Friday, March 11, 2005

Coverage of Michael Jackson Trial Is Overdone

In driving back and forth to the Bay Area in recent days, I was impressed more than ever how excessive the coverage of the Michael Jackson trial is on an ongoing basis.

This is a sordid story of little or no edifying value to the American people. It's a stark violation of the New York Times motto: "All The News That's Fit To Print." Specifically, it is entirely unsuitable to children to listen to the extremely explicit account of trial testimony. I can only imagine what their longrange reaction may be.

Even the New York Times and Los Angeles Times are giving this trial far more attention than it's worth. But network and cable radio and tv news is even more egregiously excessive. I cannot tell you how often, while driving south yesterday, March 10, I heard that Jackson had shown up to yesterday's proceedings an hour late, under threat by the judge, and in pajama bottoms.

Undoubtedly, it is necessary for the Michael Jackson trial to take place, since charges have been made and they must be adjudicated.

But it would be most desirable if there was virtually no attention paid to the whole mess by the media. Generally speaking, it skips many such trials when the people involved are little known.

And, parenthetically, I might add, the whole focus on celebrity trials of every description has about it an air of the spectacle of feeding Christians to the lions in the Roman Coliseum in ancient times, or the Salem witch trials. These squalid episodes also drew pruriently-minded crowds reviling in every gory detail, although fortunately in those times there was no universal television.

I have no idea, and little interest, in knowing if Jackson is guilty of the crimes charged, or if this is a continuation of money grubbing by people interested in exposing celebrities to paying blackmail. Let the court system sort that out.

But yesterday's story, taking up an inordinate proportion of each hourly CBS national newscast, was lengthened unnecessarily by speculation that Jackson may now be in financial difficulties, unable to raise $150,000 he is said to need to defend himself, pay his staff, and so forth. Essentially, who cares?

When I was on my recent Antarctica cruise, many of my fellow-passengers expressed their disgust with the news media for purveying such trash at every turn. I was hard put to disagree with them. It is clear that the media is casting itself in a bad light with such a welcoming attitude toward the most distasteful coverage.

Somehow, it must be cut back and it would be far better if the media itself did so voluntarily..


Blogger Matt Weinstock said...

You are correct. Although I no longer read either TIMES, I feel roasted by the overheated coverage on MJ.

It's as plain as the nose on Michael's face.


3/11/2005 12:42 PM  
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