I wasn’t able to listen to this interview live on November 6th, but it was brought to my attention by several readers that Aphrodite Jones made some rather disturbing comments regarding the Jordan Chandler case. Of course, why this is such an issue is because Aphrodite Jones has long been a staunch Michael Jackson defender. Her book Conspiracy is practically the bible of all MJ advocates, especially when discussing the Arvizo case. And, as an award winning journalist, her work has been especially important in lending credibility to those of us who have advocated his innocence.
I found it almost hard to believe what I was hearing reported, but I went back and listened to the interview (which had been on my agenda anyway). Having now listened to it a few times, as well as reading all of the various reactions in the fan community (much of it quite heated) I want to offer some thoughts on it.
You can listen to the interview here:
First of all, I am as disturbed and dismayed as anyone by what she said in this interview, not necessarily because I feel that the views of every MJ advocate have to agree completely with my own, but simply because this new admission of having “questions” about the Chandler case-as well as being “unnerved” by June Chandler’s testimony-goes against the grain of everything Jones has claimed up to this point, including in her own book Conspiracy.
Before I get into all of that, I want to qualify that these comments are only a small segment of what was otherwise a very positive interview. As always, Jones does an outstanding job of slamming the Arvizos and their phony case, and breaks her silence on the Wade Robson allegations (he gets slammed pretty good, as well). She also dismisses the claims of Jason Francia.
Still…it may be a shame that such an otherwise positive interview has been marred by a few words that have sent shock waves through the fan community-again, only because Jones up until now has not only been a staunch public defender of Michael against the Arvizo allegations, but the Chandler allegations as well.
Clearly, I am asking the same question that a lot of you are asking right now. Why this sudden change of tune? And is it really so sudden, or has Ms. Jones simply been playing less than straight with us in some regards? I hate to have to address these questions, but they bear looking at.
I met Aphrodite Jones in 2010 and did a rather lengthy and detailed interview with her. In the course of that interview, we also talked at great length off the record, and one of the topics we discussed in great detail was that of June Chandler. At no time did she ever intimate to me that she found June Chandler’s testimony believable, much less “disturbing” or “unnerving.”
To be totally fair, Jones has never claimed to be an expert on the ’93 case. She has said as much many times. She was a witness to the Arvizo trial, and it is the Arvizo case that she has extensively researched. Still, anyone who came away from reading Conspiracy would certainly not come away with any “question mark” regarding the Chandler case, because no such question mark is ever raised. In the past, all of her public comments about June Chandler have been just as denigrating as her comments against Janet Arvizo-and certainly, she has never, up until now, given any indication of finding June Chandler’s testimony remotely believable.
Let’s go back and look at Aphrodite Jones’s own words regarding June Chandler and her testimony:
When questioned about the lawsuit, June Chandler said that she had been named in her son’s lawsuit but wanted it known that she had not sued Michael Jackson herself. June Chandler told the jury that Larry Feldman handled the civil lawsuit on behalf of her son, Jordon [sic], reiterating that Jordie was the only person who sued Michael.
To the amazement of the media covering the trial, under cross-examination by Mesereau, June Chandler testified that she hadn’t talked to her son Jordie at all, for over eleven years.
Ms. Chandler tried to keep her composure regarding the money issue, but then, as the questions got more heated, the woman began to shut down. To courtroom observers, Chandler appeared to be a gold digger. As she squirmed on the witness stand, it became painfully clear that this elegant woman, dripping designer clothing, had purchased that lifestyle with Michael Jackson’s cash.
Courtroom observers found It odd the way June Chandler sometimes didn’t have a mind for remembering things. Watching June Chandler testify that she “couldn’t recall” certain particulars relevant to the Chandler lawsuit seemed completely surreal. For example, June couldn’t recall whether Michael Jackson had ever countersued the Chandler family for extortion.
June Chandler seemed to have a selective memory. She had vivid recollections about all her travels with Jackson, from Los Angeles to Florida to Europe and back again, but couldn’t recall even the simplest details about Jordie’s lawsuit. When she was asked questions about her personal financial needs and wishes in 1993, June Chandler recalled her ex-husband, Evan, had once asked Jackson to finance a wing on the Chandler house. But as for herself, though she had accepted a few expensive gifts from Jackson, a Cartier bracelet among them, June Chandler swore that she wanted nothing monetary from rhe entertainer.
