The media have no bleepin' clue how to cover the death of Whitney Houston. That's because she was slowly dying for years and many in the press simply averted their eyes.It was ultra-disturbing that a beautiful woman blessed with an extraordinary singing voice chose a self-destructive path in full view of the world. I mean, here is a person who signed a $100 million recording contract, actually sold 170 million albums and commanded high six figures to deliver a 90-minute concert. Houston was a genuine international star, and yet she often was seen in public disheveled and confused, her substance addiction apparent. The media simply did not know what to say.
We live in a time in which addiction is categorized as a disease, and to do what Nancy Reagan once did and urge people to reject narcotics is considered uncool. How many young performers do we see doing public service announcements warning children to avoid intoxication? Right now, I can't think of one.
The national media pride themselves on being non-judgmental unless you are against abortion. Then you are dismissed as "anti-woman" or as a religious zealot. But in the arena of personal behavior, there's an excuse for just about every nonviolent activity and bad decision.
There is no question that some of us have a history of addiction in our families. There are folks who can use drugs casually and avoid dependence, but they are the exception. Once a person decides to dabble in cocaine, or opiates such as heroin and OxyContin, they are putting themselves at grave risk. And they know it. There are legions of famous people who wound up dead just like Houston. From Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson, the signposts are impossible to miss. No matter how rich and powerful you are, drugs can and will destroy you.
The current medical marijuana ruse is a great example of a society walking away from a responsible position. Ask any drug rehab counselor, and he or she will tell you that pot often leads a person to harder drug use and is mentally addictive itself. Yes, most people can function while stoned. But the more you alter your mind the more your perspective on life changes. Believe me, I know people who get stoned or drunk every day. They become incredibly desensitized to those around them.
On the kid front, the situation is dire. Once a child enters the world of intoxication, their childhood is gone. Presto, they are jaded. That's how dangerous drugs and alcohol are to immature minds. Society has an obligation to protect its children, not to tacitly accept or embrace mind-altering agents such as marijuana.
Houston, however, was an adult who made a decision to embrace the drug life. Reports say she tried to rehabilitate herself a few times, but you know how that goes. Once a person enters the hell of addiction, there is no easy way out.
And that's how the Whitney Houston story should be covered. As a cautionary tale. Another life vanquished by substance abuse.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show ''The O'Reilly Factor.'' Visit his website at www.billoreilly.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/billoreilly.