The Nov. 4 death of novelist Michael Crichton took most people by surprise. Who knew the best-selling author of “Jurassic Park” was even sick?
Crichton, 66, died the day of the U.S. presidential elections, so news coverage of his passing was muted. That’s understandable given the gravity of the election – and its historical implications.
So it wasn’t unreasonable to expect the year-end media tributes to make up for the lack of coverage. After all, the man directed major motion pictures (“Westworld, “Coma”), co-created one of the longest running, most beloved TV shows of all time (“ER”) and wrote some of the best page turners of the past three decades.
Check out Time magazine’s recent tribute-heavy edition, dedicated in part to remembering the big names who left us in 2008. You won’t find a mention of Crichton. The same holds true for the magazine’s separate Year in Review issue. Nothing.
People magazine gave Crichton little space in its own tribute section, with only a smattering of text and a tiny photo. Newsweek featured a quick mention of Crichton’s passing, but managed to give more play to the death of Larry Harmon (AKA Bozo the Clown).
Parade, the Sunday newspaper magazine distributed across the U.S., didn’t mention Crichton either, but to be fair its recent tribute section was modest in size. Still, Parade did save room for the late Suzanne Pleshette, a fine comic actress but someone who had a fraction of Crichton’s cultural impact.
That begs the question – why? Hate to sound conspiratorial, but could it have anything to do with his skepticism over global warming? The New York Times touched upon the topic in its obituary.
“Environmentalists raged against his skeptical views on climate change, first expressed in the 2004 novel, “State of Fear,” and subsequently in various public forums.”
Upon Crichton’s passing, The L.A. Times said the prolific author was “probably the only person in America ever to have a No. 1 book, No. 1 movie and No. 1 TV show all at the same time.”
So why did so many major media outlets treat him with so little respect? Could his views on global warming have cooled journalists’ interest in giving him a fair send off?