Two handwritten notes from Michael have gotten a lot of publicity this week. I will address each in their own, separate posts.
This Letter, Written By Michael And Addressed To His Sister-In-Law DeeDee, Has Long Been A Source of Mystery To Fans And Detractors Alike
While the Wade Robson revelations shook the fan community, they also inspired Michael’s nephew Taj Jackson to bravely step forward with his ownrevelation. Taj revealed on Twitter that he had been a victim of child sexual abuse-molested by his own mother’s brother! The revelation came via Twitter, within only hours of Wade Robson’s Today Show interview.
I applaud Taj for coming forth, and speaking his truth. (Hmm. Wonder if this was quite what Wade was bargaining for when he said he hoped to inspire “other victims” to come forward. Somehow, I don’t think so!).
Taj Jackson-Child Sexual Abuse Survivor
But I am also glad on another level, because this finally clears up a decades-old mystery that has puzzled both fans and detractors alike. What exactly could have compelled Michael to write such a seemingly bizarre letter to his late sister-in-law DeeDee, advising her to protect her sons since child sexual predators can even exist within one’s own family?
The letter reads:
DeeDee, please read this article about child molestation, and please read it to Taj, TJ, and Taryll, it brings out how even your own relatives can be molesters of children, or even uncles or aunts molesting nephews or nieces, please read. Love, MJ.
For years, MJ haters and detractors-as well as those who are simply skeptics-have asked the question: Why would Michael write such a thing? Of course, we all know where they have tried to go with this for years, and it’s a very sick place indeed. I recall, in fact, having a very drawn out debate with one detractor that went on through many PM exchanges, all over this very letter.
Tito and Delores (DeeDee) With Baby Taryll.
Her line of reasoning was that Michael-in the best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fashion-was aware of his “darker nature” and sought to warn his sister-in-law, in the way that some serial killers, I suppose, might warn their potential victims in a moment of clarity.
While I never bought that sinister explanation, I had to confess that it still left a puzzling, nagging question. Why did he write it? I felt all along that this probably pertained to a private family matter, but with no smoking gun and no apparent motivation, it remained an intriguing and troubling mystery-until now.
I am so proud of Taj for coming forward, even though it must have been very humiliating to “out” his own uncle this way (Taj, Taryll, and TJ have always been very protective of their late mother’s memory, and anything that might potentially tarnish it. While Jackson proponents have been quick to point out, “His abuser WASN’T a Jackson!” we have to keep in mind that, for Taj, this is still family-and still just as painful, regardless of which “side”).
But I am also thankful that he has finally cleared up this mystery, hopefully for once and all. His words confirm for us the Michael Jackson that we, his fans, truly believe he was-a compassionate and caring soul who was always looking out for the welfare of others.
There is also an important parallel here. It shows that Taj, at some point, must have confided the abuse to Michael. This is not dissimilar to other stories I have heard, such as Jordan Chandler confiding in Michael regarding Evan’s physical and psychological abuse of him (and while there is no evidence that Evan sexually abused his son, there is certainly plenty of evidence that Evan was abusive to his son in other, just as fundamentally damaging ways). Michael, it seems, often found himself in the “Big Brother” role; occasionally, even, the substitute father role. He was evidently someone that youngsters felt comfortable confiding their troubles to. (I think, more often than not, this probably caused troubles for him!).
In addition to being a willing ear and shoulder to cry on, it seems he was willing to take an active stance when necessary. This letter seemed to be his way of telling his sister-in-law to open her eyes. How must DeeDee have felt to know her own brother was molesting her son? Or did she ever know? It seemed Michael may have been using this letter as a way of breaking it to her gently. Maybe he hoped that reading it would trigger enough red flags for her to take the necessary precautions. Or perhaps she did know, and was just having trouble getting her hands around it.
This isn’t something to brush off lightly. Families have been ripped apart, at the seams, over just such issues. Trust me. I know.
Taj Lost His Mother In What Was At First Believed To Be A Tragic Drowning Accident. Years Later, Her Boyfriend Don Brohana Was Convicted Of Second Degree Murder
As I am sure most of my readers are aware, DeeDee (Delores) Jackson, Tito’s ex-wife, died in August of 1994 in what was originally ruled a swimming pool accident. But four years later, in 1998, Donald Bohana-a man she had dated for three months- was convicted of her murder.
Taj Jackson is proof that being born into fame and money does not guarantee happiness. By the time he was a young adult, he had been both a victim of incest and, along with his two brothers, had tragically lost his mother.
Michael Always Had A Soft Spot For His Brother Tito’s Sons
I’m sure Michael loved all his nieces and nephews, but I think the loss of their mother may have been one reason why Michael always had an especial soft spot for Tito’s sons.
Now we may have an even better understanding of why he was so protective of these boys, and went to such lengths to take them under his wing.
This Screencap Says It All! Michael Jackson Is The Ghost Over Wade Robson’s Right Shoulder. But Is It A Ghost Of Pain…Or Of Guilt?
Somebody’s out Somebody’s out to get me They really wanna fix me, hit me But this time around I’m taking no s… Though you really wanna get me You really wanna get me-Michael Jackson, “This Time Around”
I’m starting to become convinced that too much public speculating on Wade Robson’s next moves may be a dangerous practice. I am sure that Robson and his attorneys are keeping a close eye on what the media is saying. I also believe they may very well be lurking on MJ blogs, forums, and social media sites in order to tailor their story and course of action. Case in point: When the repressed memory angle was so thoroughly debunked and ridiculed, the story changed. When many scoffed at the idea of filing only a creditor’s claim for sexual abuse, boom! It suddenly became a civil suit as well. When I started drafting Part One of “Wade Robson: What the Heck Is Really Going On?” I correctly guessed that his next move would be to to go to the media…but I had no idea that the announcement of his Today Show interview would break the very day I posted it!
But nevertheless, the gambler in me can’t resist the urge to make one more speculative bet. And I’ll be willing to wager I’m not too far off. Perhaps being able to second guess Wade’s next moves might not be such a bad idea, though, as doing so can effectively arm us for the counter punch.
Shortly after his Today Show interview, Robson released this statement:
“I hope to inspire other molestation victims to come forward.”-Wade Robson
That certainly seems like a very noble sentiment. Oh, but wait…
Remember this tantalizing story from a few days ago, courtesy of The Daily Star?
TWO more alleged child abuse victims of Michael Jackson are preparing to file lawsuits against the late King of Pop’s estate, it was revealed yesterday.
A legal source close to the singer’s family confirmed: “One is in the public eye, the other is not.
“They are both telling the same story of regular and repeated molestations.”
The bombshell claims come ten days after top Hollywood choreographer Wade Robson launched his claim for compensation from Jackson’s estate.
Australian Robson, 30, alleges he was “systematically” molested for seven years during his childhood at Neverland Ranch, where he was a regular guest of the Thriller singer.
Both the other victims waiting in the wings claim they too were subjected to “years of abuse,” according to the legal source, who added: “They are waiting to see what happens in the first action.”
Robson was a key defence witness in Jackson’s 2005 trial, at which the star was acquitted by a jury of seven counts of child molestation and two of administering “intoxicating agents” to a 13-year-old boy.
His U-turn was slammed by Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for the Jackson estate who described his lawsuit as “outrageous and pathetic”.
But Robson’s lawyer Henry Gradstein hit back: “Jackson was a monster and in their hearts every normal person knows it.
“My client has lived with the brainwashing of a sexual predator until the stress and burden of it crushed him.”
Let’s keep in mind that this is still only an unconfirmed tabloid story, and so far The Daily Star is the only source that has reported it. But it’s odd that long-time Michael Jackson detractor and backstabber Stacy Brown had wind of it even before the story broke:
NOW it’s all starting to come together, and it doesn’t take rocket science brain power to figure it out. I believe sincerely now that Robson is setting the stage with that statement-not so that other child abuse victims in general will come forth-but so that other Michael Jackson “victims” in particular may come forth, to help corroborate his own story (got to hand it to him, it’s a smart move to sidestep the credibility issue of his story). At first I brushed these alleged “cases in the wings” off as being solely about money, based on the comment that they were waiting “to see what happens in the first action.” Now I have a different assessment. I don’t believe they are waiting to see how the payout goes. I believe they are waiting on the cue from Robson and/or his attorneys, so that this can be set up and staged to look like those other victims now having the courage to “come forward.” Except that I’m willing to wager these “victims” were personally cherry picked by Robson or his attorneys months ago.
Who might these potential backups for Wade be? Well, none of us know for sure, but here is an excellent breakdown of the possibilities:
And if that proves to be the case, then that means this thing is a whole lot bigger than even what we’ve been led to believe so far. It will prove this to have been a very deliberate, very orchestrated, and coldly calculated plan that has been in the making for MONTHS (if not longer).
Good Thing I’m No Illuminati Conspiracy Theorist, LOL! Cause This Would Look Kinda Scary Otherwise!
The big question that remains…who is really the evil mastermind behind it? Is Robson acting alone, out of his own greed and ulterior motives, or does he have a sponsor?
At this point, I don’t have those answers. But clearly, Michael’s lyrics to This Time Around continue to have relevance even in death.
And are more chilling than ever.
UPDATE: 6/11/13: No surprise here!
Michael Jackson’s Estate Asks Judge To Toss Wade Robson Lawsuit
Chief among their concerns, the estate’s lawyers claim that Robson filed his lawsuit well past the statute of limitations, or deadline, on such lawsuits. Robson, however, is claiming that he should have been served a notice of the administration of the estate when Jackson died more than four years ago. The estate’s lawyers argue that they could not have anticipated Robson’s lawsuit.
Furthermore, they explain, Michael is not here to defend himself against Robson’s claims. In sum, they ask that Robson’s petition be denied.
“Any investigation into the factual allegations of the Petition will necessarily be compromised considerably by the untimeliness of the allegations and by the unfortunate fact that Mr. Jackson is deceased and thus has noopportunity to answer these allegations,” lawyers write in the documents.
In other documents related to the case, Robson’s lawyers claim that there has been a leak of private case information to the press and that Robson only spoke out subsequently to clear his name.
Another recent update. Not sure what the justification for this would be:
Judge says he’s inclined to unseal portions of molestation claim against Michael Jackson
By Associated Press,June 06, 2013
This image released by NBC shows choreographer Wade Robson during an interview… (NBC, Peter Kramer, file/Associated…)
LOS ANGELES — A judge said Thursday he was inclined to unseal portions of a choreographer’s court filings alleging he was abused by Michael Jackson.
However, personal details and psychiatrist reports would likely not be released.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said he needed to address which records should remain sealed before he can deal with whether Wade Robson, a choreographer and television personality, can pursue his claim.
Robson requested on May 1 that Beckloff allow him to file a late creditor’s claim against Jackson’s estate nearly eight years to the day after he testified in Jackson’s defense at the singer’s molestation trial.
Jackson was acquitted after Robson told jurors the entertainer never touched him inappropriately. Henry Gradstein, an attorney for Robson, said a breakdown last year prompted Robson to address the abuse.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Jackson’s estate and Thomas Messereau, the lawyer who successfully defended Jackson, have attacked Robson’s credibility and noted his repeated defense of the singer.
Weitzman has called the accusations “outrageous and pathetic.”
“We are confident that the court will see this for what it is” he said at the time the allegations were first made.
On Thursday, Beckloff presented attorneys with possible redactions of Robson’s sworn declaration and said it should serve as a roadmap for what information can be made public.
The judge believes some of the material could be made public, even though attorneys on both sides would like the case sealed in its entirety.
Some of Robson’s private and personal information, including a paragraph that detailed his allegations of abuse by Jackson, should be sealed, Beckloff said.
Michael Once Said He Could Count His True Friends On One Hand. That Number Continues To Shrink.
How the heck did we go from this:
I used to talk to Michael for three hours a day. I never really worked out how he came to find so much time because he seemed so busy, but he would ring me and we would talk and talk and talk. When he got a cell phone he would call and text all the time.It was part of an amazing friendship that lasted for 20 years. I had firdt met Michael when he was kicking off his bad tour in 1987. I was five, but Michaels company were holding a dance competition in every country and i entered the one in brisbane. I remember being a kid and dancing to his video- the first iever say was “Thriller” when i was two. It was my mum’s tape and i just went nuts over it. I used to run into the kitchen scared everytime the wereworlf came on. By the time i was three i had pretty much learned its entire choreoghraphy. I ended up winning the dance competition. We went to see Michael in brisbane and at a meet and greet i was introduced to him. I remember wearing a custome made outfit from “Bad”- my mum’s belt was wrapped around me, like five times. Michael was impresssed and asked me if I had danced. I told him that I did and he said ” Do you want to perform with me in the show tomorrow night?” I couldn’t believe it. He was due to play brisbane the next night. His idea was for me to come out for the last song of the show which was “Bad”. He was bringing on some orphaned children so he figured it would be cool to bring me out in the full “Bad” outfit. At the end of the song we were all onstage- Stevie Wonder was there too and Michael came on and said “Come on”. | took it as him meaning “Get into it!”.I moved downstage and threw my hat into the crowd and started going crazy. When i turned around Michael was saying goodbye to the crowd, the other kids were gone and Stevie Wonder was being escorted off. What he meant was “Come on lets go, It’s over”. When I realised, I ran off. After my mum and I spent two hours with Michael into his hotel and we became friends. He showed us clips from the new Moonwalker he was working on and we talked and talked. We didn’t really stay in contact but i joined a dance company- literally the next day and two years later i was in America to play at Disneyland. I got in touch with Michael through his people, he remembered me. Me and my family went to Record one studio where he was mixing the dangerous album.I showed him some of my dance videos and he said to me. “Do you and your family want to come to Neverland tonight”? We all agreed and ended up staying for two weeks. Our friendship blossomed. For two weeks he’d take me into his dance studio, put some music on and we’d dance and jam for hours.We’d sit there and watch films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.Other time we’d just leave Neverland and drive out in a car, blasting music really loud. He even taught me how to do the moonwalk.We were in his dance studip. He taught me foot by foot. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. The thrill of pushing off the bar and sliding backwards in a moonwalk with the guy that made it famous was so exciting. Later, me and my mym wanted to move to America to pursue my dreams of becoming a dancer and he helped us out. He gave me a big start by putting me in some of his videos like “Black or White”. The role he took on was one of a mentor. He told when I was seven that I’d be a film director and thats what I became, he created a thirst for knowledge in me.Once, a mini recording studio turned up on my doorstep, but what was cool was that he stopped me from becoming a spoiled brat. He would say “This is for you, but I want to see you do something with it. Dont take it for granted or I”ll take it back”. The last time I saw him was in July 2008. I was in Vegas working on a show and he was living there.Me, my wife and him and his three kids had a barbecue. It was the most normal thing in the world. Me and my wife had been to Whole foods and bought stuff to cook. But when we got there he’d provided loads of catering. I said “Dude, Why did you bring loads of catering? We’ve got regular food here”.I remember cooking outside while Michael sat there under an umbrella. We had great times because he was such a caring person. Most of all I’ll miss those phone conversations. I still have my mobile phone with his number on it. I just cant bear the thoughts of deleting his messages.
Hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did.-Wade Robson, Introduction to Michael Jackson Opus
Even with all of the AEG trial news going on last week, this was the story that rocked the fan community. It has been almost a week ago as I am typing the finishing touches on this post, and “some” of the dust has started to settle a bit. But as the initial shock has begun to wear off, the deeper and more puzzling questions remain. Why the heck is Wade Robson doing this-and the bigger question so many are asking, Why now?
While I am sure that most of my diehard readers know the full details of this story by now, I will just reiterate briefly for the sake of those casual readers who may be stumbling across this for the first time. On May 1st, 2013, an attorney representing choreographer Wade Robson-a longtime friend and supporter of Michael Jackson and one of the young men who defended him most adamantly in his 2005 molestation trial-filed a debtor’s claim against the Michael Jackson estate. While the details of the claim are sealed, Robson, via his attorney, is apparently seeking monetary compensation for childhood sexual abuse he claims to have suffered for seven years, from 1989-1996. Ordinarily, the statute of limitations for such a claim would have long expired, but Robson is relying on the still relatively new and unproven science of “repressed memory” to make a case. You see, according to his claim (if you find this believable) the whole reason he so adamantly defended MJ all those years, and paid such glowing tributes to him as his mentor and friend, was because…well, simply that he didn’t remember any such abuse happening. Until he had a breakdown and went for some therapy. Now, voila…he has a memory, and needs some cash. Get it? Good. Because that’s the story, in a nutshell.
The problem is that many might have been inclined to take his claims a lot more seriously if :1:He had come forward years ago, and sought a criminal or even civil charge when Michael was alive to defend himself, rather than waiting four years after his death to file a debtor’s claim, and 2: If he hadn’t testified under oath-not once, but twice-that nothing ever happened. The thing about Robson, in fact, is that he not only swore under oath, but actively and aggressively defended his friend.
Mr. Robson’s claim is outrageous and pathetic. This is a young man who has testified at least twice under oath over the past 20 years and said in numerous interviews that Michael Jackson never did anything inappropriate to him or with him…Now, nearly 4 years after Michael has passed, this sad and less than credible claim has been made.”-Howard Weitzman, Michael Jackson Estate Attorney, In A Statement To TMZ.
All I can say is that I’m glad my schedule prevented me from firing off any knee jerk responses to this story. Instead, I was able to take a few days to cool my heels, gather some facts, and really take a good, long, hard look at what the heck is going on with Wade Robson.
First of all, this news isn’t separate from the AEG trial at all. I think most reasonable people-including even the media-have recognized the suspicious timing of Robson’s accusations. Here is what Michael’s attorney Thomas Mesereau had to say:
And from the looks of things, Robson isn’t exactly getting a lot of sympathy. After all, it’s one thing for a child victim to accuse someone. It’s quite another when said “victim” is a thirty-year old-man who has sung the praises of his “abuser” for years, was a star witness for him in court, and now waits-hold on-not one, not two, but four years after said “abuser” is dead and cannot defend himself-to suddenly have “repressed memories” that entitle him-again, not to file a criminal complaint, or even a civil complaint, but a debtor’s claim-in hopes that he can somehow convince the Michael Jackson estate to pay him enough “yum yum” money dollars” to make him go away.
Sharon Osbourne rips Wade Robson a good one on The Talk!
Omarion rips him another one!
TMZ Poll: Readers Speak!
Do You Believe Robson?
Total Votes: 59,119
Now add to this mix the fact that all of this just “happens” to break with the start of the AEG trial, and you have The Perfect Storm…and the perfect recipe for so few are taking this story seriously. For sure, it certainly looks like a crass money grab at the very least (if one believes Robson is acting alone) or perhaps part of a much larger, and deeper conspiracy (if one believes that AEG is behind it).
I have been asking myself a lot of hard questions the last few days. Just how plausible might Wade’s story be? How reliable is the science of repressed memory? Is it just possible that he was lying in 2005, and is telling the truth now? I know there are some fans who are so adamant in their unwavering belief in Michael’s innocence that they will never entertain, for a moment, the need to question a story like Robson’s. But I think that is the wrong approach to take. In order to get to the truth, we have to ask the tough questions-and not be afraid to do so. The possibilities have to be at least examined before they can be debunked. So hear me out and follow where I am going with this.
There is very good reason why this story is so upsetting to the fan community. Wade Robson was, as stated, a key witness in Michael’s 2005 molestation trial-one who was not only adamant, but unwavering in his testimony that no abuse or inappropriate behavior had ever occurred. For years, Robson’s testimony-in addition to that of Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes-has been the cornerstone of fans who take comfort in being able to point out, “Look, of all these kids that Michael supposedly hung out with, only two have ever accused him of anything. All of the others have sworn up and down that nothing ever happened, and have been more than reliable witnesses.”
Wade Robson Arriving To Testify In Michael’s 2005 Trial
Robson, in fact, was more than just a reliable witness. He was, in the words of Thomas Mesereau, a “star witness” for the defense.
As has been pointed out time and again, Robson certainly has a “lot of explaining to do,” to quote Roger Friedman. If he purjured himself in 2005, he’s got to explain that. If he’s been lying all these years that he’s been singing Michael Jackson’s praises to the skies, he’s got a lot of explaining to do.
And if he’s been telling the truth all these years, he has even more explaining to do.
I can’t claim to know what is true or not. Even though I know fans take issue with those who say things like, “Only Michael and Wade know for sure” it is, nevertheless, true. I did not, for example, take offense when Lisa Marie said in her Oprah interview that she could only vouch for what she had seen, and that she had never seen any inappropriate behavior between Michael and children. Her comment that she wasn’t “in the room” with Michael and his alleged victims drew some ire from those who felt she was leaving a chink open for the doubters. (Ironically enough, according to the timeline Robson has given, at least some of the alleged abuse would have been during the time of Michael’s marriage to LMP). But really, what else could she say with good conscience? I know people wanted her to say adamantly, “Absolutely not, Michael would never have done such a thing!” But here is the truth. No matter how much we might think we know someone (even our own spouses!); no matter how much we might want to believe, “Michael wasn’t that kind of person” the unfortunate reality of child sexual abusers is that we can’t base anything on the person’s character or what kind of person we “think” they are. This is fact, and I’m not going to entertain any comments to the contrary. There is simply no way to judge whether someone is or is not a pedophile or a child molestor based on their good works, their good name, or their good character. I have mentioned here several times that I, myself, am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I won’t reveal the identity of my abuser, except to say he was a family member and a most upstanding citizen-to the outside world. Someone no one would have ever suspected of such things. But as a child sexual abuse survivor, it also gives me some clearer insight into Michael’s “alleged” victims. Of course, every victim’s case is somewhat different, and there is no one-size-fits-all gauge with which to assess a “victim’s” story. But it does, in some ways, give me the ability to better filter what is truthful and plausible vs. what is total BS.
