It turns out, Radar Online may be paying BIG time for the part they have played in the current orchestrated smear campaign against Michael Jackson! The smutty tabloid has just been hit with a $100 million dollar lawsuit by Michael’s nephews Taj, Tarryl and TJ Jackson. As most of my readers probably know, the nephews became unwitting victims of slander in all of this mess when Radar Online-so caught up in their stats victory dance after breaking the phony child porn story that they apparently lost their frickin’ minds-decided for good measure to throw in a story about the three nephews having been molested by their uncle. Not only was that story blatantly false, it also implied that the three were guilty of a felony since the story goes that the nephews were willing participants who accepted bribes and then attempted to “cover” for their uncle’s “guilt.”
In running this story, Radar Online apparently forgot one very important fact. Although there still exist no laws to protect the dead from libel, there are still plenty of legal repercussions that living persons can take. While including the nephews in their smear campaign was probably the stupidest blunder Radar Online could have made, Michael’s fans all over the world can heave a victorious sigh of relief that yes, they really were that stupid-and thank goodness for it! Although this massive lawsuit names Taj, Tarryl, and TJ Jackson as the plaintiffs, rest assured, it is a victory blow being delivered for Michael, as well. He is not here to defend himself, but his blood still can. And if they win, they will have succeeded in striking a tremendous blow against not only Radar Online, but the entire tabloid industry!
First, let’s have a look at the actual documents that have been exchanged between attorney Bert Fields, representing Taj, Tarryl and T.J. Jackson and Radar Online (courtesy of DailyMichael.com):
Tough words indeed from Bert Fields! However, this might be a good time to step back and ask: Just what are the chances for a victorious outcome in this case? This is not the first time that the nephews have taken a tabloid to task, and in the past they were less than successful. In 2015, Taj Jackson registered a complaint with IPSO against the British tabloid The Mirror. In that case, the complaint had been raised over a false report that Michael had paid off 134 million pounds in “hush money” to over 20 families (a lie that has continued to be regurgitated in the media ever since the same paper published the phony FBI files story back in 2013). One reason the complaint apparently fell through is that the Michael Jackson estate also filed a complaint with IPSO, who then usurped the authority of Taj Jackson. This might have proven successful if, in fact, the estate had followed through with the complaint, but the matter was apparently dropped at that point and left Taj with no legal recourse to pursue the action further.
However, the complaint may have not been totally in vain. Taj did succeed, at least, in getting The Mirror to rectify some of the more damaging language of their original article. It wasn’t much, but it was something, at least.
However, Radar Online‘s reaction when confronted with the nephews’ complaint was an outright refusal to retract anything. This was the official statement released from American Media, Inc. which owns Radar Online:
“The Radar article clearly states that detectives reported that Michael Jackson may have used photos of his nephews ‘to excite young boys’. This theory was, in fact, presented by the prosecution during Michael Jackson‘s 2005 criminal trial. Radar looks forward to correcting plaintiffs’ misstatements in a court of law.”
This statement is wrong on several levels. This was not a theory ever introduced by the prosecution during Michael’s trial. As I discussed in the piece that I wrote for Huffington Post last month, the photos in question were photos taken during a professional photo shoot for a CD cover. They were listed in the police report as were many such items seized during the raid of Neverland, but even there, it was acknowledged that the photos appeared to be from a professional shoot. As such, they were never entered as “evidence” and the prosecution never tried to argue any such theory.
If this is the best defense that Radar Online has going into court, they are going to be ripped to shreds. What’s more, in refusing to retract their story even when presented with such a compelling argument as was presented to them by Fields, the accusation of “absolute malice” may become easier for the plaintiffs to prove, as per the case that Carol Burnett brought against The National Enquirer several years ago, and which I will discuss later.
However, this particular case still has many troubling hurdles to overcome in order for any hope of a victorious outcome for the nephews. Many of those hurdles, as per the discussion on the MJCast episode, are rooted in the immense differences between the American and British press, for example. It is true that defamation laws are much more stringent in the U.K., while media in the U.S. is largely protected under freedom of speech. (It is, by default, that same freedom of speech which enables bloggers like myself to be able to freely express how we feel about the media and certain individuals; thus, it is definitely a two-edged sword). Celebrities are well familiar with all of the legal hurdles and ramifications that go into bringing a successful lawsuit against a tabloid-which is precisely why so few ever even attempt it, and why the tabloid industry has been largely able to get away with as much as it does. Publications can always hide behind their “unnamed sources” and point the finger to them as the source of the information. Of course, this simply shifts the burden of proof from the publication to the “source.” Journalists in the U.S. are further able to hide behind The Shield Law, which protects reporters from, say, being dragged into legal hassles because of their sources or what they choose to print (at least two of Michael Jackson’s biggest media adversaries-Martin Bashir and Diane Dimond-have used The Shield Law to their fullest advantage).
In all of the long and sordid history of celebrities and so-called tabloid or gossip publications, there have only been a handful of successful litigations brought against the media. In order for a celebrity to succeed with a defamation lawsuit, the burden of proof really has to fall on them. They have to be able to successfully prove both that the story was false (sometimes easier said than done) and malicious intent on the part of the publication (in other words, that the paper was not merely repeating information given to them in good faith by a reliable and unpaid source). I know that one big reason why it was often so difficult in the past for a celebrity to bring a lawsuit against a media outlet was because, legally, they were bound and obligated to sue every outlet that had printed the story; they could not, for example, simply bring a lawsuit against a single publication. The legal logistics behind this made sense (“How can you claim your reputation has been ruined by The National Enquirer, and not by The Globe?”). However, it made the idea of bringing lawsuits against the tabloid industry a virtual nightmare of entanglements for celebrities, most of whom would eventually reason it was simply not worth the time and expense it would take to go after every single news outlet that ran with the story. That law, however, has been rendered pretty much obsolete by the internet and today’s trend of copy and paste journalism, whereby a story that is run by Radar Online today can instantly be copied by every online media outlet within minutes to hours. But there are still other hurdles.
In addition to the expense, time, and energy that bringing a lawsuit entails, they also must weigh the risk of bringing even more attention to the original story (which a lawsuit inevitably will) and, when all of these factors are weighed in, whether it is indeed worth it. However, many of the rules that used to apply to celebrity lawsuits against the media were put in place long before the internet, which has opened up a whole new realm of instantaneous, global copy and paste journalism on a scale that was utterly unimaginable in the days of mostly print and TV journalism. So to be honest, I am not sure to what extent the internet has changed the rules of the game. For sure, it would be next to impossible now to go after every single outlet that runs the same negative story. But in this particular case, it was very clear where the story originated, and the Jackson nephews do have a solid basis of complaint. As to the risk of bringing more unfavorable attention to the story, it certainly can’t get any worse than it already has-and, indeed, in this case, there is certainly more to lose by not taking action.
Since June, when Radar Online first began their current series of defamatory articles against Michael Jackson, I kept mentioning the analogies to the case of Christopher Jefferies, the U.K. retired school professor who was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of the murder of Joanna Yates. Jefferies was initially suspected because he had rented a flat to Joanna Yates and was the only person besides Yates to have a key to her flat. But many suspected that Jefferies’ unconventional appearance and eccentric reputation was what really led the police to treat him as a suspect.
Jefferies was later cleared when the real murderer of Joanna Yates was arrested and confessed (turns out, he was a resident of the same complex and was also a tenant of Jefferies’). But although Jefferies was never charged with the murder of Joanna Yates, the British tabloids nevertheless went into an orgiastic feeding frenzy with stories about the “perverted” ex school professor turned “murderer.”
It is now widely accepted that Christopher Jefferies’ eccentric reputation, appearance, and mannerisms all contributed to the mass assumption of guilt and the media’s haste to convict an innocent man in the court of public opinion (sound familiar?). At first, Jefferies’ strategy was to ignore the tabloid stories. After being released from jail and later cleared completely, he just wanted to get back to his quiet life. But it was quickly made apparent to him that he was never again going to have that quiet life. All but those who knew him best still suspected him of the murder. People treated him differently. He could no longer freely show his face anywhere. Eventually, with the encouragement of friends, he realized the only way he would ever truly get his life and his honor back was to go after the British tabloids who had ruined his life. His campaign against the tabloids eventually culminated in a triumphant testimony at the Leveson Inquiry for press regulations. To say his campaign was successful would be an understatement. Jefferies succeeded in winning against all of the tabloids who had smeared him, receiving not only handsome compensation but something much more valuable-full retractions and public apologies on behalf of all of them. And best of all, he got his life back.
For those who are unfamiliar with Christopher Jefferies’ story, I highly recommend the film The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies.I believe it is still currently streaming on Netflix. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in issues of truth, justice, and standards of accountability for the media, but for Michael Jackson fans in particular, it is a MUST SEE!
One reason I recommend Jeffries’ story so highly to MJ fans is not only because it is inspirational, but it also reveals much about how the media operates in order to frame a presumption of guilt on a selected individual. Although Jefferies was fully exonerated, that exoneration came with a heavy price. Unlike Michael Jackson, he was not a celebrity prior to the accusations made against him. But when pressed to give a reason why the media and public were so quick to condemn him, he gave an apt answer that could also certainly be argued in Michael’s case: “My face must have fit the crime.” For Jefferies, even with his legal victory against the system that had condemned him, it is a scar and a cross he continues to bear. In order to redeem himself in the court of public opinion-and to make his case against the tabloids more viable-he was forced to give up a lot of his individuality (his famously eccentric hairstyle, for example) and to make conscious efforts to somehow appear more “normal.”
Christopher Jefferies Testifying At The Famous Leveson Inquiry, Which Resulted In Revamped Regulations For The British Media:
Overview of The Media’s Handling Of The Christopher Jefferies Case:
The message, then, is still clear: If you are different, you are a target for the beast. Conform, and the beast may leave you alone. The case of Christopher Jefferies may seem like an odd anomaly in a discussion of celebrity and tabloid media relations, and in some ways it is. This was an unusual case in which a private citizen overnight became a tabloid scapegoat, although such cases are not totally unheard of. Many private citizens, as a result of crimes or other extraordinary events that turned their formerly private lives upside down, have found themselves in similar positions-look what happened to Patricia Ann and John Ramsey, for example. They, too, were lynched by the tabloid media (resulting in multiple defamation lawsuits including one against American Media Inc-the same publisher that Michael’s nephews will be going up against). The defamation against the Ramseys continued unabated even after DNA evidence tested in 2003 pointed towards an unidentified male suspect, and no doubt played a role in hastening the death of Patricia Ramsey in 2006. The official cause of her death was ovarian cancer, but certainly the toll of emotional distress that the family was put through by the media may well have triggered and exacerbated her illness. Certainly when one’s life becomes a never ceasing end of defamation lawsuits, the stress has to be staggering.
