America on trial

America on trial

: Oh, gawd, the Michael Jackson trial begins. We watch him going to lunch. We watch him coming back from lunch. We watch the poor guy whose job it is to hold an umbrella over the poster boy for the dangers of fame. We watch MJ being wanded — no pat-downs here. We watch reporters fill time. And it’s just the first day. We’re sentenced to months of this.

They said on TV today that 1,000 journalists had applied for credentials to cover the trial. Why, lord, why?

I’m going to bet that the trial will not be the subject of much talk in blogs — unless something amazing happens — but, of course, it will explode in big-media’s coverage. If that’s the case, what does that indicate about news judgement? You tell me.

: Folks are coming up with excuses to get off this jury. Who can blame them?

  • Cridland

    Jeff, when the Peterson trial ended in california it saddened Reynolds, who noted that when you walked by a TV in a window and saw that trial on, you knew tha nothing tragic was happening in the world. These circuses have their purposes.

  • Blogs aren’t a monolithic entity. Not all of them are political/media criticism blogs. It won’t be a major subject on some blogs but it will be on others, just like it will be a Hot Topic for The Enquirer, but not, say, The Atlantic Monthly. I’d bet Howard Stern will devote some time to it, but I could be totally wrong. I haven’t listened to the show in years.

  • I agree with you that blog coverage is likely to be very minimal. I will blog about it when something happens that I think is unfair to Jackson or when he scores a win, but I think coverage is better suited to cable tv than blogs.
    I wonder how many of the 1,000 journalists are from the international press. Jackson reportedly is huge in Europe and other countries.
    Judging by tonight, it will become a nightly staple. MSNBC had Dan Abrams doing an hour long show tonight in prime time. I did a chat on the case today for the Washington Post and was told it was the second most accessed page on their website during that hour.
    I find the case interesting because of the political overtones stemming from the personal involvement of the District Attorney (which may or may not turn out to be a vendetta) and because it has been reported that the allegations didn’t surface until the mother hired the same civil lawyer that got the big settlement for the 1993 accuser. Also, the lawyer reportedly had the current accuser examined by the same psychologist he used in the case of the 1993 accuser.
    The pleadings are available to all on the court’s website . There are hundreds of them, many recently unsealed, and while they are pretty technical, recently the tone is very nasty between the two sides.
    This is going to be a battle royale, and that makes for good television, but again, I agree that not too many bloggers will write about it.

  • FoxNews hit it big because Murdoch’s group recognized a strong demand for a news network with a conservative/libertarian voice. How long before someone recognizes the strong demand for nonsensationalist/noncelebrity news and launches such a network?
    In a world of niches it can’t come soon enough.

  • There is a really good way to object to endless palaver about the trial. My tv has C-Span which gives continuous really interesting substance, and my internet includes really valuable commentary such as the present. (Where contributors who get really nasty and irrelevant can be skipped over.)
    Incidentally, you can pity Michael Jackson who is a product of the very kind of coverage we will see of his trial.

  • one might be able to take Jeff’s objections seriously if he hadn’t played a significant role in creating the atmosphere in which trials of celebrities become media circuses. I mean, this is the guy who brought us “Entertainment Weekly”….

  • The difference is that Entertainment Weekly doesn’t pretend to be about important news – it states up front (in its name even) that it’s about entertainment. My beef is when entertainment is masqueraded as real news and when that entertainment displaces the coverage of actual news.

  • Mark Jeffries

    And the EW that Jeff created is not today’s EW by a longshot, except for the grade ratings and Owen Glieberman.

  • I’m sure someone has done a study on the self-selection effects of juries on trials like this. Imagine the type of person who would want to be on this jury. The least harmful of the ‘survivors’ will be those who can manage an extended leave from work.
    Which brings up the question of how long before some court system agrees to combine a jury with reality TV?

  • It is so sad that so many people are actually concerned about the likes of Michael Jackson. I will be watching the National Geographic Channel, the History Channel, some A&E, and probably( for goodness sakes…) Animal Planet.

  • I literally groaned last night when Bill O’Reilly brought it up. Then to my disgust, Sean Hannity covered it as well. I think I’ll stick to the Western Channel myself.

  • Glyn

    A BBC reporter described him as being the most famous person ever to be put on trial. I certainly can’t think of anyone more famous who was ever on trial, so the furore is understandable.

  • Glyn — Well, there was that Clinton guy a few years back.

  • Ray_G

    I would like to see someone cover these cases in a way that would look at related issues — for instance, I read an article in the LA Times that said that they expected to interview 4000 (yes, that is 3 zeros) people to seat a jury in the Michael Jackson case. Is this really necessary? If so, why? And why does it take a year or more for these cases to come to trial, and why do they take so long? I think there is an opportunity here for some interesting and informative stories, but I suspect we will just get endless “celebrity spotting”.