So the UK, Australian, and US versions of this mockumentary have aired. They aired despite all the best intentions from family, fans, and even the Michael Jackson estate to keep it from happening. But now that it’s done, what can be gained from it, if anything? And has it really helped Murray, or blackened him further in the court of public opinion?
I refused to watch the US version of this program, entitled “Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship,” which aired last Friday and Sunday nights on MSNBC. I had no intention of helping to reward MSNBC with a ratings coup for this despicable act-that is, allowing a convicted killer who had refused to testify under oath to now have a platform post-conviction to testify without cross examination. However, I stated my feelings on that particular issue in-depth a few days ago here: http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=5296
The silver lining, however, is that within hours of its airing, the consensus was in. Conrad Murray’s pathetic attempt at exoneration did him no favors whatsoever. Instead, most critics were smart enough to see this for what it was: A self-serving exercise from a somewhat delusional man who seems to be in complete denial. This review from Roger Friedman was typical, and though I haven’t always agreed with Friedman on everything, this time he nailed it:
Conrad Murray Tries to Kill Michael Jackson Again in “Documentary”
So MSNBC on Friday night broadcast a really pathetic, sort of disgracefully one sided documentary about Michael Jackson’s murderer, Dr. Conrad Murray. Obviously “Michael Jackson and the Doctor” was filmed with the hope that Murray would be acquitted. They were wrong. Creepy “journalist” Gerald Posner, who was bounced from Tina Brown’s Daily Beast after it was discovered he was guilty of plagiarism, seems to be behind the whole thing. He not only has a credit but appears on camera with Murray riding home from court. That should tell you everything: stay away from this one hour.
What did we learn? That Murray found god about three weeks after Michael died. That his lawyers fought among themselves. Lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff, who came with Murray from Houston, actually got kicked out of the house where he was staying–with Beverly Hills co counsel Michael Flanagan–after the two of them fell out over a witness’s examination. Their on camera blow out reminded me of something from “The Real World.” The lawyers for Murray are also seen eating a lot.
Murray himself blames Michael for this whole situation, accusing him of “betrayal.” The one hour report backfires. Murray simply appears self-serving as he tries to lay the blame for Jackson’s death on concert promoter AEG Live, his lawyers are incompetent, and MSNBC should be ashamed of itself. Good thing the jury was smart. The judge should sentence Murray, his lawyers, and MSNBC to a long term.
Though I refused to watch the aired version, which would have contributed to its ratings, it didn’t take long to surface on Youtube. The good thing about Youtube is that no one gets to profit, so it provides a guilt-free way to check out those things that we ordinarily wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. And admittedly, most fans were curious, not so much to hear what Murray had to say (because most intelligent people knew it would be self-serving bs) but in order to have some sense of awareness of its contents so that we might be prepared with the necessary rebuttals. Like trying to turn away from an accident, most people wanted to know: Just how bad is it, really?
Well, I finally got around to watching the UK version in its entirety on Youtube last night. It confirmed what I already suspected from the excerpts I had seen: Conrad Murray simply ends up caught in his own trap. This turns out to be the cross examination that Murray refused to take in court, and does he ever fail! Who needs David Walgreen? Murray can’t even hold up or keep his stories straight when cross examined by Savannah Guthrie or Steve Hewlett; we know he would have been crushed by Walgreen!
For the record, I haven’t viewed the US version yet, though I have watched the Savannah Guthrie interview on Youtube. My current review/rebuttal is based on the UK version. I’ve heard that the US version is slightly different, in that some things were edited out (most notably, the alleged conversation between Murray and Randy Phillips, and the comment about bed wetting). I would imagine other than those slight differences, it is pretty much the same content. However, judging from the reviews I have read so far, it seems that the UK version was somewhat more balanced, whereas the US version seemed to downplay more the issue of Murray’s guilt. Even the difference in the two titles is interesting to note. I much prefer the UK title, “The Man Who Killed Michael Jackson”-yes, it’s sensationalistic. But also honest. What do we get in the US? “Michae Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship.” You get the idea. Murray’s guilt/culpability is softened and blurred; indeed, the very lines are blurred as to just how this alleged friendship became “fatal.” Also, the word “friendship” is misleading since it implies something that is only alleged by Conrad Murray himself. I don’t buy for a minute that Conrad Murray was Michael Jackson’s friend, though I’m sure there were a few vulnerable moments when Michael probably confided in this man, and trusted him, more than he should have. But the fact that Murray would construe this employer/employee relationship into an actual friendship probably says more about Murray than about Michael Jackson.
