Is it safe to turn on the 24-hour "news" channels now? I officially stopped caring about the death of Michael Jackson about ten minutes after news "broke" of his death last Thursday. I am apparently in the minority--as round the clock coverage has continued on all of the news channels--and the main networks as well.
If we didn't have "breaking news coverage" of the body being taken to the morgue--we had "team coverage" of fan reaction outside the Neverland Ranch. And once we got tired of the people who showed in hopes of being interviewed by a TV reporter--we had more "breaking news" of a press conference featuring Jackson's father--or attorney--or Al Sharpton. Has there ever been any high profile incident involving an African American that didn't result in Al Sharpton standing behind a microphone?
Even the local channels got in on the act--sending reporters to Waterfest here in Oshkosh--or to some music store to get "local reaction" to Jackson's death. It's too bad I wasn't asked about that because it would have been "I don't give a shit." And you can quote me on that.
In his Sunday column on the electronic media in the "Chicago Tribune", Phil Rosenthal points out that the death of Elvis--a far more iconic and culturally influential artist than Michael Jackson--wasn't even the top story on the CBS Evening News on August 16th, 1977. CBS--the top rated news program at the time--led with President Gerald Ford's support for returning the Panama Canal zone back to Panamanian control by the end of the century. In fact, Elvis's death wasn't mentioned for three more stories on CBS. Rosenthal points out that CBS was pilloried for this "error in editorial judgement"--NBC and ABC led with Elvis's death that night--but just the fact that a major news operation would even consider a celebrities' death to be less than life-shattering would be refreshing today.
Another thing that gets my goat is the sycophantic coverage provided to Jackson. Respected journalists are using the title Jackson gave to himself "The King of Pop" like it was something he had been granted by the US government. The man gave himself the name people!!! He's not the king of anything.
Glenn Beck on Fox News always talks about his 9-12 initiative--where he wants people to return to the feelings of resolve, anger and determination we felt the day after the 9-11 attacks. I just wish the national media would return to the 9-12 attitude of returning to coverage of what's really important in life. You know, on the same day Michael Jackson died, an Army soldier from Peshtigo, Wisconsin was fighting for his life at a hospital in Germany--after coming under attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Did you hear anything about Private Steven Drees that day--or any day until his death was confirmed by the Pentagon yesterday? I know I could have lived with 24-hour coverage of his life and accomplishments.