Inner Michael » Michael Jackson on Trial… again and again and…

Michael Jackson on Trial… again and again and…

We are awaiting a verdict in a trial that once again, placed Michael Jackson on trial. The court case of “Kathrine Jackson and kids vs. AEG” that came 4 years after the death of a son, father and brother should have brought some closure to a family that has been trying to make sense of the death of a loved so many years beyond his death. It answered some questions, but seems that it raised more questions than it answered.

His death made no sense to his family except they have a gnawing suspicion that something was not right about it, that somebody either deliberately allowed his condition to deteriorate or deliberately helped it along. How many people whispered into the Jacksons’ ears about things that they didn’t previously know? Or about things they knew and couldn’t do anything about? How many unspoken secrets are there? How many unrevealed conspiracies exist? Fans who camped outside the Staples Center during rehearsals had told Jackson’s family that all was not well and that Michael had confided some information that raised questions about the actions and motives of his promoters at AEG. Prince Jackson testified that his father complained bitterly of his treatment by those who were supposed to be staging his victorious comeback. I believe his words were: “They’re killing me.”

While I initially opposed televising this trial, I am not so sure that was the right position. It certainly would have focused the public more on the truth of the entertainment industry and it did a lot to humanize Jackson and his troubles with medical conditions and sleep deprivation. The question is, as with all things “MJ,” would the media have been fair in their coverage? There is no reason to believe they would have suddenly reversed their bias.

But this trial was like pulling back the curtain at Oz and revealing that appearances can be very deceiving. And that machinations which focus only on the almighty dollar and excuse, diffuse or obscure the humanity of human beings can, and often are… deadly.

Make a killing at any cost. A KILLING:

You can kill a man’s reputation by making him a mockery, a caricature.

You can kill his livelihood by killing his humanity.

You can attempt to kill his soul by accusing him of something horrific and unthinkable in his world.

You can kill his power by manipulating public opinion about him.

You can kill his dream by taking away his will.

You can kill his life force by destroying everything he values.

You can kill his will to live by taking away his democracy.

You can kill his identity by making fun of his ethnicity, his race, his heritage.

You can kill his body by working him to death when you can see that something is obviously wrong.

You can try to kill his legacy after his death while an unsuspecting public never asks the question: why is that so important?

But you can’t kill his memory in the minds of those who loved him.

And you can’t kill the truth. You can hide it for awhile or attempt to bury it but something will always rise to the surface and begin to smell…

So, this will not be the end. There will be more…


According to handwritten notes, it appears Jackson was misled and potentially lied to by physicians who were supposed to have his best and medical interests in mind but focused instead on a paycheck and their own ego. How did he come to believe that he could get REM sleep from Propofol treatments? The paranoia and physical symptomology that surfaced from the prolonged use of Propofol made people around him question his sanity in his last days. It was the medication and lack of dream-filled sleep that caused waking nightmares for Jackson and that led people to question his mental health, his focus, his commitment and to slap him around in clearly abusive treatment in service to your bottom line.

It was revealed that his schedule was deliberately manipulated and that manipulation was hidden from him. His colleagues were concerned about his health and voiced their concerns– or panic– to those people surrounding him. That went ignored. His father and other family members expressed their frustration about trying to reach him and not being able to get through the wall of people “protecting him” from them. There is enough guilt to go around for it seems he was everybody’s benefactor. The consequence of generosity should not be greed.

That a man so betrayed could still love and love so widely and encompassing is testament to who he was.

The love-hate relationships that play out in the close relationships of most families and the “come here- no go away” dysfunctional dynamics that plague family ties and close-knit groups clouded judgment and complicated issues. A generous man so frequently betrayed would develop issues of trust– that’s a given. And for someone to keep inviting the possibility speaks to the real human condition and conundrum– the need to love and be loved. It interfered with transparency and kept in the dark those whose close social relationships might have known his real condition.

It brought up the question of “ownership” and “rights”– a very old human story. Who “owned” Michael Jackson? And it should be raising questions among fans about their own “ownership” of Jackson, his family and his legacy. Who “owns?”

He didn’t belong to anybody. He couldn’t even belong to himself.

