Books: "Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case"
Tuesday, November 22, 2005; 12:00 PM
Diane Dimond , former Court TV executive investigative editor, was online Tuesday, Nov. 22, at Noon ET to discuss her new book, "Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case."
Dimond broke the Jackson story in 1993 and again in 2003 and details the scandal and behavior which led to his trial on charges of child molestation.
Diane Dimond: Hello Everyone! Diane Dimond here ready to answer questions.
Thanks for chatting with me here today...
Chantilly, Va.: An obvious question perhaps, but is the admonition in your title meant for Jackson or for his fans?
Diane Dimond: The title is meant for all of us, Virginia.
Its taken from a lyric Jackson wrote in "Billie Jean"...
"My Momma always told me be careful who you love..." he wrote and I think that's good advise for everyone.
But frankly, the overriding theme of this subject for me has been the blind adoration the public sometimes displays for our stars. Its troubling that we hold THEM to a higher standard than we hold our next door neighbors. I think most often of the children - and how we need to teach them to keep themselves safe and to ONLY admire people who deserve the admiration.
Los Angeles, Calif.: Do you think Jackson will ever be brought to account for his alleged molestation of little boys?
Diane Dimond: I think its very important to remember that a jury found Michael Jackson NOT GUILTY. Whether one believes the verdict was just or not that is our system and he is a free man.
If you're asking do I think Jackson might wind up in another court, charged with similar crimes? Yes, I think IF he comes back to America that is a distinct possibility
Portugal: Since MJ was considered not guilty, why should your readers believe in you?
Diane Dimond: I'm not asking anyone to "beleive in me". I have covered this topic for 12 years and in my book I set forth the facts as I could confirm them.
It's up to the reader to interpret these facts anyway they want.
Washington, D.C.: I think the title is a lyric from his song "Billie Jean" but Ms. Dimond, my question is that you seem to stir so much animosity, even as compared to others who seem more mean-spirited, such as Nancy Grace. Do you think it's because you're an attractive woman with opinions that people don't like you? Maureen Dowd says that's her problem and maybe that's yours. Thanks.
Diane Dimond: As mentioned the title of my book IS taken from the song "Billie Jean". Nice catch, not everyone gets that.
Now, to your question about why I stir so much animosity.
I'm not sure. I suppose it's because I covered the case for so long. However,as I write in the book - almost immediately after I first broke the story of alleged molestation in Aug. 93 I began to be harassed by MJ fans.
Look, people don't like to hear negative things about people they adore. I really think it's as simple as that...a sort of "shoot the messenger" mentality.
Gaithersburg, Md.: I think a lot of people speculated on this at that time, but do you know if Jackson's lawyers counseled him at all on how he presented himself in and outside the courtroom (dress, umbrellas, various antics, etc.)?
Diane Dimond: Having covered Jackson for as long as I have I can confidently say I don't think ANYONE tells Michael Jackson what to do. He lives his life the way he wants to, he follows a path he alone has laid out for himself and that's that.
Having said that, however, I do think the lawyers may have had an effect in one regard. After his initial arraignment when Jackson left the courtroom and jumped up on top of the car to wave and dance for his fans - I beleive his attorneys later instructed him that was NOT the proper way for a criminal defendant to act. After that he conducted himself in a most solemn manner.
Fairfax, Va.: You are known for your dogged determination in covering the Michael Jackson case(s). What do you think of that classification of your efforts and coverage on TV?
Diane Dimond: Well, I'm not going to apologize for being a "dogged" investigative reporter! Yes, I've been determined on this story - I think in large part because of the resistance from TEAM JACKSON to answer media questions. Ask any reporter-the more they CAN'T get at the truth the harder they work. For me this was a compelling mystery. Was a superstar guilty or not? I felt we wouldn't know the truth until it got to court. Now, with the after-verdict pronouncement from THREE jurors that they really felt he WAS a pedophile - I'm not so sure the truth is known.
Washington, D.C.: Why do you think Michael Jackson left Neverland and moved to Bahrain?
Diane Dimond: Its a complex answer.
First I think he needed to go away and regain his health.
Second, I think he ran to escape Child Protective Services which was sure to return to check on the welfare of his three children.
Third, Bahrain has no extradition treaty with America so he can't be FORCED to return.
Fourth, there are multiple millions of dollars in lawsuits facing him here in America - the latest just filed by one of his former business associates named Dieter Weisner, according to ABC news
Fifth - there is a prince in Bahrain who is apparently willing to pay for everything. In my opinion Michael Jackson will soon be dead broke and he needs a benefactor badly.
NYC: Did you hear the tape of Jackson played this morning on Good Morning America, professing his love you a young boy? I felt sick to my stomach -- and hope the jurors in his trial did, too.
Diane Dimond: NO, I heard telephone messages MJ apparently left on the phone of a former business associate named Frederick Marc Schaffel. On those tapes he sounded zonked out, perhaps drunk or drugged, and he was literally begging for money - begging Schaffel to get him 7 million dollars FAST. I didn't hear anything about him professing love for a young boy
Bethesda, Md.: What's this I'm hearing about you saying it could've ended up a mistrial?
