Jonah Goldberg

In one of my favorite episodes of the Simpsons, Troy McLure - famed Hollywood personality and star of such classics as "The Greatest Story Every Hula-ed" and "They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall" - needs to get hitched in a sham marriage to Homer's sister-in-law in order to save his career. You see, Troy has a dark secret. When asked if it's that he's gay, McClure responds, "Gay? I wish! If I were gay they'd be no problem! No, what I have is a romantic abnormality, one so unbelievable that it must be hidden from the public at all cost."

I bring this up because a.) I still laugh at it, and b.) the prosecution has rested its case against Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson's perversions are as close as we have today to Troy McLure's situation. Of course, the key difference is that Troy's terrible secret seemed to involve tropical fish. That's funny. Jackson's more terrible and less secret perversion is that it involves little boys.

A lot of eat-your-spinach media critics think it is unseemly for the press to pay attention to the Jackson trial. To them it's just another exploit of tabloid TV. I couldn't disagree more. First of all, this story would have been hot stuff even during the Golden Age of Murrow. After all, coverage of Fatty Arbuckle and Charlie Chaplin moved a lot of newspapers back in the day.

More important, this isn't like the childish coverage of the "runaway bride" - er, sorry - "flee-ancee" we've been subjected to. One can't help but suspect that the producers who pumped the story into a round-the-clock obsession were disappointed when it was discovered the woman hadn't been abducted but just got a case of cold feet. Still, since people who buy bridal magazines are a more valuable demographic than those who read The Economist, they seemed perfectly willing to run, and run, and run with the story.

No, the Jackson story is about a hugely rich and successful man using his money and influence to cover up years of sexual and psychological abuse of children. It's about the moral depravity Hollywood is willing to tolerate and enable. (Then again, tolerance and enabling are really the same thing.)

In many respects this is the perfect story to unite the entire country. O.J. Simpson's murder trial split the nation because Simpson's lawyers expertly manipulated the case into a fight about racial politics, rather than the obvious fact that Simpson murdered two people.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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