Both US cable news and broadcast news networks are scrambling to cover the unexpected death of Michael Jackson. On cable both Fox News and MSNBC are bumping their regular programming to cover the story, while NBC, CBS, and ABC will each be airing prime time specials about the death of the pop legend.
According to tvnewser, ABC will air a special Primetime Live with Jackson being in the 9 pm hour, and Farrah Fawcett at 10 pm. NBC is following the same format as ABC with special edition of Dateline from 9-11 pm (et). CBS will be airing the special “The Life and Death of Michael Jackson” at 10 pm (et/pt).
On cable, MSNBC has bumped Countdown for Jackson coverage as host Keith Olbermann will be anchoring from 7-9 pm, then David Shuster, subbing for Rachel Maddow, picks up the coverage at 9 pm. On FNC, Shep Smith will be anchoring from 7-9 pm. He will be followed by Geraldo Rivera and Greta Van Susteren. At midnight, Smith will be back for a live hour, followed by another live hour from Van Susteren at 1 am (et). At CNN, Showbiz Tonight’s AJ Hammer will be handling the coverage until 11 PM (et).
It is interesting to see the networks scramble to handle a breaking news story, especially one that has so much pop culture significance. In my opinion Michael Jackson’s passing is a unique case, because his career was multi-generational. Love him or hate him, Jackson was an iconic figure, and in my opinion his death merits this kind of coverage. However, if the networks over do it, viewer fatigue will set in quickly.