When she spoke about her son’s friendship with the pop icon, Chandler testified that she never suspected anything inappropriate was going on between Michael and Jordie. This response aroused consternation among media because everyone was waiting for Chandler to say something—anything—t hat would implicate Jackson.
Instead, June sat very proudly and spoke about her son’s friendship with Michael as being something special. She told the jury that Jordie had dressed like Michael, had tried to emulate the pop icon from the time that he was a very young child, before Jordie ever met the pop star. She also admitted that back in 1992 and 1993, Evan Chandler was busy writing a screenplay, telling the jury that because Evan wasn’t spending much time with Jordie back then, she was happy to have Michael around their home. Michael was devoting time to her son, and June said she was grateful for that.
She told the jury that she considered Michael to be “like a child,” and testified that Jordie was the one who had insisted on staying in Michael’s room at Neverland, which she described as being “filled with dolls” and a lot of play toys. Mrs Chandler said she’d been in Michael’s bedroom many times, and described it as “a boy’s room, a big boy’s room.”
June Chandler answered Mesereau with a staccato that was palpable. She kept it short and tried to be nonchalant when she spoke about flying on the Sony jet, about flying on billionaire Steve Wynn’s jet, about traveling to Orlando and has Vegas and other resorts around the world.
Though Ms. Chandler was being very matter-of-fact in her responses,Michael watched her with an intense closeness, and his stare seemed to transcend her cavalier attitude. As June Chandler testified, the jury watched her very intently, and people were trying to read her body language. When Ms. Chandler casually stated that she never had an issue with Michael being around her son, courtroom observers seemed stunned.
The more June Chandler tried to argue with Mesereau’s portrait of the Chandler family, the more it appeared that she was protesting too much. It seemed that Jackson had given the Chandlers a sense of che good life, had exposed them to a life of fame and fortune, and, having tasted a bit of Jackson’s world, the Chandler clan wasn’t willing to give that up. The Chandlers had developed champagne taste, and they wanted more.
As the beautiful Ms. Chandler left the stand, many of the jurors seemed unimpressed. From the looks on their faces, it was obvious that June Chandler had not keen a good witness. The females on the jury, in particular, seemed to see right trough her.
There is no indication anywhere that these are the words written by a journalist who has just found herself disturbed or unnerved by this woman’s testimony.
The one question that keeps playing in my mind, just as I so often turned over and over with Wade Robson’s allegations-which version are we now supposed to believe? Do we believe what Jones said in 2007-when her memories of the 2005 trial should have certainly been much fresher-or now?
Or are the two versions really that disparate? The one comment above that may perhaps somewhat corroborate what she is saying now is that the jury seemed somewhat stunned when Mrs. Chandler stated that she never had an issue with Michael being around her son. This would, it seems, be the normal reaction of a jury that had just witnessed some rather unnerving testimony. But this is far outweighed by the portrait Jones paints of a gold digger woman who left jurors “unimpressed” with any but a notion that this was a woman who had “purchased her lifestyle with Michael Jackson’s cash.” She says outright that June Chandler had not been a good witness for the prosecution. These are her own words, written here in her book, in unarguable black and white.
Yet, if we go by this new tune she is now singing, wouldn’t June Chandler, then, have been an excellent witness for the prosecution? That certainly would have been my impression!
If Aphrodite Jones is a such an impartial journalist who must remain true to herself, then why didn’t she tell us the truth in 2007 about June Chandler’s testimony? The problem is that, again, just as with Wade Robson, we are left wondering which version is the truth? It is, after all, not the truth that bothers me. It’s all this damned inconsistency. I just fail to see how she can make the comments she has made in this interview knowing full well that it contradicts her own words written in her own book. Surely, just as with Wade Robson’s testimony, she must know that words can come back to haunt!
The problem I have with her comments are much the same as those I have been hearing throughout the fan community. Ms. Jones, who is certainly an intelligent journalist, has to know that credibility is lost once you talk out of both sides of your mouth. How can she continue to be so adamant that the other cases were shams, if there is such a big question mark regarding the Chandler case? What makes Jordan’s claims any more credible than Gavin’s, or Wade’s for that matter? If she can so adamantly-on a public platform-rip these young men to shreds, call them liars and grifters, etc-why is Jordan all of a sudden given the courtesy of benefit of the doubt? Why be so adamant about the other cases, and yet fall back on the old cop-out adage of “I wasn’t there” when it comes to Jordan Chandler?
She wasn’t there to personally witness what may or may not have happened to Jordan Chandler. Well, she wasn’t there to see what may or may not have happened to Gavin or Wade, either.
