World Wonders Why We're So Worked Up Over Casey Anthony

Foreign audiences are captivated by our captivation

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Ever wonder what our nation looks like to folks from afar? Here we look at how a uniquely American story--the kind of news we have trouble explaining even to ourselves--is being told overseas. Want to see a particular topic covered here? Let us know.

Casey Anthony is due to be released in nine days, and Americans are not happy. So unhappy, in fact, that folks across the ocean have noticed. The Casey Anthony story overseas is just as bizarre as it is here, but what has really captivated foreign audiences is the way the case captivated Americans.

"Casey Anthony's trial: the case that has fascinated America," reads the Le Monde headline in France. "An aquittal outrages America" cries a German article. "This verdict is a sensation. And it is splitting America," writes Christoph Cöln for Die Welt. "The whole nation held its breath" as the decision was given. "Even professional legal observers were flabbergasted." He explains the "catch-all argument: that which in American law is called 'reasonable doubt.'" He adds: "American law reporters were sure of the guilty verdict."

Italy's La Repubblica attempts a more comprehensive explanation of the case's fascination for the American public, noting the tabloid-ready particulars and the role played by outraged celebrities:

Who killed Caylee Anthony? No one in America knows. A surprise ruling acquitted Casey Anthony after three years in jail ... Twitter has collected all the anguish of a nation. The Casey Anthony case has overflowed for months in the U.S. media.  ... The ingredients were all there: the evil  mother with the face of an angel. Who in turn could have been raped by  her father. The mother who tried to cover up the family's horrors. ... The debate spills from TV to the web, and the revolt of stars gives impetus to that of ordinary people. Demi Moore and her husband Ashton Kutcher are the first to tweet. Then come the singer Mandy Moore, model  Niki Taylor, and so on.

Le Monde's Romain Brunet, however, takes a more cynical view, suggesting the media are largely responsible for the case's oversized shadow:

The trial of this young woman aged 25, accused of killing her two-year-old daughter, has fascinated America for a month, recalling the craze that the O.J. Simpson trial sparked in 1995, and far surpassing the DSK affair. ... Smelling good viewing audiences, all the American news channels continued to consecrate numerous hours to the trial. ... HLN, CNN affiliate, clearly played the sensationalism card by leading the coverage with presenter Nancy Grace. ... Failing to see Casey Anthony convicted, the editorial strategy of the cable channel paid off. Tuesday, July 5, between 2:15 and 3:30, at the time of the verdict's announcement, 5.2 million people watched HLN ... And it's not finished, as the channel has already programmed for the next weekend a special broadcastc called 'Justice for Caylee.'

The public appetite for the Casey Anthony affair is particularly manifested in social media.

Heather Horn is fluent in written German and French, and proficient in written Arabic. All other languages are muddled through with the help of Google Translate.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.