Irresponsible Journalism Permeates News Coverage – Bullet #90

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Irresponsible Journalism Permeates News Coverage – MJEOL Bullet #90

Richard Matsuura has blasted Vanity Fair in a recent interview. Matsuura, who is 18 now, was cited in the Vanity Fair article as allegedly one of the kids to which Jackson gave wine in soda cans. Of course, this was completely false and Matsuura does not mince words about it.

Maureen Orth, the author of the defamatory article, says she stands by her source for the erroneous information. NBC reporter Mike Taibbi–who contacted Orth to get her response to Matsuura’s comments–says Orth admits she never actually talked to either Matsuura or his father before writing the article.


According to Taibbi, VF issued a statement Feb 16 saying:

Ms Orth acknowledges that she was never able to actually speak with Richard Matsuura, but that she stands by her source for the story and, in fact, the magazine this afternoon…issued a statement saying that since hearing Richard Matsuura’s account of what transpired in Japan in 1998, Vanity Fair has contacted it’s on the record source for the story, former Jackson chief financial officer, Myung Ho Lee and Lee says ‘I have read the Vanity Fair article and I stand by everything I said in the article.’ “ (see Abrams Report Feb 16 Transcript)

Too bad for Orth that she’s chosen to stand by her sources. Ryusaki Matsuura, Richard’s father who was also there, confirmed his son’s story. The massive irresponsibility with which Orth wrote the article, and her nonchalant reply to hearing the real story from Matsuura, is simply ridiculous. The bigger question, however, is if media outlets will be wary with the information coming from “sources”.

Even some “sources” have had ties which appear to be legit, but have offered no proof of any of their allegations. Upon further digging, their own agendas have often been laid bare. When news of the VF article first broke, Orth went on a blitzkrieg of appearances talking about the sordid and unfounded details of what she says happened in Jackson’s life.

Media outlets were eating up the rumors and asking panels of pundits, analysts, and correspondents for their take on the article. Some used the unfounded information as “proof” of Jackson’s “guilt”, even going so far as to claim Orth did “extensive” research and is an “expert” on the Jackson case.

Well, given new details, it’s clear she neither did “extensive” research, nor is an “expert” in any form on anything related to Jackson. She didn’t talk to Matsuura or his father before using him in the article. She also didn’t talk to anyone from Jackson’s team, nor did she speak to any one of Jackson’s family members or spokespeople. Orth is not the only reporter whose credibility has been called into question recently regarding their Jackson coverage.

Sharon Waxman (New York Times) wrote articles in which “sources” speculate on Jackson’s finances, and an article claiming CBS “paid” for the 60 Minutes interview. There were details in all articles that were either wholly inaccurate, unfounded, or filled with half-truths. In the CBS accusatory piece, Waxman even attributes a quote to Ed Bradley, which really drew Bradley’s ire. In an interview with Larry King very recently, Bradley says Waxman never asked him for his side of the story before she wrote the article (sound familiar?):

The quote was put in my mouth in the New York Times story saying I said, “don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.” Who said I said that? The person they attributed that quote to was described as a disgruntled former Jackson associate, unnamed, who felt that he was owed money. Now, that’s not a very credible source. What bothered me was that they never contacted me directly to say, ‘did you say that?’” (see Bradley’s shocking revelations)

Waxman has even angered another reporter who first reported incredible inaccuracies about Jackson’s finances. He says she lifted information from his articles. That reporter, Roger Friedman (Fox) has himself been too eager to report information that later turns out to be completely false as well. Yeah, I know it’s asinine for him to be angry at someone else for stealing his inaccuracies, but he has a legitimate beef even though the facts are incorrect.

In a Feb 12 2004 article, Friedman writes:

“The New York Times’ Sharon Waxman has done it again. For the third time in a month, she has lifted information from this column and reworked it under her byline for the Times. Today Waxman published a story about Michael Jackson ‘s finances, citing a $70 million loan payment that had to be made by Feb. 17. Otherwise, Waxman asserts, Jackson faces bankruptcy. This reporter has already filed a complaint with the New York Times’ new public editor, Daniel Okrent, and we are awaiting word from the paper about a possible correction.” (see NYTimes Steals from Us Again, says Friedman).

