In Wake of Trial, Mostly Shallow & Insulting Reports from Media – MB #276

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In Wake of Trial, Mostly Shallow & Insulting Reports from Media — MB #276 JUNE 22 2005 — In the wake of Michael Jackson being cleared by a mostly white, conservative Santa Maria jury on 10 felony counts, there have been mostly fatuous reports about how his celebrity “got him off” and about how “stupid” the jurors were. Latched onto that lazy bandwagon are the arrogant talking heads pretending to know what they are talking about; trying to retry Jackson based on his possession of legal pornography, legal alcohol and legal books, all in an effort to make themselves feel better. Just how do you derive an illegal activity based on legal activities? Well, you simply ignore the facts, pretend you know what you’re talking about, and wail incessantly, all while stabbing your finger into the air on camera like a hysterical banshee. Or you can get your information from tabloid reporter Diane Dimond; whichever is simpler. The media certainly got their faces cracked wide open with this acquittal. And after the trial, they seemed to have moved on because the outcome wasn’t as financially advantageous as they were hoping. The media in general have been woefully inadequate at asking tough, in-depth questions about the prosecution (persecution) of the acquitted Jackson. They have thus far refused to ask just why in hell this “case” got this far in the first place, especially with so many things wrong concerning the various and contradictory stories the accusing family told. This was far from a “case” prosecutors had no choice but to bring. It proceeded 1.) because of who Jackson is and 2.) because this family of perjurers told prosecutors exactly what they wanted to hear. Sources have revealed that a mountain of publicly obtained information was presented to various media outlets about the past history of this Santa Barbara DA’s office and Sheriff’s Dept. But none of this info has made its way to the public because the media, for their own various reasons, chose to sit on it instead. Maybe they didn’t want to do Jackson any favors? Maybe they didn’t want to jeopardize what they thought would be their cash-cow with a hoped-for ‘guilty’ verdict? Maybe they really are following their collective checkbooks instead of their ethical obligation to report pertinent information? Whatever the reason, it’s a damn disgrace. A disgrace made all the more disgusting after recent comments from the head of the allegedly “most trusted name in news”: CNN. Jonathan Klein made a startling remark in a Newsweek article posted on MSNBC; the article complete with the insulting and hackneyed ‘Jacko’ moniker. According to that article, “In Jacko’s Wake…”:

He was concerned that their evening coverage of the not-guilty verdict was destined to be stale. “We have a less interesting story now,” Klein told his deputies. “What is there original to say about Michael Jackson at this point?” (see Insulting Comments from CNN’s Jonathan Klien (June 27th issue) – Newsweek / MSNBC)

