Has the National Enquirer crossed a line? Many were horrified when the tabloid published a photo it claims is the body of Whitney Houston shown in an open gold coffin. The pic was taken at the Whigham Funeral Home in New Jersey, according to Enquirer editors, who have not revealed how it was obtained. "Inside her private viewing," boasts a headline for the story, which says the singer was buried in $500,000 worth of jewelry, her "favorite purple dress," and gold slippers. Houston's nickname, "Nippy," and two treble clefs are written in blue script on the white lining of the casket. The Washington Post's Celebritolgy blog calls the Houston photo "shocking and disturbing," while the Gossip Cop website says it "represents the very worst of predatory paparazzi culture." The shot is not all that unique for the Enquirer. It infamously published a photo of Elvis Presley in his casket on its cover in 1977—and sold 6.5 million copies.
Other media outlets weren't particularly delicate about funeral coverage. AP streamed the entire funeral live—with permission from the family—while ABC News and Entertainment Weekly offered live blogs of the services (one commenter called EW's live blog "tacky" and "grotesquely inappropriate"). CNN's more-than-three-hour coverage of the services drew 5 million viewers. But the BBC had to defend its extensive coverage to complainers, saying “it reflected the significant interest in her sudden death as well as acknowledging the impact she had as a global recording artist.”