HLN Scores with Anthony Verdict, Thanks to Nancy Grace

Nancy Grace (Photo: CNN)

Nancy Grace (Photo: CNN)

UPDATED: Months of covering the Casey Anthony case paid off for CNN-owned HLN as the channel — the cable home of Nancy Grace — drew cable’s biggest audience for the verdict Tuesday afternoon. HLN drew 4.6 million viewers in the 2-3 p.m. (1c-2c), more than Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN, The Hollywood Reporter said.

PREVIOUSLY: Indignation was the order of the day among TV news types following the stunning not-guilty verdicts in the Casey Anthony trial on Tuesday.

Most notable in the hue-and-cry of disbelief was HLN’s Nancy Grace, who more than any other TV personality made this child-murder case a personal crusade. “Somewhere out there, the devil is dancing tonight!” she said at one point on Tuesday – one of many colorful statements she made in the aftermath of the verdict.

Grace didn’t agree with the verdict, of course – a fact well-known to the millions who have followed this case via Grace’s self-titled HLN talk show. Grace’s steadfast attention to the case – and the increased ratings her obsession delivered for HLN – appears to have been the catalyst for other cable news channels taking notice of the case and increasing their own coverage of it. That’s according to this story on AOL TV, which describes Grace’s role in drawing attention to the case in the months and years before the trial.

Tempers flared elsewhere too on Tuesday, with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly even clashing with colleague and pal Geraldo Rivera, who was on-scene outside the courtroom in Orlando, Fla. O’Reilly was evidently p.o’d about the verdict and he would brook no argument to the contrary from Geraldo. “This was a good mother!” Geraldo declared during their set-to during Tuesday night’s “O’Reilly Factor” on FNC. “Bull!” O’Reilly thundered. “This is so much bull I can’t stand it!” It’s an amazing confrontation, which you can watch here on the FNC Web site.

O’Reilly’s vehement disagreement with the Anthony jurors was the subject of his “Talking Points” memo Tuesday night — which you can watch below.

Critics – including Anthony’s own attorneys – complained that the media had over-played the case all along, convicting Anthony in the court of public opinion and fueling the widespread outrage that followed her acquittal. Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker posted a thought-provoking rundown of the media’s reaction to the verdict here.

Writes Tucker: “It’s time to acknowledge once again that in its quest for ratings and ad dollars, TV news does a lousy job of reporting the news, of placing a news story in proper perspective.”

Watch Bill O’Reilly’s critique of the “vile” Anthony verdict here:

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