Category Archives: The Never-Ending Media War

Blogs and rants about the media and its relationship with MJ

Scratch The "Sense Of Closure," This Fight's Not Over!

MSNBC/NBC, Zodiac Media, October Films, The UK's Ch 4 and Nine Network Among Those Planning To Aid Murray In Further Exploitation and Profit of MJ's Death

 

What was I just saying earlier about feeling like I finally have some sense of closure today? That was before I saw this!

Looks as though Zodiak Media, along with a little help from Uk’s Channel 4, MSNBC/NBC in the US, and Nine Network in Australia are planning to help convicted felon Conrad Murray to further exploit and profit from killing Michael Jackson. Rumors of this “crockumentary” have been swirling for awhile, but today was the first that I’ve seen what looks like actual confirmation that it’s a “go.” Too sick for words.

Channel 4 To Screen Michael Jackson And The Doctor: A Fatal Friendship

Channel 4 is set to screen a documentary featuring an exclusive interview with Dr Conrad Murray, who was today found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of pop legend Michael Jackson in 2009.

Produced by October Films, what’s it all about? productions and Zodiak Rights, Michael Jackson and The Doctor: A Fatal Friendship (working title) will be shown exclusively in the UK on Channel 4 in the next week (date and time tbc).

October Films, what’s it all about? productions and Zodiak Rights secured access to Dr Murray in November 2009, prior to him being charged. They have filmed with Dr Murray throughout the intervening two years and have continued to record with him during the trial.

The film, by multi-award-winning director Tom Roberts, explores the surreal world inhabited by Jackson in the last three months of his life and examines his fatal friendship with the doctor he handpicked to care for himself and his children.

It was a private world where the controversial use of powerful medication was a way of life, where a man adored by millions lived as a virtual recluse, and where an unknown cardiologist from Texas found himself the unexpected companion, confidante and intimate to one of the most famous men in the world.

When Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009 only two people were in the room: Jackson and Dr Conrad Murray. Now the documentary reveals Dr Murray’s accounts and testimony of those events for the first time.

Michael Jackson and The Doctor: A Fatal Friendship (working title) uncovers the fatal friendship behind the headlines and reveals the chain of events that led to one man dead and the other fighting for his reputation and freedom.

Adam Bullmore, Executive Producer for October Films, said: “Made with remarkable levels of access and complete editorial independence, we believe this film is the most complete and accurate story of what really happened to Michael Jackson and Conrad Murray on 25 June 2009; and why.”

Leon Lecash, Executive Producer for what’s it all about? productions, said: “When what’s it all about? productions secured access to Dr Murray in 2009, we knew that this would be an incredibly compelling film about 21st Century celebrity justice.”

Michael Jackson and The Doctor: A Fatal Friendship (working title) will be shown on Channel 4 in the next week (date and time tbc). The documentary is an October Films and what’s it all about? co-production. Jane Millichip is Executive Producer for Zodiak Rights.

UK international distributor Zodiak Rights have already secured pre-sales with major broadcasters around the world including MSNBC/NBC in the US, Nine Network in Australia and over ten other international broadcasters. (my emphasis).

http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/channel-4-to-screen-documentary-about-doctor-in-michael-jackson-trial

All I can say is, we’d best limber up our typing fingers and dialing digits cause this is going to take a campaign every bit as intensive as the one launched against Discovery earlier this year! Where to begin?

Think Justice Has Prevailed? Think Again!

Here are most of the major contacts for MSNBC/NBC, courtesy of Positively Michael:

NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
Phone: 818-777-1000
Fax: 818-866-1430

Marc Graboff
President, West Coast Business Operations,
Television Entertainment, NBC Universal
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/mgraboff

Rebecca Marks
Executive Vice President, Publicity

Charles Engel
Executive Vice President, Programming

Curt King
Senior Vice President,
Publicity, Marketing, and Corporate Communications

*******

MSNBC Cable, L.L.C.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Phone: 212-664-4444
Fax: 212-664-4085

MSNBC Public Relations
212-664-3720
NO Murray documentary
NO paying Michael Jackson’s killer

Phil Griffin
President, MSNBC
Email: phil.griffin@nbcuni.com

Sharon Otterman
Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Email: sharon.otterman@nbcuni.com

Jeremy Gaines
Vice President Media Relations
Email: jeremy.gaines@nbcuni.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/jeremymgaines

Bill Wolff
Vice President, Primetime Programming
Email: bill.wolff@nbcuni.com

These websites list contact info for Zodiak Media and Channel 4, respectively:

http://www.zodiakmedia.com/contact.php

http://www.mediauk.com/tv/28186/channel-4

ETA: Contact info for Network Nine in Australia, provided by Tania (thanks!)

