HEADLINE JUSTICE: Inside the Courtroom: The Country's Most Controversial Trials by Theo Wilson

HEADLINE JUSTICE: Inside the Courtroom: The Country's Most Controversial Trials

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Entertaining memoirs by a reporter who covered some of the biggest trials of the century, as well as many other great events. Wilson spent most of her career at the New York Daily News when it was the most popular daily newspaper in America. Though assigned to everything from political conventions to space shots, she gained her greatest renown for writing detailed daily accounts of celebrated criminal trials, including that of Confidential Magazine's publishers in the 1950s for invading the privacy of Maureen O'Hara, Dorothy Dandridge, and other stars; the Sam Sheppard and Carl Coppolino trials, which brought F. Lee Bailey to prominence in the 1960s; the prolonged insanity of the Manson Family trials at the beginning of the 1970s; Bailey's losing effort in the case of Patty Hearst, a.k.a. Symbionese Liberation Army guerrilla ""Tania""; and the conviction of girls'-school headmistress Jean Harris for murdering her inconstant lover, diet doctor Herman Tarnower, in the early 1980s. Wilson retired after the Harris trial because, in her view, control of the Daily News had descended to editors who ""neither knew nor cared about how to handle a story as complicated as a trial for a stylish tabloid like the News."" Wilson's unabated bitterness toward those she considers responsible for her beloved paper's demise may or may not be justified, but the sort of strong, canny editors she lauds throughout her book might have suggested downplaying it a bit here. Nevertheless, it's easy to see why Wilson misses the excitement and camaraderie of a time when the same group of big-name reporters showed up for every major trial, editors gave reporters enough space to provide a full account of a day's events, and ""the idea was to take your job--not yourself--seriously."" No deeper than one would expect from tabloid journalism, but just as lively and amusing.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1997
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth