Tuesday 9 November 2010

Kelvin MacKenzie: Jackson was an abuser and his children should never have been born

It has been a while now since I blogged about Michael Jackson. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that in the wake of my last Huffington Post article I became the subject of some rather bizarre conspiracy theories. The second is that there hasn't been much to write about.

However, today I was informed of an incident which my conscience wouldn't allow me to ignore. Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of the Sun newspaper, appeared today on the British TV show 'This Morning' and claimed that Michael Jackson was a child molester and his children are better off now that he's dead.

He launched this vicious diatribe in the wake of a moving interview with Jackson's children, conducted by Oprah Winfrey, in which the three kids recounted what a wonderful father Jackson was and how much they missed him.

Here is a full transcript of the exchange:

Phillip Schofield (Host): Let’s finish on this one. Michael Jackson was the best dad, his daughter tells Oprah. Oprah Winfrey has done the first interview with Michael Jackson – his parents, his children; Paris and Prince Michael and Blanket, of course, since he passed away. Paris called her dad the best dad and revealed that he was a normal dad. She said that he made the best French toast in the world. We’ve got a clip from it, actually. Here you go.

[Clip of the children talking about their father]

Schofield: Interestingly, these things don’t happen without controversy. Here you go. Michael’s brother Randy has spoken out against the chat, saying ‘I know that he would not have wanted this. In fact, she’s the last person on earth he would want around his children.’ He said that because in 2005 while the jury was deliberating Michael’s molestation charges, Oprah did a whole show dedicated to him.

Lesley Joseph (Guest): But you do wonder why they went on, because I have a feeling that those kids – much as I don’t know anything about it – but they do seem terribly well adjusted. So I’m sure they would not have been got on there had they not wanted to do it and had they not… Especially the girl, and you just have the feeling that she said, ‘Listen, I want to go on and say how great my dad was. And then who’s to say they shouldn’t? They do seem incredibly well adjusted, maybe I’m wrong.

Kelvin MacKenzie (Guest): Well, she gave a good interview but of course she’s been brought up in the limelight. It was quite a nice thing for her to say, I must say, about her dead father. I have much more significant question about how and why some of those children were born and under what circumstances they were born – and whether he, in the end, would have turned out to be a great father. Certainly, there are aspects to him which I think your audience would raise their eyebrows.

Joseph: But that’s them, Kelvin, that’s not the children. The children are born [audio interference].

Holly Willoughby (Host): Because their identities were kept so secret I think we all had it in our minds that they were going to be a bit of a horror show but they seem, like you said, very well adjusted and normal kids just talking about their father.

[Cross talk]

And they’re not to blame for what went on before or even for the fact that they were born. That’s him, not them.

MacKenzie: OK, well a rather different view to that is that the death of Michael Jackson may well have saved some children, possibly, who knows…

Schofield: Allegedly, though…

MacKenzie: Others…

Schofield: He wasn’t found guilty

MacKenzie: …from a lifetime of being mentally corrupted, shall we say.

Schofield: We don’t know that, though. We don’t know that…

MacKenzie: No, we don’t know that.

Schofield: …that is the case.

MacKenzie: He’s faced a number of charges, a number of allegations, and I in some ways feel that the children will have a better life for their father not being around, which is pretty unusual.

Schofield: Those are tough words and I think they would obviously disagree with you there.

MacKenzie's comments were morally and ethically reprehensible. He demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the justice system and also for the ethics of his profession. Jackson was acquitted of any wrongdoing and nobody has any right to insinuate that he was anything other than innocent.

That said, it's not unusual to witness misinformed nitwits talking rubbish about Jackson's court case - the vast majority of those who take to the airwaves to deliver their expert opinion on his trial have never read single day's worth of transcripts. More alarming than MacKenzie's ridiculous comments about Jackson's trial was the callousness he demonstrated in claiming that the children were better off now that their father was dead.

