The change in my column-writing schedule has had some odd results. Not all of them have been bad.

For example, it prevented me from being a minuscule part of the most humongous media frenzy since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. If you haven't guessed, I'm referring to the media coverage of the death of Michael Jackson. His death was not sudden, like Kennedy's, but had been prolonged possibly by the slower ravages of drugs. It was most likely an event that had been brewing for some time.

As this is written, on Thursday a week after Jackson's death, the media frenzy is still unfolding and shows no signs of stopping. Perhaps it will bubble on until the day when it becomes eligible for coverage on the History Channel.

Granted, there are more news channels today than there were in the last hours of John Kennedy. That may well make the Jackson coverage appear to be larger than that of Kennedy's death. But the comparison gives a sense - dare we suggest it? - that, for all his oddities the singer is more popular than was the 35th American president. If this is true, it says much more about America than it does about Jackson.

In my living room, a television is turned to CNN. The network is advertising upcoming stories: Jackson's will, Jackson's burial, yet another Larry King salute to the King of Pop. I've lost count of the number of evenings King has saluted Jackson. Maybe King has also. In second place, according to my unofficial Jackson eulogy count, is the Rev. Al Sharpton, disguised by the media as a "civil rights leader."

Other news left behind

In the days following Jackson's death, columnist Mitch Albom wrote as clear and candid a summary of the singer's life as any I have read. He also chastised the media for portraying the reclusive singer as a world-class hero and long-shot candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. But Jackson was neither of those things. As Albom wrote:

"It's hard to think of a celebrity who had less to do with the real world than Jackson. In the real world, you don't have llamas or roller-coasters in your backyard. In the real world, if you're 400 million in debt, people aren't still lending you money. In the real world. you don't buy human bones, wear lipstick as a man or sleep with other people's children in your bedroom."

The reference to bone-buying relates to Jackson's unfulfilled desire to purchase the skeletal remains of Joseph Merrick, "The Elephant Man."

At the first unconfirmed report of Jackson's death was flashed to the world, coverage of another Hollywood death, that of actress Farrah Fawcett, was virtually abandoned. Never mind that Fawcett's death, after a long struggle with cancer, was a more poignant story.

She was no match for an entertainer who sold zillions of records, sometimes wore one glove, dangled his baby from a hotel balcony, and cosmetically altered his face - to look more like actress Elizabeth Taylor, theorizes a friend of mine.

From the moment Jackson's death, even possible death, was reported, everything else in the media world was skewered or diminished. That included the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, an event that fulfilled the wishes of thousands of Americans, including many who had lost loved ones in one of the dumbest wars in our history.

It included the last days of the protests in Iran, which gave us the touching photo of Neda, the young Iranian woman murdered by her government.

It included, to a degree, the romantic dalliance of Mark Sanford, South Carolina's self-righteous governor and possible presidential candidate.

Every scrap of information about Jackson was reported, save perhaps for the number of people treated at emergency rooms for injuries sustained by those trying to emulate their hero's moonwalk.

Not a big fan

By now, you may have concluded that I did not care for Jackson. Actually, it was more a case of indifference. My favorite Jackson song, if I have one, is still "Ben," the paean he sang to a fictitious film rat. Jackson was 14 when he recorded that in 1972. The song had been written with Donny Osmond in mind, but Jackson got it when Osmond was off on tour and unavailable.

Not having been a Jackson fan, I have difficulty accepting the adulation of those who are. Sure, he was a talent. Sure, he did things no other entertainer could duplicate. But he was not a god. And there is no remote reason, as far as I can see, why 12 people should have gone so far as to take their lives or make the attempt because they could not bear to go on living in a world without Jacko.

What we need is a god of media news, an angry, scary-looking deity who at moments of media hysteria will hurl thunderbolts at Larry King, Fox News, and others, while roaring from the heavens, "Hey, folks, enough is enough."

A preposterous concept? Sure. But, then, so is the overkill coverage, which, perhaps inevitably took a divine turn in Friday's Press-Telegram, when a reader posted this ludicrous entry in Speakout:

"The people who hate Michael Jackson were the people who hated Jesus, but look what Jesus did for us. Jackson gave us more than anyone in the whole wide world. Recognize genius when you see it."

Enough already!

Tom Hennessy's viewpoint appears the first and third Sunday of the month. He can be reached at 562-599-1270 or by e-mail at