Apr 30, 2005

jennifer's fifteen minutes

I should have known better than to tune in to CNN this morning, where they were covering the reappearance of Jennifer Wilbanks, the missing bride from Georgia. The reporter covering the story live was speculating on the mental state of her fiancee; the marriage counselor from Seattle, Washington was holding forth on "cold feet" syndrome; the minister who was scheduled to perform the ceremony was holding a press conference; and the anchor holding it all together could barely contain her disappointment that the story was heading into its denouement.

I should have known better because after about 15 minutes of this I found myself (in an empty house) yelling at the television set in disbelief. They're cutting to reporters live? They're bringing in experts? The minister is holding a press conference? They're spending this much time on a person who got on a Greyhound bus?

And thanks to the wonders of synergy, the story's plastered all over CNN.com. You have to love the backhanded way they deflect any criticism that producers may have been hoping for a story with a bit more legs...

Her disappearance quickly drew national media attention, including talk show speculation sometimes comparing the story to that of Laci Peterson, the pregnant woman who disappeared from her Modesto, California, home on Christmas Eve, 2002.

Ahhh, talk show speculation, eh? Surprised they didn't blame it on the bloggers. Of course, even with all the live coverage, I didn't see any tape of this...

The announcement that Wilbanks had been found set off a celebration among anxious relatives and friends. The joy turned to shocked silence about six hours later, when Schultz told reporters that Wilbanks had admitted fabricating the abduction story.

Now that would have been great television.

Update: So apparently the wedding isn't off, just postponed. Which gives the morning talk shows plenty of time to put their bids in for exclusive coverage of the event; or an enterprising CPG conglomerate to turn the whole thing into an exercise in product placement.