Thursday, December 30, 2010

Universal Message

The line of human decency, worth, privacy and respect has just been crossed.

“The Discovery Channel has provided for many years valuable documentary programming focused primarily on popular science, technology and history. With this backdrop in mind, I find it incredulous that Discovery would exploit the recent death of Michael Jackson to increase their viewership at the expense of the integrity and positive educational track record of their network. The insensitivity and unprofessional tabloid approach that Discovery has decided to pursue is not only hurtful to the future of the network, but is deeply hurtful to the Jackson family, friends, colleagues and millions of supporters throughout the world… Please re-consider airing this dreadful re-enactment.” ~Statement from Stuart Backerman, Former Press Spokesman for Michael Jackson
L.A. County Coroner Ed Winter joins the criticism of the Discovery Network’s upcoming special reenacting Michael Jackson’s autopsy. Discovery Producers asked him for an interview earlier this year to describe the autopsy: “I told them no, we had no interest in doing it and it was a pending case… I think it’s unprofessional and I wouldn’t do it out of respect for the family.”  ~Assistant Chief Coroner, LA County

On January 13, 2011, a line of human decency, worth, privacy and respect for life will be crossed. Discovery Channel plans to air a re-enactment of Michael Jackson’s autopsy using a realistic synthetic cadaver that approximates his body.
Michael Jackson was a human being. And he was a father, a brother, and a son. He was also loved by millions around the world.
We believe in the worth and dignity of every human being. Nobody deserves to be treated this way — not in life, and certainly not in death.
Now comes the Discovery Channel
Never before in the history of television or media, has the personal autopsy of a recognized human being taken place using a synthetic cadaver to graphically show the dismemberment of someone who once lived — and is survived by three young children.
Justice and Fairness Derailed?
This program was cynically planned to be deliberately broadcast in the UK and Europe so that Michael Jackson’s family and estate would have no legal reach and would be unable to stop its airing or protest its broadcast. The plan includes across the board screening in multiple countries. Michael Jackson has three minor children and this will not escape them. This image in the collective memory which will find its way into their world serves to scar them emotionally. As such; this program constitutes child abuse.
The airing of this program may obstruct legal justice since it has the potential to reach the minds of the public and prejudice the jury pool in the forthcoming January trial of Dr. Murray the physician who administered his medication and was treating Michael Jackson when his death occurred.
Does this rise to the level of bullying?
We think so. And we believe Michael Jackson’s children would agree. Their father was bullied in life — and now, it seems the bullying continues in death. And his children are the ones who suffer. They don’t live in a vacuum and they will be affected by the inhumane treatment of their father. We are pretty sure they would like to remember him as their beloved father. His fans, friends and collaborators who know the truth about him – knew a dramatically different man to the one many believe he was. They knew him as a cherished friend, role model and hero.
It’s time to tell the truth and reveal the deliberate manipulation of that truth. It’s time to show you the real Michael Jackson:

Understand that everyone is vulnerable now.
We cannot imagine that any human being finds this program in good taste. What will stop Discovery or any other media outlet from dismembering and dissecting other beloved figures or celebrities publicly? What if they exhumed Lady Diana? Tim Russert? What if Oprah died tomorrow, or Bono, Helen Mirren, Brittany Spears, or Prince William? Would we see them on a slab for profit and before the hungry eyes of invasive voyeurs?
This cynical precedent established by the Discovery Channel makes everyone fair game to be exploited as a lab specimen for sensationalism, market share and promoting sponsor’s products.
Discovery Channel has sponsors and investors and can be deleted or blocked from your cable package.
Discovery’s major sponsors include: Volkswagen, Proctor and Gamble, Dow Chemical– as more are revealed, we will reveal them.
Dehumanizing people has consequences
One thing has made this kind of program possible: Humans dehumanizing other humans. When people lack ethics or ignore conscience, human laboratories and other abominations become possible: ethnic cleansing, lynchings, witch burning, human ovens, terrorism and war. So if you think this is not a slippery slope, you are wrong. Dead wrong. Our humanity dies when we accept the claim that “anything goes.” Michael Jackson was systematically and falsely vilified over time. His humanity was stolen and our own humanity along with it.
Aren’t we better than this? Aren’t we there yet? Discovery drew this line but we are asking you to draw another. One that says: Discovery, you cross this line — alone.

