Fourth-Rate Fourth Estate

I know I’m a few days late in writing about this, but it took a while for reality to catch up with me after watching the Michael Jackson interview/documentary.

I can’t imagine that I can say anything about poor misguided Michael that hasn’t been said before. But I can make some remarks about the so-called journalist who put the thing together. I was so appalled that this was billed as a documentary. Last time I checked, a documentary filmmaker was someone who laid out the facts in some sort of sequence, and then allowed the audience to come to its own conclusions about what they saw. This used to be one of the basic precepts of journalism.

But Martin Bashir befriended Jackson and his family, established a certain degree of intimacy and trust, and made his film over the course of many months. But as soon as the film was in the can, his attitude was one of an editorial writer, of a commentator. He determined that he couldn’t trust the audience with what we saw in his film — he had to interpret it for us, and he had to make sure that his (and our) interpretation was negative.

And how is he punished for this amateurish approach to journalism? ABC is reportedly “punishing” him with a multi-million dollar deal for several more “documentaries.” I hope that any potential subjects of his future reportage have the good sense not to let this man cross their doorsteps, because he’s made it abundantly clear that he can’t be trusted.

Jackson is reportedly taking legal action against this hack and, for whatever else I may think of the way he lives his life, I hope Jackson wins this round.

Shame on the Beeb. Shame on ABC. But, mostly, shame on Bashir. The fourth estate is fourth-rate.