Secondly, I consider myself a Michael Jackson fan second, and a Michael Jackson researcher/scholar first. Which, simply translated, means I am proud to say that my belief in Michael’s innocence is based on factual research and evidence, rather than knee-jerk, emotional responses based on what I “want” to believe. I’m sorry if my blunt approach offends some. I don’t mean for it to offend. I just believe that in order to truly vindicate Michael, it takes a hard stance approach and the ability to not flinch at some less-than-pleasant muck that has to be waded through.
I Do Believe 100% In Michael’s Innocence. But I Don’t Believe The Truth Can Be Obtained By Avoiding The Tough Questions, Or Going For The Easy, Obvious Defenses.
And I’m going to say one thing right now in regards to all this “repressed memory” nonsense. It is pure bs. Yes, it may have some validity if we’re talking a five year old child. It may have some validity if we’re talking a child too young to have comprehension of what sex is, or more aptly, too young to realize that what an adult is doing is making them uncomfortable. It would be perfectly logical in that case to assume that the memory might become repressed, only to be triggered later in life.
But I don’t buy it in the case of an older child, especially a child over the age of seven. I was nine when my abuse first occurred. I was molested repeatedly from the age of nine to fourteen. Trust me, you don’t forget. You can block it out as a coping mechanism, but the images; the memories do not just go away or become “blanked out.” What actually happens has more to do with one simple fact: Some people simply have a higher tolerance for trauma than others. While some may become emotionally debilitated by such a trauma, to the point of being almost dysfunctional, some can simply accept it as something bad that happened, and move on. This is really, essentially, what the “compartmentalization” is all about that some therapists speak of. It is, however, not so much compartmentalization as simply being able to put the bad memory on a shelf-or on the backburner of one’s life-and move on.
However, that doesn’t mean the memory isn’t there. My abuser didn’t conk me on the head and force me to black out. I didn’t quite know what was happening when I was nine, but I knew it was sick and unnatural; that it was NOT something an adult and a child were supposed to be doing together. By the time I knew what sex was, I was very consciously aware of what had been done to me.
I reported him the first time; that led to years of therapy that basically went nowhere (the abuse continued, despite the best efforts of DHR to keep the family together) and finally, at fifteen, I just removed myself from the situation altogether. I lived with my grandmother until I was a legal adult.
I moved on with my life. Eventually, I forgave my abuser, but I never forgot. I simply made a conscious choice to not allow this to be something that ruled my life. I still have my “issues” but I don’t dwell on what happened to me. I think that abuse victims make a conscious choice-either to work at healing and to get on with life, or to let another person’s actions overtake their life. However, I can say that sexual abuse does f_k with a kid’s head on so many levels, it isn’t even funny. There is just something about that manipulation of trust, and abuse of power, that one never gets over.
Which is also why it is something one never forgets. There was never a time when I couldn’t recall, in exact, vivid detail, exactly what was done to me-where, when, even down to what time of day it was. I could tell you in most instances what I was wearing. I could tell you that the first time I remembered it happening, I was lying on a rug in the living room, coloring in my coloring book. I remember that exact moment when the complete innocence of childhood ended for me.
How does one just forget a thing like that? If anything, traumatic experiences are even more branded into memory than the inconsequential stuff. I certainly couldn’t tell you anything about the first time I ate a bowl of breakfast cereal (but I could tell you all about the time I got salmonella poisoning from eating a bowl of cereal when I was eleven!). I couldn’t tell you about the first day I went to school, but I could tell you all about the day in second grade when a bully slapped me so hard on the playground that it knocked me dizzy.
And, yes, I could tell you more detail about the night I was first molested by my abuser than my first, consensual sexual experience as an adult.
You simply don’t forget a thing like that, if you’re old enough to have conscious memory at all. While I do think it is certainly possible that one can consciously bury a memory, I don’t buy into the idea that one can simply blank them out. Certainly not someone claiming a long-standing abuse that went on, allegedly, for seven years!That puts the time frame of Wade’s “abuse” roughly equivalent with my own, with only a difference of one year, for in my case, it was six years.
Okay, so even if a reasonable minded person bought into the idea of one repressed memory from one incident, we are supposed to believe that Wade Robson somehow miraculously blocked out seven whole years of his life?
Gosh gee, I sure remember my six years of abuse, cause I was living in fear and revulsion every single day of it! I went to school every morning sick to my stomach; I came home from school sick to my stomach. I couldn’t concentrate in class, and my grades plummeted. How the hell does one forget such feelings?
Robson Expects A Gullible Public To Buy That He Somehow Mnagaed To Block Out Seven YEARS Of His Life!
In short, the whole idea of “repressed memory” is really a bogus science that has yet to be proven. Its reliability as grounds for a civil or criminal case in a court of law is still very much up for debate. While some cases based on “repressed memory” have gone in favor of the plaintiffs, many more have not.
This was a very good, unbiased article that I found which examines both the validity and shortcomings of repressed memory as a science-and especially as a valid, legal claim for adults seeking compensation for alleged abuses that occurred 20, 30, even 40 years ago!
The article is too long to paste here in its entirety, and not all of it is directly relevant to Wade Robson’s claims, but I did want to include this excerpt, which I found extremely interesting, on how it is possible for false memories to be implanted, which the unsuspecting patient may then take as genuine repressed memory (to be fair, the first half of this article deals with cases in which the memories are authentic, which in some cases they have proven to be. But let’s look at what is said about non-authentic memories (note that the case of Patti Barton, beneath the heading “Litigation Accounts” is an example of a so-called “repressed memory” that occurred when the victim was fifteen months old-again, a perfect example that repressed memory may be viable for abuse that occurs before the child is consciously old enough to be aware of the act, but becomes increasingly doubtful the older the child is at the time of the alleged abuse:
The Memories Are Not Authentic
To say that memory might be false does not mean that the person is deliberately lying. Although lying is always possible, even psychotherapists who question the authenticity of reports have been impressed with the honesty and intensity of the terror, rage, guilt, depression, and overall behavioral dysfunction accompanying the awareness of abuse ( Ganaway, 1989, p. 211 ).
There are are at least two ways that false memories could come about. Honestly believed, but false, memories could come about, according to Ganaway (1989), because of internal or external sources. The internal drive to manufacture an abuse memory may come about as a way to provide a screen for perhaps more prosaic but, ironically, less tolerable, painful experiences of childhood. Creating a fantasy of abuse with its relatively clear-cut distinction between good and evil may provide the needed logical explanation for confusing experiences and feelings. The core material for the false memories can be borrowed from the accounts of others who are either known personally or encountered in literature, movies, and television. 5
Sources of Details That Could Affect Memory
There are at least two important sources that could potentially feed into the construction of false memories. These include popular writings and therapists’ suggestions.
All roads on the search for popular writings inevitably lead to one, The Courage to Heal ( Bass & Davis, 1988 ), often referred to as the “bible” of the incest book industry. The Courage to Heal advertises itself as a guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse. Although the book is undoubtedly a great comfort to the sexual abuse survivors who have been living with their private and painful memories, one cannot help but wonder about its effects on those who have no such memories. Readers who are wondering whether they might be victims of child sexual abuse are provided with a list of possible activities ranging from the relatively bening (e.g., being held in a way that made them uncomfortable) to the unequivocally abusive (e.g., being raped or otherwise penetrated). Readers are then told “If you are unable to remember any specific instances like the ones mentioned above but still have a feeling that something abusive happened to you, it probably did” (p. 21). On the next page, the reader is told
You may think you don’t have memories, but often as you begin to talk about what you do remember, there emerges a constellation of feelings, reactions and recollections that add up to substantial information. To say, “I was abused,” you don’t need the kind of recall that would stand up in a court of law. Often the knowledge that you were abused starts with a tiny feeling, an intuition… Assume your feelings are valid. So far, no one we’ve talked to thought she might have been abused, and then later discovered that she hadn’t been. The progression always goes the other way, from suspicion to confirmation. If you think you were abused and your life shows the symptoms, then you were. (p. 22)
What symptoms? The authors list low self-esteem, suicidal or self-destructive thoughts, depression, and sexual dysfunction, among others. 6
Others have worried about the role played by The Courage to Heal. A recent survey of several hundred families accused by derepressed memories revealed that the book was implicated “in almost all cases” ( Wakefield & Underwager, 1992, p. 486 ). Complaints about the book range from its repeated suggestion that abuse probably happened even if one has no memories of it and that demands for corroboration are not reasonable, to its overt encouragement of “revenge, anger, fantasies of murder or castration, and deathbed confrontations” ( Wakefield & Underwager, 1992, p. 485 ). In all fairness, however, it should be mentioned that the book is long (495 pages), and sentences taken out of context may distort their intended meaning. Nonetheless, readers without any abuse memories of their own cannot escape the message that there is a strong likelihood that abuse occurred even in the absence of such memories.
The recent incest book industry has published not only stories of abuse but also suggestions to readers that they were likely abused even if there are no memories, that repressed memories of abuse undoubtedly underlie one’s troubles, or that benefits derive from uncovering repressed memories and believing them. 7 One popular book about incest is the paperback by E. Sue Blume (1990), the book jacket of which itemizes one of the author’s chief credentials as the “Creator of the Incest Survivors’ Aftereffects Checklist.” 8 Blume, a private practice therapist, tells readers that she has “found that most incest survivors have limited recall about their abuse” (p. 81). She goes on to say that “Indeed, so few incest survivors in my experience have identified themselves as abused in the beginning of therapy that I have concluded that perhaps half of all incest survivors do not remember that the abuse occurred” (p. 81).
Some of the volumes provide exercises to help readers lift the repression. Farmer (1989), for example, tells readers to try one particular exercise “whether or not you have any conscious recollection of the abuse you suffered” (p. 91). The reader is to sit down, relax, and mentally return to childhood. The next step is to choose a particular memory, whether fuzzy or clear, and “bring that memory to your full attention” (p. 91). Details about what to do with the memory are provided, along with an example from the life of “Danielle,” who thought about how verbally abusive her father had been, and “Hazel,” who remembered anger at her mother’s treating her like a rag doll. This exercise allegedly helped to “lift the lid of repression” and unbury the “Hurting Child.”
Do these examples lift the lid of repression? Perhaps. But another equally viable hypothesis is that the examples influence the creation of memories or, at the very least, direct the search through memory that the reader will ultimately take. 9
Blume’s (1990) observation that so many individuals enter therapy without memories of abuse but acquire memories during therapy naturally makes one wonder about what might be happening in therapy. According to Ganaway (1989), honestly believed but false memories could come about in another way, through unintentional suggestion from therapists. Ganaway noted a growing trend toward the facile acceptance and expressed validation of uncorroborated trauma memories, perhaps in part due to sensitization from years of accusations that the memories are purely fantasy. Herman (1992, p. 180) made a similar point: Whereas an earlier generation of therapists might have been discounting or minimizing their patients’ traumatic experiences, the recent rediscovery of psychological trauma has let to errors of the opposite kind. Some contemporary therapists have been known to tell patients, merely on the basis of a suggestive history or symptom profile, that they definitely had a traumatic experience. Even if there is no memory, but merely some vague symptoms, certain therapists will inform a patient after a single session that he or she was very likely the victim of a satanic cult. Once the “diagnosis” is made, the therapist urges the patient to pursue the recalcitrant memories. Although some therapists recommend against persistent, intrusive probing to uncover early traumatic memories (e.g., Bruhn, 1990), others enthusiastically engage in these therapeutic strategies. Evidence for this claim comes in a variety of forms: (a) therapist accounts of what is appropriate to do with clients, (b) client accounts of what happened during therapy, (c) sworn statements of clients and therapists during litigation, and (d) taped interviews of therapy sessions.
One therapist, who has treated more than 1,500 incest victims, openly discussed her method of approaching clients ( Forward & Buck, 1988 ). “You know, in my experience, a lot of people who are struggling with many of the same problems you are, have often had some kind of really painful things happen to them as kids–maybe they were beaten or molested. And I wonder if anything like that ever happened to you?” (p. 161). Other clinicians claim to know of therapists who say “Your symptoms sound like you’ve been abused when you were a child. What can you tell me about that?” ( Trott, 1991a, p. 18 ); or worse, “You sound to me like the sort of person who must have been sexually abused. Tell me what that bastard did to you” ( Davis, 1991, p. 82 ).
At least one clinician advocated “It is crucial…that clinicians ask about sexual abuse during every intake” ( Frawley, 1990 ). The rationale for this prescription is that a clinician who asks conveys to the client that the client will be believed and that the clinician will join with the client in working through the memories and emotions linked with childhood sexual abuse. Asking about sexual abuse along with a list of other past life events makes sense given the high instance of actual abuse, but the concern is how the issue is raised and what therapists do when clients initially deny an abusive past.
Evidence exists that some therapists do not take no for an answer. One therapist (who otherwise seemed sensitive to problems of memory tampering) still recommended “When the client does not remember what happened to her, the therapist’s encouragement to `guess’ or `tell a story’ will help the survivor regain access to the lost material” ( Olio, 1989, p. 6 ). She went on to provide the example of a client who suspected sexual abuse but had no memories. The client had become extremely anxious at a social gathering in the presence of a three-year-old girl. She had no idea why she was upset except that she wanted the little girl to keep her dress down. When encouraged in therapy to tell a story about what was going to happen to the little girl, the client ultimately related with tears and trembling one of the first memories of her own abuse. She used the story to “bypass her cognitive inhibitions and express the content of the memory” (p. 6). Later she “integrated the awareness that she was indeed the little girl in the story” (p. 6). One cannot help but wonder about these mental fantasy exercises in light of known research showing that the simple act of imagination makes an event subjectively more likely (e.g., Sherman, Cialdini, Schwartzman, & Reynolds, 1985).
Even if the therapist does not encourage the client to guess or tell a story, stories sometimes get told in the form of client dreams. If discussions of incest go on during the day, and day residue gets into the dreams at night, it would not be surprising to see that dreams of incest might result. Poston and Lison (1990) described a woman with “repressed memories” of incest who reported a dream about watching a little girl ice skate on a frozen river. In her dream, the woman tried desperately to warn the child that monsters and snakes were making their way through the ice to devour her. Although frightened, the woman was powerless and could not warn the innocent child. A few days later, the client began remembering incest from her childhood. Knowing she had “a trusted relationship with a therapist and a survivor’s group that would understand and accept her” (p. 197), the memories began to flow.
Examples of therapists interpreting dreams as signs of memory of abuse can be found throughout the literature. One clinician described with pride how she communicated to her male patient the basis for her suspicions that he had been abused: “On many occasions, I explained that these dreams had preserved experiences and impressions of an indelible nature” ( M. Williams, 1987, p. 152 ).
Frederickson (1992), who has worked with many incest survivors, has also described in detail her methods of getting patients to remember. She recommended that the therapist guide the patient “to expand on or explore images that have broken through to the conscious mind, allowing related images of the abuse to surface. The process lets the survivor complete the picture of what happened, using a current image or flash as a jumping-off point” (p. 97). She also suggested that the therapist help the patient expand on the images and sensations evoked by dreams “to shed light on or recover our repressed memories” (p. 98). She extolled the virtues of hypnosis to “retrieve buried memories” (p. 98) and recommended that patients “jot down suspected memories of abuse you would like to explore. Include your own felt sense of how you think you were abused” (p. 102).
Even if clinicians are not the first to bring up sexual abuse, they will often reinforce what begins as a mere suspicion. One client developed the idea that she might have been sexually abused, tried hypnosis to help her recover memories, and obsessed for years. Only after her therapist stated that she believed sexual assault was “indeed possible” and cited nightmares, phobia of men, and other symptoms as evidence did the client come up with some specific memories ( Schuker, 1979, p. 569 ).
Before leaving the examples of therapist accounts of what goes on in therapy, it is important to add a word of caution. Sherrill Mulhern, a psychiatric anthropologist, has documented the alarming discrepancies that often exist between therapists’ accounts of what they have done in therapy and what is revealed in video- or audiotapes of those same sessions ( Mulhern, 1991 ).
If memories are uncovered–whether after repeated probing, after telling stories, after dreams, or seemingly spontaneously–or even if the memories remain buried, therapists often send their clients to support groups. In one study of clients who had, in the course of therapy, verbalized their victimization through ritualistic abuse, the majority reported that they had participated in these types of groups ( Shaffer & Cozolino, 1992 ). One group, Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA), publishes extensive reading materials intended to aid the recovery of incest survivors. (SIA merged with Sexual Abuse Anonymous in 1987.) The criteria for admission make it clear that entry is fine for those with no memories of sexual abuse: “Do you have blocks of your childhood you can’t remember? Do you have a sense that `something happened’?” ( SIA, 1985 ). These and other questions (e.g., Do you have problems with self-confidence and self esteem? Do you feel easily intimidated by authority figures?) are among the set of 20 questions that help a potential survivor decide whether SIA can be of assistance. SIA emphasizes that it is OK not to remember at first, because “Many survivors have `repressed’ actual abuse memories in order to survive.” However, the goal is to remember: “Participating in SIA helps us to remember what happened to us so we can stop being controlled by incest” ( SIA, 1990, p. 1 ).
Although support groups are undoubtedly invaluable for genuine survivors of sexual abuse, as they are for other survivors of extreme situations, such as combat and political persecution ( Herman, 1992, p. 215 ), concerns about the incest survivor groups have been expressed. Do these groups foster the development of constructed memories? An investigative journalist attending a four-day workshop watched the construction of memory at work ( Nathan, 1992 ). With members recounting graphic details of SRA abuse, how long will they listen to the person who can only say “I think I was abused, but I don’t have any memories.” Others have worried in the literature that such groups may induceproto-extension –that is, they actually encourage a troubled person to remember details from other survivor stories as having happened to them as well ( Ellis, 1992 ).
Another source for suggestions in therapy can be found in client accounts of what happened to them. Recently, clients have been reporting that a therapist has suggested that childhood abuse was the cause of their current distress. However, these clients have no memories of such abuse. One woman from Oregon entered therapy to deal with depression and anxiety, and within a few months her therapist suggested that the cause could be childhood sexual abuse. She wrote asking for help in remembering:
Since that time, he has become more and more certain of his diagnosis… I have no direct memories of this abuse…. The question I can’t get past is how something so terrible could have happened to me without me remembering anything. For the past two years I have done little else but try to remember. I’ve tried self-hypnosis and light trance work with my therapist. And I even travelled to childhood homes…in an attempt to trigger memories.
One client revealed the suggestive nature of his therapist’s questioning on ABC’s Primetime Live ( ABC News, 1992 ). Attorney Greg Zimmerman went to a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, to deal with his father’s suicide. He told ABC, “I would try to talk to her about the things that were very painful in my life and she kept saying that there was something else” (p. 1). Zimmerman grew more and more depressed as the mystery of that “something else” would not unravel, and then, during a therapy session, his therapist stunned him with her diagnosis: “I don’t know how to tell you this, but you display the same kinds of characteristics as some of my patients who are victims of Satanic ritualistic abuse” (p. 1). Zimmerman had said nothing whatsoever to her to provoke this diagnosis, apparently her standard.
It is easy to find published accounts that describe the emergence of memories in therapy and the techniques that therapists have used to uncover those memories (e.g., Bass & Thornton, 1991). One account, written under the pseudonym of Jill Morgan, told of a series of positively horrifying memories of abuse by her father. He raped her when she was 4 years old, again at age 9, once again at age 13, for seven straight days and nights at age 15, and for the final time at age 18. For the next several years, all misery was withheld from conscious memory, and then, at age 29, she was helped to remember in therapy: “Through hypnosis and age regression, a skilled therapist gave me back my memory” (p. 111). The involvement of hypnosis and age regression prompts the natural inquiry into whether these techniques produce authentic memories. Unfortunately, the evidence is discouraging: There is an extensive literature seriously questioning the reliability of hypnotically enhanced memory in general ( Smith, 1983 ), and hypnotic age regression in particular ( Nash, 1987 ). Hypnotic attempts to improve memory increase the confidence in what is recalled more than the accuracy ( Bowers, 1992 ). Even more worrisome is the impossibility of reversing the process; the hypnotically induced memory becomes the person’s reality ( Orne, 1979 ). With hypnotic regression, men and women have been known to recall being abducted by aliens aboard exotic spacecraft and other forgotten events ( Gordon, 1991 ).
