The National Enquirer has sparked outrage by publishing a picture of a body in an open coffin, alleged to be that of Whitney Houston. The Guardian has reported on the matter today (February 22, 2012) but have chosen not to reproduce the cover image, which is said to show the singer lying in a gold casket in a funeral home.
A report from the Washington Post slams the move, saying "a line has been crossed," arguing that it's "highly unethical" to have published the photograph, especially without prior consent from the family. However, The Guardian reminds its readers that this is not the first time that the National Enquirer has pulled a publicity stunt such as this in order to increase its readership. In 1977, the same publication published a photograph of Elvis Presley in his casket. They also printed an image of Michael Jackson's deceased body. The same photo was republished by a number of newspapers when it was shown during the trial of his doctor, Conrad Murray.
Since Whitney Houston passed away unexpectedly - aged 48 - on February 11, 2012, there as been intense media speculation regarding the cause of her death and the reaction of her family to her former husband Bobby Brown. Aretha Franklin, a close family friend, has been publicly defending her reasons for not attending Whitney's funeral and no doubt this latest scandal will be a further blow to the family, if proven to be a genuine image.