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Bonus: Think Twice Rebuttal Part 4

In this final episode of our rebuttal, we circle back to Part 1 in our series, focusing on how Think Twice doesn't follow journalism fairness standards and rigorously challenge their presumption of guilt.

You'll hear examples of applying a "consider the opposite" approach to the Michael Jackson allegations, by asking, "What else has to be true if he were innocent?" We invite  hosts Leon Neyfakh and Jay Smooth to engage with innocence advocates. We also put forward an alternative response to the driving question behind Think Twice:  Why are we still listening to Michael Jackson?

Episode image from Michael Jackson Silhouette 

A Gallup poll from September 2022 shows that only 7% of Americans have a great deal of trust in the media. Almost 70% either don’t have much confidence or none at all. These numbers reflect the wariness we’ve had about the media for the past 20 years.

Gallup's Honesty & Ethics in Professions Survey shows that Americans rank journalists very low, below lawyers and bankers.

2019 reflection by reporter Harry Schuster about how the flaws in his reporting led to ruining the life of Richard Jewell

Former CNN President Tom Johnson says he regrets his role in ruining Jewell's life. He says the lesson was to slow down and get it right.

Deakin Law School’s Deputy Dean Marilyn McMahon says that despite the massive popularity of crime podcasts, there are problems that interfere with due process:

"Podcasts can present a great challenge to the fundamental legal presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty. They frequently focus on a person of interest, provide very detailed and persuasive evidence that the person is the offender while disregarding any contrary information, thereby creating a narrative that’s both memorable and influential. Consequently, we have to accept that podcasts often don’t start with the presumption of innocence or satisfy other legal standards."

PBS Frontline special Tabloid Truth about the media frenzy surrounding the 1993 Chandler allegations. The clip we use in this episode is a quote from tabloid broker Paul Barresi. Barresi said he didn’t care if the Jackson allegations were true or not, if someone connected to Jackson was willing to say it was true, that's all they needed to sell a story. A different reporter was quoted in Tabloid Truth saying that the Michael Jackson scandal was probably the story of the century. Because the media started with a position of guilty as profitable, it was in their interest to ignore the credibility issues of the accusers and former employees willing to sell salacious stories. This bias should be kept in mind when considering how Think Twice failed to seek out and test innocent alternatives to their guilty narratives.

Explaining the Dunning-Kruger Effect: a cognitive bias in which people fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.

In this 2017 article, Dunning explains how to avoid this bias. His first recommendation for making a judgment on a matter of importance is to have yourself or task someone else in the role of devil’s advocate--to rigorously question and criticize the favored conclusions. He says to honestly ask yourself how you might be wrong

Clip of Megyn Kelly, on the rampant deception she saw when looking at the lawsuit documents of Wade Robson.

In later court documents, Ray Chandler reveals that he moved in with Evan to start working on his book in August 1993, when the Chandler allegations went public. Here are those court documents.

Gavin's sister Davellin's testimony:

Much of her testimony will contradict the consistent testimony from many other witnesses, such as being seen around Neverland with many others, versus her own testimony that she was always alone and scared. Davellin claims she only ever had alcohol when Jackson gave it to her, which contradicts the flight attendant's testimony that she served Davellin alcohol on the flight back from Miami. Daveliin admits to lying to the social worker. She says all the wonderful things she said about Jackson in the rebuttal interview were true, despite her other testimony that she saw Jackson ply her brother with alcohol and touch him inappropriately. She claims feeling fear since the very first day at Neverland, but somehow she's sincere in her praise of Jackson weeks into her stay.

Gavin's brother Star Arvizo's testimony:

Star contradicts his Grand Jury testimony when he testifies that he didn't know where the wine cellar key was. He claims to not be talking about Michael Jackson in his rebuttal interview even though he says the name Michael, and the entire interview is all about Michael. Star admits to lying in the JC Penney lawsuit. He contradicts himself, sometimes saying his praise for Jackson was genuine, and at other times saying he was lying. He admits to being caught in Jackson's room when he wasn't supposed to be there. He contradicts himself by first claiming Frank Cascio was threatening him and Gavin not to reveal Jackson's abuse when they went to do the rebuttal interview, but in later testimony says no molestation occurred until after the interview. He says that Jackson didn't let him know the time at Neverland, but admits on the stand that there were clocks everywhere telling him the time. His claim of not being to hear the alarm upstairs in Jackson's suite will be proven false by alarm testing evidence.

Gavin Arvizo Testimony:

Gavin says he was angry that Jackson was avoiding them after their first trip to Neverland and felt betrayed by this evasiveness. Gavin claims Jackson never helped him regarding his illness, contradicting all of Gavin's cards and letters to Jackson, thanking Jackson for all the help he gave him. Gavin testifies that Jackson was the one who called them to come to Miami; however, Chris Tucker will later testify that it was Gavin who first reached out to him to take the family to Jackson. Gavin in his police interview says he didn't drink with Jackson a lot but on the stand says he drank with Jackson every night. At one point Gavin says he told his mother about the drinking, but at another point denies telling her about the drinking at all. He testifies that he was having fun at Neverland, but at other times claims to have been scared and threatened by being captive there. Gavin claims he never was inside Jackson's bedroom when Jackson wasn't there, which contradicts many other witnesses, including his brother. With regards to Gavin's rebuttal interview in which he's praising Jackson, Gavin testifies that sometimes he was being truthful about the nice things he has to say, and at other times Gavin says he was lying. Gavin contradicts his earlier police testimony by saying the molestation happened after the rebuttal and social services interviews.

Janet Arvizo testimony:

Janet testifies that she never asked anyone for money, contradicting multiple witnesses who said she asked them for money. She claimed to have stayed in her room the entire time she was at Neverland and that she was kept from her kids, contradicting multiple other witnesses who saw Janet in the main house for dinners with her family, and in the theater with the boys. She admits she used funds raised for Gavin's illness for non-medical purposes. Janet admits to lying for financial gain in the JC Penney lawsuit. She tells bizarre stories, such as that the JC Penney guards were doing belly flops on her in the parking lot and twisted her head around like an exorcist, even though her booking photo shows her without bruises and her hair combed and fixed nicely, and she denies needing any medical care. Janet says completely contradictory things about the way she praises Jackson in the interviews. She says the Miller interview was genuine, but 4 days later she had to be forced to use a script to say nice things, and even the laughter was scripted. But then she says she did believe all the nice things she said, even though at the same time she claims she was scared and imprisoned by Jackson.

In the social services report, the Arvizos make many statements that contradict their later testimony. Davellin Arvizo admits she lied when she told the social worker that she brought her girlfriend to Neverland. She also said she lied to the social worker when she told her that her mom was always at the main residence:

This interview took place during the time when Gavin was staying at Neverland. The interview, however, was at Janet Arvizo's fiance's house. Gavin told the social worker wonderful things about Jackson, and said he didn't do anything inappropriate. The Arvizo family all praised Jackson, even though later they will say they were frightened and threatened by Jackson at this time. The social worker testified that she saw no signs of abuse like being withdrawn.

Joy Robson says in her deposition that she had to repeatedly call Jackson to get Wade into his music videos, contradicting the claim that Jackson really wanted Wade in those videos to be close to him for abuse. She also confirms in this deposition that the whole family, including Wade, went on the trip to the Grand Canyon.

Jackson Estate lawyer documents how Robson never worked on commercials or photo shoots with Jackson's companies like Wade claims.

(p. 26)

Dance Spirit Magazine's Facebook page was advertising Wade Robson's dance video "Flight," during the time period he claimed in his lawsuit he was unable to work in entertainment in any capacity. (November 28, 2015)

Wade Robson, on his Wade Robson Creations Facebook page, advertised a dance session with him on Hawaii in June 2015. This is during the time period he claimed in his lawsuit he was unable to work in entertainment in any capacity. See Page 30

(Robson removed this advertisement from his own facebook page, but you can see screenshots of this page on the The Michael Jackson Allegations post listing all of Robson's work.)

Wade Robson, on his Wade Robson Creations Facebook page, advertised a teaser trailer that he created for the Adaptations Dance Theater, during a time he says in his lawsuit that he couldn't work in entertainment. See Page 31.

(Robson longer allows access to these posts, but you can see the screenshots on The Michael Allegations website.)

Wade Robson advertised "Life in Color" on his Facebook Wade Robson Creations page, May 21, 2016, during the time he said he was unable to work in entertainment. (Page 31)

Below are links to work Robson was doing in the time period (2016) he legally claimed he was unable to work in any capacity in the entertainment business:

He states that he didn’t know Jackson's actions were wrong or abuse until 2013.

In this MJ Cast interview with Jackson friend Brett Barnes, Barnes says not only was Michael Jackson truly like a brother and a wonderful support to him throughout his life, but he says Jackson was equally welcoming to his whole family, there was no secretiveness or isolation.

In Episode 20 of our Season 1, we go through how each case of sex abuse allegations does not match typical predator behavior.

Upton Sinclair quote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Adnan Syed and Curtis Flowers were the victims of prosecutorial excess and overreach involving charges of murder. Their convictions were overturned and they were released after many years in prison.

Think Twice features prominently in this New York Times article, promoting their podcast as one of the "Best of 2023". The following is the NYT review of why this podcast makes their list:

"There has never been a shortage of media coverage about Michael Jackson, either before his death in 2009 or after, when new allegations of child sex abuse led to a widespread reassessment of his legacy. But this authoritative, ten-part documentary series — which begins its account as a sanitized, Tony-award-winning Broadway musical is again demonstrating Jackson’s unsinkable allure — earns its place alongside the most incisive deconstructions of the most famous pop star who ever lived. The hosts Leon Neyfakh and Jay Smooth combine extensive archival footage (including clips that most casual fans haven’t heard) and dozens of supplementary interviews to shed fresh light on the unique cultural context that enabled the singer’s dominance."

For other counter narratives to Think Twice check out the links we have on our website to the MJJ Repository, where you'll see fully sourced, evidence based responses threads are fully sourced, evidence-based responses to Think Twice.


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