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Bonus Episode: 'Sin Eater' Rebuttal

In this bonus episode of the podcast, we critique the use of Michael Jackson in The New York Times Presents documentary series entitled, "Sin Eater." "Sin Eater" is a 2-part documentary about the shady legacy of Anthony Pellicano, a Hollywood private investigator most active in the 1990s. The NYT documentary promotion page says about Pellicano: "Hollywood’s dirtiest private investigator didn’t operate within the law to hide the sins of the rich and powerful." However, we argue in this episode that it is unfair and unfounded to include Pellicano's work on the 1993 Jackson scandal for this documentary.

"The most extreme and lazy form of reporting", Hard copy "pioneered the genre we now call Fake News". "The Worst News Show in American History" that "never got a story right". Hard copy reporters not only paid people for their salacious stories, but it a Hard Copy reporter allegedly tried to blackmail Elton John for an interview. When John threatened a slander suit, Hard Copy backed down. This is a TV show that was known by all

Here's an article by Howard Rosenberg, criticizing how the line between respected media outlets and the tabloids was dissolved because of the Michael Jackson story. His primary illustration of this dissolution is CBS's use of Diane Dimond:

"If there ever was much of a line separating many so-called legitimate news organizations from the yellowest of tabloids in the 1990s, the Michael Jackson Media Caper is the howitzer that’s blasting it into oblivion. All across the globe, Inquiring Minds are having a heyday.

The defining volley arguably came Wednesday when “CBS News This Morning” anchor Paula Zahn was called upon to seek the real scoop about the ALLEGED scandal from Diane Dimond, star reporter of dubious distinction for the syndicated Hard Copy. That’s right, the CBS News source list is now headed by one of the most aggressively shoddy and dishonest programs on the air."

So how can the New York Times justify using a Hard Copy reporter to narrate the Michael Jackson story in their documentary, when the universal opinion in the news business was that it was the most dishonest show on television?

LA Times article that explain the appeal of tabloid news shows because of the profit motive

"Lindner (who wrote the book essentially as a primer on TV news and intends to donate a portion of his royalties to the American Red Cross) expressed sympathy for news executives, who--facing corporate pressures to make their operations profitable--often adopt the production values and style of tabloid shows because there is a demonstrable audience for such fare."

"In the course of its 10-year run, “Hard Copy” turned anchors Terry Murphy, Barry Nolan and Diane Dimond into just about the most repulsive things you could see in your living room with less than six legs."

Until that day arrives, providing TV critics some high-profile new whipping boy, we bid an old friend farewell and erect the following, fitting tribute: “ ‘Hard Copy,’ 1990-99. R.I.P. Gone . . . but Your Stench Will Go On.”

American Journalism Review catagorizes Hard Copy derisively as a tabloid news show, and criticizes the tabloid news shows' practice of paying sources for sensational stories.

Story in New York Times calling Hard Copy a virus for television. This article reviews the PBS Frontline documentary "Tabloid Truth", about how network news crossed the line into some tabloid practices for the Michael Jackson 1993 sex abuse allegations.

Blanca Francia was paid $20,000 from Hard Copy

Mary Fisher's 1994 GQ article, "Was Michael Jackson Framed," which reports on Victor Gutierrez's outreach to Blanca Francia and his work to facilitate tabloid stories.


Q: "This is a recent video, or something[.]"

Dimond: "Yes. . . . It was taken right before Christmas as the story goes and it was recorded by one of Michael Jackson's own security cameras. He likes, everybody knows that he likes to bug rooms and put cameras up and the whole 9 yards[.]"

Q: "How do they know about this?"

Dimond: "Well, it's kind of a convoluted story but the bottom line as I understand it is: someone close to . . . Michael Jackson knew of the existence of this tape. It is an x-rated tape, I must tell you and [—]

Q: "It is an x-rated tape?"

Dimond: "It is . . . yes."

Q: "Of Michael Jackson[?]"

Dimond: "Truly explicit."

Q: "It's what? Michael Jackson and little boy. Are you 100% sure that this tape exists?"

Dimond: "I am as sure as I can possibly be."

Tom Sneddon declaration in support of Diane Dimond in Jackson slander suit

Further background on Dimond and Gutierrez, especially relating to the sex tape story

Here is an excerpt from Mason's declaration provided in the slander lawsuit, describing his interview with tabloid broker Ken Wells:

"Mr. Wells told me that on July 2, 1997, Mr. Gutierrez and his attorney, Mr. Goldman came to Mr. Wells’s home unannounced to discuss production of the supposed photographs. During their discussions on July 2, 1997, Mr. Gutierrez told Wells about all of Mr. Gutierrez’s connections in the tabloid business, and that he had sold many stories, some of which had been “B.S.” and simply made up. According to Mr. Wells, Gutierrez said that money in the tabloid business was easy, even for false stories. Mr. Wells told me that he asked Mr. Gutierrez about the videotape issue in this case. According to Mr. Wells, Mr. Gutierrez said that 'The judge told me to produce the tape and I couldn’t produce it.' Wells asked Gutierrez whether he ever had or saw the tape and, according to Wells, Gutierrez smiled and said, 'Well, you know how that is. You know how these things are.' Wells told me that he believed Guiterrez was telling him, without saying so explicitly, that he had lied about the existence of the tape.”

This account is from her book Jackson Family Values. She refutes Gutierrez's claim that he met with Maldonado at a hotel to give her the sex tape. Despite Gutierrez's claims to police that he had met Maldonado in a hotel room and showed her the tape, the hotel had no record of him ever staying there. Gutierrez also alleged Maldonado called the LAPD, but there is not a record of her call. The alleged sex tape never materializes. Maldonado says, "The story was an outrageous lie. Not one part of it was true. I’d never met the man. There was no tape. Michael never paid me for my silence. He had never molested Jeremy. Period.”

Gutierrez is ordered to pay Jackson $2.7 million in damages, which he never does:

Gutierrez fails to show up and his lawyer makes this statement: 'Mr. Gutierrez is required to be here, but he has chosen not to be here, and you may draw whatever inference you may from his non-appearance.'

This is the CNN Transcript of Diane Dimond on Larry King, claiming knowledge of the existence of love letters by Jackson to Gavin, which never materialize. There is never any mention of "love letters" by the prosecution at Jackson's trial.

KING: Does anyone here -- does anyone here -- anyone -- know of the existence of these letters?

DIMOND: Absolutely. I do.

DIMOND: I absolutely know of their existence!

Former Neverland maid Blanca Francia's 2016 deposition for Wade Robson's lawsuit.

In this deposition, Francia says Pellicano called her and told her Michael Jackson loves her and doesn't want her to go to police. But she also said Pellicano never bullied her, which was left out of the documentary "Sin Eater." She does say she was harassed by other reporters, such as those from the New York Times.

Former Jackson driver Gary Hearne's 2016 deposition for Wade Robson's lawsuit. In this deposition, Hearne says Pellicano asked him to go to Jackson's LA condo and collect and read to him the search warrant. He also asked him to pick up 2 bags. Hearne said picking up bags for Jackson was commonplace, he did it all the time, part of his job, no nothing unusual about picking up these bags after a raid had already been completed. These bags were in plain sight on a shelf in Jackson's closet, and during his Grand Jury testimony, Hearne was able to point out the bags clearly from a police photo taken during the raid. The media spun this story to make it look like a shady removal of evidence, but there is nothing to back up this rumor.

See our Chandler series in episodes 2-6 of Season 1 to hear a full accounting of the evidence showing Evan Chandler demanding 20 million or else he would accuse Jackson of child sex abuse. Also the evidence that the allegations were false, including Jordan Chandler's coerced confession by his father under anesthesia after a dental procedure.

Excerpt from the transcripts of secretly recorded tapes by tabloid broker Jim Mitteager. These tapes were given to Paul Baressi who gave the Anthony Pellicano transcripts to journalist Aphrodite Jones, who posted the excerpt on her website. In these recordings, Pellicano is clear that he had no doubts that the Chandler allegations were false.

Anthony Pellicano says on Entertainment Tonight that he has no doubts about Jackson's innocence. This interview was after Pellicano stopped working for Jackson, and he says the lawyers around him were not keeping Jackson's best interests in mind as they advised him to settle the lawsuit, which Pellicano opposed.

There are unanswered questions about what happened to the extortion charges. Mary Fisher's 1994 GQ article, "Was Michael Jackson Framed" stated that the extortion charges were dropped as part of the settlement agreement. But was there an investigation? I have found no reporting on this, but we know from the transcripts of police interviews with kids who were friends with Jackson, that the police were biased in their investigation of these allegations. (See Chandlers Part 2 of our series). One insight brought up by MJJ Repository is that Jackson lawyers needed to have caution with the extortion charges because that would open up Jackson to depositions and discovery which would put them at a disadvantage in civil trial.

Thank you to @MJJRepository for helping me locate the source material for the Jim Mitteager tapes and the Pellicano interviews, and for information and thoughtful insights regarding the extortion charges in the Chandler Case.


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