There has been no word whether or not the Times has responded to Friedman’s complaint. Someone should complain about him, too, because he has been deadly inaccurate about a number of things.

Just today (Feb 17) his column claims that Jackson has somehow been “saved” from financial ruin as a way to cover his ass for incorrectly reporting–for at least the last two years–that Jackson is close to bankruptcy and about to sell the Beatles catalog. In the article Friedman says:

“But now I’m told that a second proposal by Jackson’s father, Joseph, with help from a brother, Randy, nearly derailed the Koppelman/Malnik plan. A couple of weeks ago, Randy Jackson, according to sources, announced to Malnik that he’d been in touch with a Las Vegas businessman and entertainer named Tony Brown. In turn, Randy Jackson claimed, Brown had managed to gain the confidence of an investment bank, which offered to undertake the entire Bank of America loan including the “put.” Michael would be free of his commitment there, and to Malnik and Koppelman as well. Joseph Jackson endorsed the deal, and consequently became allied with Michael’s two previous managers, German Dieter Wiesner and Canadian Ronald Konitzer.” (see BS: Jackson “saved”, says Friedman)

According to our sources, not only would Joe and Randy Jackson not be allowed to broker deals on Michael’s behalf with anyone, but they would not even be privy to such financial information on which to seek “help” for Jackson.

Further, Randy Jackson, who is very close to Michael, has not and would not ever engage in such a thing. Thus, facing the possibility of being publicly shamed if, say, Jackson makes another huge step to expand his empire, Friedman has provided an “out” for himself; after two years of whining about how little money Jackson has in his coffers.

Senior financial advisor, Charles Koppelman, has repeatedly denied the “money woes” articles, which have never panned out. Koppelman recently spoke to Tim Molloy (Associated Press) about the stories.

Molloy says Koppelman told him “no payment was due in that amount [$70 million] to Bank of America or anyone else,” (see Manager Denies Jackson Has Money Troubles). This is not the first time Koppelman has denied such reports. Earlier this year, he appeared on the Today Show to squash the rumors as well:

Matt Lauer: So, he made a $70M payment? Charles Koppleman: No, no! There was no $70M payment due. He… Lauer: Does he have a $350 M loan with Bank of America? Koppleman: Absolutely not. (hear audio of this conversation in MJEOL Downloads section under MSNBC)

Rita Cosby, also from Fox, made headlines when she actually “confirmed”–on the day charges were filed against him–that Jackson had converted to Muslim and had joined the Nation of Islam (NOI). This was categorically false of course.

Now her “sources” are telling her, for whatever reason, that Randy Jackson is the one who brought in the Nation of Islam. For the record, Randy Jackson has absolutely no ties to the NOI, he is not a member of the NOI, and did not “bring in” the NOI. Cosby’s “sources” have been working her with false report after false report regarding everything from the NOI’s role in Jackson’s life, to Jackson’s finances.

Her credibility is shot to hell on the Jackson story, yet she continues to report information which later turns out not to be true. The articles and information from Orth, Waxman, Friedman and Cosby are only a small portion of the number of inaccurate reports that have received massive coverage by other news organizations. The only station devoting similar time to the followup story from Richard Matsuura, for example, was NBC/MSNBC.

What is more disturbing is the complete lack of care for correcting inaccurate stories coupled with the total stubbornness of each reporter to admit when their “trusted sources” are wrong. Friedman probably won’t change and has only been as good as his latest “source”; very volatile. There will be no admission of wrongdoing from Waxman unless or until she’s forced to resign in Jayson Blair-like infamy.

Cosby will more than likely continue her Nation of Islam rampage. At this point, it really doesn’t matter because her Jackson-credibility is non-existent. And at the very least, Orth and Vanity Fair should issue a public apology to Richard Matsuura and his family. But let’s not hold our collective breath.


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