Trial Review: Martin Bashir, Ann Kite not Exactly Stellar Prosecution Witnesses – MB #291
DECEMBER 21 2005 — What a year we’ve all seen in the world of Michael Jackson! The end of this year shows certain members of the media continuing to nurse their depression with odd, unconfirmed and sketchy stories of Jackson’s current child custody situation, while simultaneously dreaming hoping praying for his financial ruin.
The world didn’t end on Dec 20 like some had predicted. One cause of that despair, the trial, started at the end of February 2005 and ended in June with a full acquittal for Jackson on every lame, logically ridiculous and physically impossible allegation brought against him.
I’m going to take a few moments to intro our trial review before getting into the actual testimony. For at least 2 years, we witnessed the maligning of his integrity, his innocence, his dignity, and his humanity.
So it was probably a big shock to these media outlets to also witness his defense team knocking-down every absurd allegation leveled against him by a set of vindictive prosecutors and the crooks who they wholeheartedly believed.
It was a watershed year for Jackson who had by this year grown incredibly furious about being treated like $hit by people he had once helped and by a media who had their own various agendas. Jackson’s entire life was unfairly put on trial.
However, his life proved to be a hell of a lot less “weird” than the public realized; right down to his Playboy and Penthouse magazines. Oops!
That wasn’t supposed to happen. The general media’s year in review concerning the trial is even shallower than their actual coverage. For example, all day yesterday (Dec 20), various anchors at Court TV reviewed the trial starting not with the devastating revelations by way of the defense, but rather focused on what happened outside of the courtroom.
The ridiculous “review” of the trial by Court TV included a perfect example of history revisionism by Savanna Guthrie. She alleged Wade Robson was “destroyed” on the stand under prosecution questioning. As someone who has read the transcript of Robson’s testimony, instead of relying on memory, I can honestly say that Guthrie must have been visiting Mars that day. No such thing occurred.
Not only was his testimony devastating to the prosecution’s “pattern/grooming” allegation, it was also directly contradictory to allegations by the prosecution’s 1108 witnesses. We’ll get to the 1108 travesty later on in upcoming reviews. I will literally scream if one more talking head makes mention of Jackson showing up to court in his pajamas, without also mentioning the fact that it happened only after being told by his lawyer to high-tail it to court directly from the hospital or else the judge was going to issue a warrant for his arrest.
Or maybe I will throw my TV out the window if I have to see repeated clips of Jackson standing on top of the SUV at the first arraignment. None of it mattered one iota; then or now. Maybe some media are eager to ignore the destruction which came in the form of Thomas Mesereau laying waste to past and then-present allegations with his cross-examination and with the defense’s case.
So, what becomes their “year in review,” turns into trivial talking points like Jackson wearing pajamas. Since the media is thus far refusing to do an accurate “review” of this trial, we at MJEOL will do it, even if it pushes into 2006. Damn it!
It’s quite obvious that revisionist history is running rampant as people began “remembering” things the way they thought it should have happened, instead of how they actually happened. And important details have gotten little to no airtime at all. In the mainstream media “reviews” thus far, the general consensus is that this “case” was over-tried and became all about the accuser’s mother, Janet Arvizo.
Some have said prosecutors should have kept it simple, and now opine that prosecutions lost the “case”, instead realizing the defense won it.
I submit that it didn’t matter how simple or complex they made this “case”, prosecutors still would have lost it anyway because of the facts and the unbelievable nature of the allegations. The prosecution was given every advantage and every opportunity, but couldn’t succeed because the facts repeatedly got in their way.
Every obstacle was thrown into the defense’s path, right down to the nutjobs who leaked the entire grand jury testimony to the media right before the start of trial. It is not a stretch to say that prosecutors tried the “case” on emotion. However, all the emotion in the world usually doesn’t trump strong, factual information coupled with non-existent credibility.
The accuser, Gavin Arvizo, couldn’t tell a straight story to save his life. Some of his allegations conflicted with allegations from his brother (Star Arvizo) and his sister (Davellin Arvizo). He gave vague statements about even the number of times he was supposedly “molested”. And according to a number of jurors who gave post trial interviews, his stories about the alleged “molestation” and “alcohol” weren’t credible.
