Crucified then; canonized now
On June 3, 2005, about a week before the jury returned with verdicts on the multiple charges against Michael Jackson in his child molestation case, conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of â€œScarborough Countryâ€ had three guests on his show. Scarborough, a former Florida Republican congressman, did not favor Jackson. One guest was attorney Lisa Bloom, daughter of famed attorney Gloria Allred. Bloom is a former national debating champion and was a take-no-prisoners CourtTV specialist. And, following further in the footsteps of her mother, she was not exactly a fan of Michaelâ€™s. (I still have the utmost respect for both of them and exchanged a warm hug with Allred last I saw her.)Â
Famed attorney Robert Shapiro was also on the show. He and the late Johnny Cochran are noted for being part of the legal team that successfully defended O.J. Simpson against charges that he murdered ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The third guest wasÂ yours truly, Dr. Firpo Carr, internationally known variously as â€œJackson Family Spokesman,â€ â€œMichaelâ€™s Spiritual Advisor,â€ â€œJackson Family Spiritual Advisor,â€ â€œFamily Friend,â€ â€œMichaelâ€™s Friend,â€ etc. I saw myself simply as a friend helping out friends in need. Toward the end of the tri-view split-screen segment the following exchange took place according to the official transcript:
SCARBOROUGH: Listen, really quickly, we areâ€”we are running out on time. Iâ€™m going to ask you all to do it in five seconds for me. I need a prediction. Is he going to be convicted or is he going to walk? Weâ€™ll start with you, Robert Shapiro.
SHAPIRO: I think the most likely outcome is guilty on molestation and guilty on the misdemeanor of alcohol possession. The others, I think he will be acquitted of.
SCARBOROUGH: Lisa Bloom?
BLOOM: Like Yogi Berra, I donâ€™t make predictions, especially about the future. But I will say I think the prosecution has presented a strong enough case for this jury to come back with a guilty verdict.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Carr?
CARR: I say that Michael Jackson is innocent on all charges.
On Monday, June 13, 2005, Michael Jackson was found â€œNot Guiltyâ€ on all charges.Â
When Bloomberg in England interviewed me last week I was asked: â€˜Do you detect a bit of hypocrisy in the media since during his last trial they were at his throat?â€™ I answered an emphatic and resounding yes! Understandably, responsible media are charged with reporting both sides of the news. So, the public can expect that the rose-colored glasses version of the celebrityâ€™s life wonâ€™t be the only vantage point presented. Michael Jackson, to be sure, is no exception. But the question becomes: Where do you draw the line? You certainly donâ€™t manufacture stories, or give them an unfavorable slant, or emphasize certain unflattering aspects of the story so as to present a skewed view of things. This is exactly what various media personalities did. Guilt can be found in certain quarters of news organizations as well. Some of them are:Â
ABCâ€™s Good Morning America, CBSâ€™s Early Morning, NBCâ€™s Today Show, NBCâ€™s Weekend Today, CNNâ€™s American Morning, MSNBCâ€™s The Abramâ€™s Report, MSNBCâ€™s Scarborough Country, MSNBCâ€™s Hardball with Chris Matthews, FOX Newsâ€™ At Large With Geraldo, FOX Newsâ€™ Debra Norvell, CNNâ€™s Paula Zahn Now, CourtTVâ€™s Crier Live with Catherine Crier, Inside Edition, Celebrity Justice, Extra, Access Hollywood, and Entertainment Tonight; Los Angeles stations KTTV, KCAL, and KCOP; Foreign press: BBC, SkyTV, ITN (all British news organizations), Canadian, Australian, Chinese, and Japanese news organizations and other international media, as well as countless other media outlets such as Arabic- and Spanish-language ones; numerous radio shows, and countless magazine and newspaper articles.
We can now look for these same media to try and initiate a custody battle between the Jackson Family, Debbie Rowe, and Grace the Nanny. Clearly, the Jackson Family should get the children. This is what Michael essentially told me in a private conversation when he gave me certain related instructions.
