It was seven years ago when the twelve jurors of Santa Barbara County liberated Michael Jackson of the heinous charges for sexual abuse, conspiracy and giving alcohol to a minor. Interesting, 12 jurors of the most conservative California County, with not a single Afro-American among them, after more than four months of the trial, hundreds of witnesses interviewed and 30 hours of deliberation, reached an unanimous "not guilty" decision on all 10 counts.
Except for this trial was declared a "trial of the century" and displayed media at their worst. Sensationalism, exclusivity, negativity, excentricism, chaos, and hysteria were some of the features. After all, that was the thing that interested them and us the most (and unfortunately there are few who do not fit into stated majority).
While working on the biography of Michael Jackson, a few weeks ago I spoke with his lawyer Thomas Mesereau, who was the most credited for the legal victory. We also talked about the media coverage of the case:
It was horrible. I learned very quickly that the media was the enemy, that the media had an agenda, and their goal was not justice, it was not fairness, it was not truth [...] Because the media likes things that shock people, they like drama, and to have him found guilty and have him hold of the jail would have made a great stories for them. So I didn't trust the media, I felt they were trying to sabotage me, I felt they thought I was an obstacle to them, and they also knew they could not seduce me or even find me. They could not find me in a restaurant, they could not find me in a bar, they could not try and put me in a compromising position
Although the media have not managed to put Mesereau in a compromising position, they did it with a few people that were close to Jackson. Statements of his ex-wife Debbie Rowe have been twisted and remodeled. The media chased the former employees from his Neverland ranch to find the smallest particle of doubt.
They have written about the so-called fact that he wasn't the father of his own children and looked back at his plastic surgery (publishing an increasing number of operations with each new publication), finding all that you might call "strange," "twisted" and "depraved." Bjork described it best in a 2003 interview: "...in the US right now, it's illegal to be an eccentric."
In the mildest sense the statements of people who defended Jackson were drawn from the context. The case of wrong information transmission was often. For example, when the heterosexual porno magazine was found on Neverland (Jackson admitted that occasionally leaf through such content) most of the media referred to it as pedophile material.
Many would say that we can't put all media representatives in the same mold. True, there have been several media outlets and authors who were following it objectively without any bias or prejudice, and reporting was based on court transcript and official documents, but they are, of course, a tiny minority. Our media (in Montenegro) have not been a part of that minority, but rather have served as a copy / paste mechanism which borrowed information from it's foreign colleagues, of course, only in the translated version.
And what to expect after these reports? June 13, 2005 came, and most of the general public
was surprised by the verdict after all they had read and heard in the media.
And a victim of the whole story? A 46-year-old musical genius, who has devoted his entire life helping others, without asking anything in return. Eventually he became a victim of people whose only motive -- money, of people who took advantage of his generosity and humanity, and those who were inventing sensational headlines in order to earn from the same.