Michael Jackson died. I didn’t know that. Did you? I was hoping the story would go away by now, but it hasn’t, so I might as well weigh in on it; everyone else has.
Michael Jackson died fifteen days ago, on June 25th. His death is still in the news. He died twenty-five years and two days after his last top 40 song hit the Billboard top 40 charts. That song was #38. To quote James Thurber, “You could look it up.” I know you could, because I did. So for the past 25 years, Michael Jackson has been famous mostly for being weird, plus for two instances in which someone publicly accused him of being a child molester. More than anyone else since Elvis Presley, dying was the best thing Michael Jackson could possibly have done for his career.
There’s an old saying in public relations; it’s okay to die, but never screw up on a slow news day. Michael Jackson may have died in a slow news year. The coverage of his death has been astounding and considering how important he was to the grand scheme of things, the coverage of his death has been appalling. I think Congressman Pete King was appalled at the coverage and because of that, he overreacted to it. I’ve known Pete since before he was a Congressman. If we ran into each other, we would each say hello and we’d stop and chat for a few minutes if time permitted. We did the last time we saw each other. I think calling Jackson a pervert and a molester was an overreaction. The singer may very well have been those things, but there’s no proof of it. He may just have been a battered psyche who was denied his childhood and denied himself his adulthood to compensate. I think Pete was appalled at so much coverage of something so trivial and said what he did in an attempt to shock the public into realizing how overblown and silly this whole spectacle was, and still is.
The other day, during my lunch hour, I got to see a small part of the wall-to-wall coverage of his funeral, the cortege coming from the cemetery to the Staples Center. Live TV coverage of nothing happening is something we should not do, even though we can.
Could we please stop this now and pay attention to something important, like how far President Obama’s jaw dropped when he saw a pretty young woman walk by? I can’t be the only person who longs for the time when trivial pursuit was a board game and not a synonym for journalism.