Channel 9 (Australia)

Channel Nine Australia :
Channel 9 Sydney+61 2 9906 9999
Channel 9 Melbourne+61 3 9420 3111
Channel 9 Brisbane+61 7 3214 9999
Channel 9 Adelaide+61 8 8267 0111
Channel 9 Perth+61 8 9449 9999

General email : customer.service@ninemsn.com.au (this is the only email address listed on their website)

Twitter: @channel9

or by writing to:
NSW Viewers: PO Box 27 Willoughby, NSW 2068
Vic Viewers: PO Box 100 Richmond, Vic 3121
QLD Viewers: PO Box 72 Brisbane, QLD 4001
(no time for postal letters, it airs here too soon! In just two days)

 

I’m also going to add another bit of postscript here, while I’m at it. The more I learn now about this crockumentary and how it came together, the more outraged and repulsed I am by just how sneaky and calculatedly planned out this whole thing was on the part of Murray, MSNBC, and everyone involved. Both Murray and MSNBC KNEW ALL ALONG THAT THEY WERE SITTING ON THIS STINKING PILE UNTIL AFTER THE VERDICT!!! I can’t help now but get this sinking, sick feeling that Conrad Murray, sitting in his jail cell, is getting the last word-and last laugh-on all of us, after all. He knew, when he was sitting in court and made the decision not to testify, that he already had his own “testament” ready to unleash-not coincidentally, perhaps, just in time to influence his sentencing and his appeal. I personally think he was planning something like this all along-that explains the audio recordings he made of Michael. This man is beyond despicable. He killed Michael Jackson, he was convicted for it, and now he plans to profit from his actions! But you know what’s worse? That apparently there are those only too willing to aid and abet him in so doing.

ETA 11/09/11: This post keeps growing as more info is shared. I was thinking this morning that hitting  MSNBC sponsors would be more effective than hitting the network heads. After all, MSNBC probably paid a bunch of money for this doc, so they’re not likely to pull it unless they realize they stand to lose more than they put into it. Unfortunately, a few days isn’t really enough time to wage an effective product boycott (this is why I say the whole, planned timing of this thing was soooooooo deviously sneaky; they knew exactly what they were doing, and how fans would react!). But I think we can still send a strong message to these sponsors that we won’t be buying their products if they sponsor this crock. Anyway, this is one of the most complete MSNBC sponsor contact lists I’ve found; any thanks again to Positively Michael:

