Every time someone in the public eye dies and the media saturates their shows with coverage, a huge debate busts out on DailyKos over when it is OK to cover the negative aspects of that person’s life. So naturally, with such a controversial figure as Michael Jackson passing away this week, there have been some very heated discussions going on there. At issue in particular was that MSNBC and NBC put Maureen Orth on the TV within hours of Jackson’s death knowing full well she was going to go 100% negative. Here is a quick link synopsis of what she was saying right away. I have to admit that while a part of me believes what she is saying 100% true – a larger part of me cringed to hear it so quickly. Perhaps there was the irony of WHO was saying these things? After all, she is the widow of Tim Russert who also died quite suddenly of heart failure. While he was not nearly as world wide popular or controversial, he still had his critics and you be damn sure if she and her son had heard ANY of those things within even a few days – let alone HOURS – of Tim’s death that they would have been even more devastated.
And there in lies the rub I think. Because no matter how heinous someone may have been while living, they were still someones loved one. Someone’s child, sibling, parent, grandparent, left long friend etc. And I think the issue is one of respect for THEIR feelings and grief over the loss vs trying to protect the reputation of the recently deceased. After all, the deceased is..well…dead! Nothing you say is going to hurt THEM anymore.
So clearly I fall on the side of zipping lips for a short period of time. But for how long? And what’s the scale of how bad the deceased has to be before you don’t even bother with respecting their family? Ted Bundy bad?
What do you think?