Michael Jackson Memorial Service

July 7, 2009 1:05:40 PM PDT
It will be interesting to see the numbers. How many people actually watched today's memorial to Michael Jackson.

With video and music and shots of people crying and many other people around the country - making emotional television isn't all that difficult.

And today we saw emotional TV. (What do we call it for the millions who watched on computers? Is it still "TV"?)

It was part sad, part joyful, and a total spectacle.

What many will question is whether it was deserved.

The debate is an important one, especially now that it's over.

And it seems to me that the debate could be quite a lesson for everyone.

For those who think the media was too critical of Mr. Jackson - emphasizing his fondness for little boys and his drug addiction and the freakish things he did to his body and appearance - perhaps the end of this public mourning will provide them with some insight into how troubled a human this 50-year-old man-child was.

And for those who only saw Jackson as a drug addicted, accused pedophile, perhaps the outpouring of true emotion and sadness will provide them to look at the other side of this man. The incredibly talented man, the man who truly was a ground-breaker for race relations in music.

Critics may accuse of him trying to hide his blackness, but there's no denying that Jackson gave hundreds of millions to black-oriented charities. He traveled to Africa and was committed to fighting AIDS and poverty. He led the effort to record and produce the "We Are The World" song and movement.

Did his abused childhood spur him on to these early-adult good deeds? Or did his troubles hold him back?

Of course, we'll never know.

The ceremony is now over - but the investigation into how Jackson died has a long way to go. Will there be doctors held accountable for feeding this man an assortment of prescription cocktails, without paying heed to their interactions or effects? And how much responsibility will the man himself bear for his own demise?

We'll have the latest on the ceremony and the investigation, tonight at 11. We'll also take a look at how Michael Jackson may very well end up being far more successful in death than he was in life, and he was plenty successful in life, despite his hundreds of millions of debt.

Our Kemberly Richardson is in Los Angeles for us.

By the way, it all pales, it all goes away - all the controversy, all of it, at least for a moment, when Jackson's daughter steps to the mike to close the service, and says her father was the best daddy in the world.

Also at 11, we're following an absolutely bizarre crime that encompasses two states, and has forced two grieving parents to confront their sorrow once again.

Last night we told you about a two-year-old girl found in a plastic bag on the banks of the Passaic River in New Jersey. Tonight we learn that the child had died in 2007, and was buried in Stamford, Connecticut.

Someone dug up the girl's grave, and illegally removed it from the casket. The child's parents have now been told; it's just all so sad. And so disturbing.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus weather and sports. I hope you can join us, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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