Before he flip-flopped for a book deal, even juror Ray Hultman told the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, in a June 14 2005 interview, that he didn’t believe Arvizo’s allegations. The media generally have said this “case” was lost because of the accuser’s mother. She certainly helped with her ludicrous statements, but she definitely was not the only reason for Jackson’s acquittal.
At every turn, everyone who had an allegation to make also had gigantic reasons for making such an allegation. Or the logic of their allegations made no sense. Some of them had over 1 million reasons for wanting to see Jackson go down. Let’s get right into the actual testimony of some of the early witnesses, shall we?
__A scumbag on the stand is worth 2 in the bush__
The trial in February started with the testimony of the opportunist who would probably like to take credit for creating this situation in the first place: Martin Bashir. Bashir had previously and publicly made statements about his impression of Jackson’s life, and even headed two bash-and-trash ABC programs about it.
However, when Bashir stepped foot inside the courtroom and swore to tell the truth, the gum-flapping glorified tabloid reporter suddenly turned mute. He hid behind the California shield law for the vast majority of the questions asked by defense attorney Mesereau; a law which hadn’t even applied to him at the time he was proclaiming to be “disturbed” by Jackson back in 2003 to various news outlets.
Bashir appeared evasive and slippery on the stand, especially when confronted by allegations of wrongdoing and forgery against him in Britain. Basically, he stonewalled, which looked bad even to those commentators and “clowns” who were rooting for the prosecution.
There was an issue regarding forgery brought up by Mesereau regarding contracts. Apparently two of the ridiculously un-detailed contracts supposedly signed by Jackson, appeared to have two different signatures on them, meaning that there was a noticeable difference between Jackson’s alleged signatures on each doc. From Bashir’s testimony:
MR. MESEREAU: Mr. Bashir, if you look at the two documents you referred to that you say Mr. Jackson signed, his signature appears to be different from document to document, correct?MR. BOUTROUS: Same objection, Your HonorTHE COURT: Sustained; beyond the scope.(p 246, lines 6-13)
Because Bashir hid behind the shield law, the defense didn’t get a chance to explore the topic of possible fraud around forged documents. The overly profuse and sometimes disturbing “compliments” Bashir made to Jackson on the behind the scenes footage shown in court totally irked pro-prosecution and pro-defense commentators covering the trial.
Remember, Bashir wasn’t simply trying to put his interview subject at ease with compliments. There were clearly instances where he either lied to Jackson’s face or lied to the public when hyping the initial airing of the ill-named “Living with Michael Jackson” so-called documentary. At one point he’s caught on camera telling Jackson that his relationship with his children is “spectacular”.
Later, he would tell the public he was “disturbed” at the way his children were “made to suffer”. That’s a straight lie, not an attempt to put someone at ease during an interview. He was also caught on tape acting like a sycophant-groupie — reported courtroom observers who saw the unedited tape — only later to tell the public that other people around Jackson are yes-men’ who only tell him what he wants to hear.
A plethora of outright lies were revealed by Bashir’s own mouth through Jackson’s behind-the-scenes footage. In the end, Bashir took on the role of a weasel which apparently holds the court of public opinion in higher regard than the American court system. Maybe it’s because one can’t get thrown in jail for not telling the truth to sell a story and increase one’s public profile.
__Prosecution witness morphs into defense witness__
Media-hyped witness Ann Gabriel (Kite) was called by prosecutors to paint Jackson and his associates as conspirators. However, under cross-examination, the public learned that Kite thought people around Jackson were actually acting against him and his best interest.
Kite, a 6 day veteran employee, has never met Jackson. She was an alleged “PR expert” who had only represented one semi-celebrity before her 6 day stint. However, her suspicions about the men around Jackson at the time had rapidly grown with the help of an investigation from her then-friend attorney David LeGrand. As you already know, LeGrand started an investigation into Marc Schaffel, Ron Konitzer, Dieter Wiesner and John Branca before he was let go.
Kite testified she, too, had suggested that LeGrand start an investigation because she “couldn‘t understand why they would allow Mr. Jackson‘s reputation to fall into total ruin in the press,” (p 417, lines 13-16).
Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau asked her about statements she made to the Santa Barbara sheriff’s department concerning the matter of almost a million dollars of Jackson’s money being stolen. According to her recollection, LeGrand told her that Ron Konitzer who at one point had Jackson’s power of attorney may have embezzled $980,000 from Jackson.
She said it didn’t make sense to her why “no one on the team would try to do anything publicly to refute the absolutely horrible things that were coming out about Mr. Jackson“, (p 432, lines 2-5). From her testimony:
MESEREAU: Okay. And you told the police you thought Michael Jackson was being slammed by this team, correct?KITE: Yes, I believe I did.MESEREAU: The word you used was “slammed,” right?KITE: I believe so, yes.MESEREAU: You thought they were not doing their job to help Michael Jackson, right?MESEREAU: I’m not asking maybe. But, basically, your opinion at that point was that this team is not out to protect or help Michael Jackson? KITE: That was absolutely my opinion, yes.(p 432, 6-19)
Kite told the jury she was concerned there was no plan of action for Jackson by his team of managers and PR people. She went so far as to send an email to Ron Konitzer saying Jackson was “going to get skewered on national T.V.” because the team had “no plan of action to protect his interests from scurrilous accusations” (p 435, lines 7-17).
She talked about giving Konitzer reasons why he should “get rid of” both Stuart Backerman (former spokesman) and Marc Schaffel: “I believed that I had Mr. Jackson‘s public relations interest at heart much more than Mr. Backerman or Mr. Schaffel, yes, absolutely” (p 436, lines 8-10).
As you may know, Schaffel and Backerman , when booted from the Jackson’s camp, shopped around a so-called “tell-all” book together. Big shocker! Kite told the Santa Barbara sheriff’s dept. that Konitzer had a record of making very bad deals and had scammed people out of millions of dollars before. She also had sources within Sony.
According to her interview with sheriffs, she would have loved to be able to prove Sony was paying Konitzer and Wiesner to isolate Jackson to bring about his “downfall”. Kite certainly wasn’t the only one thinking along these lines. The suspicion about Sony’s true intentions toward acquiring Jackson’s half of the Sony/ATV catalog are very much prevalent certainly in the Jackson fan community. From her testimony:
MESEREAU: And you told the sheriffs that those sources inside of Sony have told you that they’ve been waiting for years to get the Sony catalog back from Michael Jackson, correct?KITE: Yes, sir, that’s correct.MESEREAU: And you told the sheriffs that if you look at Konitzer and Weizner’s track record, they’re not the type of people that should be managing anything for Michael Jackson, right?KITE: Yes, sir, that’s what I believed, yes.KITE: Yes, sir, that’s correct, I did.MESEREAU: And you thought they all were hurting Michael Jackson, right?KITE: Yes, sir, I do, absolutely.MESEREAU: And you still believe that, right? KITE: Yes, absolutely.(p 441 lines 27-28; p 442 lines 1-8, 24-28)
In her previous interview with the sheriff’s dept., Kite even speculated that Konitzer and Schaffel “concocted” the scenario around the Arvizo allegations. Again, directly from court transcripts:
MESEREAU: That they were doing something with Arvizo —KITE: Yes.MESEREAU: — that was harmful to Michael Jackson, correct?KITE: Yes.MESEREAU: And you were concerned that Schaffel and Konitzer had done something to Janet Arvizo as well, right?KITE: Yes, sir, that’s correct.MESEREAU: I guess it goes without saying, you didn’t trust Mr. Schaffel very much either?KITE: No, sir, I did not.MESEREAU: You didn’t trust Mr. Konitzer either?KITE: No, sir, I did not.(p 444 lines 7-16; p 446 lines 21-25)
Kite was asked about the Fox “Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See” rebuttal documentary. She says it was her understanding that the Fox TV agreement included Schaffel profiting from it as well. She told the jury she had seen a draft copy of Schaffel’s agreement with Fox because David LeGrand had asked her to bring in someone to do entertainment contracts.
LeGrand is not an entertainment attorney. Through Kite’s testimony, the jury learned a little info about John Branca as well. According Kite, LeGrand told her Branca “gets a percentage of music deals that Michael Jackson signs” (p 457, lines 1-4).
