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 Jackson’s long time friend and makeup artist. On August 18 2004, Court TV’s Crier Live ran a video report from tabloid reporter Diane Dimond in which Dimond claimed the Attorney General of California’s investigators received information from “informants” that Faye falsified the huge bruise on Jackson’s 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 Jackson’s loyal, long-time make-up artist.

She’s seen here in a recent Fox special. According to confidential sources close to the investigation, informants told the AG’s office it was Faye who had actually applied makeup to create the bruise seen here on Jackson’s arm. And that it was all smoke and mirrors.
(see video)

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 Sheriff’s Dept, not to mention lying to police investigators on Faye’s part. They didn’t 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 couldn’t find and didn’t talk to Faye, but they were also wrong in claiming that Faye engaged in illegal activities surrounding Jackson’s bruises. This was pointed out in the scolding letter to Court TV from Faye’s 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 TV’s 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 AG’s office it was Faye who actually applied makeup to create the bruise seen here on Jackson’s 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 Jackson’s 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 Jackson’s arms. Faye’s attorneys continue to rip into Court TV:

Karen Faye had nothing to do with applying makeup to Michael Jackson’s forearm, and to her knowledge, no one did so. In addition, your company’s “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 Sheriff’s Department.

Because of these defamatory lies, Faye has suffered as blow to her reputation. Her lawyers say, in their letter to Court TV:

Your company’s 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 can’t 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. It’s quite clear that Faye was talked to by the AG investigators, so Dimond’s “sources” were wrong about that. It is also clear that none of the “makeup” allegations were even addressed in the AG’s letter, which could lead one to believe that Dimond’s “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. Faye’s 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

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