Reporter comes clean about MJ trail coverage

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Book Review by Donna Harris

August 29, 2007

Former anti-Jackson Fox News Channel reporter Aphrodite Jones made an interesting turnaround after the Michael Jackson trial (The People of the State of California vs. Michael Joe Jackson) and the result is her latest book, The Michael Jackson Conspiracy (iUniverse).

In the first chapter Jones begins by recapping the atmosphere on the day of the verdict. Jones notes that though some of Michael Jackson’s fans can be “excessive” they had been right to claim Jackson was innocent and a relentless media target.


The conspiracy Jones focuses on is the fact that reporting was heavily biased toward the prosecution, even though their evidence often backfired upon cross-examination.


After giving a general recap of verdict day and a brief evaluation of the Sony conspiracy theory, Jones provides a mostly chronological record of the major happenings of the Michael Jackson case, from the Neverland raid on Nov. 18, 2003 to verdict day, June 13, 2005.


The Michael Jackson Conspiracy largely contains quotes from court transcripts showing trial testimony and court evidence.  Physical descriptions of the witnesses and “invaluable” observations from jury foreperson Paul Rodriguez and veteran trial observer Iris Crawford, will make readers feel as if they were in the courtroom.


Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr., Michael Jackson’s trial attorney and an attorney long prominent in the African American community, wrote the foreword helping to quiet doubts about Aphrodite Jones’s sincerity.


In addition to trial testimony, Jones provides insights into court evidence which typically was not well described in reports.  Evidence that Jones covers includes video taped interviews of the Arvizo family praising Jackson prior to the trial, Neverland Ranch footage just prior to the raid, and videos showing how Jackson tried to cheer up a then frail Gavin Arvizo, who had cancer.


The Michael Jackson Conspiracy includes many pages of the Martin Bashir outtakes uncut, quoted and paraphrased that were never shown on television or discussed by the media.  This footage provides fascinating insight into Jackson’s open discussion with Bashir about his life and beliefs.  Insight into why Jackson agreed to do the Bashir documentary, an issue that was never covered by the media, also results.


Generally, the outtakes show how dishonest Martin Bashir’s interview technique was, reminding the public of the gaping difference between what Bashir said to Jackson and Bashir’s voiceover statements present in his documentary.


There are 20 pages of exhibit photographs and also a section of photographs of the key players.  The exhibit pictures even include shoots of a bruised Janet and Gavin Arvizo who used these pictures to file their false claims against J.C. Penney for battery and sexual assault, after Gavin was caught shoplifting.  All the photographs are appropriately captured in black and white.


Jones does an excellent job of summarizing most of the witnesses for both sides.  She reveals the contradictions and lies told under oath by most of the DA’s witnesses, while also mentioning current events that effected the trial.


In the end, Jones does not focus on the media bias in the Jackson trial as intensively as she could.  The author refused to name any reporter or network, so direct examples of media bias are not cited.  Such examples would have made this book even stronger, especially for people who did not follow trial coverage.  In addition, there is no index, which makes quick referencing difficult.


However, Jones does mention media bias quiet often including additional information from Mesereau, such as the fact that if Jackson had been convicted big money would be in store for the media from endless opportunities for tabloid prison stories.  Also, her examples of general media bias such as, pajama and arraignment day are well chosen for showing distorted reporting.


This is the only book about the Michael Jackson Trial and is a guaranteed revealing read for everyone.  The Michael Jackson Conspiracy is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and by order in stores.


© 2007 Donna Harris / Caribbean Life.

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