A more detailed client account is that of Betsy Petersen (1991), as described in an autobiographical account, Dancing With Daddy. Petersen, a Harvard graduate and accomplished writer, revealed in her first book that she repressed memory of sexual abuse by her father until she was 45 years old. She now remembers sexual abuse from the time she was 3½ until she was 18. Betsy entered therapy (with “Kris”) for problems relating to her children, and almost a year after starting therapy she started worrying, “I’m afraid my father did something to me.” She tried hard to recall, putting “together a scenario of what might have happened” (p. 65). When she told her therapist about this, she said “I don’t know if I made it up or if it’s real.” Kris replied, “It feels like a story to you, because when something like that happens, everybody acts like it didn’t.” Betsy: “You mean it might really have happened!” Kris told her there was a good chance it had happened. Kris told her, in Betsy’s words, “It was consistent with what I remembered about my father and my relationship with him, and with the dreams I had been having, and with the difficulties I had being close to my children, and also, she said, with the feelings I had during and after sex with my husband” (p. 65). Betsy worked hard to retrieve incest memories: “I had no memory of what my father had done to me, so I tried to reconstruct it. I put all my skill–as a reporter, novelist, scholar–to work making that reconstruction as accurate and vivid as possible. I used the memories I had to get to the memories I didn’t have” (p. 66). 10 If accurate, this account tells us something about one therapist’s approach. The therapist convinces the patient with no memories that abuse is likely, and the patient obligingly uses reconstructive strategies to generate memories that would support that conviction. These techniques can be found in numerous autobiographical accounts (see also Smith & Pazder, 1980.
In addition to the first-person accounts, more formal studies of incest survivors provide clues to what might be happening in therapy. One study ( Shaffer & Cozolino, 1992 ) of 20 adults who uncovered ritualistic abuse memories stemming from childhood revealed that the majority sought psychotherapy because of symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). The primary focus of their therapy was “the uncovering of memories” (p. 189). The majority participated in 12-step programs (e.g., Incest Survivors Anonymous) as “necessary adjuncts to their psychotherapy” (p. 190). These groups provided substitute families for the clients who had severed ties with their families of origin. Other similar studies of ritualistic abuse rememberers have revealed that most of the victims have no memory of the abuse before therapy (e.g., Driscoll & Wright, 1991) but that techniques such as hypnosis ( Driscoll & Wright, 1991 ) or dreams and artwork (e.g., Young, Sachs, Braun, & Watkins, 1991) were used by therapists to unlock those recalcitrant memories.
Information gathered during litigation is another source of knowledge about the emergence of memories in therapy. Take the case of Patti Barton against her father, John Peters, a successful businessman. 11 Depositions taken in the case of Barton v. Peters (1990) reveal that Patti Barton began therapy with a Dr. CD, a doctor of divinity, in July 1986. Dr. CD’s notes indicate that, during the 32nd session of therapy, Patti expressed “fear her father has sexually tampered with her” (Deposition of CD, April 21, 1991, Barton v. Peters, 1990, p. 39). This was the first time that anything like that had come up in any of the sessions. Shortly thereafter, Patti related a dream that a man was after her. 12 Dr. CD apparently then used the technique of visualization wherein Patti would try to visualize her past. He got her to remember eye surgery at the age of 7 months. As for the abuse, one of the earliest acts of abuse he managed to dredge up with this method occurred when Patti was 15 months old. “I visualized that my father stuck his tongue in my mouth”.
After he stuck his tongue in my mouth–Well, it seemed to last for hours and hours even though I know it didn’t. But it was awful to me and an event that seemed to last for hours. I started crying, and I crawled over to the wall. And I started banging my head on the wall. And my mother came into the room, and she picked me up. And I tried to tell her in baby talk what had happened. I said “Ma, ma, ma, ma,” and I said, “Da, Da, Da, Da” and I said, “Me-e-e-.” And that’s all that I can remember. (Deposition of PB, May 1991, Barton v. Peters, 1990, p. 193)
Later, Patti would remember that her father touched her in her crotch and put his penis in her mouth when she was three years old, and that she stroked his penis over and over at age four. Rape would come later. Patti’s father eventually agreed to give his daughter the deed to a piece of land he owned, but he continued to deny the charges. Her brother, a Baptist minister in Alaska, claimed that Satan’s wicked spirits planted untruths in Patti’s head ( Laker, 1992 ). Did it take 30-some sessions for the therapist to uncover actual memories of abuse, or 30-some sessions for false memories of abuse to begin to be visualized and constructed?
Often, confidentiality considerations prevent access to interactions between therapists and clients. However, when cases get into litigation, special interviewing is frequently done, and occasionally it is recorded. Recordings were done in a case implicating a man named Paul Ingram from Olympia, Washington ( Watters, 1991 ). Ingram was arrested for child abuse in 1988, amid expressions of shock from his community. At the time he was chair of the county Republican committee and was chief civil deputy in the sheriff’s office. He had worked in law enforcement for more than a decade.
The Ingram case began at a time when waves of rumor and media hype over satanic ritualistic abuse were rampant. At first Ingram denied everything, and detectives told him he was in denial. With the help of a psychologist who exerted enormous pressure over endless hours of interrogation, Ingram’s memories of abusing his daughter began to appear. Then the psychologist, with the help of a detective, “interviewed” Ingram’s son. In that interview, the son reported on his dreams, and the therapist and detective convinced him that the dreams were real. 13
In another case, a father (Mr. K) hired a private investigator after his 26-year-old daughter reported a recently uncovered repressed memory and accused him of incest. The investigator, acting under cover, went to see the daughter’s therapist complaining that she had night-mares and had trouble sleeping. On the third visit, the therapist told undercover agent that she was an incest survivor. According to the investigator’s report ( Monesi, 1992 ), the therapist said this to her pseudopatient: “She then told me that she was certain I was experiencing body memory from a trauma, earlier in life, that I could not remember. I could not remember because my brain had blocked the memory that was too painful to deal with.” When the patient said she didn’t remember any trauma, the therapist told her “that is the case and many people at far later times in their lives go through this when the memory starts to surface.” The therapist told her that many people go through this experience, such as “Viet Nam Vets, Earthquake Survivors and Incest Survivors.” When the patient said that she had never been in Vietnam or in an earthquake, the therapist nodded her head and said “Yes, I know.” The therapist then said she should read Courage to Heal, a book she recommends to all abuse survivors. After that there was the Courage to Heal Work-book, which tells survivors how to cope with the fears and memories. She pulled Secret Survivors by E. S. Blume (1990) from the shelf, opened the cover, and read the list of symptoms of incest survivors. With two thirds of the symptoms, she would look at the pseudopatient and shake her head yes as if this was confirmation of her diagnosis. She recommended incest survivor groups. In the fourth session, the diagnosis of probable incest victim was confirmed on the basis of the “classic symptoms” of body memory and sleep disorders. When the patient insisted that she had no memory of such events, the therapist assured her this was often the case.
Why Would Therapists Suggest Things to Their Patients?
The core of treatment, it is widely believed, is to help clients reclaim their “traumatic past” ( Rieker & Carmen, 1986, p. 369 ). Therapists routinely dig deliberately into the ugly underbelly of mental life. They dig for memories purposefully because they believe that in order to get well, to become survivors rather than victims, their clients must overcome the protective denial that was used to tolerate the abuse during childhood ( Sgroi, 1989, p. 112 ). Memory blocks can be protective in many ways, but they come at a cost; they cut off the survivors from a significant part of their past histories and leave them without good explanations for their negative self-image, low self-esteem, and other mental problems. These memories must be brought into consciousness, not as an end in itself but only insofar as it helps the survivors acknowledge reality and overcome denial processes that are now dysfunctional (p. 115).
Another reason therapists may be unwittingly suggesting ideas to their clients is that they have fallen prey to a bias that affects all of us, known as the “confirmatory bias” ( Baron, Beattie, & Hershey, 1988 ). People in general, therapists included, have a tendency to search for evidence that confirms their hunches rather than search for evidence that disconfirms. It is not easy to discard long-held or cherished beliefs, in part because we are eager to verify those beliefs and are not inclined to seek evidence that might disprove them.
The notion that the beliefs that individuals hold can create their own social reality is the essence of the self-fulfilling prophecy ( Snyder, 1984 ). How does “reality” get constructed? One way this can happen is through interview strategies. Interviewers are known to choose questions that inquire about behaviors and experiences thought to be characteristic, rather than those thought to be uncharacteristic, of some particular classification. If therapists ask questions that tend to elicit behaviors and experiences thought to be characteristic of someone who had been a victim of childhood trauma, might they too be creating this social reality?
Whatever the good intentions of therapists, the documented examples of rampant suggestion should force us to at least ponder whether some therapists might be suggesting illusory memories to their clients rather than unlocking authentic distant memories. Or, paraphrasing Gardner (1992), what is considered to be present in the client’s unconscious mind might actually be present solely in the therapist’s conscious mind (p. 689). Ganaway (1989) worried that, once seeded by the therapist, false memories could develop that replace previously unsatisfactory internal explanations for intolerable but more prosaic childhood trauma.
Creation of False Memories
The hypothesis that false memories could be created invites an inquiry into the important question of what is known about false memories. Since the mid-1970s at least, investigations have been done into the creation of false memories through exposure to misinformation. Now, nearly two decades later, there are hundreds of studies to support a high degree of memory distortion. People have recalled nonexistent broken glass and tape recorders, a cleanshaven man as having a mustache, straight hair as curly, and even something as large and conspicuous as a barn in a bucolic scene that contained no buildings at all ( Loftus & Ketcham, 1991 ). This growing body of research shows that new, postevent information often becomes incorporated into memory, supplementing and altering a person’s recollection. The new information invades us, like a Trojan horse, precisely because we do not detect its influence. Understanding how we can become tricked by revised data about our past is central to understanding the hypothesis that suggestions from popular writings and therapy sessions can affect autobiographical recall.
One frequently heard comment about the research on memory distortion is that all changes induced by misinformation are about trivial details ( Darnton, 1991; Franklin & Wright, 1991 ). There is no evidence, the critics allege, that one can tinker with memories of real traumatic events or that one can inject into the human mind whole events that never happened.
Can Real Traumatic Memories Be Changed?
There are some who argue that traumatic events leave some sort of indelible fixation in the mind (e.g., “traumatic events create lasting visual images…burned-in visual impressions,” Terr, 1988, p. 103; “memory imprints are indelible, they do not erase–a therapy that tries to alter them will be uneconomical,” Kantor, 1980, p. 163). These assertions fail to recognize known examples and evidence that memory is malleable even for life’s most traumatic experiences. If Eileen Franklin’s memory of witnessing her father murder her eight-year-old best friend is a real memory, then it too is a memory replete with changes over different tellings. However, there are clearer examples–anecdotal reports in which definite evidence exists that the traumatic event itself was actually experienced and yet the memory radically changed.
In the category of documented anecdotes there is the example of one of the worst public and personal tragedies in the history of baseball ( Anderson, 1990; described in Loftus & Kaufman, 1992 ). Baseball aficionados may recall that Jack Hamilton, then a pitcher with the California Angels, crushed the outfielder, Tony Conigliaro, in the face with a first-pitch fastball. Although Hamilton thought he remembered this horrible event perfectly, he misremembered it as occurring during a day game, when it was actually at night, and misremembered it in other critical ways. Another example will be appreciated by history buffs, particularly those with an interest in the second world war. American Brigadier General Elliot Thorpe recalled the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor one way in a memoir and completely differently in an oral history taken on his retirement. Both accounts, in fact, were riddled with errors ( Weintraub, 1991 ).
Evidence of a less anecdotal, more experimental nature supports the imperfections of personally experienced traumatic memories. For example, one study examined people’s recollections of how they heard the news of the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger ( Harsch & Neisser, 1989; Neisser & Harsch, 1992 ). Subjects were questioned on the morning after the explosion and again nearly three years later. Most described their memories as vivid, but none of them were entirely correct, and more than one third were wildly inaccurate. One subject, for example, was on the telephone having a business discussion when her best friend interrupted the call with the news. Later she would remember that she heard the news in class and at first thought it was a joke, and that she later walked into a TV lounge and saw the news, and then reacted to the disaster.
Another study ( Abhold, 1992 ) demonstrated the malleability of memory for a serious life-and-death situation. The subjects had attended an important high school football game at which a player on the field went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the player and apparently failed. The audience reactions ranged from complete silence, to sobbing, to screaming. (Ultimately, fortunately, the player was revived at the hospital.) Six years later, many of these people were interviewed. Errors of recollection were common. Moreover, when exposed to misleading information about this life-and-death event, many individuals absorbed the misinformation into their recollections. For example, more than one fourth of the subjects were persuaded that they had seen blood on the player’s jersey after receiving a false suggestion to this effect.
These anecdotes and experimental examples suggest that even details of genuinely experienced traumatic events are, as Christianson (1992) put it, “by no means, completely accurate” (p. 207).
Can One Inject a Complete Memory for Something That Never Happened?
It is one thing to discover that memory for an actual traumatic event is changed over time but quite another to show that one can inject a whole event into someone’s mind for something that never happened. There are numerous anecdotes and experimental studies that show it is indeed possible to lead people to construct entire events.
Whole memories can be implanted into a person’s real-life autobiography, as is best shown by Piaget’s classic childhood memory of an attempted kidnapping ( Piaget, 1962; described in Loftus & Ketcham, 1991, p. 19 ). The false memories were with him for at least a decade. The memory was of an attempted kidnapping that occurred when he was an infant. He found out it was false when his nanny confessed years later that she had made up the entire story and felt guilty about keeping the watch she had received as a reward. In explaining this false memory, Piaget assumed, “I, therefore, must have heard, as a child, the account of this story, which my parents believed, and projected into the past in the form of a visual memory.”
Loud noises at night.
Although widely disseminated and impressive at first glance, Piaget’s false memory is still but a single anecdote and subject to other interpretations. Was this really a memory, or an interesting story? Could it be that the assault actually happened and the nurse, for some inexplicable reason, lied later? For these reasons it would be nice to find stronger evidence that a false memory for a complete event was genuinely implanted.
An apparently genuine 19th-century memory implantation was reported by Laurence and Perry (1983) : Bernheim, during hypnosis, suggested to a female subject that she had awakened four times during the previous night to go to the toilet and had fallen on her nose on the fourth occasion. After hypnosis, the woman insisted that the suggested events had actually occurred, despite the hypnotist’s insistence that she had dreamed them. Impressed by Bernheim’s success, and by explorations by Orne (1979), Laurence and Perry asked 27 highly hypnotizable individuals during hypnosis to choose a night from the previous week and to describe their activities during the half hour before going to sleep. The subjects were then instructed to relive that night, and a suggestion was implanted that they had heard some loud noises and had awakened. Almost one half (13) of the 27 subjects accepted the suggestion and stated after hypnosis that the suggested event had actually taken place. Of the 13, 6 were unequivocal in their certainty. The remainder came to the conclusion on basis of reconstruction. Even when told that the hypnotist had actually suggested the noises, these subjects still maintained that the noises had occurred. One said “I’m pretty certain I heard them. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty damned certain. I’m positive I heard these noises” ( Laurence & Perry, 1983, p. 524 ).
The paradigm of inducing pseudomemories of being awakened by loud noises has now been used extensively by other researchers who readily replicate the basic findings. Moreover, the pseudomemories are not limited to hypnotic conditions. Simply inducing subjects to imagine and describe the loud noises resulted in later “memories” for noises that had never occurred ( Weekes, Lynn, Green, & Brentar, 1992 ).
Other false memories.
Other evidence shows that people can be tricked into believing that they experienced an event even in the absence of specific hypnotic suggestions. For example, numerous studies have shown that people misremember that they voted in a particular election when they actually had not ( Abelson, Loftus, & Greenwald, 1992 ). One interpretation of these findings is that people fill in the gaps in their memory with socially desirable constructions, thus creating for themselves a false memory of voting.
In other studies, people have been led to believe that they witnessed assaultive behavior when in fact they did not (e.g., Haugaard, Reppucci, Laurd, & Nauful, 1991). In this study, children aged four to seven years were led to believe that they saw a man hit a girl, when he had not, after hearing the girl lie about the assault. Not only did they misrecall the nonexistent hitting, but they added their own details: Of 41 false claims, 39 children said it happened near a pond, 1 said it was at the girl’s house, and 1 could not specify exactly where the girl was when the man hit her.
Violent false memories
People can hold completely false memories for something far more traumatic than awakening at night, voting in a particular election, or a simulation involving a man and a girl. Pynoos and Nader (1989) studied children’s recollections of a sniper attack at an elementary school playground. Some of the children who were interviewed were not at the school during the shooting, including some who were already on the way home or were on vacation. Yet, even the nonwitnesses had memories:
One girl initially said that she was at the school gate nearest the sniper when the shooting began. In truth she was not only out of the line of fire, she was half a block away. A boy who had been away on vacation said that he had been on his way to the school, had seen someone lying on the ground, had heard the shots, and then turned back. In actuality, a police barricade prevented anyone from approaching the block around the school. (p. 238)
The memories apparently were created by exposure to the stories of those who truly experienced the trauma.
Memories of being lost.
A question arises as to whether one could experimentally implant memories for nonexistent events that, if they had occurred, would have been traumatic. Given the need to protect human subjects, devising a means of accomplishing this was not an easy task. Loftus and Coan (in press), however, developed a paradigm for instilling a specific childhood memory for being lost on a particular occasion at the age of five. They chose getting lost because it is clearly a great fear of both parents and children. Their initial observations show how subjects can be readily induced to believe this kind of false memory. The technique involved a subject and a trusted family member who played a variation of “Remember the time that….?” To appreciate the methodology, consider the implanted memory of 14-year-old Chris. Chris was convinced by his older brother, Jim, that he had been lost in a shopping mall when he was 5 years old. Jim told Chris this story as if it were the truth: “It was 1981 or 1982. I remember that Chris was 5. We had gone shopping at the University City shopping mall in Spokane. After some panic, we found Chris being led down the mall by a tall, oldish man (I think he was wearing a flannel shirt). Chris was crying and holding the man’s hand. The man explained that he had found Chris walking around crying his eyes out just a few mements before and was trying to help him find his parents.”
Just two days later, Chris recalled his feelings about being lost: “That day I was so scared that I would never see my family again. I knew that I was in trouble.” On the third day, he recalled a conversation with his mother: “I remember mom telling me never to do that again.” On the fourth day: “I also remember that old man’s flannel shirt.” On the fifth day, he started remembering the mall itself: “I sort of remember the stores.” In his last recollection, he could even remember a conversation with the man who found him: “I remember the man asking me if I was lost.”
It would be natural to wonder whether perhaps Chris had really gotten lost that day. Maybe it happened, but his brother forgot. But Chris’s mother was subjected to the same procedure and was never able to remember the false event. After five days of trying, she said “I feel very badly about it, but I just cannot remember anything like this ever happening.”
A couple of weeks later, Chris described his false memory and he greatly expanded on it.
I was with you guys for a second and I think I went over to look at the toy store, the Kay-bee toy and uh, we got lost and I was looking around and I thought, “Uh-oh. I’m in trouble now.” You know. And then I…I thought I was never going to see my family again. I was really scared you know. And then this old man, I think he was wearing a blue flannel, came up to me…he was kind of old. He was kind of bald on top…he had like a ring of gray hair…and he had glasses.
Thus, in two short weeks, Chris now could even remember the balding head and the glasses worn by the man who rescued him. He characterized his memory as reasonably clear and vivid.
Finally, Chris was debriefed. He was told that one of the memories presented to him earlier had been false. When asked to guess, he guessed one of the genuine memories. When told that it was the getting-lost memory, he said, “Really? I thought I remembered being lost…and looking around for you guys. I do remember that. And then crying. And mom coming up and saying ‘Where were you. Don’t you…Don’t you ever do that again.’”
A false memory of abuse.
The lost-in-a-shopping-mall example shows that memory of an entire mildly traumatic event can be created. It is still natural to wonder whether one could go even further and implant a memory of abuse. Ethically, of course, it would not be possible, but anecdotally, as it happens, it was done. It is one of the most dramatic cases of false memory of abuse ever to be documented–the case of Paul Ingram from Olympia, Washington ( Ofshe, 1992; Watters, 1991 ). As described above, Ingram, was arrested for child abuse in 1988 at the time he was chair of the county Republican committee. At first Ingram denied everything, and detectives told him he was in denial. After five months of interrogation, suggestions from a psychologist, and continuing pressure from detectives and advisors, Ingram began to confess to rapes, assaults, child sexual abuse, and participation in a Satan-worshiping cult alleged to have murdered 25 babies ( Ofshe, 1992 ). To elicit specific memories, the psychologist or detectives would suggest some act of abuse (e.g., that on one occasion, Ingram and several other men raped his daughter). Ingram would at first not remember these fragments, but after a concerted effort on his part, he would later come up with a detailed memory.
Richard Ofshe, a social psychologist hired by the prosecution to interview Ingram and his family members, decided to test Ingram’s credibility. Ofshe had made up a completely fabricated scenario. He told Ingram that two of his children (a daughter and a son) had reported that Ingram had forced them to have sex in front of him. As with the earlier suggestions, Ingram at first could not remember this. But Ofshe urged Ingram to try to think about the scene and try to see it happening, just as the interrogators had done to him earlier. Ingram began to get some visual images. Ingram then followed Ofshe’s instructions to “pray on” the scene and try to remember more over the next few hours. Several hours later, Ingram had developed detailed memories and wrote a three-page statement confessing in graphic detail to the scene that Ofshe had invented ( Ofshe, 1992 ;Watters, 1991 ). Ofshe (1989, 1992) noted that this was not the first time that a vulnerable individual had been made to believe that he had committed a crime for which he originally had no memory and which evidence proved he could not have committed. What is crucial about the Ingram case is that some of the same methods that are used in repressed memory cases were used with Ingram. These include the use of protracted imagining of events and authority figures establishing the authenticity of these events.