LeGrand also mentioned being “physically afraid” of Branca, according to Kite’s testimony. She thought Konitzer and Schaffel manipulated situations around Jackson to get what they wanted, and she complained to LeGrand that a high profile associated with Al Manik (another former associate) would be detrimental to Jackson. Mesereau specifically asked Kite what she had told sheriffs during her interview with them about the “case”:
MESEREAU: Ms. Kite, you told the sheriffs that, from the outside looking in, your opinion was that Michael Jackson did not know the things that Konitzer and the team were doing around them, right?KITE: Yes, sir, that’s correct. (p 468 lines 26-28; p 469 lines 1-2)
Remember Stuart Backerman? Kite told the jury that she believed he was “not someone who would serve Mr. Jackson in the capacity that he deserved” (p 478, lines 14-15).
She said she didn’t believe he was helping Jackson because he had, according to her, put out a press release on himself over serving the interests of Jackson. At some point, Backerman released a statement saying that he was Jackson’s spokesman.
Kite says Backerman once called her and yelled at her because of an article which quoted Kite as being the spokesman for Jackson instead. She described him as “extremely annoyed”. From the transcript:
MESEREAU: Okay. What did he say to you?KITE: He said, “How could you go around telling people that you’re Mr. Jackson’s spokesperson? I’m his official spokesperson, not you.” MESEREAU: And what was your response?KITE: I won’t give you my verbatim response. But my response basically was, “Stuart, it was a call that I took. I never told anyone that I am Mr. Jackson’s official spokesperson. This — our client is in severe trouble and this is not the time to be wasting an hour or so on the phone arguing about something so petty as this.”MESEREAU: And did you tell the sheriffs where Backerman was staying at that point in time?KITE: Yes, sir, I did.MESEREAU: Where did you tell the Santa Barbara sheriffs that Backerman was staying?KITE: At Mr. Schaffel’s house.MESEREAU: How did you learn that?KITE: From Mr. Backerman and from David LeGrand.(p 483, lines 7-26)
Ah, so the cozy relationship between Backerman and Schaffel didn’t only develop after they got tossed from the Jackson gravy train. Kite’s testimony weaved a picture of a number of incompetent, selfish, and possible thieves around Jackson who had no plan to defend his name, who had a history of making bad business decisions, and who may have been acting against Jackson’s best interests. This couldn’t have possible been the affect prosecutors were going for when they called Kite in to testify.
__NBC? Say what?__
NBC also came up during Kite’s testimony. She says Shaffel had information he wanted to release to the press regarding NBC wanting to cut a deal to stop a negative Jackson program in exchange for footage.
If you remember, NBC also did a bash-and-trash Jackson program itself filled with unfounded, unsubstantiated and unproven speculation of Jackson’s facial features; complete with pseudo-psychoanalyses from people who have never met him. It was absurd and designed solely to defame him, say most observers.
What the public later found out is that the special was only aired after they lost a bidding war with Fox television for the rights to air Jackson’s rebuttal special “Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See”.
According to reports, the NBC people dangled the opportunity to have their bash-and-trash program squashed only if they were granted the rights to air the rebuttal video. Schaffel was “upset because NBC was producing another special about Mr. Jackson and they were referring to Mr. Schaffel‘s past,“ (p 489, lines 18-20), says Kite.
Kite told the jury that she didn’t agree that Schaffel should release a memo sent from NBC allegedly detailing this bribe-deal. As stated previously, Jackson’s rebuttal was aired on Fox and Schaffel got his money. Not to let a vindictive opportunity slip through their fingers, NBC assigned Dateline’s Josh “Stankin’ Mank” Mankowitz to head the Jackson bash-fest, and the rest is history.
The country was about to go to war, but Dateline felt it more necessary to do a program about Michael Jackson’s face. Oh yeah. That made sense. Many of the aforementioned details in this MJEOL Bullet were left unreported both the first time around and during various “year in review” segments.
Next up, we will tackle the testimony of the accuser’s sister, Davellin Arvizo. And include information that jurors didn’t get to hear, found in incredible stunning defense motions, about comments Davellin A. made to 3rd party witnesses about her mother.