In a commentary broadcast on National Public Radio today (Tuesday) former ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel observed that the media coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial is hardly unprecedented. "There's a reason it's called the 'news business,'" Koppel noted, "and sometimes the tackier the story, the more business it generates." He pointed out that in August of 1926, there was an "all-day riot" at the New York funeral home where the body of Rudolph Valentino was taken after his death at age 31 from a bleeding gastric ulcer. Some 80,000-100,000 people gathered outside. "People trying to get in smashed the windows. Several despondent fans were said to have committed suicide." And this was at a time before television and the Internet and when even radio was in its infancy. "The newspapers went to town on it. ... When the numbers go up, so does income. It was true 80 years ago. It's true now," Koppel remarked.

07/07/2009