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July 10th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

Too much Michael?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/09/jackson.investigation/art.jackson.2005.gi.jpg]

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
Ethics Columnist for BusinessWeek Online

It’s not a shame that the news media are devoting so much attention to the Michael Jackson story.

It’s unethical.

Here’s why.

Democracy is possible only with a truly free press, not one hijacked by a gossip-hungry public. Yes, Michael Jackson was a phenomenally talented human being, and the fact that his art deeply affected millions of people around the world deserves respect. But news organizations are a public trust, and their obsession now with all things Jackson betrays this trust.

Every Jackson story takes up precious airtime that could be devoted to issues that have a more direct bearing on our future: an economy that’s still in shambles, a health care system in desperate need of repair, the G8 summit—aren’t these stories at least as important as speculating about who will get custody of Jackson’s children?

Here’s another serious problem with Jackson mania: physicians who discuss their treatment of Jackson violate doctor-patient confidentiality, and all media (not just news organizations) ought not to enable this. A person does not give up the moral right to privacy after he or she dies.

If you’re as fed up with this abdication of journalistic ethics as I am, you can express your feelings in the most powerful way possible in our TV-crazed culture.

You can simply change the channel.

Or, better yet, turn it off.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Bruce Weinstein • Michael Jackson
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Joannie Aguayo

    I completely agree! I will start watching Larry King Live again when he decides to talk about something other than MJ. Until then, I will find something else to watch, or better yet- turn off my TV! Advertisers, "are you paying attention to the comments posted by viewers?"

    July 10, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  2. Cindy Casagrande

    I totally agree with what Bruce Weinstein said, and the way the things are going just contradict what was having said about him before his death. people should show more respect about him. He was a genius, a kind soul, and if the journalists can't get it, they should at least keep their coments for their private lives. cause what Michael was trying to do since always was protect his children from the media, making them use masks and everything that we already know, but now they are just putting the children in evidence. this is so unkind and careless. Michael would be very sad about it about the pain of his children being shown in public.

    July 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  3. david

    where were randy jackson why he was not at his brother memorial.

    July 10, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  4. pat w

    To those of you whom never listened to MJ – whom saw only a color- whether it black- or white- to those of you whom had to judge him in life and in death, to those of you whom saw only the image and missed the message, to those of you whom have to sit back and judge whether this is More or Less newsworthy than what you want to saturate yourselves with, to those of you whom have to judge who was better mj or elvis or whomever... I feel sorry for you. IF you'd only open your mind and see the message of MJ – ... but , all I can say is I feel sorry for your loss for yours is much greater than mine... MJ died though his message did not die, and whether you think he meant anything or nothing at all to you, To ME, his message became a part of me... as it appears to have touched many lives all over this world, simulcast all over this world- I have never known any politician to do as much as to have folks from all over this world- watching screens and dancing in the streets and holding hands and crying together tears of love and praying together to celebrate the LIFE of one... thank you CNN and larry king and anderson cooper... THANK YOU for giving michael jackson his due, Thank you. pat.

    July 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  5. Chantal

    Do you really blame Michael Jackson for taking all those medications?

    Let's analyse. Since he was a child he was abused physically and verbally by his father. That breaks the soul of a child right there. There is no excuse for abuse. His father would comment on his nose among other things.

    His hair cought on fire and he was disfigured instantly. Then MJ was struck by the disease Vitiligo and that can be Scary. Turn the tables around. Imagine being white then blotch by blotch you change color? How scary is that? Specially being in the public eye?

    To make matters worst those lyches bringing up false allegations for money. Going through the trial and all the pain associated with it.

    A normal person would go crazy dealing with all that. No wonder he turned to medication to take his pain away. Also let's not forget the vicious attack by the media and all the name calling. Are you all sorry now? Are you? Who does that to another human being? Where is your compation? Where is it?

    What have we learned? We should as a nation be more kind and compationate and not judgemental. We should not pay money for yellow journalism. We should not feed into the frenzy.

    July 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  6. Melanie Sora

    Finally, someone who has a little bit of common sense in the media. I honestly think the intense, endless coverage of everything MJ has numbed me to his tragic passing and even makes me resent it – there is a whole world out there – it does not revolve around Michael Jackson (or any other celebrity for that matter).

    July 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  7. becky jake

    We have shattered that which we have admired. While we analyze and criticize, know for certain there is a final justice. As we shed tears on music of gold, may M.J. dance on streets of gold.

    July 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  8. CAT

    All media people are driven. Yes, driven by greed. They all want a story to make them feel powerful. But check this, only God has the power. Enough already. Also to all media people, what have you done lately to help your fellow man.

    Check yourselves, look at the speck in your eyes before you look at MJ's life and assume the worst.

    Let Michael Jackson r.i.p.

    July 10, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  9. Amy

    The poor man's demise was due to people destroying his spirit. MJ had a gentle spirit. Just listen to his music and what he did for the world. I can't believe that the media, even in death, would push this more and more. LET IT GO!! Can we wait for the toxicology reports to come back and then talk about it? We knew he suffered from many ailements. I am tired of all the speculations about that, as well. Even people I know will speculate about it. The fact is, if you study what he had, it will make sense to you. Do it on your own, you have the information at your fingertips, the Web. It is all there. I have looked. I will not put it down here because I believe MJ deserves his dignity and privicey. It isn't BAD, but I am not going to talk about it. There are REASONS for what he looked like and what pain he was in.

    Let's just focus on his legacey. Remember little Paris standing up there telling the entire WORLD that "Daddy was the best father you could ever imagine." I also want to say about that; she was NOT forced to say anything. She wanted to say it instead of Janet. There is even a picture on AOL talking to one of her uncles about it. Think; if she didn't, wouldn't she be hiding? I love MJ as much as the rest of you, I also want to know what is going on, but when it happens. Let him Rest In PEACE!!

    July 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  10. Lisa in CA

    We haven't had a true free press since at least 1992. I know our press became 100% yellow-journalism directed when they left the previous Pope's historic visit to Cuba to cover sex in the Oval Office.

    It would be nice, though, if we actually went back to reporting on the events of the day. Unfortunately, that doesn't sell like juicy gossip does. And it is, afterall, all about the bottom line profits and those shareholder dividends.

    July 10, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
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