CNN defends its decision to broadcast Michael Jackson’s autopsy photo

Dylan Stableford

Earlier this week, CNN's John King said that, unlike other cable networks, they would not air the autopsy photo of Michael Jackson that was introduced Tuesday at the manslaughter trial of Jackson's former doctor, Conrad Murray.

"We're not going to show it," King told Jackson's former attorney Mark Geragos on Tuesday. "We have some standards here."

Those standards apparently changed. On Wednesday, CNN aired the photo.

"I want to warn you," CNN's Brooke Baldwin told viewers during the 3 p.m. ET hour. "This is the moment you can turn if you don't want to see this because the picture you are about to see is graphic and you might find it disturbing to see."

The autopsy photograph was on the screen for 11 seconds, observed. It was not used again during a segment on the trial.

On Thursday, CNN defended its decision to show the image.

"Producers use their discretion regarding their individual shows and as with any photo of a sensitive nature," Barbara Levin, a CNN spokeswoman, told The Cutline. "We've been judicious in its use. Viewers were given a warning and disclaimer about the photo--it appeared briefly to provide context to the testimony."

CNN sister network HLN--which has been providing gavel-to-gavel coverage since the trial began last month--aired the autopsy image on Tuesday. HLN has not aired it since.

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