Inner Michael » Media Too, is a Mirror

Media Too, is a Mirror

Read this article in Italian

Someone wrote, sent links to articles and requested that I say something about the ethics of journalism– given the recent slips of integrity in Journalism- citing in particular, the Rolling Stone article about a woman called Jackie and her rape at the University of Virginia campus. It’s a story that has since been debunked.

Specifically, the reader wanted me to write about the journalistic injustices aimed at Michael Jackson. I was sent an article by a Jackson fan site calling for his fans to take action to right the wrongs hurled at him through his life and to address the lies that are either repeated or made up anew. There is particular outrage about a recent article fabricated by a person known to be a Michael Jackson hater and detractor and who presents himself as a Jackson “family friend.”

The reality is that I have been writing about the ethics of journalism for almost 6 years now. And I have been calling for reasoned mature action. The program “Words and Violence,” a six hundred plus page resource reservoir was inspired by the abysmal and borderline criminal treatment of Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer at the hands of media. Michael Jackson is the de-facto poster boy for bullying. In fact, he once was the mirror and the dumping ground for the whole of humanity’s shadow. For some people who can’t get enough shadow or for those who can’t stand to own the beast in themselves, (the dark side of their own ego) he still is. What people write and say about Michael Jackson speaks loudly of who THEY are being. He still is the mirror.

I have also called, for six years now, for people to get serious about demanding change and I have advocated the grassroots organizing and movement that other sites are now calling for. Only I did it before the fan community was fractured by infighting and turf wars– as if one faction or one person, for that matter, owned Michael Jackson and volleyed for the position of being the preeminent defender. “Michael Jackson” belongs to no one; he belongs to the world. The fracturing comes from insecurity and an immaturity and human ego that craves recognition to reinforce the need for a meaningful life. Create your OWN meaningful life. Use your life to create something with light that pushes humanity forward and evolves the humane in humanity, not that adds to the stagnation or brings more darkness.

There once was an organized effort from Jackson admirers that was powerful in its message and scope. That was before newer and ever more distanced and uninformed fans took to calling each other names and attacking those who were, or were supposed to be allies. It just happened again recently and I received information about how someone whose reputation was impeccable before suddenly turned against peers and it got ugly.

The work at “Words and Violence” speaks for itself. It investigates journalism and its ethics from the first printing press to the present as a part of the art of bullying in all its incarnations. It was inspired by, and came to be, because of Michael Jackson. And in this space where exploring his life and art and his impact on the world with a wealth of experience in grassroots and community organizing and international diplomacy, I have asked for organized non-violent direct action over and over. But it has to be the correct kind of non-violent action or it fails. It has to begin with “check yourself!”

Fans who betray other advocates or get jealous at attention given to others, or use violent and threatening language or call nasty names or engage in nasty public diatribes on places like Facebook and Twitter do not represent Michael Jackson. The research demonstrates that Michael Jackson was a kind, loving, spiritual soul. If you can’t claim those traits as part of how you conduct yourself in the world, then don’t pretend to know or represent Jackson.

“Words and Violence” is filled with resources. A lot of it is directed at ethics and journalism but it applies to anybody who puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. The anonymity of the Internet is no excuse to spew immature and vile venom at others. And as one who has spent years investigating this case of bullying– the largest and most vicious the world has ever known– Michael would not be proud. The opportunity for grassroots activism and its invitation has stood since 2009.

I’ve been asking for Jackson admirers to organize against media tyranny for a long time. But when those you have called to help change a paradigm and to step up to change the world practice their own brand of tyranny, the calling may not prove useful. It is damaging to Jackson, his memory, reputation, living family members and all fans– but particularly to those who know how to conduct themselves with dignity. It’s a kind of wounding and it hurts. It has hurt and wounded many. And it has caused many to leave the “family” because they had to walk away from the ugliness for their own sanity.

What is really sad about that is there is a formula for reaching critical mass in consciousness and all it takes is 8,000 true and sincere souls to accomplish that. Jackson fans used to number in the millions. And they knew him well– well enough to know that being uncivil to anyone was not his style.

It’s all about integrity. Always has been. If integrity is compromised, there is another kind of damage and it is widespread. Let me explain…

The damage in the Rolling Stone story, both original and the backlash is in what it doesn’t do. The incidence of rape on campuses is real. Date rape and date rape drugs The most common date rape drugs, also called “club drugs” – are flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), also called roofies; gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), also called liquid ecstasy; and ketamine, also called Special K are very real and they are used to render females too incapacitated to resist sexual assault or even to remember it. These drugs may come as pills, liquids, or powders. (Medicine Net (dot) com.

According to “One Billion Rising”- a movement joined by women all over the world calling for an end to violence against women– 1 out of 3 women will be victims of violence in their lifetime. One in three! Either you or one of your two girlfriends will be a victim. So publishing a false story does not help change that statistic. It does, in fact, make things worse because it gives the idea that campus rape, or any institutional rape for that matter- the military for one, is exaggerated. It’s not.

But here’s the real danger in what is going on…

As long as people conduct themselves without integrity and dignity, the tabloid press will have an audience. It is those very traits that they count on when they publish trashy and fabricated stories. They appeal to the lowest common denominator of human nature. They peddle shadow. The reason they do that is because they know humans will default to their shadow when the ego becomes engaged. The soul and ego are two different facets of the human being. When the ego feels bruised or slighted or un-validated, it reacts. And reacting is not the same as reasoning. The shadow side of the ego is childish, demanding and ugly.

The tabloids and tabloid-esque media does a disservice to humanity for it showcases and thereby reinforces the shadow side of human nature. Think about what is prominent in our culture and what makes headlines– the sensational, salacious, startling, scandalous… News organizations have a slogan: “If it bleeds, it leads” meaning that the lead story is going to be the most sensational one and if it involves injury or tragedy, people will gravitate to it.

While this morbid curiosity is a part of human nature, there is another part of human nature that is innate– bright shadow. And this is the part of the human that is generous, loving, kind, brilliant, just and spiritually mature. Which does the media feed you? It’s like that old puzzle- which came first, the chicken or the egg? When it comes to media, did the perpetuation of shadow and feeding shadow stories to consumers cause more appetite for shadow? Or is there an appetite for bright shadow?

It’s encouraging that Brian Williams was called out, Rolling Stone was called out, and Politico mentions these as well:  Janet Cooke at the Washington Post; The Hitler Diaries (various publications); Stephen Glass at the New Republic, George, and, um, Rolling Stone; Jayson Blair at the New York Times; Jack Kelley at USA Today; NBC’s “exploding pickup truck”; CNN’s Tailwind story; CBS’ “Rathergate” coverage; Mike Daisey’s Apple story on This American Life; Jonah Lehrer (fabrication in his book); and CBS again (Lara Logan on Benghazi). Read more:

Perhaps the appetite for shadow is diminishing? If that’s true, then Rupert Murdoch will be out of a job soon. The man has made his fortune off showcasing the misfortune of others, capitalizing on misery and selling street dirt back to the streets. Who would make his lifetime mission to heap misery and misfortune on the masses? Who would willingly and with forethought peddle human misery to humans? Who would deliberately interfere with the evolution of humankind and hold it back from reaching its spiritual destiny? What has this man done to contribute anything worthwhile or worthy to this world? Has he peddled hope or harm?

This is where we find ourselves– at a crossroads of monumental choices with monumental consequences.

The only way to create positive change is to move toward something that represents the light. Michael Jackson encouraged that in everyone he met. There are countless extraordinary stories of his mentorship and philanthropy.

If the media is to change and move toward integrity, then we (the people) have to ask for it but we are also obligated to demonstrate it, to role model it. And we have to ask EVERY TIME. The fans can make a difference but it has to be done with integrity. And it has to be done for everyone, every salacious or questionable story– not just Michael Jackson– has to be called out. Inform yourself about journalism, the media and tabloids so that you know what to look for and which questions to ask. And be consistent. Look for the “contact” information on a website (usually at the bottom of the page) and write to the editor or a person of authority. Be professional, respectful and polite (even if it’s not deserved) and as you write, keep in mind that you are representing all fans and Michael Jackson himself. But most of all you are representing the shift of humans (humanity!) from shadow to light.

So, yes, of course join the call to action to ask for more responsible media. Bullies need not apply. The first step in this kind of work is to first look at what news and culture you are peddling. Asking the media to clean up their act while you rage and spew hatred and jealousy and PUBLISH WORDS THAT HARM OR ATTEMPT TO RUIN OTHERS is hypocrisy. Be a hypocrite and you lose all credibility.

Words & Violence

If you want to know if what you’re doing is OK, ask: ‘Is it soulful?’ The human knows the difference between what is soulful and what is not. The body knows. It feels it in the bones. So ask your bones– ‘is what I am doing soulful?’ ‘Does it lift the human condition or condemn it to mediocrity?’ Some things nourish the soul and some things feed the ego which sends human evolution backward. We’re supposed to be moving toward the light. And Michael Jackson was one individual who called everyone to the light. Everyone.

The “Man in the Mirror” is far more than a song with catchy lyrics.


  1. Laura Messina said . . .

    I have to stop here to thank you kindly for writing such a beautiful and truthful article Barbara.
    I really hope that people may hear and get your message that’s Michael Jackson message.
    We’re going to post your powerful words on our website after translating them into Italian.
    Again, thank you so much.



    Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .


    Posted April 10, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink
  3. mary bosque said . . .

    thanks for such a beautiful and truthful article.

    Posted April 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    You’re welcome. Thanks for writing. Keep the faith.

    Posted April 11, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Grace said . . .

    Wonderful article!

    Looking at the Man In The Mirror is vital, and the most important thing– to see and feel a positive change.

    Lets hope in the process of introspection that we can all come together and fight this vice peacefully: the assassination of innocent characters by the tabloids.

    I think Michael would appreciate that.

    Posted April 12, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  6. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks, Grace.
    What Michael Jackson was trying to teach in all his work was unity and oneness. We are one. He was planting seeds in his fans because he knew about critical mass in consciousness. He was trying to build a kind present and a compassionate future planet. He was very aware of how human nature, consciousness, quantum physics and enlightenment works. He was an engineer of sorts– engineering a better world.

    Whatever you/we do to someone else, you/we do to self for it erodes the soul. That’s primary, secondary and tertiary. In other words, doing the deed hurts your soul, receiving the deed hurts the other (which also hurts self as we truly are “one”) and observing the deed hurts us all via the trauma. And everything you do contributes to “the field” that surrounds and informs/governs humanity or it erodes the field. Every action is either life nourishing or death dealing. It’s really very simple. It’s a choice. And what you decide for the “outside” world is mirrored on the inside.

    We all need to ask ourselves which we are doing with every action we take and with what we are supporting…

    “Am I: 1) Making the world a better place?” 2) “A bitter place?”

    Michael would appreciate that most.

    Posted April 12, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  7. Josie said . . .

    Thank you for writing this. It’s so true we have to live by example for others to come and join our cause. If we act the total opposite of what we are preaching why would others support us. I sadly have expirenced and seen the changes amongst some of the fans. It’s no longer about advocating for causes Michael was about or for him. It was now a completion of who is the better fan or who has the most followers it’s sad. I am so happy and thank you for still advocating and continue to enlighten us with your informative thinking and facts.

    Posted May 9, 2015 at 4:29 am | Permalink

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