These examples provide further insights into the malleable nature of memory. They suggest that memories for personally experience traumatic events can be altered by new experiences. Moreover, they reveal that entire events that never happened can be injected into memory. The false memories range from the relatively trivial (e.g., remembering voting) to the bizarre (e.g., remembering forcing one’s daughter and son to have sex). These false memories, with more or less detail, of course do not prove that repressed memories of abuse that return are false. They do demonstrate a mechanism by which false memories can be created by a small suggestion from a trusted family member, by hearing someone lie, by suggestion from a psychologist, or by incorporation of the experiences of others into one’s own autobiography. Of course, the fact that false memories can be planted tells nothing about whether a given memory of child sexual abuse is false or not; nor does it tell how one might distinguish the real cases from the false ones. These findings on the malleability of memory do, however, raise questions about the wisdom of certain recommendations being promoted in self-help workbooks, in handbooks for therapists, and by some therapists themselves. The false memories created in the examples above were accomplished with techniques that are not all that different from what some therapists regularly do–suggesting that the client was probably abused because of some vague symptoms, labeling a client’s ambiguous recollections as evidence of abuse, and encouraging mental exercises that involve fantasy merging with reality.
What does this mean in relation to Wade Robson? For the moment, we’ll just give him benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe he, at least, genuinely believes he is having repressed memories of abuse. We know from reports that he supposedly suffered his breakdown-or the beginning of it-in 2010. It’s certainly conceivable that an aggressive therapist, already familiar with Wade’s history as a friend of Michael Jackson’s-could have planted the idea of repressed memories and could have worked to extract those “memories.” If Robson was in a vulnerable state, he certainly could have been susceptible to the planting of false memories-except in that case, it wouldn’t explain why he then went on to pay glowing tribute to his mentor in July of 2011, when the breakdown and resultant therapy supposedly occurred in March of 2011! (It’s hard to keep track of the dates, however, as they keep changing conveniently to suit the story!). Note, however, that at the time Robson is speaking here, praising his mentor and his “essence” that he had supposedly already started the therapy that had unleashed his repressed memories of abuse! At the very least, he was supposedly already suffering his breakdown here. Hmm. All I can say is, he looks pretty cool and collected here to me!
It gets better. This interview was from 2012. Watch how utterly at ease he is talking about Michael and their friendship here, supposedly five months after beginning therapy and the resurfacing of his repressed memories!
And watch how coolly he shoots down d**kwad Jimmy Kimmel back in 2003!
This might be an interesting time to look at a recent statement made by body language expert Craig Baxter, whose book on Michael’s body language, “Behind The Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Had To Tell The World” has become an Amazon best seller. Granted, body language is no more an exact science than repressed memory, and I am in no way endorsing or suggesting this as infallible proof. But I do think it’s very interesting what Baxter had to say in regards to the above videos from Wade Robson:
I have been inundated with messages to cover Wade Robson’s body language in relation to his recent claims that Michael Jackson sexually abused him for 7 years.
I have watched many videos of Wade talking positively about Michael and I see no hidden or concealed emotions. I see NO flashes of disgust, anger, fear, contempt or any other negative emotion linked with the abuse he now claims. Furthermore, I see no other body language behaviour correlated with anxiety or stress. In… my opinion, if Wade had been sexual assaulted by Michael, there would be an abundance of behavioural leakage. There is N-O-N-E.
“I hope the evidence I have presented in my book will prove Michael’s doubters to be wrong, as there is an overwhelming body of evidence that shows Michael to be innocent in every sense of the word.” < This is final sentence I wrote in my book about Michael Jackson. The sooner the world realises this the better.
It Was The Highest Grossing North American Tour Of 2012…And Wade Robson Was Out!
For the moment, I want to return to Robson’s 2011 vid discussing the Cirque du Soleil show. Let’s ask the logical question: If you had suddenly remembered that this person abused you-not once or twice, but repeatedly over a seven year period, would you want to be involved with a multi-million dollar production that is glorifying your abuser?
Well, maybe. If you were getting to be said director of such production. Except that never happened, either. That gig went to Jamie King (also directing the current Michael Jackson One Cirque show, and who also replaced Robson on the Britney Spears Circus tours).
“But here’s the rub. A spokesperson for the Michael Jackson Estate — which produced the Cirque du Soleil show — tells TMZ … Robson was “on the list of choreographers but his son got sick and he wasn’t used.” The spokesperson said there was never a contract between Wade and the show.”
And it has not escaped the notice of some that Robson (or his attorney, more aptly) filed the claim on the same day as the opening of the One show. Hmm. Kind of begs the question: Could this have possibly been the motivation behind the suspicious timing of the claim, and not the AEG trial, as so many have suspected? Or is there still a connection? While it seems plausible, it doesn’t explain the motivation for the two, other alleged claims that has been hinted by at least one tabloid source. So what exactly is going on? Obviously, some force is behind this latest rash of “claims.” I do not buy for an instant that three perfectly grown men have suddenly had a rash of repressed memories, all bubbling forth simultaneously.
That being said, the possibility had always been in my mind that, at some point, someone might try something like this. It’s a crying shame, considering that a dead man should be allowed to rest in peace. In my estimation, this is lower than anything the Chandlers or Arvizos ever did. At least, they brought their allegations when Michael was alive to defend himself-and when some type of real justice (provided the accusations had been true) could have been carried out. Although as pointed out in the article I quoted above, civil litigation is sometimes encouraged by therapists as a way for victims to reclaim ownership of what happened to them, the unique circumstances in this case just makes the whole thing very, very suspect. The person being accused is deceased; there is no chance for criminal justice, and no chance of a defense. Michael isn’t here to deny the charges. His estate, meanwhile, is generating money hands over fist. And Michael Jackson is an easy target, since there is still a lot of public doubt and speculation regarding past allegations.
The simple fact is, these days it doesn’t really matter whether Michael is/was guilty or innocent. The accusation alone is sufficient, for it is the accusation that will guarantee Robson the attention and the results he wants. Those who want to believe Michael was a pedophile and child molestor, and already have their minds made up regardless, will believe it, anyway. It will guarantee maximum negative publicity, which is something we know the estate doesn’t want. Therefore, if we are thinking the way any logical extortionist would think, we might conclude: Paydirt. Either the estate is going to give me what I want, to make this go away, or I will make such a stink that they wish they had.
We don’t know how this will turn out until it goes before the probate judge, who of course may still toss the whole thing out unless he/she buys into the repressed memory excuse. Otherwise, the statute of limitations has long expired on Robson. At any rate, the absolute worst thing the estate could do would be to pay this guy a dime. If they do, they are only setting a precedent for many more bogus such claims to come out of the woodwork (as the Daily Star reported, those other two so-called allegations waiting in the wings are doing just that…that is, waiting to see how the Robson case pans out. Let’s translate: They are waiting to see if, ultimately, there is any pay out!).
And speaking of setting a precedent, that is definitely something that needs to be discussed in more detail, and which will be in upcoming installments. If I’ve heard the phrase “Where there is smoke, there must be fire” one time, I’ve heard it a million since this story broke. But what the average layperson fails to take into account is the unique history of how the first set of allegations made against Michael Jackson paved the way for a trail of “phantom” cases and bogus, “phantom victims.” The reputation that unfortunately dogged Michael after (and even before) the Chandler case made such accusations all too easy to pull off. It didn’t even particularly matter if the claims could be disproven; for many, simply making the accusations could mean a huge payoff in terms of media attention and lucrative offers from tabloids. If you’re not familiar with the long trail of phantom victims and bogus claims from those who have unsuccessfully tried to set Michael Jackson up through the years, then just wait until we get to Part 5…it will boggle your mind! The simple truth is that, at this point, Wade Robson doesn’t even have to have his own memories or his own story to make a semi-credible case for himself. With so much detail of the Chandler and Arvizo cases being public record, all he has to do is parrot the details of those cases; maybe twist a few details around here and there, and he will have a perfectly believable story to sell. And those prone to believing Michael was guilty will simply see it as evidence of a repeated pattern, rather than questioning the source of his information.
Regardless of what happens with this debtor’s claim, Robson may well end up with a substantial payoff, just in terms of the offers he will get to speak to the tabloids. It’s an established fact that the tabloid magazines and news shows will pay big bucks for anyone willing to make up dirt on Michael Jackson. Whether the story is true or not has never been a matter for concern. Michael’s former maid Blanca Francia was offered $20,000 to lie outright for Hard Copy. When I interviewed Michael’s artist friend David Nordahl in 2010, he spoke of having been offered as much as $25,000 by the tabloids and media.
Nordahl says he was constantly bombarded by tabloid and media requests, some even offering up to as much as “$25,000″ to “dish dirt” on Michael. True or not, it didn’t matter. “They would want to know who the kids in the paintings were, what their names were,” he said. “Well, we couldn’t give them any names, because none of the kids really existed. They were all made up.”
(That interview in its entirety is still on the OldAllforloveblog website, but the link may be currently down; however you can also read it here:
Wade’s own mother, Joy Robson, was reportedly offered a six-figure sum from The National Enquirer to change her story and claim that Michael Jackson had molested her son. She was also approached and bribed by Victor Guiterrez, according to Jermaine Jackson’s book You Are Not Alone. The following is an excerpt from sanemjfan’s latest post on Michael Jackson Vindication 2.0 (and who, btw, is also posting the entire transcript of Robson’s 2005 testimony, as well as that of his mother and sister Chantal):
The below commentary is from sanemjfan:
Before we get to her testimony, I want to share an interesting tidbit of information from Jermaine Jackson’s book “You Are Not Alone”; on page 155 , he briefly describes how Joy was approached by a “journalist” name Victor Gutierrez in 1992. He was conducting an “investigation” to prove his suspicions that Jackson was a pedophile, and after meeting with Gutierrez, Joy immediately phoned Jackson’s office:
Gutierrez published the trash book “Michael Jackson Was My Lover” overseas, but was unable to get a US publisher to distribute it after he lost a multi-million dollar slander lawsuit against Jackson in 1997. Throughout the book, Gutierrez wrote about his interactions with Joy Robson and other associates of Jackson (including the Chandlers), but fortunately his book was fact checked by using Joy’s testimony in this aptly post titled “Joy Robson vs. Victor Gutierrez: The Truth against Lies”. There are almost two dozen posts that have been written to refute the lies of Victor Gutierrez (that number of posts is indicative of how instrumental he was in Jackson’s downfall), and you can see them all here.
Not only did Joy reject any money that Victor Gutierrez offered her, but she also turned down a six figure bounty from the National Enquirer! Here is an exceprt from page 159 of Jermaine’s book:
It’s really unbelievable that Joy would turn down money from the tabloids and reject Victor Gutierrez’s assertions during Jackson’s darkest hour, yet all of a sudden do a complete 180 degree turnaround and support her son (in my opinion, he silence so far is a sign of support for her son).
Joy Robson and the rest of her family defending Michael in 1993:
Just to add my own two cents to what sanemjfan wrote above, it really doesn’t bother me what Chantal or Joy have to say about this-or not, as the case may be. They are Wade’s family, so I would expect that they would support him. I bear them no particular enmity. They weren’t the ones who made this claim; that was solely Wade’s own doing. This time-unlike the Chandler and Arvizo cases, where the “accusers” were minors and their parents the ones who were largely orchestrating things-we have an adult who is acting solely of his own accord. I am sure that Wade’s family may be going through their own shock at this bomb Wade has dropped, and may not be quite sure how to deal with it. So for now, at least, I am not concerning myself too much with them. I will, however, keep an eye on their future words and actions. I am sure they are once again getting offers from tabloids, so we’ll see if Joy Robson maintains the same integrity she has displayed in the past. In upcoming installments, I will be looking at some of both her and Chantal’s court testimony, as well as Wade’s (remember, Robson has sworn under oath-twice!-that nothing inappropriate ever happened!).
Will The REAL Wade Robson Please Stand Up?
The big question that remains is…will the real Wade Robson ever stand up? Which one do we believe, the old, reliable 1989-2011 version that we all grew to believe and know so well, or this new (and not so improved) 2013 version who has suddenly become a stranger to us-someone we thought we knew, but apparently did not? (Perhaps we never did).
In upcoming installments, I am going to be addressing several issues. Of course, this is still a developing story, so as with all SIP’s (that’s stories in progress!) I have to allow some flexibility to accomodate those developments. But among the things I will be looking at in more depth in upcoming installments will be: 1. The psychological (and misunderstood)nature of Michael’s relationships with children, which is really where this all begins; 2. Michael’s relationship with the Robson family, and how it compares to other families he befriended; 3. Wade’s staunch, adamant, and nearly 20-year-defense of Michael (so what the heck was that all about if he really believes what he’s saying now?); 4. How the pattern of this case follows the ones that have gone before-and why that may actually vindicate Michael; 5. The peculiar and unique history of the allegations made against Michael (why he’s been targeted so often, and why so many bogus/phantom cases), and 6: What the future and implications of this latest claim may mean-regardless of what a judge decides.
Given how closely entwined these topics are, I expect there will be lots of overlapping, but that’s okay. None of these can exist in isolation, as they all form an essential role in understanding what is happening-and more importantly, in arriving at some sense of just what the heck is really going on here.
UPDATE: 5/15/13: We may just have the answer to the question, What the heck is really going on? Answer: Wade Robson has lost his frickin’ mind! Now he has apparently decided that his debtor’s claim isn’t enough. In what has to be one of the most weirdly bizarre and unprecedented cases in recent history, Robson has decided to sue a dead man-or at the very least, it seems, every profitable entity connected with him! TMZ broke the story today. As a rule, I don’t link to TMZ or any of the trashier tabloids, but since TMZ seem to be the ones breaking these stories and updates exclusively, there isn’t much of a way to avoid them, unfortunately.
Here was the story TMZ reported:
Wade Robson WILL have his day in court in his attempt to prove he was molested by Michael Jackson … even if he’s shut down by the Michael Jackson Estate.
TMZ has learned … Robson has filed a civil lawsuit in L.A. County Superior Court … and it has nothing to do with his creditor’s claim against the Estate. We broke the story … Robson belatedly filed his creditor’s claim, alleging MJ molested him between the ages of 7 and 14.
Robson may get shut down by the probate judge because he waited too long to file his claim. But the civil lawsuit we found will NOT go away that easily.
The allegations in the civil lawsuit are sealed, but TMZ has obtained the face page of the complaint, which shows Robson is suing DOE 1, an individual, DOE 2, a California corporation, and DOE 3, a California corporation. As for who these anonymous DOES are … TMZ has done some digging, and it’s clear. Robson is targeting MJJ Productions – Michael’s record label (owned by Sony) which hired Wade when he was 11 — and MJJ Ventures … which produced Michael’s music videos.
The two corporations may have been involved in bringing Wade to the U.S. from his home in Australia, and it’s clear Wade will argue they had some responsibility for protecting him — kind of like the relationship between priests who molest and the Catholic Church.
As for the individual DOES (Wade names 50 DOES) … it’s very clear from our research that Robson is targeting the two executors of the MJ Estate – John Branca and John McClain.
Short story — even if Wade loses in probate court, he can probably have his day in civil court and put Michael Jackson and allegations of molestation before a jury.
And-just as I predicted here yesterday-Wade is apparently planning to do the media circuit, kicking off with an interview on The Today Show scheduled for 5/16. TMZ posted this video of him arriving at JFK airport, ostensibly for his Today Show interview. In the comment section, we were discussing Wade’s body language here as compared to many of the earlier videos posted here, where he was still adamantly defending Michael as his friend. I am going to say that after watching this vid twice, I have somewhat reassessed my earlier opinion. I don’t think he has the same, calm and easy demeanor as in those earlier videos-and certainly none of the sincerity. He seems curt, angry, and evasive. Yes, dealing with paparazzi is annoying, but all the same, something just seems very off about Wade now. To me, his very demeanor now comes across as someone with something to hide, and as someone with malicious, ulterior motives. Dare I say it? He just looks like a snake in the grass here!
This seems a really good time to call attention back to this, and redouble our efforts to get this passed!
UPDATE: 5/16/13: Wade’s TODAY SHOW interview and my analysis of it: (Note: I am no Craig Baxter, but I’m going to give a good stab at it, anyway! Hopefully, Baxter -the REAL body language expert-will be weighing in shortly).
However, let’s note already that Robson has dropped a huge bombshell, in having publicly recanted his “repressed memory” defense. Well, good for you, Wade! We knew it was baloney, so at least you came to your senses on that one. But…where does this leave his credibility now?
Since the show’s airing and the posting of the vid this morning, I’ve been reading various amateur attempts at analysis (and admittedly, mine is one more amateur attempt to add to the growing list). But I want to caution against placing too much emphasis on things like eye contact and breaking gaze. These things can mean someone is lying. But they can also be signs of intense concentration or a kind of defense mechanism when speaking on a subject that is emotionally distressing.
However, Wade’s entire demeanor here seems to me incredibly calculated and rehearsed-far more than he ever appeared in all of his videos praising Michael, which seemed to derive from a naturally bubbly personality and the easy, spontaneity of truth.
That is gone now. THIS Wade appears calculated and restrained, and under duress. (The duress of his lie? Fear of its repercussions? Guilt? Fear of not living up to his coaches/sponsors? Or the strain of bearing the burden of truth? It could well be all of these; I’ll explain more in due order).
I do sense a lot of anger in Wade. I believe the stories of the breakdown are true. But just who is he angry at, and why? Well, if we could get to the heart of that, we could certainly get to the heart of this whole mystery.
There are a couple of very obvious stress triggers for Wade in this interview: Any mention of money, his coaching story, and when pressed directly about his feelings for Michael-then and now. I think it would be fair to say that his interview represents a mixed bag of lies and truth. But how to separate which is which?
At 1:54 Robson is asked how he feels. His statement, “I feel strong” is a huge contradiction between words and body language, and to me is at the core of everything that is wrong and “off” about him in this interview. He is not feeling strong or confident at all; quite the contrary, his body language and entire demeanor is that of someone feeling very vulnerable and unsure of himself. Ever hear the phrase squirming? I believe wholeheartedly this is a man squirming inside. He keeps a very defensive pose throughout the interview, with legs crossed and body posture very rigid. This is a sign of extreme discomfort. Since Wade is already a public figure, and has been for much of his life, we can’t attribute this to nerves, so obviously it is the discomfort with the subject at hand.Now, possibly, there are two ways to read into this. One could be that he is under duress because he is lying, and knows it. Another “possible” explanation could be that coming out the other end of a traumatic ordeal, such as a complete emotional breakdown, can leave one feeling drained and devoid of animation. It’s too close to call which it might be, but I would reason to guess that Wade HAS been through some sort of trauma in the past year, and it has either left him shell shocked OR has just completely transformed him into a bitter, lying jackass. Take your pick.
What does he mean by “MY truth?” His sister Chantal used that same choice of words on her FB page.
Here is something Wade would have learned from his idol MJ: When Michael released his album “HIStory” there was a reason that the emphasis was placed on “HIS,” giving the title an instant double meaning-or additional layer of meaning. History, in essence, is written by the conquerors. History is a narrative written by others, of past events that have shaped us into who we are. But in emphasizing “HIS” Michael was personalizing the story to say, “This is MY history and MY story.” It remains to this day one of the most clever album titles in all the “history” of pop music.
But it can also be a very neat way to circumvent truth. After all, no one can invalidate one’s personal truth because truth is always in the eye of the beholder. A child, for example, may recall an event completely differently from the way the adults around him remember it. Does that, then, make the child’s version invalid? Or the adults’? No. It is simply two versions of the same truth, or the same reality-but viewed differently because the perceptions of an adult are vastly different from those of a child. A house that looks incredibly small to an adult may, for example, appear incredibly large to a small child. You get the idea.
If Wade Robson says, “This is my truth,” who is going to argue that? I think his words are coming from a complete knowledge and understanding that, from this moment going forward, there are going to be two distinct versions of this “truth”-the one he puts out vs. what the fans of Michael and his proponents will continue to put out to deflect him, not to mention the attorneys down the road who will rip him under cross examination. By phrasing it as “my truth” he is getting an early edge on the uphill battle against his credibility that he knows is coming.
It can also be read as a defiant statement against what the rest of the world thinks. Either way, he is making his phrasing very deliberate in order to circumvent the tough questions to his credibility that are surely coming.
It’s like trying to argue with a class of freshmen in English 102 that everyone’s interpretation of a piece of literature has validity…to a point. But then, at some point, you have to be able to back your claim. If you don’t have the evidence to back it up, your entire thesis/hypothesis will fall through. Same thing here.
Wade is asked about his 2005 testimony. Here is where he drops the ball completely and admits this was never an issue of repressed memory. But here is a huge problem for Wade. His own attorney has already made the statement to the press that this was a case of repressed memory! He has doctors who have already sworn to repressed memory as the entire basis of his claim! And basically, by admitting now that it was not repressed memory and that he was always aware of what was happening to him (alleging anything “did” happen), he is confessing that-as a fully competent adult in 2005-he knowingly committed perjury on the witness stand!