The insurmountable obstacles that celebrities often face when considering even the possibility of a lawsuit against the tabloid press is what deters many from trying, and why so many such stories often go unchallenged-not necessarily because they are true, but because celebrities must learn to choose their battles carefully. There have been a few successful cases, although I can mostly count the ones I am aware of on one hand. However, a token few do stand out as cases that set important precedents in the never ending celebrity battle against the tabloids. One of these was the defamation lawsuit waged by comedian Carol Burnett against The National Enquirer over a story published in March of 1976 claiming that the comedian was publicly drunk at a Washington, D.C. restaurant, had boisterously insisted on sharing her dessert with other people at the restaurant, and had argued with Henry Kissinger.
In this particular case, “actual malice” (something which plaintiffs in such cases must be able to prove) was proven due to the fact that The National Enquirer had proceeded to run the story despite having been unable to verify all of the information that had come to them via a “paid source.” Some of the story’s details were true. For example, Burnett did dine at the restaurant on the night in question; she did speak to Henry Kissinger; she apparently did share portions of her souffle with other diners who had said they would like to try some after having been asked. And this, again, is where these kinds of cases can get very sticky. However, Burnett insisted she was not intoxicated and certainly did not argue with Henry Kissinger (there is a huge difference between speaking to someone and having an open brawl!). At the time, her variety show was one of the most popular shows on prime time television, so Burnett had much to lose by allowing the accusation to go unchallenged. She proceeded with the lawsuit even though The National Enquirer had published a retraction of the story. However, even though she did emerge victorious, the case dragged on for nearly seven years due to The National Enquirer’s appeals, and in the end, she only received $150,000 in punitive damages out of the original 1.3 million she had originally been awarded after it was apparently decided that, yes, The National Enquirer deserved to be punished but that Burnett hadn’t suffered enough defamation to warrant bankrupting the tabloid. The case was eventually settled in 1984.
More recently was the case of Bollea vs. Gawker, in which Terry Gene Bollea (“Hulk Hogan”) managed to successfully bankrupt Gawker with a 100 million dollar lawsuit over a sex tape.
But the history of successful defamation lawsuits against the tabloid industry lags far behind the number who fail-or who never even attempt retribution. For the celebrity who takes on a tabloid-no matter how famous-it often becomes a nearly insurmountable case of David vs. Goliath. And in all cases, it is only the living who have been able to take action. Even then, to win such a case may involve years of litigation and more expense than the case is worth (which is generally why only the most extreme cases ever get heard). In the United States, at least, they must be able to prove “absolute malice,” which essentially means that if the publication can convince a jury that they acted with reasonable faith based on information from a third party source, they are absolved of all guilt. In most cases, the celebrity is put on the defensive regarding the alleged action or basis for the story, which essentially means putting themselves “on trial” and can mean bringing even more negative attention to the story than the original article in question. For this reason, many adhere to the “just ignore it and let it sink” mantra. For many of the famous, especially those like the Jackson family who have habitually been the target of negative press for decades, ignoring what is said in the papers becomes more than just a defense tactic. It becomes a necessary code for survival and of keeping one’s sanity intact. But because the Jacksons have taken this stance for so long, many tabloids have assumed an irresponsible sense of carte blanche entitlement with printing most anything they desire either about the Jacksons and their most famous family member. This summer, we witnessed what may have proven to be the ultimate Gotterdammerung of that entitlement. Clearly, something had to give. For too long, the tabloids have been allowed to run with an unleashed reign. Even Michael himself, who for decades suffered much emotional distress at the hands of the tabloid industry and tabloid journalists (from being labeled a “40-year-old midget” as a child to the years of “Wacko Jacko” to even his last ride in the back of an ambulance being splashed all over newsstands) was only able to bring two successful lawsuits in his lifetime. One was against the U.K. publication The Daily Mirror in 1992 for a story tltled “Scarface” which claimed that Michael’s face had deteriorated due to plastic surgery.
This UPI article from June of 1992 highlights one reason why he (as well as many other celebrities) are often so reluctant to take these kinds of actions. Just look at all of the ridiculous hoops that The Daily Mirror was demanding that Michael subject himself to in order to prove their story false! Is it any wonder why he would not be so keen to undergo this kind of degrading humiliation every time a paper ran a story about his appearance? However, this was clearly a case in which the story went above and beyond to portray him as a disfigured freak.
LONDON — Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper, undaunted by a libel lawsuit prompted by its ‘Scarface’ photograph of singer Michael Jackson, Thursday followed up with a full-page photograph of Jackson in its bid to highlight the singer’s alleged history of plastic surgery.
Running under the headline ‘Does this lighting suit you then, Mr. Jackson?’, the Mirror’s picture campaign was joined by rival tabloid The Sun, which ran a profile shot of Jackson taken as he arrived at a London hospital Wednesday, labeled ‘Here is the nose.’Jackson, whose physical appearance has changed dramatically since he began singing with the pop group The Jackson Five in the early seventies, filed a libel suit Monday against the Daily Mirror, his Los Angeles attorney, Bert Fields, said.
Fields said the Daily Mirror ‘went too far’ in its July 24 story about the megastar, which called Jackson a ‘hideously disfigured phantom’ whose face was covered with scar tissue.
The paper also claimed that Jackson had a hole in his nose and that one of his cheeks was higher than the other.
Jackson, who arrived in London Wednesday for the start of his European tour, filed a second suit Monday against the Mirror claiming the paper had broken its contract with him by selling and publishing his photograph, Fields said.
The day after the suit was filed, the tabloid challenged Jackson to submit to photographs by their cameramen ‘in natural light,’ and to take the photos to an expert to prove they had not been doctored.
Their photos, they said, would show their claims of facial damage were true. It also challenged him to submit to an examination by a plastic surgeon ‘to determine the exact effect of your operations.’
The Mirror also re-ran the offending photograph, a close-up shot of Jackson’s face, the day after the singer filed suit, calling his claims ‘ludicrious’ and promising to defend itself ‘vigorously’ in court.
A High Court judge Tuesday granted Jackson a 15-day order to stop The Mirror from publishing the ‘Scarface’ photo again.
Jackson fans, meanwhile, took up Jackson’s case Wednesday, hurling garden compost at Mirror photographer, Ken Lennox, as he attempted to get more shots of Jackson’s face.
Another article of the time speaks of Michael’s willingness to subject his face to the gawking curiosity of a jury in order to prove his case. Those of us who know anything about Michael Jackson at all know how sensitive he was about such issues. I can only imagine this as an experience only slightly less degrading and humiliating than the strip search that would come just over a year later!
Interestingly, it was the same Bert Fields who helped Michael to win this case who is now presiding over 3T’s lawsuit against Radar Online. Lets hope history can repeat itself. However, even though Michael eventually proved his point, it was, again, a litigation that dragged out for six years before an amicable settlement was reached in 1998 and a public apology given.
This case set an interesting precedent for the relationship between Michael and the tabloid press over the issue of his appearance. Up to this point, the media had taken a lot of potshots at Michael over his perceived “changing” appearance but this was the first time a tabloid had actually gone so far as to call him “disfigured” and to claim his face was actually disintegrating as a result of cosmetic surgery. This is where we really get the roots of all the ridiculous “Michael Jackson has no nose” nonsense that would dominate tabloid headlines for the next two decades. So as we see, neither the lawsuit nor the eventual settlement would prove a deterrent to those kinds of stories-if anything, it only served to intensify them!
The other case for which Michael brought litigation and won was against the TV show Hard Copy, reporter Diane Dimond, the host of KABC-AM radio and Victor Guiterrez. In 1995, Diane Dimond, acting on a tip from her friend Victor Guiterrez, falsely reported the existence of a Jackson sex tape during a January 1995 edition of Hard Copy. The lawsuit was initially filed on January 13, 1995 (only two days after the broadcast) and the amount of damages sought was 50 million. As most Jackson fans know, however, Diane Dimond was able to get her friend Tom Sneddon to extricate her from the proceedings. In the end, Michael only succeeded in a favorable judgement against Guiterrez for 2.7 million (far short of the 50 million initially sought) and for which he never received a penny since Gutierrez elected to flee the country rather than pay up.
Of course, in cases of genuine defamation it is not really about how much money one gets. It is the principle that counts, and certainly any victory against the tabloid press has to count for something.
But if history is any indication, such victories are only small battles in a very big and interminable war. Nothing-be it enormous lawsuits or public shaming-has ever really succeeded in stopping the beast in its tracks. If one rag is forced into bankruptcy over a massive lawsuit, another clone just like it merely rises from the ashes to take its place. Scandal and disgrace can rock the empire of Rupert Murdoch or Dylan Howard, but that empire goes on relatively unscathed, doing what it has always done.
In both of Michael’s victorious cases, he went against the British press (even the 1995 case had its roots in the British press) whose rules regarding libel in the press are much more stringent than in the United States. And, of course, he took these actions while alive. It will be interesting to see how his nephews fare against an American publication. I suspect that the 100 million figure is not really the ends to the means, and even if they “win” this case, they will probably have to end up settling for substantially less (personally I hope not as I would love to see Radar Online forced OFFLINE, the sooner the better). But the figure is meant to send an implacable message: We are not just going to take this, and we aren’t going to back down.
It’s high time that such a stand was made. My biggest concern since Michael Jackson fans began really pushing the Adllaw Initiative is that, yes, it will be great if we can push this law into being to protect the deceased against defamation; that will be a wonderful and triumphant step. But what then? The law can only be effective provided there are heirs willing to take the initiative and to enact those rights by bringing legal action in the first place. Such laws can only work if the deceased person’s living relatives and estate are willing to take the necessary actions to enforce them, and as we have seen, that is not an easy, cheap, or painless undertaking.
For this reason, the actions taken by Taj, Tarryl and TJ Jackson in filing this lawsuit marks an important and reaffirming milestone. Rest assured, many prayers are with these courageous young men who have already endured so much-the loss of their mother, the loss of their beloved uncle, the betrayal of so-called “family friends” and an utterly disgusting and unwarranted impugnation of their own reputations that they certainly didn’t deserve.
Radar Online may have gloated over their June 2016 stats, but now it’s time to pay up. Let’s hope they will be paying dearly for those stats for a long time to come.
I realize this new post has been quite a while in coming. The reason is that I had decided to take some time away from rebutting Radar Online’s lies here and instead, to focus on getting that rebuttal into mainstream media. I am happy to announce that my persistence paid off and Huffington Post has published my piece! Basically, I condensed what I felt was the most important information from the past three posts, along with a couple of other issues I had intended to tackle further down the line (but which had become the subject of much recent media scrutiny; thus the need to respond in a timely manner). Even though Huffington Post was also one of the outlets responsible for spreading the BS Radar Online story, I am grateful to them for allowing an opportunity for this side of the story to be told. Please be sure to share, “like” and comment, and let the editors know that truth about Michael Jackson can sell!
