Sun-Sentinel: Making People Dumber in the Name of Hits

The top click-getter on the Sun-Sentinel website yesterday was a headline asking: "Is Michael Jackson Still Alive at the Coroner's Office?" Accompanying it is a video still of a figure standing outside a coroner's van.

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Of course the video is ridiculous. It's quick and grainy and shows a small person with longish hair jumping out of a coroner's van. This is beyond the National Enquirer, more like some of the truly outlandish pulp magazines of yesteryear. And those are fine for what they are and were; you knew what you were getting.

Problem is, the Sentinel is supposed to be at least a semiserious daily newspaper, and throwing in this kind of trash demeans it and its readers. Here's the Sentinel's explanation for putting up the video (which is still on the homepage):

A video floating around the Internet claiming to show Michael Jackson 'still alive' is creating a bit of a stir. A description posted by user 'LosAngelesCot24' on Liveleak.com reads '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.'

The user claims to have obtained the video from a 'trustworthy source' but there's nothing to suggest the person exiting the coroner's vehicle is Michael Jackson and there is no time stamp on the video. Though 'LosAngelesCot24' offers the assurance 'it´s real and Michael is alive' it's almost certainly unrelated to the Jackson case. Still, videos like this are sure to fuel the conspiracy theorists who suggest the King of Pop is still alive.

And we care about these idiot conspiracists why? And "LosAngelesCot24" sounds like a credible source, huh? 

Here the Sentinel is throwing away its credibility for web hits, pure and simple. It gets a "viral" video, no matter how stupid or outlandish, and props it up on the homepage. When the reader clicks, it goes to another page created by the Sun-Sentinel that actually hosts the video, which could actually come from anywhere (this one came from LiveLeak.com). Then it watches as the lowest common denominator starts racking up hits that have nothing to do with South Florida or decent journalism or what the newspaper is supposed to be about.

And while the newspaper is compromised, the web-hit counters rejoice.

-- Roger Stone has a suggestion for whom Charlie Crist should choose as "Florida's Next Senator": Stone's own benefactor and partner Scott Rothstein, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer and empire-builder who has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party interests. Stone, a guy famous for playing dirty tricks for Nixon and engineering the infamous Miami-Dade riot during the Bush-Gore recount, touts Rothstein's "distinguished legal record" but doesn't expound in the very short post.   

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I'm sure it doesn't hurt for Stone to stroke the ego of the guy who puts him up in his office on Las Olas and sponsors the StoneZone blog. It doesn't stop there either. Click here to see Stone sucking up to Rothstein in a post that sucks up mightily to Crist (the cutline under Rothstein's photo is unintentionally hilarious). Stone has been called a whole lot of things during his long and scurrilous career, but now you can safely add another term: brown-noser. 
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