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Media feeding frenzy made John Mark Karr's dark dream come true, TV analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt says
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By MICHAEL ZITZ
MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, a voice of reason during the recent media feeding frenzy over the wanna-be killer of JonBenet Ramsey, says the wall-to-wall coverage was a dream come true for John Mark Karr.
"He has achieved stardom," said Van Zandt, a Spotsylvania County resident and former FBI profiler. "In his darkest, happiest dreams, he has done what he wanted to do--forever linked his name with JonBenet Ramsey."
Karr had long fantasized he was involved with the child, and found millions all too anxious to hear details--even imaginary ones--about her murder.
Because of the insatiable public appetite for salacious tidbits about celebrated murder cases and the media's pursuit of ratings and readers, we must be on guard against people like Karr, Van Zandt said.
The Spotsylvania County resident has made more than 3,000 TV appearances as a news analyst, and his book "Facing Down Evil: Life on the Edge as an FBI Hostage Negotiator" was published this week.
"My whole message those two weeks was caution--show me where he has ever encountered her in his life, show me where he knew the name JonBenet Ramsey before Dec. 24, 1996," Van Zandt said.
Media coverage of the JonBenet case "goes on and on, and there's still an appetite," he said.
Because of that craving, he said, any news program that veered away from the case during that two-week frenzy would have been committing ratings suicide.
He's under contract with MSNBC and makes 20 to 40 appearances a month to discuss the most sensational crimes and criminals.
"Murder and mayhem," Van Zandt said. "It never stops."
Citing the case of Natalie Holloway, the Alabama teen who vanished last year in Aruba during her high school graduation trip, he said television comes to believe it must read viewers "a new chapter in the case each day. Even if we never get past chapter one, we read that same chapter day after day."
He said viewers sit in front of their TVs, clicking. But he said that didn't mean, in the JonBenet case, that he had to join others in indicting a clearly disturbed man who probably has never even been to Boulder, Colo.