Tabloid junkies unite: we’re having a Michael Jackson field day

It’s that time of year again, when the days leading up to June 25 – the date of Michael Jackson’s anniversary – provide an excellent opportunity to drag up sordid stories about the King of Pop. What better way to recycle Jackson’s life than to reprint old tabloid fodder? With no anti-defamation law to protect the deceased, it’s easy to target the gullible.

Michael Jackson 'Stop filthy press'
Michael Jackson ‘Stop filthy press’ (photo: video still)

In their DNA 

No surprise though: it’s in their DNA. Tabloids such as Radar Online and the New York Post feed off sensational fiction like Dracula feeds on blood. They simply cannot help themselves. Thus, with Jackson’s anniversary around the corner, they are eagerly looking for click-bait and have dropped their latest cluster bomb: Jackson was a porn-collecting pervert.

Wait a minute, a pervert? The same pervert he was said to be in 1993 and 2003, when he was accused of child abuse? Yes sir. It’s the same old story, but packed in a shiny new wrapper to make readers believe that Jackson eagerly collected books and materials about child pornography and feasted his eyes on pictures of animal cruelty. Notice how neatly and conveniently these two horrors are tucked into a single sentence.

Radar Online

Yesterday, Radar Online posted an article called ‘Paedo Proof? Never-before-seen cop reports expose Michael Jackson’s sick secrets!’ Read it aloud and try not to laugh. Unfortunately, the only journalistic skill displayed in the article is the alliteration used to spice up the story: in his ‘sinister house of horrors’ Jackson was stockpiling ‘disgusting and downright shocking images’. That about sums up the content as well.

The article then proceeds with a list of materials found at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in 2003, when the house was raided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. Seventy police officers searched the ranch for two days, looking for incriminating evidence. All they were able to come up with was a self-composed list of a few dozen ‘explicit’ books and materials taken from Jackson’s offices and massive library.

Radar Online
Radar Online headlines on June 21, 2016 (photo: screenshot)

Grasping at straws

Out of the 10,000 books on the ranch, the ‘evidence’ gathered by the police consisted of books on art photography, a handful of vintage nudist magazines, and legal heterosexual adult material. No child pornography was found, nor any other material proving that Jackson was a predator. Grasping at straws, the prosecution introduced the list in the 2005 trial as evidence of Jackson’s distorted sexual preferences. It should come as no surprise that Jackson walked out of the courtroom a free man.

So what’s new about the tabloid article? Absolutely nothing. Obviously, with Jackson gone, any news that’s suitable for creating click-bait has to come out of the dusty catacombs of mummified Jackson fiction. Whether it’s rehashed or regurgitated is beside the point; it all comes down to a creative reworking of Jackson’s tragic life and inevitable downfall.

Old gossip treadmill

Apparently it doesn’t take much to revive the old gossip treadmill hinging on Jackson’s life. Without a blink of the eye, even news websites such as the Huffington Post copied and embellished the story. Why spend time doing independent research or checking your sources when you want to stay ahead in the media rat race? After all, Wacko Jacko sells, so you better get with the crowd.

Little do they know. Jackson’s ‘secret stash of filth’ has been researched by journalists and bloggers in the past ten years. Although Radar Online presented the list as a brand new discovery, it has been available to the public for over a decade. In fact, many books on the list can still be found on Amazon, a company that makes sure its online catalogue contains legal materials only.

The rehashing of Jackson tales is a type of journalism – if that word should be used at all – that’s beyond sad. Having zero quality, zero truth, and zero value, it doesn’t add anything to the public’s knowledge, except perhaps exposing the sorry state of affairs in news reporting. Here, one sound typifies it all: wah wah wah fail.

Michael Jackson 'Burn all tabloids'
Michael Jackson showing a protest banner ‘Burn all tabloids’ (photo: video still)

Defaming the deceased

Still, tabloid stories such as the ones created by Radar Online have a potential to damage Jackson’s slowly recovering posthumous image. Especially new generations – although often media savvy – run the risk of confusing Jackson’s facts with tabloid fiction. Jackson’s long and troublesome history with the media may not show up as clearly on their radar as it does for generations who grew up with those legendary tales of happiness and woe.

Much to Jackson’s disadvantage, libel and slander laws do not yet apply to the deceased. Individuals and media eager to publicly nullify the jury’s ‘not guilty’ verdict – a verdict reached after listening to evidence for months of end – can still do so without any personal consequences and regardless of the devastation caused to the deceased’s name, legacy, and relatives.

All the more reason to publicly address such issues when they occur. For no matter how persistent tabloids may be, those casting a critical eye on slanderous stories are starting to speak up, and do so with increasing force and impact. Tabloid junkies may have a field day, but Jackson proved his innocence a long time ago.

© Annemarie Latour


8 thoughts on “Tabloid junkies unite: we’re having a Michael Jackson field day”

  1. Thank you- Anne Marie — ithis type of salacious tabloid attack on Michael Jackson is expected by his world wide fanbase every year. We hold our breathes at the beginning of Michael’s week in Los Angeles and around the world as we pay tribute to him as one of the kindest human beings to ever walk the planet. One can only hope that one day these gossip rags will cease to tittilate the minds of those that, well, have no discriminating abilities regarding truth.