In the meantime, these have certainly been very hectic weeks with a lot of developments happening in the MJ world. As always, these things tend to come not singly but in bunches, and truth be told, I have simply been overwhelmed with so many happenings and not enough hours in the day to do write-ups on all of them as they occurred! Thus, I now find myself playing a desperate game of catch up! There is the release of Tavis Smiley’s book and the proposed TV miniseries (I will be receiving a review copy of Smiley’s book; from all I have read and heard so far, I am not terribly optimistic but as always I will read it with an open mind and try to provide a fair review). There is, of course, one new book I definitely will not be reviewing here, of which I’m sure you all know to whom I refer-but more on that later!
There has been the news of Debbie Rowe’s breast cancer (I am wishing her well and a speedy recovery; regardless of what anyone thinks of her, she is the mother of Michael’s children). Then there was the Twitter storm created by Prince Jackson when he defended AllLivesMatter-lord help, I know he meant well, but the poor kid sure did pick the worst time to advocate such a volatile and controversial stance, and boy did he ever take a pounding as a result! Interestingly, however, in a week that has been plagued by violence and racial strife, his words put the spotlight squarely back on his father’s most political lyrics. And again, we have seen people all over the world taking up the chant of “They Don’t Care About Us.” This proves in a very significant way that what I had stated previously is so true-gossip about Michael’s personal life may always be the media’s bread and butter, but when the world is in crisis, it is to his music that people will always turn.
However, in the days since I drafted the above paragraph, some even more unsettling and unsavory developments have been taking place, and although I do want to resume my discussion of the items seized from Neverland and the faked police reports I feel it is important to touch on these latest developments as they are directly related to everything else that has been happening-including those faked reports.
About a week ago, I was alerted to a story circulating in Spanish media regarding an apparent-and deliberate-twisting of a French interview with Macaulay Culkin, in which the former child star (and close friend of Michael Jackson) credited his friendship with Michael Jackson as being the most steadying influence on his life as a child star. This was what was quoted from Culkin in the piece (note this is a rough Google translation from the original French text):
Having – as he – experienced the disorienting status of child star,Michael Jackson was one of the few near Macaulay able to guide it in the Hollywood jungle. Their relationship was deep and the actor does not hide his emotion when he speaks of his “friend” , who died tragically in 2009. “This is one of the most important people in my life, admits he.he was my best friend. We were interrelated because he knew what I endured. Stress, abuse, oppressive family. It has always been present and understanding. “
Note what Macaulay Culkin says here. Michael’s friendship helped him to endure the pressures of childhood stardom and then he stated exactly what those pressures were-“stress, abuse, oppressive family.” But apparently by the time this story made it into Spanish media, someone took those words completely out of context-especially the reference to “abuse”-then further twisted “abuse” into “sexual abuse,” and from there proceeded (and I believe did so quite deliberately) to spread the false story throughout Latin media that Macaulay Culkin had “confessed” to having been “sexually abused by Michael Jackson.” Before long, Culkin’s words of loving tribute to his friend had been vilely twisted into something he never said.
Or is there more to it than this? Read carefully this rebuttal of the fake story published on the Peru21 website:
Macaulay Culkin not confessed to being raped by Michael Jackson. (Composition)
In recent days, a supposed news published by different media has become viral: the alleged confession of Macaulay Culkin , star of the movie Home Alone , which says he was raped repeatedly by Michael Jackson . Does this really happen?
The media suggest that the actor, 35, said at a conference, these words:
Michael and I were great friends, he loved me and I also got to love him, I told stories and was a sort of guide for me. I was very young and famous, for me a normal life was not an option and friendship helped me deal with my problems. But after several months he was completely transformed his attitude was that of a sick and began to threaten me, repeatedly he said he would kill my parents if I said something. Michael abused me many times, even once, in my parents’ house while they slept. So I fell into drugs
Among the media that published the ‘news’ are Excelsior, Televisa, 24 Hours , La Prensa, Mundo Hispanico, Alto scandal and World TKM , the latter being one of the first to release the alleged statements ofMacaulay Culkin . In the note, citing a source, a video or audio sample? No. The portal is limited only to say that the actor “called a press conference with multiple media”. In addition, no details when, where or how the conference was given.
The other sites are mentioned only among themselves or simply write “by various media”. To all this it should be added that the media who spread – misnamed – news are Hispanic; however, being an issue involving American characters, it would make sense that means that country are the first to speak on the subject.
But, why you have created this story about Michael Jackson andMacaulay Culkin ? A few days ago, police in Santa Barbara County, California, United States, revealed a report with the material found on the ranch of Michael Jackson at Neverland as part of an investigation in 2003. Among the objects found a photo actor of My poor little angelautographed with a dedication that read: “Do not leave me alone in the house.”
After that, the curiosity revolved around the relationship between Jackson and Culkin, and this was brought to the front pages of some media – without inquiring much – took lightly the alleged statements and put a rumor a perverse story.
Several interesting facts come out of this rebuttal. Okay, so let’s get this much straight-at least seven Latin media outlets initially ran with a story of a phantom press conference that apparently never took place (could the French interview have been the “alleged” press conference in their imaginations?). As the author of the Peru21 piece aptly pointed out, there was no audio, no video, nothing to substantiate these claims whatsoever. I already suspected as much because while several of the Latin media outlets who ran with the story printed salacious headlines like “Macaulay Culkin Confesses To Being Raped By Michael Jackson” not a single one offered up anything more substantial to back the headline-no follow-up quotes from Culkin, no details about where, when and how or under what circumstances the alleged “confession” took place. Instead, every article only linked to the other articles mentioned or past articles about similarly salacious but ultimately empty, unsubstantiated claims. In fact, many of these simply linked straight back to the bogus FBI files story and the “same ol’, same ol” story from long discredited ex Neverland employees Phillip and Stella LeMarque, the couple who “claimed” to have witnessed Michael groping Macaulay outside of his pants and changed their story to “inside” his pants when the tabloid price for their story went from reportedly $100,000 to $500,000. There is, of course, a direct connection and common link to all of these stories-Paul Baressi, the ex-porn star turned investigative reporter who first peddled the Lemarques’ story back in 1993 and who was also the attributed force behind selling the phony FBI files story to Sunday People back in 2013. Interestingly, even though that story was thoroughly debunked almost as soon as it hit (even Diane Dimond had to grudgingly admit it was phony) it is a story that nevertheless grew legs and has never quite been allowed to die (mostly because there was never an official retraction). In fact, in searching through the links that came up in relation to this latest Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin story, I ran across one particularly horrendous and ill informed hit piece (posted as recently as December 2015) that was still quoting this bogus story as if it were gospel truth. This is relevant, also, because the story of those phony FBI files is also still being touted as a central player in the current unfolding drama, and I would imagine we have not yet seen the last fruits of Baressi’s dirty work when he sold that fabricated load of horse manure to Sunday People three years ago.
According to the above article, the rumor seemed to have started with TKM World, a celebrity gossip site similar in style and format (and I would imagine, in principle as well) to the USA’s TMZ. So far, I haven’t been able to find too much about TKM (any input from MJ fans in Latin America who might know more would be highly appreciated). I did find it interesting, however, that the site seems to have strong ties especially to Chile and the United States-and we all know one particular journalist who also happens to have ties to these two countries as well, and has been on an ongoing mission to destroy Michael Jackson since the late 1980’s-Victor Guiterrez. Of course, that is just speculation; I have no direct proof to tie Guiterrez to this, but it is certainly not an unfounded speculation. Since Guiterrez fled the US and returned permanently to Chile after being successfully sued by Michael in 1998 (he sued both Guiterrez and Diane Dimond for defamation of character and was awarded 2.1 million dollars which he never received after Guiterrez fled to Chile and Dimond wriggled out of due to employing her friend Tom Sneddon’s help) he has remained a quite prominent media figure in Latin America. It was Guiterrez who wrote the fabricated porno piece Michael Jackson Was My Lover (which said a lot more about Guiterrez’s romantic attractions and tastes than Michael’s); many have reason to believe it was Guierrez who largely influenced Evan Chandler, and his similar goading tactic of the Robson family eventually paid off for him as well, it seems-albeit some twenty years later than he’d intended. Macaulay Culkin was also one of those whom Guiterrez tried to push as one of Michael’s “lovers” and Culkin, like Brett Barnes and Corey Feldman, has been one of those constantly harassed by haters and “would be investigative journalists” like Guiterrez, believing they can somehow bully him into a “confession.” Additionally, this would not be the first time that Guiterrez’s shenanigans have surfaced just in time to coincide with a major event involving Conrad Murray in the news. He was also a consultant for Jacques Peritti’s 2011 hit pieceWhat Really Happened To Michael Jackson which surfaced just in time for Murray’s manslaughter trial in October of that year.
To further prove just how entwined and relevant all of these events are, the Peru21 article directly states that they believe the timing of this rumor had everything to do with the publication by Radar Online of the 2003 Neverland police reports and the mention of a signed photograph of Macaulay Culkin that was found in Michael’s master bathroom. The photograph as described in the police document was from one of Culkin’s Home Alone movies. However, I have no idea where they are getting the information about inscriptions that say “My poor little angel” and “Don’t leave me alone in the house.” This appears to be a sheer fabrication, as the only mention of any inscription in the original police document is described thus: “The photograph was signed and had a message written on it. The message stated, ‘To Apple head. Always remember keep Apple Head Club Doo Doo Head alive.” Then was simply signed “Macaulay Culkin” and in parenthesis (“Doo Doo Head.”). These were affectionate nicknames that both Michael and the kids were known to call each other, and this seemingly harmless inscription is the only such inscription mentioned in connection to that photograph. Since the Peru21 piece appears to be a mostly sympathetic piece whose author truly wanted to rebut the lies being spread in Latin media, I can only guess that they did not have access to the actual report and must have been ill informed by other media sources-which again only highlights the dangers of trusting copy and paste journalism (and to which it appears no western country is immune). it also heightens why there is an important need at this time, especially, to educate the public about what exactly is in those documents-and what isn’t.
This brings me to the second related hot topic this week, and that is the news of Wade Robson’s new attorney who has come on like a true Ringling and Barnum & Bailey ringmaster, replete with a thinly veiled threatening letter to the estate that-oops!-just happened to also get “leaked” to the media. The timing of this latest “reveal” makes it obvious that 1: Either the leaking of those faked documents to Radar Online proved such a PR disaster that Wade’s old attorneys jumped ship, or else 2: This was the work of John Manly all along, as some now suspect.
Here was the ridiculous bluffing letter that Manly sent to Howard Weitzman. Read it, and then I’m going to come back to you with a little trivia question.
But first let’s address the timing. This letter is dated July 13, a little over three weeks from the time the first Radar Online story hit (and that onslaught, as you recall, was timed perfectly to coincide with Michael’s death anniversary). This July 13th letter would indicate they allowed just enough time for the impact of that story in the media to sink in before gearing up for Phase 2 of the attack. It also strengthens the theory that this is very much an orchestrated plan, with each step minutely planned down to the exact timing of each step of the strategy. However, there is something much more disturbing than timing here. I asked what was wrong with the content of this letter. Manly writes: “During the course of my review of public materials in this case, I have read numerous media reports of multiple monetary and non-monetary settlements allegedly paid to little boys who claimed Mr. Michael Jackson (Mr. Jackson) sexually abused them while they were in his custody or care.”
