Just by doing a quick google search, one can assess how the media is reacting to this letter, using a plethora of colorfully descriptive adjectives: “Blistering” and “Scathing” have been the two most common. And, just like David Walgreen’s closing arguements, it is also brilliant in its uncompromising, brutal honesty. In fact, I think a lot of us these days are taking a cue from Mr. Walgreen, that the only way to fight this fight is head on.
But is it enough? So far, I haven’t seen any indication that MSNBC plans to pull the plug on Friday night’s broadcast of that hot mess for which they reportedly shelled out 300k:
The estate can express disgust all they want, and I’m glad they did speak out. But expressing disgust is unfortunately not enough to stop greed and exploitation. Legal action is the only language these people understand. The reality is that Murray very calculatedly and sneakily worked his way around every legal loophole here by lining all of his ducks up before the conviction. However, what I am even more incensed by than Murray’s manipulative sneakiness is NBC and MSNBC’s sneakiness. These people knew-the entire time that Michael Jackson’s family, children, and fans were sitting on pins and needles awaiting that verdict-that they were planning to bradcast this. But they kept a lid on it until the day after the verdict, thereby succesfully defusing any legal loopholes that might have still been an option had there been more time to work with. Murray knew it when he made the decision not to testify under oath. As the estate letter says, what MSNBC is now allowing Murray to do is to speak out “with no fear of cross examination.” Again, Murray knew this the day he sat in court and answered that he would not testify on his behalf. While a lot of us felt relieved by his decision at the time, because we didn’t want to stomach hearing anymore of his lies, in hindsight I now wish he had. It would have been the best thing that could have happened, because by the time Walgreen would have gotten done tearing him down, this man would have had not an ounce, not a shred, of credibility left. And MSNBC would have been left looking like total idiots.
Honestly, some of the stuff Murray has cooked up for this doc sounds like the worst kind of hack horror story writing. That Michael literally looked like his “Thriller”-zombie self as he begged for his “milk?” Come on! I guess next, we will hear that Murray stood there screaming like Ola Ray as Michael Jackson morphed into some hybrid creature, growing fangs and snarling, “Give me my milk…now!”
Trust me, Murray wasn’t screaming like Ola Ray. Murray was on the damned phone with his cocktail waitress! Now does any of this really add up? Think about it for a minute. If Murray had really been dealing with such a distraught patient, he wouldn’t have even had the time and energy to be making phone calls to women. His hands would have been full dealing with and trying to calm his patient. No, the more likely truth-which the jury believed-was that Murray had Michael attached to a drip and out like a proverbial light so he could do what he wanted without having to be bothered by his “troublesome” patient.
But really, hashing out these details again is pointless because the jury made their decision, and Murray has been convicted. Which brings us back to MSNBC and this “Fatal Friendship” bs. (Oh yes, it was “fatal” all right; fatal for Michael Jackson!).
In an ideal world, what should happen in the event this broadcast cannot be stopped? While I’m still optimistic that it’s not too late, I have also been giving a lot of thought to how some lemonade might best be squeezed out of this rotten lemon. The worst case scenario is for Murray to be allowed to personally profit from this.
On HLN Tuesday night, they were interviewing that smirking defense analyst (I can’t think of her name, but she is one they interviewed periodically throughout the trial, who of course always sided with the defense) and she had the gall to defend this action by bringing Murray’s children into the mix. “Those children are innocent,” she said. “Why should they be made to suffer?” She went on to say how Murray’s children would need textbooks, clothes, medicine, ete, etc. And how were they supposed to have these things if their father is in jail, cannot practice medicine, and can no longer provide for them?
Well, Vinnie Politan had a good comeback, which is that Murray should have been thinking about his kids when he was on the phone with Sade Anding. But considering none of that can be undone, let’s consider her point for just a minute.
I have actually thought about Conrad Murray’s minor children a lot since all of this went down. Of course, I feel a lot more pity for Michael Jackson’s children, who have lost their father forever. But as far as their material well being, Prince, Paris, and Blanket will never want. And it wasn’t just because they had a rich daddy; it was because they had a father who worked hard his entire life to ensure his children would be well provided for. On the other hand, Murray’s reputation as a deadbeat dad is already well known. And no, I don’t think his children should be made to suffer to pay for his crime.
I’ve also heard that some of Murray’s debtors are already crawling out of the woodwork with hands out. Not to mention the hard hit he is going to take in legal fees once the civil suits start rolling in.
In an ideal world, then, this is what should happen: Every red cent of that $300k needs to be divided into a trust fund to provide for his children, and the rest garnished to compensate his deadbeat bills. I’m sure there must be some sort of court order that could ensure that the money goes directly to Murray’s children and his debtors, and not one cent into his pockets. While I am sickened at the thought of Murray receiving any monetary compensation at all for Michael Jackson’s death, at least I will feel better if I know he isn’t getting to use any of it to pay for frolics on the Riviera or expensive shopping sprees to buy himself fancy new ties, now or in the future.
In an ideal world, television networks would not care what a convicted felon who took the life of another human being has to say. And before anyone says, look, even Charles Manson has been interviewed on TV, think again: Manson’s interviews took place YEARS after the fact, and with the gruesome details of his crime well know, there was no danger of misleading the public. Manson’s interviews were more about “let’s see what this nut actually has to say” than any real stab at insight or truth. Still exploitation, but exploitation of a different kind. And as one of my readers, Susan, so aptly pointed out in a recent comment, O.J. Simpson-who was not even convicted of his crime-was refused a network platform to promote his book If I Did It, even ten years after the fact!