Michael Jackson belonged to the world.

And his need to redeem himself drove him to his grave. It kept people in the dark who might have helped him.

And that need for self redemption should never have been his responsibility in the first place.

There were people who didn’t require his redemption. But he understood the obligation. He understood the undermining of his authority. That redemption wasn’t personal. It too, belonged to the world. And so does the responsibility.

His family did not require his redemption. Being in the entertainment business themselves, they understood about redemption. They know more than they can say and they have been effectively silenced, nullified and are themselves in need of redemption in the public eye just because they are in the public eye.

(“Stop pressuring me!”)

All families have their complexities– the drunken uncle nobody speaks of, the family member who is always clowning around and joking in order to hide all the family pain, the freeloader who feels “entitled,” the self-sacrificing lamb who takes on everybody’s problems, the drama queen crying out for acceptance and love, the “father figure” who is a father or assumes the role of the wise adult, the angry one, the burdened one, the one who lives a charmed life looking from the outside, the scapegoat whom everybody blames because the distraction serves to alleviate guilt, the golden boy (or girl) or hero who carries the family pride, the meddling sibling… all families have their drama and dysfunctions, their triumphs and secrets. All the roles and privileges are ever changing, ever evolving, ever adapting to what circumstances demand. Close relationships are dynamic– that is, they change, morph and adapt depending on what life brings. And life brings challenges, sorrows, joys, triumphs and tragedies. But change or illness or death always shakes up the family tree; sometimes it even uproots it.

The Jackson family is no different than any other family with that many people, that many opinions, that much baggage, that much history, that much emotion and that much tragedy. The difference is that their lives played out under public scrutiny and continue to. Anyone who grows or grows up under a spotlight is going to have to deal with having a light shined on their lives. Problem is, the light comes and goes and takes only snapshots of multiple lives and dynamics in a singular slice in time. The spotlight doesn’t know the history, the obstacles fought to overcome, the dark moments, the private fears and longings, the moments of joy and panic and pride and the utter futility of constantly trying to correct misconceptions. And nobody knows or will ever know what it was like to be Michael Jackson. Or to be Michael Jackson’s brother, sister, mother or child.

No matter the outcome of this trial, it is important to understand that it served and serves a greater purpose. It has destiny written all over it. And what it revealed is important even though all of that has not been processed yet and will take some time to unpack. A great deal of ugliness was revealed. A tenderness was exposed that was never before known. It was important for people to learn Jackson wasn’t the tantrum-wielding, defiant, self-centered and indulgent diva some imagined him to be. It was important to know that he was a man who was taken advantage of. It was important to insert that question in the minds of the public– that a man of his stature could be taken advantage of. It invites the next logical question– how many times was this man taken advantage of? How many times was he manipulated for profit? How many times was he somebody’s cash cow? And how many people cashed in?

And the ultimate personal question that causes overwhelming cognitive dissonance: “Was I wrong about this man?”

And the important underlying cultural question– ‘do we appreciate the gifted and talented among us?’ Do we appreciate those who stand strong and stand out from their fellow men in a world that devalues humans and does it for gain…

It raises questions about the collateral damage of human selfishness and greed. And it absolutely raises unconscious questions about race.

While it’s about money, it’s not about money. Michael Jackson’s death shocked the world, and shook a great portion of it. Learning about how he died and whom was involved and why was shocking. It’s not that only his family had a right to know; it’s that we had an obligation to know.

The collective “we.”

Yet again the “Man in the Mirror” asks us once more to look in the mirror.




  1. Robin W. Smith said . . .

    I find MJ’s story ‘Look Again, Baby Seal’ appropriate and comforting. Yes, I’m sure we all will be looking again.


    Posted October 3, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  2. Diana said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara. I have been reading you since the beginning, and I think this is one of the very best entries you have written.
    If you haven’t yet had a chance to hear the interview with the jury foreman, please do so. He says he was not a fan before the trial…now he is. Hmmm…

    Posted October 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  3. Greet Boete Belgium said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara. I have also read everything from the beginning, many times over and over again.
    I am sure we can learn so much from Michael. That, I think, is one of the reasons that I feel this irresistible urge, force in me to educate people about him. But I have experienced that is the most difficult task; If people don’t “get” it, they are not interested. I can understand it ! I am acting the same when others post on FB things pertaining other people, celebs, sport-figures…. What to do about it ?