Anyway, overall, this is the biggest thing I took away from “The Man Who Killed Michael Jackson”: Conrad Murray is a man of two faces. There is the put-on, innocent lamb “poor me” face, which he has used to succesfully garner much sympathy from the unsuspecting, and then his real face. What I have to say I honestly love about this mockumentary is just how much, finally, it allows Conrad Murray’s true colors to shine for all to see. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Conrad Murray that Michael Jackson knew-a man with a short fuse who storms out of interviews when pressed to address the facts of the case (a luxury he would never have had in court!); who lies to cover his own lies, swears (not that I’m so goody-goody as to be shocked by the swearing, but it’s just that it’s so far removed from the image of this goodly, innocent, Christian man that Murray’s supporters want to portray him as) and as a betrayer who reveals intimate details that no true friend-let alone someone’s doctor-would reveal. Add to that what we already know-that he’s a womanizer who has cheated on his wife, has several children out of wedlock, has been in court numerous times on domestic violence issues and refusal to pay child support-and you get the picture. Yes, this “poor, innocent lamb” wears two faces, indeed. So now I’m going to pick this bone apart, piece by piece, to show just how badly this thing has backfired on Murray and his defense. The fact that Ed Chernoff, of all people, actually comes across as the only one here who seems to have an ounce of semi-integrity (or intelligence) speaks volumes in and of itself. But let’s not forget, it was Chernoff who ironically said in his closing statements that this was no reality TV show. Are we supposed to honesly expect now that Chernoff had no idea he was being filmed for a documentary? Come on! Anyway, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to the beginning:
It is interesting that in both the Hewlett and Guthrie interviews, Murray never denies any of the prosecution’s arguements. At this stage of the game, I think he knew that was a battle he couldn’t win. So basically, he admits he gave propofol; admits he left the room; admits he did not call 911 right away; admits he did not reveal the truth to paramedics about what he had given Michael. But what Murray does do is to attempt to make it all about the mitigating circumstances; why he did this, or failed to do that. He admits administering propofol, but only because Michael wanted it; admits (now) that he left the room to make phone calls, but that such calls were routine; admits that he did not call 911 but then gives two different versions of why-depending on which one you believe, either because he did not have access to a phone (forgetting, evidently, all about the cell phone in his pocket which he had just been using for over fifty minutes ), or because he did not need paramedics to do his job (but note; he failed to do that job; then goes on to say that one major reason for his panic was that he had never faced such a situation all alone, with no backup. Well, would that, then, be all the more reason why 911 should have been called IMMEDIATLY?!).
In the opening teaser, the self-serving nature of this mockumentary becomes clear. We are shown a very desolate and contemplative looking Murray, apparently alone in his Las Vegas home that is about to be foreclosed. “He has not worked in months,” the slightly ominous and sad voice over tells us. Then we’re told he is “reevaluating” his relationship with Michael Jackson. At this point, Murray has the nerve to speak of betrayal, and that he thinks Michael never meant “to do me harm.” Already, the red flag should be going up. Who exactly did harm to who here? If Murray honestly thinks that his loss of material possessions and reputation is to be equated with another’s loss of life, he is sorely deluded. Oh but wait, that’s exactly what this whole thing is going to prove!
