Opinion
2:37 pm
Mon June 29, 2009

Commentary: Media Coverage of Michael Jackson's Death

Buffalo, NY – Thank you WBFO and NPR. On the day after the death of Pop icon and oddity, Michael Jackson, you were one of the few news outlets that actually reported the news.

Revealing my liberal media bias, I admit that I frequently watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Thursday night, however, it was a Michael Jackson freak fest that began in the late afternoon and continued through the time I went to bed around 11:00 PM. There was really nothing newsworthy to say about his death other than it occurred. There were no revelations from the physicians, no talk of suspicious circumstances, no gory details to report. I agree that his death was news. It was not, however, worthy of an all-night blitz that pushed out coverage of all other news.

Friday morning while I was getting ready for work, all three network morning shows were devoted to the story, as were the major cable news channels. Because there was nothing important to say, they resorted to a parade of Michael Jackson sycophants, celebrity junkies and whackos who live to insert themselves into such a story. The sad truth is that the life and death of Michael Jackson is a cautionary tale of mythic proportions. He was a sad, damaged child who, with the help of a multitude of people who enabled and sheltered him, became a pathetic caricature of a man - addicted to drugs, his own celebrity, and plastic surgery.

So thanks to WBFO and NPR for reporting the real news:

A marketplace bombing in a Baghdad marketplace that killed 21 people

The call by an Iranian cleric to execute all of the demonstrators

The importance of three recent Supreme Court decisions

The meltdown of government in New York State

A promising new genetic treatment for cystic fibrosis being conducted by UB researchers at Women & Children's Hospital

All real news stories that were not covered in any depth by any of the major television outlets.

I both dread and anticipate the Michael Jackson funeral. I suspect that it will resemble that of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, which would be quite ironic. Here in the West, we watched the spectacle of the Ayatollah's funeral in amazement as millions of Iranians beat themselves, wailed, and actually toppled his body from the coffin. We collectively thought, "These people are crazy." Let's just wait for the Jackson funeral. The burial of this iconic symbol of Western excess and decadence promises to be similarly over the top. I'm sure the Iranians will watch the circus and think, "These people are crazy."

One thing we can be sure of is that WBFO and NPR will be a little ray of sunshine in what promises to be a desolate wilderness of actual news coverage. So thanks again!

Listener-Commentator Mary Jo Jagord lives in Getzville.

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