Mesereau, Murray, & the Media
The King of Pop vs. the Cameras
August 25, 2011
Part 2 of 4
(Sentinel Sept 8-14, 2011)
are already going off in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the former physician of the King of Pop, Michael Joseph Jackson.
Just two days ago, CNN reported: "The judge in the trial of the physician charged with causing Michael Jackson's death
warned Dr. Conrad Murray and his lawyers on Tuesday to keep their mouths shut in public when they disagree with his rulings."
"Keep their mouths shut in public"? Whoa. That's a pretty strong
admonishment. CNN continues: "Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ended a hearing Tuesday saying he
wanted ‘to make it crystal clear' he did not want to hear or read their criticisms in news reports."
Not much has changed since Michael's own trial. The media parade is already gearing up for
action. Both Tom Mesereau and I have been contacted for interviews. But, speaking of interviews, let's get back to the one
I conducted with him:
Mesereau: My retention generated enormous
Carr: Of course. I
mean, you were leaving one famed case (Robert Blake) to go to an even more famous case.
One anti-Jackson reporter immediately appeared on The Today Show to announce that I had an African-American girlfriend
and attended a black church.
girlfriend. Black church. Yea, I can see how that would make you a bad lawyer.
The lawyers I replaced did not depart gracefully. One appeared on Good Morning America to say he had left voluntarily
because less than desirable people surrounded Michael.
I see. Was that the extent of your negative encounters with the press?
Actually, there's more.
Carr: Do tell.
Mesereau: Certain tabloid shows, like those hosted by Geraldo
Rivera and Bill O'Reilly, criticized my appearance.
Mesereau: Yes. I assumed they were
"in the pocket" of prior counsel. This was my baptism.
I have my own horror stories with Geraldo, Bill O'Reilly, and Fox News in general. And that includes the New York
Post, an extension of the media world that belongs to Rupert Murdock. But, back to you. Do you think that prior counsel
craved media attention?
Mesereau: I made a public statement
before the media to the effect that Michael's case was not about "lawyers, or anyone else, becoming celebrities."
Carr: Did you have anyone in mind when making
Mesereau: These words were designed to change
the atmosphere surrounding the defense and, of lesser importance, to hurl a barb at prior counsel.
Carr: A bold move.
I had not liked the carnival atmosphere surrounding Jackson's defense lawyers. In my opinion, they repeatedly advertised their
absolute delight at being in the middle of the circus. Their public statements were, to me, self-serving and amateurish.
Carr: Incredible. Were these just your sentiments?
Mesereau: Not really. Michael and Randy Jackson were very
suspicious of them.
Carr: Before you came
on board, I actually met several times with prior counsel to map out media strategies in anticipation of the issuance of a
gag order. I would imagine your comments didn't sit well with your colleagues.
Correct. My anti-lawyer-like comments generated controversy. But a new firm die had been cast. My Irish grandmothers smiled
from the heavens!
Carr: More about the media.
Any more horror stories?
Mesereau: Unfortunately, yes. The
media smelled enormous ratings and revenue in a conviction. They were like a cloud of locusts, constantly descending on any
weakness they spotted or created.
Okay. That's general, and, frankly, can be expected. Michael's the brightest star in the entertainment universe, and they're
the media. I mean, did they do something specific?
Yes. There were numerous efforts to discredit me.
Really? Like what?
Mesereau: Former girlfriends called to say
they had been approached for unsavory information.
That's amazing. They did that to you too!
Mesereau: Oh yes.
That's not all. I received calls from alleged "journalists" promising me favors for inside information. Tabloid
sensationalism was at a premium.
the trial itself, what was your general feel about the case? In other words, did you think you had the upper hand?
Mesereau: I thought we were winning all along. But the media reported
the very opposite. And, of course, jealous, shallow legal pundits had a field day criticizing my performance.
Carr: Armchair quarterbacks.
Mesereau: To them, God help any lawyer who engaged in unconventional trial behavior. Such
hearsay merited capital punishment.
Next week, Part 3.