Either way, his credibility is shot because the way any judge is going to look at this case is: This guy either lied big time-twice!-under oath, and once as a fully competent adult, OR he is lying now. In either event, it puts his credibility into dire question.
I wanted to share with you a kick-ass comment I read from GlitterySocks on the Positively Michael forum (the underlined emphasis is mine):
I hope that people are not conflating the issues you mentioned with the facts at hand. Here, the facts at hand are that 1) his lawyer said that it is a repressed memory, and 2) that is what the case is built on. This is the entire psychological phenomenon that they used as a basis to be eligible for this late filing, and to explain the discrepancies in his 2005 testimony. Surely Wade was complicit with this assessment prior to filing– I would imagine that extensive tests and analysis occurred before deciding to go forward with this lawsuit. Doctors are involved in this case based on the repressed memory theory and lawyer statements have been made to the public (ie-potential judge and jurors). Now this incredibly critical point is suddenly dismissed and it is a case built on something else entirely (and which may not be eligible for a late filing).
I do not see how any judge or jury will ever be able to ascertain if this man is ever telling the truth about anything.
The problem is that, regardless of whether this is being treated as a civil matter of a debtor’s claim, the statute of limitations isn’t that easily circumvented. And Wade has just effectively shot down whatever slim chance he had on the repressed memory angle-not to mention having called his entire history of credibility into serious questioning!
Wade’s next uncomfortable trigger is when pressed about his 2005 testimony. He waivers visibly under any direct questions regarding money or this alleged “coaching” from Michael Jackson. Here is why I have a very hard time buying his coaching story: He states very specifically that after the Chandler allegations broke, Michael would call him every day and they would role play, rehearsing what Wade was to say.
For starters, Michael would have been way too smart to be having such phone conversations with ANY kid at ANY time, but especially after 1993! Michael was all too aware that anything said in a phone conversation could be taped at any time, by anybody, and used against him. As a celebrity, he was always aware of the threat of extortion; and over the years, as his mistrust increased, he would have been extra careful to not put himself in such a vulnerable and incriminating position.
Of course, given the nature of what he was being accused of, and its dire seriousness-and knowing full well that his young friends would be questioned and even grilled, it might have been understandable that Michael may have coached him in some regard about what to say; after all, even a true statement from a child can be misconstrued by an over zealous attorney or investigator. So perhaps it might be plausible Michael did coach him, but I don’t buy that these sessions occurred over the phone, and certainly not every day.
Wade breaks his gaze and shifts when asked directly about what Michael did to him. Of course, that again could be read two ways: Shame and embarrassment with discussing such a private issue, or lying. It seemed to me that he was almost fishing for a plausible response that would sound honest enough without making him sound as if he was totally throwing Michael under the bus (even though, of course, he was doing just that!). It is interesting that the information he did share sounded suspiciously like Jordan Chandler’s interview with Dr. Gardner. Again, this “could” be proof of a pattern, but just as likely, could also mean nothing more than that Wade is familiar with these sources. Take it for what it’s worth.
And just to reiterate a very powerful comment I saw on TMZ, “Michael wasn’t role playing with him for the last three years!”
And let’s go back to this point, which can’t be stressed enough: Wade Robson was a 22-year-old ADULT when he testified in 2005. If he was being manipulated, he was freely and willingly allowing himself to be manipulated!
No, here is the straight and skinny on that. He was either being completely truthful in 2005, OR:
He is a stinking, lying piece of offal who thoroughly enjoyed having sex with MJ, loved it, loved Michael, and loved what Michael was doing for him, and loved him even into adulthood, so much that he was perfectly willing to throw Gavin Arvizo and the others under the bus…and is just as willing now to throw Michael under that bus with him. (And isn’t it strange that he would use the term “an expression of our love?” Yes, I know he was supposedly quoting Michael, but I detected more than a hint of mutual sincerity in that statement. As they always say, it’s a very thin line between love and hate, and what I believe is that something-whatever-has pushed Wade over that edge from love to hate).
Sorry to be so blunt, but those are the only two choices. Wade doesn’t get to have it both ways. And given his adult status at the time, he can’t just admit he lied in 2005 and brush it all off that easily. “Oh, I was brainwashed.”
Like I said before, this is a young man with a LOT of answering to do, either way. It boils down to one simple truth: He is a liar. Whether he lied in 2005 or now, either way he is a liar. And I can’t wait for the cross examinations to begin!
Is there any sincerity in his interview? I believe there is still some genuine. mixed emotion when he is asked how he feels about Michael. There is a hint of the old animation here. All of his praise of Michael’s talent and as an inspiration to him through the years has been sincere, and that still comes through here. But there is also a lot of obvious discomfort with once again being put in a position to describe Michael in even these mixed terms. Again, this can be read one of two ways: Discomfort because it is a distressing and painful subject, or guilt because it forcing him to confront and acknowledge what he is doing to this man’s legacy and to his children. Since it can be read either way, I don’t know how much weight to give it, but clearly it is a sore point for him.
Whatever the case may be, it was a done deal when he uttered the “p” word and Michael’s name in the same breath, on national TV. There is no turning back from this point. Fans are never going to forgive Wade Robson. Michael Jackson’s family and children are never going to forgive him.
Okay, so maybe he doesn’t need the fans, or the Jackson family.
But he does need a judge to take him seriously, and at the rate he’s going, he is effectively shooting himself in the foot.
And besides, there’s something to be said about burned bridges. You never know when you might want to turn back, or wish you’d never been so quick to light that match.
Wade has burned his bridges along with his credibility.
Of all the things I take from this interview, there are only two things for which I believe Wade is truly sincere: Something has happened to him in the last year or so. Perhaps he was abused (but who’s to say that Michael was the abuser? As Corey Feldman has said, pedophilia is rampant in Hollywood). Could it be possible that he is simply transferring his anger and pain at another onto Michael, simply because Michael is an easier target and/or AEG is sponsoring him to lie?
Well, that is getting into the realm of pure speculation, but here is one thing that is not speculation: Wade Robson, currently, is a very angry and troubled man. My personal belief is that he is making Michael a scapegoat for his own issues-and not for the reasons he is raising here. His current demeanor also reveals a strong, sociopathic streak that was not evident before. He seems to be out for #1 now, and will stop at no means to do that.
I will apologize again if some of my words seem uncharacteristically blunt, but either way the scales are tipped (whether you believed Wade in 2005, or now) he has openly revealed himself as a liar who places his own needs and his own motives ahead of the welfare of others. He did not care about other abused children in 2005 (and let me remind you again, he was a fully capable adult at that time) and he does not care about them now.
What he does care about, very much, is Michael Jackson’s money.
But I have a feeling all the money in the world can’t fix Wade Robson’s problems.
Whatever they are.
UPDATE: 5/17/13: Craig Baxter has posted his analysis of the interview. Here are Parts I and II:
ETA: And…while it may not seem like much, this latest video from TMZ Live does set something of a historical precedent. For perhaps the first time ever, we see a gossip outlet seriously questioning the story of an MJ accuser. While I’m not ready to give TMZ any cookies just yet-trust me, they are relishing this story just as they have always relished any dirt on Michael-I think this does represent an important and progressive step forward. (Harry Levin is still a douche, however; just maybe a slightly less douche than before!):
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails from readers asking me if I plan to review and/or rebut the controversial new book by Randall Sullivan, Untouchable: The Strange Life and Death of Michael Jackson. I havebeen honest in my responses, which is that first of all, along with so many other titles on my to-do list (many of which, frankly, I am looking much, much more forward to and that I know will be far more worthwhile reads) it is going to be awhile before I can find the time to actually sit down and read it. As a policy, I do not like to do book reviews until I have actually, well, read the book in question. It is often too easy to judge a book based on hearsay and kneejerk, word-of-mouth responses. I like to be an independent thinker and judge for myself. Sometimes, even if an author and I do not see eye to eye on some issues regarding Michael’s life, we may find common ground in others. The question then becomes: Does this book’s good qualities outweigh the bad? To what extent can a person knowledgable about Michael Jackson’s life overlook some egregious errors and flaws if there are compensating qualities the author offers and new insights? Usually, the reaction of the fan community is a very good barometor by which to gauge a book’s worth-and not because, as some detractors insist, simply because all MJ fans are blind worshippers who only wish to see positive things written about Michael. In fact, many fans, like myself, are far more interested in the human side of Michael Jackson than the public image. No, it has to do with something else-the fact that MJ fans, on the whole, are knowledgable, intelligent people who have, for the most part, invested many more years of researching Michael’s life than the average journalist for whom it is simply their latest project, and for which they hope to earn a quick buck and some notoriety. The fans know how to separate the junk from the gems; the knowledgable from the ignorant, and most of all, the difference between those who have a genuine love or at least respect for their subject vs. those who don’t.
It Doesn’t Take Close-Up Reading Spectacles To Know When A Biographer Doesn’t Respect His Subject
One thing is for sure: If an MJ biographer doesn’t respect his subject, it will come through loud and clear. It will come through in what he/she chooses to emphasize; what facts they purposely choose to omit, and the overall, general tone of the book. A “sympathetic portrayal” (to borrow Sullivan’s own words) isn’t good enough if there are numerous egregious errors; good intentions don’t cut it if the overall result is simply to add to more misunderstanding of who Michael Jackson was, and to further contribute to the tabloid caricature rather than a true understanding of a complex human being.
Thus, while a negative buzz isn’t enough to turn me completely off of a new title, it usually is enough to put me on high alert. I certainly do not need all of the books I read to be warm and fuzzy love letters to Michael. But I do expect them to be knowledgable, well researched, and accurate. I expect a certain level of journalistic integrity in which the author does not simply rely on tabloid sources. And one thing that turns me off quicker than anything is when writers who never knew Michael attempt to psychoanalyze him. At best, such attempts come off as a kind of arrogant projection (this is who/what I think Michael Jackson was, and I will do my damdest to make every “fact” suit my agenda). At worst, they can do irrefutable damage by sometimes creating false perceptions and myths about an individual that can then take years to undo.
At this point, you may be thinking, wow. For someone who admits I haven’t even read Sullivan’s book yet, I am sure doing my share of judging it already. Well, let’s be honest. With all of the interviews Sullivan has already done, all of the book reviews that have already been written, and the excerpts I have seen (and yes, I have downloaded and skimmed a sizeable chunk of the book) I don’t think I am speaking too prematurely. For sure, I’ve seen enough to know what Sullivan’s general attitude is, as well as the overall tone and agenda of his book.
But really, what I intended this piece to be, as per this title’s post, is not so much a review of Sullivan’s book per se, as a rebuttal of his recent Huffington Post interview by Dr. Marc Hill. Now that I am perfectly qualified to speak out about, and all I have to say is…this interview is, by far, the biggest exercise in condescending, smarmy, arrogant ignorance I have seen in some time. And that isn’t directed at only Sullivan, but Marc Hill as well. Dr. Hill could certainly do well to take some lessons in journalistic integrity, but sadly, he is the norm rather than the exception. Once again, I find myself cringeing through an interview where some arrogant, clueless author (just because he has journalistic “credentials” with some big name magazine) sits and spouts decades-old misinformation about Michael Jackson, while he and the suck-up host (as equally clueless about Michael) sit and scoff at the fans who are actually providing credible facts and correctly calling this person out on their errors. Even if Marc Hill called himself being “balanced” or fair by allowing the tweets from fans and by allowing the other interviewers onto the show (even though sanemjfan was the only one with anything of substance to say) his smirking, condescending attitude toward the fans spoke volumes. Obviously, this had nothing to do with a genuine interest in presenting factual information or allowing viewers to actually challenge Sullivan’s egregious errors or motives. It was, as one viewer aptly commented, nothing more than a “fratboy gabfest.”
I don’t necessarily fault journalists if they don’t know everything about Michael, and if what they do know seems to come only from mass media reporting. After all, these aren’t people who have spent their lives researching MJ 24-7. But what I do expect is a certain level of professional neutrality; not automatic, knee-jerk dismissals of those who are attempting to refute the very misinformation they are helping to perpetuate. Just because someone has written a book on a subject doesn’t make their opinions infallible; it certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t knowledgable readers who may challenge that information. To simply dismiss these people out of hand as “crazy” Michael Jackson fans is insulting and shows a complete disregard for any interest in presenting truthful information. I was also very disappointed that of the three guest interviewers Dr. Hill allowed on the show, only one (sanemjfan, of course) presented any serious challenges to Sullivan’s claims. Thank God there was at least one strong advocate on that show who wasn’t turning this into a Sullivan butt-kissing fest! And seriously, what kind of Michael Jackson fan would have to ask Randy Sullivan, of all people, if Michael was working on new music in his last years? Sheesh! Although I thought Sullivan handled the question well and seemed reasonably knowledgable enough of the music Michael was working on in his last years (as he should, he is supposed to be a Rolling Stone reporter, for crying out loud!) this is mostly common knowledge material that any halfway educated MJ fan would already know. But it seemed to me that challenging Sullivan was the least concern of this show.
Here is a tip for Randall Sullivan: If you expect to sell copies of a book about Michael Jackson, it might be in your best interest to not alienate your prime audience. After all, who else is going to buy a book about Michael Jackson? People who don’t like him, or are indifferent, aren’t going to bother. Casual fans most likely aren’t going to bother (after all, the book is over 700 pages!). It’s the hardcore fans and researchers who will buy this book, if anyone does. But the hardcore fans aren’t interested in regurgitated tabloid information that is decades old, and researchers aren’t going to be interested in a book filled with errors and sloppy, one-sided research.
And by condescendingly dismissing those who are intelligent and knowledgable enough to call him out on his errors as “crazy” Sullivan certainly isn’t going to endear himself with the very audience he needs most in order to sell his book!
To be honest, there was a time when I would have defended the entire MJ fan community, but in recent years, I’ve come to the slow, dawning realization tha this “lunatic fringe” faction does exist. I know because as a blogger who has always attempted to write about Michael from a balanced perspective, I’ve had more than my own fair share of dealings with this faction-unfortunately, they are all too real. But they do not represent the majority. Most importantly, they do not represent any of the commentors I saw who were responding to Dr. Hill, to Randall Sullivan, or to this Huffington Post interview. These were, from everything I read, knowledgable fans who want the truth to be told, and who are rightfully concerned that the truth be told. I know some will come back with the old, trite, worn out responses: How do we know what is “the truth” when it comes to Michael Jackson? Perhaps that is a fair enough question. We may not know the whole “truth” but we sure know BS when we are hearing it.
The “BS” Patrol Is Out In Full Force!
And frankly, that is all I heard for three-fourths of this interview-a whole lot of BS mixed in with the occasional bits that I agreed with or where I felt Sullivan probably knew what he was talking about. Like most writers who set out to write on MJ, Sullivan seems to be a writer with some areas of strength and expertise. For example, some of what he had to say about Michael’s movie ambitions were interesting and informative (again, managing to put Dr. Hill in his place, whom I’m willing to bet has never seen “Ghosts” and also seems to have conveniently forgotten all about Captain EO as well as every extended music video Michael ever did!). But the problem with Sullivan is that his arrogance, his blatant ignornace of other areas of Michael’s life, and his seeming lack of desire to get past the tabloid headlines more than overshadows anything positive or truthful he might have to say.
For example, Sullivan appears most on solid ground when he is addressing Michael’s relationship with his family, but even here, there is nothing particularly new or revelatory for most diehard fans beyond the story of Janet’s feud with the estate over the $40,000 deposit for the burial, a story that has been denied by the family and which may or may not be true; other than that, most fans know Michael spent very little time around his family in his last years; we know all about the abuse from Joe, etc. Nothing new under the sun there! I also have to give him some kudos for the effective knock-out punch he gave to Dr. Hill’s poorly informed (and typically media-fed) assertion that Michael was a barely functioning, physical wreck in his last years “barely able to walk without drugs.” I loved the story Sullivan tells of how Michael completely “dusted” the doctor in Bahrain who challenged him to a foot race. He mentions how the autopsy showed all of Michael’s organs to be incredibly healthy for a man his age, but then, within the same sentence, destroys any credibility gained by falsely stating that the autopsy mentions his nose, implying that it mentions his having a prosthetic nose (it doesn’t) and needle marks, implying these were a result of drug use (when, in fact, the actual report makes no such insinuation; all of the puncture marks mentioned seemed to be in direct correlation with recent medical procedures-including those administered by Murray- and/or resusitation efforts). What the autopsy does mention is that a small bandage was on the tip of the nose. I am guessing that Mr. Sullivan, in his haste to assume his theory about the prosthetic nose, must have jumped on this as “evidence” of a prosthetic. But, in fact, this is standard medical post-mortem procedure. Gauze tape and cotton is often used to prevent post-mortem draining from bodily cavities. It is not at all unsual for gauze tape to be placed over the nose and beneath the jaw (the latter purpose is to prevent the jaw from opening). For those who can bear to look at the hospital gurney photo, it is obvious that both Michael’s nose and lower jaw have been gauzed, but again, this is completely normal and standard post-mortem procedure.
But what’s more telling is that if Michael had been wearing a prosthetic nose, this certainly would have been mentioned in the autopsy report! The report is quite detailed and graphic, and leaves no stone unturned. Certainly the least of their concerns was preserving Michael’s “image” or his fans’ idealism. Its purpose was as an official document declaring how his death occurred, and why. Any artifice that would have had to have been removed as part of the examination process would have been duly noted, especially given that a full examination was done of his oronasal passages.
For example, the autopsy report clearly states that his wig was removed to reveal a mostly balding hairline; the remaining natural hair was short and “tightly curled.” If they would put into his report that they had to remove a wig, you know they would have certainly documented the removal of a prosthetic nose piece! They also would have certainly documented if the nose appeared in any way abnormal or remarkable, even if that abnormality did not contribute to the death. With the autopsy report having been made public, I certainly would never attempt to argue with anyone that Michael had all of his natural hair and wasn’t wearing wigs when he died; to do so would be the height of absurdity and denial! Yet there are still those like Mr. Sullivan who choose to simply cherry pick what they want to believe about the autopsy report, while ignoring the rest!
One of the things that MOST irked and irritated me about this interview was when the person tweeted demanding to know where was his proof that Michael wore a prosthetic nose, and the best he could do was evasively allude to a photo on the internet. Sullivan never specifies the photo he is referring to. I agree with the fans who pointed out (correctly, I am assuming) that the photo in question is most likely this well-known photoshop:
I have to hope that SURELY an accredited journalist would be smart enough to not assume this as a genuine and legit photo! But given his evasiveness and apparent unwillingness to identify the photo in question, it seems this is, in fact, the photo he is referring to as “proof.” It is the only “photo” on the internet that shows Michael Jackson without a nose, and it is obviously a fake. So what else is there? If he is referring to the infamous photos taken on the day of his November 2002 Santa Maria court appearance, even those (as unflattering as they are) clearly show that he has a fully intact nose! In fact, many of those photos were intentionally doctored/distorted to make his nose look worse than the way he actually appeared that day in court.
Michael’s November 2002 Santa Maria court appearance.
What The Media Wanted You To See And Focus On:
Now look at this photo, taken the same day at the same court appearance:
Though I would still never argue that these are Michael’s most flattering photos, it is plainly obvious in the second pic that his nose looks perfectly normal for this particular era of his appearance. At any rate, it’s certainly intact!
Note in this video (thanks, Blue Lotus for the link!), beginning at about the 0:27 mark, how other photos taken of him on that same day, during the same court appearance, look perfectly fine!
So if Sullivan’s “proof” isn’t that hilariously obvious photoshop, or the Santa Maria court pics, what else is there? The only such photos on the internet are very obvious sick “joke” pics made by haters and pranksters. Simply put, there is no such pic on the internet. And if Sullivan does have such proof of an actual, legit photo that exists, he needs to put up or shut up.
While I’m not denying the whole body dysmorphia arguement (I have heard too many of Michael’s friends say that he did believe he was ugly, so I am forced to accept this as at least part of his psychological makeup) I really just think the whole issue has been played out. The notion that Michael was somehow desperately trying to not look like Joe is ridiculous, since Michael never resembled Joe to begin with. If anything, Michael bore a much stronger resemblance to his mother-the parent he claimed to adore-and to her side of the family. The theory that Michael was trying to erase any vestige of his father from his face goes back to Taraborelli, who in my opinion really started the whole body dysmorphia thing and the He-Didn’t-Want-To-Look-Like-His-Dad Theory, to which others have simply been latching onto ever since without bothering to do their own research.
The Myth That Michael Was Trying To Eradicate All Resemblance To Joe From His Face Is Puzzling Since Michael Actually Bore Little Natural Resemblance To His Father!
This is followed by more of the usual tired, cliched’ speculation about Michael’s sexuality. I know I have addressed this issue dozens of times, but the fact that it continues to crop up in almost every media interview says everything about how persistently stubborn some people are to let go of these worn out notions. I’ve said before, and will say it again: WHY does there exist this prevalent need to de-sexualize and emasculate Michael Jackson? Why? Excuse me, it’s just that I have yet to understand why we can’t allow this perfectly grown man his humanity-and certainly allowing him his sexuality is a part of that. Just ask Michael’s millions of female fans all over the world, and we can certainly tell you: We weren’t fainting and passing out at all of those shows because we were seeing Peter Pan up there!
