How do shows like Dateline NBC, 20/20, and Inside Edition find the kind of freakish, violent true-life stories (and future Law & Order SVU scripts) that manage to both titillate and terrify? Oftentimes, from a middleman like Larry Garrison. He represented the father of Natalee Holloway, the pretty blonde from Birmingham who went missing during a school trip to Aruba, as well as other fringe figures from tabloid megastories of decades past: “jurors in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case; a friend of Robert Blake’s dead wife; John Mark Karr, who falsely confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey.” People like Garrison, says the Atlantic, “make it easy for mainstream media outlets to pay for interviews while obscuring the fact that they do.” Garrison delivers the news, then gets a producer or consultant fee for that particular program, in at least one case, allegedly without the interviewees’ knowledge.
Here’s how your paid-for trashy evening news becomes perfectly respectable by the next morning:
During the course of Sheelah Kolhatar’s reporting, she hears Garrison try to woo a 78-year-old retired propane inspector named John Muldowney, who believes that he and his wife might have found Natalee Holloway’s remains while snorkeling:
But the man does have standards:
But here’s our question: How do the poor, hapless family members of the victims of these tragedies even know Garrison exists?
The News Merchant [Atlantic]