The point I’m making is that she has now damaged her credibility very badly as an advocate for any of the cases because anyone now can come back and say, “Were you there for any of the others?”
It’s not so much the statement of a question mark that bothers me. It is when she uses phrases like saying she believed Michael was “in love with that boy.” My jaw hit the floor when those words came out of her mouth. And then, only a few minutes later into the program, she is again slamming the media and those who believe Michael was a pedophile-while she, herself, had just said she was led to believe by June Chandler’s testimony that he must have been “in love” with her son.
I really don’t know what planet Jones is from, but on planet earth, it is generally conceded that only a pedophile-or at least a hebephile-can be “in love” with a 13-year-old boy. Whether or not any sex ever occurred is really beside the point
If she came away convinced by June Chandler’s testimony that Michael was “in love” with Jordan Chandler, then honestly, I don’t know what else you would call it. So are we, then, to believe Michael was a pedophile who only struck once in his whole life, and all the other boys are just liars and grifters?
You get where I’m going with this, right? I am not saying it is what I believe. I am saying that, whether intentional or not, it is the impression-and the huge question mark-that is now hanging over Aphrodite Jones’s “defense” of Michael Jackson. Despite all her gushing platitudes of his innocence, she has left a very big chink for doubters and haters to fill. If Michael was capable of being “in love” with one boy, why would any reasonable person have reason to believe that it would stop there and only there?
I’m just having a really hard time trying to get my hands around Jones’s logic on this one. Perhaps it was poor word choice or phrasing, but nevertheless, the words are out for public consumption now, and the damage-both to Ms. Jones’s credibility as an MJ defender, and as an unwavering ally to the MJ fan community-has been done.
Judging from the conversations I have seen, all of the positives of Jones’s interview-of which there were many-have been completely obliterated by the shock waves of these few statements.
And personally, I agree with Deborah Kunesh who said that her response to David’s question was very condescending and unprofessional. David has been a well respected MJ researcher for several years, and one who has tirelessly promoted much of Aphrodite Jones’s work (as we all have). To hear him referred to by her as “honey bunny” for asking a legitimate question was unnecessarily insulting and demeaning, especially given that he was asking her an intelligent question that deserved, at least, a professional response.
Like I said, I have met and spent time with Ms. Jones. I like her. She has a very blunt, tell-it-like-it-is kind of personality, which sometimes can be read the wrong way as arrogance. The downfall of such a personality is that she can be brash and sometimes say things “off the cuff” without really thinking them through. (A flaw of hers, which I picked up on: She doesn’t handle criticism well, and is quick on the trigger when she feels her credibility is being questioned. I got a good dose of this, myself, when I challenged her to answer those critics who accused her of being “smitten” with Michael Jackson. It was a valid question, but nevertheless, one that struck an obvious nerve).
Nevertheless, it is this same no-nonsense approach that has made her, through the years, one of our favorite MJ advocates. Nothing is more fun than listening to her rip people like Diane Dimond to shreds! (And, let’s face it, if we heard her calling Diane Dimond “honey bunny” we would laugh; I know I would!). But that kind of personality can be a two-edged sword, and as we learned from this interview, she is just as capable of turning it on MJ supporters as MJ haters.
I wasn’t too terribly shocked by the “asexual” comment, although I agree with some that she is really not helping Michael’s case by feeding into these very public myths, stereotypes, and misconceptions about him. Why? Because this feeds into the public caricature, and while it may to some extent “defend” him against the allegations of child sex abuse, it nevertheless does him a huge disservice by pigeonholing him as “weird” and “different”-again, feeding right into the caricature. I really feel this misconception comes from her association with Mesereau, who of course used the “asexual” angle to some extent quite successfully as a defense angle in the trial. Mesereau came into Michael’s life at a time when he had no serious relationships, and perhaps there was an advantage to convincing a jury that he was asexual (certainly preferable to the alternative). It’s no surprise that Jones, a friend of Mesereau’s who spent many months listening to his arguments in court, may have fallen under this belief as well.
I am not saying this in any way to denigrate Thomas Mesereau, for whom I have the utmost respect. I believe he did what had to be done to convince a jury of Michael’s innocence. But it still begs the question I always come back to: Why, with Michael, did it have to be a choice of apples or oranges? Couldn’t it be just as possible for him to have been a normal man with normal desires, and still be innocent of pedophilia?
