Michael Jackson: Officially The New Elvis Presley

noah | August 26, 2009 2:00 pm

Like the Timex Social Club, I spend a lot of time lamenting the rumors that surround me every day. How do they get started? And where do they get crazy? In Truthmonger, I’ll try to suss out the kernels of truth in the rumors that are taking up airspace in gossip columns, blogs, and our tips inbox. THE RUMOR: Michael Jackson is alive! OMG, there’s blurry cameraphone video proving it! TRUTH THRESHOLD: Well I mean… the Chicago Tribune is running with it, right? So it has to be true? Uh… HOW THIS RUMOR GOT STARTED: Yesterday, some wisenheimer on the Internet named “LosAngels Cot24” posted this video: And accompanied it with this breathless text:

This video shows that Michael was still alive after his dead body was transported to the Los Angeles Dept. of Coroner I checked the license plate number and it looks like the King of Pop is jumping out of the same van, his dead body has been in. I got the original video tape from a trustworthy source. I know him for years. And I am sure it´s real and Michael is alive.

In a sane world where people cared about things like “facts” and “biological realities,” crackpot clips like this would be relegated to dusty corners of the Internet. Or the Weekly World News. But since times are really desperate in the media, we’re all linkfarmers and pageview-baiters now. And so, this watercooler-ready clip has received the imprimatur of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles TV station KTLA!

The clip was posted to Live Leak by a user named ‘LosAngeles Cot24’ and then picked up by “The Syndicate,” a division of media giant The Tribune Company. It was then sent out to Tribune properties including the highly respected Chicago Tribune and television station KTLA in Los Angeles, which prominently posted the video on their websites. … Shawn Wasson, who works for The Tribune, explained, “I scour for the best video of the day,” and has seen other “life after death” videos of Jackson, but thought that this one was worthy of posting because he felt “it’s a conversation starter.”

KNOCK IT TO ITS KNEES, BABY: Does this 30-second clip show the face of “Jackson” at all? No. Can you hear his voice? No. Is any detail beyond the word “CORONER” in big blue letters on the back of the van noticeable? Nuh-uh. I mean, I get that times are tough and the Chicago Tribune is trying to be as linkbaity as it possibly can, and its item does have the requisite “we don’t know if it’s real, but isn’t it interesting” text surrounding it. But really, expecting drive-by Googlers to actually read the text around sensationalist clips? C’mon, guys. If you have someone on payroll whose sole existence is to give the Weekly World News some sexy content for its brand-new iPhone app, then maybe you should just hang it up and call it a day. Michael Jackson still alive after hospital transport to coroner [LiveLeak] MICHAEL JACKSON ALIVE? WHAT THE…?! [GossipCop]