EFE – Jun 24 2019
Antonio Martín Guirado (Chronicle)
The news broke at 14:44 in Los Angeles (USA). TMZ, a website specialized in information about celebrities, announced the death of Michael Jackson at the age of 50 after suffering a cardiac arrest, an event that still shakes his millions of admirers around the world.
All the media alerted us, but we chose not to pull the trigger too early. The source, which over time has proved to be fully solvent thanks to its murky practices (pay for information), was not synonymous with reliability at the time.
The web published an urgent first in which it was advanced that Jackson had suffered a cardiac arrest. We all got on the track, but we didn’t publish a single word until the confirmations began to arrive via CNN and the Los Angeles Times.
TMZ went ahead again and gave Jackson’s death exclusively. The mainstream media took several minutes to verify it and publish it independently. A new era was born in entertainment journalism, in which TMZ was several steps ahead of the rest.
The brilliant and eccentric Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of anesthetics in his rented mansion near Bel Air.
His death caused a media earthquake like I have never lived in 11 years as a correspondent in Los Angeles, whether at the UCLA medical center where he died (flooded by curious people), at the tribute dedicated to him at the Staples Center on July 7 (with hundreds of fans outside) or at the trial against his personal physician (with dozens of fans sleeping at the doors of the Court to know the ruling).
Journalists from around the world traveled to Los Angeles to live every second of the drama, fuelled by the speed with which rumors flowed through social networks.
The autopsy revealed that an excessive dose of drugs with a high presence of benzodiazepine, a compound used to treat insomnia and anxiety, caused the death.
The artist’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, acknowledged that, after injecting the artist with sedatives that morning, he left the room where he was to answer a few calls. On his return, Jackson was found unarmed and pulseless on the bed.
Murray was sentenced to four years in prison in 2011 for manslaughter.
Nothing, at least in the public sphere, foreshadowed that end. Just three months earlier, Jackson had announced his return to the stage for July with a farewell event consisting of 10 concerts at London’s O2 Arena (the figure rose to 50 due to strong demand) named «This is It,» a most foreboding title.
«These will be the functions with which the curtain will be lowered,» said the artist, very thin and fragile looking during his brief intervention.
«This is It» was to be the crowning glory of Jackson’s career, his return to all things high after years of absence from the stage, a decline in which he was plunged after being accused of paedophilia and brought to trial in 2005.
He was declared innocent, although his public image never fully recovered and his eccentricities – related to his appearance and attitudes towards his own children – and economic problems made more headlines than his art – his latest studio album, «Invincible», was released in 2001.
Jackson wanted to caress his audience once again by looking back at his stratospheric career, forged before the relentless gaze of his father, Joe, whom the artist went so far as to accuse of physical and emotional abuse.
That murky relationship was the origin of his devotion to children, seen as pure love for others by his fans and the main source of criticism for his greatest detractors.
In fact, the recent documentary «Leaving Neverland,» premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, narrates Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of two minors.
«It’s another morbid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to take advantage of Michael Jackson,» his heirs said in a statement.
The controversy, ten years later, still surrounds him. And his three children (Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket) grow up knowing that they will never find greater relief and comfort than that luminous and incomparable musical legacy that still touches millions of people.