CBS, Jackson Camp Fighting Mad over Inaccurate NYTimes Stories

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Lost in Neverland by Joe Hagan and Sridhar Pappu …[b]CBS executives accuse The New York Times of shoddy reporting.[/b] And in recent days, back channels running between The Times’ West 43rd Street newsroom and CBS’s West 57th Street headquarters have carried a heated exchange—including private phone calls between the editors of The Times and CBS News executives—that is only escalating. After days of wrestling in the Michael Jackson tabloid compost pile, the two sides remain defiant… Don Hewitt, the executive producer of 60 Minutes, told The Observer that CBS chief Leslie Moonves had called him personally to tell him that The Times’ claims were without merit. [b]”He said no money changed hands,” said Mr. Hewitt. “No money was paid to the Michael Jackson people to appear on 60 Minutes.” Did Mr. Hewitt believe Mr. Moonves? “Yes, I believe him,” he said. “I have no reason to believe that that isn’t the exact truth. I don’t believe he would have told me if it wasn’t true.”[/b] Mr. Hewitt was therefore adamant that the interview was a perfectly legitimate journalistic enterprise, unburdened by secret deals made by the CBS leadership or its entertainment division to drive up ratings. “All I know is that the interview fell in my lap with no strings attached,” he said. “I made no concessions and there were no strings attached, and I’m very pleased with the job Ed Bradley did on this story.” Armed with that conviction, Mr. Hewitt blasted The Times in a letter published in part in USA Today on Tuesday, Jan. 6, assailing Ms. Waxman’s use of an unnamed source. [b]”Because we at 60 Minutes do not allow people with axes to grind to make wild, unsubstantiated accusations,” Mr. Hewitt wrote, “we assumed all news organizations worth their salt adhered to the same standards.”[/b] Aside from his official statement calling the Times story “categorically false,” CBS Entertainment executives involved in the Jackson special have also publicly denied the facts in the article… In fact not everyone at 60 Minutes is so reluctant to give their side of the story. Michael Radutzky, the producer of the Michael Jackson segment, detailed in an interview what happened at the Jackson estate in February of 2003. He contradicted the claim by an unnamed source in Ms. Waxman’s story that Mr. Jackson demanded money from Mr. Bradley in order for the interview to proceed, and that Mr. Bradley tried to assuage the entertainer by promising that the money would be forthcoming. [b]”Ed Bradley never, ever said anything to anyone suggesting, implying or stating outright that he would take care of Michael Jackson or pay any money for an interview,” he said. “Categorically untrue. Did not happen.” “I was there, that’s why I know, in the room,” he added. He said Mr. Bradley and the crew arrived at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, [u]Feb. 8[/u], to set up their equipment, and were met by their contact, Mr. Jackson’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, who was and continues to be Mr. Radutzky’s central source with the Jackson camp. Mr. Bradley had only one conversation with Mr. Jackson, said Mr. Radutzky, and it was early in the day, before Mr. Jackson would eventually leave them hanging around for 10 hours without an interview. “Michael Jackson briefly came out and said hello and welcomed us to his house,” he said. “He went into a room and spoke very briefly with Ed and Ed told him that he would treat him fairly. And Michael Jackson started talking about a spider bite he had and Ed Bradley said he had had a spider bite, too. That was the extent of the conversation.” Mr. Jackson then bowed and left to go put on makeup, said Mr. Radutzky, and didn’t return.[/b] The CBS contingent included CBS Entertainment division executive Jack Sussman, who had drafted the original deal between Mr. Jackson and CBS for the one-hour documentary special. Mr. Sussman and the CBS News staffers waited all day for Mr. Jackson to return. One report said that Mr. Jackson received a phone call from Marlon Brando advising him against the interview, which is why it was eventually called off…. :4pinned [url=]Read FULL Story >>[/url]

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