Category Archives: Current News

Awards, Books, TV Shows/Specials, Music Chart News, and so on

Closing Arguements, And Now…The Wait

MJ Fans Have Crowned A New Hero. If Passion Can Convict, Murray's In A Heap Of Trouble!

Normally, this is where I would insert an eye-catching  pic of Michael. But I think I can be forgiven-just this once-for deviating from the norm, and celebrating a man who tonight is a hero to Michael Jackson fans all over the world. Closing arguments were today, and like many, I sat riveted for the entire hour and a half that David Walgreen spoke. There have been a few days that I will admit I zoned out a bit on this trial. Hours on end of toxicology reports, medical charts, and cross examinations by Michael Flanagan can have that effect. Not so today. Perhaps it was just the heightened tensions of things finally coming to a head, but there was a supercharged vibe in the courtroom today. David Walgreen came off like a man on a mission, and seemed in no mood to take any prisoners. It was brutal, and it was scathingly brilliant. 

So why do we love  this guy so much.? Because he actually makes sense, unlike Chernoff and Flanagan 80% of the time. He’s easy on the eyes (whereas Chernoff is like what Clark Kent would be if he didn’t have his alter ego Superman). In fact, any comparison of him to the defense team is a little like comparing John F. Kennedy to Richard Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew.  

Walgreen Vs. Flanagan and Chernoff. Like Comparing Kennedy To Nixon and Agnew?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But in all seriousness, the above is just icing on the cake. I think we love David Walgreen because he has become the mouthpiece for the truth we have known all along, but which the rest of the world is just now catching on to-and thanks in large part to him. For six weeks, he has done a consistently outstanding job of laying the evidence out and proving the state’s case. But today he took it to a whole new level, using his platform to humanize Michael Jackson, speaking of Michael’s hopes, dreams, his plans for the future, his love for his children. And because he was able to do it without being interrupted; without commercials; without  being “talked over” by some screeching TV host; without being rushed because “we’re almost out of time” it became a powerful message about a life aborted too soon, and the man responsible.

From CNN. com, I have pasted some of the highlights of today’s closing arguements, with my own commentary and responses in bold: 

Los Angeles (CNN) — The evidence is “overwhelming” and “it’s abundantly clear” that Dr. Conrad Murray caused the death of Michael Jackson, the lead prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Jackson’s doctor Thursday.

Defense lawyer Ed Chernoff argued there was no crime committed and it’s a negligence case that should instead be heard by the state medical board.

Chernoff also tried to argue away the fact that Murray texted, made phone calls to girlfriends, and sent emails while he was supposed to be monitoring his patient. He used the arguement that we don’t know if Murray was doing it in the room, outside the room, or while sitting by the bed. As many have been saying today, okay, the next time Chernoff has to undergo anesthesia, would he like to know his doctor is texting, gabbing, and sending emails, and would it matter if he’s sitting by the bed or not? I mean, yeah, I will admit it would be pretty tedious to have to just sit and watch someone sleep. But when you’re being paid $150,000 a month to do just that, and are going to administer a very dangerous anesthetic to someone, then you do it-no matter how tedious it is! This is why anyone else who is given propofol is in a hospital setting where you have a trained team watching at all times!

“If it were anybody else but Michael Jackson, would this doctor be here today?” Chernoff asked.

Yes. He took a life.

The jury heard several hours of arguments from both sides Thursday and will begin deliberations on Murray’s fate Friday morning.

“He was just a little fish in a big, dirty pond,” Chernoff said, pointing the finger at other doctors who treated Jackson and Jackson himself.

This I agree with, in part. I do, absolutely, believe that Murray is just ” a little fish in a big, dirty pond.” I would be the first to agree that he isn’t the only player here. But that does not excuse the fact that he is, nevertheless, a player-and the last person who saw Michael alive.

Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, was caused by “acute propofol intoxication” in combination with two sedatives, the Los Angeles County coroner ruled.

Prosecutors contend Murray’s use of the surgical anesthetic propofol in Jackson’s home to treat his insomnia was so reckless it was criminally negligent.

