Wednesday, March 02, 2005

JACKSON: OUT COMES THE FIRE-FIGHTER, FANNING THE FLAMES: PR Expert Ann Kite was hired to herlp rebuild Michael Jackson's tattered image after the Martin Bashir documentary; she was, in effect, called in as a firefighter. Her plan was to try and move interest away from his "human frailities" and to focus on his genius as a musician. Trouble is, of course, he hadn't done anything decent musically for twenty years, and attempting to take the focus off the sex-with-children image would be a little like trying to sell Sellafield as a holiday destination by trying to downplay the glowing sea. Then, of course, The Smoking Gun got hold of the pay off to the last kid jackson may or may not have touched, and that, says Ms Kite, was "beyond disaster." You'll have noticed, of course, that Ms Kite has stopped trying to salvage Jackson's image and has now joined the prosecution case against him.

Towards the end of yesterday's session, Martin Bashir drove the defence to distraction by refusing to answer most of their questions. They now want him done for contempt; Bashir claims her didn't have to answer because he was protected by California's shield law. Up to a point, Martin - but really this line is a little shaky. The shiled law is a serious piece of legislation designed to protect proper journalists from having to reveal sources; it's a vital safeguard for a serious media. It's not really intended to make journalists above the law, and since in this case it's not clear who Bashir would be pretending to protect behind his big shield (his information came from, erm, the accused - the whole point of the programme was that it was Jacko invites the cameras in) there's a danger that Bashir could wind up bringing a positive democratic measure into contempt to avoid being asked awkward questions about his methods.

The case drags on.


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