Controversy Brewing Over False Statements from Dimond, Court TV MJEOL Bullet #194 A controversy is brewing between Diane Dimond of Court TV and Karen Faye, Michael Jacksons long time friend and makeup artist. On August 18 2004, Court TVs Crier Live ran a video report from tabloid reporter Diane Dimond in which Dimond claimed the Attorney General of Californias investigators received information from informants that Faye falsified the huge bruise on Jacksons arm. Not only were these defamatory statements false, but they were statements which paint Faye as a criminal.
This is what was said by Dimond during the Aug 17 report:
DIANE DIMOND : Court TV has learned, exclusively, much time was spent trying to find and question this woman: Karen Faye, Michael Jacksons loyal, long-time make-up artist.
Shes seen here in a recent Fox special. According to confidential sources close to the investigation, informants told the AGs office it was Faye who had actually applied makeup to create the bruise seen here on Jacksons arm. And that it was all smoke and mirrors.
Without providing the names of any of these informants or the name of the source(s) who exclusively told Court TV that the AG was searching for Faye, Dimond rather recklessly left a serious allegation of illegal activity hang out there for the public. The situation escalated to a point where some private observers of the case used these alleged informants and their unfounded allegation–spread by Dimond–to claim a conspiracy to defame and defraud the Santa Barbara Sheriffs Dept, not to mention lying to police investigators on Fayes part. They didnt know at the time that what Dimond was reporting was inaccurate. Today (September 10, 2004), Karen Faye released a statement and a letter sent from her attorneys to Court TV demanding a retraction of the slanderous statements broadcast by Court TV. In her public statement, Faye says:
I am a working mom, trying to make ends meet, like any other private citizen. I have been publicly accused of criminal activity: providing false information to law enforcement officers. (see Statement from Karen Faye Sept 10 2004)
And, yes, these are incredibly serious allegations. Not only were Dimond and her confidential, unnamed sources wrong when they claim the Attorney General couldnt find and didnt talk to Faye, but they were also wrong in claiming that Faye engaged in illegal activities surrounding Jacksons bruises. This was pointed out in the scolding letter to Court TV from Fayes attorneys:
Pursuant to California Civil Code Section 48a, on behalf of my client, Karen Faye, I hereby formally demand that your company, Courtroom Television Network LLC (Court TV), retract and correct the statements described below, made during Court TVs broadcasts of Catherine Crier Live on August 16, 2004 and August 17, 2004, by Catherine Crier and Diane Dimond. The above-referenced statement According to confidential sources close to the investigation, informants told the AGs office it was Faye who actually applied makeup to create the bruise seen here on Jacksons arm , is not true, and demand is hereby made that your company correct the broadcast of that statement. (see Karen Faye Demands Apology from Court TV)
As Faye herself has already said, she had absolutely nothing to do with applying anything to Jacksons arm. As a matter of fact, observers say that the makeup rumor is totally ridiculous and a desperate attempt to explain away the matching bruises on both of Jacksons arms. Fayes attorneys continue to rip into Court TV:
Karen Faye had nothing to do with applying makeup to Michael Jacksons forearm, and to her knowledge, no one did so. In addition, your companys smoke and mirrors comment has now apparently falsely and maliciously created the impression in the minds of your viewers, and in minds of the public generally, that Karen Faye participated in some sort of scheme to create a false impression that Mr. Jackson had been subjected to unreasonable force by members of the Santa Barbara Sheriffs Department.
Because of these defamatory lies, Faye has suffered as blow to her reputation. Her lawyers say, in their letter to Court TV:
Your companys broadcasts, above-referenced, have caused Karen Faye to suffer great injury to her reputation, both personally and professionally, great injury to her business and profession, and great mental and emotional pain, distress and anguish. We believe that minimally, that your company acted with a reckless disregard for the truth, and with actual malice toward Karen Faye.
The statements have yet to be corrected by Court TV as of this writing. Faye is a private citizen. One cant get away with citing the first amendment and the California shield law as protection from damaging her reputation after accusing her of engaging in illegal acts. What are the ramifications of this demand for a retraction? Some observers say that this could affect the coverage of the Jackson case. At the very least, it could cause certain reporters to stop speculating wildly and be more cautious when blindly reporting things with no confirmation. Its quite clear that Faye was talked to by the AG investigators, so Dimonds sources were wrong about that. It is also clear that none of the makeup allegations were even addressed in the AGs letter, which could lead one to believe that Dimonds sources made that up as well. Will Dimond be removed from covering the Jackson case? Who knows. However, some have already admitted that they were puzzled as to why Dimond has been allowed sole rights and free reign in covering the Jackson pre-trial hearings. She is not a judge (or former judge). She is not an attorney (former prosecutor or defense attorney). She is not a legal expert either, obviously. Thus, the question is while other cases are being covered heavily by former prosecutors, defense attorneys, law professors, legal analysts, and even judges, why has Court TV allowed Dimond to be their go to person concerning the Jackson case? Time will tell. Fayes statement, however, provides more insight as to the larger picture:
The First Amendment was written to ensure the rights of the media to speak freely. It was also written to protect people like you and me. I do not think it was ever meant to be used a shield to protect disingenuous members of the media from accepting the responsibility that comes along with every freedom we have as Americans. We must try to find some common ground between the rights of individuals and the rights of the media. We cannot continue to just stand by and allow the monopolizing media to distort the truth so they can manipulate and force their personal agenda upon us.
Stay tuned. -MJEOL