BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
MIKE PESCA: And I'm Mike Pesca. Nancy Grace is a former Atlanta prosecutor and a current media phenomenon. Since she started anchoring a criminal justice-based talk show on CNN Headline News, she's doubled the ratings in her time slot. In fact, sometimes her show even beats regular CNN. Her new book is also a best seller; it's called Objection: How High-Priced Defense Attorneys, Celebrity Defendants and a 24/7 Media Have Hijacked Our Criminal Justice System. Nancy Grace, thanks for taking the time to join us.
NANCY GRACE: Thank you for having me on.
MIKE PESCA: You don't like defense attorneys, do you?
NANCY GRACE: Well, it's not so much them individually; it's some of the tricks, the contortions they use and the twisting of evidence not only to juries but to the media, the public and in my mind, the jury pool as well. That's what I have a problem with.
MIKE PESCA: I have never seen a case where you disagreed with the prosecution, but I haven't watched all your shows. Have you?
NANCY GRACE: Well, I hate to correct you, but I must. The Martha Stewart trial. I thought the prosecution was incorrect. Why? Not because she didn't make the trade, for Pete's sake. She obviously made the illegal trade. But they didn't have the backbone to try her for that. And if they want to bring down Stewart, you've got to bring down all the other corporate fat cats. I don't think there's any place in our society for selective prosecution.
MIKE PESCA: Have you ever done a show where you admitted I don't know right now if he did it or he didn't, or do you almost always, by the time you go on air have an opinion?
NANCY GRACE: Yes. There have been many cases where I didn't know until I heard the evidence, of course, as to whether the defendant was guilty or innocent. That's kind of a crazy question, friend. [LAUGHS]
MIKE PESCA: Well, my question is - I'm glad you called me friend. I was hoping I'd get one of those.
NANCY GRACE: [LAUGHS] I mean of, of course you don't know until you hear the evidence.
MIKE PESCA: Sure, but I'm talking about when you go on TV - I just haven't seen an episode of Nancy Grace Show where you've gone on TV saying what do we know - I don't know if he did it or didn't - I haven't seen where you said the jury's out and I don't know.
NANCY GRACE: Very often cases that make their way to the air waves have some very strong evidence. Scott Peterson. The facts were very clear early on when the body popped up where he was fishing the day she went missing. Anybody that can add 2 and 2 could see what happened. In Michael Jackson, with so many little boys separated in time and space, it was very clear to me that Jackson had molested children in the past.
MIKE PESCA: On the Michael Jackson trial, I saw your interview with the jury foreman. It seemed - maybe I was reading it wrong-
NANCY GRACE: Sir, it's foreperson. This is 2005.
MIKE PESCA: [LAUGHS] Objection noted. I saw your interview with the jury foreperson.
NANCY GRACE: Yes.
MIKE PESCA: You seemed upset with him - that he could deliver that verdict.
NANCY GRACE: I was more angry than upset. That he told me that he believed - he put a lot of credibility in the youth minister, which was another alleged victim of Michael Jackson's. And I asked him, well if you believe that one child has been molested, fondled by Jackson, what do you think Jackson was doing in bed with this little boy? For all those nights, alone? Eating popcorn and watching TV? And he said well I - the jury foreperson responded, I don't want to stick my neck out. It doesn't matter what I believe. And excuse me - but that's what his duty is - is to say what he believes to a moral and reasonable certainty. That's what jurors are for - what they believe. They are the voice of our community, our conscience. And that's all that matters, is what they believe.
MIKE PESCA: I wanted to get to, in the time we have left, another major facet of what you do. I know a portion of your book is going to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children-
NANCY GRACE: Yes.
MIKE PESCA: -- and I know that on your show you always show a picture and give a description of a missing child - not just the ones that get all the media attention, but ones that get no media attention probably, besides the picture that you show on the TV show.
NANCY GRACE: Yes.
MIKE PESCA: But still, you've been doing Natalie Holloway stories almost every day.
NANCY GRACE: Yes.
MIKE PESCA: And the ratio of coverage - Natalie Holloway versus Eldren Evans, name of a missing boy who I took off the center's website - it's not a 2 to 1 ratio of coverage or a 3 to 1 - it's about 2 or 300 to 1 - and I wanted to know your opinion - do you think that that's a little out of whack?
NANCY GRACE: Frankly, as a crime victim of violent crime myself, I'm always supremely pleased when any crime victim gets coverage on our national airwaves. Do I think it's always fair? No. And that is why I go out of my way to show other missing children, other missing people. They don't have to be beautiful; they don't have to be rich, educated, white, gone to college, good connections - no. The reality is, if the public is engaged at all in a crime victim, I use that opportunity to drive home the point that there are so many unsolved homicides that need our attention.
MIKE PESCA: But you're one of the ones doing the engaging. I mean don't you think you could use the skills that you have as a communicator to engage them on another one of these missing kids?
NANCY GRACE: If you actually do watch my show, you'll see that I highlight many other missing people; not just Natalie Holloway. You know what? Maybe one day if you have a missing daughter or wife or girlfriend, you'll feel differently, sir.
MIKE PESCA: All right. I want to thank you for your time, Nancy.
NANCY GRACE: Thank you.
MIKE PESCA: CNN Headline News and Court TV host Nancy Grace is author of Objection: How High-Priced Defense Attorneys, Celebrity Defendants and a 24/7 Media Have Hijacked Our Criminal Justice System. As you could tell by the subtitle, Grace believes that pre-trial publicity, as wielded by defense attorneys and the media can and does pervert real justice. So that's the supposition, but where is the proof?