Murray is asked point-blank why he agreed to use propofol. He says it was not something he recommended. But then, when asked why he ordered 4 gallons, he tries to diffuse this with an analogy about going into a friend’s house and finding him holding a loaded gun. Murray says he would have two options: To demand that the gun be handed over, which is not likely to happen, or to continue to talk with the friend until the gun is given up. However, this analogy makes no sense in the context of his situation with Michael Jackson. Murray wanted to portray himself as a man simply caught up in a bad situation that was over his head. But why, then, did he proceed to order 4 gallons of the stuff? If his desire was to get his “friend” to “hand over” the Propofol (or in other words, to give it up) why enable him by proceeding to order enough propofol to knock out ten elephants? It just doesn’t add up. Here I’m not sure if Murray was honestly that naive, or if his intentions were more sinister. But even giving him the benfit of the doubt and assuming he really thought he could help by gradually weaning Michael away from propofol, rather than forcing him to go cold turkey, how does one justify 4 gallons ordered and shipped to a non-existent clinic (i.e. his girlfriend’s apartment?).
Murray goes on to make a totally fallacious statement regarding the state of Michael’s veins. He says that Michael had very small, corded veins”like spider webs.” Nurse Cherilyn Lee alluded to this same fact in her trial testimony, so I don’t doubt that it’s true. Lee said that it was always very hard for her to find a vein when treating Michael. But what is ludicrous is when Murray goes on to say that in his practice, he has only ever witnessed this type of condition in people who are drug users. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what he’s trying to imply here. And without benefit of cross examination, remarks like this unfortunately go unchallenged. What really burns me up is to hear Murray sitting there saying this garbage while mocking Michael’s voice. Well, now I won’t have to feel so bad the next time I choose to mock Murray’s accent! But such inconsequentials aside, this is why it’s bad to allow such statements to go unchallenged.
There are many people-myself included-who have had the misfortune to be cursed with small veins. Any trip to the doctor that involves a shot is always an excruciating process that usually involves being stuck numerous times. In fact, it’s not unusual for them to have to resort to drawing blood from my hand! My mother has this condition, as do most of my siblings. I can vouch that none of us are drug users, though my mother is on numerous prescription medications. But there are a number of natural causes for this condition. Dehydration-a condition that Michael suffered from frequently, and for which Murray also claimed to be treating him-can be a cause for small, constricted veins. Here is an article from a fellow “small veiner” that stresses the importance of staying well hydrated, among other things:
The bottom line here is that there are numerous, perfectly natural explanations for a person having small, spidery veins that are hard to locate. It does not, in every instance, automatically equate to drug abuse. As a doctor, Murray would certainly be aware of this, but he chose to ignore it in favor of the more negative and salacious explanation.
This also goes back to the defense arguement involving Demerol. While I don’t deny that the amounts of Demerol claimed to be given to Michael by Arnie Klein seemed excessive, it’s not automatic proof that Michael was a junkie, as some have asserted. First of all, I know from expeience that people with small veins usually don’t go out of their way to get injections-of any kind. For most of us, it’s something we avoid like the proverbial plague. No one enjoys pain. I think that Michael, in particular, had a very low tolerance for physical pain, just from what I know about him. It’s easy for the average person to say that no one gets that much Demerol just for Botox (yes, Jane Valez-Mitchell, I’m talking to you!). But is it not possible that Michael’s cosmetic surgeries may have in some way made his face more sensitive to pain, and thus certain procedures-even normally routine ones- more painful? Dr. Philip Treacy, who treated Michael while he lived in Ireland, has stated just that:
“Michael had derma fillers in his face but the area around his nose — he was very hypersensitive because of previous surgery he had”-Dr. Philip Treacy
It’s entirely possible that the Demerol injections-as excessive as they may sound to the layperson-were necessary in Michael’s particular case in order to make the Botox procedures more tolerable.
At 4:32 in the video, Hewlett directs the conversation towards the alleged timeline that Murray gave the police that he was out of the room (two minutes) as opposed to the phone records which show he was out of the room for over fifty minutes on the phone. Notice how craftily Murray has now managed to combine both stories, claiming that he stepped into one adjacent room to make the phone calls, and at the same time, also happened to step into another chamber to urinate, thus validating his initial story. So I guess now we’re supposed to assume that he was telling the truth, but-oops!-simply got a few details confused. How convenient is it that the phone calls and the 50-minute interim were never mentioned until after the phone records became public knowledge?
This is as much as I am going to have time to write today. I will cover more in Part Two.