Already this statement is a screaming red flag, and for multiple reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that the process of discovery in this case was carried out months ago. The estate has already complied with those requests as granted to Robson’s former attorneys. Secondly, the phrasing of the letter makes it clear that Manly is basing these assumptions of phantom settlements and phantom victims off of media reports. First of all, if this case had any substantive legs to stand on, there would not be a need to be scouring the oh-so-reliable media for “evidence.” An attorney with a real case does not sit down and pour through The National Enquirer and The Daily Mirror to scout for “evidence.” He would consider his client’s testimony and evidence as substantive enough; for the rest, he would consult legal documents from verified sources. The so called “media reports” that Manly is referring to are none other than the already debunked FBI files story, which made ridiculously exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims concerning supposed payouts of “over 200 million dollars” to “over 20 families” (the most common figures kicked about in the headline stories). The entire story is bogus. In the course of Michael Jackson’s life and career, there were exactly two such settlements-one to the Chandler family for 15 million and one to the Francias for 2.1 million. The exact circumstances that led to each of those settlements has been well hashed out, and are beyond the scope of this current post to get into in detail, but basically neither settlement was an admission of guilt. The former was chump change in exchange for the peace of mind of getting a raving psychopath out of his life, and the second was a symbolic act of fly swatting to get an annoying, disgruntled ex-employee named Blanca Francia off his back and out of his life. Both settlements are public record and would have certainly been well accounted for, especially the Chandler settlement which was paid off in monthly installments over a period of six years, from 1994 through 1999. So Manly’s claims of a lack of transparency are completely unfounded. Turning to unsubstantiated media reports from gossip rags and pretending to believe that these are somehow indicative of “deep, dark, dirty secrets” being cloaked by the estate is a patently absurd tactic, obviously intended more for shock effect in the media than as an actual legal maneuver. I honestly don’t believe Manly is that big of a fool (let’s hope not!) but he knows how to play the media, and is banking on the fact that most people who will read this stuff will not know the truth-and also that most will not care to dig any deeper. Just like those handwritten notes they so obviously left on their forged copies of the police reports released to Radar Online, this is nothing more than a bullying tactic to goad the estate into settling the case.
Why, we might ask? So that more Wade Robsons down the line can crawl out of the woodwork and claim to have sudden memories of having been horribly abused by Michael Jackson? Sure, by that time, the wisdom would be, why not? It would be open season!
Well, that “open season” is exactly what they are trying to create. More to the point, I think what happened recently with the Bill Cosby case has been the fire that has really ignited the cockiness of Robson and Manly. While it is not possible now to bring criminal charges against Michael Jackson, I believe they are thinking that by stirring up a similar “retrial by media,” as what happened with Cosby (where the heat of the media coverage eventually resulted in the leaking of incriminating deposition statements Cosby made over a decade ago at the time of his settlement to Andrea Constand, thus resulting in a reopening of the investigation and a criminal charge against Cosby)that they can accomplish a similar result here, with a sudden tide of phantom “victims” coming out of the woodwork and resulting in, perhaps, renewed investigations into Michael’s life-all of which, of course, they bank will result in a cash fallout. It may be ironic, however, that the Cosby case also disproves the theory that has long been held so dear by Michael Jackson detractors, which is the idea that a cash settlement can effectively “buy silence” and is some sort of guarantee against criminal charges. Indeed, the Chandlers could have certainly proceeded with a criminal investigation had they wanted to, so there goes that argument.
I can’t speak for the women who have spoken out against Bill Cosby. That is a different issue, a different person and a different case entirely, and besides, Cosby is still here to stand trial and defend himself. What is happening to Michael Jackson, however, is much more sinister because it is being orchestrated by persons who know the dead man has no recourse; he can’t speak for himself; he can’t sue for libel; he can’t deny anything. ANYONE, at any time and for whatever whim, can come forth and say Michael Jackson abused them, and who is going to deny it? Sure, if they are full of sh*t, they will be outted eventually, but in the meantime, the damage is done. if their stories make good copy, that is all the media cares about. And on it goes, until drop by drop, the pond is irreversibly polluted. This is what I call creating the “smokescreen effect” or as some call it, the effect of creating “smoke and mirrors.” And it can be quite detrimental. Think about it: If another woman right now comes forth and claims to have been raped by Bill Cosby, odds are most are going to believe it. Out of those fifty+ women, a few probably are lying, and no doubt, probably more than a few are exaggerating their claims, but at this point, who is going to care? The man’s reputation is in shreds; the legacy of a historic career in tatters.
And someone out there wants to see this same scenario very badly for Michael Jackson. They have already set the wheels in motion. As I have said often enough before, that settlement with the Chandlers-the single biggest mistake of Michael Jackson’s life in my estimation-set the stage for a similar “smokescreen effect” years ago. The Francia case was a direct fallout from it, as was the attempted Rodney Allen scam, the Arvizo case and countless other similar, bogus claims. We are still seeing the fallout from it today. That’s exactly what we are witnessing now.
Fans Are Familiar With The Case Of Rodney Allen, A Man Who Led A Pedophile Ring Of Boys In Canada And Who Concocted An Elaborate Scheme To Frame Michael Jackson, But This Clip May Be A Revelation For Those Who Don’t Know Just How Easy It Has Been For Scammers To Concoct Seemingly “Believable” Stories About Michael Jackson!
And to further prove how Manly is using language to deliberately create his “smokescreen effect” in the media, note the words and phrases he so carefully uses. He speaks of settlements allegedly “paid to little boys.” This is not paralegal language. First of all, Manly would know that such settlements (even if they existed, which they do not) would be paid out to the parents, not the children. This is simply an appeal to pathos argument that he knows will have the desired effect when lay people click on that link and read his letter. Additionally, he as good as admits in the last paragraph that he is basing these claims on unfounded hearsay with the conditioning that “if” any such confidential settlements exist, it is the moral obligation of the estate, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures to disclose them. Again, it is simply an empty bullying tactic whose only obvious purpose is to plant a seed in gullible minds that there are somehow sinister secrets about Michael Jackson that are being guarded by his estate. This is merely another way of selling a tabloid story without having to actually create one! With this clever tactic, he creates the perfect win-win for himself and his client because no matter how the estate responds he can claim a victory-he can publicly accuse the estate of “withholding” evidence, and who in the media (much less the reading public) is going to know any better? Who is going to be in a position to dispute those claims, other than the very party for whom he has already planted the seed of distrust?
If you follow where I’m going with this, it is indeed a scary scenario. This law firm already has a proven track record of not being above the law when it comes to playing dirty. This was an article from The Media Report.com that several readers have sent to me, and I want to share it here:
SHOCK STORY: Notorious Church-Suing Lawyer Obtained Clients by Phoning Parishioners and ‘Fishing for Victims’
Unethical conduct for financial gain? Southern California contingency lawyer John C. Manly
Southern California contingency lawyer John Manly, who has pocketed millions of dollars by suing the Catholic Church, has now admitted that his office has obtained clients for abuse lawsuits by making unsolicited phone calls to Catholic Church parishioners.
This startling new revelation in the Catholic Church abuse narrative was exclusively reported by Sue Nowicki at The Modesto Bee newspaper.
According to Nowicki’s piece, numerous individuals in the Diocese of Stockton (Calif.) have said that they received unsolicited phone calls to their homes from a woman hired by Manly. These calls, they claim, left them to conclude that Manly was “fishing” for victims in the case of an accused Catholic priest, Fr. Michael E. Kelly.
Manly has admitted that he hired the woman, but only to “investigate” Kelly.
The obvious question for Manly is this: For what other reason would a Church-suing contingency lawyer “investigate” a Catholic priest except to garner clients?
Confronted with the charge that he was “fishing for victims,” Manly, of course, denied the claim.
“We don’t call people and ask if they want to be in lawsuits,” Manly said in part to Nowicki. “That’s not happening; it’s not what we do. What we are doing is investigation. ‘Did you ever see anything that was odd with Father Kelly?’ That’s how we got our first client.”
So Manly has pretty much admitted that he found his first client against Fr. Kelly by “investigating” areas where the cleric worked. Wow.
The phone calls revealed
Some recipients of the phone calls from Manly’s employee say the calls left them “infuriated and disgusted.” Nowicki reports:
“[One recipient said] she was given the ‘strong impression’ that if she said her son, now 32, was interested in filing a lawsuit, ‘they would have jumped all over that. They were going to find something (against Kelly), regardless if there was any cause for action.’“
“[Another woman] tried to tell [the caller] that she has known Kelly for three decades and described his positive influence on her sons. ‘She told me she has found 10 more victims … She was going on and on and tried to convince me that I was stupid and didn’t realize this was going on. I finally had to hang up on her.‘”
Are these calls legal?
In her article, Nowicki reveals, “According to the state Bar Association, it is unethical for attorneys to make calls soliciting clients for financial gain.” Indeed, it will be interesting to see if the California bar says anything about Manly’s actions. (In 2006, by the way, Manly wassanctioned by a judge for “unacceptable” conduct.)
Thomas Beatty, a lawyer who has represented Fr. Kelly, questioned the calls’ legality:
“I think it’s an inducement into making false claims. I don’t think that mass telephoning at every church and every school that (Kelly has) served at to drum up business is a proper way to do things.”
Yet another recipient of a phone call sums up how many would feel after such an episode:
“As a teacher, I feel vulnerable. If former students from 20 years ago can be gathered over the phone to make statements against former teachers, we’re all at risk, including police officers, doctors, nurses, coaches, etc.”
About the accused priest
The target of Manly’s ire, Fr. Kelly, has repeatedly and vehemently denied any and all accusations that he ever abused anyone. “The allegations are completely and totally false,” Kelly has recently said. “They NEVER happened. Never. They are utterly untrue.”
In addition, Kelly passed a polygraph test in 2007 that concluded that he was being truthful when he said that had never abused anyone over his 35 years in the priesthood.
Unfortunately for Fr. Kelly, a civil jury earlier this year decided that Fr. Kelly should be held liable for the abuse of a now-adult male who says he was abused by Kelly in the mid-1980s. The accuser invoked the discredited theory of “repressed memory,” and Manly corralled a psychologist from Connecticut to take the stand and testify that the bogus psychological theory was actually true. Shockingly, the jury bought into it.
The Diocese was forced to settle this first case for $3.75 million. Now ever since, not surprisingly, new accusations are popping up.
Kudos to Sue Nowicki at The Modesto Bee for some great work.
Even their own website boasts a lot of contradictions and incongruities, especially in the way they are handling the Wade Robson case. Like this statement here:
“We are passionate about our work, and understand that it is difficult for victims of abuse to come forward. That’s why we carefully protect our clients’ identities and maintain the highest possible standard of confidentiality when working with our clients.”