Can he really be this arrogant? This dense? Apparently so. What he probably really wanted to say is that the ‘fall of wacko jacko’ multimillion dollar industry was dealt a crippling blow with these 14 not guilty verdicts — 10 felony and 4 misdemeanor charges. What’s described as “less interesting” to Klein is really the laziness of sensationalistic coverage of a real news event. This trial was, according to Neal Gabler (fox), covered by the media as if it were an entertainment story instead of a real news story. It’s too much work for some of these lazy-ass editors, producers and reporters to dissect this “case” using the actual trial transcripts. Too much work to spend time on getting it right. Ironically, an entertainment network, E!, covered this trial like it was a real news story, taking their information directly from the trial transcripts in coverage fronted by James Curtis. This, while the allegedly “real news” networks covered the trial like an entertainment story; complete with a full cast of ex-friends, ex-wanna-be-friends, people who were once sued by Jackson (Dimond), hack private investigators trying to raise their profile, etc. etc. etc. For example, if I had to see one more inane Schumley Boteach appearance, I would have literally thrown my TV out of the window. Somehow that would have been much more of a statement than simply changing the channel. Klein opines “What is there original to say about Michael Jackson at this point?” Well he certainly isn’t going to find an original story by sitting on his ass. Or by allowing his underling reporters and hosts to look the other way. How about for a minute let’s all pretend that Jackson’s a human being and RESEARCH the history of this DA’s office. Had this been anyone else – a media darling, perhaps — there would have been at least 3 exposés by now into the various aspects of the power structure and law enforcement of Santa Barbara county. Since Klein’s at a loss, here are a few examples. How about a report concerning the percentage of molestation cases tried in the country in comparison to how many Tom Sneddon himself has prosecuted? Add to that, information about how Sneddon refused (last time we checked) to prosecute David Bruce Danielson — formerly with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept — for child molestation (see Commentary: All the little voices deserve equal attention – Santa Maria Times). __Too many pink elephants to ignore__ How about an original story concerning how this DA’s office is being/has been sued by attorney Gary Dunlap for $10 million in federal court for prosecutorial misconduct? Dunlap, too, was acquitted on all felony charges brought against him by Sneddon’s office. He, like Jackson, got too big for his britches and became a political target for what some have said is a power-hungry DA’s office. Dunlap’s lawsuit was upheld to go forward by a U.S. District Court judge in May 2004. According to him, he was an attorney for many people who couldn’t afford to defend themselves against trumped up/outright false allegations from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s dept. He won a large percentage of his cases and, as a result, became a target. As with Jackson, they appeared to have lain in wait for someone to make some kind of complaint of some sort against Dunlap. They even illegally bugged a courtroom proceeding, according to Dunlap. In a case Dunlap was trying before a judge, they attempted to get that judge to change her ruling in a key decision. She refused to do so, which is one of the things that made her become a target as well. And who is that judge? Judge Diana Hall. Yep, THAT Judge Diana Hall. Hall is currently in the middle of her own battle now with this very same DA’s office. So much so that her attorneys had to file a motion to get Sneddon’s office kicked-off the prosecution of her case. The prosecution of Hall will apparently be handled by the Attorney General now. She had also been assigned to shadow a judge you may be familiar with: Judge Melville. Small world, ain’t it? Someone probably wanted to keep an eye on her. Last time we checked from media reports, before these recent charges magically appeared against her, she was scheduled to testify in Dunlap’s favor in that $10 Million prosecutorial misconduct lawsuit against Sneddon and his minions. Dunlap’s attorneys even called on federal, state, and county officials to launch an investigation for prosecutorial misconduct into the DA’s office. Read more about this in the Gary Dunlap thread, which is complete with the following articles:

* Dunlap sues over arrest Dec 5 2003 * Lawyers Press for investigation of DA, Staff May 28 2004 * U.S. District Court Judge Upholds Suit Against DA, County May 10 2004 * New Allegations Against Prosecutor of Michael Jackson April 30 2004 (see Gary Dunlap Articles – Starting Dec 5 2003)

Dunlap had a lot of interesting things to say both about the sheriff’s department and the DA’s office. In a radio interview done in Jan 2004, he revealed some stunning information about both law enforcement agencies (see Dunlap interview) . Dunlap is far from the only one who has alleged prosecutorial misconduct and false charges. Check out Efren Cruz and his attorney. Cruz was falsely convicted of murder only later to find out certain law enforcement authorities purposely sat on exonerating evidence which cleared him. His lawyer, Philip Dunn, filed an $11 million lawsuit in 2001 for malicious prosecution (see DA has locked horns with defense lawyers in past. And there are a gaggle of others who have had run-ins with both the DA’s office and the sheriff’s department, including William Wagener, former City Attorney Art Montandon, David Allen Richardson, George Beeghly, Dennis Ryan, April and Irene Cummings, Angela Sanders and Julie Glass along with Cruz, Dunlap and Hall. Not to mention a number of people whose stories haven’t made it to the media. __Defense’s 995 motion is a good place to start, too__ Has the thought ever crossed Klein’s mind that – regardless of how he feels about Jackson – Jackson could have been in the crosshairs of a prosecutor who may have a pattern and practice of his own with regards to railroading people in criminal cases? If Klein wants to bring it back to the Jackson case, why not start with the defense’s 127 page court document, the “995 motion”, detailing the misconduct this DA’s office engaged in (see Defense’s 995 Motion)? Klein can start with the jovial press conference in Nov 2003, continue through Sneddon invading the defense camp by raiding the office of Brad Miller, and go straight up to the misrepresentations he made to the judge about Mac Culkin, Wade Robson and Brett Barnes in an effort to get his failed 1108 nonsense admitted in this trial. Or he could take it in the other direction and talk about the mini-industry of pundits and hack reporters which sprang up as a result of this trial. Some of these pundits where assigned to report about this trial while at the same time shopping for book deals. Or he could talk about the convergence of big media and government. It was a convergence so obvious that I don’t think he’d touch it. But if he did, he could start with tabloid reporter Diane Dimond, the DA’s favorite press reporter. She is the one who was leaked information possibly weeks ahead of time that Jackson’s ranch would be raided in Nov 2003. This gave her time to secure funds and an ill-fitting title from the head of Court TV. As a matter of fact, Court TV in general became a tool for the prosecution in the majority of their trial coverage say a number of observers who regularly tuned in. They ticked-off a number of people, not just fans of Jackson who had been asking for equal coverage. Why not do a post mortem about the news coverage that isn’t filled with excuses as to why Jackson was vilified before and during the trial? I would guess Klein is afraid that the coverage of his own underlings would come into question as well. How about a story on the blatantly disrespectful way in which some network heads were too busy chasing the dollars generated from Jackson’s pain to worry about treating him like a human being? Woops! He’d have to include himself and his flippant insults in a report about that. What happened with the not guilty verdicts is that Jackson transformed from an inanimate object – a slave whose image was pimped out for the highest ratings and advertising dollars. Needless to say, Matt Drudge didn’t have too many kind words for Klein’s remarks on his June 19 2005 radio show. After he quoted Klein’s statement, even Drudge offered Klein some suggestions:

DRUDGE: …How about he was railroaded by the prosecutor? How about that everybody got it wrong? How about that the jury and the sentiment from the jury was not visible anywhere in his pundits including the Graces, the Diane Dimonds? There’s a lot of angles there. I was on fire Monday night with the amount of possibilities on what to do with the coverage. But there was Klein saying, ‘Well you know we have a less interesting story now that he’s been found not guilty’. This cynical Klein.…I mean, this is crazy. Another one of these; destined for failure.

__When you don’t get what you want, blame the jury__ The wrath of the media has fallen upon the jury to a certain extent; a jury that – unlike most of these pundits — were in the courtroom everyday. They were charged with following the law instead of falling prey to the media’s witch hunt mentality. Questions from the likes of “Nancy disGrace”, Paula Zahn, etc. is always to question and criticize the jurors who think Jackson is not only not guilty, but innocent as well. They have all argued, to a certain extent, with jurors who hold this view. Jurors, like Juror #1 for example, rarely gets challenged the way Natalie Morales challenged Melissa Herard and Tammy Bolton on their June 14 2005 appearance on the Today Show. Or like Grace went after jury foreman Paul Rodriguez on June 13 2005 during her CNN Headline news show. Or repeated questions about Rodriguez’s decision like Paula Zahn did on her June 13 2005 show. Again, juror #1 has escaped such challenges to his logic because he’s saying what they wanted to hear to a certain extent. One juror, Melissa Herard, actually admitted that she started to see Jackson as a real person during this trial. Oh no! We can’t have that! She has probably been one of the most criticized jurors because of that statement. As if it’s news to some of her interviewers that Jackson is a human being! Drudge also commented on the way the media reacted to the jurors:

DRUDGE: It was one of the darkest hours of modern media in my opinion. Just missed it, missed it, missed it. And when the jury started talking, it was ‘oh are they speaking English? This is like foreign. Were they watching the same trial?’ …He was wronged. He was wronged. I don’t care what all those witches say over on Court TV.

So, if the collective media is looking for a scapegoat, they can’t look to this jury. They can’t blame Jackson’s celebrity because he went into this trial with some people already thinking he was guilty of “something” with zero evidence to back up that suspicion. He didn’t “get off” because the black jurors didn’t trust the government. There were no black jurors deliberating. He didn’t “get off” because the trial was moved to a liberal city. It was held right there in conservative Santa Maria. Once the arrogant aspect of the media finishes licking their proverbial wounds, maybe the public can get them to focus on real journalism around this trial instead of ridiculously trite and defamatory slam-pieces (Orth, Jones, etc) and excusatory commentary (Ivory, Court TV, Fox, CNN, etc, etc, etc). -MJEOL

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