Alcatel mailto:%20press@alcatel-lucent.com
Anheuser-Busch http://contactus.anheuser-busch.com/…px?Site=CUSITE
Ann Taylor http://www.anntaylorstorescorp.com/contact/index.asp (call or fax)
Avon http://shop.avon.com/shop/assist_email_us.asp
Banco Nacional de Mexico https://portal.banamex.com.mx/esp/at…scucharte.html
Cambridge Technology Partners mailto:%20marketing@ctp-consulting.com
Catalyst http://www.catalyst.org/page/50/contact-us
Champion International http://support.crosspath.com/support…48.101.113.111
Chase Manhattan https://www.chase.com/index.jsp?pg_n…page/contactus
Choice-Point http://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/contact /
Chubb Corporation http://www.chubb.com/marketing/chubb2340.html
Coca-Cola http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/contactus /
Community Health Systems http://www.chs.net/company_overview/contact_us.html
Dell Computer http://support.dell.com/support/topi…gen&redirect=1
Delphi Automotive http://delphi.com/contact/other /
Fiat http://www.fiat.com/cgi-bin/pbrand.d…cejgdfkhdfjj.0
Home Depot http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/…atalogId=10053
Honeywell http://www51.honeywell.com/honeywell…ontact-us.html
Illinois Tool Works Illinois Tool Works
International Speedy http://www.speedyintl.com/contact_us.php
Internet Security Systems http://www.securitystoreusa.com/help.asp
Invemed http://www.manta.com/c/mm2gr8n/invemed-associates-llc
Morgan Chase & Co. http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corpora…a-contacts.htm
Kellogg mailto:%20media.hotline@kellogg.com
Kimberly-Clark http://www.kimberly-clark.com/ask/ki…rk/country.asp
Knight-Ridder http://www.mcclatchy.com/2006/06/12/380/contact-us.html
Microtune http://www.microtune.com/company/contact_us.shtml
Morgan Gauranty Trust http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corpora…a-contacts.htm
National Service Industries http://www.fundinguniverse.com/compa…y-History.html
New York Stock Exchange http://www.nyse.com/about/newsevents/1095581297695.html
Oglivy & Mather https://www.ogilvy.com/Contact.aspx
Penske http://www.penskeracing.com/about/contact.cfm
Planet Hollywood http://www.answers.com/topic/planet-…ernational-inc
State Street http://www.statestreet.com/wps/porta…D9gmxHRQDWNWSc /
Scientific Atlanta http://www.cisco.com/web/siteassets/contacts/index.html
Sun Microsystems http://www.sun.com/contact/office_locations.jsp
Texaco http://www.texaco.com/contactus.aspx
TIAA-CREF https://www3.tiaa-cref.org/ContactTIAA/ContactTIAA.php
Total Systems Services http://www.tsys.com/About/Contact/index.cfm
TRICON Global Restaurants http://www.yum.com/contact/default.asp
Unifi http://www.unificompanies.com/unifi_contact.htm
Unilever http://www.unilever.com/resource/Contactform/index.aspx
WinStar http://www.winstarworldcasino.com/about-us/contact-form

Sponsors Twitter:

Brita’s twitter: @BRITA_PPD
DeadSea2U’s twitter: @DeadSea2U
Walgreen’s twitter: @Walgreens
Clorox’s twitter: @Clorox
Welchs’s twitter: @Welchs
HTC’s twtitter: @htc
Lowe’s twitter: @Lowes
Smart car twitter: @smartCar
Columbia sportswear twitter: @Columbia1938
Mercedes-Benz USA twitter: @MBUSA
Yahoo Mail twitter: @yahoomail

A few helpful tips if you feel overwhelmed by these sort of campaigns, as I sometimes do: You need not contact every single person or sponsor on the list. Target those you feel will be most effective. If everyone is doing their part, it will be the collective effort that sends the message. If sending an email, it need not be an epic. Yes, I have seen some very beautiful and eloquent messages. But really, a few lines that get straight to the point and tell them exactly how you feel is all that’s necessary-and in the long run, is probably most effective. You can cut and paste the same message to send to multiple contacts. Use the CC function; it helps, trust me!

But here is something to also keep in mind. While we are focusing so heavily on MSNBC, it is Zodiak Media who owns the distribution rights, and ultimately, October Films who owns the footage.Which means even if MSNBC pulls the plug, they can still simply shop it elsewhere. So let’s not overlook their importance as targets of this campaign.
 

Thoughts On Seeing Michael In Death

An Image Of "The Last Night"...The Way We Prefer To Remember Michael

I never wanted to see Michael Jackson dead. I was one of those that always shuddered at the thought that there were autopsy and hospital post-mortem photos “out there.” Like many, I feared and dreaded the inevitable day those photos would be leaked. There were rumors of tabloids and other parties offering up to half a million for them. For over two years, an excellent job had been done at keeping those private and under seal, as they should be. But like the white elephant in the room, we always knew they existed, and that one day…

Of course, we now know that even the notorious “ambulance photo” was actually a post-mortem photo. None of us asked to see that, either, but it was splashed on magazine and tabloid covers all over the world. It was bad enough to think that this was the last photo ever taken of Michael alive . But now we know better. Michael was dead from the time Murray found him not breathing. He was dead long before the paramedics arrived. So in that sense, the world had already seen Michael Jackson in death. But maybe it’s just that a hastily snapped, paparazzi photo isn’t the same as looking at a graphic, coroner investigator photo of him lying on a hospital gurney-or worse yet, on the autopsy table.

