The jury is out in the child-molestation case against Michael Jackson, but the verdicts on “Jacko: The Celebrity Trial” are in, says the Los Angeles Times. A decade after the O.J. Simpson double-murder case was declared the trial of the century, trials of the century are turning out to be nearly as plentiful as musicals on Broadway. Martha Stewart, Robert Blake, Kobe Bryant, the upcoming trial of record producer Phil Spector on a murder charge, and others have made celebrity proceedings a genre unto themselves.
Neal Gabler of the Norman Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment and Society at the University of Southern California, says of the Jackson trial: “There’s no definite good or evil. People think he’s a freak, but the boy isn’t sympathetic either.” Associated Press correspondent Linda Deutsch, who has been covering high-profile trials since the Charles Manson case and who has been camped for nearly four months, noted that there are more than 2,000 credentialed reporters at the Jackson trial. Despite all the hoopla, she says the case “has been a nightmare from a 1st Amendment standpoint. All the search warrants have been sealed, all the pleadings, everything that would normally be open. There was even something called a decorum order; the media can only speak to each other, we can’t interview spectators, we’re not allowed to talk to the Jackson family. It’s as if in this trial, there is a celebrity exception to freedom of the press.”