The defense contends Jackson self-administered the fatal overdose of drugs in a desperate search for sleep without Murray’s knowing.

“What they’re really asking you to do is to convict Dr. Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said.

After Chernoff finished his arguments, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Walgren attacked the defense for trying to blame “everybody but Conrad Murray, poor Conrad Murray.”

“If allowed more time to argue, I am sure they would find a way to blame Michael’s son, Prince,” Walgren said in his rebuttal after Chernoff sat down.

Walgren began his closing arguments earlier Thursday, reminding jurors of the personal pain caused by Jackson’s death.

“Conrad Murray left Prince, Paris and Blanket without a father,” Walgren said. “For them, this case doesn’t end today, or tomorrow. For Michael’s children, this case will go on forever, because they do not have a father, they do not have a father because of the actions of Conrad Murray.”

Truer words were never spoken! No need to elaborate further.

In court Thursday were Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson; his father, Joe Jackson; and two of his siblings, Randy and La Toya Jackson.

Murray’s mother was seated on the other side of the small courtroom with several of the defendant’s friends as Walgren reminded jurors about the pain Jackson’s death caused for his children.

“We will discuss how Paris had to come in and see her father in that condition and scream out ‘Daddy!’ as she broke down in tears,” Walgren said. “How Prince had a shocked face, a shocked look on his face and was crying.”

Walgren reminded jurors that they each assured him during jury selection that they could reach a verdict even if they did not hear all of the answers about how Jackson died.

“There may be 100 questions and maybe 97 of them are left unanswered, but under the law you must answer just three,” Walgren said.

Telephone records and testimony suggested Murray was talking to Sade Anding, a Houston cocktail waitress, at the time he realized Jackson had stopped breathing. Murray’s call to Anding was evidence that Murray was not monitoring him after giving him propofol.

“What was so important to Conrad Murray that he had to call Sade Anding at that time? What was so important to this doctor that he needed to call one of his female friends in Houston? What was so pressing that he just couldn’t care for Michael Jackson, that he had to call Sade Anding?”

“What was so important to Conrad Murray that he had to call Sade Anding at that time?” I love it! Well, it’s really a rhetorical question, isn’t it? Because we already know the answer. Why does any man call his mistress when he’s supposed to be on the job? Maybe this little cartoon-crude as it is-is closer to the truth than we know:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnlOE7ve5qs

Anyway, here’s one to chew one: That phone call to Sade Anding may well have been the very thing that cost Michael Jackson his life, since he most likely did go into arrest right about the time Murray was “preoccupied” with Sade! I am not angry with her, but I’ll just say if I were her, I would hate to have to live with that knowledge. But it’s likely she had no idea that Murray was supposed to be on his watch at that time.

Walgren said it will never be known how long Jackson had not been breathing when Murray dropped the phone in the middle of his conversation with Anding.

“Was Conrad Murray in another room? Did Michael Jackson yell out for help? Did he gasp? Did he choke? Were there sounds? We don’t know and we’ll never know, because of the neglect and negligence of Conrad Murray.”

This was difficult. But a truth that needed to be spoken.

Walgren questioned why Murray waited at least 20 minutes after he found Jackson was not breathing before he asked a security guard call for an ambulance.

The delay was an extreme deviation from the standard of care required of a doctor, and the failure to act was criminally negligent, he argued.

“The most common sense thing that we all learn as young children that you call 911,” he said. Murray’s delay contributed to Jackson’s death, he argued.

“To speak to a 911 operator was the only hope of Michael Jackson being revived to see another day,” Walgren said.

This is a good time to comment on Chernoff’s defense of Murray not calling 911 right away. First off, there IS no defense for this. It is reprehensible. I don’t care if Murray was a doctor. There is a reason why, when doctors put patients under anesthesia in the hospital, they are working as part of a TEAM. There is a reason why, when you call 911, they don’t just send one paramedic to your house. They send a TEAM. In a life or death situation, it takes teamwork; it takes having the appropriate backup-and the appropriate equipment. Chernoff is dead wrong on this. It was NOT Murray’s responsibility to try to revive his patient first. It was his responsibility to call 911 immediatly, and THEN do CPR. It only takes all of a few seconds to place a 911 call; it requires pressing three simple digits.You can’t tell me that someone as supposedly talented at multi-tasking as Dr. Murray couldn’t do this!

