Wall-To-Wall Anna

(AP Graphics Bank)
I still don't get it. Why the frenzied, breathless, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it news coverage of the death of Anna Nicole Smith?

Two days after I questioned the inexplicable, disproportionate magnitude of coverage of the arrested astronaut, came the overblown wall-to-wall treatment of Anna Nicole's death.

Did she cure cancer when I wasn't looking?

Had she negotiated peace in the Middle East?

Tell me what about her death warranted the coverage given her on the so-called all-news cable channels?

Did the death of Mother Teresa get this treatment? I don't think so.

I say I don't get it, but of course, I do. It's show biz. It's pandering for an audience.

But it has less to do with journalism than with drawing a crowd. And that's a decision made by the executives who run those news channels. They scrubbed all other stories, cancelled commercial breaks, and ordered non-stop coverage of Anna Nicole.

I'll stipulate that she was a celebrity – of sorts. And her life has been a soap opera on high heels. And her death is news – of sorts. And part of the news audience would be interested to learn about it. And it should be reported.

But the level of coverage accorded her death was – to say the least – over-the-top.

Of course I understand what's going on. But I know I'm not alone in deeming it an embarassment and in stating it does not reflect the reasons many of us got into the news business.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.