In news that has shocked the world, Michael Jackson has died. The self-described “King of Pop” was pronounced dead today at UCLA Medical Center at 12:26 p.m. Pacific Time, reportedly of cardiac arrest. The exact cause is not known yet, and the television news media has preempted all other programming, although there is nothing new to report.
When the news of Michael Jackson’s death came out, I was working on a story of disgraced South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who admitted in a news conference yesterday that he had an extra-marital affair with a woman from Argentina. He disappeared for four days last week, and his wife said she had no idea where he was. His staff fabricated the story that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The media went into a frenzy with the story. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times both led off their news this morning with the story of Gov. Sanford. Then Michael Jackson died.
A collective shock has come over the nation and throughout the world. No matter how bad the press got over the course of his career, and how odd his behavior became, Jackson’s career spanned over four decades, yet he died at the young age of 50. He may not have been bigger than Elvis. He may not have been bigger than the Beatles. But he was around longer. As a celebrity, in this day and age, there’s no one bigger. As the news media reflects on Jackson’s long, historic, and eccentric career, all other news stories are now put on hold. The economy, global warming, nuclear proliferation, the health-care crisis, Gov. Mark Sanford – all on hold. The world mourns the death of Michael Jackson.
It’s been hours since the news of Jackson’s death, and the news media is still scrambling for something new to say. A news conference was delayed, and reporters were left to talk about the history of Jackson’s musical career. The iconic nature of Michael Jackson and the suddenness and untimeliness of his death made the whole thing seem surreal. The story was on the air, but the news media was caught by surprise. Farrah Fawcett died today, but it had been expected after her long illness – Ed McMahon died earlier this week, but he’s from a different era and he was also ill. The fans, too, were caught off guard. They gathered at the wrong star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, putting flowers on the star of English-born Los Angeles radio personality Michael Jackson, who is semi-retired at the age of 73. The musical icon known as Michael Jackson; his star is covered by a red carpet, put down for the premier of Sasha Baron Cohen’s movie “Bruno.”
All other news is on hold for now, even though there’s nothing new to report. If the massive coverage by the news media is any indication, the child-prodigy-turned-adult-superstar is bigger in death than he even was in life.