Walgren said Murray’s delay was because he was “putting Conrad Murray first.”

“What on earth would motivate a medical doctor to delay making that call, other than to protect himself, other than sheer self-preservation, putting Conrad Murray first, putting Michael Jackson and his life last,” Walgren said.

Paramedics arrived just four minutes after the call, but too late to save Jackson, he said.

Chernoff argued that Murray depended on chef Kai Chase to send up a security guard while he was trying to revive Jackson, but she only sent son Prince.

Dr. Murray spoke with police two days after Jackson’s death “to get ahead of the story,” because he knew there would be toxicology reports showing he died from propofol and sedatives, Walgren said.

“Unfortunately, his version doesn’t match up with the evidence, the phone records, the e-mails, but he knew what toxicology findings would show,” Walgren said.

Walgren argued that until the Murray case, no one ever heard of propofol being used this way. He called it “a pharmaceutical experiment on Michael Jackson … an obscene experiment.”

Congratulations, Dr. Murray, for being a true pioneer in the medical profession!

Dr. Conrad Murray, A True Pioneer Of The Medical Field, Blazing Trails Where No Doctor Has Gone Before!

Walgren attacked Dr. Paul White, the defense propofol expert, for his determination “to find a theory or way to blame it on Michael Jackson.”

White testified that the levels of propofol and sedatives found in Jackson’s stomach, blood and urine during the autopsy convinced him that Jackson swallowed a large does of lorazepam and later gave himself with a rapid injection of propofol, which led to his death.

“What you were presented from Dr. White was junk science,” Walgren said.

This came from so totally out of left field that it blew my socks off! But I’m glad because it needed to be said. Personally, the impression I got of Dr. Paul White was a man who can be easily bought. Not to mention his attempts to pass off unprofessionally conducted tests as “research.”

“It is sad that Dr. White came in here, for whatever motive he may have had, for whatever financial considerations he did not share, we don’t know,” he said.

White acknowledged that he is normally paid $3,500 a day for his services as an expert witness.

Chernoff defended his expert and attacked prosecution anesthesiology expert Dr. Steve Shafer, saying Shafer was “not a scientist, he was an advocate. He was trying to prove a point; he was trying to prove a case.”

“Dr. White knows more about propofol than Dr. Shafer will ever, ever know,” Chernoff said.

Shafer testified that the “only scenario” in Jackson’s death was one involving an intravenous drip system infusing a steady flow of propofol into Jackson over several hours before his death.

Chernoff attacked what he said were weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument that Murray placed Jackson on an IV drip of propofol the morning he died.

“The prosecution desperately needed a drip,” Chernoff said, because they couldn’t prove there was a crime without it.

The single injection of propofol that Murray told police he gave Jackson would have been out of his system well before the time he found him in distress, Chernoff said.

“If Dr. Murray did what he said he did, there was no danger to Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said. “Michael Jackson was not going to die and it doesn’t matter if you leave the room and go outside and play basketball,

“Without a drip, what Dr. Murray gave Michael Jackson would not have harmed him,” he said.

Chernoff attacked the credibility of Alberto Alvarez, Jackson’s former bodyguard, who testify that he saw a propofol bottle inside an empty saline bag suspended on an IV stand by Jackson’s bed.

The two months Alvarez waited after Jackson’s death to tell police about the bottle in a bag, the lack of his fingerprints on the bag he said he held, and his description of the bag having a milky substance in it, when no drugs were detected, make his testimony questionable, Chernoff said.

Alavarez, who placed the 911 call from Jackson’s bedroom, also testified he helped remove Jackson from the bed and performed CPR on him, but a paramedic contradicted that testimony.

