Oscar-winning songwriter Joseph Brooks was found dead in an apparent suicide on Sunday, and while most outlets have reported that news as such, the local tabloids, especially the New York Post, ran stories today that all but danced on the composer's grave. "Sicko songwriter, accused rapist kills self," ran the Post's headline. The New York Daily News was a little more restrained, if wordier: "Oscar-winning 'You Light Up My Life' composer Joseph Brooks, an accused rapist, commits suicide."
But the Post really went the distance in defaming the dead man, referring to him in its story as a "creepy composer" and a "wrinkly, accused serial sex fiend." The piece even dismissed his suicide method ("a crude 'suicide kit'), and his "rambling" note. The Daily News, for its part, made sure to refer in its lede to Brooks's son, who is facing murder charges in the infamous Soho House strangulation of designer Silvie Cachay last year.
For comparison's sake, the New York Times started off its far more sober coverage off by pointing out the fact that Brooks had all manner of tragic things happen to him in recent years, any one of which could have led someone to take his own life. In addition to his own and his son's legal problems, there's the stroke that left him unable to play the piano. It didn't refrain from pointing out the rape allegations, and in fact this sentance seems far more damning than the Post's hyperbole: "In 2009, at age 71, Mr. Brooks was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting what became a total of 13 women, generally aspiring actresses whom he lured to his apartment in recent years on the fiction that he was casting them for a role, prosecutors say."
Brooks, who took home an Academy Award in 1977 for composing the title song in You Light Up My Life, reportedly mentioned in his suicide note that he "believed he would be exonerated," according to the Daily News.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.