The comments had no basis in reality. After watching video footage of Jackson's children speaking about what a wonderful father he was and what a magnificent childhood he gave them, MacKenzie completely disregarded everything they'd said in order to offer a baseless opinion that they were actually severely at risk of abuse and mental corruption. Moreover, he in one breath showed apparent concern for their wellbeing and in another insinuated that they should never have been born in the first place. In other words, he's a hypocrite.

He's also a bigot. In the past he has claimed that he tailored his newspaper to those who hate 'wogs' and 'queers' (note to US fans: 'wog' is a derogatory phrase used to describe black people). MacKenzie has a long and provable bias against Jackson and, during his time as editor of the Sun, was responsible for countless inaccurate and heavily biased stories about the star. He was also helming the newspaper when it coined the term 'Wacko Jacko' in the 1980s.

Given MacKenzie's long and demonstrable hatred of Michael Jackson, questions must be asked as to why exactly he was asked onto the show in the first place, unless producers were specifically angling for exactly the kind of cruel and heartless comments that he inevitably wound up making.

Moreover, the incident once again raises questions about the validity of television shows which invite non-experts to offer their opinions on people they've never met and stories that they don't understand. What purpose does this practice serve? These inane TV spots plagued Jackson during his 2005 trial. 'Expert panels' comprising collections of people who had been nowhere near the courtroom for the duration of Jackson's trial were routinely assembled on television shows to offer their brainless comments on a court case in which they couldn't even recite the charge sheet.

MacKenzie's outburst was unaccaptable. Although entirely devoid of any moral, ethical or factual basis, the comments about the trial were unsurprising. It's all been said before and - though I'm sure it'll pain MacKenzie to hear it - far more shockingly. But to announce on television that three orphaned children are better off now their father is dead and proclaim that they should never have been born in the first place - that is beyond vile.

Fans wishing to complain directly to the television show can do so by emailing viewerservices@itv.com

For fans wishing to take their complaints a little further, MacKenzie's comments also breached numerous segments of the OFCOM Broadcast Code. OFCOM is the UK's regulatory body for television and radio programming.

Section 2.2 of the code demands that, "Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience." MacKenzie's comments were clearly misleading. He ignored the facts and evidence presented at Jackson's trial and dismissed the verdict. He also ignored the children's firsthand accounts of their lives with Jackson in order to portray them instead as having been 'corrupted' and say that they were potential victims of 'abuse'.

Section 2.3 of the code demands that, "Broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context." MacKenzie's comments were patently not justified by the context. In a discussion about an interview between Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson's children, MacKenzie irrelevantly raised the subject of Jackson's trial and proceeded to dismiss the verdict, insinuating that Jackson was a child molester.

Section 7.1 of the code demands that, "Broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes." This section of the code is constantly flouted when dealing with Michael Jackson. Examples of programmes which were biased, inaccurate and borderline illegal include Martin Bashir's 'Living With Michael Jackson' and Jacques Peretti's 'What Really Happened'. OFCOM never implements this section of the code. Does calling somebody a child abuser when they've been acquitted in a court of law constitute treating somebody unjustly or unfairly? You'd be hard pressed to find anybody to argue that it didn't, but watch OFCOM try anyway.

Section 7.9 of the code demands that, "Before broadcasting a factual programme, including programmes examining past events, broadcasters should take reasonable care to satisfy themselves that material facts have not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation." Material facts were clearly omitted and disregarded during Kelvin MacKenzie's unprovoked diatribe against Jackson. He ignored the facts, evidence and verdict in Jackson's trial and accused the star of being a child molester. MacKenzie also ignored the children's comments about their upbringing and proceeded to portray it as the exact opposite of what they claimed.

Section 7.11 of the code demands that, "If a programme alleges wrongdoing or incompetence or makes other significant allegations, those concerned should normally be given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond." Clearly, Jackson could not respond to Kelvin Mackenzie's inaccurate allegations, but no representative of Jackson's family or estate was invited to appear on the show or to offer a rebuttal in the aftermath.

Fans wishing to complain to OFCOM can do so at this link:


However, they will be required to supply a UK address and telephone number.