Sullivan says he believes that Michael died a virgin but again, when pressed for his “proof” or sources for such a claim, he becomes defensively evasive and falls back on the same old cliches’ about what Tatum said, or what Brooke said. It’s really high time that someone stepped up and said, Who Freakin’ CARES what Tatum or Brooke said? Tatum O’Neil and Brooke Shields are hardly the only two women Michael ever had in his life, and besides, what makes their word gospel? How do we know they’re not lying themselves, for one reason or another (just as people like Sullivan want to dismiss and discredit Lisa Marie Presley, because her version of events doesn’t suit their agenda!). Then, when pressed about Lisa Marie, he tries to back pedal by falling back on the old stand-by “I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.” Well duh! Then it gets even more bizarre as he tries to insinuate that he never said that Michael and Lisa Marie didn’t have sexual relations; only that he doesn’t believe any intercourse took place.
Sullivan Bounces From Calling MJ “Presexual” To Heterosexual All In The Course Of A Single Interview!
By this point I am just like…WTF??? Okay, so as if all of this wasn’t bizarre enough, now we are supposed to believe that two perfectly grown, adult, married people somehow managed to have “relations” without ever “doing it?” Come on, Michael and Lisa were not two high school kids sneaking a quickie in their parents’ bedroom; they were grown adults-married adults, at that. Sullivan was also quoted in another interview as saying that Lisa Marie doesn’t know what sex is. Wow! Talk about making assumptions. I’m sure Lisa would know more about that than Mr. Sullivan! Than, to further compound and confuse things, Sullivan then proceeds to state how he is convinced, from the conversations he’s had with his “sources” that Michael’s “baseline” was heterosexual, since he enjoyed checking out women’s backsides and such like! Okay, Sullivan, so now you’re saying he was heterosexual and enjoyed checking out women, when just a few sentences ago you said he was “presexual.” Is anyone else here as confused as I am?
And wouldn’t it stand to reason that a man who was interested in checking out women would then naturally proceed at some point to having relations with them, especially when he has women throwing themselves at him at every given opportunity?
It makes sense to say we can’t know for sure about his sexuality because we can’t ever be certain of anyone’s sexuality except our own (and some are confused even about that!). But Sullivan can’t seem to make up his mind. He veers from admitting he isn’t sure, to expressing outright doubt, to nevertheless pushing his “presexual virgin” agenda, all within the space of a single interview!
This is exactly what I mean when I talk about the arrogance of this man! To make such blatant and ridiculous claims is bad enough; to be passing them off as “fact” on a national platform is even worse. But the biggest tragedy of all is that gullible people will somehow find all of this nonsense “believable” because…well, simply because it’s Michael Jackson.
To cap it off, an inordinate amount of time is spent speculating on Michael’s alleged “mental health issues.” Again, it’s not so much the subject itself that bothers me. Bi-polar disorder, for example, runs in my family, as does major depressive disorder. I have dealt with these issues in one form or another my whole life. I do not think Michael was immune to such problems just because he was Michael Jackson. Michael was human like everybody else, and certainly prone to the same conditions and illnesses that many suffer from. Certainly we know he was taking anti-anxiety medications and medications used to treat major depressive disorder. But I have a problem when people like Dr. Hill just assume, as a matter of fact, that Michael had mental health issues and here we go again, with people who never knew Michael; who never even met him (like Randall Sullivan) attempting to psychoanalyze him. The segment that most irked me here was when Dr. Hill mentioned “climbing trees” as a symptom of someone with a mental illness, and of course, they show the Martin Bashir clip where Bashir is baiting Michael into saying he would prefer to climb trees to having sex. Aside from the fact that I think any reasonably intelligent person would guess that he was joking (how many times have we said something like, “I’d rather eat chocolate than have sex!” and of course everyone laughs) the fact is, both Bashir and now Sullivan and Hill all miss the main point Michael was making, which is that this was how he drew his artistic inspiration! I’m sure if Beethoven or Shakespeare had said, “I get my best ideas when I am sitting in this tree” people would have quite a different take! To be totally fair, although I know this was what Michael was trying to get across, he should have done a better job of articulating his purpose for taking Bashir out to The Giving Tree. Bashir used this segment to try to paint Michael as some sort of deranged, regressed child (or, more aptly, as the kind of dangerous pedophile who uses such childlike behavior to entice children) rather than an artistic visionary who drew creative inspiration from nature. Perhaps he could have done a better job of articulating how he drew artistic inspiration from nature and from sitting in The Giving Tree. But then again, knowing as we do how Bashir manipulated and edited that interview, who knows what was actually said, and what ended up on the cutting room floor!
Michael Was Inspired To Write Some Of His Greatest Compositions While Sitting In “The Giving Tree” Including The Award-Winning “Will You Be There.” Yet The Ignorant Still Persist In Referring To This As A Sign Of Mental Illness! Perhaps We Should ALL Be So “Mentally Ill,” Huh!
I do not think it is necessarily hurtful to Michael’s legacy to think that he may have been bi-polar or that he had major depressive disorder (God knows, especially in the last years of his life, he endured enough to make anyone depressed!). But it IS hurtful to his legacy when we have armchair psychoanalysists like Sullivan who continue to pair the image of Michael Jackson with the words “bizarre,” “strange” and as someone with unresolved mental “issues.” The problem is that we are not-yet-at a stage where the tabloid damage that has been done to Michael’s legacy can be fully separated from, perhaps, a more compassionate view of those “issues”-even if, albeit, a compassionate view is the intent. In the public mind, Michael is still “Wacko Jacko” and, unfortunately, allowing a platform to people like Randy Sullivan does little to dispel that myth.
One of the apparent problems with this book is that Sullivan seems content to waffle on the really important issues. Like so many biographers who attempt to have it both ways (appeasing the fans while courting the major publishers and hoping for the big bucks of s sensationalistic best seller) he seems to neatly skirt the issue of Michael’s guilt or innocence concerning the allegations. Notice in the interview that he mentions having “a shadow of doubt” and even makes a sick joke that “only Lisa Marie and Jordie Chandler” would know the truth about Michael’s sexuality (real classy, by the way, to make such a joke if you have “a shadow of a doubt” that this may have been an abused child!) but neatly tries to back pedal when sanemjfan challenges him with direct questions about the Jordan Chandler case. Perhaps I will come away with a different impression once I read the book, but just judging from this interview alone, Sullivan certainly did not strike me as very knowledgable or as someone who has done much beyond the most rudimentary research on the allegations. In fact, he says in the interview that when Rolling Stone asked him if he would be interested in covering the 2005 trial, he refused! (Consider that meanwhile, Aphrodite Jones, who was not only there for the trial every single day but did painstaking research even afterwards,was forced to self-publish her own account of the trial).
Which perhaps, for me, brings up the most sadly ironic issue of all and why I so detest seeing people like Randall Sullivan getting such a platform. It happens again and again, that those who are misinformed; who do shoddy research; who rely on biased and questionable sources, are touted as “the experts” while those of us who have actually invested hundreds of hours into meticulously researching Michael’s life are relegated to the “lunatic fringe”-all because we may not work for some fancy schmanzy publication, or because we’re not rich enough to afford publicists who can book us on national talk shows.
One of the first things I did, upon downloading Sullivan’s book, was to check who the publisher was. Somehow it did not surprise me in the least that it was Grove/Atlantic. A major New York publisher! How fitting.
Explain to me again why Aphrodite Jones, a noted crime writer, had to resort to self-publication to get Conspiracy out? Or why Michael’s bodyguards could not get their book published, despite having shopped it everywhere?
A lot of us are very excited about Lisa D. Campbell’s new book! But I can practically guarantee you, there will probably be little to no promotion for this book on the talk show circuit!
I will be writing more in regards to Lisa Campbell’s book later, but for now, suffice it to say that I’m very, very discouraged and disheartened by this trend which allows the best and loudest platforms to those who seem to do the least amount of proper research.
As far as the subject of vitiligo, I have heard conflicting accounts of Sullivan’s take on that. Some reviewers have said that he does acknowledge in his book that Michael had it. However, others have said he states that Michael bleached his skin-a myth that the very autopsy report he so often falls back upon clearly dispels. Again, the damage he is doing to Michael Jackson’s legacy by continuing to perpetuate these age-old tabloid rumors is paramount when one reads reviews like this one that appeared recently on the Examiner website:
But on the bright side, major reviewers like The New York Times (certainly not a biased, fan publication by any means) have been less than glowing. Note the passages I have bold-faced in Michiko Kakutani’s review:
Books of The Times
This Just In: He Was the King of Pop
‘Untouchable,’ Michael Jackson’s Life, by Randall Sullivan
He was the consummate performer, the ultimate showman. The creator of the biggest-selling album of all time, who three decades ago crashed through racial barriers on the music charts, ushered in the music video age and remade the pop music landscape. A song-and-dance man who took soul, funk, R&B, rock and disco and turned them into a sound distinctively his own, just as seamlessly as he drew upon the work of James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Fred Astaire to create otherworldly dance moves never before seen on this planet. An entertainer who would imprint the imaginations of several generations of fans and shape the work of performers from Justin Timberlake to Beyoncé to Usher.
Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times
The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson
By Randall Sullivan
Illustrated. 776 pages. Grove Press. $35.
Russell J. Young
In those days, before the Internet niche-ification of culture and the ridiculously accelerated spin cycle of fame, he was the avatar of the celebrity age, at once a self-conscious and self-destructive pursuant of publicity. In later years his private life — accusations of child molesting, and a swirl of lawsuits, financial woes, drug addiction and erratic behavior — increasingly came to overshadow his music. His drug-induced death at the age of 50 in 2009 would itself turn into a worldwide spectacle of grief, speculation and unseemly jockeying for money and position among family members and lawyers.
Michael Jackson — a k a “the King of Pop,” “the Gloved One,” “the Earl of Whirl” or simply “M J” — has already been the subject of yards upon yards of coverage: magazine and newspaper articles, documentaries, interminable Internet discussions and wall-to-wall television reportage. According to Randall Sullivan’s dreary new Jackson book, “Untouchable,” the evening news programs of ABC, CBS and NBC “devoted more than a third of their broadcast coverage for an entire week to Michael Jackson” after his death.
Mr. Sullivan, who was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone for more than 20 years, does an adequate job of chronicling Jackson’s over-the-top fame. He conveys the tabloid madness that orbited around the pop star for several decades, and the grandiosity of his later self-presentations. (An estimated $30 million was spent on the publicity campaign for Jackson’s album “HIStory,” which included nine 30-odd-foot-high statues, one of which was floated down the Thames in London.) Such accounts, however, will be highly familiar to even the casual follower of Jackson news, and all too often, this volume feels as if it were constructed out of recycled materials.
Much has already been written about Jackson’s fiscal woes (a result of insanely extravagant spending sprees, convoluted financial dealings and declining record sales) and the shameless maneuvering of family members and business associates over his estate (which, despite his huge debts, soared in value as his death led to a surge in sales of Jackson merchandise). Still, Mr. Sullivan devotes a huge and depressing amount of this haphazard and unconvincing book to these subjects — in large part, it seems, because two anonymous sources had a lot to say about them.
At the same time Mr. Sullivan makes no serious effort in these pages to communicate or assess the artistry that first propelled Jackson to the pinnacle of pop music. He provides only the most cursory account of the performer’s musical apprenticeship — as a Motown artist and as a member of the Jackson 5 — and sheds little new light on his discovery of his own voice as an artist, the relationship between his music and his life, or the evolution of individual songs and albums.
As for the infamy that attached to Jackson since he settled a 1993 child-molesting lawsuit for some $20 million, Mr. Sullivan says he told Jackson’s mother that he — Mr. Sullivan — “didn’t believe Michael was a child molester.”
Although Mr. Sullivan acknowledges that the detailed account that the boy in the 1993 case gave to police investigators about how a sexual relationship had developed between himself and Jackson is “undeniably disturbing,” he promotes a theory that the singer may have been “presexual.”
“Of all the answers one might offer to the central question hanging over the memory of Michael Jackson,” Mr. Sullivan asserts, “the one best supported by the evidence was that he had died as a 50-year-old virgin, never having had sexual intercourse with any man, woman or child, in a special state of loneliness that was a large part of what made him unique as an artist and so unhappy as a human being.”
Mr. Sullivan, however, does not present any persuasive evidence regarding this assertion. What’s more, he leans heavily, throughout this book, on his “tremendously helpful” source Tom Mesereau, the lawyer who in 2005 helped win Jackson an acquittal on all charges in another child-molesting case. Remarkably enough, Mr. Sullivan ends this book’s last chapter with the suggestion that you might even grant Jackson “the wish that he isn’t sleeping alone tonight.”
Despite such sympathy for his subject, Mr. Sullivan fails to give us any new insight into Jackson’s enigmatic personality or his growing retreat into a fantasy bubble world of his own making. Instead, Mr. Sullivan just reiterates the sorts of observations made countless times before. He tells us that Jackson had been emotionally scarred as a boy by his brutal father’s verbal and physical assaults; that as a child star he was deprived of an ordinary childhood; that he was appalled by the behavior of groupies who circled his older brothers; and that his early Motown lessons in public relations increasingly morphed, in later years, into the belief that “there was no such thing as bad publicity.”
Cutting back and forth from Jackson’s earlier days to the period following the 2005 child-molesting trial, Mr. Sullivan spends way too much time chronicling the pop star’s depressing later years: his restless travels to Bahrain and Ireland, his growing dependence on drugs, his downward-spiraling finances and his reluctant decision to embark on a 50-show comeback tour.
Jackson was rehearsing for that tour at the time of his death in June 2009, and rehearsal footage was quickly edited together into a documentary (“This Is It”) released several months later.
Mr. Sullivan cites insiders as saying that the concerts would not only help stabilize Jackson’s finances, but also, in the words of Kenny Ortega — who collaborated with Jackson on the show — would give him back “his dignity as an artist.” And Jackson emerges from the rehearsal footage in “This Is It” not as a frail drug addict, but as a perfectionist, very much in control of his vision and focused on everything from the show’s tone to the phrasing and pacing of the music.
The never-to-be-realized concerts were meant to be multimedia extravaganzas — with 3-D videos, Broadway-like numbers with backup dancers, hologramlike effects and an elaborate save-the-Earth sequence — but it is Jackson alone on the stage who commands everyone’s attention. Conserving his energy, he doesn’t do “Billie Jean” full out — the sequence is only a shadow of his dazzling and now legendary performance on the “Motown 25” television special nearly three decades ago — but he reminds the other dancers and crew (and the viewers of the movie) of the magic he could still work as an artist.
Fans of Jackson’s talent (and even those readers only curious about the onstage phenomenon he once was) would be way better off viewing that documentary — or YouTube clips of the Motown show — than reading this bloated and thoroughly dispensable book.
Now, for those who still want to believe that Sullivan is simply offering up a fair, balanced portrayal of a flawed human being, and that we fans are being “irrational” and “crazy” when we attempt to point out the errors and inaccuracies in the book, consider for a moment this very well-informed review that appeared on Amazon from a reviewer named Katerina:
How is it possible to write a book and already have it considered out of date by information that has been released over 2 years before it was published? It’s a good question, and one I’d raise to both Randall, his publisher and the people who’ve excerpted his story all over their tabloids (where Randall’s info mostly originates).
Any book which now proclaims that Michael did not have a nose, insinuates he bleached his skin recreationally, hems and haws over his innocence, claims Michael hated his race or claims Michael didn’t have relationships with women is frankly anachronistic. There is much publicly available information which sheds light on all of that – none of which is covered here. Michael’s autopsy report is publicly available, why is that not used as a source for the information about his nose and instead misatributed quotes from The Sun are presented as though they are fact? It would seem to me that Randall didn’t even look at the autopsy report but got distracted by some tabloid recreation of it back in the days after his death and failed to research beyond that point. He goes on for pages about this supposed Bobby Driscoll’s prosthetic nose he imagines Michael had, all of it entirely fictional and so absurd that I wondered at the degree of shame the author lacked in its recounting, at no point in this fictional nose nonsense did he seem to stop and reconsider how he was making himself sound ridiculous with this obsession, and not Michael. His nose is right there in his autopsy; and yet here he writes almost 4 pages about a fake nose that never existed. But it goes to show how absolutely anything goes with Michael and Sullivan – it seems there is no tabloid story too crazy or wild that Sullivan doesn’t believe has a degree of truth in it. The Michael here is a monsterized version of tabloid literature come to life.
– He now claims the autopsy not revealing a prosthetic is based on the fact that Michael removed it at night. I’m not sure if he’s aware but in the autopsy photos Michael clearly still has his nose, and neither the coroner, the bodyguards, paramedics, or even Murray ever mentioned the lack of a nose in their reports. Did Mike keep this jar of noses by his bed? At what point during the day would it be glued on? Why have none of these noses ever gotten out? Mike left his phone everywhere, almost his entire life has been ransacked and paraded for show, but his detachable take-it-off-at-night-nose never went missing? None of the thieves around him ever bothered to run off with it to Ebay? Wouldn’t these fake noses be worth bazillions? Why weren’t they photographed by the crime scene photographers? Cited anywhere by anyone involved that day? Did it manage to re-attach itself to him during death for the photos? How exciting for it. It’s also at odds with the original description in his book of how the coroner had to cut away the prosthetic (coroner never says this). Either he had it in the autopsy or he didn’t; either way, we can clearly see in death his nose was with him, the coroner did not mention this lack of a nose and the nose seen there was the one he was normally seen with, i.e. this prosthetic nose business has absolutely no basis in reality.
He uses a quote from Taraborrelli’s biography to claim Michael started bleaching in the 70s with his sister LaToya. Of course no source are named, and it’s easily debunked as Toya has always been naturally very light skinned (their father Joe Jackson has green eyes because his mother is biracial and his father is listed as mulatto, as are all Michael’s grandparents.) These stories about Michael’s skin have been going on since the 80s because of his skin disorder, with the media seeking to fill in the blanks to explain the lightness in his skin for him, but when his vitiligo became public it should’ve illuminated many people on how easy it is to lie and perpetuate the lie about him, but instead Sullivan seems to lack any common sense and can’t see what is obvious in hindsight. Or like the nose, was it that he just liked the idea of Michael hating his race so much he just couldn’t let it go? Does he not ask himself why it’s only the people who have something against Michael who claim he hated his race and bleached his skin (Blanca Francia, Stacy Brown, Bob Jones) and not people he was really close to? That he let his children be raised by an African woman and insisted on ensuring they were raised well versed in African history and that besides his mother he wanted a black woman raising them (Diana Ross)? His daughter even says, “I’m black and I’m proud of it.” Obvious questions go unasked and unanswered here.
He claims Michael Jackson was a virgin, a moment in the book where I audibly laughed – a reaction I’m sure his ex wives and girlfriends would also share on such news. Even if he couldn’t find people around them willing to speak, Randall should’ve perhaps taken note of those two G spot articles the police found amongst his things in 2003? Lisa Marie is quoted here as saying Michael was “somewhat asexual”, you’d think with the way he presented this remark that this was a damning comment about their sex life: no, in reality she had been asked about his physical appearance, and that was her description. This is the kind of casual misquoting and omitting of information Randall does throughout his book. If it doesn’t fit in with what he needs, he ignores it or re-contextualizes it. None of Lisa Marie’s other remarks are included here (he made the moves on her, she wouldn’t have married him if the sex wasn’t good). He believes Bob Jones and the Neverland 5 (successfully countersued; exposed as liars on the stand) who claim nothing happened between Michael and Lisa, even though they had obvious agendas against Michael, were seeking to profit from the scandal, had left their jobs before they’d even married and were thoroughly discredited as witnesses (their testimony is like reading a surrealistic comedy); but we must forget, those are his best sources here. — He’s now claiming Lisa Marie and Michael may have “sexual contact”, but suggests Lisa doesn’t really know what sex is. That must be a real shocker to Mike who was trying to have a baby with her. He says that only Lisa can say if Mike was a virgin – that’s funny, she’s repeatedly confirmed they’ve had sex.
He claims that Debbie has never said she’s had sex with him. This isn’t true. The only reason we know Debbie’s name is because in the News of the World exclusive in 1996 which broke the story, a journalist had befriended her undercover for 2 months while she was pregnant, this is what they taped her saying: “We started by fooling around a bit and the next thing we knew we were doing it. We knew we were going to try for a baby.” And taped again undercover in 1997: “I can’t wait to see him again. We’re going to stay all day and night in bed – I can’t wait.” He claims Michael’s kids didn’t know who Debbie was until after his death. This is untrue, Paris has said that Michael would talk to them about Debbie. She also didn’t only meet him when Michael “spilled bleaching agents on his scrotum,” in early 93, she met him in 1981. The confidentiality agreement she signed after the divorce where she agreed not to talk about him or the kids in public was there to protect him, the kids, in case she wanted to hurt him in the future, and to protect Debbie from herself, as she’d already been caught speaking about both unawares before, it does not say anywhere Michael is not the father – Debbie and Debbie’s custody lawyer have repeatedly stated he was.
