In a coup of an interview for CNN's Piers Morgan, Casey Anthony denied killing her daughter but told him, "I'm ashamed in many ways of the person that I was."
Anthony was found not guilty last July of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. But that came only after countless media reports portrayed her drinking and partying around the time of her daughter's death. The implication was that she was happy to be free from parental responsibility.
In her exclusive interview with Morgan, she said she was aware of how she came off in the public eye and deeply regretted it.
"It's horrible. It looks absolutely horrible, and I'm ashamed in many ways of the person that I was," Anthony said over the phone, according to Morgan's account of the call. "Even then, that wasn't who I am."
Anthony told Morgan she had very rarely consumed alcohol since her acquittal.
"I was a stupid kid," she said, according to Morgan. "But I've never been a 'party girl'... and I've gone through hell."
Still, she said, "The public perception of me is bad, absolutely horrible."
Prosecutors had sought a murder conviction and the death penalty for Anthony. Her defense claimed that Caylee drowned accidentally and that Anthony lied about it -- even claiming the child had been abducted by a nanny -- because of Anthony's own traumatic childhood. She was convicted on misdemeanor accounts of providing false information.
Anthony, 26, stressed that she was 22 when her daughter disappeared, but emphasized that she did not harm her. "There's no one I love more than my daughter... she's my greatest accomplishment,'" Morgan quoted her as saying.
Morgan, who posted her comments on Twitter, acknowledged that Anthony remains widely despised, writing, "Judging by the Twitter reaction already, my #CaseyAnthony exclusive is going to seriously divide opinion."
Morgan scored the interview at a time he badly needed a ratings jolt. In May, CNN hit a 20-year low in primetime ratings. "Piers Morgan Tonight" delivered the lowest 9 p.m. numbers for CNN in 20 years in both total viewers and viewers 25-54.
CNN said Anthony received no payment for the interview. Although legimiate news organizations don't pay for interviews, there have been cases in which they have paid for photos or accomodations for high-profile subjects -- which has been criticized as a way of getting around their no-payment policies.
No such payments occurred in this case, CNN told TheWrap.