Mommy Bloggers Cover the Casey Anthony Trial

If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy

Debi Cruz-Beck blogs almost everyday about motherhood, parenting and the like for her popular blog, The Truth About Motherhood. She writes with a distinctly snarky tone, particularly on Thursdays in her weekly wag-of-the-finger “Throat Punch Thursday” column. The week of June 3rd was entitled “Casey Anthony; Mommy’s a Homicidal Maniac Edition”:

This weeks Throat Punch has been a long time coming, this week’s recipient is none other than the award winning WORST MOTHER of the CENTURY Casey Anthony. Seriously, what f*cking planet is this broad from?… There has to be a special place in hell for the Casey Anthonys of the world.

Cruz-Beck wrote about the trial a couple more times after the not guilty verdict came in. In her July 7th “Throat Punch Thursday” column she announced to her readers that this would be the last time she blogged about the infamous mother:

“Yes, I know I should be giving a hefty Throat Punch to Casey Anthony for being the worst mom of the century but I think I’ve wasted enough time on making this sad and sorry woman into a celebrity. This is my last opinion on the subject: Casey Anthony is a woman who clearly has problems and has to live the rest of her life knowing she has let her daughter down; that she will never hold Caylee in her arms again and that no matter what the jury decided, in the American Public’s eye, she is guilty in thought, word and action.

With every media outlet giving varying amounts of credence to the Casey Anthony saga, the country appears captured by what some are calling the “trial of the century.” Last week, Casey Anthony was the top newsmaker, with more stories appearing about her than Barack Obama, the Obama administration, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn combined. Along with the surprise verdict came an indignant public fallout—but the true emotional frontier for the scandal (besides Nancy Grace’s CNN program) exists on blogs authored by mothers.

It’s a phenomenon often referred to as “Mommy Blogs.” And while some bloggers would say that term makes them cringe, mommy bloggers are a very successful bunch, with some pulling in an enviable readership and selling enough ads to make a living off their writing. Motherhood may be the topic that connects these bloggers, but the recent Casey Anthony scandal is also a unifying force, joining this segment of the blogosphere together for a furious bonding session.

Jacqueline Burt, a staff writer for CafeMom’s blog “The Stir,” and a contributor to glossies such as Parents, American Baby, and Parenting, says she was so horrified by the case, she felt that she had to write about it. “It felt like my responsibility to write about it since we knew our readers were upset about it,” says Burt. But for her, the subject matter is also personal, “In the back of your head as a mom it’s always, what if someone did this to my kid. We look at the pictures of her (Caylee) and we immediately see our kids.”

Burt’s latest story on the trial, “Casey Anthony’s Hair Should Be Chopped Off,” was one of The Stir’s top hits following the not guilty verdict:

As if Casey Anthony wasn’t already the creepiest thing since, oh, I don’t know, O.J., the killer mom waited until the day of her sentencing to let her hair down … literally.

Burt instinctively knows what is infuriating her audience; It’s the same happenings that are irking her. “It’s our job to tune into what people are interested in,” says Burt, “and the hair thing really blew up because a lot of moms took offense to that.”

Those who count themselves among the offended are squeaking their wheels throughout the blogosphere and Twitter. Aphrodite Jones is a long time crime reporter, the author of a number of best selling crime books, and the current host of True Crime on Investigation Discovery. She followed the trial from the courtroom, tweeting, blogging, and interacting with her audience about the goings-on. “I’m getting people from all over the country writing to me regularly telling me they are beside themselves,” says Jones. “It really is the ultimate woman’s nightmare on so many levels. And it’s the first case like this of the social media era.”

Though she’s not a mother herself, Jones feels the same way as most of her audience. She is angry about the verdict, and makes no qualms about displaying that in her own reporting and blogging. “This is my gut reaction, and I tend to go on gut reaction. I’m not going to pussy foot around with twelve people who I feel were irresponsible,” she says. So far, Investigation Discovery’s Criminal Report Daily blog, which Jones writes for, has seen a traffic increase of 1,000 percent since this time last year. Investigation Discovery also has another website, “Casey Anthony: Mom or Murderer,” a multimedia compendium of all things Casey; traffic to this site has increased over 4,000 percent since this time last year.

A week after the verdict, the anger, along with the level of coverage and public interest level, remains high. “You have an entire population that has watched every minute of this trial, looking at a woman who has gotten away with murder, and they are ready to assault her,” says Jones. “If this were biblical times this woman would be stoned.”

All this outrage leaves the nagging question: Which came first, the public interest in the trial, or the 24/7 news coverage? It all depends on who you ask. Jones says that, in her view as a crime reporter, the media is just responding to what the people want to see: “The more ratings came up the more media people jumped on board.”

But for the majority of mother bloggers, the chicken or the egg question is not of importance. “This is one of the first instances where a tragedy that was important to moms happened since the mom blogosphere has been established. So it’s the first time that moms had a voice and were able to publicly react,” says Burt. “We’re all shocked. The vast majority of moms think she’s guilty.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Alysia Santo is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: , , , , ,