You are at a crossroads in the evolution of a civilization and a decision needs to be made:
Which road will we as humanity take? The road toward decency or the road toward depravity?
If your decision is for human worth, decency, civility and dignity, then:
We are asking that you use your voice to send a message to Discovery. Ask your cable provider to remove Discovery from your menu or block it from your bundle. Then stop using the products and companies who sponsored this program.
Then tell them what you have done in a letter or email.
Why the truth of this violation cannot be ignored:
§  All previous televised autopsies have been conducted on anonymous cadavers; their faces covered.
§  All bodies dissected were formally donated to Medical Institute and the donors consented to their remains being used for educational purposes.
§   Michael Jackson did not consent to his remains– virtual or otherwise being used to satisfy anyone’s morbid curiosity or consent to millions viewing his virtual internal organs. 
§  The dead remain a part of the living community, to be honored — not used for entertainment.
§   For many, this program may provoke a horrific unease, anxiety, dread or revulsion. For some it will result in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)
§  Even if a cadaver is synthetic, the process of repeatedly associating the name of a recognized person — is a violation of their name and memory.
§  The virtual autopsy of Michael Jackson is a publicity stunt designed to exploit inhumane curiosity and has nothing to do with education or fact finding.
§  In the same way burial sites are also considered deeply important, autopsies—even virtual ones, should be conducted in private, not on worldwide television.
§  Our responsibility is to respect those who once lived and whom they have loved — and who love them still.
§  We are not beings isolated within nature; what is done to one of us is done to all. 
§  We may not be aware of exactly why this is so wrong, but we know that it is — and we will never feel the same way about Discovery again.
§  There is no respect or inherent value in this type of programming. It disrespects all peoples. It violates the sanctity of family, of life and memories, of everything we hold to be precious about the lives we are given. It violates humanity, the humane, and every sane thinking person.
§  All human cultures recognize the sanctity of human remains and burial and the peaceful non-disturbance of the deceased. This program and the use of a simulated corpse violates those sensibilities and moral codes.
§  This program will be duplicated and parodied on Youtube, and Discovery is culpable and should be held accountable for any damage in the aftermath.
§  Mr. Jackson’s minor children don’t care about Discovery Channel’s sync-rights or profits. They care about their father.
 Yes, a line has been crossed.

© 12-2010 All Rights Reserved. Do Not Reprint Without Permission.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Estate Lawyers Outraged and Disgusted.

A letter written by Michael Jackson Estate lawyers, Mr. John Branca and Mr.Tony McClain, to the Discovery Channel President, David Zaslav, in which they voice their disgust over the proposed re-enactment of Michael Jackson’s autopsy, saw the light of day yesterday after it was leaked to TMZ. Within hours, fans were Tweeting, blogging and posting it across the Internet.

We already knew a letter had been written, but to read the words of the Estate lawyers; to see with our own eyes their words of horror and outrage over this program, energized fans everywhere to step up the pace in a worldwide collaborative effort to stop it from airing. It also gave us an insight into the hearts of these two men, who have been accused of many things since Michael's death. The letter clearly shows that their intentions are to protect Michael's name and legacy and in this we are united.

Although the Estate has expressed disappointment over the private letter being made public, I can't help feeling that it was a blessing. Almost 10,000 signatures now appear on the "Against Discovery" petition, and major media outlets across the world are now covering the protest, including CNN, BBC, and the New York Times. The letter has been a major boost to the campaign, but more voices need to be added. To see how you can add yours, please write your letters and sign the petitions.