I will admit, this is a detail that troubles me. I believe the paramedic’s version of events. Possibly, in the panic of the moment, some of Alvarez’s recollections became a bit blurred, but that is a huge inconsistency. I suppose, yes, if I were Chernoff, this is one of those things I would hone in on like a hawk, since they have little enough of subtance to build a case on. In the bigger scheme of things, I don’t think it is something that’s going to make or break the prosecution’s case, but it is troubling.

Chernoff suggested Alvarez embellished his story to make it more valuable.

“All the sudden, his story becomes monumentally more compelling and more valuable,”

Alvarez acknowledged he turned down a $500,000 offer for an interview, he said.

“Do you honestly believe that Alberto Alvarez is not going to cash in?”

A coroner’s investigator and a police detective who found the saline bag and propofol bottle never took a photo of them together or made a note about the bottle being inside the bag, Chernoff said, “because he didn’t see it, because it wasn’t there.”

Chernoff argued the “bottle in a bag” theory was even less believable because the propofol bottle had a plastic strapped attached to it so it can be hung from an IV stand. That strip was never used, both sides agreed.

“Dr. Murray didn’t have to go through the ridiculous, absurd step of cutting a bag, propping it up into a cut IV bag, hanging it up where it could fall,” Chernoff said.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor began Thursday’s court session by instructing the jury — made up of seven men and five women — on the law guiding the decisions they must make.

Pastor said that the jury must unanimously agree on one of two theories in order to convict Murray on the single count of involuntary manslaughter.

The first theory is that Murray’s administration of propofol to Jackson was criminally negligent and it caused Jackson’s death.

Although it was legal, as a licensed doctor, for Murray to administer propofol to Jackson, they could find he was reckless in the way he did it, which created a high risk of death.

Criminal negligence requires more than just ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistakes in judgment, the judge instructed the jurors. A reasonable person would have to have known that the action would create such a risk of death.

Prosecutors have laid out a list of acts they allege were negligent, including not having other medical staff present when propofol was used, a lack of monitoring equipment, ineffective resuscitative care when Jackson stopped breathing and a delay in calling for an ambulance.

Using propofol, which is intended to sedate surgical patients, for sleep was another egregious deviation, they argue.

The second theory that jurors could accept is that Murray, who assumed a legal obligation to care for Jackson when he became his physician, failed to perform this legal duty by deviating from standards of care required of a doctor, including, when he left him alone and unmonitored after administering propofol.

Murray, if convicted, faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/03/justice/california-conrad-murray-trial/?hpt=us_c2

 

Whatever the outcome, we can’t fault David Walgreen. This man has given his all, and then some. So now it is all down to the jury’s decision.

And this may be the hardest part of all. The waiting…the wondering…the anticipation. I’ve been asking myself a lot of hard questions the past few days. While I feel confident that justice will prevail, there is still that nagging thought…what if the jury comes back with a Not Guilty verdict? What then? If we’ve learned anything from recent past high profile cases, it’s that we can’t predict how a jury will vote. And these days especially, acquittals seem to be the norm. Perhaps the fact that this is a one-count case will sway things in favor of a conviction. Maybe. But there’s just no way to know. And frankly, whatever does happen at this point, it is out of our hands. It is that time now, the time in which we must take a collective step back, inhale a few deep breaths, and pray that justice will be served.

But even if the verdict comes back “Guilty” it will be a hollow victory. This is a story with no heroes-only victims. It’s a story with no happy ending, for anyone. What is justice when the best it serves is four years, and possibly only four years of house arrest? Michael is dead. Prince, Paris, and Blanket have no father.

And what about Conrad Murray? Like Michael, he has an elderly mother. He, too, is a father with children, and it’s likely his children will be the ones who suffer most for lack of financial support.

But before we get too caught up in feeling pity for Murray’s children, keep this in mind: Conrad Murray’s children will get to see their father again in four years. For Prince, Paris, and Blanket, it is forever.