    Posted October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  4. Greet Boete Belgium said . . .

    What I wanted to add is that those who learned and know about the real Michael, will not lightly change their minds due to this trial. So, despite some in the media again mocking Michael or this family, he might have gained some new supporters too, like people of the jury. I think it was great how the foreman spoke about Michael, and that he now became a bigger fan. I think he only knew part of the entertainer, and now knows a lot more about the genius and man/humanitarian. So, that is again one step forward, which leaves room for hope !

    Posted October 5, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  5. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    I started writing an answer to you G, and somehow closed the link and lost what I wrote. It was a lengthy answer that I guess will have to jumpstart the next post. The program unfortunately saves posts but not replies. I keep telling myself to “save” those replies but keep forgetting. So stay tuned for the next post. We’ll explore your questions.

    Posted October 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  6. marry said . . .

    Thanks for this piece of writing. Reading your posts from the beginning when I REdiscovered Michael 51 months ago. Interesting subject to me. Thank you Rev.

    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  7. Nina Hamilton said . . .

    What I am posting here is an impassioned plea by Vindicating Michael, which I agree with wholeheartedly. I hope it is acceptable for your blog. It speaks for itself.

    ‘And what about opening the transcript of AEG court proceedings on September 9, 2013, reading

    Ms. Chang: … there’s two different conflicting pictures of how Michael Jackson was treated by defendants shortly before he died. The defendants have all stated on this day of love, affection, total support, no pressure inflicted on Michael Jackson whatsoever. Plaintiffs, however, know that there’s an entirely different scenario. And we state, based on the case law, that in search for the truth in the case, the jury’s entitled to hear evidence from both sides.

    Sad as it is but AEG people are everywhere you look and they work real hard – much harder than Michael Jackson’s supporters do, who seem to be still waiting for the manna from heaven to fall upon their heads.

    Or do they wait for the time when AEG lies fully overwhelm the public? But if it is hard to fight their lies now, how much harder will be when these lies take root and leave much bigger debris to sort out?

    Don’t wait. Go and fight for each grain of truth NOW and simply do the most of what you can.

    Point 1
    All you need to do to spread the truth about the real way Michael Jackson was treated by AEG is quote Ortega’s words to Karen Faye about AEG bullying Michael, and tell everyone that they threatened to make Michael lose his kids in case he didn’t attend their rehearsals which he was not even supposed to attend:

    Karen Faye’s iphone messages say: ‘Kenny told me “He and Randy Phillips and the doctor held a sort of intervention. MJ didn’t show till 9:30 p.m. AEG, (Randy Phillips) is funding his entire life right now. His house, food, kids, school, everything. AEG threatened Michael that unless he ”attended every rehearsal”) they would ‘PULL THE PLUG IF HE DOESN’T GET HIS SHIT TOGETHER. IF HE DOESN’T DO THIS, HE LOSES EVERYTHING HE HAD’ (yes, the catalog too) PROBABLY EVEN HIS KIDS.

    So what is important now is to lose no time and tell the truth to everyone on this planet that AEG threatened Michael with a risk of losing his kids if he didn’t attend those damned rehearsals! Need I tell you that threatening Michael with these words was the worst thing they could ever say to him? The kids were the most precious things Michael had, the reason for his whole existence and a threat like that was the most devastating and deadly blow he could ever receive.

    As a side note let me say that Michael wasn’t even obligated by his contract to attend the rehearsals and it was only AEG’s opinion that he should.

    It was much worse than a “freak” email, a slap and all the rest of the bullying and harassment they subjected him to during the several months of their wonderful collaboration. It was a lethal blow which surely sent Michael into a couple of sleepless and tormenting nights all of which led to the disastrous June 19th rehearsal which was a clear signal of the future catastrophe.
    Up till now all information about one more meeting prior to June 20th was suppressed and this is why Ortega’s message to Randy Phillips sent at 2 am in the morning after the June 19th rehearsal was somewhat of a mystery to us. It mentioned details which up till now have never been mentioned anywhere at all and it is only now that its every little detail is fitting into the general picture:
    That day his body temperature was ice-cold to the touch, he was rambling and obsessing and saying that God was talking to him, he begged Ortega as a “lost boy” not to leave him and produced the overall impression of a man who needed a psychiatrist or at least urgent medical help.

