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Jackson Memorial Coverage Over the Top?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 7, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Alright, America, here's the deal. We will not be devoting our entire show to Michael Jackson coverage this evening. There are other stories that are impacting your life and we it's important we discuss those too. Now if you want an hour of Michael Jackson, I guess you know where to go. But there are some things we do need to say about scenes that happened and were unfolding earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Staples Center!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have the tickets!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Couldn’t believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't even have any money, we don't have anything to eat, we don't have anywhere to stay but we don't care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We are going, baby. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy to be here but then I'm so sad while I'm here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a hero for me as I was growing up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to wake up and somebody tell me this isn't real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really feels special to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to pay last respects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No words can explain that feeling that we have right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now tonight we offer a little perspective for the American people. Joining us now is media commentator Larry Elder, BET contributor and editor in chief of Politico intersection blog, Sophia Nelson, and national spokesman for CORE, Niger Innis.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Thank you.

LARRY ELDER, MEDIA COMMENTATOR: My pleasure.

HANNITY: Larry, look, I — first of all, I feel sorry for — I saw his daughter today. I feel sorry for his kids.

ELDER: Right.

HANNITY: I feel sorry for his family. I — it's a tragic loss. But it's the same story that we see with Elvis Presley and other entertainers and other stars, hangers-on, enablers, you know, a very distorted life and it's tragic. Why all the attention to this? What do you make of it?

ELDER: Well, I remember, Sean, I'm sure you do, too, that Princess Di died around the same time than Mother Teresa did. Who got all the ink? Princess Di did. It is — this is a big story. He is a big entertainer. He's one of the biggest entertainers of our generation.

But you're right, around this time that he died and up until now, a lot of major things have happened, not the least of which is that we lost seven soldiers in Afghanistan and former or still Obama supporters like George Soros and Colin Powell and Warren Buffett are now expressing concerns about the spending and probable higher inflation and higher interest rates.

These are very, very important stories that impact our lives far more than the death of Michael Jackson but the news is what it is and I understand what broadcasters have to do, Sean. You got to give people what they want and what they want is this.

HANNITY: Well, we're not staying on this the whole program because we've got other issues we got to get to.

Niger, let me go to you. I have an article here in front of me relative to soldiers killed in Afghanistan speak out about the coverage and they quoted in this article — they're not happy about this. Now we don't give attention to soldiers when they die. We're not giving attention to families of soldiers when they die.

Is this deserved considering the life of luxury, celebrity, convenience that he had but still chose in many ways a self-destructive lifestyle?

INNIS: Well, let me say this. I understand what those soldiers are going through. They're sacrificing for a greater cause and for our country and for our civilization. And there should be more attention of what to bear on their sacrifice and their struggle.

But it's a ref lection not so much of Michael Jackson or even the fact that he was a flawed human being personally. It's a reflection of the dominance of entertainment in our culture and the globalization of that worldwide.

I think it's important for us to separate, if you will, the man that was Michael Jackson, who was a flawed human being, and the brilliant entertainer that he was. He is — no question that he revolutionized and pioneered a great contribution to the entertainment industry and brought the modern entertainment age.

HANNITY: Yes.

INNIS: Very quickly, Sean, I want to quote who was at one time the most — at that time the most powerful person and a moral leader in our country, he said — of talking about Michael Jackson, he's the most talented, most popular, most exciting superstars in the world.

The person who said that was the president of the United States and it wasn't Bill Clinton, it was President Ronald Wilson Reagan.

HANNITY: Yes.

INNIS: So I think it's important to separate the man from his music and his contribution to culture.

HANNITY: Look, I'm not denying, Sofia, he was talented, he was gifted. He was a pop singer, he was a great dancer. I especially liked him when he was young, before all the surgeries and the oxygen tanks and the masks that he was wearing. And the surgeries and just the bizarre behavior, now apparently drugs, according to all the reports.

