Look closely: is Casey Anthony dining at Wildsides Bar & Grille in College Park? Or is this another wild goose chase? (Photo by Brek Dalrymple).
I was attending a press conference at a local hotel on Thursday, and having arrived 10 minutes early, I decided to sit down and relax with a cup of coffee. Right next to me were two cameramen from the local television stations, setting up their equipment in front of the podium. They started talking – or, more precisely, grumbling to one another.
Their gripe: how annoying it’s been chasing down false Casey Anthony “sightings” around town for the past week. They were sick and tired of getting “hot tips” that Casey, the former first degree murder suspect, had been seen here, there, and everywhere. And, not surprisingly, they would rush to that location and – nothing.
I suppose getting paid to chase phantoms isn’t the worst job in the world – I was actually impressed at the bright and cheerful attitude of the guy who stopped by my home a few weeks ago to clean my pool, which had come to resemble a septic tank located at a frat house. In any case, I couldn’t help but chuckle silently to myself as I listened to those cameramen moan and groan about being on the Casey trail.
I suspect there are plenty of us – and I’m certainly one of them – who had expected the entire Casey Anthony media frenzy to fade once the not guilty verdict came down. With the trial finally over with, there wasn’t much to follow at that point: her sentencing on misdemeanor charges, another few more days in the Orange County Jail, and then of course the insanity of watching camera crews, photographers, reporters, protestors and other paparazzi-types descend on the 33rd Street jail, eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the accused baby killer turned vindicated free woman. Once her attorney, Jose Baez, whisked Anthony off in that van into the dark night, those of us who had felt buried in an oversaturated avalanche of oppressive local, national and even international coverage of the case had every reason to sigh with relief and think: this awful story is finally over.
Only, it wasn’t.
As those poor cameramen noted, we’ve pitifully moved into phase two: the Casey Chase. There’s an almost obsessive frenzy to find the lady. And I have to wonder …. Why?
We all know what she looks like from that painfully lengthy and well televised trial. Who cares if she shows up at Barnes & Noble buying a book, or at Firestone getting her tire changed, or where ever else she needs to go these days?
Then I started thinking: imagine how much fun it would be to call your least favorite local TV station or newspaper and give him a “juicy” tip.
“Um … hey, listen, I just wanted you folks to know that I’m over here in Starbucks, the one in Thornton Park, and … yep, Casey Anthony is sitting two tables away. No joke. She’s having a Latte and a bran muffin. Dude, get over here, quick!”
Then you hang up, sit back, glance at your watch, and time how quickly the poor cameramen come smashing through the doors.
My friend Xander Guetzloe, the engineer at the Phoenix Network radio station, suggested something else: chasing the cameramen who are chasing Casey, capturing their sorry plight, then putting it all on YouTube. It could make for an entire YouTube channel, he pointed out.
Another possibility: how about a new reality show, “Chasing Casey?” Every hour would be devoted to following “I just saw Casey” tips – with most of them, I suspect, proving to be false leads.
I wouldn’t mind producing that show, particularly if we start getting tips that Casey is hiding in Paris. The entire crew, me included, have to get shipped over there to sip coffee at a lovely bistro on the Champs Elysees while my camera crew went dashing up the Eiffel Tower hunting her down.
To some degree I feel bad for the local television stations and newspapers that have probably already devoted countless wasted hours on a lot of really bad “I spotted Casey” tips. Then again, we all have to ask: why do we care where she goes to begin with now that the trial is over?
My friend Allen Moore, the public information officer for the Orange County Corrections Department, had to deal with a lot of this whipped-up media frenzy during the trial and, more obviously, as the date of Anthony’s release date approached. I always find it odd what the media are requesting information on – including this email from Allen, dated July 17.
“Multiple news outlets have requested the final attorney and official visitors log for Casey Anthony,” he wrote. “There are no additional public records related to deposits in the Casey Anthony Inmate Money Account to release at this time. The dollar amount increased from the last time we distributed the Inmate Money Account information on Friday July 15, 2011. There are no additional deposit instruments to include since the final deposits came via Western Union. Her final account balance was $537.68 which was given to her in cash.”
Why would anyone care about her inmate money account? Were they expecting millions in future book deals to have already been deposited in there?
Allen added, “None of the operational security plans related to this inmate release will be available, nor will we discuss our contingencies for release had any been needed.” I love the idea of the media asking the jail to release security plans — for their convenience. No wonder newspapers are a dying breed.
Part of the problem isn’t the pranksters who are calling into the stations to report Casey sightings; the greater problem is with the cult of personality we create for those infamous types among us. As the French might say, ennui has its place, and if we could all get bored with this entire situation a lot more quickly, then maybe we could happily move on with life.

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