Whitney Houston

*Almost 50 years ago in August 1962 Marilyn Monroe was reportedly found dead by her housekeeper. Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi ruled the cause of death to be “acute barbiturate poisoning,” and listed “probable suicide.” Over the years as details of her involvement with the Kennedy’s [remember ‘Happy birthday Mr. President’?] among other things, has spawned one of the most controversial “conspiracy theories” ever.

Marilyn Monroe

A year after Monroe’s death, in August 1963, Whitney Houston was born. Destined for greatness, she too would become a household name before meeting a similar fate onFebruary 11, 2012. As yet the cause of death is inconclusive, but once again – due to Houston’s known history of drug abuse – prescription drugs found in the hotel room where she was found dead in the bathtub, suggest “probable cause” at least until toxicology reports are made available.

As it was then, so it is now the relentless media speculation surrounding the death of a superstar Diva who apparently – as in these two cases – died alone. Of course 50 years ago the press was far more limited, tempered, and discretionary when compared to today’s no holds barred standards. Just hours after the news broke of Houston’s death, listening to some reporters/interviewers posing some of the dumbest and most insensitive questions was unsettling to say the least. They don’t seem to care that people are still in shock and grieving. Appearing on CNN, the brazen Nancy Grace – ignoring the “cause of death unknown” statement issued by the coroner’s office – asked, “Who was around her?  Who, if anyone, gave her drugs following alcohol and drugs…and who let her slip, or pushed her underneath the water?” It seemed Grace had visited the scene and had an inside track, but when CNN’s anchor Brooke Baldwin asked Grace what her source of information was, Grace sheepishly admitted, “From other reporters.” Well, so much for integrity, discretion, reliability, and sensitivity.

It seems each time such an event occurs, the press has a knee-jerk reaction and gets all the high-profilers to chime in on the causes, the symptoms, the perpetrators and all the rest. Then just as sure as the last tear is shed, the last song is sung, and the spotlight completely fades, so does media interest – until the next tragedy.

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) www.amazon.com. Available at Smiley’s Bookstore in Carson CA, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, and Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara CA. Visit the author at www.larrybuford.com. (213) 220-8101