    Not only couldn’t he get on the stage but he could barely function as a human being that night, and this is when Kenny Ortega got really frightened for what they had done to him several days earlier.
    Also doesn’t all of it make it clear why Michael Jackson hired a lawyer on June 18th which must have taken place almost immediately after that intervention meeting? The immediate reason for it must have been shielding himself from the danger of everything being taken away from him – his kids, his catalog and his dreams.

    So all those impeaching AEG CEOs of different ranks with their never-ending “I don’t remember a thing” looked more trustworthy to juror #27 and his supporters than Karen Faye’s messages found on her old iphone, readily offered for forensic analysis and confirmed by Alif Sankey’s declaration at that?

    Doesn’t it tell you more than you ever wanted to know about this mysterious juror #27 and those who are embracing him with their open arms?

    Point 2.

    The MJ “contract” with AEG said that the tour was to start on JULY 26 ONLY. So when AEG set the first concert on July 8, they shortened the period of rehearsals THEMSELVES by two and a half weeks earlier than the date stated in the contract. The almost three weeks they added to the actual shows at the expense of rehearsal time were exactly the three weeks they were short of in June 2009.

    Also they forget to tell you that their own contract with Michael initially said that the shows were to begin only on July 26.

    And all this was due to their unlimited greed and desire to grab more money in March 2009 when they expanded 10 shows into 30 and then to 50 – the period provided for by the contract did not allow to fit that much and the date of starting the tour had to be moved to an earlier date.

    The two and a half months for producing a show of this scale was too little time for it, so the problem of a mad race with rehearsals they created for the whole company was the problem of AEG’s own doing, incorrect timing and poor production skills.

    They wanted to correct their mistakes at the expense of the artist, namely Michael Jackson,

    Point 3
    The “freak” email was sent on January 28 which was the only time when Shawn Trell was in Michael’s house. How could he attend the signing of the contract on January 26 then?

    Shawn Trell also blatantly lied when he made two mutually exclusive statements as to when Michael Jackson signed his contract – on January 26 when Tohme/AEG and MJ/AEG agreements were allegedly signed, and when Trell was in Michael’s home just once, on January 28 as their email about meeting with the “freak” actually said.

    Posted November 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  8. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Hopefully this will be revisited in a future legal action.

    Fans need to stop being reactionary and think before they post or act. They need to learn to read between the lines. They need to stop, think, and be more discerning. And, they need to know the history in order to view things in context. (We’re working on that.)

    My “take” on this is that Michael would have understandably had trepidation about taking the stage again because he had untreated PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from the 2005 trial. He had left his country, felt unwelcome for whatever reason in the place he went for exile and to heal from the deep wounding and terror of prison as a real possibility, and came back to the U.S. The U.S. had violated his constitutional rights, ransacked his beloved home, brought a circus trial with no evidence and based on heresay by people with a history of extortion by a “mad-dog” prosecutor whose police department was known for harassment of minorities.

    He had been raked over (and something else “over”) by 3 major powerful systems- the music industry, the justice system and the media. His fear was understandable, even warranted. After the spectacle and sham that was a trial and the very real possibility of death at the hands of an inmate should he go to prison, how could he know that he was not a dark villain in the eyes of the public or in the eyes of his fans? He had no way of knowing if he would be mocked or booed off the stage.

    The question Michael Jackson would have been asking himself is if he could stand one more betrayal, one more assault, one more “fall from grace?” He was not a young man with fire in the belly anymore. He was an emotionally battered person. He was a domestic violence survivor- the violence perpetrated by his domesticity and the country he called home all his life.

    The pressure that he was placed under on top of his PTSD was enough to crush Superman. But he persevered. The real problem in this scenario is the concierge doctor who gave him whatever would keep him from feeling his psychological pain and administering radical and off label treatment for malignant insomnia.

    The psychological symptoms that concerned everyone, the comments that he should be seen, the “he’s crumbling now that it’s showtime,” etc., came from the side effects of nightly administration of Propofol and lack of REM sleep. The military has done studies about sleep deprivation and it is one of their tactics to get prisoners to talk. Sleep deprivation is torture. Period. Jackson apparently thought he was getting the proper sleep including “RIM” (sic) sleep according to his notes. He was blatantly lied to.

    A person deprived of REM sleep begins to become paranoid (side effect) and starts to have waking hallucinations. It is the body’s way of trying to recapture the REM sleep it has been deprived of. Those are waking nightmares. Things are seen that are not there and mixed with the paranoia of sleep deprivation, Jackson was a psychological mess. That is what Kenny Ortega was seeing and is what Randy Philips interpreted inaccurately as deliberate malingering. Jackson’s inability to spin or perform properly was from the physical effects of sleep deprivation combined with the hangover effect of all the sleep aids (think drugs) he was being given to help him sleep. At the same time I believe he was seeing Arnold Klein, wasn’t he, for treatments for his face and the effects of Lupus. (Enough said.)

    The pressure was inhumane. Piling on more performances was inhumane especially to a man who was clearly showing signs of immanent collapse. Hiding the true performance schedule from him was inhumane. Jackson was afraid of Thome; he begged Kenny Ortega not to betray him; Dileo and Branca were brought on at the insistence of AEG; Jackson had borrowed against his catalog and SONY wanted it. There is an unasked and unanswered question there.

    The threat about losing his children was likely from an erroneous conclusion about his drug use. It is likely they saw his behavior as drug induced instead of a side effect of prolonged Propofol administration and lack of REM sleep producing erratic, paranoid and unusual behavior associated with wide awake dreaming in the body’s attempt to compensate for lack of dreams and REM sleep. It is likely they used the “you will lose your children” in conjunction with his perceived drug abuse. Dileo revealed the collecting thought about that when he said “We’ve got to see what he’s doing.”

    Michael Jackson should have been tested and treated for a severe sleep disorder. The should not have received Propofol for sleep- ever. The first doctor who gave him Propofol for sleep is as guilty as Conrad Murray and every one in between. Instead of practicing “concierge medicine” Michael Jackson should have been quietly secreted to a sleep clinic somewhere and studies begun to help this man. Jackson trusted doctors and once remarked to Lisa Marie who questioned their real loyalty and ethics that doctors were very well educated and he placed them next to gods (lots of patients do this.) He said that as long as he was monitored the use of Propofol was safe. And he really believed that. He had all kinds of evidence of how well it worked and how convenient it was for a perfectionist performer finishing a late concert and unable to come down off the adrenalin and the rush or performing. It had been used many times before without incident. Why would he think it that dangerous even when told by some that it was? Hadn’t he always wakened from it before?

    And Michael Jackson checking into a clinic for anything would have been big news and twisted and misrepresented by tabloids and medialoid press. Why would he chance it? (Remember they said he slept in an oxygen chamber to reverse the effects of aging.) The media would have had yet another circus with that information. So he opted for the more secretive method despite its risks.

    How many times did MIchael Jackson have to choose between his health and being mocked in the press? Was that just? Was that fair? Kind? Understanding? Compassionate?

    Who can we thank for that?

    A larger social and cultural question looms besides the obvious manipulation, greed and moral corruption of “handlers” (not a “new” story.) The question you might ask is this:
    Is Thome Thome black?
    Is Phillip Anschutz black?
    Is Randy Philips black?
    Is Paul Gongaware black?
    Is Frank Dileo black?
    Is John Branca black?

    And where was Quincy Jones? Where is he now?

    A better question: How many entertainment companies are owned by blacks? How many record companies are own by blacks? How many hip hop promoters are black? How many billionaires are black?

    And: How many blacks owning huge music catalogs as self-appointed stewards of black music do you know of?

    “It is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.” ~Frederick Douglass, leader of the abolitionist movement, orator, writer, social reformer and statesman.

    Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

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