Accounting For A Lack Of Grace

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - June 27, 2007

I am not a Nancy Grace fan. She is the host of Nancy Grace on CNN. As a former prosecutor, she focuses on crime stories and can be counted on to give inordinate television airtime to sensational stories of disappearing pregnant women or missing young girls or kidnapped babies.

One of the stories she followed was the disappearance of 2-year-old Trenton Duckett. His mother, Melinda, although not formally charged with any crime, became the target of Grace’s ire. This contentiousness culminated in a prere-corded interview where Grace aggressively questioned Melinda Duckett about little Trenton’s whereabouts.

Tragically, Melinda Duckett, despondent over the loss of her son and the associated pressure, took her own life. To be specific, she shot herself with a shotgun.

Reports indicate Melinda Duckett was already despondent and her interview with Grace was the proverbial last straw. Although the woman was dead, Grace and her producers decided to broadcast the interview hours after Duckett’s suicide.

In 2006, Melinda Duckett’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Grace and her employer CNN.

Last week, U.S. Magistrate announced federal court will hear the lawsuit clearing the way for the details of this case emerge. The suit alleges Grace and her producers used a false pretense to compel Duckett to appear on the program.

Allegedly, CNN and Nancy Grace assured Duckett she would be able to provide information to help with the search. Clearly, the interview became a cross-examination of Melinda Duckett. The implication of the line of questioning was that Duckett was somehow involved in her own son’s disappearance.

This is sad case. There are no winners in this story. But as much of a boorish, classless and ethically challenged “journalist” as Grace may be, it is ludicrous to bring criminal charges in the death of Melinda Duckett.

I don’t believe there is a legal case here, and I don’t believe Duckett’s lawyers or family truly believe there is. However,

Grace’s conduct was deplorable, and a major concern is the allegation of lies told in securing the Duckett interview.

Another troubling sidebar is the posthumous broadcast of such an acerbic exchange while the woman lies dead.

Nancy Grace embodies all the negatives which plague, and justly so in this case, today’s journalism.

However, although Grace shows herself to be fiendish, she does not deserve a lawsuit. Again, this is a wrongful death lawsuit. She, and CNN, are being blamed for Duckett’s death.

Hold up.

I heard the interview. At no time did Grace tell Duckett to shoot herself. There was no urging. There were no instructions on how to do it. There was no information on how to get, load and use the shotgun. Grace is not responsible for the death of this woman, regardless of her speech and style.

Yet, Grace and CNN are guilty of a lack of compassion, empathy and sound judgment. Instead of a wrongful death lawsuit, the public holds the keys of consequence.

If you are outraged at her conduct, simply stop watching her show. If you think she should be accountable for her conduct, stop frequenting the sponsors of her show ... and be sure to tell them why you will never use their product or service.

This is the most effective way to prosecute the prosecutor.

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