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Jun 26, 2009

Michael Jackson’s death: a media timeline

Michael Jackson's death -- how the media reports of his death unfolded on Friday morning.

10 June: Reports that Michael Jackson’s 50-show comeback concert tour — to pay his debts — was under great strain due to ill health. Telegraph says:  “If you have shelled out for Michael Jackson’s comeback at the O2 next month, you have every right to be feeling a little bit nervous right now.”

25 June, 5:20pm (Los Angeles time):* reports Michael Jackson has died, having suffered a cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma before passing away.


A bit later: While other media sources are still reporting he’s in a coma, LA Times says its sources  also confirm MJ is dead.

8:22am: Fake Stephen Conroy tweets: “I wonder what colour people will change their avatars to in support of Dead Michael Jackson?”

8:34am: Sunrise interviews concert reporter Kevin Jacobsen who promoted MJ’s Bad Tour in Australia.

8:35am: On 4BC Radio (Brisbane), Michael Beatty, currently of the RSPCA and a former journalist, reflects on his interview with Michael Jackson in 1973 or 1974.

About the same time: The Insider publishes an “exclusive last photo” of Michael Jackson

8:36am: John August tweets: “I propose some national pop culture agreement that lets us appropriately acknowledge dead celebs without canonization.” This may be the sanest thing we hear for a while.

8:47am: First Dog changes his phone greeting: “Welcome to Crikey, Michael Jackson died”

8: 49am: Triple J’s Gabby Brown reports MJ’s death — then segues to a spruik for the station’s Hottest 100 of All Time, saying perhaps MJ will appear on it. Brown encourages listeners to get their votes in for the competition.

8:53am: CNN commentator recalls MJ’s child dangling moment.

About the same time: TechCrunch reports that the web, Twitter especially, has been struggling under the weight of the news.

8:54am: CNN plays Thriller video. That puts the time between his death confirmation and playing his film clip about the undead at about 20 minutes.

9:05am: A tale of four deaths:

Michael and Farrah

9:11am: Richard Wilkins, while chatting about MJ on Channel Nine’s Today show, reports that Jeff Goldlum has died filming in New Zealand. Crikey team screams collective: “What?” The story not appearing anywhere else. Agent later confirms he’s OK. Phew.

9:20am: Brad Richardson tweets “Richard Reid on Today claimed that MJ was like ‘Benjamin Button in reverse'”

9:27am: Today show has mash-up of Jackson’s life and music with Richard Wilkins voice-over. Crikey wondering how they edited it together so quickly when it finishes with this quote: “This man is a unique talent, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next”. Oh dear.

9:38am: Rev Al Sharpton giving press conference outside UCLA Hospital where Michael Jackson died.

9:40am: Today show still saying Jeff Goldblum is dead — having fallen off a cliff in New Zealand. Richard Wilkins calls it an “equal tragedy”. Story still not confirmed anywhere else reputable.

9:41am: Crikey notices Wonkette headline: IT’S 9/11 + HALLOWEEN × INFINITY. It has the tag: “he’s out of my life”. The blog also has “A Children’s Treasury of Presidents Posing With Michael Jackson”, noting that there’s one person who’s “very very happy” about the news — Republican Governor Mark Sanford whose affair, the biggest scandal of yesterday, will now get buried.

by 9:42am: Both 4BC and ABC612 in Brisbane have reported the death of Jeff Goldblum. Crikey not convinced.

About the same time: ABC chats to New Zealand police who confirm Goldblum … is not dead. Today show starts back pedalling on Goldblum death reports.

Shortly after 10am: “Michael Jackson died so that Turnbull might live” — headline on Christian Kerr article in The Oz.

10:10am: Actor Kevin Spacey tweets: “Jeff Goldblum is alive and well. I just spoke to his manager. Stop these stupid rumors.”

10:10am: CBS, NBC and MTV planning MJ tribute programs for tonight, Entertainment Weekly reports — apparently NBC will combine American Legend: Michael Jackson with its Farrah Fawcett tribute.

10:10am: Crikey work experience kid Cameron sent off to Sanity music store to see whether they’d already moved Michael Jackson merch to the front of the store. The results of his investigation here.

10:19am: Richard Wilkins reveals photo of him and MJ on Today

* The time frame of this developing story is eerily similar to reporting of Heath Ledger’s death.

10:31am: The Onion tweets: BREAKING: Last Piece Of Michael Jackson Dies

10:36am: Melbourne readers say: trains still the most important story of the day.

Michael Jackson and The Age

10:39am: YouTube gets its MJ tribute up.

MJ on YouTube

10:47am: Sydney Morning Herald reports on “Aussie musicians’ grief” — Delta Goodrem, Andrew G, Nikki Webster and other Australian B grade celebrity musicians taking the news of MJs’ death badly, term “brilliance” getting a work-out.

10:47am: New York vox pop via SkyNews: “I thought he was immortal; I thought he’d never die.”

