Our incredibly fickle media turns all of its spotlights on Michael Jackson

June 27, 2009 | By | 12 Replies More

Check out the home page of MSNBC tonight (click on the thumbnail below).   Do you see ANYTHING about the crisis in Iran?   Instead we are presented with endless drivel about Michael Jackson, who was an extremely talented entertainer many years ago.    But I suppose that there is nothing interesting going on in Iran. And nothing much else going on anywhere else either, apparently.

For all you can tell by looking at the MSNBC homepage, the problems in Iran have been entirely resolved.   Or maybe the problem is that MSNBC doesn’t have anybody on the ground in Iran, and when a tree falls in the forest where there aren’t any mainstream media reporters, the tree didn’t really fall at all.  Even though sustained coverage of Iran is potentially a lifeline for the brave Iranian men and women who are standing up to their government, which apparently stole their national election.  And BTW, had we elected John McCain and had he gotten his way to bomb Iran, would our media have tried to present an accurate viewpoint of these young heroes?   Or would we have merely seen a reply of the Iraq invasion, lots of videos of bombs being dropped and missiles being launched?


MSNBC is merely doing what the rest of the commercial news sites are doing.   ALL of the commercial news sites have decided that Michael Jackson is far more important than . . . well . . . everything else combined.   See the thumbnails below to see the home pages of CNN and ABC.

What do these news priorities say about our commercial news businesses, and what do they say about us as commercial news consumers?  I’d suggest that this fickle coverage suggests that the commercial media doesn’t take its job seriously.   Not at all.



Absolute insanity.


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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Entertainment, Media

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (12)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    When it comes to Iran, apparently the corporate media only cares about the conflict and the blood. They don't give a rat's ass about the civil rights, or else they'd be all over Iran today and tomorrow. THAT's what this fickleness shows.

    And by criticizing the media, I'm in no way demeaning Michael Jackson's talents or his deep dysfunctionality. Those things have been well known for many years, though. The fact that Michael Jackson is dead didn't cause a revelation that he was extremely talented or extremely screwed up. Does Michael Jackson's death deserve to make the front page? In a world where there is a crying need to address huge social and political problems that could hurt us all if unaddressed, good question.

  2. Mindy Carney says:

    And I would counter that yes, it deserved the front page – for at least one day. I say that because of the far reach of his music and the solidifying force it has been. He broke through barriers for black musicians that I hate to admit still existed in the '80s. He had to fight to get his Thriller video played on MTV; they weren't going to, saying clearly that they weren't going to give the airtime to a black musician – that wasn't "their direction." According to the Rolling Stone editor I heard on NPR yesterday, MTV only gave in when CBS Records threatened to pull all of its artists, including Billy Joel and Barbra Streisand. I was blown away by that – had no idea that had been the case. Just think about how Thriller redefined the music video genre.

    I find his last decade no less creepy after reading and listening to all of the stories about him over the past couple of days, but I have also been reminded how powerful a mediator music can be – I've heard interviews with people on nearly every continent who consider him the single most important musician of their time. It is kind of amazing. I also believe it is important to examine how genius can be derailed by emotional trauma, and how deeply his bitter relationship with his own father and his lack of a real childhood stood in the way of his own adulthood.

  3. Ann says:

    May he rest in peace

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Conservative Blog headline: "Sorry Neda, We Have a Pedophile to Worship."


  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Mindy: I do think Michael Jackson's death deserves a corner of the front page, but it shouldn't shove everything else off. Lobbyists are apparently killing health care reform and reform of the financial service sector. Iranian thugs are breaking the will of the brave resistors. These are real issues that will really affect people's lives.

    It's not like Michael Jackson just revolutionized pop music this week by releasing a new song. He did nothing at all. He merely died. The "news" is that we are collectively reminiscing.

  6. Mindy Carney says:

    Agreed, Erich – definitely media overkill. Too bad it wasn't the lobbyists and Iranian thugs who were found on their beds, unresponsive.

  7. Mary says:

    Keith Olbermann was covering the news of Jackson's death right after it broke. Perhaps I was imagining things, but I got the sense that he would have liked to have discussed the other news of the day, with this being one piece of it, rather than Jackson's death being the sole story.

  8. Stacy Kennedy says:

    I don't think we can blame an exaggerated fascination with celebrities on the corporate media; there's evidence that it's hard-wired. Remember that experiment wherein monkeys gave up some of their favorite juice in order to see online pics of alpha monkeys?


  9. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's a "serious" media analysis story about Michael Jackson, which plays lot of footage of Jackson's performances in the background.

    Howard Kurtz notes that after 7 straight days of coverage, we know only one fact, that Jackson died. Everything else is speculation, even though we are continually subjected to "breaking news."


  10. david says:

    Im not a huge fan of MJ, granted he had his moments of genius, but he also had serious issues in life. The media overkill is simply….OVERKILL. If the president was assassinated, would anyone take serious notice? If an actual UFO landed the spin doctors would try to make a connection between that and MJ. The media hit new lows when they gave Joe Jackson airtime to promote himself and his new record label. And its no help that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are staking claim on the story as well. Al used the pulpit to denounce and chastise the media for negative press about MJ, all the while garnering media coverage himself. Yes the media is guilty of mass overkill on the story, but people like Sharpton and Jesse are doing a pretty good spin on it for their own gain. Seems to me that over the last decade or so, there were plenty of black comics who made MJ the butt of their jokes, and for the most part, not in a good vein. Now after the lame BET show last week, the black community has reclaimed their favorite black brother, who before was considered something of a turncoat to his race. For better or worse, he is dead, bury him and lets get back to whats important in the world.

  11. Erich Vieth says:

    The LA times reports good news from Iran:

    A day after commanders of the Revolutionary Guard warned there was no middle ground in the dispute over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the political party of one of Iran's most powerful clerics Monday defiantly issued a statement dismissing the vote.


  12. david says:

    Ya know, back in the olden days, when an egyptian pharoh died, his councillors and close advisors, as well as favored family members (saving the heir) were entombed with him. Maybe the ancients were on to something. I can name at least one family member that would be a good candidate for entombment, and its well known that the good reverends sharpton and j.jackson consider themselves very close mouthpieces for the family. Just a thought.

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