Write letters/emails to the following people:  
Nicolas Bonard
Senior Vice President
Discovery Enterprises International Discovery Networks Europe
Chiswick Park Building 2
566 Chiswick High Road
W4 5YB

David Zaslav
President and CEO
Discovery Communications
1 Discovery Place
Silver Springs, MD

John S. Hendricks
Founder and Chairman
Discovery Communications, Inc.

William Goodwyn
President, Global Distribution & CEO Discovery Education

Dr Hunter, who will perform the autopsyMichael D. Hunter M.D.
3737 Frankford Avenue
Panama City, FL 32405

Once you have written and sent your letters or emails, please send a copy to for a mass mailing to Discovery which is planned on January 2nd.
In addition, you may sign this petition in support, created by MJ Children's Foundation (please note, this requires a Facebook login; it will ask you to login to your Facebook account and approve access to be able to sign this petition):

© Valmai Owens

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finding My Neverland

As a child I believed in magical lands where princes and princesses lived in fairytale castles. I believed in dragons and knights, and in wizards and fairies; Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. My child’s mind was open to every possibility and my imagination and dreams took me to wonderful places, creating memories I would sometimes revisit.

One memory that remains strong is the rainy winter Sundays I spent with my father in front of an open fire. It was the one day of the week mum, he and I were together as a family, and I looked forward to it eagerly. I would curl up on the sofa in the living room, while dad sat in his armchair next to me, and together we would watch a soccer or rugby game on TV. Mum would be in the kitchen preparing our Sunday roast; the aroma wafting through the house causing our stomachs to rumble in anticipation.

After the game and without fail, a Disney movie would come on, and while I lost myself in the world of Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White etc, my father would slip into a comfortable doze, softly snoring at my side. It’s a memory of warmth; the smell of fire, rain and roasting meat mixed with the comforting sounds of my family life, and escape into a world of imagination inspired by the ageless stories of magic and wonder. This was a world where time stood still and I never grew old. I wanted everyday to be a Sunday.

But age is something none of us can escape from, and I found myself growing into adulthood. Each year that passed the child within me grew more silent, and the time for play, imagination and dreams became memories belonging to another time as the responsibilities and realities of life came a calling.

There were times though when I felt the child stir. The NeverEnding Story not only became my daughter’s favorite movie, but mine also, and C.S.Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia along with J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter, drew me back into the world of magic and fantasy for a time. But it was a man who finally awoke the sleeping child.

When I learned that Michael had bought a ranch and was creating a magical kingdom called Neverland, there was no other place in the world where I wanted to be. The mere concept of building a wonderland for children of all ages, so they could experience the simple joys of play and make-believe inspired me to dream again. I so wanted to go there and take my children, but it was not to be at that time. This past June, I got my wish when I flew to California for the first anniversary of Michael’s passing. The pain of Forest Lawn was not something I had expected to feel so intensely, so it was with relief, excitement and a certain amount of expectation that I journeyed to Neverland.

I knew that the glory that once was this place was no more, but in my imagination I could see the gilded gates opening, and there in the midst of his playground was Michael, running free with a string of little darlings close on his heels. I smiled inwardly as I placed myself in the picture my mind presented, running by Michael’s side, out of breath and wild with excitement. My disappointment came when I reached the main entrance and found I could go no further. So close I was, yet so far.

All of us there felt it; the urge to break through the barriers, and walk the road to Neverland each carrying our own special dreams of this golden land. Instead we hovered in front of the gate, wide-eyed with hope that a relenting heart would welcome us in; pacing back and forth in restless motion. We stood before the wall of love and wrote our names and messages. We talked amongst ourselves and took pictures, but our eyes never strayed far from the gate and what lay beyond.

There is a large tree that stands almost as a sentinel to the entrance of the driveway. It reminded me of the picture’s I had seen of Michael’s Giving Tree. Its wide branches offered cool shade and a knowledge that Michael had driven past it numerous times. I stood beneath it for awhile, soaking up the energy that seemed to radiate from this place; listening to the quiet conversations around me and the rustling of leaves above. I ran my hand over the bark and wondered if at any time Michael had done the same thing.

