It was no surprise to most of us when the death of Michael Jackson on Thursday took over the news, both mainstream and citizen varieties, and even the internet. Americans are suckers for celebrities, and the unexpected demise of one of the world’s most famous entertainers was bound to obsess us.
Many observers were concerned with the loss of attention the affairs of Iran would suffer as a result. Alarming News’ KarolS tweeted: “Biggest losers? The Iranian people.” Some hectored their fellow netizens to develop a better sense of priorities. Others were fatalistic: “It would help not to get distracted,” said Martin Perez, “but people will be people. After all, outrage directed at the clerics and grief over Jackson may not be mutually exclusive.”
Rightbloggers, maintaining their usual priorities, saw something more sinister in the surge of public and media interest in Jackson. For them, it was at best a dereliction of the media’s duty, and at worst a conscious attempt to protect President Obama, Iran’s mullahs, or both.
Atlas Shrugs said that “the media is breathing a heavy sigh of relief (as I am sure the jihad US President is as well).” “Unwelcome Distractions plaguing our Fearless Leader [Iran?…Cap and Trade?…Koh?…Socializing health care?…The hell with that: THE KING OF POP! is dead!” cried Camp of the Saints. “And don’t forget the person NBC called an ‘Angel’, Farrah!”
The Centrist, under the title “Is US Non-Cable Broadcast News Run By The Mulahs In Iran?” claimed that “some really terrible acts of political and personal betrayal by elected officials occurred around the globe on 6/26/09 but the power of the press was used to supress to the news in both New York and Iran” with Michael Jackson coverage. And in stark defiance of the public’s desires. No wonder the MSM is through!
At Big Hollywood, a site devoted to the malfeasances of liberal filmmakers, several commentators decried the plague of Jackson coverage. Debbie Lee complained that her marathon to raise money for troops serving in Iraq had suffered from it: “I turned on the TV and clicked through the channels trying to find coverage of our event… I found every single channel had coverage of Michael Jackson’s death, even Fox News… Why is the media not telling the stories of America’s Mighty Warriors?”
At the same site, Andrew Breitbart jumped in with some less-well-known features of Michael Jackson’s universally-reported pedophilia scandals, and asked, “why did the media drop the ball in playing up this massive scandal?” Greg Gutfield complained that “millions of Iranians who were risking their lives — hoping that we might act in solidarity — are now temporarily rendered irrelevant and unwatched by the world, because of the coverage of the death of a superstar.” He then announced that his own show, Red Eye, would be dark that night: “Off to the gym.”
At this writing there are plenty of other posts about Jackson at Big Hollywood, and about Perez Hilton and other celebrities, but having registered their disapproval its authors may presumably be cleared of any charge of hypocrisy.
In a Pajamas Media video segment, Bill Whittle and his guests, Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Center and Terry Jones of Investor’s Business Daily, explored “The Michael Jackson Effect: Shenanigans in DC & Lockdown in Iran.”
“Now the Obama Administration of course is renowned for its communication skills,” said Whittle, “so we’re gonna see if we can work a little bit of that mojo here. Michael Jackson’s death — this man is obviously the biggest celebrity in the world, and that’s gonna run the news cycle for the next 24 hours. Now those sneaky little devils in Washington are going to take action, while that spotlight is on MJ they’re gonna try and do whatever they possibly can do.”
Jones agreed that “it certainly gives them cover, doesn’t it,” for the Obama Administation to sneak the cap and trade bill “under the radar,” and “this might be an opportunity to cram something through quickly” on the health care bill, too. Whittle asked what other “nefarious little dealings we might see trying to scurtle out of the back door while everyone’s attention is focused elsehwere.” Jones admitted that the health care bill “won’t come up for a vote early next week or anything of that sort,” but pointed out that when Elvis Presley died, “it was non-stop coverage for weeks on end, so this mighty distracted public is a very scary public, because it means they’re not paying attention to what they should be paying attention to.” Jones hardly needed to remind Pajamas TV listeners that there was a Democrat in office when Elvis died, too.
The Anchoress also found America’s attention woefully misplaced: “Is there a nation that does not have one (or more) ‘Idol-creating’ type television show at the top of the ratings pile?” she asked. “We narcissists live vicarious dreams as we construct these godlings, carry them about on chairs of never-ending affirmation (when was the last time you expect Michael Jackson (or President Obama) heard the word “no”?) then we watch them crumble under the weight of material excess and broken illusions.”
Two posts before that, The Anchoress offered a sober analysis of… some contestants on America’s Got Talent. “Gorgeous. Beautiful voices, beautiful children, beautiful family,” she said. “How proud their mother must be, and what a testament they are to her own fine parenting!” She added, “We can look at Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and even -latterly- [American Idol’s] Susan Boyle, to see what the demands and pressures that come with the adulation can do to the mind and the soul.” At least, when can if we’re The Anchoress; if we’re not, The Anchoress will chastise us for it.
Inevitably, Obama had to address the issue of Michael Jackson. Freedom Eden generously allowed that it was appropriate for him make a statement: “If Obama is willing to talk to tyrants, without preconditions,” she said, “if Obama is so quick to trash America when he’s speaking on foreign soil, surely he can say a few nice words about Michael Jackson.”
Rhymes with Right was less generous about the House’s moment of silence for Jackson, and made it explicitly a Democratic thing: “I’m (D)isguste(D) by this farce — an(D) can’t help but note the party affiliation of all of the buffoons who gathere(D) to see the (D)ecease(D) pe(D)ophile honore(D).” (There is, however, no evidence that the House Republicans signaled their resistance by blowing plastic horns or reading aloud passages from The Road to Serfdom.)
It’s not so strange that rightbloggers, and not a few bloggers of other kinds, would be dismayed by the trivial concerns of American info-consumers. What’s weird — along with the paranoid effusions reported here — is that they would find it out of the ordinary.
There was something almost touching, for example, about the demand by RedState’s Kenny Solomon for a change in focus by the “MJM (Michael Jackson Media)” — to which he added, “especially Fox News.” You can almost hear the note of heartbreak, as Fox is supposed to be on their side. Ace of Spades was astounded that Fox was “playing about a minute and a half to two minutes of Michael Jackson videos, without any reportage or over-talk, in between minute-long shots of the crowds at Neverland or wherever.” He cried to them from across the gulf of celebrity: “Yes, there are ratings to consider. There is also integrity and newsworthiness to consider. This story is no longer breaking and, for obvious reasons, not likely to take a sudden dramatic turn.” But in vain.
“Here let me send a special fuck you to Fox News,” said Chicago Boyz. “The self-proclaimed antidote to biased big media confirms itself to be just another bunch of ratings whores whose supposed patriotism and interest in serious news vanish at the first notice of a missing white child or a celebrity scandal.”
Yuh don’t say! It’s as if they didn’t know much about the country they’ve been living in — which, given the results they’ve been getting lately, should be no surprise at all.