Despite his troubles throughout the years, the worldwide reactions to Jackson's death yesterday were a testament to his enduring fame. Apparently, so many people turned to the Internet to confirm rumors of his death that Google's computers interpreted all the simultaneous searches for "Michael Jackson" as an automated attack. In a story inside, the LAT notes that the first to report the star's death was the gossip site TMZ, which announced it at 2:44 p.m. But it became clear that many outlets around the world weren't comfortable taking the site's word for such an important piece of news and, instead, credited the LAT, which bannered the death at 2:51 p.m. Interestingly enough, even though TMZ and CNN are both owned by Time Warner, the news channel didn't confirm the death until almost two hours later.
Jackson's death overshadows the passing of another icon, Farrah Fawcett. The LAT is alone in fronting the news that the Charlie's Angels star died yesterday of anal cancer, which she had been fighting since 2006. She was 62. Her battle with cancer played out publicly as tabloids got word of her cancer recurrence in 2007, and, in May, NBC aired a prime-time documentary made by the actress titled Farrah's Story. She first became famous for her looks, thanks to a famous poster of her in a bathing suit. "No poster like it has achieved anywhere near its popularity since, and, arriving before the Internet era … it may have been the last of its kind," notes the NYT. She later established herself as an actress, but many still remembered her mostly for that famous poster, which, as one professor tells the LAT, "became one of the defining images of the 1970s."
Going back to Iran, the WSJ states that the problems there since the election have opened up divisions between Shiite Muslims in the region. Iran's supreme leader, isn't just powerful in his country but also "serves as the marjaa, or spiritual guide, for many Shiites outside Iran," explains the paper. But since the brutal crackdown of opposition protesters began, many have began to question his moral authority, and even the whole concept that an Islamic state must be led by a "divinely anointed scholar." By publicly and forcefully supporting Ahmadinejad, Khamenei has stepped away from the traditional role of being an impartial overseer of his country's affairs. "The infallible leader is all of a sudden making a lot of mistakes, and this creates a lot of doubt," a Shiite member of parliament in Lebanon said.
The WP's Monica Hesse deftly captures how many felt yesterday after hearing about the King of Pop's fate: "In the weeks before his death, we might have said we didn't know how we felt about Michael Jackson. He'd become so bizarre, so pale, so foreign and different from the musical genius some of us once worshipped. We thought that we hardly thought about him, except perhaps as a punch line. We felt that we felt nothing. But when news of Jackson's death broke yesterday, it turned out that we were wrong."
Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.