A short distance from the tree is a low wooden fence which surrounds the property. It’s low enough to climb over with ease and temptation drew me to it, but I couldn’t bring myself to cross it without invitation, and none was forthcoming. Instead, I leaned against it and gazed wistfully at the rolling hills that hid the magical city from view. I fancied I heard the sounds of children’s laughter and the sharp, piercing whistle of a steam train carrying its precious cargo of smiling and eager faces on a journey of wonder. I ached for what had been, and for the magician who had cast his spell on all our hearts. I also ached for all the lost chances; the dreams and memories that had slept within me for too long.

Michael’s Neverland had never been mine to experience, at least not the physical part of it. I say that because I became aware of the lingering spirit that still clung to this place. Here there had been much love and happiness and laughter, and while some had tried to taint it with ugliness, joyous electricity sparked through the air. Hidden behind a veil of consciousness, Neverland still existed. It lay in the very soil of this land, planted by the hundreds of lives Michael had touched. The child in me leapt in response to this understanding, and finally awoke from its long slumber bringing with it all the memories and dreams from long ago.

I realized that Neverland was merely a name given to an ideal. Within all of us, lives that child from our past. A child who wants to break free and run and play and laugh. I had let mine sleep, and I had lost the innocence; the acceptance and openness to be able to believe in things without fear or reproach. My child had once dreamed big dreams. It had believed in the mystery, fantasy and magic of life, and it now yearned to return to its own Neverland that it had built so long ago.

Michael knew and understood all these things. He had never had a chance to live as a child in the magical world of children, but he had carried the ideal inside him into adulthood. It was then that he built his dream, as much for him as for the children who visited there. For a time, he felt and experienced the joys of youthful pleasures. He laughed, he played, he ran free, and he imagined and dreamed big dreams. He found his Neverland, and through him, I had found mine again.

Magical Child: Part 1
Once there was a child and he was free
Deep inside, he felt the laughter
The mirth and play of nature's glee
He was not troubled by thoughts of hereafter
Beauty, love was all he'd see
He knew his power was the power of God
He was so sure, they considered him odd
This power of innocence, of compassion, of light
Threatened the priests and created a fright
In endless ways they sought to dismantle
This mysterious force which they could not handle
In endless ways they tried to destroy
His simple trust, his boundless joy
His invincible armor was a shield of bliss
Nothing could touch it, no venom, no hiss
The child remained in a state of grace
He wasn't confined in time or place
In Technicolor dreams, he frolicked and played
While acting his part, in Eternity he stayed
Soothsayers came and fortunes were told
Some were vehement, others were bold
In denouncing this child, this perplexing creature
With the rest of the world he shared no feature
Is he real? He is so strange
His unpredictable nature knows no range
He puzzles us so, is he straight?
What's his destiny? What's his fate?
And while they whispered and conspired
Through endless rumors to get him tired
To kill his wonder, trample him near
Burn his courage, fuel his fear
The child remained just simple, sincere
All he wanted was the mountain high
Color the clouds, paint the sky
Beyond these boundaries, he wanted to fly
In nature's scheme, never to die
Don't stop this child, he's the father of man
Don't cross his way, he's part of the plan
I am that Child, but so are you
You've just forgotten, just lost the clue
Inside your heart sits a Seer
Between his thoughts, he can hear
A melody simple but wondrously clear
The music of life, so precious, so dear
If you could for one moment know
This spark of creation, this exquisite glow
You would come and dance with me
Kindle this fire so we could see
All the children of the Earth
Weave their magic and give new birth
To a world of freedom with no pain
A world of joy, much more sane
Deep inside, you know it's true
Just find that child, it's hiding in you.

