Cablers Scramble to Cover Michael Jackson News

By Chris Ariens 

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The cable news networks have been covering the news that Michael Jackson was rushed to UCLA Medical Center after suffering a heart attack. At 5:20pmET reported Jackson had died after paramedics were unable to revive him. As of 6:20pmET, the cable and broadcast news outlets have not confirmed that.

• Fox News first reported the news at 4:48pmET, and stayed with Glenn Beck for most of the 5pm hour, with some reporting from Shepard Smith. Greta Van Susteren joined Bret Baier during an hour normally occupied by “Special Report.” Smith is anchoring most of the hour along with reporting from Geraldo Rivera.

• CNN first reported the news at 5:28pm during the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and have been in rolling coverage since with Showbiz Tonight’s A.J. Hammer and other guests and correspondents from Los Angeles.

• MSNBC reported the news during Hardball at 5:35pm and are currently in continuing coverage anchored by David Shuster. During a Q&A, In Touch Weekly‘s Tom O’Neill mentioned that had been reporting Jackson’s death which led to a discussion about the reliability of the report.

Depending on how this story develops, we hear at least one broadcast network is making plans to air a special on Michael Jackson’s life that would precede their Farrah Fawcett special at 10pmET/PT.

> Update: Jackson pronounced dead at 6:15pmET. MSNBC sources news to LATimes at 6:22; CNN at 6:26. Fox News, more cautious, before sourcing AP at 6:29.

> Update (2): CBS’s Katie Couric anchored a special report at 6:22pmET. ABC’s Charlie Gibson at 6:24pmET.

> Update (3): CNN coverage includes long pauses to listen to/watch Jackson videos.

> Update (4): At 7pmET, CNN is still not confirming Jackson’s death, attributing the reports to other sources. NBC News (MSNBC) and Fox News confirmed it a half hour earlier.

> Update (5): CNN finally confirms Jackson’s death at 7:25pmET sourcing the news to the LA coroner.

> More: A 7pmET CNN interview with Jackson family friend Brian Oxman, who called in from UCLA Medical Center, may be very telling about what led to Jackson’s death:

“This family has been trying for months and months and months to take care of Michael Jackson. The people who have surrounded him have been enabling him. If you think that the case of Anna Nicole Smith was an abuse, it is nothing in comparison to what we have seen taking place in Michael Jackson’s life.

This is something which I feared and it is something which I warned about. I don’t know the cause of all this, so I can’t tell you what the ultimate result of it’s going to be, but I can tell you for sure, when you warn people that this is what’s going to happen and then it happens, where there is smoke, there is fire.”