ETA: I just saw this posted by MJJ-777 on Facebook, and agree it’s a wonderful idea!

 To all MJ fans,

As we approach the end of the Murray murder trial some of us feel it would be a nice gesture to send thank you letters to the prosecutors David Walgren and Deborah Brazil. They have fought so tirelessly and with so much passion, skill and intelligence for MJ I am asking you to please show them your appreciation. The address is:

District Attorney’s Office
… County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210
Telephone (213) 974-3512
Fax (213) 974-1484
Email- webmail@da.lacounty.gov

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.

 

 

Justice For Michael Will Not Come Without Scars-Pt 1

 

Are We Back To This Again? Sadly, The Answer Is...Yes

 

To kick things off with my analysis of the trial, I decided to go back and reprint an article that I wrote on Sept 25th, a few days before the trial commenced. Since this blog  was originally posted as a note  to my personal Facebook page, I don’t think too many saw it at the time.  When I wrote this, I had just come away from reading a CNN headline that had proclaimed this as “The Michael Jackson Trial.” I was very incensed by this, but it did not come as a shocker. Since then, I have noticed the media has been much more sensitive in rightfully calling this either “The Michael Jackson Death Trial” or, more appropriately, “The Conrad Murray Trial.”  As morbid as it sounds, I rather like “The Michael Jackson Death Trial” because what that name does is to remind people in a very graphic way that this is homicide trial. But of course we knew from Day One that this trial would be about Michael Jackson-or that at least the defense would try to make it so. In the days leading up to the trial, I had a lot of concerns about how this would be played out in the media. I’ve decided to call this Part One because I’m going to be adding a Part Two and possibly even a Part Three once the verdict comes down.

 

This week marks the end and yet beginning of what has been a long road for Michael Jackson’s family and fans. It is the start of what we hope will be justice, as the man accused of being directly responsible for his death faces his music at long last-and I don’t mean MJ’s music (okay, haha, not so funny but…)

Anyway, what occurred to me this morning, as I scoured many headlines devoted to this topic, is how the media insists on calling this “The Michael Jackson Trial” rather than “The Conrad Murray Trial.” Rest asured, that is no accident. It certainly makes one want to shout, “Hello people, Michael Jackson had HIS trial back in 2005…this trial is for his accused killer! Last time I checked, Michael Jackson was the victim in this case.” Did they call “The Casey Anthony Trial” the “Caylee Anthony Trial?” Or the OJ Simpson Trial “The Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman Trial? Of course not! So why all this insistence on labeling this case “the Michael Jackson Trial?”

Well, two simple reasons which should be obvious. First of all-and this is how the media would defend it-the name Michael Jackson is the one that grabs headlines, is immediatly recognizable, and that guarantees both ratings and hits. If someone says the Conrad Murray trial, people might scratch their heads and go, “Who?” But call it “the Michael Jackson Trial” and everyone is immediatly on the right page! Now THAT gets attention. Now people will go, “Okay, yeah, I’m with you.”

But it also means something much more subliminal, and insidious. It is also a not-so-subtle reminder that as far as the media is concerned, this IS Michael Jackson’s trial, all over again. What better golden opportunity could they have to recreate the mass ratings of 2005? Let’s face it, justice for Michael Jackson is the least of the media’s concerns. For them, it is just another excuse to present “the freak show” and garner massive ratings as they tear into “analyzing” every aspect of Michael Jackson’s character. We’ve all known this for months, that the price of justice for Michael would be another mass character assasination in the media-the fans have known it; his family knows it. After all, the only defense Murray and his team have is to present MJ in the worst possible light, the same way that the only defense a person accused of rape has is to tear into their victim’s character. We have been gearing ourselves for this for a long time.