I knew, of course, that the jury would probably see these photos. Like many, however, I wasn’t quite expecting that they would be displayed on TV. Chalk it up to the pros and cons of having live TV cameras in a court room. We can’t have our cake and eat it, too. Allowing cameras and a live broadcast feed from the court room means we see it all, just as the jury does. Warts and all.

I understand why the prosecution wanted the photos shown to the jury. What is inexcusable is how the media immediatly jumped the bandwagon; within minutes those photos were posted on TMZ, The LA Times, in fact, every media outlet I can think of. Haters tweeted the autopsy photo to Michael’s children. I have already seen many of the inevitable, horrid photoshops, the kind that sick individuals with apparently nothing better to do with their lives, like to create. Even in death, Michael has been allowed no dignity, no privacy. Even many of his closest family members refused to view him post-mortem. I know that both Katherine and Joe have stated they did not view him. I believe his brother Tito said he chose not to view him. As Latoya described in her book, this was one reason why she was elected as caretaker of her brother’s remains. Latoya, always the most giddy and seemingly “airheaded” of the Jackson family, proved surprisingly to be the strongest when it came to some of the most gruesome post-mortem tasks involving her brother’s remains. It was Latoya who took Michael’s children in to see their father one last time, so that they might have that closure. She was the one who picked out his burial outfit. In her latest book, one particularly gut-wrenching scene is her description of a few days before Michael’s entombment, when a lab tech, photographer, and police officer said they would need a palm print and more hair samples as part of the ongoing death investigation. Literally propping her dead brother’s body up in a chair, she describes going to great pains to make sure the body was draped with a sheet and covered at all times throughout the ordeal. Why? Because she didn’t trust the photographer; didn’t trust that any photo snapped in the name of “official business” might not somehow find its way to the front page of The National Enquirer!

So one can only imagine how painful it must be now, to know those post-mortem photos are out there for the world to ogle.

Celebrity autopsy photos are big business. In fact, all you have to do is a quick google search for autopsies, and you will find sites that link to the autopsy photos of Marilyn Monroe, Kennedy, and Tupac Shakur, among others. I will admit, I have looked at those photos. Like many humans, I am naturally curious. It’s the same instinctive compulsion that makes us look when we pass the scene of an accident, even though we know we shouldn’t. I will look, but then feel guilty, knowing such photos are the ultimate invasion of someone’s privacy. After all, we are never more vulnerable, more piteously exposed, than in death.

But there are two thoughts of mind on this. Death is also a very natural process. I have always had this sort of clinical ability to detach myself and be able to view a deceased body in, I suppose, the same way a person in the medical field would. Perhaps I’m one of those who would have made a good doctor or mortician, had I been so inclined. It doesn’t “freak me out” to see a dead body. I have seen many of my own loved ones in death, and it has always brought me closure. As some will say, it is only a body, after all. The person is no longer there.

However, I could never quite bring myself to apply that to Michael. Michael Jackson-the most vibrant, dancing, dynamic performer of our time-was not someone I wanted to see dead. I did not seek to see him in death. But the world splashed those photos all over the place, and left us with little choice. That day, when that photo was put before the jury and in front of the TV cameras, we were a captive audience-in the worst sense of that word. The true definition of a “captive audience” is akin to someone tied and roped to a chair, forced to look because they have no other alternative. In that sense, yes, we were a captive audience to something most of us never wanted to see.

No, I didn’t seek those images. But here I have to confess-once they were out there, I did look. But in this case, it was not the same kind of morbid curiosity with which I had looked at other dead images of celebrities. This was something else. It felt intensely personal somehow. Maybe, in a way, I felt like I was finally having my own sense of closure. I will never post or link to those photos, and really have no desire to look at them again. But having seen them, I want to try to describe some of the emotions they envoked-good and bad.