Magical Child: Part 2
Magical child once felt a twinge
A faint recollection, a memory unhinged
In the colors, the forms, the hue
There seemed a mystery with a subtle clue
Behind the wind, the storm, the gale
Within the shroud, beyond the veil
Hidden from view in a wondrous pattern
There seemed a force that he could not fathom
Its music and cadence were playful and sweet
He danced in bliss to its throbbing beat
He did not mind either cold or heat
On the mountain high was his royal seat
Strangers came and scorned his joy
With ridicule and banter they tried to destroy
What in their minds was a skillful play
With cruel darts they tried to plunder
To suffocate and strangle his innocent wonder
Fighting hard, despite their blunder
Again and again to steal his thunder
Despite their attacks, they could not break
With all their barbs they could not take
God's gift of love, which they could not fake
Not knowing his strength or what he sought to seek
They complained aloud and called him a freak
But the mysterious force just kept its hold
Magical child grew brave and bold
Diving deep into his soul
In exquisite ecstasy he discovered his role
In his Self was infinite scope
This mysterious force was mankind's hope
Piercing through that mask of Being
In that silence beyond all seeing
Was a field with a different story
A field of power, of awesome glory
With other children, if unfurled
Its tidal wave would change the world
Magical child was ready to bow
Sow the seed, pick up the plough
With effortless ease, without a sigh
Without a tear, without a cry
With silent perfection
Under God's direction
To sing together as one race
Stem the tide, transform this place
Magical children, don't worry how
Don't delay, this moment's now.

From Dancing the Dream, by Michael Jackson

Thank you, Michael, for being my Peter Pan.

© Valmai Owens

© Valmai Owens

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How Far, Is Too Far?

It is not always easy to admit that you are wrong; that you have committed a grave error in judgment. Upon learning that Discovery UK, along with its new partner in marriage, OWN, are planning to air a re-creation of Michael Jackson’s autopsy using a anatomically correct synthetic cadaver, I had to do just that; admit I was wrong. Naively believing that the media had reached the fullest extent in which they could discredit his name, I realized they were about to cross the finishing line with the exploitation of his body, even if posthumously. I was shocked, disgusted and yes, angry. It was a physical reaction; I felt sick and somewhat defeated.

I found myself asking what really the purpose of this so-called “documentary” was. I was under the impression that an autopsy had already taken place, that a lethal dose of propofol was the cause of Michael’s death. Did I miss something in the autopsy report; in all the articles I had read? If there had been any doubt surrounding the coroner’s findings, would not a second opinion have been sought?
Why then is, “to reveal the true reasons for his death” the explanation for this abomination, when the reasons have already been proven?

It was suggested to me that the reason for this program is to bring closure to all the controversy and conjecture surrounding Michael’s death, and to bring solace to his fans and family. Considering that in England, where the documentary will be shown, the media have hardly been kind to Michael, and that the timing of this only just precedes Dr. Murray’s pre-trial, I hardly find this explanation credible. I also don’t see how a look-a-like Michael Jackson cadaver being dissected in front of cameras and millions of eyes, is going to bring any peace or closure to those who love and support him.

There is only one conclusion I can draw, and no excuses given or reasons offered can make me think otherwise. Ratings! I clearly see now how far the media are prepared to go to get those ratings, and that it is beyond all decency and conscience. Is this what our society has been reduced to? Is this what the public are hungry for?  Is the media exploiting the dark perversions of human nature or simply manipulating the tentative hold over right or wrong that some people struggle to hold on to? We are meant to be a cultured and intelligent species, but under the surface of our so-called civilized demeanors lays ugliness. You don’t have to dive too far into shallow waters to find it.

I have never been a witness to rape, but I have been a victim of it, mentally and physically. It is not an easy thing to forgive or forget. The violation, the loss of control over the mind and body linger long after the act. It can destroy your spirit, self-confidence and self-worth. In Michael’s rape, it is also destroying his name and therefore his legacy. The media go too far!

Make your voice count by addressing your letters of concern to:

Nicolas Bonard, Senior Vice President
Discovery Enterprises International Discovery Networks Europe/Oprah Winfrey Network
Chiswick Park Building 2
566 Chiswick High Road
London, W4 5YB

Email your letters to MJ Justice Project

Support CADELAW petition:

© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Truth Versus Sensationalism: Revised Final Edition

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of Journalism is: “Writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.” Loosely translated, it means writing the truth without unfair bias and personal conceptualization. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind, that there is a difference between journalism and tabloid journalism.