He claims Sneddon had 5 victims who were going to show up and testify for him, and only one did (Jason Francia; could go down as “the one the juror’s laughed at”), Jordan refused to testify against Michael, he was prepared to go to court in order not to have to testify. Randall doesn’t say that the other 3 supposed victims? Absolutely testified. They were the defense’s first witnesses; Wade, Brett, Mac. Randall also doesn’t note that it was these boys that the Chandler’s allege Michael had abused (because we all know Michael is the most selective pedophile in the world with all the kids he befriended and never abused) – kind of takes the sting out of that whole argument, huh? Neither does he go into the bizarre attempts of the prosecution attempting to convince their own supposed victims they had been molested. He doesn’t counter the alcohol in cans story, even though that one was easily debunked thanks to the prosecution’s own witnesses, the airline stewardesses.
There are so many other casual egregious errors throughout the book that it gave me a headache reading, just some – the proposed book circulated between Jermaine/Stacy was not written by Jermaine, but by Stacy (he’s admitted as much, but now blames others). In that Stacy Brown (he’s never properly met Michael, never worked for Michael, etc) proposal he claimed Michael had shocked the family in the manner he had held his 3 young nephews after their mother’s death – perhaps they were just shocked that Michael could fit his arms around 3 twenty year old men on a bed at the same time. Yes, they were full grown men, not children, so how would that work? Ask fanfic writer extraordinaire Stacy Brown. It did not circulate during the trial, but in 2006, which speaks volumes about its validity as attention hungry Stacy never mentioned it in 2005. Britney didn’t supposedly cheat on Kevin Federline with Wade Robson, she supposedly cheated on Justin Timberlake. Debbie Rowe didn’t have her first boyfriend at the age of 30, she had already been married/divorced by then (that was another moment of laughter from me). Jessica Simpson I doubt has ever visited Neverland. Michael didn’t move into Neverland in 1990. Michael was not called “liver lips” by his brothers. LaToya didn’t claim sexual abuse by her father in her book, she claimed it on the book tour. Michael never said he used any medication for his skin on Oprah. Uri Gellar is about as close to Michael as Martin Bashir. Corey Feldman was the one to ask about the book of skin diseases which involved STDs on Michael’s table, so Michael explained them to him, is Randall really suggesting skin diseases and STD’s were Michael’s hook for kids, really? Mike had many books on skin diseases because he had skin diseases. Michael Jordan says it was Michael himself who called him up to ask to do the music video, which makes me suspect that he may have known who he was on the set – just a suspicious though, don’t quote me as a fact on that, Randall (using Bob Jones’ as a source for anything will just embarrass you; ask Tom Sneddon). On that note, there is no mention of head licking in any Jordan case documents, that ridiculous story came entirely from Gavin, then was bizarrely copied by Bob Jones/Stacy Brown; their testimony about it on the witness stand was another moment of comedy gold. The Jacksons contacted Branca 2 days after Michael’s death because they knew he had the will, so how could they also claim they didn’t know they had a will that first week? He quotes Schaffel saying Michael was scheduled to perform in the United We Stand Benefit concert in Washington but Michael failed to show up, that’s odd as he also managed to perform “What More Can I Give?” at this same concert. He says TJ Jackson had 3 sons, he doesn’t. He calls Eddie Cascio by his brother’s name throughout the book. He mentions that Michael stayed with the Schleiter family after the trial and makes it seem like Michael only spent time with the son (who was in his 20s, not a kid), for some strange reason his sister Franziska who was there throughout is completely ignored (all the females in Michael’s life are given this treatment, no mention of any of the female kids he’d befriended too, even in Wade’s testimony Randall never mentions Wade said his sister also slept in the room with him, she testified to that too, so did Brett’s sister and Simone Jackson). He brings up the panic room in Michael’s bedroom – in reality that room came with the house, the original owner had installed it when he built it. He uses the locks on the door as a sign Michael wanted to keep people out; yeah dummy, that’s why it’s a panic room, do you normally have a welcome mat outside one of those? And if you think it’s odd he needed this room, ask yourself why the original owner, one of the richest men in California at the time, had wanted it. If he was not a deviant, why is Michael? He mentions online posts where fans wish death upon Evan but fails to mention the death threats and stalkers Michael had which are both a matter of police and FBI record and also can be found on gossipy sites online, which he used as sources. Evan Chandler did not kill himself on November 14/15th, he killed himself on the 5th and the media reported about it before November 17th, which is when he bizarrely claims Evan was found. The stuff about Michael buying Elizabeth Taylor for the Private Home Movies thing is from Schaffel, I’m amused the price of that supposed jewellery has gone up with each retelling.
He claims here that the Chandler’s attempted to keep a low profile after 1993. Does he know about the book deal they sought immediately after Michael’s insurance settled? How Ray Chandler admitted in court records that Evan moved him in right after the allegations broke just so he could write it? Does he know about how Ray sold stories about Jordan to the National Enquirer throughout the 90s on behalf of his brother? Did he think Evan Chandler’s 1996 lawsuit and demand for a record album to be released was a show of Evan seeking to be low key? Ray claimed he hoped the 2005 trial would bring vindication, why did he not ask why the Chandler’s didn’t seek this in 1994 with a criminal trial instead of book deals and frivolous lawsuits and demands for record contracts? Why didn’t he ask Ray why he didn’t take the stand in 2005? Why didn’t he ask Ray why he claims now he told Jordan to testify in 2005, when in 2005 during his various paid for media appearances he claimed he had no contact with either Evan or Jordan at the time, as well as claiming that in his subpoeanas? Was Ray lying? Which time was he lying? (At the time he also claimed Jordan was out of the country as an excuse for why he didn’t testify, but then he was photographed skiing in the US.) Does he know how on the audio recording before he claims Jordan had even confessed Evan said that he himself wanted to make it as public as possible? That recording was on July 8th; Jordan was supposedly drugged to confess on July 16th. How does that jibe with his claims it was the Chandler’s who wanted to keep it low key and Michael who made it a public issue? Why doesn’t he explain Evan’s failure to report MJ was molesting Jordan at June’s custody hearing, but the police only learned by the psychiatrist the next day? Is it because he didn’t want Michael to sue him for making false allegations? Why does he not realize the explanation given for why Jordan cut off contact with him in 2005 doesn’t make sense? If Evan suffered from cancer and manic depression, wouldn’t he sympathize with him? Why wouldn’t Jordan care about the man who rescued him from supposed “anal sex” when he died, a moment most people would forgive their parents any mistakes? Why does he act like the crazy fans made the Chandler’s stop from going to criminal court (not even in defense of poor cancer victim Gavin), when he can only cite one instance which involved a fan (Pfeiffer) just graffitying outside his dental place in 1994 and making phonecalls? Does he realize that the Arvizo’s, Francia – hell, the most hated of all, Diane Dimond, all have online accounts and recognizable faces and have managed to survive unscathed for years? Does he think it’s a bit strange the only person who’s hurt Jordan and scared him to the point of criminal action in all these years was his own father? How did Evan abandon his two younger kids but still lived with Jordan, who was apparently close to both? Why did he abandon the two kids with no money, but stuck with the millionaire son? Why does Ray Chandler need to research books on pedophiles, if Michael was one and he can just go by that? Why does he need to further inform himself of how they work? Who describes their nephew’s abuser as someone who just “had needs”? Do you think the relatives of Sandusky react the same way to him? He claims Evan stated in his petition to remove custody from June that she had “prostituted” her son to Michael; does he not think what Evan Chandler threatened on those tapes on July 8th (“It’ll be a massacre if I don’t get what I want”), how he had been demanding money in private over the idea his son was molested (“irrelevant to me”), just according to a psychiatrist who had not met any of them personally, and how he only wanted a civil lawsuit, a book deal, an album deal, a script deal (initially), and a further $60 million was not also prostitution? But according to Ray, this was “protecting” his son?
He claims Michael was paralytic with drugs almost the entire way through the last 20 years. It seems every drug story about Michael on Earth has been added here as a fact. It amuses me greatly that Michael was such an opiate addict, and yet managed to wean himself off these drugs entirely by the time he died, and the only drugs inside him were non opiate sedatives administered by Murray. Isn’t it a bit ironic that Michael could wean himself off this huge addiction to every drug known to man, but only died because of another non addictive drug? That none were found in his home or autopsy? That none are presented in any medical documents from the last months of his life, besides Demerol for the treatments with Klein, which the drug addict specialist in the trial even admitted did not fall into an addict’s level of use? He even copied and pasted a remark from a tabloid about how Michael shirked away from sunlight at one point as evidence for Michael’s drug use – in reality, Michael was photo sensitive because of his discoid lupus.
It makes me wonder if it’s possible to write a book about Michael where almost the entire source material doesn’t come from people who have been found to have lied about him in court cases, lawsuits or found to have stolen from him, considering the sources Randall mainly uses here: Tohme (stole $5,000,000 million from MJ), Schaffel (stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Michael, planted negative stories about him in the press, Debbie Rowe amusingly recounted Schaffel’s creepiness in her testimony in 2005), Adrian McManus (successfully countersued by Michael; was found to have stolen toys from sick children & from her own nieces and nephews), Mark Lester (claimed to be Paris’s father 4 years before he’d been re-acquainted with Michael, even his ex wife came out and denounced him as a liar desperate for media attention), Matt Fiddes (only met Michael briefly after Blanket was born; known as a “vainglorious attention seeker” by Channel 4 producers) Howard Mann (has lost many lawsuits against the estate, blackmailed Michael’s mother into dodgy deals involving his kids), Ray Chandler brother to Evan (Michael subpoenaed him in 2004 demanding he show up with the evidence he claimed he had in his book; Ray refused and eventually he admitted he had no such info, his book was essentially fiction), Terry George (he wasn’t found out because rumors reached the LAPD, what nonsense, he had a gay sex chat line back then and when the scandal broke he seized on that to sell a story in The Sun for thousands of pounds, this is why anyone knows about him; FBI and DA didn’t find him credible, he’s changed his story a few times since – the one here is a new fancy retelling, he was and is still obsessed with Michael and even he admits Michael refused to take his calls, so much for grooming kids) Stacy Brown (admitted to lying in his book for money in his 2005 testimony; sued by juror’s for plagiarism after that, a habitual liar who admits he never even really met Michael), Bob Jones (admitted he had an axe to grind, admitted to lying about money in the trial, and yet his book is used here as gospel) and so on and so on. Were these the only people willing to speak to Randall? Or, more likely, were these the only people Randall wanted to hear about Michael from? Was he incapable of deducing which things were lies by the amount of evidence, or did he assume the things which were the most ghastly and often repeated (what sells more?) had to be true? Would he be shocked to discover not everyone around Michael was a liar and a thief and there were many, many decent sources he could’ve used? Did he just not care? Whatever the answer, in the end the result is an almost entirely fictional book.
Perhaps the author had the best intentions for this book (though I suspect, not for Michael). Perhaps he really believes the information he presented is fair and objective. Perhaps he felt this was all there was to the story. But I can’t understand why so many problematic sources were used as though they were absolutes, why so much information was not properly researched beyond tabloid articles, and why so much info has been seemingly intentionally misquoted. It comes across intentionally done and I can’t understand why.
I find it bewildering really that he will talk about Michael as being a good father – something even the liars and the thieves around him have all agreed upon, and yet people still fail to realize the way he was with his own children was how he was with every other child. It doesn’t take a genius to have to work that one out, but it’s an inconvenient truth for many, so instead we’re left with all the liars and thieves and rehashed The Sun articles, and can now count the willfully uninformed Randall Sullivan among them.
Now I ask you, who really comes across as more credible and knowledgable here, Mr. Sullivan or the “fan” who wrote this review? In fact, the above reviewer did such a knock-out job I am not so sure I even need to bother, as it would be pretty hard to top this or to do a more thorough job of debunking all of the nonsense in this book!
I will repeat, just to be fair, I have not read the book yet. But based on the reviews and everything I have heard so far, and having seen Randy Sullivan’s Huffington Post interview, I feel like I can offer up a pretty fair assessment of this book’s contents. And a lot of it bothers me, for reasons that have nothing to do with my “fandom” of Michael Jackson. I am a journalist myself, even though I may not have the credentials of Randall Sullivan. I haven’t worked for Rolling Stone, or any other major music publication. But I have probably interviewed just as many people who knew Michael Jackson. Why is it that I have managed to walk away with a completely different perspective? Why is it that none of my “sources” have talked about prosthetic noses, or have given me the impression of some presexual virgin? Perhaps because, when all is said and done, we did not approach our subjects with the same agendas. Or perhaps because of who those “sources” are. I found it funny-in an unintentionally scoffing kind of way-when Sullivan mentioned in the interview that some of Michael’s friends and family simply wouldn’t talk to him. Which, of course, begs the big question he then so neatly skirts-WHY? Hmm. Yes, why indeed.
As it turns out, his major sources are no huge surprise-Tohme Tohme, Deiter Weisner, Marc Schaffel, Stacy Brown, etc, etc. I am not saying these people may not have some relevant things to say about Michael (and, heck, I still have some begrudging respect for Schaffel for the wonderful gift that was Michael Jackson’s Private Home Movies) but it doesn’t take much putting together of two and two to figure out where the bulwark of Sullivan’s information was coming from.
I would also like to add a word of caution to anyone who feels compelled to buy this book just because they are so anti-Jackson family that they will support anything that paints the family in a negative light. I will admit that after all of the events that took place last July, I have been forced to re-think some of my own long-held positions and beliefs when it comes to certain members of Michael’s family. But as always, we have to keep in mind that we simply don’t know all of the inner workings of this family’s life. While the Jacksons take some hard punches in Sullivan’s book, we have to ask the bigger question: Who is really being hurt the most?
If you are among some small and minority percentage of anachristic Michael Jackson fans who still want to believe he was an asexual, skin bleaching “possible” pedophile and general, all around psychological wreck of a human being, this is probably the book for you. But for all the rest of us who have moved on into the 21st century and have discovered a wonderfully complex human being and artist, probably not so much.
No, it isn’t fair to judge a book I haven’t read-yet. But I have had ample opportunity to observe Sullivan’s arrogance, his continued evasiveness of the tough questions, and his condescending attitude towards the most knowledgable people of all when it comes to all things MJ-his fans. Not the blindly obsessive; not the lunatic fringe; but those of us who love Michael in all his flawed and human complexity. This has nothing to do with some desire to maintain a false ideal. It simply has everything to do with expecting fairness and accuracy in reporting. Mr. Sullivan calls his book a “sympathetic portrayal” of Jackson but should a “sympathetic portrayal” be one that reduces his image, his entire legacy and complexity as a human being and artist to the same old tabloid caricature that we have spent years advancing away from?
Don’t be fooled! Remember, Thomas O’Caroll (aka Carl Toms) claimed his book was a “sympathetic portrayal” as well!
The time has long past when fans were so grateful for anything that was half-heartedly positive that we forgave shoddy research, overlooked egregious errors, and put up with pseudo, armchair pontificating. If there are still those misguided few who genuinely think all of this outrage is simply because fans only want positive books about Michael Jackson, think again. It’s not about needing him to be perfect, but it is about allowing him to have his humanity. In closing, I found this quote from yet another commentor on the Huffington Post site to be the most apt of all. This was in response to a commentor who questioned why so many were upset about a book that simply discusses Michael’s “vulnerabilities”:
“We’re not talking about vulnerabilities, we’re talking about letting the man have his own goddamn nose, his race, his sexuality. Basic human things.”-Mirella_Conti.
Amen, sister! Amen!
UPDATE: (11/23/12): When Randy Sullivan appeared on The Katie Couric show this week, he was challenged to address the issue of Michael’s “prosthetic nose” and what had been stated in the autopsy report. This was his response:
“I have MJ’s autopsy report (which is cited in my Chapter Notes) and have read it closely. I’ve also seen the photos of MJ’s autopsy, which show the condition of his body at death in graphic detail, and I am basing my description to a substantial degree on those. The autopsy report in no sense states that MJ’s nose was intact, merely that he had a nose. That nose was, as I described, so cut away that it was little more than a nub of bone with two nostrils surrounded by ridges of shriveled cartilage. I didn’t say he had no nose, just not much of one. And that is the same description that has been publicly made by several doctors who examined or treated him in the last five years of his life. Anyone who doubts this can find a photograph of himself without a prosthetic that MJ allowed to be taken, widely available online. Compare that photo to photos of him in public appearances and there can be no question that he was wearing a prosthetic.”
This is allegedly an official response made by someone in the LA County Coroner’s office, after they had been contacted to verify Mr. Sullivan’s statements made on the program:
“As far as Mr. Sullivan’s book information he might have a copy of the report since it is a matter of public record, however I can assure you that he does not have the autopsy photos or other photos involving Mr. Jackson. The photos have been secured, and the location is only known to two of us that have them. I can tell you that Mr. Jackson did in fact have a nose and that it was nothing like described by Mr. Sullivan. I guess he just wants to sell books…”
The ones who contacted the coroner’s office have posted this very interesting video on Youtube. You can draw your own conclusions, but I am inclined to believe them, as their findings are consistent with everything that Randall Sullivan has already been called out on. Sometimes all it takes is a little simple fact checking to uncover the truth.
LOL, MJ’s Fans Can Certainly Be Be Very Fun And Creative! But I Chose This Image For A Very Serious Reason. This Is The Only Kind Of “Bounty” We Should Be Concerning Ourselves With.
These are the kind of posts I never like to make-and indeed, would prefer not to, as I like to keep the focus here on Michael Jackson-the man, the artist, and the humanitarian. As a general rule, I try to stay out of the fan community drama. But every so often, there are some things that can’t be ignored. The issue I’m addressing today is an important one, as this goes beyond merely being a public spat between two individuals in the fan community. It is something that concerns, or should concern, all of us. Especially those of us who have dedicated so much of our time and energy to writing about the man Michael Jackson.
You see, once your words are put “out there” they become something much more than just your own creation or your own intellectual property. They become part of the public domain-a domain that then has every right to criticize or refute those words. It’s called freedom of speech, and it’s a little thing that grants all citizens the right to express a public opinion about the things they see, hear, and read.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that this post is a direct reference to recent events that have taken place regarding an Amazon review that sanemjfan of the Vindicating Michael 2.0 blog posted back in April. This was a review of Dr. Karen Moriarty’s book Defending A King-His Life and Legacy.
A few months ago I received a copy of Dr. Moriarty’s book, and had intended to write my own review. But since taking on a new (and very demanding) teaching job in addition to the one I already hold, it hasn’t been possible for me to get all the way through Defending A King-His Life and Legacy. And at 500 pages, it is a LOT to get through. So as I’ve had to do with many things, I put Dr. Moriarty’s book on the backburner with the intention of picking it up again over the Christmas holidays.
But I will say that those early chapters are very insightful, as this was the material Dr. Moriarty largely drew from her interviews with Michael’s bodyguards in Las Vegas. Most of you probably know that I have already spoken very positively about this section of Dr. Moriarty’s book in the post I did awhile back entitled How Recent Events Have Helped Redefine Michael Jackson As A Father:
That is because the strength, meat, and heart of Dr. Moriarty’s book is really in these early chapters-chapters that deal with the bodyguards’ account of a celebrity single father whose world at that time had become increasingly an isolated world built around himself and his three children. It’s a fascinating story. And it is this story that is at front and center of Dr. Moriarty’s book, and where she most excels.
Rare Pic Of Michael In Las Vegas In 2002. By 2007, His Life In Las Vegas-According To His Bodyguards-Had Become Increasingly Isolated And Centered On His Three Children. This Is, In Essence, “THEIR” Story, But It Makes For Some Of The Most Compelling Chapters Of Dr. Moriarty’s Book.
I know that this was something my friend sanemjfan and I had been in agreement on. In the very beginning, he was as enthusiastic about the book as I was, and largely for the same reason. And before I write another word, I just want to say that there is a good reason why this book has been embraced positively for the most part by the fan community. As a truly sympathetic portrayal of Michael’s final years, or as a book for the new fan who wants to get to know Michael the man a little better, Dr. Moriarty has written a very fine book. But it’s not a book without flaws.
Like I said, I have refrained from writing a full review so far because in all fairness to Dr. Moriarty, I would never offer up a review of a book I have not finished reading. But sanemjfan, who did finish it, went on to find what he felt were some very egregious errors and omissions in her chapter on the 2005 trial and elsewhere.
I’ve often said that part of what makes the MJ fan community so interesting is the fact that we all have our own areas of expertise. I’m sure that most of you are aware that sanemjfan has been one of the most serious, thoughtful, and thorough researchers that we have when it comes to all issues of the molestation allegations. While many of us have merely researched the Chandler and Arvizo cases as part of an overall, general interest in all aspects of Michael’s life, sanemjfan has made it his sole focus. In the past two years or so since I have gotten to know sanemjfan, I know that if I can say nothing else about him, I can say this: He is 100% dedicated to getting to the truth of what happened to Michael Jackson and all the why’s and how’s of those cases. He knows those cases inside and out. But I need not go on here, as his fine work has already earned its reputation.
