The media’s Michael Jackson worship *UPDATED*

Jonah Goldberg expresses beautifully everything that’s wrong with the media’s coverage about Michael Jackson’s death:

Generally speaking, I’m a believer in the rule that we should not speak ill of the dead. Or at least we should wait a decent interval before doing so (if we never spoke ill of the dead, history would be meaningless). But, I must say I find the media’s instinctive rush to sanctify Michael Jackson disgusting.


Everyone likes to invoke Lord Acton’s axiom that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But nearly everyone forgets that he coined this phrase not to indict powerful men, but to instruct the historians who write about them.  Historians tend to forgive the powerful their transgressions. Likewise, journalists (for want of a better word) tend to forgive the famous.

Calling Michael Jackson an icon doesn’t let him off the hook for anything. But to listen to the news anchors you’d think it absolves him of everything.

The only thing that could have made Goldberg’s point more strongly would have been if he had quoted from an LA Times writer who announced that “Michael Jackson is perhaps the most fatally flawed historical icon since Napoleon.”

Michael Jackson’s life made me feel icky.  The media’s post-death coverage makes me feel positively slimed.

UPDATE:  The Anchoress, inspired by Goldberg, took it to the next level, explaining the difference between idols and icons.

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  • Marguerite

    Icky is the perfect word. The media drives this insane worship and the normal person wonders quietly ‘am I normal?’ for not being unduly and/or similarly hysterical about his passing. They seem to set the tone for the ‘informed and sensitive’ person to emulate. Plus, I guess it fills air time. Meanwhile things that really to matter to the life of everyone (ie Crap and Tax legislation – I called my left wing representative) get lost in the worship of the iconic and weird and meaningless.

  • Leah

    I’m disgusted, here is a man who got away with child abuse but because he wrote some good songs and danced well in the 80s’, all is forgiven.

  • Ymarsakar

    Bread and circuses. The masses must be kept quiet and distracted with bread and circuses

  • Zhombre

    Not to worry. On the third day, Michael will rise.

  • Marguerite

    Zhombre – Wait – you mean Michael Jackson is The One??!! How can this be – does BHO know about this??

  • Charles

    It’s not just the media that I find “icky.” (It is the perfect word for this) It is also the “fans” who are showing up outside the hospital, at Hollywood’s walk of fame, outside the Apollo theater here in NYC, etc. that I find icky, I mean really, really icky. Get a life people!

    There is something very disturbing about this kind of public behaviour to me. I’m not sure what it is; But I can say that it is not just because it is Michael Jackson. I felt almost the same way when people were doing the same for Princess Di.

    Even the local PBS station here in the NY area ended their news hour with a Michael Jackson Passing news brief “paying tribute” to him. Yuck!

    Does this make me the “oddball” for thinking this way?

    P.S. One thing I remember hearing about several years ago was that Michael Jackson got “his” moonwalk from another famous entertainer – Marcel Marceau. Marcel Marceau did a skit about a man in a windy rainstorm fighting with an imaginary umbrella and then being blown backwards by the wind when trying to walk forward and that was where Michael Jackson got this inspiration for his moonwalk. It would be nice if the media gave credit where it is due – although I cannot really say that they haven’t as I am on a self-imposed news black out.

    Marcel Marceau – now there was a man who truly had tragedy in his life, being Jewish he went underground to fight with the French Resistance during WWII when he was but a teenager, his father and other family members died in the Nazi death camps. Yet he came through “okay” and went on to lead a very productive life and gave so much to others – and I don’t mean just his entertaining, he was a true humanitarian.