So what part of confidentiality is putting out threatening press releases and making sure every possible step of the judicial process is leaked to tabloid newspapers? What part of confidentiality is faking official police documents and selling them to a rag like Radar Online?
I’m not trying to degrade the nobility of fighting for real sexual abuse victims. But let’s call it real-these guys are attorneys and they aren’t working pro bono. They know what a potential windfall this could be if the civil trial goes through (that in itself is still a big “if”) and if Robson wins (an even bigger “if”). But a juicy settlement would be just as nice, if not better (a lot less work).
Well, this was timed perfectly to coincide with the third sh*tfest this week, which was apparently the first of a planned series of installments sold to the British media from none other than convicted felon Conrad Murray’s long promised “tell-all” book about his famous client whom he murdered (or helped murder) who, thanks to his hand, is the reason his famous client isn’t alive to defend himself from all the other crap.
This is only the latest outrage from a man who, if there was any justice in the world, would still be serving out the four year sentence he was given, a sentence that by Judge Pastor’s own admission was inadequate to begin with. The man is a convicted felon. Michael Jackson’s death was ruled a homicide at his hands. His trial firmly established no less than seventeen egregious violations that led directly to the death of Michael Jackson. Those violations were as follows:
The lack of the basic emergency airway equipment.
The lack of the advanced emergency airway equipment.
The lack of suction apparatus.
The lack of an IV infusion pump.
The lack of alarmed pulse oximetry.
The failure to use a blood pressure cuff.
The lack of an electrocardiogram.
The lack of carpnography
The failure to maintain a doctor-patient relationship.
The failure to continuously monitor the mental status of the patient.
The failure to continuously monitor the breathing of the patient.
The failure to continuously monitor blood pressure and pulse oximetry, and to have heart monitors.
The failure to call 911 immediately.
The failure to chart at the outset of the procedure (egregious and unconscionable).
The failure to maintain written informed consent (egregious and unconscionable).
The failure to document throughout the course of sedation (egregious and unconscionable).
The failure to disclose to both the paramedics and UCLA the use of propofol and what Murray witnessed at the arrest.
His sentencing was handed down with one of the harshest admonitions from a judge I have ever heard:
And yet for all of this, the media treatment of Conrad Murray has been frustratingly mixed to sympathetic. Often portrayed as a remorseless egomaniac and sociopathic personality at the height of the trial, public memory-as well as that of the media-has been disturbingly short sighted in regard to this man’s crimes. While other convicted criminals are lambasted for even a hint of profiting off their crimes, no one in the past two years seems to have any qualms about giving Conrad Murray a platform. Let’s not forget this was the man who had to be severely chastised during the time he was on trial for releasing a documentary to MSNBC that he said would “tell his side of the story and clear his name.” As we know, Murray chose not to testify in his own defense at his trial, where he knew he would be subjected to intense cross examination. He also refused to testify during Katherine Jackson’s trial against AEG, even though doing so could have possibly exonerated him if indeed there was more to tell and he truly was just a fall guy, as many believed and as he himself has hinted on many occasions. Yet in every instance, Conrad Murray swore to silence. This man only talks when dollar signs beckon. And in the two years since he was prematurely released due to “overcrowding and good behavior” he has been taking advantage of the media’s short memories to once again peddle himself as a poor innocent caught in the middle of Michael Jackson’s chaotic life.
That trend just reached a new nadir this week with the pending release of Murray’s long threatened “tell all” memoir This Is It (I love a photoshopped version of his cover I saw this week called This Is Shit!) for which apparently he is being compensated quite handsomely by UK rags The Daily Mirror and The Sunday Mirror (and, of course, it goes without saying that these “revelations” are then going to be picked up and spread throughout the western media).
Among some of the more outrageous claims of this snake are that Michael wanted to marry actress Emma Watson when she was only eleven and his god daughter Harriet Lester when she was only five; that his disease vitiligo was a PR stunt, and that he and Michael routinely visited hookers together. In the latest bit of titillation, he merely recycles an age-old tabloid rumor about Michael having received hormone injections at thirteen to keep his voice high (I guess that explains, then, how his natural speaking voice got so deep!). He regurgitates nonsense about Michael wanting a brain transplant to “rid himself of unwanted memories” which sounds like something concocted straight out of the pages of The National Enquirer.
These kinds of stories would be almost laughable and certainly ignore-worthy as tabloid junk always is, except that the salacious stories of Michael wanting to marry children comes hot on the heels of all those screaming headlines regarding Michael’s “stockpile” of child porn. Needless to say, no such “stockpile” ever existed, which is largely what I have spent the last several posts rebutting, but that is beside the point because the tabloid media does not deal in reality. It is the deliberate juxtapositioning of those damaging headlines, popping up in search engines now every single time Michael Jackson’s name is googled, that has created the near perfect picture of a dangerous child predator. Switching the focus of the sex from male to female children makes no difference, other than perhaps adding to the confusion and delusion of a public still grappling to try to understand just who exactly was this man Michael Jackson, anyway! Unfortunately, if anyone thinks they are going to get those answers from the man who first betrayed his trust and then ultimately killed him, they are sadly mistaken.
So let’s start by busting Conrad Murray’s most obvious and egregious lie. Emma Watson was almost twenty years old by the time of Michael Jackson’s planned 2009 series of concerts in London; Harriet Lester was fifteen. Many fans were quick to pounce on this obvious discrepancy of Murray’s story as given in the teaser article, so that by the time the first installment was printed, the story was modified to acknowledge the actual ages of Watson and Lester in 2009. However, the story then had Michael supposedly “confessing” to Murray that he had “fallen in love” with Emma Watson back when she was in the Harry Potter movie in 2001 and with Harriet Lester from the time she was five.
The problem here is several fold. First of all, Murray is making speculations about things he has no first hand knowledge of. He was not in Michael’s life at the time these supposed “crushes” were initiated. We certainly don’t know if Michael ever told him such a thing; we only have the word of a man who is already a known liar and sociopath. Even if we played devil’s advocate and assumed, okay, maybe he did say it, then it still begs a very disturbing question about Murray’s loyalty and status as an alleged friend-which we know he wasn’t. But this was the man whom we know also recorded Michael in a very slurred and vulnerable state, for no goodly purpose except for the intention of exploiting him at some point down the road (he may not have planned exactly when or how he was going to go about it, but as Judge Pastor said, there was no other earthly possible or justifiable reason for the existence of that recording).The story is in many ways remarkably similar to Michael’s own account of his early infatuation with Lisa Marie Presley (they first met in Las Vegas when she was seven and he was seventeen) and as he reveals candidly in their interview with Diane Sawyer, he never quite forgot her even though he didn’t press for a formal introduction until she was eighteen (Lisa Marie was 26 when she married Michael in 1994). The only thing he told Diane Sawyer about their early childhood meeting was that “I thought she was sweet” and obviously he never forgot her-but there was no romance until she came on to him as an adult many years later.
I’m not bringing this up to lend credibility to Murray’s story-far from it. I’m only offering it as a means of providing some much needed context for these ridiculous claims. For a snake like Murray, a totally innocent remark like “I thought she was sweet when I first met her” could be twisted into something vile. It is possible that Michael could have said something similar about either Harriet Lester or Emma Watson, but if he did, it was most likely as innocent as the comment made about Lisa Marie. But then again, we simply don’t know what was ever said, if anything. From all of the media reports I have seen, Murray’s book appears to be nothing but a bunch of outright fabrications and, at best, half-cocked theories and speculations he formed in his own mind during the very brief time he was around Michael. For example, the story that Michael received hormone injections at thirteen to delay puberty was spun in some of the headlines as if Murray was presenting an actual fact he had learned from Michael (for the record, that has been one of the oldest tabloid stories circulated about Michael). But upon actually reading the article, it turns out that Michael never told Murray any such thing. Murray only intimates that Michael started to tell him about something very traumatic that had happened to him in his teens but then shut down and didn’t say more (probably, we can assume, his better intuition telling him this was a snake not to be trusted). So, in the absence of whatever it was Michael might have intended to tell him, it is Conrad Murray who then draws his own conclusions that this traumatic event must have been hormone injections!
Reading between the lines, the whole book seems to come across just that way, with Murray merely drawing his own conclusions and speculations, often about events that occurred long before he was ever in Michael’s life. Granted, I’m sure Michael probably did confide in Murray some of the time-after all, this was the man helping him get to sleep every night for over two months, and the recording Murray deviously made of Michael in a vulnerable state is proof that there was at least some element of trust there (making his act of betrayal in recording that conversation and his current level of betrayal all the more despicable) but they were not BFF’s as Murray likes to portray himself. It seems that everyone who knew Michael for all of five seconds automatically became his “closest confidante.” Murray was no exception.
The Public Was Aghast At The Level Of Betrayal When This Slurred Audio Tape Of Michael Was Played In Court During Murray’s Manslaughter Trial:
If anything, Javon Beard and Bill Whitfield were a lot closer to him during this period, and as his hired security it was they who were responsible for his excursions if he wanted to go out on the town (and, indeed, they described in their own book how they often assisted him in setting up his secret dates and rendezvous with women at various hotels; this part is not total fabrication, but these were apparently prearranged dates with women he knew well; not random strip club excursions). To say that Michael frequented strip clubs and visited hookers is not in itself that damning (except maybe to the fans who insist on their vision of him as a pure angel; thankfully, that has never been my idea of him so I have no illusions to dash in that regard) but I doubt Murray was accompanying him. That was simply not Murray’s responsibility nor what he was hired to do. Granted, dressing in disguise to go out-even as a slobbering stroke victim!-was not out of character for Michael. As fans, we have all heard those stories, and we know of Michael’s famously wicked sense of humor. But there you go. Murray knows those stories as well, and probably did witness some of that behavior, so he knows how to make a story seem like something Michael would do. So in that regard the book probably does have some grain of truth mixed in with all the utter bullsh*t, but even with that said, it is not anything that I feel I need to learn from Conrad Murray. My curiosity about Michael and his life is probably, I daresay as insatiable as any fan’s but there comes a time when we must absolutely draw the limit and I, for one, certainly have no interest in learning anything about Michael from a man who had no respect for him when he was alive and who, ultimately, betrayed and killed him. The man revealed himself as a pathological liar before and during his trial. Why should anyone want to believe him now? And if Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer had written a book about one of their victims, would anyone want to buy it? I think not. The public outrage would have been heard from here to Timbucktu! Yet this common decency seems to curiously exclude Conrad Murray and the media outlets who continue to give him face time.
Aside from the mess about wanting to marry underage girls, the second most damaging lie Conrad Murray is circulating via his book is that Michael Jackson lied about having vitiligo. Of course, he refers to the “bleaching cream” Michael used and that he witnessed Michael using during the time he was with him. All of this came out during the trial and it is no secret what Michael was using. This mysterious “cream” that Conrad Murray keeps referring to as if it is some deep, guarded secret was simply monobenzone, better known by its brand name Benoquin, a prescription bleaching cream that is part of the treatment regimen for vitiligo sufferers who desire to even out their splotchy skin tone.
