On a quiet Sunday morning at home in the San Fernando Valley, a freelance reporter got a call from an expert in child sex crimes: Michael Jackson was under investigation. By the time the reporter’s story aired twenty-four hours later, the media feeding frenzy was underway. Within a matter of days of the first report, the Jackson story had jumped from hard, verifiable news to spectacle and entertainment. FRONTLINE correspondent Richard Ben Cramer goes behind the scenes of the television coverage of the Michael Jackson story to look at the people, organizations, and economic pressures that have led to the tabloidization of American television. The program follows a few of the most exuberant and successful of the tabloid press as they pursue the Jackson story.
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