Jack Rice - Blog

Jack Rice is a criminal defense trial lawyer who provides legal advice to those charged with crimes in Federal and Minnesota State courtrooms.


Jack's Blog & Media Appearances

Does Anna Nicole Smith Need One More Headline?

Is it me or am I just missing something? I was on the air at WCCO Radio the other day when Anna Nicole Smith’s death came over the news wire. Based upon the response from the networks, one would think that this was really huge news. Something of true significance that we needed to focus upon. I, on the other hand, have been bewildered by the whole thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Ms. Smith’s death is not a tragedy. I suspect that for those whole loved her, her family, etc. this is a terrible loss. I even consider Ms. Smith’s recent baby who might never know her mother. Again, this too is horrible. However . . .

I’m trying to understand what Ms. Smith’s claim to fame is, that would justify such attention. Oh sure, I am aware of the Playboy Bunny hype. On the other hand, there is a new Playboy Bunny every month and if one is tired of this month’s, be patient, in a matter of hours, ol’ Hef will pluck another woman from obscurity and embarrass that poor woman’s parents.

Beyond that, let me see, Smith married an octogenarian and professed her love for the man. I still remember seeing the kiss and thought to myself, rightly or wrongly, gold digger. After his death, of course, the fight for the hundreds of millions, if not billions, began . . . and continues.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yes. There was the reality television show in which Anna constantly highlighted her questionable coping skills, her questionably acting skills, her questionable parental skills and just about everything else that was questionable.

So there you have it. A woman who took off her clothes, married an old man with a foot in the grave, and embarrassed herself on national TV.

As I continue to channel surf past the retrospectives on cable television and CNN, move beyond the stories of her life in the paper, and try to ignore the updates every eight minutes on radio, I wonder who is responsible. Is it the listener, the viewer, the reader? After all, why does National Enquirer sell so many copies? Why does Entertainment Tonight and their ilk continue to outperform more serious journalistic endeavors? And why do I read it in the checkout line?

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t the people. Maybe it is the media itself. Could it be that it is the media companies themselves that are desperately looking for something, anything, that they can latch onto in order to feed the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week beast that has become the media business? There may be something there too!

Now, the latest story seems to be about who is the father. Apparently people are coming out of the woodwork to stake a claim that they too had slept with Smith and therefore, the money, er, the baby is theirs. I myself, well, never mind. I think you get the picture.

In the end, I hope people don’t see this as an attack on this poor woman. I understand that we are all doing our best and that she probably had more demons than most. I also understand that it is easy to sit on the sidelines and throw potshots at those who live under the scrutiny of the media microscope day in and day out. In fact, that point that I am trying to make it not about Anna at all. In fact, the point is far more about us. About our willingness to obsess, even to exploit, than it is about this woman and what she did or didn’t accomplish in her short 39 years.

As the coverage continues, about the only person that truly seems happy about the latest obsession is Lisa Nowak, the astronaut charged with attempted murder. Remember her? She was the woman who allegedly traveled from Texas to Florida in a diaper to kill another astronaut who may have come between her and another. After all, she was the latest greatest until Anna Nicole Smith took her crown. Long live the Queen. Until another takes the throne. Oh my!