On many forums, I have seen discussions where fans confessed they looked at the photos, even studied them, but then admitted they felt overwhelmingly guilty. The guilt is understandable, because we all know how Michael felt about his privacy, and we do recognize that this is an invasion. But remember, we didn’t ask for these images to be thrust on us. Let’s not beat ourselves up. As I’ve already stated, curiosity is a natural human inclination. Michael himself was fascinated with such things. In Latoya’s first book, she described Michael one day bringing a human brain that he had managed to get from a lab, home to his bedroom. “Don’t tell mother!” he said. He was fascinated with it; wanted to study and dissect it, she said. There was nothing ‘strange” about that. He was a kid, and a boy’s nature is usually to be fascinated with “gross” things. If I know Michael, he would have gotten a laugh out of chasing Latoya and Janet around the house with that brain, giggling as they screeched and screamed.

As for the autopsy photo, I’m not even going there. That was just too much. The hospital gurney photo was sad, but to me, not gruesome or morbid. When I first saw it, I cried and had to gather myself for about five minutes. But the more I looked at it, the more I found a kind of peaceful beauty to it. Let me explain, because this is hard.

The Body of St. Clare

First of all, let me just say, there’s nothing beautiful about the fact that he was lying there dead, far too soon, and for reasons that are just too stupid for words. But it gave me great comfort to see that in death, he was not gross; he was as beautiful as he had always been. I have never been one of those fans who go around describing Michael in deified terms-he was not an angel, or a saint, or a god to me. He was a human being, with all the flaws and frailities of a human being. But when I saw that photo, I couldn’t help but compare it to some of the paintings I have seen of dead saints. There was an ethereal quality about it, but at the same time, something that was heartbreakingly vulnerable and sad. As I looked at his arms, so thin and stilled upon the bedsheet, gauzed with tape. I couldn’t help but think how those arms wanted to hug his children one last time; I thought of him having to go alone, to face the other side without them. I thought of how many hugs those arms had given. I thought of all the pain he had endured in his last years, and that now no one could hurt him, ever again. Call me crazy, if you want. But I just wanted to reach through that photo and stroke his hair and place a parting kiss on his cheek. I wanted to say, thank you for everything you gave us, and now, sleep well. Remember those final lines from Hamlet?

 

Good night, sweet prince

May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest

I guess, really, this is all just a long-winded way of saying, after two years of dread, I have now seen Michael in death. And really, it wasn’t so bad for me (I am speaking from purely personal experience, of course). It gave me peace and closure. Hopefully, no more photos will be leaked, but as many have said, the damage has already been done. Despite numerous complaints, TMZ has refused to remove the autopsy photo. I suspect it generates far too many hits for them to even consider taking it down. But we knew long ago that Harry Levin has no decency, so what else is new? I often go back and think about how hard most of us worked to get that Discovery channel reenactment of the autopsy cancelled. It almost seems in vain now. We instigated that campaign to preserve Michael’s dignity, only to have it violated anyway. The only saving grace, and only difference in this case, is the knowledge that at least-hopefully, this was done in the name of justice, rather than ratings. But however you slice it, the result is the same.

But at this point it doesn’t do much good to get our blood pressure worked up over what can’t be changed. The photos are “out there” now, and will be from here on out, no matter how hard we may work to avoid them. From my standpoint, I’ve simply decided to “own it,” as they say. I have seen the photos, I looked at them; I have made my peace with them. They are not gruesome. They are Michael. And yes, he was as beautiful in death as in life. Death could not take that away. As the old saying goes, once you’ve been faced with something you feared or dreaded, it no longer controls you. It’s like, okay, it’s happened, it’s over, take a deep breath. It wasn’t so bad. Much of this entire trail has been that way for me, to tell the truth. Thankfully, we’re almost to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Justice For Michael Will Not Come Without Scars-Pt 2

“I want to know WHY…why Michael Jackson WAS LEFT TO DIE, SURROUNDED BY HIS OWN URINE!”-The New Mantra of Nancy Grace.

One night, during the first week of the trial, I actually lost count of how many times Nancy Grace uttered that phrase, verbatim. Always, of course, accompanied by her sneering nose and infamous screech. It had become a catchphrase for her, a convenient jingle with which to pummel viewers. Of course, as an MJ fan, I should probably feel some measure of gratitude. After all, she has been all about championing the rights of Michael Jackson-Victim these past few weeks. That would be all fine and good, except like most fans, it’s still a little hard to swallow that this was the same woman who screeched and pummeled the whole idea of Michael Jackson’s guilt onto her viewers in 2005. When it came to condemning Michael Jackson in the court of public opinion, she was the champion crusader. Even now, she admits she still thinks he was guilty in 2005, claiming she “believed parts of the boy’s testimony.” But now she has suddenly become all about “Justice For Michael,” picking up the sincere and heartfelt chant of fans, friends, and family, and turning it into yet another catchy jingle for ratings.

