jackson Hadn’t Died…”

In an online Q&A, Vanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth explains what might have been this summer for “The Craigslist Killer” (and, presumably, her story on same), as far as media coverage, if only:

VF Daily: What is it about this case that made it such a media sensation?

ORTH: The alleged perpetrator was a tall, handsome, second-year med student who had graduated summa cum laude from college in three years. He’s not your usual suspect. And he had a very pretty fiancee, and they had a splashy wedding Web site, which led to a lot of made-for-TV coverage. We’re living in that kind of age now. There are similarities and dissimilarities, but I also covered the Laci Peterson case. That also got a tremendous amount of attention, because Scott Peterson was good-looking, Laci Peterson was pregnant, and they were the California couple who looked like they had it all. It was very similar in this case: he looked like he had a brilliant future, and this is how it ends up. It goes against the norm. We’re a society that goes for total saturation coverage of whatever the most sensational crime of the moment is. This case probably would have been the story of the summer if Michael Jackson hadn’t died.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.