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The Jackson Verdict Coverage: 500 Channels and Nothing On


When I took my 16-year-old daughter to the premiere of Bewitched in New York Monday night (it’s a smart, funny, adorable and, yes, magical film), all anybody in the press line wanted to talk about was the Michael Jackson verdict. But nobody I talked to before the movie or at the party afterwards gave a damn.

I had actually gone cold turkey on the Michael Jackson case as soon as it began -- and have been wearing my ignorance of the trial like a badge of honor. But if you turned on your TV Monday, unless you were wiling to tune into the Golf Channel (and I don’t play golf), there was nothing to watch except a telling and re-telling of the verdict.

There was Anderson Cooper, talking about Jackson’s website which compared the verdict to the fall of the Berlin War and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. “A little out of perspective,” said Anderson, trying to distance himself from the hyperbole. But the blanket coverage belied any such distancing.

After swearing off their obsession with the trivial in the sober days following 9-11, the media, suffering from a serious case of attention deficit disorder, quickly returned to inhaling the seemingly irresistible fumes of celebrity scandal. Martha and Blake and Kobe and Peterson and Jackson, ad infinitum, ad nauseum… all culminating in Monday’s mindless, wall-to-wall coverage of the post-verdict analysis (hey, lawyers-turned-commentators have gotta eat, too, right?).

And the worst part of it, as Harry Shearer and Paul Rieckhoff point out, is all the oxygen that this latest celeb-on-the-skids bacchanal consumes. Who knows, maybe if enough of us turned our backs -- and turned off our TVs -- we could get the media to change course.

If not, you can start the countdown to the Phil Spector pre-jury selection analysis right now.