This is different. As the estate letter says, it is an obvious attempt to “shift the blame post-conviction to Michael Jackson.” Murray already knew that a guilty verdict was likely. He had his Plan B mapped out, well in advance. And unfortunately, the potential of another high-rated “crock” that could be as damaging to Michael’s reputation and legacy as the Martin Bashir program could have far longer lasting repercussions than Murray’s guilty verdict. In fact, this is worse than the Martin Bashir crock. At least in that program, it was Michael jackson’s own words, however edited or manipulated by Bashir. He was alive and had the opportunity to rebut. Now he cannot speak for himself, and Murray knows this. So does MSNBC.
In an ideal world, the public will see this steaming pile for what it is; critics will slam it as opportunistic exploitation, sponsors will abandon the network in droves, and MSNBC will be forever shamed for having had any hand in it. In an ideal world, Murray will sit in a jail for four years, while meanwhile his minor children eat well, go to school, and hopefully grow up to be better men and women than this sorry excuse for a father.
In an ideal world, Conrad Murray’s fifteen minutes of fame as the Man Who Killed Michael Jackson will be forgotten, while Michael Jackson’s legacy lives forever.
It’s a sad twist of irony that this moning, as I was reading a CNN article about the estate’s reaction to MSNBC, I saw beneath that same article a link to a story about Chris Tucker losing his home, and a link to a story about the death of Heavy D. I couldn’t help but think how sad it is for these two people-one a loyal friend to Michael Jackson through the years who is now facing foreclosure on his home, and the other being the guy who provided the rap on “Jam” and is thus forever associated with one of our happier memories of MJ, who now has died far too young. Granted, Chris Tucker’s personal financial hardships have no bearing on any of this, except to say that it just seems sad to think that while all of this misfortune is befalling others positively associated with Michael, that here is Murray getting to profit from killing him.
But in an ideal world, greed and corruption do not exist. Reality is a different story.
ETA: This is the letter I sent to NBC president Phil Griffin this morning:
Dear Mr Griffin:
By now I am sure you are aware of what this letter is going to say. I am appalled that NBC/MSNBC plans to give Conrad Murray-now a convicted felon-a platform in which to give the “testimony” he refused to give under oath. His interview and documentary were both in clear violation of the court gag order in place prior to the verdict. Murray has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in taking someone’s life-regardless of whether that life is Michael Jackson’s should be beside the point.
You have already heard from the estate of Michael Jackson and even from Jackson’s own family members. They have clearly expressed their feelings, yet NBC/MSNBC has chosen to ignore them. Many fans now feel that if the network has refused to listen to the Jackson family and even to the estate, what more can be done or said? Well, probaly not a lot. But that doesn’t mean we can’t speak what we feel. I could not rest with my conscience if I allowed this to pass without having said anything.
Since memories in this business tend to be short, let me remind you of something that occurred not so long ago. When OJ Simpson-who for the record was never even convicted of his crime-came out with his book “If I Did It” no one would even grant him an interview to promote it. Why? Because no one wanted to look like “the bad guys” who were supporting OJ Simpson, a “murderer” convicted in the court of public opinion, if not by the court.
But there seems to be no hestation whatsoever to give Conrad Murray a platform, post-conviction. As the estate letter clearly said, this is nothing but an attempt on Murray’s part to shift the blame to the victim, post-conviction, without fear of cross examination. The world knows that there were only two people in that room-and one cannot speak for himself because he isn’t here. A jury of Murray’s peers weighed the evidence, and voted in favor of a guilty verdict. That verdict should be allowed to stand, loud and clear. This is not the time, now, to allow the viewing public a chance to second guess that verdict, or to provide Murray an opportunity to undermine it. Murray had his opportunity to speak in court, under oath-and refused. I think we all know the reason for that.
If the public wants to know the truth about what happened the day Michael Jackson died, all they need do is consult the trial transcripts or videos. The entire procedure was covered for television, gavel to gavel. We heard what the jury heard. There is no big “untold story” here to be revealed, except for the one that exists in Conrad Murray’s vivid imagination. All MSNBC is doing is giving him a platform to spin more lies and deflect blame for his own actions. Of course, I don’t suppose NBC cares about that, as long as the end result is ratings.
However, you should know that I and many, many others will not be watching. We are not going to give Conrad Murray, convicted felon, nor MSNBC, the satisfaction of profitting from what we feel has been a very underhanded action on the part of this network and Murray himself. Nor will we purchase the products that sponsor this program.
At this juncture, we realize we probably cannot stop the airing of this documentary. But we will continue to voice our dissatisfaction and disgust, in such a way that the world will know that MSNBC/NBC played a hand in a very devious, underhanded scheme to manipulate and undermine the American justice system. Already your network is under much fire and media scrutiny for this action. I think the voice of disgust is going to grow louder, especially now with it being public knowledge that you ignored the pleas of a family still grieving their loved one-a family who has just undergone six weeks of hell, being made to u live through this tragedy all over again. Your decision to air this program smacks of the worst kind of insensitivity and opportunistic greed. I honestly feel this is something that is going to reflect poorly on MSNBC/NBC for a long time to come.
I would like to send out one last plea to you, before it is too late, to make the right decision and not air this program. But just know that whatever decision is made, this is not the last you will be hearing of this matter.