Integrity And Media Reporting: Still Mutually Exclusive

Now don’t get me wrong. There is an idealistic part of me that really wants to believe that she-and others of her ilk who have taken up the Fight For MJ As Victim-have had a change of heart. I like to think that, in the face of all the damnable evidence against Conrad Murray, that it has been enough to shift the burden of blame off of Michael Jackson for his own death. And the reasonable, fair minded journalist in me likes to think that there is still some shred of integrity in the world; that maybe it is very possible that someone like Nancy Grace could sincerely believe that even though she may personally think Michael Jackson was guilty of a crime, that he still deserves justice as a victim. But you know what? I’m a cynic by nature-and not fooled easily. As Thomas Mesereau once said, Nancy Grace is not a true legal analyst-she’s an entertainer. She jumps through hoops for ratings. She’s all about the prosecution-no matter the case, and no matter the circumstances.  It  just so happens that this time around, the prosecution is fighting on Michael’s side.

But now I’m going to lay something else on the line that may shock you. I don’t care. Yep, that’s right. I don’t care. Because, hey, if Nancy wants to pick up the gloves and fight on our side this time around, more power to her. But just because I may relish every single time she nails Murray a good one, doesn’t mean I’m blind to what it is.

You see, I began to notice a very, very interesting trend within the first few days of this trial. And I’m willing to bet most of you did, too. Instead of being villified, as I had almost expected from the start, a very strange thing began to happen. Were these hardnosed legal analysts, “experts,” and TV talking heads suddenly…well, going soft on MJ? Even when the “shocking” audio tape was played of Michael’s slurred speech, it seemed that this actually garnered even more sympathy for Michael Jackson as someone who was vulnerable and had been victimized by Conrad Murray. (But of course, they were sure to play it back only a million and one times, in case anyone missed it the first time-this was good, juicy stuff, the kind of thing they were salivating to hear!).

But nevertheless, the trend continued throughout much of the prosecution’s case. I have mostly viewed HLN’s coverage, so what I am referring to is mostly based on my experience with watching HLN. What I saw, however, seemed to be an amazingly (for what it’s worth) concerted and sensitive effort to refrain from “blaming the victim.” Now that isn’t to say they never proceeded to do just that. There have been quite a few moments where I had to bite my tongue and restrain myself from throwing stuff at the TV. But at least they seemed AWARE that Michael Jackson was the victim in this case-and that, friends, sad as it is to say, is progress. Granted,that’s sort of like saying it was progress when homo erectus became a homo sapien. Progress, yes, but…how many millions of years on the evolution scale did that take?

Somewhat ironically, the very next day after I had posted my first piece on “Justic For Michael Will Not Come Without Scars” guess who actually made a point of announcing on TV-not once, but over and over-that he wished to remind us all that “Michael Jackson is NOT the one on trial here?” Why, of course, none other than our friend, good ol’ Dr. Drew (you know, the same one who, nevertheless,  never manages to miss an opportunity to remind everyone viewing that MJ was an addict and who has even mistakenkly referred to propofol as a barbituate!).

Of course, Drew isn’t shy to let viewers know that he has taken a massive amount of heat from Michael Jackson fans. I am sure this explains a lot of his newfound “sympathy and compassion” for Michael Jackson. And, lest we be too quick to forgive and forget, let’s not overlook how quickly Drew attemped to silence Dick Zimmerman when he dared to speak out about the media’s role in destroying Michael (was not able to embed the video clip, sorry):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuKzEnmoRjY

Then, of course, there is Jane Valez-Mitchell, who never misses an opportunity to remind us that as a “recovering alcoholic” she is in a perfect position to note everything Michael was feeling and going through. Please. I don’t always agree with Jermaine on everything, but he said it best in his tweet to her. “Stop projecting.” Yes. Thank you.

