Feb. 20, 2003 — NEW YORK (apj.us) — Bill O’Reilly, master hatemonger for Rupert Murdoch’s/Roger Ailes’ FOX News Channel, should be proud of himself this week.
His vicious, nonstop attacks on Michael Jackson have come to fruition in the massively frenzied media lynching of the once-innocent, now-trampled persona of the little boy who led the Jackson Five, and later lost himself to what I call “The American Nightmare”: reaching the pinnacle of success only to be gunned down from the envy of it.
O’Reilly, who claims to be master of a “No Spin Zone,” spent months gnawing away and grinding his gnashing teeth at Jackson — almost certainly because O’Reilly was sentient that ABC, NBC and FOX were working on outsized pieces slamming Jackson, his regrettable childhood, his plastic surgery, and most notably his conspicuous and seemingly unwholesome empathy for children. O’Reilly wanted to cash in on it, take credit for it, and pretend that he actually has “The Power.”
Yet what is loathsome about Bill O’Reilly is shared, in spades, by Stone Phillips, Barbara Walters, Josh Mankiewicz, and the producers of NBC’s prime-time ersatz-news program “Dateline” and ABC’s awful “20/20”. To be honest, if I woke up as any of these so-called journalists, I would commit ritual suicide rather than look in the mirror.
Of course, television broadcasters excuse their near-pornographic slaughter of Jackson’s reputation by playing up the sub-theme, “We must save the children” – specifically, “the children” with whom Jackson admits having sleepovers in his bedroom at the Santa Barbara ranch he has named “Neverland.”
Under the guise of “policemen of the electronic age,” these large corporate broadcasters offer and re-offer, over and over and over again, Michael Jackson’s head on a bloody platter for viewers of all stripes to consume.
Now, it is true that Mr. Jackson settled litigation brought against him by the parents of a 13-year-old boy claiming to have been sexually seduced by the “King of Pop”, but both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara District Attorneys declined to prosecute Mr. Jackson because of lack of evidence to do so.
And it is true that Jackson openly and oh-so-naively admits that he invites kids to sleep in his bedroom — but claims he sleeps on the floor and bewails the sexual overtones that television plants.
This did not stop a retired detective from leading both NBC and ABC through a litany of “proof” that Jackson was an evil child molester who used his Disneyesque home-cum-theme-park as bait to bed young boys.
Put aside any preconceptions you may have about the “Michael Jackson scandals” and ask yourself a simple question: what is wrong with this picture?
That’s not a tough question to answer. What is wrong is the same thing that is wrong with America in general these days.
We have forgotten about who we are, and what we stand for.
We have forgotten about the law.
We have forgotten about common decency.
And let me be the first to say that if Michael Jackson is indeed molesting children by the dozens, as powerful broadcasters would have us believe, then he should be arrested, perhaps jailed, and certainly treated for his mental illness.
But Michael Jackson has not been proved to be a child molester in a criminal or civil court. He has not even been charged with such an offense and one must believe, if we are truly a nation of laws, that he is, IS, innocent until PROVEN guilty by a jury of his peers.
Certainly he is altered, he is poles apart from you and I, but this doesn’t prove that his love of children is not innocent or that his longing for his own mislaid-in-greed childhood results in perversion.
Perhaps the networks should spend as much time documenting proven pedophiles instead of “suspected” ones. That way they would less apt to be accused, as I am accusing them, of being nothing better than the Hitlers or Milosevics of this world who piled those they hated into mass graves much as the broadcast industry kills the reputations of celebrities gone off beam.
It’s not enough for O’Reilly, Walters, Phillips, Mankiewicz, and the others working this celebrity “story” to trump up a case against Jackson. The power of network television has destroyed dozens of others — only recently another black American superstar and her husband, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. And before that, we saw the virtual demonization of Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte and Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens. And let’s not ever forget what they did to President Bill Clinton and his wife.
It was Bill O’Reilly, again, who led the charge against Ms. Houston when she admitted to a drug problem. It is as if O’Reilly is acting as a “special prosecutor” trying to wrest custody of Ms. Houston’s children from her. To listen to this phony pseudo-intellectual moralizer one cannot help but wonder how American families would take in another 30 million kids whose parents might light up a joint after a tough day on the construction site.
On just one night earlier this week, television viewers across the nation were treated to four hours (three on ABC and one on NBC) of contemptible “revelations” concerning Michael Jackson’s troubles with growing up and his increasing age. Last week FOX Television did a “Special” lynching of Jackson which seemed to whet the appetite of a viewing public with a near-insatiable desire to see the powerful crushed, no matter the expense, no matter the lack of substantiated evidence.
To say these were American networks’ sorriest hours would be an understatement.
For three hours, ABC — The “American” Broadcasting Network, owned largely and ironically by the Disney Corporation who created the Magic Kingdom upon which Mr. Jackson seems to have modeled his “ranch” — exploited and abused the “King of Pop” so ferociously that one might think it was endeavoring to force the man who won’t grow up toward suicide, much as the editorialists as the Wall Street Journal drove Vince Foster to snuff out his own life on a park bench.
On NBC, the “General Electric Network,” the Jackson story was likewise presented in as revolting a manner as could be slipped by their increasingly lax “censors”, with that network choosing to go nose to nose with ABC in a sordid contest to see who could capture more avaricious and covetous American viewers while torching a pitiable little man who gave us all such great musical pleasure for most of his life. I don’t think I have ever been quite so riveted by a display of insufferable heartlessness.
Many, from the e-mail these programs have generated, did not watch to learn about Jackson, but sought to gloat and rejoice over what at least appeared to be his psychological instability, the terror of his childhood, his loneliness, and his desolation.
All three networks featured ghastly interviews with plastic surgeons studying only photographs of Michael Jackson’s face and giving their “expert” opinions on how many surgeries he’d undergone, and how botched they were in a contemptible flaunt of the Hippocratic Oath: “Do no harm.”
America was treated to hours of Martin Bashir, the British “journalist” who was fortunate enough to “get” Princess Diana to talk about how she cheated on her husband, Prince Charles — himself “a little odd.”
It seems Mr. Bashir is fond of ingratiating himself with the famous, and more so the super wealthy, so that he can use them and abuse them — and of course, cash in.
Bashir was at his most repellent pretending to take Mr. Jackson into his confidence, feigning concern for the singer, protecting Jackson’s children from the paparazzi, and then humiliating him repeatedly — for nothing more than money.
ABC, in cahoots with REAL Video, is offering up video of the Bashir interview — the only catch being that you have to subscribe — again for more money — in order to wallow in the heartbreak that is Jackson’s life.
Dateline, at NBC.com, featured a ghostly Flash Film of Jackson’s face morphing eerily using six pictures taken over 30 years of the singing star’s life making him appear as a monster to excite its Web surfers.
After all is said, Mr. Bashir — who seems not to be a journalist at all but merely a pig wallowing in the mud of another’s broken life — and the network executives who participated in this modern Anglo-American lynching should be put in stocks and mocked in Times Square.
Bill O’Reilly would shout me down if I were across from him on “The Factor.” He would yell “What about the children, Mr. Koopersmith? What about the children?”
I might answer — “Yes, what about the children?”
I must add that Barbara Walter’s participation in this dreadfulness was deplorable. I thought at least she had reached a zenith, where she like the others could have just said “No!”
Sadly, she chose to participate in this high-tech lynching.
She — and all the other pilers-on — should hang their heads in shame.
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