The idea of journalism is rooted deeply into the history of mankind. From the earliest cave drawings of pre-historic man, to the journalistic media of today’s modern society, it has evolved into a means by which news can be transmitted to every corner of the earth simultaneously, keeping the general public informed of everything from A to Z. Along with its evolution, a journalistic Code of Ethics incorporating standards, principles and canons were designed as guides to assist professional journalists in the truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and fairness of their reporting, and to help with difficulties such as conflicts of interest and ethical dilemmas. The Preamble to the Society of Professional Journalists in America states;

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.

Within the four categories of the SPJ Code of Ethics, several guidelines are worthy of special note;

Seek Truth and Report It

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

Minimize Harm

Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently

Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable

Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct. Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

For a full overview of the SPJ Code of Ethics:

As important as these guidelines are, they are just that, guidelines, and were not intended as a set of rules. They are also not legally binding under The First Amendment where it prohibits the making of any law that among other things, impedes, infringes or interferes with the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. Even so, the Code of Ethics is widely used by thousands of journalists, editors, writers and newsrooms as a platform to gauge their ethical culpability in reporting the news. But there are also thousands of journalists who seem to write by their own set of rules and guidelines, and appear to have taken “freedom of the press” out of context in the pursuit of headlines. Enter Sensationalistic Tabloid Journalism.

In brief, the definition of Tabloid Journalism is; “A publication of small format giving the news in small form usually with illustrated, often sensational lurid material. It tends to emphasize or exaggerate events and stories such as disasters and catastrophes, and repeat scandal and innuendos about the deeply personal lives of celebrities, sports stars and politicians etc.” A perfect example in this age is the over-concentration by tabloid media on reporting every aspect of Michael Jackson’s life, particularly, coverage of his 2005 trial. Under the guise of freedom of the press, the media seemed to feel they had the right to blatantly distort, twist, manipulate, misinterpret and misrepresent the truth in the pursuit of headlines. It still continues now, after his death.

The lack of truthful and fair reporting, and ethical and honest behavior apparent during media coverage of Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial, was perfectly addressed by Charles Thomson in his Huffington Post article, One of the Most Shameful Episodes In Journalistic History. During this trial, we see how the media manipulated the truth.

Looking back on the Michael Jackson trial, I see a media out of control. The sheer amount of propaganda, bias, distortion and misinformation is almost beyond comprehension. Reading the court transcripts and comparing them to the newspaper cuttings, the trial that was relayed to us didn't even resemble the trial that was going on inside the courtroom. The transcripts show an endless parade of seedy prosecution witnesses perjuring themselves on an almost hourly basis and crumbling under cross examination. The newspaper cuttings and the TV news clips detail day after day of heinous accusations and lurid innuendo.

When one reads the coverage during this time, it becomes obvious that the SPJ guidelines were largely ignored and proves the absence of any moral standards on the part of the media. Headlines screamed, Sicko! New York Daily News. Jacko: Now Get Out Of This One New York Post. He’s Bad, He’s Dangerous, He’s History, If he weren’t a pop idol with piles of cash to hide behind, he would have been picked up years ago. The Sun, in a deliberate and shameful attempt to gain readership. The absence of pertinent and truthful facts by the press sealed Michael’s fate in the eyes of the public, long before a “not guilty” verdict had been handed down.

Did the media take into consideration what effect their relentless attacks would have on the public’s view of Michael’s character, and most importantly, what toll it would take on his spirit? Did they feel remorse or shame; admit deceit? Absolutely not! In his article, Charles Thomson includes comments made by key media figures.

So what happened when Jackson was acquitted on all counts? Red faces? Second thoughts? A little soul-searching, perhaps? Maybe one expression of regret for the rush to judgment? Naaawww. The reaction, instead, was rage liberally laced with contempt and the odd puzzled expression. Its targets were the jurors… Hell hath no fury like a cable anchor held up for scorn. Media analyst, Tim Rutton.