Yet, now that the trial date looms just around the corner-this week-the bricks are really starting to sweat. I think a lot of people who have reason to be concerned are nervous. We don’t really know what curves and dodgeballs the defense is going to throw-worse yet, how the media will respond to those throws (second thought, we do know; that’s the scary part). The bottom line is that it’s tough to hear someone you love being assasinated in media headlines. You would think society would be on the victim’s side but these days, in our super hyped up cynicism towards celebrity, it seems to be just the opposite. Ever since the OJ trial, when many were convinced Simpson “got away with it” because of his celebrity status, the public appetite to see some celebrity-ANY celebrity-lynched has been at an all time fever high. These days, it seems almost any celebrity accused is somehow supposed to pay penitence for OJ’s crime, or else they unfairly become the scapegoats. I have always held a deeply seated belief that this was the root cause of the public’s condemantion of Michael Jackson following his acquittal on all counts in 2005. And with all the idiot talking heads spewing their “we let a child molestor off” spiel, is it any wonder the public outcry was at fever pitch?

Now, to add further fuel to that fire, we had the much publicized Casey Anthony trial earlier this year, in which once again, a highly suspect accuser was let off the hook. Casey Anthony wasn’t a celebrity, but the trial certainly made her one, if albeit an infamous one!

From the media’s perspective, it doesn’t seem to matter that now the shoe has been reversed. A celebrity is not on trial for committing a crime-rather, we now have a celebrity who has been the VICTIM of a crime. It is an altogether different dynamic, yet the media seems to be playing by the same rules. It’s a no brainer. Putting the celebrity and the celebrity’s lifestyle on trial is what will guarantee ratings, and no celebrity’s personal life ever made greater copy than Michael Jackson’s! Rest assured, the would-be, yellow journalists and legal analysts have been salivating over this one for-as Led Zeppelin said-“a long, long, lonely long time.”

But as the heat fires up, maybe it is a good idea to take a deep breath and really look at the bigger picture here. We as fans have known from Day One what this process is going to entail. Now it is time to bite the bullet and be strong. Remember that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the yammering twits have to say-or shouldn’t. What should ultimately matters is what those twelve men and women on the jury decide. It really comes down to one simple question. Or maybe two. Did Conrad Murray or did he not administer the lethal dose of propofol that killed Michael Jackson, and if so, did he behave negligently in the aftermath, when precious minutes meant the difference between life and death? I think for most reasonable people, the answer to the second question is obvious. What is murkier-and will be the real issue for the jury-is Question #1. The defense, as we know, will try to argue that Michael self administered the propofol and/or demanded it to the point that Murray had no choice. But any reasonable thinking person also knows that Murray DID have a choice. He is a physician who knows his patients’ lives depend on the actions he takes. As to the arguement that Michael self-adminsistered, I think it is a ludicrous defense as the coroner has already pointed out but in the end, it all comes down to how well the defense presents their case-and how well the prosecution can tear it down.

Michael sang about keeping the faith. We have to keep the faith now that justice will prevail. In her own recent and wonderful blog, Deborah Kunesh of Refelections On The Dance reminded us that justice prevailed for Michael in 2005. http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?…13875445343716 We can’t really blame the legal system for the fact that the media turned the event into a public lynching. But nevertheless, it did happen, and as a result, left a permanently bitter taste.

So what happens now? I don’t know how the verdict will go, of course. But I have a very strong feeling-and a very strong faith-that justice will be on Michael’s side again. While Murray’s defense will be to bring up every possible mitigating circumstance and every mitigating bit of evidence to cloud the jurors’ minds, the bottomline is that the facts of this case speak loud and clear.

However, it is those very mitigating circumstances and evidence that we know the media will run with. We already know they will be looking to pounce on anything relating to Michael’s character, his alleged drug use, and even the allegations, which will undoubtedly be brought into the mix even though they have no bearing whatsoever on the current case. Ultimatelly, we know it is not the media who decides Murray’s fate or the person Michael Jackson was, for better or worse. But the media DOES have the power to influence and sway public opinion. That’s what they do. Regardless of the eventual verdict, they are going to have a field day with this. It is the last, golden opportunity for them to suck the last drop of blood they can from the name Michael Jackson. Don’t forget, these are the people who hurt him, bullied him, and ran him ragged while he lived. After he died, they felt bad for all of five minutes, paid a few “tributes” and then went right back to their old tricks. It was the same with Princess Diana. The public outrage over the media’s role in her death evaporated quickly to apathy; we were right back to where we started, as if nothing had happened. If the world had heeded the public’s outcry THEN to curb the media’s bloodlust, it’s possible that Michael Jackson might still be alive. Why? Simply because the very things that drove him to depression and chronic insomnia might never have been a factor.

