The CBS deal was reported to have included an agreement that
the network would air a Michael Jackson music special that it
was postponing until Jackson answered questions about the child
CBS denies it offered Jackson any money, it admitted to agreeing
to air the concert if he appeared on "60 Minutes." The
interview was taped Christmas morning of 2003 and aired the following
At NBC, executives tried to use the threat of the more negative
broadcast to influence Jackson to appear for their interview.
"We urge you to seriously consider the offer we are about
to send to you," wrote NBC executive Marc Graboff in an e-mail
to one of Jackson's lawyers, obtained by The New York Times. "The
acquisition of the rights to this special on NBC will have the
added benefit of pre-empting NBC's planned broadcast of Dateline."
as in the NBC example, the lines are blurred not by the journalists
themselves, but by business executives higher in the organization.
This danger increases as media companies grow and news organizations
- television, radio, print and Web - are bought by companies that
make more money off the entertainment sector than the news, according
to media analysts.
And the deals still raise questions about objectivity and the
integrity of news about celebrities.
"In this case, they were not only willing to pay for the
exclusivity, but to kill a documentary that would be much more
hard-hitting," Doppelt noted.
"[Michael Jackson] is both a celebrity and somebody for
which there are all sorts of serious allegations. If you're both
paying [for an interview] and killing the documentary, you're
more likely to hear something that isn't very truthful or playing
along with his image."
Chris Nammour, Online NewsHour