Benoquin can only be prescribed to those with vitiligo, and what’s more, is only effective for those already afflicted with vitiligo! For Murray to spread such an unconscionable lie is reprehensible for someone in the medical field. Dermatology is not his area of expertise and he has no right to speak on matters he obviously knows nothing about. It’s noteworthy that Murray always mentions these “tubes of bleaching cream” as if they are some carefully guarded secret, when it is already public record that Michael was using Benoquin and that this was part of his prescribed regimen in order to maintain an even skin tone. But it’s convenient for Murray that he waits until Michael’s dermatologist Arnie Klein is deceased and is not here to refute the lies, just as Michael himself is not here to refute them. Earlier this year, a very informative article by John E. Harris was posted on the Vitiligo Clinic & Research Center website which should certainly clear up the mystery, lest there remain any lingering doubt as to why Michael Jackson was using Benoquin. Although the entire article is informative and worth reading, I want to quote here just one small passage that is relevant to our current discussion:
Yes, vitiligo can remove most, if not all, of the pigment in someone’s skin, such that they have no skin color. However that is very rare, and it usually takes many years to do this, with spots appearing during the process. So it’s not likely that vitiligo alone was responsible for his significant transformation in skin color. There is a treatment, though, that can remove the remaining pigment in someone’s skin if they have vitiligo. The treatment is a skin cream called monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone (monobenzone, or Benoquin), and it is, in fact, the only FDA-approved treatment for vitiligo. But in most cases, using this cream doesn’t work unless you have vitiligo, so it is not as simple as someone “wanting to look white” and using the cream. It is a bona-fide vitiligo treatment, approved by the FDA, for people who would rather remove their remaining pigment than continue to look spotted. I have prescribed this for vitiligo patients, and they have always been happy with the results. So it is not too surprising that Michael Jackson would use Benoquin to treat his vitiligo, and this is why he went from having clearly black skin to very white skin. In fact, Oprah commented in an interview after Michael Jackson’s death that he had no pigment in the skin of his hands, that they were essentially translucent. Benoquin would do that, and could do it relatively quickly, after about 12 months of use. From available pictures of Michael Jackson, his skin color seemed to change significantly sometime in the late 1980’s, which would make sense if he was diagnosed in the early 80’s, tried to treat it for a while, and then decided to go the other way and use Benoquin.
Well, I could go through debunking all of Murray’s ridiculous claims one by one (and I’m sure more “revelations” are probably coming) but, really, what would be the point? Michael’s fans already know what he’s full of and most certainly aren’t going to buy this book. And if fans aren’t buying it, it’s not likely he’s going to find an audience. People who only have a casual interest in Michael Jackson aren’t going to spend money on it; they can get their titillation from the tabloids for free. So then, one might ask if there is so little chance of Murray making money off this book, why are fans so upset? I think that answer is two fold. First, it is the principle of it. Conrad Murray has from the beginning, and continues, to show no regard for the Hippocratic oath that he was sworn to uphold as a doctor. In writing this book, he openly discusses Michael’s medical history which is a direct violation of HIPPA laws (although he has conveniently, perhaps, circumnavigated that loophole by publishing the book outside of the US and peddling his “installments” to UK tabloids). Secondly is the concern that even if nobody buys his book it will garner media attention, if for no other reason the sensational angle it supplies. It is a shame that while so many great books are written about Michael Jackson every year, most will only find at best a very limited distribution and circulation-and most of these rely on word of mouth from fans to promote them. Meanwhile, trash has no problem getting promotion. It is, quite simply, the idea of Michael’s killer making a profit off of peddling smut about him-after having never shown an ounce of remorse- that makes this act so particularly galling.
However, to the credit of a few journalists and US talk show personalities, memories have not been so short. Quite a few have not forgotten the arrogant, smarmy, utterly remorseless womanizer and deadbeat dad who was revealed to us during his trial-and have had the courage to call him out on it! Here, for example, is what Perez Hilton had to say:
In case you forgot, Conrad is the same physician who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter over the King of Pop’s passing. As he served two years of his four year sentence, we have a feeling Murray has no qualms with breaking the sacred doctor/patient confidentiality agreement.
Anywho, we digress. Reportedly, MJ told Conrad he began taking injections as a youth right before the start of his solo career in 1972. The scandalized doctor dished to The Mirror:
“He began talking vaguely, seeming to have more difficulty describing precisely what happened to him. Maybe he was almost at the limit to his cathartic confession that night. But what Michael said left me the impression that he had been given injections, probably hormones, to delay puberty.”
Oh man. Conrad went on to theorize that these injections may’ve been the cause of the A-lister’s “unusual behavior” and “morphological changes.” We mean, it would certainly explain some things.
While Conrad promised Michael he would never reveal this information after their conversation, the doc has since detailed his convos with his famous client in his upcoming tell all. Tsk, tsk.
To make matters worse, Murray also wrote in extensive detail about the Billie Jeanartist’s alleged painful callouses and his chronic fungal infection. He added:
“It turned out he always wore socks because he was so ashamed of the way his feet looked… The fact Michael’s feet, something critical to him, were in such poor condition was a sign not only had he neglected himself but those around him were not keeping a close eye on his well-being.”
Maybe that was something Murray could’ve taken care of?? We guess hindsight IS 20/20.
Nonetheless, we are a tad skeptical about these truth bombs as Murray is a convicted criminal and lost his license to practice medicine in Texas, and had his license suspended in California and Nevada.
Of course, it goes without saying that even as he derides Murray and questions his ethics, he nevertheless continues to give him publicity by rehashing the lies. Much better, I think, is this genuine coal raking Murray received recently on The Talk:
Interestingly, even with all the recent trash talk in the media, the reaction I have gotten from most people when Michael’s name comes up is very much the same as that expressed on The Talk. People do genuinely love Michael Jackson. They love him enough that most of the bad publicity just goes in one ear and out the other. I think people today are certainly much savvier about how the media operates, and smart enough to recognize exploitative BS for what it is. But again, it doesn’t make it right. And what is happening now certainly isn’t right.
I also find it highly suspect that Murray’s book is being carried by an Australian publisher. Murray is not an Australian citizen and resides in the US. Why would he need to go this route? Sure, online publishing may be “the wave of the future” and it is a perfectly respectable way for many fine books to get into print that otherwise would never see light, but surely with such a juicy story to tell about a prominent celebrity, Murray could have found a traditional publisher in the US! So…what gives? Well, let’s keep in mind that Murray has a lot of legal issues in the US to contend with. Not the least are his HIPPA violations and possibly Son of Sam law violations. A good point was mentioned on The Talk regarding how Murray may have sneakily-and successfully-circumvented the Son of Sam law, however. During the discussion they brought it up that a convicted felon cannot write a book that profits off his crime; however, Murray is writing about his time spent with Michael Jackson-not the crime itself-and thus is able to use that as his loophole. However, I am not so sure about this. I haven’t read Murray’s book and don’t intend to, but I have to imagine (knowing what I know of Conrad Murray) that he could not resist the temptation to write about the events of that fateful night/morning. Murray’s entire modus operandi, ever since the trial, has been (as he puts it) to “clear” his name. He tried unsuccessfully throughout his trial to argue that Michael was responsible for his own death. I can’t imagine him choosing suddenly to take the high road now! It makes more sense to reason that Murray chose to publish outside the U.S. so that those laws would not apply. However, I am not sure as of this writing if that also provides a legal loophole for his HIPPA violations.
Australia is also an interesting choice because as I have written before, the continent “down under” seems to be an especial hotbed of anti-Michael Jackson activity. And now, all of a sudden, Conrad Murray is able to find a “home” there for a manuscript that apparently no other publisher in the world was willing to touch! Interesting, to say the very least. But I’ll leave it there. For now.
Suffice to say that we are indeed seeing the fruits of a very sophisticated and dirty campaign. There are no coincidences, and all of the players have a stake in this.
As always, the best defense we have is knowledge. With that in mind, I will be continuing my series of examining in detail the items seized from Neverland. Remember what Michael said: “Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.” That is so true. Nevertheless, those lies can sure cause a lot of pain and grief before truth catches up!
Just as I have been doing with all previous posts, I want to conclude with the link to the ADLLAW INITIATIVE. This petition is crucial for pushing the anti-defamation law against the deceased into being. If this law becomes a reality, there can be a lot less posts like this and a whole lot more celebrating all that we love about Michael!
UPDATE 7/22/16: It was brought to my attention after this piece was posted that Macaulay Culkin apparently did sit for a press conference in Spain-of sorts. Its purpose was to discuss Culkin’s new comeback project, and a reporter from The Guardian, Rhik Sammader, conducted the interview. He noted that Culkin had at least three other persons with him whose responsibility, apparently, was to vet his questions and to provide instructions on what he could or could not ask, as well as what questions Culkin could or could not answer. These people included Culkin’s manager, his U.S. publicist, and a third person (unidentified) who sat in for the interview. This is an important detail because apparently the current source of all the media speculation in the Spanish press and Latin America comes from the simple fact that Culkin’s manager refused to allow him to answer a question about Michael Jackson! So I went back and read Sammader’s write-up carefully to see what was actually said, or even intimated. And the conclusion to be drawn here is just as trivial as the French interview. Let’s look at the first paragraph Sammader writes. I’m going to boldface the pertinent passages (this is my emphasis):
Of all modern myths, it is the fall of the child star that most compels us. Whether they’re embarking on 55-hour marriages, throwing bongs out of windows or abandoning monkeys at customs, we can’t seem to get enough. There’s something pathological in our need to tear down our icons of innocence, which might explain the overprotective nature of Macaulay Culkin’s US publicist, who wants to see all my questions upfront. I refuse. I thought we could just … have a chat? The interview, Culkin’s biggest in 10 years, is supposed to focus on his comeback. I’m instructed to avoid anything negative. I ask if I can ask if he has any regrets. “Regrets sounds too negative,” is the response.