Appearing on Court TV, Nancy Grace said. I’m having a crow sandwich right now. It doesn’t taste very good. But you know what? I’m also not surprised. I thought that celebrity is such a big factor. When you think you know somebody, when you have watched their concerts, listened to their records, read the lyrics, believed they were coming from somebody’s heart… Jackson is very charismatic, although he never took the stand. That has an effect on this jury.

I’m not gonna throw a stone at the mom, although I think she was the weak link in the state’s case, but the reality is I’m not surprised. I thought that the jury would vote in favor of the similar transaction witnesses. Apparently the defense overwhelmed them with the cross-examining of the mother. I think it boils down to that, plain and simple. She later added that Michael had been found not guilty “by reason of celebrity.”

Wendy Murphy on Fox News added, I really think it’s the celebrity factor, not the evidence. I don’t think the jurors even understand how influenced they were by who Michael Jackson is… They basically put targets on the backs of all, especially highly vulnerable kids that will now come into Michael Jackson’s life.
Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America was another who adhered to the idea that Michael had been acquitted due to his celebrity status. Are you sure?” Are you sure that this gigantically renowned guy walking into the room had no influence at all?

Diane Dimond in her last New York Post article wrote, He walked out of court a free man, not guilty on all counts. But Michael Jackson is so much more than free. He now has carte blanche to live his life any way he wants, with whomever he wants, because who would ever try to prosecute Michael Jackson now?
The story was over. There were no apologies and no retractions. There was no scrutiny - no inquiries or investigations. Nobody was held to account for what was done to Michael Jackson. The media was content to let people go on believing their heavily skewed and borderline fictitious account of the trial. That was that. Charles Thomson.

Not all journalists are guilty of the practices used during the coverage of Michael’s trial, but in this case it appears that the fine line drawn between journalism and tabloid journalism became indistinct; finally merging and giving birth to medialoid, where the mainstream media becoming infected by tabloid journalism, launched a frenzied propaganda attack on a man who, as Charles Thomson states, “never felt truly vindicated.”

So at whose feet do we lay blame for the blatant disregard of truth? Is it the individual reporter who devoured the facts, and then spat them back out as innuendos and allegations? Is it the media industry itself, which appears to have forgotten the meaning of journalism and great role models, such as Howard Bloom and Walter Cronkite? Or is it the public’s insatiable need for gossip and scandal that finds journalists vying for the juiciest story at the expense of the victim’s well-being, and right to privacy, injuring and in some cases destroying a person’s career, marriage, reputation and spirit.?

Without adhering to any set of moral standards, tabloid journalism has been sometimes called “the lying game,” where the misrepresentation and misinterpretation of the facts sells coverage on a much larger scale than the truth. In essence, it could also be construed a “money-making game.” But the distinct ethical difference between journalism and tabloid journalism and the ethical or unethical practices they use, at the end of the day comes down to one person, the person in charge. Whether it is a newspaper or magazine editor, a television producer or book publisher, an author or blogger, all have the power to approve what will be aired or printed. With that comes a certain amount of responsibility that is often ignored in the quest for a mass audience.

On whatever scale a journalist or amateur writes in a public arena, we are all held accountable for the factual content of the material we present. At the same time, the public bears the responsibility for correctly interpreting the validity of the written word. This can be difficult at times given the over saturation of conflicting stories that are printed. There will always be those who believe everything they read, but in looking at the sources from where the information is coming from, keeping an open-mind and not being too quick to judge, we can start to separate fact from fiction.

One final note; regardless of how true or untrue, essentially each story contains an ideal, bias or pre-conceived notion of the person writing it. We can never truly be impartial. Knowing this; understanding this, does not give anyone the right to judge another through the written word. What happened to Michael should never have been allowed, and it most certainly should never happen again. Not to anyone.


© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.