High profile mags hock crap for clicks
By Adam Tatelman, Arts Editor
On June 25, the anniversary of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s death, Internet rumour-mill Radar Online published an article claiming that a previously undisclosed stash of child pornography had been discovered by the FBI in their 2003 raid on Jackson’s Neverland Ranch estate. Although it creates a shocking impression at first glance, probing deeper into this claim reveals it to be nothing but a lurid speculative clickbait, devoid of any empirical fact.
To begin with, Radar’s “leaked video” of the Neverland Ranch raid had no pornographic materials whatsoever. This is not merely because the video is incomplete. Publicly available FBI records and Santa Maria court documents clearly state that no child porn was recovered in the raid or entered into evidence. Even if it were, there is no point to publicize such information a decade after the case was settled, other than to line the pockets of the muckrakers who present the story as gospel.
During the 2003 case, accuser Gavin Arvizo claimed that Jackson gave him a Hustler magazine. The presence of his fingerprints on the pages would seem to corroborate his story, and yet the magazine in question had been published several months after the initial accusation was made. The eyewitness testimony of journalist William Wagener reveals that prosecuting D.A. Tom Sneddon removed the magazine from its evidence bag and handed it to Arvizo during a pre-trial interview. That is tampering by even the strictest definition.
If the FBI had truly discovered a mountain of child porn in Jackson’s home, there would be no reason for the prosecution to fabricate evidence in favor of a smoking gun. And yet empirical fact is not the only thing that contradicts the story—Radar’s previous publications on Jackson’s sex life also fly in the face of these claims. In a baffling display of self-contradiction, the Radar article links to an interview with Jackson’s girlfriend, Shana Mangatal who published a book describing her and other women’s relationships with Jackson.
In Radar’s interview, Mangatal was quoted as saying, “He loved women and I know that for a fact. He wasn’t a child molester.” Tellingly, the link to the interview no longer functions but instead redirects the reader to a Kim Kardashian fluff piece. Not the most idiot-proof way to cover one’s tracks, considering the link text still describes the Mangatal interview.
Normally I would not waste the ink necessary to dismiss such vacuous crap, but in a nakedly desperate attempt to generate site traffic, several high-profile news sites have circulated Radar’s article as well, including Breitbart, Jezebel, and the Huffington Post. That they chose to air the story on the date of Jackson’s death is no coincidence, and speaks to the sensationalist nature of the article. That it accuses Jackson’s family of being in deep denial over “the truth” only makes the content more odious.
In the King of Pop’s own words: “Just because you read it in a magazine or see it on the TV screen don’t make it factual.” This story is slanderous to the man’s memory and is shamelessly disrespectful to his loved ones and their right to privacy. Jackson has long since paid the ultimate price for any wrongdoing he may be guilty of. There is no reason to continue pissing on his grave and hounding his family, apart from the clicks.
If the aforementioned news sites have a fibre of journalistic integrity between them, then they will retract this unsourced, opprobrious drivel. If not, then they passively prove themselves accessory to the decadence and decay of modern media, where objectivity is secondary to shock value, and facts are merely inconvenient statics.