After the death of singer, songwriter and philanthropist George Michael was announced over Christmas, our free and fearless press went through a series of phases, each designed to leverage his death in order to generate More And Bigger Self-Promotion Opportunities For Themselves Personally Now. These generally involved a combination of shamelessness, speculation, and plain dishonesty. We now know more about all three.
The first phase of using Michael’s death to generate sales and clicks was to report it, while papers like the Murdoch Sun pretended they hadn’t spent most of the previous three decades calling him a “poof” and a pervert. It also involved the Telegraph pretending their readers would know who he was. But it was when the speculation and dishonesty kicked in that all those inconvenient facts went out the window.
Again, it was the Sun that felt duty bound to claim the singer had died because of DRUGS. “George Death Probe … Major crime cops to probe George Michael’s death and quiz his lover Fadi Fawaz over fears star was killed by drug overdose … A MAJOR crime squad has taken over the investigation into George Michael’s death, The Sun can reveal … Detectives fear the star, found dead on Christmas Day aged 53, died from a drugs overdose”. What the Sun didn’t reveal was that this was speculative bullshit.
Also unable to bother waiting for any real news was the Mail, which soon afterwards claimed “George Michael's friend says people had 'dragged' the reclusive star back into hard drugs including crack cocaine before his death … George Michael's childhood friend believes the 'reclusive' singer died from a cocktail of drugs and alcohol and says those who 'dragged him back to the dark side' need to ‘answer’”. This, too, was bullshit.
But that was as nothing to the Sun’s allegedly “exclusive” claim “Escort and ex-lover reveals fears ‘liquid G’ killed George Michael as he reveals his ‘years’ of secret sex drug runs to tragic singer … Porn studio owner Paul Stag claimed 'it is 100 per cent' the Wham! singer had the pink liquid drugs that he was hooked on before his death on Christmas Eve”. The Mail followed up: “He said he believes the drug was in George's system when he died aged 53 on Christmas Day”. Even the Mirror was dragged in.
And it was all total crap. We know this because the real news, with the actual cause of death, has now been made public, not that it will prevent the fever of misinformed tabloid speculation. So what did kill George Michael? “George Michael died as a result of heart and liver disease, a coroner has confirmed … The pop star was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver, according to Darren Salter, senior coroner for Oxfordshire”. Enlarged, weakened and inflamed heart - and fatty liver.
Perhaps George Michael binged on drink. But no other conclusion can be drawn from his death and the coroner’s analysis - other than that the press got it totally wrong. Again.
As in life, all the hacks and pundits cared about in death was feathering their own nests and scoring a few more sales off George Michael. Shame on the lot of them.