And also this. Now we're worshipping somebody but there's very troubling aspects to his life and nobody wants to talk about. Maybe it is inappropriate and probably I'll be slammed for even bringing this up. But we've got to look at Michael Jackson. Let's roll the tape of the very words he said about his relationship with young children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON: We're going to sleep. I tucked them in. We put — I put little like music on and a little storytelling, I read a book. It's very sweet. Put the fireplace on, give them hot milk. You know we have cookies. It's very charming. Very sweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And he said, you know, well, why doesn't everybody sleep with kids? They need love. Doesn't that frighten you? It frightens me.

SOPHIA NELSON, COLUMNIST: Well, a couple of things, Sean. First of all, I agree largely with what Larry and Niger have said here already tonight. But you gave me the loaded segment here with the video clip.

I want to say two things. First of all, that I watched the memorial service today. I thought it was appropriate for it to be covered today the way it was. I cried. I was on Facebook with everyone. I was in high school when the "Thriller" album came out and when "We Are the World," my senior year.

So Michael Jackson is someone I grew up with. Having said that, I concur that I think the media went a little bit too far throughout the week every day. But it's about ratings. And I think Larry said that.

With regard to the clip that you showed, to me, the Michael Jackson that we see there is someone who didn't have a childhood, who is a Peter Pan figure, who lives in a different world than perhaps the rest of us who are adults that know that it's inappropriate to have children in your bed when you're a grown man if they're not your children.

And I think even as parents, when children get to a certain age, when they're of opposite sex, we don't probably...

HANNITY: Yes.

NELSON: ... don't want them crawling in bed with us. So I would just say that I feel sorry for Michael Jackson.

HANNITY: All right.

NELSON: And I hope he's in a better place.

HANNITY: Larry, let me ask you this. We put these pop stars on a pedestal. Now I didn't think his music was very deep. You know, "Billie Jean," "ABC," you know, it doesn't matter if you're black or white, never can't say goodbye. I liked it. They're catchy tunes. But it was pop music.

ELDER: Right.

HANNITY: It is what it is.

ELDER: Right.

HANNITY: But people identify with stars. They worship them. They idolize them. They put them on a pedestal. I mean did any of this contribute to, you know, reconstructive surgery that rendered him unrecognizable? Did any of that contribute to the conflict that caused him to want to use these drugs and sedate himself to this level?

ELDER: I don't think we'll ever know. The fact is that he was one of the most famous persons in the world. That's got to do something to you, Sean. I don't know what that would be like but I suspect that most people probably could not handle that kind of adulation, the inability to walk out of the street, and not be mobbed.

It's got to be pretty telling. I like to say one other thing, too, Sean. You said you may get criticized. I'm going to get criticized. He wasn't the world's greatest entertainer. Sammy Davis Jr. was. He could do anything. He could sing, he could dance, he had the timing of a comedian, he could play instruments. He starred on Broadway. I mean, I'm sorry, he wasn't the world's greatest entertainer. Sammy Davis, Jr. was.

OK, now everybody can get mad.

HANNITY: Niger?

(LAUGHTER)

INNIS: Well, we could go back and forth about that. You know, my generation and Sophie's generation, I was also in high school with "Thriller" and the day after the 25th anniversary of Motown.

ELDER: Where do you think I am, Niger? Am I in a rocking chair over here?

INNIS: You're too old, Larry, you're too old.

(LAUGHTER)

But Sophia and I and all our classmates were trying to moonwalk all over the place. And look, we were impacted by it. But Larry makes an important point, which is that we have to be careful in our dominant media entertainment culture that we create demigods out of celebrities.

I was in Europe when Princess Di passed away, died. And it was 24/7 coverage. I remember when Tupac Shakur died and people comparing him to Martin Luther King. It was absurd. So the media and of course we know about Britney and Paris and Lindsay Lohan and the media has got to be more responsible, understanding its significant power, perhaps the most powerful force in our culture today.

HANNITY: All right.

ELDER: And understanding that power and be careful about creating demigods out of flawed human beings.

HANNITY: All right, guys, appreciate it. Thanks for being with us.

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