Michael Jackson: ‘Guilty’ verdict after acquittal?
Published Jun 14, 2005 9:13 PM
guilty.” The jury representative repeated the word 14 times. And then Michael
Jackson was free to leave the Santa Barbara County Courthouse through the front
door. People across the country and around the world stopped what they were
doing to listen to the stunning verdict. Once the trial ended in acquittal, the
court decision became the subject of intense debate.
Those who saw
the trial as a vehicle for racism and reaction cheered the verdict.
But others, who saw this as a court case dealing with child sexual
abuse, are angry and distraught. Why?
The jurors—not a single
Black member among them—were interviewed as a group at length after the trial
ended. They spoke sincerely and seriously about how carefully they worked to be
objective and how painstakingly they had examined the evidence the prosecutor
presented them with. After 14 weeks of hearing evidence and deliberating they
explained that they had found no grounds for convicting Jackson on a single
major or lesser charge.
Even the capitalist media reports that the
belief is widespread that prosecutor Tom “Mad Dog” Sneddon has hounded Jackson
for more than a decade as part of a vendetta.
Isn’t the myth of
capitalist justice in the United States that a person is “innocent until proven
So why did talk show hosts and political pundits race to
their bully pulpits to rule Jackson “guilty” or to ridicule and dehumanize him
after a jury—which no one could argue was made up of his peers—had carefully
weighed the evidence and found him innocent?
It’s because Michael
Jackson faced two trials: one in the court room and the other in the news room.
Jackson was ridiculed and dehumanized in the media—and not just the tabloids.
The lurid headlines that trumpeted prosecution claims while burying more subdued
and smaller items about defense arguments served to win over the “jury” of
public opinion. In fact, the media found Jackson guilty before the trial even
Once the publicity about the charges facing Jackson exploded
into media frenzy, there was little room for news about the Catholic Church
hierarchy covering up the sexual abuse of boys and girls, as well as women,
within its ranks. Or the sexual violation and rape of youth by Pentagon military
Nor did the monopolized media take the opportunity to
provide education about the fact that sexual abuse of children is rampant in the
U.S. and the preponderance of abusers are heterosexual men.
trial was never about stopping the sexual abuse of children. It was a forum for
racist caricatures of a Black entertainer who has promoted racial unity. And it
was a campaign to vilify and portray as less than human a prominent person who
does not fit the state-enforced gender roles.
But at least one
newspaper got it right: Workers World. The newspaper you are reading takes
seriously the struggle to build unity against all forms of capitalist bigotry
and divisive ideology.
For earlier Workers World coverage of the
Jackson trial, see: “Behind the headlines on Michael Jackson,”; and “Michael Jackson in the lion's
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