Persons fans perceive as being unfairly critical of Michael are Gloria Allred, former Los Angeles Police Department detective Mark Furhman, Bill Oâ€™Reilly and the late retired White House spokesman and former Fox News commentator Tony Snow, former Jackson family friend Stacy Brown, and Michaelâ€™s former publicist Bob Jones. The particularly egregious offenders were Maureen Orth, Martin Bashir of ABC, and especially Jimmy Kimmelâ€”also of ABCâ€”who still made fun of Michael just hours after his death was announced.
The story of Michael Joseph Jackson can be summed up through a collage of certain ones of his song titles. Presented herewith is such a collage:
Fans: Michael didnâ€™t care if you were Black or White, or any other color, he loved you. Since thereâ€™s more happiness in giving than there is in receiving, he gave generously of his total being to his fans and others. Why? He would answer by saying to each one, itâ€™s because of The Way You Make Me Feel. And if any was sad or lonely, heâ€™d assure him or her that You Are Not Alone. Why not? Because Iâ€™ll Be Thereâ€”I Got To Be Thereâ€”to Rock with You. Thatâ€™s right. Heâ€™d want you to cheer up, to Enjoy Yourself and Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground). And whatever you do, Donâ€™t Stop Till You Get Enough. After all, itâ€™s easy as ABC.
Coreligionists: After being introduced to the teachings of Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses by husband Joseph, Katherine Jackson shuffled a young Michael and his sibling off to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses for weekly meetings. Eventually, Michael and two of his three sisters, Rebbie (the eldest of nine) and La Toya, would be baptized as Witnesses. But many of Michaelâ€™s coreligionists were not too keen on his being so involved in what was perceived to be worldly affairs. They didnâ€™t fully appreciate that he and his brothers were performing a job that their manager father had carved out for them.
The fact is, he was a Dancing Machine, and for him it was Human Nature. There was no way he could hide this fact In the Closet. Anticipating that heâ€™d really need spiritual help some day he asked Witness elders, Will You Be There when I need you? Other Witnesses felt that neither he, nor his mother, nor his father should be blamed. â€œBlame it on the Boogie if you have to place blame at all!â€ they exclaimed.Â Â
Charges and Allegations: Eventually unsavory allegations and mind-boggling Off The Wall charges were leveled against him. To persistent opportunists and unrelenting enemies he lamented that they Wanna Be Startinâ€™ Somethinâ€™. They not only accused him of being Dangerous, they said he was a Smooth Criminal that was badâ€”really, really Bad. And during the second trial they told him You Canâ€™t Win. Because the system treated him as if he was guilty until proven innocent, he was left in a State of Shock. When he finally realized after the second trial that his enemies would capitalize on his completely innocuous relationship with children, he sat out to take a closer look at the Man in the Mirror, asking him to change his ways. But to his loyal fans, he wanted them to Remember the Time when his life was free of all the melodrama and controversy. And even though some may have lost faith, he still said I Just Canâ€™t Stop Loving You, and, I Want You Back.
Media Bias: Michael pleaded with the media to stop the biased reporting. They didnâ€™t listen. And, providentially it seems, to Diane Dimond, the journalist who allegedly received inside information from the prosecution during the second trial in 2004, he prophesied that instead of being like Princess Diana, she would be Dirty Diana. The press continued with a vengeance. To the sponsors of the concerted effort to ruin his one-time sterling reputation; to the architects of comprehensive conspiratorial strategies designed to leave his life in shambles, he reluctantly admitted in his own way: â€œYou Rock My World.â€ No, he never claimed to be Unbreakable.
Reaction to Media: Michael wanted to Scream at the media, telling them to Leave Me Alone and Beat It. Indeed, it was pure Torture. And because he had to alter his innocent behavior with children, the whole affair led him to check into Heartbreak Hotel.
Coming Together: Still, Michael hoped that through his music he could on some level Heal the World. After all, to every citizen within earshot of his Earth Song he declared, â€œWe Are The World.â€Â
Farewell: Although he was pressured by the press, who helped leave his life in a mess; and though, immediately after his death, he went from â€œno goodâ€ to sainthood in a New York minute, Michael Jackson has been beckoned to Ease On Down The Road. Finally, though the Gloved One has performed his last Moonwalk, right out of our lives, there can be no debate that the life of Michael Joseph Jackson was, to be sure, a real Thriller.
[Note: See related article â€œWhere is Michael Jackson Now?â€ on page A6.