The National Enquirer published a photo of Whitney Houston lying dead in her casket this week, prompting a debate about the limits of tabloid journalism.
The publisher of the magazine, Mary Beth Wright, defended the choice to publish the photo on the cover. I thought it was beautiful, Wright told Fox News.
While this is not the first time the National Enquirer -- among other outlets -- has published a photo of a dead or dying celebrity, Houston's fans have had a particularly strong reaction to the casket photo, perhaps because there is some indication a friend or family member of the deceased singer may have taken and sold the photo, which was published without a credit.
“The Enquirer struck again with its latest cover featuring Whitney Houston in a casket. It's just another disgusting display of how low celebrity obsession can stoop. Regardless of how they obtained the picture -- and the likely exorbitant price they paid for it, the Enquirer should have thought twice about this post-mortem portrait, Denise Warner, the Executive Editor of the website HollywoodLife.com told Fox News. No one needs to remember Whitney preserved in formaldehyde. And it's certainly not an image that is necessary in the discussion of her life and death.
Houston's funeral was a private, invitation-only service and the Enquirer is not releasing details about how the photo was obtained. According to magazine photo editors speaking to Fox News, the casket photo could command a price into the mid six figures.
Houston's fans have taken to Twitter to express their shock and outrage, with most critical of the National Enquirer for publishing the casket photo and other outlets who have shared the image.
But at least one person feels the finger should be pointed at the presumed Houston insider who took the photo in the first place.
'Don't hate the National Enquirer for publishing Whitney Houston casket photo, hate on the family member/friend who sold it, tweeted PhillyGossip.
No one from Houston's family has yet to publicly comment on the casket photo.
Whitney Houston was found dead in a hotel bathtub on Saturday Feb. 11. The cause of death ruling is pending the results of a toxicology test. Houston was laid to rest the following Saturday.
Approximately 1,500 mourners attended the three-and-half hour service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., Houston's hometown. Though the funeral was closed to the public, those organizing the ceremony appeared to be mindful of the camera, which allowed the tributes to be broadcast on multiple television networks and streamed online. It is estimated that two million viewers tuned in to The Associated Press live stream of the funeral.