Well, first of all, these kinds of vetting practices and instructions about subjects that can and cannot be discussed are simply par for the course when interviewing celebrities. This is especially true when the interview is for promotional purposes-in other words, if the purpose of the interview is supposed to be about a current project, then irrelevant questions about the celebrity’s personal life-their past, other celebrity friends, or any scandals surrounding them-are usually off limits. I know this myself from having conducted a fair share of celebrity interviews, and it is not at all unusual for the artist’s PR people to sit in on interviews to vet the questioning. In this case, it seems Sammader had strict instructions that the purpose of this interview was only to focus on Culkin’s current project-nothing from the actor’s past was supposed to have been brought up. And yet Sammader admits up front to refusing to allow his questions to be vetted in advance by the US publicist because he apparently “just wanted to chat.” For the record, his article makes it clear that there were many subjects that Culkin’s manager would not allow him to discuss. They couldn’t discuss Home Alone. They couldn’t discuss Donald Trump; not even the bit part he’d had in Home Alone . Michael Jackson, as it turned out, was only one of many subjects Culkin was instructed not to address (indeed, there are so many topics that are off limits that Sammader eventually resorts to turning it into a sort of running joke throughout his article). But let’s look specifically at how Sammader sets up the potential discussion of Michael Jackson, both in his interview and in the article. Again, I will boldface the most relevant passages which are my emphasis:
The trajectory of Culkin’s life feels like fallout from an atomic blast. By the age of 12, Uncle Buck, two Home Alone films, My Girl and (to a lesser extent) Richie Rich had made him the most successful child actor of all time. At 14, he became legally emancipated from his parents; both had been trying to gain control of his $17m fortune in their divorce. Culkin married at 17, and separated two years later. Sleepovers with Michael Jackson became public knowledge when he was called as a defence witness at the singer’s molestation trial. I’m ghoulishly fascinated by this alien childhood. I’d like to ask about Michael Jackson.
Sammader makes a specific-and intentional-point of placing words like “ghoulishly” and “alien” in this sentence as he tries to steer the conversation to Michael Jackson. One has to ask, out of all the fascinating and tragic aspects of Culkin’s life as a child star, why is this reporter so admittedly obsessed with discussing his friendship with Michael Jackson? Obviously, it was clear from the get-go where he was trying to go with this. Is it any wonder that Culkin’s manager immediately shut him down, especially after the fallout from the French interview when his statements about his friendship with Michael had been similarly twisted? Culkin’s manager was clearly on the ball with this one, and refused to allow him to fall into a similar trap.
And isn’t it interesting that just beneath the paragraph where Sammader states that he is “ghoulishly fascinated by this alien childhood. I’d like to ask about Michael Jackson” that they cleverly insert this still from Home Alone of young Culkin thumbing through a Playboy magazine?
This was clearly a cleverly intentional tactic to tie in the idea of “sleepovers with Michael Jackson” to sex and pornography. And then, having written such a titillating lead-in to the topic and just beneath that photo, he proceeds to describe the scenario when Michael Jackson’s name was brought up. Note again the boldfaced sentences which are my emphasis:
“I think it’s best you don’t,” interjects his manager. She is one of three people sitting with us. “It’s not that it’s a painful topic …” begins Culkin. His manager insists we move on, the PR next to her agrees. Culkin clearly wants to say something, but six eyes are telling him not to.
Sammader is a good writer (the rest of his piece was really quite enjoyable to read) but also, like all good writers, he understands the power of words and the impressions they can evoke. It seems clear that what Culkin was about to tell him is that the subject of Michael Jackson is not a painful topic for him to discuss but, unfortunately, one that he will not be able to. Before he can finish, his manager effectively does it for him, shutting down any further discussion of the matter (again, a very common tactic in interview situations; after all, it is the job of these people to act as conversation moderators and referees and to keep the discussion on track. It was clear they instantly sensed a fishing situation and were not about to allow their client to fall prey to it). But note how, even without a word being spoken, Sammader still manages to turn the conversation into an implication of something sinister: “Culkin clearly wants to say something, but six eyes are telling him not to.”
So without Culkin having said a word, Sammader takes it upon himself to make it sound as if Culkin wanted to confess something, when in fact, nothing at all had been said. Well, maybe Culkin did want to say more. Maybe he wanted to clear up all of the bullsh*t rumors that had been running rampant in Latin America. Maybe he wanted to say what a great friend Michael had been to him; maybe he wanted to tell the world where they could stick it if they wanted to think there had ever been anything improper in his friendship with Michael. The truth is, we don’t know what he intended to tell Sammader, if anything at all. But from there, it seems Sammader tries to draw his own conclusions. “Six eyes are telling him no.” Boy, talk about laying it on thick!
But the truth isn’t really that hard to discern. Sammader had already been instructed prior to the interview that anything negative was to be avoided, and let’s not forget that Culkin’s association with Michael had already been the source of much negative publicity in Spain after the false headlines about an alleged “confession.” It is possible that Culkin wanted to set the record straight, but under gag orders from his publicist, could not say more about it to the media. It’s really as simple as that. Sammader made an attempt to probe for negativity in an interview where he had been clearly instructed up front that this would not be tolerated, and was effectively shut down as he should have been.
And so…because of that, now it seems Latin media is once again having a field day, this time not because of anything Culkin said but what he didn’t say. Good grief, talk about being damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
Is it any wonder I don’t really envy the lives of celebrities?
Interestingly, a bit further down in the article, The Guardian also inserted a photo of Michael and an adult Macaulay Culkin sitting together at the 2001 30th Anniversary Show, proving again that Michael’s friendship with Culkin (as with all the kids he knew) extended well into adulthood. A favorite myth of Michael Jackson haters and detractors is that he abandoned these friendships as soon as the boys came of age. But example after example proves this was not the case-he only “froze out” the obvious extortionists and people that he knew were playing him.
“The most pure people are always torn down.. It will continue to be proven that my beloved dad has always been and forever will be innocent.”-Paris Jackson
As I’m readying to post this third installment of my series rebutting the lies Radar Online was responsible for spreading throughout the media, I am noticing a disturbing trend. Memories are all too short in today’s world of sound bite journalism, and already the malicious lie Radar Online released just in time to darken celebrations honoring Michael’s death anniversary is starting to fade from headlines and is dropping from the search engines. Traffic here has pretty much stabilized to normal, and on social media, many fans are back to tweeting images of Michael’s gold pants and all of the usual stuff we enjoy discussing when news is slow. Maybe in a way that is a good thing if this story that was never a story is dying down, as it should.
But I find it beyond disturbing that what Radar Online and the rest of the media did to Michael Jackson and his family this past week is being allowed to sink without formal retraction or apology, even after being called out by several conscientious journalists and even after the Santa Barbara authorities issued a statement concluding that they had issued no such documents to the media and that the documents included falsified information, which their statement made plain in no uncertain terms. It is also inexcusable that much of the media has turned a deaf ear as artists like Jonathan Hobin and others whose work has been similarly slandered as “pornography” have spoken out.
More than a 1000 tweets and the media are not listening.
Michael’s friend Corey Feldman has also reached out to the media time and again to say that he was abused as a child by a Hollywood pedophile ring. He continues to insist that his real abuser is still out there, but the media and-most importantly, the police-stopped listening to him as soon as he told them his abuser wasn’t Michael Jackson. The response to any offers to reveal his true abuser? Crickets chirping. Even The Daily Mail ran a story on it in 2013, so no one can say Feldman hasn’t been trying to get the truth out for a long time-that Michael Jackson provided him the only sense of normalcy he had as a child.
Time and again, I have seen this cycle repeat itself-a really malicious story is printed about Michael (we are guaranteed at least one really good hit piece every six months or so) and the furor is stirred for a little while; then, eventually, the story drops from the headlines and everyone becomes complacent again-for a little while, until the next storm hits. This cycle has got to stop! How long can they keep picking the flesh from a dead man’s bones? I am going to continue working to expose these people for as long as it takes-not because I enjoy keeping the story going or “fanning the flames” but because I refuse to rest this time or to become complacent again until Radar Online and all of the outlets who spread this latest trash have issued a FORMAL RETRACTION AND APOLOGY. In the last seven years, I have seen quite a bit that has been allowed to simply sink without formal retraction-a good case in point being the phony FBI files story which was eventually squelched after a damning story in CNN exposed the hoax. At that time, many media outlets that had ran with that story simply deleted it, allowing it to quietly drop out of search engines. But not everyone. And again, because no formal retraction was ever given, the bogus story is still occasionally unearthed and given new legs for the uninitiated who, of course, will not remember the expose’ of 2013 (as I said, memories are fleetingly short in the media world-but that doesn’t make the damage done any less forgiving).
We really do have to ask some tough questions about the especial vindictiveness around this particular anniversary-June 25th, 2016. For example, although certainly a much less damaging story than the fabricated assertions of child pornography, The Daily Mail ran a hit piece on June 25th asserting that Michael had viciously dissed Prince during the taped sessions for his “Moonwalk” autobiography, claiming he was “the rudest person I ever met.” The purpose of running with such a story on June 25th of all dates is pretty obvious: They know that the emotions of Prince fans right now are very raw (the man just died in April) and, of course, what better way to play up the “rivalry” than by having Prince fans turn en masse on MJ on his own death anniversary! A cheap tactic to be sure, although I credit Prince fans with more intelligence than to fall for it. The fact is, if any such tape exists, it hasn’t surfaced. Secondly, even if we extended benefit of the doubt and assumed maybe, okay, he said it, I would say to that: Big whoop de-do deal. If truth be known, most fans would be shocked to know what artists really have to say about each other in private moments-they are human beings, after all. Let’s not forget that this was the era in which Prince had just refused, twice, to collaborate with Michael and had effectively snubbed every overture Michael had made toward him. But what we do know is that their respect for each other as artists was immense and only grew exponentially throughout the years (I even learned recently that Prince hung out with Michael in the recording studio during the HIStory sessions!) and in 1983, it was Michael who persuaded James Brown to call Prince up on stage with them. As I have been writing in many previous blog posts, Michael’s relationship with Prince-just like his relationship with Madonna-was a complex one fraught with all of the complexities that comes with success, ego, and artistry, but also with the kind of immutable bond that only those who have shared the experience of fame can understand. This is nothing more than celebrity gossip, of course, which doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme of things-gossip, as always in the celebrity and tabloid world, will come and go, and we can’t afford to expend too much energy getting overly riled up about these things. However, I am concerned-very much-with the especially slanderous allegations of the past week which cannot afford to go unchallenged.
With that in mind, I am going to resume where I left off in refuting the claims that Radar Online and other media outlets professed, via overly sensationalized headlines, made about the 2003 police reports on Neverland. To do that correctly, I will need to go back to a previous page that was missing from RO’s originally published 88-page document. Here goes:
Item #505 is especially important to this discussion, as this was an apparently sealed package containing three books that will be crucial to our discussion in this post-Underworld, Room To Play, and Drew and Jimmy. Room To Play is important because this book played a prominent role, both directly and indirectly, in creating many of the most sensational media headlines. First, this was the volume for which Jonathan Hobin’s “American Idol” photo was mistakenly identified as being a part of in Radar Online’s pages that were falsified. As discussed in Pt 2, we now know that this image was not included in Room To Play at all, but instead, was part of Hobin’s collection of art photography titled In The Playroom-an important detail because In The Playroom, a book published in 2008, could not possibly have been a book recovered during the 2003 raid. Granted, we could attribute such an oversight to human error, but this was not the kind of error that would have been allowed in an actual police report! However, it is exactly the sort of error that could be made unknowingly by someone doing a sloppy Google search for images from Room To Play-just exactly the kind of error that could have been made by Robson’s and Safechuck’s attorneys before “leaking” these newly sensationalized documents to Radar Online (the “Amercian Idol” photo featuring a JonBenet Ramsey lookalike with a noose tied around her neck is now among the twenty-seven pages that have suddenly “disappeared” from Radar Online’s documents). Just as a test, I did a Google search myself for In The Playroom. Guess what image came up? That’s right-Hobin’s photo!