About now: The Australian reporting friend’s mother’s hairdresser’s dog upset by Jackson’s death. Or something like that.

10:09am: First Michael Jackson Keyboard Cat YouTube tribute appears.

Just after 10am: Illusionist and friend of MJ Uri Geller says that under hypnosis, Michael Jackson gave “validation” that he was innocent of child molestation charges — via SkyNews

10:33am: A Darwin man — now pharmacist — who met Michael Jackson as a child defends the singer against molestation charges, according to ABC News

10:58am: Barbara Walters appears on ABC (US) program spruiking tribute to Farrah and Michael (via SkyNews)

11:01am: “According to the LA Times, Michael Jackson has died. Well, what choice did he have?” Crikey’s music blogger Tim Dunlop on future Jackson — “middle-aged crooner with a regular gig in Vegas” — we will now never get to see.

11:05am: New Weekly Twitter tells off The Chaser and The Onion for mocking Michael Jackson: “TOO SOON … guys”.

11:09am: Meghan McCain tweets: “My mom said this is like when Elvis died, crazy to have this happen. It’s still so surreal and tragic…”

11:31am: Today‘s Lisa Wilkinson continues to push Michael Jackson-Princess Diana angle. Says Neverland ranch will likely become a place of “pilgrimage”.

11:32am: Gawker headline: “Twitter Doesn’t Care About Iran Anymore”

11:33am: The Sun posts a pic of the paramedic monitor showing Jackson’s 911 distress call.

11:40am: Was Michael Jackson suffering from Lupus? — Fox News

11:40am: Rumour hits Crikey office that Herald Sun is planning a special 1pm edition to mark MJ’s passing. Confirmed by this pic on their home page.


12:03pm: PunterMug tweets Crikey: Channel Nine’s Tom Steinfort “moments ago outside UCLA hospital still thinks Jeff Goldblum died; was corrected by 6PR’s Harvey Deegan”

12:18pm: The Age, still train focused, Crikey distracted momentarily by Meryl Streep-Care Bears news.

Fairfax top fives

12:27pm: Gawker reports CNN “diligently tracking the movements of Michael Jackson’s dead body.”

12:42pm: John Michael Hausen finally shows up in obligatory interview for SkyNews — we should remember the music, not his strange lifestyle, “Neverland and the monkeys and whatever”.

12:46pm: snapshot of The  Oz‘s home page.

The Australian Michael Jackson

12:47pm: Illusionist Uri Geller’s interview comments on permanent loop — now on BBC World.

12:50pm: Crikey receives tweet alerts from readers to the Facebook group establishing a “Memorial Mass Moonwalk” in Martin Place.

1: 11pm: It’s reported that Madonna “can’t stop crying” on BBC World News

1:59pm: Crikey office now watching the tennis.

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14 thoughts on “Michael Jackson’s death: a media timeline

  1. Mark Lambert

    I just did a search via Google Images and could not find any photographic evidence of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett ever appearing in public together.

  2. Eloise Keating

    Expect to see all of Michael’s albums and DVDs in prominent sale positions this morning in Sanity music stores. About an hour after Heath Ledger died we were given directions to move all copies of his DVDs to the front counter so all customers could see them – this was an email directive send to every store. I’m thinking that the news about MJ (even if it is not true) will cause even faster reactions in retail stores everywhere. Nothing like a famous person dying to get people to spend their money..

  3. stevenhurley

    g’day, i must correct a glaring error in your timeline:

    8:50am: ABC 774 is chatting about the Connex contract. Haven’t they heard Michael Jackson’s died?

    unfortunately you must have tuned in late and missed raf epstein’s obligatory chat with the still half asleep, doyen of oz rock celebrity; molly meldrum

    the best 2 minutes of current affairs journalism this year!

  4. Jane Nethercote

    Steven, thanks for the heads-up. Evidently tuned in too late. Have corrected timeline accordingly.

  5. Frank Campbell

    Even BBC World has been monopolised by Jackson. Only the Weather Channel had its priorities right. Showers in Hobart.

  6. Chris Owens

    Uri Gellar says he is devastated by Michael Jackson’s death. Surely he could have seen it coming.

  7. David Sanderson

    It is fascinating (and, paradoxically, more than a little boring) to see how quickly the media turns from deriding a freakish phenomenon to hailing an unparalleled musical genius. What a bunch of moonwalkers.

  8. David Sanderson

    As illustrated in many movies (I have the attempted assassination of the mayor in ‘Miller Crossing’ in mind) there is nothing like ‘seeing off’ your assassins to confirm your grip on power. Rudd has well and truly dug himself in for the long haul after this weeks events. Turnbull may be on the pension before Rudd relinquishes the prime ministership.

  9. Kristen Smith

    While having a go about getting Jeff Goldblum wrong you might want to fact check ‘Al Sharpton outside LA Hospital’ he was outside the Apollo theatre in Harlem