Michael Jackson “won” in 2005, but at what cost? By the end of that trial, his health was wracked, his spirit broken, and his reputation as a beloved superstar forever tarnished. Although he still had fame and money, his life became a sort of vagabond existence. He no longer had a permanent home; he wandered with his children from country to country. Part of that, of course, was a search for respite. He was looking for a safe haven where he could regain his health and replensih his spirit. But what had been done to him in his homeland still haunted him, wherever he went.

Words Michael Wrote In 2005, After The Trial

Likewise now, in 2011, any form of justice for Michael will only come at a very heavy price. By the end of October or early November, when the verdict comes down, Murray may or may not be facing prison time. But even if he is sentenced, I have a feeling that we will be left feeling much as Michael did in June of 2005. The sweet sensation of victory will be tainted by a heavy burden.

I think this trial will probably vindicate Michael on several levels. There will be things that will come out of it that will be in Michael’s favor. On the other hand, I fully suspect a good many things may come out of it that fans really don’t want to hear. That is going to be the nature of the beast. And of course, how the media chooses to present/analyze those things will be crucial. Even though the actual trial will be televised (and hopefully this will eliminate some of the rampant twisting of facts such as what we saw in 2005) the public’s opinion of this trial will, as stated, largely depend on the media’s influence. After all, only the most diehard Jackson fans are going to sit and watch the full trial, minute by minute. I don’t think this is going to carry the same weight as the Casey Anthony trial (where an innocent child was involved, thus inviting a kind of national outrage and vested interest in the case). Of course, Michael Jackson fans will be following it closely. But I think it is safe to say that most Americans, if they watch at all, will be doing so mostly out of a sense of morbid curiosity; they will be tuning in and only casually watching, perhaps, while at work or while multi-tasking their daily household duties; most will probably not watch at all (after all, most of us have to work for a living, and having access to TV and even internet is not an option for everyone)-these are the people who will rely, instead, on evening news broadcasts and legal pundit shows to “fill them in” on what transpired in court that day. And therein lies the danger, because it is those people who will be most apt to fall prey to the media’s manipulation of this case. After all, a testimony that might be viewed one way to a viewer when watching for themselves can be perceived quite differently once that same testimony is filtered and cross examined by the likes of a Nancy Grace or a-God forbid!-Diane Dimond.

To cut to the chase here, we as Michael Jackson fans know that a lot of stones are going to be thrown over the next few weeks. Those stones can’t hurt Michael anymore, but we know how they can still hurt US. We feel their bruises, as surely as Michael did. And because he is no longer here, we have, in essence, taken those stones upon ourselves. I think we have to ask ourselves many crucial questions. How are we going to deal with the insanity of these next few weeks? How are we going to react when trial testimony may reveal things that aren’t exactly pleasant to us? And can we control our gloating when things do go in our favor? The world, after all, is going to be watching us. This is not only a test of faith, but a test of courage and grace under fire as well.

As I said, I do feel strongly that justice will prevail. But yes, it will come at a price, and it will not come without scars. It was that way for Michael. It will be that way for us.

In Part Two, which I hope to have up by mid-week, I will look at how the reality of the media’s treatment of Michael during this trial has stacked up against my initial fears, expectations, and predictions. Has it been as bad as I thought it would be? Or have we seen a subtle shift in the pendulum as more and more damning evidence against Murray has surfaced? Or, at the end of the day, is “Michael Jackson-The Victim”  just another cheap tactic for ratings? Also, I will be posting my reactions to and thoughts on those post-mortem photos, the audio tape, the “j” word and many other concerns that have been brought to light since this drama began last September.