I read on one forum where someone was questioning all of the heterosexual porn that was found during the raid on Neverland. How could Aphrodite Jones possibly believe Michael was asexual when she sat there in court and heard about all of that porn being found?
That is certainly a good question. However, it may be worth keeping in mind that people defined as “asexual”-in its strictest sense-are not people who do not have sexual urges. In fact, an asexual person may amass even more porn than what is generally considered “normal.” You see, it’s not the urges that the asexual person is devoid of. What the asexual person fears-or is revolted by-is intimacy with other human beings. In that case, the porn and masturbation becomes a kind of substitute for real life relationships.
Michael’s porn collection-just by its sheer size-has sometimes given me pause for thought. However, it seems from much testimony and what is generally known (both in the guise of urban myth and actual fact) that he did have numerous relationships throughout his life. Therefore, the idea of him having some sort of irrational fear of intimacy (as most asexuals do) hardly seems to apply.
I think it is far more likely that, as a man who seemed to have issues with serious relationships-not to mention strict religious convictions against casual relationships (though I do not think this was as much of a factor in his later years)-he may have preferred to retreat to his fantasy world rather than dealing with all the up’s and down’s and frustrations of casual relationships-after all, a Playboy or Barely Legal model can’t squeal to the press, nor is she going to conveniently “forget” her birth control and try to make you clothe or feed it later.
When all is said and done, we simply don’t know and-had it not been for the humiliating experience of that trial-none of this would be up for public consumption, anyway.
So enough of that. Back to Aphrodite Jones.
In the end, we have to remember that even though she calls herself a fan, she is still, first and foremost, a journalist. Perhaps the question we have to ask now is: Given that she has been, and remains, such an important public figure in staunchly advocating Michael’s innocence in the 2005 case, do we look the other way if she publicly admits to having doubts about the ’93 case, or do we take no quarter?
Personally, it has never been an issue for me if I do not agree with every position held by Michael’s defenders. For example, I certainly do not agree with Charles Thomson on many issues. But I respect him because of the outstanding journalistic work he has done on behalf of Michael’s innocence. I certainly do not have to agree with Aphrodite Jones on all issues, either. But I think what is really bothering me most about this is simply, as stated, the sheer inconsistency of it. No matter how she dices it, what she is saying now is not what she told us in 2007, nor throughout any of the six years since. Had she always maintained a position of someone who had doubts about the ’93 case, while defending him against the 2005 case, then her words now wouldn’t be such a shock.
It really begs the question: If this is how she truly feels, why did she not write any of this in 2007, when questioning Michael’s innocence was still the hip thing to do, and might have even helped garner her book a major publisher? Instead, she gives the impression, like Wade Robson, of someone who is only just now conveniently changing her story. But why?
In the interview, she speaks very admiringly of not wanting to contribute to the cesspool of people selling Michael out. I admire her stance on refusing to sell out his medical records and personal information. I also have a very vivid memory of how emotional she became in 2010 when she talked about visiting his home in Gary, and how hard worked to achieve a place like Neverland, only to have it taken from him. Her love and admiration for Michael is very sincere; of that I do not doubt. But then, why single handedly throw him under the bus in the next breath? Even if her words were totally off the cuff, she had to know the impression that using words like “I believe he was in love with that boy” would create.
Again, I am very saddened and dismayed; saddened to be writing such words about a journalist whom I have long admired, and a person I grew to actually like during our brief time together three years ago.
I hope that, perhaps in the future, she will come forward and clarify her statements. I feel she owes the fan community that much. After all, we have invested a lot of support in her and her book.
By the same token, I would, as always, encourage fans to behave with modesty, respect, and restraint. Sometimes we are too quick to burn bridges. Aphrodite Jones has done outstanding work on Michael’s behalf, and we should not forget that. I haven’t seen any indication, certainly not from this interview, that she has “turned traitor” as some are accusing her.
However, do I think she used a poor choice of words? Yes. Do I find her statements odd and contradictory, given everything she has written and said up to this point? Yes. Do I think the fan community has plenty of good reason to question her at this point? Yes.
I certainly would not put her in the same wagon with people like Wade Robson. However, with so many of Michael’s supporters turning traitor in the last few years (with Wade Robson being only the most recent and notorious) it certainly leaves an unpleasant taste.
I think that, as fans and advocates of Michael Jackson, we like to think that there are at least a handful of individuals and people in the media with whom we can invest our trust, faith, and goodwill.
Once those three qualities are tarnished-however small the quantity-the damage is done.