But I also said from the beginning that there would be things to come out of this trial that would be uncomfortable for many. The fact that Michael may have had any kind of substance abuse problem at all is, for many fans, still a troubling and sensitive issue. But it’s not one that is going to go away by simply ducking our heads and hiding from it. As much as I disagree with Dr. Drew on many issues, he is correct about one thing: Addiction is a disease; an illness. It is not a character flaw. It does not mean one is a bad person. It does not indicate a weakness of will. It is what it is. Michael himself admitted in 1993 that he had an addiction to painkillers. For this, he sought treatment. But just as an alcoholic is never “cured” (instead, they are recovering alcoholics even if they never touch a drop the rest of their lives) a propensity for addiction is never something that is “cured.” The person may even be clean for years. But the disease remains. It remains because the underlying physical and psychological factos that led to the addiction in the first place are still there. For most addicts, total abstinence is the only answer.

 

HLN's Jane Valez-Mitchell, Was Told By Jermaine To "Stop Projecting" Her Alchoholism Onto MJ

So we know Michael had been an active addict in the early 90’s; in fact, probably ever since the Pepsi accident in 1984. The more problematic question is: Had his addiction returned by 2009? You can’t make that judgement call based solely on the media reports. They will always go for the easy, most obvious answers. Let’s put it this way: They NEED Michael Jackson to be an addict. In fact, the way they go on and on about it, you would think addiction was invented for Michael Jackson (yes, I’m sort of quoting Michael here; just substitute the words plastic surgery for addiction; it all adds up to the same truth).

But let’s just take a look at how many well respected icons, celebrities, and musicians, both living and dead, have been addicts: Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, River Phoenix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Melanie Griffith, Jamie Lee Curtis, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey-and heck, that’s not even including the whole list of “usual suspects” such as Robert Downey. Jr, Lindsey Lohan, and most any musician from any genre you can think of.

However, none of this seems to pall the media’s apparent fascination with Michael Jackson’s alleged problems. Likewise, it’s an issue that fans remain super sensitive to, largely because Michael has been so villified by the media. Like it or not, the word “addict” still carries a very damaging-and demeaning- stigma. While enlightened in so many ways, our society remains shockingly medieval in many others.  Perhaps, as Jane Valez-Mitchell is so fond of saying, this is a good opportunity for educating the public on the need for compassion and understanding of the problem of addiction. Or could be, potentially. But the truth is that it’s not really about educating. Lo, if only ’twere that simple! Certainly not from Jane Valez-Mitchell, who while relishing her role as championing addicts’ rights, never passes up an opportunity to sneak in one for the defense by reminding  viewers that a very desperate Michael could have-might have-squeezed that pump! Well, yes. It’s theoretically possible-but just as “possible” as saying a third party slipped into the room while Murray was out, or that pigs can fly.  No, this is about ratings. It’s about what makes the best copy. It’s about what grabs viewer attention. Think about this: How many times did we have to endure HLN pretending to be so “shocked” over that graphic autopsy photo, only to then proceed to show it again and again! How many times did we have to hear their feigned “concern” over the possibility of Prince taking the witness stand, when of course it was so obvious they were salivating over the very prospect! Come on, you know they were not only hoping for that child to be put on the witness stand, but probably wetting themselves with excitement thinking that he might even break down and cry and give them a “moment”  just  like Paris’s memorial speech, all over again! Nothing would have made their day more. Then they would have played the footage over and over while saying every time,  “This is so heartwrenching to watch.” Well, seeing as how the trial is pretty much all but over at this point, and Prince did not testify, I guess they didn’t get their wish.  But then there was  the possibility of a poor substitute, when it was  rumored that Murray might testify. I could just hear the newsroom and staff room conversations now: “Well, we’d rather have the kid, but hey, this might be good for some dirt on MJ or, well, who knows, Conrad Murray might break down and confess!” You get the idea.

So while painting the portrait of Michael Jackson as a vulnerable victim is good in one way (it’s the card that has to be played to win a conviction for Murray) my biggest concerns have been for the damage that may be done to Michael’s legacy after all is said and done. For sure, Michael Jackson would want to be remembered as The Greatest Entertainer Who Ever Lived. What he most emphatically would NOT want is for the world to remember him as “that poor soul who died with a condom catheter attached, neglected and  surrounded by his own urine.”

