CNN: Jackson Media Coverage Criticized – MiniB#74 UPDATE

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{xtypo_dropcap}D{/xtypo_dropcap}espite the way their own network has participated in adding dubious allegations into the mix, a panel on Larry King Live last night criticized the media coverage surrounding Michael Jackson’s passing.

Those who complain about the amount of coverage given to Jackson’s death are missing the point. It is not the amount of coverage but rather the type of coverage which is drawing the ire of fan and non-fan alike.

Much of the story right now is unknown. The only fact we know for sure is that 50 year old Michael Jackson is no longer walking the earth. Everything else is total conjecture laced with rumors wrapped in unfounded nonsense.

And why is the tv coverage saturated with shrill harpies, hangers-on, and those who want to jumpstart their careers by entering into the fray with a bunch of hateful accusations seemingly pulled directly out of their arse?  I know that last description sounds like Gerald Posner but stay with me for a minute.

Its because of high ratings, increased traffic to websites, free camera time, and free advertising on other media outlets who have snatched the “news” from tabloid websites and recycled it as fact.

Sharon Waxman, who appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources July 5, admitted the media wouldn’t be going this far if the ratings weren’t big.

“No I don’t think we would be [talking about Jackson if not for the ratings]… This is a ratings story. This is about business. Its an easy decision for every news network to make,” Waxman admitted.

On last nights Larry King Live, King and Geragos said the danger in reporting about a story like this is dealing with know-nothing people who may or may not really know anything at all about Michael Jackson’s current life.

L.A. County Deputy District DA Robin Sax agreed, “We are speculating. We are looking at this.” But in the same breath she fell victim to the very thing she admitted was speculation.

To which, King asked, “But we don’t know it, do we Ted [Rollins]?” Rollins is a CNN correspondent.

From the discussion:

KING: But we don’t know it do we Ted?
ROLLINS: Absolutely not. People have been reporting things daily, hourly, about things we don’t know about.
KING: Websites and —
ROLLINS: And a lot of it’s false. Remember the first day? ‘Oh he had a shot of demerol an hour before he died’. But nobody’s talking about that anymore.

Many people remember the demerol and OxyContin story. Remember how unnamed sources were definitely sure it was true?  Apparently it turned out to be a pile of crap because you can barely get anyone to talk about it now.


Geragos chimed in after the exchange between King and Rollins:

GERAGOS: That’s exactly the problem. This story, with the stories previous to this, within the last couple of years — because obviously there’s a scandal du jours.

All of these things get reported. Some website posts it. Then somebody else picks it up. Then it’s ‘according to this source’, ‘according to that source’. Before you know it, the thing gathers momentum and it’s stated as fact.

There’s so much of this that has absolutely no basis in any fact whatsoever and it becomes so speculative. It really does a disservice to the legitimate mainstream media

Back on July 2 Prof. Robert Thompson appeared on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to talk about the Jackson coverage. He said there is no evidence the media’s behavior will change and it shouldn’t have surprised the public.

“We’ve seen this happen before. We know how this cycle works. There is absolutely no evidence in the way the news industry is currently operating in this country that this isn’t going to happen over and over again when these kinds of stories break, “ Thompson said.

Media critic Howard Kurtz said on a July 5 show, “Once you get to day 6, 7, 8, 9, we are basically awash on the airwaves with repetition and speculation.”

Predating that criticism was MSNBC’s Savanna Guthrie who appeared on Hardball July 1 to talk about the shady media coverage based on allegations from those “who claimed to be close to him.”

Guthrie told the guest host Chuck Todd:

Michael Jackson was constantly surrounded by people who claimed to be close to him, who claimed to know what he was doing – what was in his mind.

They really would come out of the woodwork. Of course we’ll see it now too; everyone claiming to know something about Michael Jackson.

For us in the media who are covering this, particularly those in California covering it right now like Tony [Potts], its really a matter of weighing that credibility. Whether or not these people actually know what they’re talking about.


Todd chimed in with a story about a friend of his who said he felt like he was watching the internet on television meaning “every internet rumor makes it on air now because no one’s quite sure what’s fact, what’s fiction — because some of these entities are paying for stories…”


As we can all see now, the media is lazy as hell when it comes to doing their due diligence to make sure kooks and loons don’t make it to air; that includes the kooks and loons in the media who have a vested interest in making the rest of us believe their sources are any better than anyone else’s.

Guthrie continued:

It just really strikes you as one of the sad things about Michael Jackson’s life is that he was frankly used by a lot of people and that continues to this day; people trying to say that they know or have some inside information about Michael Jackson.

We saw this same inane frenzy after Jackson was falsely accused of child molestation in 2003.  Numerous reports about what was found at Neverland, what prosecutors had as “evidence” turned out not to be true at all.

You would have thought some members of the media learned their lesson after getting their faces cracked during the 2005 case. But apparently this collective we refer to as ‘the media’ have a case of permanent short-term memory loss when it comes to Michael Jackson.


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