How does the media's seeming love affair with the mafia, as an entertainment topic, glamorize organized crime in the eyes of the American public?
This a great question. You are right. There are so many illicit things that the media glamorizes that you have to wonder what effect all of this is having on our society. The hit HBO show, "Sopranos," is a good example. If I had to guess, it has several social effects.
First, as you say, the media shows usually only the glamorous sides of organized crime. This gives the impression that it is acceptable to seek after organized crimes, as long as you get away with it. It also may tempt people to go into this route.
Second, by glamorizing crime, it makes people confused by blurring line of morality and what is acceptable and unacceptable. It makes all things relative, which can be dangerous.
Third, glamorizing crime also makes law enforcement and things like this look foolish. In the end, the media does harm by inaccurately portraying crime.