No, it’s not a pretty picture. But none of this has been. It’s a muder trial, after all. Or..excuse me, manslaughter trial (sheesh, is it just me, or does the word “manslaughter” sound even more sinister than the word “murder?”).

In all these weeks of testimony, one thing stands out to me the most. On the day they showed the autopsy photo, just minutes afterward, court adjouned for the lunch break. Judge Pastor’s parting words to the jury that day: “Enjoy your lunch.” There were so many days that after sitting and listening to nothing but hours on end of details regarding Michael’s blood, urine, kidneys, liver, stomach contents, of being bogged down with details of toxicology, I became curiously numb to it all. Had Michael Jackson’s entire life and legacy been reduced to the sum of his bodily functions? Some days it seemed that way. I could only imagine what his mother and siblings must have been feeling.

But overall, there has been a silver lining. I have to say now, honestly, looking back on these last five weeks, it has not been nearly so bad as what  I expected. For example, with but a few exceptions, the trial did not degenerate into a circus of rehashing the child molesatation allegations. For that, and certain other irrelevant issues that remained thankfully out of the limelight, we can largely thank Judge Pastor, who declared early on that this trial was not about MJ’s life or any issues not directly relevant to the day Michael died. That, of course, hasn’t stopped some from getting their potshots in. (Not to mention, the usual parading out of the usual media whores who love to attach themselves to Michael’s name every time he is in the news. I needn’t name names; we all know who they are!). But I’m just saying, all told, it could have been a lot worse. I was really dreading the week that the defense would present their case. But in hindsight, the worst thing to come out of it was the Demerol controversy (which I’ll tackle in another blog). In actuality, this wasn’t any huge shocker for me; I already knew from Katherine’s wrongful death suit against AEG that the subject of Michael’s visits to Arnie Klein’s office in April and May, 2009, had been an issue-mostly an issue for Murray and for AEG.  In the end, however, I don’t think the “Demerol Defense” is going anywhere. It will all come down to the autopsy report. Demerol was NOT in Michael Jackson’s body when he died. End of discussion.

Addicted To Demerol...Or Just Trying To Look Great For His Big Comeback?

After this week, I breathed a lot easier. Even felt a bit giddy. I was left thinking: Is this the best they have to throw us? All I had heard, for weeks, was how the defense planned to villify Michael Jackson. But in the end, the best they could offer up were winesses who actually served the prosecution (yes, Cherilynn Lee, that one’s for you!), a few lame “theories” that changed as often as Murray changes the socks on his perfectly pedicured feet, and-oh yeah, that Michael Jackson had a lot of Botox shots in the spring of 2009. 

Well, who can blame him, he wanted to be looking good for This Is It!

And no, I’m not making light of a serious situation. Just trying to put it in perspective.

Personally, if given the choice, I much prefer “Michael Jackson-The Victim” to, well, “Michael Jackson The Pedophile” or “Michael Jackson The Freak” or whatever Label-Of-The-Week that the media cares to hang on him. But my big concern is this: A label by any other name is still a label.  And one can be as equally damaging as the other.  “Victim” is a label that carries with it-potentially- its own  unique host of negative connotations. In this case, it is being used to conjure an image of a helpless and vulnerable person who had lost control of his life; it paints a picture, whether deservedly or not,  of dysfunction. But it is not the whole picture. Far from it. Michael Jackson in his last days was busy rehearsing, creating, and being a parent. Doing all the things he loved to do. The autopsy showed-and has since been confirmed by Dr. Christopher Rogers’ testimony-that Michael Jackson was a healthy, 50-year-old male whose only real medical issues were that of any normal man his age. And the only drugs in his body were the ones given to him by Murray that night-the very same drugs Murray admitted administering in his police report.

Michael Jackson is a victim in the sense that he has been the victim of a crime. He is a victim in the sense that he was a victim of gross negligence. But be aware. While the media may be playing the sympathetic card-for now,  it is very much a double-edged sword. Just as they “needed” Michael Jackson to be a “freak” and a “pervert” in 2005, so now they need him to be a “victim.”

What they will never admit, however, is just how extensive a role they played in that victimization.