On June 25, 2009, the final chapter in one of the most controversial histories of present times ended: Michael Jackson died from an overdose of the anesthetic Propofol, as his autopsy would later reveal. Two years after the shocking but, for many fans who’ve always believed in his innocence, perhaps not that unexpected, event, we have begun to clear the name of the King of Pop, as the untold truth comes out to light.
Late last week, Katherine Jackson, Michael’s mother, spoke to Matt Lauer about what it was like to stand so close in court to the man she believes is responsible for her son’s death, Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael’s personal physician who was with him on the tragic day.
She also said that the biggest misconception about Michael was that he was a molester.
This, in turn, led to more stories (but not nearly enough, given how much weight they bring to a case Michael himself had been making since 1993, when he was first accused of improper behavior with a minor) popping up online, uncovering documents dating back to the molestation trials which, in fact, confirmed what the general public and the media would never acknowledge: Michael Jackson was innocent.
Michael Jackson. Best selling artist of all times. The King of Pop. The Gloved One. Jacko. Wacko Jacko. Freak. Pedophile. Monster.
We are often told true talent always shines through and genius never goes by unnoticed, which is why we should learn to make the difference between the artist and the person s/he is in real life.
Clearly, that never applied to Michael Jackson, arguably the most talented pop artist ever to come out, and undeniably the most popular and successful: for nearly two decades, his last years of life, the media and the public deliberately chose to ignore the truth because scandal was a much more profitable business than actual fact.
We killed Michael Jackson.
Maybe it wasn’t you or me or the guy who lives next door, with who we cross paths occasionally when we come out to get the paper. Maybe it wasn’t X tabloid or Y celebrity magazine, or even Z journalist. But we did it together and we did it slowly and painfully, deliberately, by ignoring facts and focusing on the sensationalism of Michael’s life.
In 1993, when his personal life had already become tabloid fodder and not a day went by without at least one Jackson story, Michael Jackson was accused of molesting a child. 13-year-old Jordan Chandler and his father, Dr. Evan Chandler, went public with the story, prompting authorities to launch an investigation into the claims.
In December that same year, Neverland Ranch is raided by police: documents and other items are removed from the premises, and Michael is submitted to a 23-minute strip search that leaves him feeling so humiliated he will never recover from it.
Because of inconclusive evidence, the jury is disbanded and Michael is never prosecuted.
At his lawyers’ recommendations, Michael settles with the Chandlers outside of court even though, as Katherine said just recently, he didn’t want to because he knew that would make him appear guilty.
In May 2002, Michael decides to do something he’d never done before: very shy and fiercely protective of his personal life (not that anyone can blame him, though), he agrees to allow BBC journalist Martin Bashir and his cameras into his life for the chance to tell the world his story, unbiased, unedited and brutally honest.
Bashir had previously achieved international acclaim after a very revealing and groundbreaking interview with Princess Diana – it was Di who convinced Michael to do this because she trusted Bashir, which would explain why the singer never saw what happened next coming.
“Living with Michael Jackson” aired in the UK in March 2003, 10 years after the first molestation allegation was made. One particular scene shows Michael holding hands with Gavin Arvizo (13), as Gavin leans his head on the singer’s shoulder, and they talk about their sleeping arrangements for when the boy spends the night in Michael’s bedroom.
In the footage that the public saw at the time (heavily edited), there was no doubting Bashir’s intentions, as he repeatedly tells Michael it’s not normal for a 44-year-old to sleep in the same bed with other people’s children, asking him if he at least understood why people may see something wrong with it.
Innuendoes are, at times, more efficient than the strongest poison.
Unaware of what is being implied, Michael smiles throughout the whole “interrogatory,” saying there’s nothing wrong with it, that children need “touching” and “hugging,” and that love can heal the world - while stressing he and Gavin only shared the same room, but not the bed.
The public was shocked by what it saw: the apparent admission of a guilty man who, most importantly, laughed in their worried faces while admitting he did, indeed, sleep with children in the same bed.
Authorities acted accordingly, with Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon out to get the public their guilty man: Michael was indicted for four counts of molesting a minor, four counts of intoxicating a minor, one count of abduction, and one count of conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive at Neverland.
On July 13, 2005, a jury finds Michael not guilty on all charges.
Also fact: Throughout the entire trial, the media deliberately reports only on the sensational claims made in court, ignoring testimonies and evidence that prove said claims are bogus, in what Charles Thomson of The Huffington Post aptly names “the most shameful episode in journalistic history.”
What We Were Told
It’s easy to dismiss the media plot to present the Michael Jackson trial in a skewed light as just another conspiracy theory because, you know it, that’s one of the appeals of a good conspiracy theory: to have it dismissed.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying that there was an intentional attempt at covering only the salacious and revolting aspects of it, especially since most of the media had already settled for a guilty verdict even before the jury was presented with the case.
The fact that Michael denied all charges counted very little. The fact that most testimonies proved false and that countless witnesses for the prosecution either ended up testifying for the defense or were found guilty of perjury counted even less.
While witnesses took the stand in court to speak in Michael’s defense, the media chose to have the public looking at something else: his court outfit, did he wear a wig or was that his real hair, didn’t he appear whiter than before – that must confirm he’s bleaching his skin, would he ever make music again, how does he look at himself in the mirror!?
In their crazed dash for ratings, the media forgot that its duty was to report objectively. Of course, we’re not talking about tabloids here, but about representatives of the media that boast of their unbiased coverage of all events: CNN, BBC, ABC, THR, and so on and so forth.
With it, the public forgot that once, this was a man who had brought so much joy and hope into their lives with his music, his dancing, his charity work, his honesty – and gladly took part in his lynching.
What We Did
By the time the jury returned with the unanimous verdict that Michael Jackson was not guilty on all charges brought against him, it didn’t even matter anymore: we had already made up our mind.
For the remainder of his life, Michael Jackson was branded a child molester even though he’d been through hell and back to prove that he was the exact opposite of that. For the media and the public opinion, the mere fact that he’d been found not guilty was proof of just how good he was – at hiding his true nature, that of a monster.
“A poll conducted by Gallup in the hours after the verdict showed that 54% of White Americans and 48% of the overall population disagreed with the jury’s decision of ‘not guilty.’ The poll also found that 62% of people felt Jackson’s celebrity status was instrumental in the verdicts,” Charles Thomson writes in the aforementioned piece.
“34% said they were ‘saddened’ by the verdict and 24% said they were ‘outraged.’ In a Fox News poll 37% of voters said the verdict was ‘wrong’ while an additional 25% said ‘celebrities buy justice.’ A poll by People Weekly found that a staggering 88% of readers disagreed with the jury’s decision,” he further informs.
That Michael Jackson had been found not guilty was, most ironically of all, proof that he was, because that was the most profitable story to sell. Even more, it was proof that he could get away with it.
With this, we ended Michael Jackson’s career, broke his spirit and tainted his image for eternity. And, yes, we killed him.
Today, so many years after all of the above, documents about what really happened are starting to make the rounds online. Fans – the only ones who have never doubted Michael’s innocence – are lamenting that it’s a little too late to make any difference, but that’s not entirely true: Michael’s children can still grow up knowing that the entire world does not think their father a monster.
And there’s still hope that the truth will eventually prevail.