Here you can see page 11 of Radar Online’s version, where the “American Idol” photo from In The Playroom is identified via a handwritten note as being from Room To Play.
This image does not appear at all in the original report-and now we know for good reason! Because it didn’t exist in 2003, and was never recovered from Michael Jackson’s home!
But what about the actual book, Room To Play, as well as the other two books that were in this sealed package? I would like to take an especially close look at Room To Play because the description of this book in the report was responsible for a particularly reprehensible headline ran by Vanity Fair, an article written by Laurie Bradleyclaiming that pornographic photos were seized in Michael’s home of children’s heads morphed onto adult bodies. That headline was particularly disturbing because they had the brass balls to run it above one of the most innocent photos of Michael that could have possibly been used-a photo op from one of one of the many charitable events at Neverland for under privileged, inner city children.
The sensationalized juxtaposition of the image and headline were completely intentional. Unfortunately, this was a hit piece that received a lot of traction from the fan community because Vanity Fair was the first outlet that also ran the rebuttal statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department denying that they had authorized the documents for release and also that some of the information appeared to have been tampered with. That was an important step, but unfortunately, having that information did not lead to a retraction or formal withdrawal of the story-it is merely tacked on as a kind of obligatory footnote, where it is bound to be all but ignored amidst that glaring salacious headline.
Even though I knew that no such photos had ever been claimed to have been found in Michael’s possession (this “revelation” was total news to me!) I couldn’t help but find the headline disturbing. I know of pedophiles who have been convicted for possessing just such material. It is a particularly sick “hobby” in which pedophiles will sexualize children by placing images of their heads and faces onto adult bodies. But going back to the report, it is clear that those descriptions came solely from the description of the book Room To Play (i.e, these did not refer in any way to photos Michael had personally taken or doctored himself, as the Vanity Fair headline suggests).
I did some more digging, and guess what? Room To Play, like so many of the books that came into question from this report, is a perfectly legal art book by Simen Johan that can be purchased on Amazon! (Provided one can afford the exorbitantly high cover price of $750.00; evidently the book must be out of print or an extremely valuable collectible!). An excerpt from a review of the book written in July of 2003 stated thus:
Johan has many similar images in Room to Play. “Untitled #71. 1999” shows a girl in a gymnasium, taking a model’s pose, one hand on her hips, facing to the left of the viewer into the distance. She is wearing a transparent one-piece outfit, and her young face does not match the pre-pubescent body. Indeed, the darker complexion of the face makes it easy to guess where Johan stuck the image of the head to that of the body. In “Untitled #79. 1999” a girl with a baby doll-like face but very styled hair is reclining in a park, exposing adult breasts. She has bright eyes but her face is utterly devoid of expression. The picture brings to mind bring to mind some of Hans Bellmer’s use of dolls and the psychoanalytic interpretations such work invites. It’s easy to analyze them as the expression of forbidden fetishistic desires, embodying a consciousness of their own depersonalization. They also could be read as feminist works, protesting the sexualization of young girls in pageants, and the loss of childhood innocence that comes with the commodification of girls’ bodies.
However, the other pictures here tend to discount such readings, because they are darker, more bizarre, and more complex. The first image in the book, “Untitled #71. 1998” shows a boy and a dog, and is more obviously a well-crafted collage. They seem to be in a trailer park surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings. The boy has Asian facial features and looks at the viewer. His body is that of a toddler, but his face is of an older boy. He is wearing an odd sort of hat or crown, with a furred cylinder topped by a crude bejeweled dome with a cross in the middle. His underwear has a wet dark spot in the front. The little dog is a highly groomed fluffy white poodle, also wearing a garish ornament on its head. The picture has a drab feel to it, but it relishes its own incongruity. “Untitled #65. 1997” shows a girl in a foggy field holding a dead sheep, with flies on her and the sheep. Her face is intend but not upset. “Untitled #78. 1999” shows a boy and girl dancing in their underwear against a background of jet planes leaving impressive looped jet trails. The blond boy looks about four years old, and is wearing a wet tight fitting pair of swimming trunks — he seems to have a rather large penis for his age. “Untitled #75. 1999” shows a girl in a room with the curtains drawn. Her face gives little clue to her age — her hair is unevenly cut and disheveled, and her upper teeth have large gaps between them. Her eyes are rolled up in her head and she has running mascara; a tear rolls from her right eye. She is wearing a bright silver necklace and the pendant shines from inside her mouth. She looks drugged or even possibly dead. These are not pretty images, and their flirting with taboos of child sexuality, disturbance, and death place Johan’s work in the realm of a rather adolescent surrealism. Yet they are emotionally powerful, and even darkly humorous.
A detailed discussion of the book (and others) on the Vindicating Michael website contained these images from the book to give a feel for Johan’s particular style of photography:
Something that struck me was that the image at top left bore an uncanny resemblance to Aubrey Powell’s famous cover for Led Zeppelin’s 1973 Houses of the Holy album. That cover photo had, in turn, been inspired by the ending of Arthur C. Clark’s novel Childhood’s End. So…does this mean that all of us who own classic rock albums are guilty of owning porn?
The image on the top right also reminds me a lot of a slightly demonized Carol Ann, the character that Heather O’Rourke played in Poltergeist.
As with Jonathan Hobin, whose work was discussed in Part 2, the images in Johan’s work can be viewed as disturbing because they depict children in various extreme settings, but they are not pornographic in nature. The purpose, as with Hobin’s work, seems to be depictions of how society has victimized children. We know that childhood was a subject dear and close to Michael’s heart; it permeated much of his own work, and in songs like “Childhood,” “Little Susie,” “Hollywood Nights” and “Do You Know Where Your Children Are” he was brutally honest in confronting the darker aspects of childhood. “Little Susie” depicts a child who is murdered. Both “Hollywood Nights” and “Do You Know Where Your Children Are” feature as subjects young girls who have been sold to prostitution.
Michael’s Own Artistic Vision Of Childhood Could Be Quite Dark: He, Better Than Anyone, Recognized It’s Not Always A Happy Time For All Children. “Little Susie,” For Example, Is The Story Of A Murdered Girl.
Given Michael’s artistry and vision, it’s easy to see how and why he might have found inspiration in these works-that is, if we can assume he indeed had ever even looked at or opened this book! Let’s not forget, it was described along with the other three as being inside a sealed packaging-one for which the the seals had to be broken in order to review the items! This suggests the possibility that Michael could have merely received the books as gifts and had never opened them-for sure, we know Michael received thousands of such gifts from fans every day, as Michael often said and which has been confirmed by many sources who knew him.
But even if these were books he legitimately owned and had purchased, they really speak of nothing except Michael’s insatiable curiosity to learn as much as he could about the human condition.
However, what about the morphed images referred to in the report? Although some of the images were described in the report as “appearing” to sexualize the children by morphing them with adult images, the intent in most of the images seemed to be more about showing the children as neglected and prematurely aged by a society that has forced them into adulthood too soon-a society that has literally left them with no “room to play.”
What of the other two books contained in the packaging-Underworld and Drew and Jimmy? Kelly Klein’s 1995 book Underworld is also a book that can be purchased on Amazon. It appears to be nothing more than a boudoir coffee table art book featuring Calvin Klein-like images of models wearing underwear in ads throughout various decades of the twentieth century. And guess what? It was a book highly endorsed by my all time favorite author of vampire and Gothic fiction, the venerable Anne Rice, who wrote the introduction!
“The camera empowers you to be intimate with the lens, even abandoned, in a way that may not be possible with another human,” Rice muses. “This book is a monument to our freedom, not only to express ourselves but to want more than we are allowed. The camera is the safest vehicle for this excess.”-Anne Rice, from the introduction to Underworld.
Drew and Jimmy by John P. Salisburyis also available on Amazon and appears to be little more than a pictorial of rural boyhood. This is what one reviewer wrote of the book:
I came across this book on the recommendation of the author’s mother. She was my grade school art teacher and mother of a long time classmate-Burton. I had not seen her since Burton’s funeral, but when she mentioned Patrick’s book I couldn’t resist. I had been back in Walnut Grove for a weekend visit for a girlfriend’s wedding. I had left for college a few years before and kept going. My family was not as deep rooted there as the Salisbury’s were, but I grew up there and those roots run just as deep. Whenever school or life was getting stressful, the Delta was the first place I’d run to. It was a truly wonderful place to grow up, and the book depicts the eviroment beautifully. When I saw the pictures of the glass-like water, it made me want to be behind a ski boat once more. I knew Burton well, but Patrick was always the quiet older brother. I did know that they were total opposites personality wise. Burton was always the daredevil; class clown, as well as very gifted artistically like his mother and now as I see, Patrick also. My earliest memory of Burton I have is:him standing on a huge round table in our kindergarten classroom, which he then fell off of and cracked his head open for a few stitches. We grew apart after graduation, but he was part of many good memories I had while growing up in Walnut Grove…including one of my first crushes. I think about him often, though my life is far away from where I knew him last, and I miss him. Thank you Patrick for a little more closure:)-
Even the original police report couldn’t offer too much to say about this book or its contents, conceding that it contained merely “photographs of two Caucasian male juveniles that appeared to be in their early to mid teens. The boys in these photographs are primarily clothed with occasional photographs of them wearing swim trunk-type clothing.”
From what I can tell, the following example photographs are about as “erotic” as it gets, and quite frankly, these young men appear to be far older than “early to mid teens.”
Typically, the report concluded of all three books:
“None of the above noted books contained materials, which depicted illegal activities (including sexual acts with children) None of the books would meet legal requirements to be considered child pornography.” -Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara County Continuation Sheet Page 3.
Keep in mind that the police, as well as prosecuting attorneys, were well aware that these items did not constitute pornography. But when their search for actual pornography had turned up nothing but a bunch of heterosexual adult magazines, their only alternative, as stated previously in Part 1, was to seize any items that could be construed as possible “grooming material.” However, the jury didn’t buy that argument when these items were presented in 2005, and it is a lame argument that doesn’t hold up any better under scrutiny today.
So again, we must ask, what can possibly be the motive in attempting to “retry” Michael on these items in the court of public opinion, eleven years after his acquittal and seven years after his death? That is the burning question a lot of people want answers to right now. We can’t afford complacency until we have those answers-not just for the sake of Michael’s musical legacy, but for his children and all artists whose works and reputations are being impacted by the media’s carte blanche attitudes in printing anything they want and running wild with a story without the slightest degree of fact checking.
I will continue combing through these reports; hopefully I should be able to have the next post up sometime this weekend.
In the meantime, I want to continue to urge everyone to please sign these petitions: