It would appear the “strategy” of having Michael Jackson defend himself on 60 Minutes last Sunday yielded mixed results at best. In addition to re-creeping out the nation by insisting that it’s hunky dory to sleep with children, his chief spokesperson has resigned over “strategic differences“:
- Michael Jackson’s chief spokesman has resigned over what he called “strategic differences” with other members of the singer’s entourage.
Stuart Backerman stepped down the day after a television interview with Mr Jackson was broadcast in the US.
Mr Backerman said: “I resigned… over strategic differences with the way things are going.”
….Mr Backerman said he had no firm plans for the future and did not know who would replace him as spokesman.
He added: “The one thing I will say is that I love Michael Jackson and his fans.” [BBC]
More on resignation:
- While Backerman wouldn’t specify what the differences were, the New York Times said the rep’s clashes were with the Nation of Islam.
The Chicago-based spiritual group, often derided as an extremist organization for the divisive, anti-Semitic rhetoric spewed by leader Louis Farrakhan, is in “full and total charge” of Jackson’s business and finances, sources told the paper Tuesday.
This follows reports in mid-December by Us Weekly and the New York Post that said much the same thing. At the time, Backerman downplayed the Nation of Islam’s involvement, saying the group’s reps were merely among the many individuals who’d offered Jackson help. “There is no truth that we are fired,” Backerman told Us Weekly. “It is not true. Nobody has been let go.”
On Monday, it was Jackson’s A-list attorney, Mark Geragos, who took credit for Backerman’s departure. “He was terminated by me personally for talking when I told him not to,” Geragos said in the New York Daily News.
….According to an unidentified Jackson “business associate” who spoke to the Times, the 45-year-old entertainer is even more under the thumb of the Nation of Islam than Geragos. “These people are basically brainwashing him…Everyone is scared of them. They pretty much keep Michael semi-captive,” the source told the paper.
The Times said Jackson is a not a member of the Nation of Islam. The New York Post earlier asserted he’d converted to the religion. Jackson has long been associated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Nation of Islam issued a statement Monday saying “it has no official business or professional relationship” with Jackson. [E! online]
Um, yes. Good move. The public is almost as sympathetic to the Nation of Islam as it is to child molesters. It seems pretty clear that the Jews are behind the whole damn thing.
Meanwhile, Jackson’s televised accusations that he was handled roughly when he was booked in Santa Barbara are being addressed by the county sheriff today:
- In a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that was broadcast Sunday, Jackson said he was “manhandled” while in custody. Santa Barbara County officials have denied that, but Sheriff Jim Anderson scheduled a news conference for late Wednesday morning to discuss the issue himself.
“Some of the points will be addressed a little more specifically,” sheriff’s spokesman Chris Pappas said. He declined to elaborate.
Chief Deputy Fred Olguin, who oversees the jail and was present at Jackson’s booking, told NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday that Jackson was treated appropriately.
Olguin said Jackson was handcuffed “around the wrist like any other prisoner.” He said the singer blew a kiss to other inmates as he was checked in, then was kept in a holding room with a toilet, sink and bench for 15 to 20 minutes.
….On “60 Minutes” Jackson displayed what he said was a bruise on his right arm he said he received when jailers mistreated him.
“My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It’s hurting very badly. I’m in pain all the time,” Jackson said. “It’s very swollen. … It keeps me from sleeping at night.”
Olguin said he was offended by the charges of mistreatment.
“I don’t run my jail that way, and I take a lot of pride in how the jail is run,” he told the Santa Barbara News-Press. “I don’t understand where he comes off with that.”
He added that Jackson was booked and released in record time. [AP]
My overview of the Jackson situation from MSNBC:
- Michael Jackson has a compulsory, peering-through-the-fingers grip on the popular imagination, and the garish soap opera that is his life, sadly, is the biggest entertainment story of the year. The “authorized” Jackson documentary by Martin Bashir, which aired in February, convinced many viewers of the 45-year-old entertainer’s unhealthy obsession with children; a few months later Jackson worried himself into an Indianapolis hospital over one lawsuit, then found himself accused by former financial advisors of being “a ticking financial time bomb waiting to explode at any moment” in yet another legal imbroglio.
But the waning King of Pop’s grim year scraped bottom and the public’s voyeuristic interest peaked when seven felony charges for “lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under 14,” and two for “administering an intoxicating agent to a child” (reported to be wine) were filed against him by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon on December 18. Jackson has denied all charges and his attorney Mark Geragos proclaimed him “unequivocally and absolutely” innocent, but he could go to prison for more than 20 years if found guilty and would be required under California law to register as a sex offender.
The singer is due back in court on January 16, but he had his passport returned so he can spend Christmas in the UK to promote his greatest hits album, “Number Ones.” (Not everyone in the UK is happy to see him: “Don’t let Jacko set foot here,” demanded Saturday’s edition of The Sun. “Beat it,” spat its rival The Mirror.) It must be doubly vexing to Jackson that the album itself isn’t bigger news, and that all of the hits on the album — “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Bad,” and “Black Or White” among them — were recorded long ago and far away, almost as if by another person.
How did this happen? Combine psychological trauma brought upon by a reportedly brutal, Svengali-like father and a childhood denied; add vast wealth early in life, an insatiable ego, surround with yes-men and enablers, shake well, and voila: the mutation of Jackson from an immensely talented, spunky, sharp young black man to a perpetually childlike, wan, genderless, semi-Caucasoid delusional baby-dangler, who spends money like tap water and covers his children’s faces with doilies and dishrags.
Regarding the latter, “Celebrity Justice” reports Santa Barbara County Child Welfare officials have begun a formal investigation into the well being of Jackson’s three children, Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II – the dangled baby in question, also known as Blanket.
Jackson has certainly held our attention this year, but for all the wrong reasons. His life will never be the same as a result, even if he is eventually found innocent.