See tabs go whacko over [Jackson] - Dimond mention (Feb 13 1994)


Staff member
See tabs go whacko over [Jackson]
State Journal Register. Springfield, Illinois
Feb 13, 1994. pg. 40

Few television shows this season will evoke the kind of deliciousambivalence as Tuesday's "Frontline" episode on tabloid coverage of the Michael Jackson scandal.

One one hand, viewers can shake their heads in disgust as the top players of the print and broadcast tabs openly and proudly discuss how checkbook journalism kept them afloat in covering the Jackson story. On the other hand, those same viewers can gorge themselves on tasty, behind-the-scenes tidbits from the brutal world of tabloid news, which has set the pace for more-established news organizations on the Jackson story and many others.

The point of this "Frontline," which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WILL Channel 12, is not to dissect coverage of the six-month-old case.

Instead, the focus is on the methods used by the tabloids to propel news tips into huge stories and to stay ahead of the very large, very industrious and very rich pack, once the story is rolling.

Had the Michael Jackson story not broken in August, this "Frontline" piece most likely would have been about the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding fiasco. Producer Thomas Lennon had suggested the idea of examining the world of tabloid journalism by following the people following the story before the Jackson case made screaming headlines.

When the story broke, Lennon's crew was ready to follow.

Through interviews with reporters, editors and sources involved, plus footage from press conferences that shows the extent of the media herd on the story, "Frontline" provides some of the juiciest viewing of the season without stirring up dirt on Jackson.

There are two main themes to the report. One is the size of the stakes in tabloid stories.

As the story gets bigger, the going rate for tips and exclusive interviews rises from five figures to six.

Diane Dimond, correspondent for the tabloid TV show "Hard Copy," proudly says her show had avoided sullying its coverage by paying sources. After her interviews with "Frontline," however, "Hard Copy" paid $100,000 for an interview with Jackson's former bodyguards and $25,000 to speak with his former maid.

"Anybody who doesn't pay money, it's like cavalry riding into machine gun fire," says a correspondent for the London tabloid News of the World, one of the pioneers of checkbook journalism.

We learn from insiders as they cover the Jackson story how various sources are ferreted out, and how prices for their stories are negotiated in a "delicate striptease." A source must reveal a small piece of his or her story as bait for the news organizations' bids, but must be careful not to reveal too much before the deal is inked

The second theme is how the broadcast and print tabloids -- considered the scum of news organizations just a few years ago -- have coaxed the "established" media into following them into stories like this. When both CBS news and Jackson security agent Anthony Pellicano were getting clubbed by the tabs, for example, they turned to each other. Pellicano released tape recordings from the father of Jackson's alleged victim that Pellicano said amounted to threats of extortion. CBS got the exclusive, but failed to mention that the tape had come from Pellicano. As the tabloids served up more and more gossip on "MJ," the three major networks moved the story into their top slots.

And, "Frontline" points out, some of the top producers of major TV news shows are products of "Hard Copy" and the National Enquirer.

Along with those two themes, we learn many of the methods the tabs use to get their stories and pictures. Some are sleazy, others -- like the Enquirer's search of property records to find the family of Jackson's alleged victim -- are just smart reporting.

As for Jackson, who portrayed himself as a victim of the tabloids in his interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, we learn that he took advantage of the Enquirer's status by planting at least one story about himself. He denounced that very story in his Oprah interview.

Just when many people are sick of hearing every sordid detail of the still-unfolding Jackson case as it happens, "Frontline" shows that there is a much better story just beyond our view.

It is happening behind the lenses of "Hard Copy" and "A Current Affair" and in the newsrooms of the blood-thirsty London tabloids.

Copyright State Journal Register Feb 13, 1994
Source: Indy researcher 'TSColdMan'


New member
Diane is a snake in the grass. She will pay whomever she wants to get "Dirt" on Michael. She must be desperate if she paid someone $100,000.