Robison: Michael Jackson coverage

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(HOST) At the risk of sounding at odds with popular sentiment, commentator Olin Robison admits that he has been somewhat taken aback by the media frenzy surrounding the death of Michael Jackson.

(ROBISON) I have wondered many times over the last several days if I’m the only person in the Western World who doesn’t "get it" regarding Michael Jackson.  His death is a most unhappy event, but, really, the news media has – in my opinion – gone overboard on the coverage.  And then I saw on network news a bulletin that someone, somewhere, has done a demographic study of those who considered themselves "fans" of the entertainer.  It was broken down by age groups, and, sure enough, my group was at the bottom.  Oh well, this isn’t the first time I have been deemed to be "out of it" – especially by my kids.

One would think, by virtue of the amount of coverage, that this was the most important story in the world.  Never mind Iraq and Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran, the many troubles in the Middle East; the fact that the President of the United States was at that very minute in Moscow trying to chart a new course for the future; that over 150 people were right then dying in ethnic violence in China…..on and on.  I’m sure you get the point.

I do not think it violates any cultural norm to say that I believe the whole business was disproportionate.  Yes, indeed, he was an unusually talented entertainer.  It had made him very rich.  He brought great happiness to many.  But we are blessed with many such people, and, happily, our culture – our economic system, really – rewards them handsomely.  I do not in any way begrudge them any of it.  None.

That, however, is not to say that either it or they override all else in life.

Did I learn anything?  Sure.  I did not know that Mr. Jackson and Lionel Richie had co-written that wonderful song, "We Are The World."

When I saw that 1.6 million people had applied online for one of the rather scarce tickets to the memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, I realized, however, that I must be at the very bottom of the bottom group to which I referred before.  I knew that for sure when I saw and heard a man who was interviewed at the rope line at the Staples Center during the service.  His wife was inside.  They had gotten one ticket via the electronic lottery; and so they had flown, he said, from Australia, again, he said, "just to be there."

The networks, I thought, lost any sense of what might be called "proportionality."  Perhaps you disagree.  But then, one of the truly great things about this country is that each of us can say whatever we think.

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