In the past, I have stayed out of most of the public quarrels between members of the fanbase because it is heartbreaking when I see individuals whom I respect equally being at outs with each other. It is especially heartbreaking when those individuals happen to be well respected members of the fan community. But this isn’t about taking sides, nor even whether or not I agree with sanemjfan’s review. But it is about his right to hold the views he expressed in his review of the book. It is about the right to be able to review a product, and to express an opinion of a product, on a public forum. As fans, we are constantly bombarded with product. Whether it is new album releases, DVD’s, or the never ending bombardment of new books, there is no shortage of products intended to cater to Michael’s fans-and sometimes to his detractors, as well. With every new book release, there are the inevitable questions: Was this written by someone who actually knew him, or just another journalist-come-biographer? If they knew him, how well did they know him? What personal biases and axes to grind of their own might they be bringing to the table? If they did not know him, then what is the source of their information? How reliable are those sources? How much research actually went into the book? Does this person have their own biases (which, frankly, can apply as equally to blind fan devotion as to those with more sinister objectives). Or is this just another one of those psychoanalyst pseudo-experts trying to sell us on some personal idea of who they think Michael Jackson was? As readers, we absolutely shouldaskthese questions. It’s called critical thinking.
J. Randy Taraborelli Remains One Of The Most Polarizing And Controversial MJ Biographers, Whose Books Are Routinely Scrutinized, Analyzed, Critiqued, Praised, And Bashed By The Fan Community. But He Has Yet To Threaten A Lawsuit Against Any Of Us For Speaking An Opinion!
Whether it is polarizing books such as those by J. Randy Taraborelli, Frank Cascio, or Rabbi Schmuley, or even more controversial books such as Ian Halperin’s Unmasked, or books by outright detractors such as Stacy Brown or Diane Dimond (not to mention a whole long list of others) all of these writers have one thing in common-they have all, for better or worse, written about Michael Jackson (in fact, a few of them have made a career of it!). And, without fail, MJ fans have been quite vocal in their opinions of all of the above. The fact is, whether fan opinions are positive or negative-or, as in the case of the Cascio book, sharply divided-the beauty of it is that we have the right to express those opinions-and the right to make choices. Especially choices when it comes to parting with our hard earned money.
But before I get too carried away on this note, let’s back up to April, 2012 and look at where this mess began. This was the review that Sanemjfan posted on Amazon:
I had high hopes for Dr. Moriarty’s book “Defending A King”, based on reviews from different MJ fan sites and blogs, an endorsement from Tom Mesereau, and hearing her interview on Blog Talk Radio to promote the book. However, after finally completing this massive 500 page book, I am left with a feeling of immense incompleteness, as there is much to be desired from this well-intentioned but poorly research book. Let me explain:
The book started out great, with Dr. Moriarty speaking about her conversations with MJ’s bodyguards from Vegas. There is a lot of great information that they gave, and it’s a shame that they had a falling out with Dr. Moriarty and did not complete the book with her, as was the original intention. The knowledge that she received from MJ’s attorney Tom Mesereau was valuable as well, as Dr. Moriarty gives fans an inside look at what is was like for MJ to experience that tortuous trial.
Unfortunately, the book falls apart quickly because Dr. Moriarty obviously isn’t very knowledgeable about MJ, and she is a very poor researcher. Here are a few examples:
On page 226, she inadvertently regurgitates a March 2008 tabloid story written by Stacy Brown, who co-authored the 2004 piece of trash book “Man Behind The Mask” with MJ’s former manager Bob Jones. The article, titled “Jacko Clan In A Deep Funk”, was originally printed in the New York Post, and it purports to be an honest portrayal of the whereabouts and happenings of the Jackson family in 2008. It was reprinted in the “Michael Jackson Tribute – Exclusive Collector’s Edition” book, and this is where Dr. Moriarty copied it almost word for word! The article states that Marlon Jackson was stocking shelves at a supermarket in San Diego, Tito was having to settle for small gigs that paid him several hundred dollars a show, and Randy was doing odd jobs like changing car tires to support himself! For Dr. Moriarty to reprint this garbage is utterly UNCONSCIONABLE! Dr. Moriarty should have tried to verify this information directly from the family so that they could have a chance confirm or deny the story (which they definitely would have denied!), and if she could not do so, then she should not have included this information! Period! If she was even remotely knowledgeable about MJ and the Jackson family, she would have INSTANTLY had recognized this as tabloid garbage! But because it was reprinted in an MJ book, she believed it hook, line, and sinker!
In her chapter “Michael Jackson’s TSUNAMI: The Trial”, which is a rather incomplete summary of the 2005 trial, Dr. Moriarty doesn’t mention AT ALL the testimonies of Blanca and Jason Francia! They were the prosecution’s witnesses who testified as “Prior Bad Acts” witnesses. Blanca was a former Neverland employee who sold a story saying that she saw MJ showering with young boys to Hard Copy for $20k dollars, and her son Jason was pressured by police to say that he had been improperly touched by MJ while playing tickling games. Blanca threatened to file a lawsuit against MJ in late 1994, and MJ reached a settlement of $2.4 million dollars with her to prevent her from filing the lawsuit and further sullying his image, especially with the HIStory album due to be released soon. Jason’s testimony was so terrible that some of the jurors actually laughed at him during a court break! Blanca’s testimony was obviously unconvincing, as the jury acquitted MJ of all charges, but NONE of their testimony was talked about in this chapter! Dr. Moriarty also did NOT explain how Blanca was able to legally extort the $2.4 million from MJ! (As I just did.) This is a COLOSSAL omission of important evidence that CANNOT be overlooked! Dr. Moriarty also left out a lot of the important aspects of the testimony of the Arvizo family, such as Gavin’s lie that MJ told him that he should masturbate or else he’d have to rape a woman (Gavin initially told police that his Grandmother said that). There are so many other lies that she left out, and it makes you wonder did she even bother to read all of their testimony?
I also would have liked to have seen her show how Tom Sneddon completely rearranged the charges and alleged dates of the molestatioins in between the filing of the Initial Complaint in December 2003, and the Grand Jury Indictment in April 2004. If only she had been as detailed about the 2005 trial as she was about the Conrad Murray trial later on in the book!
There were numerous small errors that, in their totality, add up validate how sloppily this book is researched. For example, on numerous occasions throughout the book, Dr. Moriarty refers to MJ’s 1993 settlement as “approximately $20 million dollars”, when in fact it was $15,331,250 dollars! The settlement documents leaked in 2004, and if Dr. Moriarty had properly researched the settlement, instead of relying solely on inaccurate media reports, she would have known that!
On page 86, Dr. Moriarty incorrectly asserts that actor Marlon Brando had a cameo appearance in “Smooth Criminal”, when in fact he appeared in “You Rock My World”! If you think that’s not a big deal, then I guess it also would have been OK if she had said that Ola Ray starred in “In The Closet”, and Naomi Campbell starred in “Thriller”!!
On a several occasions, Dr. Moriarty cites very questionable sources for her facts. For example, she cites Wikipedia, Topix, Radar Online, and TMZ! Once again, anyone even remotely familiar with research skills should know that you should NEVER cite Wikipedia, TMZ, or any other such tabloid sources! How can anyone take you seriously!
And she also cites several MJ fansites and blogs, such as michaeljacksonhoaxforum.com (page 228), mjj2005.com (page 267), and mjfanclub.net (numerous pages). It’s very unprofessional for an author to cite fan sites and blogs of the celebrity that they are researching, even if the information is true. Instead of citing the actual site or blog, she should have cited the SOURCE DOCUMENTS that she was researching, such as the AEG contract and court transcripts!
Now, let me get into all of the information that is MISSING from this book! When you’re truly knowledgeable about a subject, you can evaluate the quality of a book by looking for pertinent information that should be included but isn’t!
Dr. Moriarty did NOT give a complete timeline and summary of the 1993 scandal, which you would think that “the definitive” book on MJ would include! She didn’t mention how Jordan didn’t admit to any wrongdoing by MJ until after he was cajoled by Evan after a dental procedure was performed on him, or that Evan didn’t go to the police with his allegations, but instead took Jordan to see a psychiatrist so that the psychiatrist could report Jordan’s claims, or how Evan hired then fired Gloria Allred after she refused to sue MJ instead of prosecuting him first, or how he sued Sony in 1996 for the right to record a “rebuttal album” to MJ’s HIStory called “EVANstory”, or how Evan was the ghostwriter for the book “All That Glitters”, which was released by his brother Ray in September 2004!
Dr. Moriarty briefly mentioned the FBI’s files on MJ, which were released in December 2009, but she did NOT mention how Jordan Chandler met with Ron Zonen on September 2004 and threatened legal action against Zonen if he was subpoenaed to testify against MJ, and how Jordan told him that he had “done his part”! That is one of the most significant pieces of exculpatory evidence that fans have against the Chandlers, yet it’s completely missing from the book!
On page 487, Dr. Moriarty criticizes J. Randy Taraborrelli’s “hastily written” 2009 rerelease of his book “The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story”, yet she quoted from this book MULTIPLE times throughout her book! Why is that? Why would she cite a source multiple times and then criticize that same source?
There were other mistakes that I found, but this review is long enough as it is, and you get the point. I give Dr. Moriarty an 5 stars for effort, but a 2 stars for execution! These errors just cannot be swept under the rug, no matter how well intentioned the book is! It would be like me saying that VH1′s 2004 movie “Man in the Mirror” is a good movie because VH1′s heart was in the right place! The notion that this book should be assigned to college students who wish to learn about MJ is a joke, because it is poorly researched, devolves into a love letter at times, includes too much “copying and pasting” from MJ blogs and other books, leaves much to be desired.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of positive things to say about this book, and overall I would recommend it to new fans, but for knowledgeable fans such as myself, the book is severely flawed. I know that it may seem that I came down very hard on this book, but it’s out of my dedication to MJ that the truth be told about him in an ACCURATE and PROFESSIONAL manner.
Is this a harsh review? Perhaps. But is it a fair review in which the author is within his rights, especially as an expert on the allegations and the Arvizo trial? Absolutely. Every critique made in this review is one made against the book and/or the research that went into it. It is in no way a personal attack against Dr. Moriarty. So how has this become now a case for libel? I am frankly still scratching my head over that one! If every critic or even ordinary citizen who gave a bad review of a movie, book, or CD could be sued for libel, the court system would implode just from the staggering amount of cases!And, while my own opinion of the book isn’t nearly as critical as sanemjfan’s, I do agree that if Dr. Moriarty was going to make the trial and the allegations a part of the book, then this information should have been included, especially in a book called “Defending A King” that purports to be the definitive book on…well, defending a king. I know the argument that some came back with: Dr. Moriarty’s book wasn’t intended to be a book about the trial.To that, I would say fair enough. But this is where an author has to make a crucial decision: What kind of book is this going to be? Is it going to be a warm and fuzzy, feel good love letter from a fan, or a definitive and authoritative book on the facts concerning the trial, the allegations, or other aspects of his life that require extensive research and knowledge? They do not have to be mutually exclusive but if one is going to take the approach of presenting their book as an authoratative, definitive book-especially one purporting to “defend” Michael’s legacy- then it becomes all the more important that crucial information not be left out.
Jason Francia. Jurors Actually Laughed At His Testimony!
I was even more aghast when I heard, indirectly via the cyberspace grapevine, that Dr. Moriarty allegedly admitted that she intentionally left out the information on Jason Francia in order to avoid further sullying Michael’s name and out of respect for his children. While I can certainly respect and appreciate that sentiment, it goes without saying that the absolute WORST disservice that well-intentioned fans can do to Michael’s legacy is to say, “We know he was innocent. Let’s not dwell on or discuss these ugly things.” Why is this a bad thing? Well, let’s say that a person who has been on the fence about the allegations decides to read Defending A King-His Life and Legacy They come away from this book feeling persuaded that Michael was indeed a good man and an innocent man deserving of sympathy. But then they do further research and discover…but wait! There was another accuser? There was another settlement, with another kid? Because like it or not, that information is out there, and the haters sure don’t mind exploiting it. How many times have you seen smug comments from them such as, “Did you know the Chandler settlement wasnt the only settlement Michael made with an accuser?” Now let’s say this formerly neutral reader, after having been persuaded by Dr. Moriarty’s book, runs across this information. Their first reaction is going to be, “Why wasn’t this discussed in the book?” and probably their next reaction will be, “What exactly are these fans trying to hide?”
I guess the point I’m really making is that the book tries too hard have it both ways-as both a positive and reaffirming look at Michael the man from a fan’s perspective, and at the same time, as a kind of definitive and objective, scholarly view of the trial and other issues. Sometimes this works, but more often it does not. One can’t set out to discuss the allegations made against Michael, or to analyze the 2005 trial, and then make the conscious decision to whitewash or omit critical information. While I am 100% for having positive books about Michael available on the market (and there is nothing wrong with that; God knows we NEED more books like this to counter all of the trash that’s been written about Michael) it is also important that they be accurate.
I will say as I’ve always said, that sweeping certain things under the rug and burying our heads in the sand is not the way to confront these issues. Jason Francia’s court testimony, which was quickly torn down, actually did more to prove Michael’s innocence than to disprove it. There is no reason to not include information about his testimony in a discussion of the Arvizo trial because MJ fans have nothing to fear from the truth. Jason Francia was a laughing stock to the jury!
In other words, the point I’m making is that it is not necessary to omit information, or to sugar coat facts. The facts themselves speak loud and clear, and can go far in exonerating Michael’s name.
The biggest problem I found with the book is that it never seemed as though Dr. Moriarty had a clear focus on exactly what she wanted the book to be. I still come back to those Las Vegas chapters and the information shared by the bodyguards as the book’s strongest sections because I think this was, for all intents and purposes, what the book set out to be. (And as a fan, I would have been more than thrilled with this!). But again, if the purpose was to give the reader a sense of what Michael’s life was like during those years (roughly about 2007-2009) then the trial could have been pretty much reduced to a footnote. After all, most of us are aware that Michael went through this dark chapter of his life. Dr. Moriarty could have made the decision to simply let it stand as a dark chapter in his life-a cloud that continued to hang over him throughout his final years-or to present that dark chapter in detail. But to make the choice to give the trial its own chapter and to present it in detail is not a road that one can then choose to take half way. In this case, it seemed she wanted to dive in “just enough” but without a true commitment to really presenting the facts of the trial.
I realize that to those fans who are so swept away by the book’s positivity, this may be a small and unimportant detail. I’ve heard the arguements that say, “But this book isn’t supposed to be about the trial, or the allegations.” That may be true, but I don’t think this was what sanemjfan was trying to say. Someone on the Amazon forum asked him, for example, why he did not go after books like Jermaine Jackson’s You Are Not Alone, and the answer he gave made sense. That book is a memoir of a brother’s memories, and therefore it would be unrealistic to expect it to also be a scholarly and definitive account of the molestation allegations. I can understand sanemjfan’s point with Defending A King because it comes back to the question of what this book is trying to be, and how it is being promoted. One would have high hopes than an MJ book written by an academic scholar would be free of at least some of the egregious errors that were pointed out. Again, those errors may not be important to everyone. But I can understand why, to a purist like sanemjfan who has dedicated so much of his time and effort to researching the 2005 trial, this is not something so easily dismissed or overlooked
Which brings me back to the original point. This review, harsh as it is, is nevertheless a legitimate expression of opinion regarding Dr. Moriarty’s book. It is not a personal attack against her, at least not in any way that I can construe.
After this review, sanemjfan made a legitimate effort to reach out to Dr. Moriarty, offering in good faith to help correct these errors/omissions for a second edition. Out of respect for his wishes, I have not reprinted the message here, but I have seen it. The message was in every way respectful and courteous. Nowhere did he ever demand to be made a collaborator!
My understanding is that sanemjfan did not hear anything back until months later he received a curt reply from Dr. Moriarty (via Facebook, no less!) that he get an attorney.
All of this seemed ridiculous enough, but now comes the real clincher: The equivalent of a cyberpace “Wanted” poster offering a bounty in exchange for info on sanemjfan!
We are seeking anything & everything written–in any social media or other means of communication–by David Edwards (aka “sanemjfan”) about me or my book, Defending A King ~ His Life & Legacy. Please send the information to me at defendingaking@gmail .com or to my attorney: William J. Harte, William J. Harte Ltd., 135 S. LaSalle, Ste. 2200, Chicago, IL 60602. You will rema in anonymous, upon your request. There will be a reward for the most helpful information. David Edwards tried unsuccessfully to become my collaborator for the second edition of my book after publishing “…it is BY FAR the best MJ book I have ever read!” He used “bullying” tactics by posting on Amazon.com scurrilous reviews of the book that attack me personally. Edwards and several of his “friends” then wrote me to say that he wanted to become my collaborator to change the things in the book that he had criticized! Because his crude and arrogant manipulations to become affiliated with my book have failed, he is now reportedly attempting to organize MJ fans in a campaign against me and my book. Anyone else who has been a victim of this cyber-bully is encouraged to contact me or William Harte as soon as possible and to provide us with their written information. We need to fight against defamation and character assassination — together. Thank you, Karen Moriarty
The real question that most of us have been asking ever since this broke is, “How the heck can you sue someone for writing a negative review of your book? And how do you justify taking out the equivalent of a bounty on someone just because they expressed an opinion about your work on a public forum-a forum for which the sole purpose is to express opinions regarding the product being sold?”
I love the comment below from Charles Thomson, which was deleted from Dr. Moriarty’s Facebook page (along with all the others seen here) but nevertheless screencapped:
In this screencap, a commentor questions why all of the comments in support of David were removed. Dr. Moriarty explains that the comments gave the impression that the action she is taking is all about the review, when in fact, it is not the review but other writings from David that she has found objectionable, and which constitute cyberbullying.
Note the question from the last poster, which is crucial to everything we are discussing here. If this is about more than just the review, fair enough. But then, why does the Amazon review crop up in every single discussion of this alleged libel? Because the big question that I and many others are asking is this: How does Dr. Moriarty have a legal leg to stand on if it’s just about a bad review? And if it’s not “just” about the review, then what else has been allegedly said to warrant this action? Because it is certainly nothing that most of us have seen! If Dr. Moriarty wants us to be willing to turn over information about David, then she should at least let us know what he’s allegedly done (other than the review) that is so bad?
Because again, to reiterate, if this is just about the review-as all indicators seem to be pointing-then she doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. Which makes this nothing more than yet another campaign to waste the energy of fans and to further drive the wedge of divisiveness.
I will stress again that my purpose here isn’t to take sides. But until and unless I see evidence that this is about more than just a fair but critical book review, my position stands.
My Subtitle For My Review of Frank Cascio’s Book Was “Just One Fan’s Honest Review.” Frank Didn’t Agree With Everything I Wrote, But Called It “A Fair Review.” Authors Understand That Their Books Are Open For Public Scrutiny!
Earlier this year, I did a very popular and well received review of Frank Cascio’s book My Friend Michael: An Extraordinary Friendship With An Extraordinary Man. Although it was a mostly positive review, I did call into question some of the things Frank wrote about, such as Michael’s marriage to LMP and the conception of Blanket. However, that is always a tricky thing, because anytime you get into questioning the account of someone who was actually there-someone who was a part of the events being described in the book-then you are, in essence, calling into question that person’s credibility. (Pssst, you are as good as calling them a liar!). This is something that many people would take quite personally, and, really, who could blame them? Well, guess what! Frank not only saw and read my review, but commented on his own Facebook page that he thought it was a “fair review” although, in his opinion, he felt I got ”everything wrong” and took some things completely out of context. Well, fair enough. The bottom line is that, although Frank was critical of my review and on the defenesive, he was also savvy enough to know that I was exercsing my right of free speech. Over the course of three years, I have severely criticized or at least questioned the work of many, from Taraborelli to Halperin, from Bashir to Maureen Orth. I have written rebuttals to many published articles on Michael Jackson. I do this without fear that any of these folks are going to come after me because I am perfectly within my legal rights. What’s more, these people know I am within my rights.
My purpose here isn’t to take anyone’s side, but hopefully to stress the importance that we, as fans, remain able to exercise our constitutional rights. Reviews of MJ products-both good and bad-are necessary in order for fans to make educated choices.
I have largely supported Dr. Moriarty’s book because it is a positive book about Michael that does have its strengths. The elements of the book that are well researched, such as the infrastructure of his financial empire, or what typically went into a day of providing security for him (one of the sections I found most interesting) are redeeming qualities, and some fans may be willing to overlook the tsunami chapter and some of the other inaccuracies. But others are not. In an ideal world, a fair review gives the reader the option of being able to make that decision for his or herself.
The bottom line is that we can’t go around putting out bounty hunts for everyone who disagrees with us. It is frivolous and a waste of time. What’s more, it is a senseless diversion and drain of energy for all of us who would like to be devoting our time and energy to Michael’s vindication. I hate to see people like sanemjfan being diverted from all the good work he does to have to deal with something like this. What’s more, it has to be as equally draining for Dr. Moriarty, and in the end, what is likely to be gained from it? If this was really a serious issue of bullying and harassment, then why not hire a PI to get the info she wants? Why the need to turn this into yet another publicly played out internet drama and another excuse for a fanbase war (as if we needed one more!).
I know some of you will not agree with what I’m saying today, and I expect that the comments section is going to heat up big time. But nevertheless, I feel like it has to be said. The fact is, we can disagree with one another all we like. But being able to openly express those disagreements is what’s at stake here. And that, to reiterate what I said earlier, should concern all of us.
Last time I checked the calendar, it was 2012. Not 1984.