Baumhower: Media circus comes to ToledoWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
If you look on the East Side of Toledo, you may have noticed a huge red striped tent, with a national spot-light — featuring a “tot-loving” circus barker, shirt-removing boyfriends, baby-mama drama and a man speaking with a voice box. No, it’s not Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, but rather Nancy Grace and her HLN circus. It seems the big top has come to T-Town, all in hopes of finding a beautiful baby girl named Elaina.
In what may be the scariest plot twist yet in the case of the missing 18-month-old, Grace has deemed the East Side made-for-tv drama worthy of her show’s attention. This story is so rich in material, it feels like a special crossover episode of “CSI: Toledo” with special guest Maury Povich.
I could write the promotional announcements myself.
From the producers of “Law & Order: SVU,” “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “The Jerry Springer Show,” comes “The Search for Elaina”, hosted by HLN’s Nancy Grace.
And why not? This story’s evolving into an almost perfectly scripted primetime show with a plot of what happened to baby Elaina? Was she kidnapped and possibly harmed, or is she being hidden in a custody dispute gone horribly wrong? There seems way too many questions instead of answers, which is always a perfect formula for good television.
This tragic whodunit storyline features characters only a new-aged Mark Twain could ever imagine. The real-life cast includes Elaina, a beautiful 18-month-old girl who is gone missing; Elaina’s mother Angela, now arrested and a suspect; Terry Jr., the baby daddy/estranged husband; Steven W. King, Angela’s boyfriend who was the last known party with the missing toddler and whose family Angela was staying with; Angela’s stepdad who uses a voice box to communicate; baby dad’s dad, Terry Sr. and hundreds more. Could you imagine being a producer for HLN and trying to create a graph of the family tree for viewers to follow at home?
You combine all of the above mentioned “color” and you can see why Grace and her show have latched onto this story with two hands. Her 8 p.m. nightly telecast is consistently ranked second against other cable news networks, averaging close to 500,000 viewers a night. There is no coincidence that just hours after Elaina’s story debuted on Grace’s show last Wednesday night, police arrested the mother.
I will admit, when I first saw the missing child poster on Facebook the Monday morning following Elaina’s disappearance, I called the number listed and verified that it was legitimate. I was curious as to why there wasn’t an Amber Alert issued that night, and I became increasing concerned for her Elaina’s well-being. After I saw various local TV interviews of Angela later that night, I was perplexed. Her answers, behavior and demeanor were out of place for a mother with a missing baby. I don’t know how any parent in her exact situation could give TV interviews and be so public. The verbiage Angela used when speaking to the media was alarming. “ I just want my daughter back in one piece” was said over and over again. I do not know what I would say if I was faced with a missing child, but I am positive it would not include scenarios of my child’s death or dismemberment. The biggest red flag during this whole scenario is how the mother acted just hours after her baby disappeared.
Elaina’s disappearance is tragic on so many levels. First, an 18-month-old baby girl is missing; her loved ones’ lives became a living hell. Her neighborhood is under siege with media types, police and the FBI all looking around looking for clues. This case is now being showcased on a primetime TV show not known for garnering results of finding missing tots, but rather for exploiting everyone involved for ratings. Grace is not here going door-to-door looking for clues. She is doing tabloid styled interviews all via a satellite, with anyone willing to speak on camera. She does not care about our city, this family or this missing child. Grace is paid on ratings, not results. Nancy Grace is looking for her next Casey Anthony.
If you know where this child is, please speak up. Every day little Elaina is not returned or found is yet another day of torture for her loved ones, something no person could ever deserve. It is also another day of bad press for the city of Toledo, and that is something we cannot afford.
I applaud the response and actions of the local authorities and East Toledo residents who have spent hours, searching and praying for this little girl. I hope one of you will uncover the clue that will bring Elaina home to her family and send Nancy Grace packing.