    While it is expected of the tabloids it has become a more and more common occurrence that the “mainstream” and “respectable” media uses them as a source to base their own articles. Huffington Post you mentioned but add to the list Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, BET, Billboard, Washingtion Times and a whole slew of other media outlets that immediately, without a single bit of independent research, copy/pasted verbatim the Radar Online falsehoods.

    Possession of “child pornography” is a Federal offense in the United States and finding in a residence or on an individual’s computer leads to immediate arrest, conviction and prison. Where was the rational mind of the media as they gloamed onto this fabricated Radar Online story ?

    Back in 2004, as Tom Mesereaus prepared for his defense of Michael Jackson the tabloid media did the EXACT same kind of “child pornography” story and he, with permission of the Judge sitting in the case and DA’s office, released a statement demanding that all be retracted as there was NEVER any found at Neverland.

    With a Judge and the DA office standing behind Tom Mesereau back in 2004 in this matter, how then, could Radar Online make such bold, outlandish and ridiculous claims and be believed by other media yesterday?

    If any of these materials had truly been found at Neverland, Michael Jackson would have been locked up years ago and the key thrown away – yet the story was repeated over and over – I watched in dismay as tweet after tweet in various languages across the world – media ran with this lie.

    Even after the Sheriff’s department in Santa Barbara told Vanity Fair that they had sent NO photographs to media – and that it appeared that the report was a mix of some of their findings from 2005 trial investigation and random internet garbage, media still did NOT correct or retract their copy.

    It’s simply a LIE, there is no way to whitewash it- Not a mistake, not a lapse in judgement, simply a LIE- A Lie to perpetuate the fable that Micahel Jackson was a sexual predator who preyed upon weak children,

    Rush Limbaugh said back in 1993, the DA convened TWO Grand Juries and could not present enough evidence bring a case against Michael Jackson, because they had NONE, but the mere accusation was enough for the media to run with it.

    And so here we are, still wringing our hands with a media running with this falsehood that Michael is guilty of a heinous crime against children. What makes it even more dastardly is that the welfare of children around the world has been Michael Jackson’s mission –

    This is the horrific kind of treatment Michael Jackson received during his lifetime of philanthropy, compassion and worldwide mission of Healing thru LOVE and he deserves so much better in his death.

    I am reminded of a great quote:

    “Nothing hurts a good soul and kind heart more than to live amongst people who can’t understand it” Ali ibni Abu Talib

    Such is the state of affairs with media- and it really shouldn’t surprise anyone – it’s been going on for a very long time.

    “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcom X

    When will the masses wake up?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really excellent Annemarie. While I don’t agree with even symbolically ‘burning’ books or magazines as Michael suggested (even though plenty deserve it) today our biggest enemy is the internet and the ‘copy and paste’ style of journalism that races around the world, from news source to news source, within an hour or two. Can’t burn that, but there has to come a time when it becomes a crime to post such deliberate, concocted lies. I despair of the media, I really do. I had some experience back in the 70’s-80’s of writing press releases for my local Greenpeace office, and I learned a bit about how to write an attention-grabbing headline. But in our case it had to be backed up with facts, else you were discrediting the organisation you represented. Sadly there seems to be no integrity checks on these sick stories. One has to wonder at the view their authors have of their fellow human beings. Obviously they do not (and some never did) think of Michael as a human being. They never even thought to mentally walk a mile in his shoes. Their editors only what web hits, lots of them. So what is if the story isn’t true? The long it goes on: claims and counter claims, the longer the story runs and the happier their advertisers will be.

    The insistence of some media to ignore Michael’s ‘not guilty’ verdict back in 2005 seems to me to have become the template for the way the media refer to his passing. Not only do they get the nature of the medication wrong, or that Michael had no opioids in his system, and was deemed healthy for his age by the coroner – the fact that Conrad Murray is interviewed as an ‘expert’ by media when another celebrity dies from a drug-related death indicates to me that the media are convinced Michael engineered his own passing and the doctor was just doing what he was asked to do. They seem to see Murray as the ‘fall guy’ for an addict. Never mind that Michael always believed he was safe because his doctor would be there to look after him. Never mind the fact that Murray’s phone records revealed the amount of time he abandoned his sedated patient to make calls. Never mind a lot of things… The media obviously don’t put him in the category of someone convicted of (even accidental) homicide. They seem intent on believing Murray’s story (forgetting he lied to the paramedics about what medication he had administered Michael). The fact they can consider Murray even credible tells us a lot about their comprehension of real facts, court findings, and jury verdicts.

    And so the tabloids continue – the defamation of an innocent man, the pain inflicted without thought on his loved ones and his fans all over the world, the damage to his legacy. There has to be an end to it. There must come a time when right-minded citizens of the US and other nations say ‘enough is enough’. It’s not as though there isn’t enough news (mostly bad) for the media to report on. They should get on with the job of investigating and reporting the facts free of bias. (I know, I know; may as well wish for the moon.)

    Liked by 2 people

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