Diane Dimond: My investigation revealed that Juror #5, an elderly woman named Elanor Cook visited with a key prosecution witness DURING THE TRIAL and professed her opinion that Jackson was guilty and that she would never vote to acquit him. If the judge had known that Cook was visiting with ex-Neverland maid Adrian McManus DURING THE TRIAL - not just once, but twice and discussing the trial he might have declared a mis-trial. He might also have simply removed Cook as a juror and brought in an alternate. But the judge never knew about those meetings at Adrian McManus's workplace
Marcsville, Mont.: Can you admit to having an opinion, perspective, or agenda -- in other words, a bias, in covering this case?
Diane Dimond: No, I do not admit to having an agenda or being biased.
If you actually take the time to read my book you will see I express no opinion.
I criticize both sides in the case
I praise both the defense and the prosecution
Washington, D.C.: Hello Diane,
Friday night I saw Brooke Shields on the Biography Channel on which the interviewer asked her about her past relationship with Michael Jackson. Her response to the question was exactly the same as MJ's former wife Lisa Marie Presley's that I saw during an interview some months earlier. Both young women said (politely) "I don't want to talk about it" ... and they didn't.
I find that interesting because both Ms. Shields and Ms. Presley talked about former loves, but neither said anything (good or bad) about Michael Jackson. Why do you think this is?
Diane Dimond: Another complex answer I'm afraid.
But the bottom line: would YOU want to take on, or publicly argue with an international superstar? Michael Jackson's team has let it be known that Jackson had loving relationships with both Brooke Shields and Lisa Marie.
I would counter by saying neither woman was satisfied with the relationship enough to stick around and make it work. I'd even go further in the instance of Shields to say I think he was only seen with her as a publicity stunt.
Washington, D.C.: So where is Jackson now, and what's he doing? What will become of Neverland? And what's his financial state?
Diane Dimond: I beleive he is near dead-broke. Next month a balloon payment is due that I don't beleive he can make.
I think Neverland is up for sale.
I think he will be forced to sell his part of the Beatles' catalog and even his own Mijac music collection.
I don't see him pumping out any more money making albums (where is that charity single for the Katrina victims, anyway? What's taking so long?)
I don't see much positive on the horizon for Jackson, financially.
Sterling, Va.: Hi Diane. Yes, Michael Jackson was found not guilty of all those charges against him, and many of his "fans" rejoiced at that verdict. But I can't help but think that it's a silent majority of the public that think he was guilty of something along the lines of child molestation, whether it was with the boy in question or the other boy with whom he settled out of court years ago or someone else. Do you think these boys will ever come out in the open and set the record straight once and for all what happened between them and Michael? And do you think that would be a good or bad thing for the public to know?
Diane Dimond: Why in the world would any potential, possible victim come forward now.
You saw what happened to the latest accuser in court. He and his family were vilified. There is currently a Web site which has "outed" this boy - who had been hiding in a victims protection program under a new name. Suddenly all the kids he goes to school with know HE was the boy who accused Michael Jackson. The pressure never ends for anyone who has anything negative to say about Jackson. Even the original boy, who is now in his early 20's, prefers to stay anonymous for his own safety.
Arlandria, Va.: Do you think Michael Jackson will ever be back on top with hit records? He's supposedly working on a Katrina hurricane tribute with other artists. Is that happening? Is all forgiven when it comes to the man and his music?
Diane Dimond: Sadly, I think Jackson's singing career is behind him
Frederick, Md.: Ms. Diamond:When Mr. Jackson arrived from, I believe Las Vegas, Nev., before his last "trial of the century" he accused the police of breaking his shoulder. A week or so later he was on top of his car waiving and dancing. Whatever happened to the law suit against the police?
Diane Dimond: Jackson never actually filed a suit. He made a public announcement that he was the victim of police brutality and the Santa Barbara Sheriff asked the state Attorney General to do an investigation.
After months and months, after interviews with dozens of witnesses Jackson's complaint was found "not credible."
Suitland, Md.: Has Michael Jackson committed any sexual crimes against children based on your investigations?
Diane Dimond: Again, I don't, I won't give a personal opinion. Read the book and come to your own conclusion.
Washington, D.C.: How did you get permission to use that line from Billie Jean? Surely the Jackson's didn't grant it.
Diane Dimond: No he didn't.
San Diego, Calif.: I must say Court TV was once a legitimate cable station covering court cases strictly down the middle. But with the hiring of "journalists" with an agenda like you, Nancy Grace and others, it has become utterly unwatchable. Why should anyone care to read a book by an obviously biased "reporter?"
Diane Dimond: I would disagree with you, of course.
If you don't want to read my book don't buy it.
I'm not trying to be flip but it's clear you're not open to any new information about the topic
Falls church, Va.: How do we not know that this is all a scam to get money out of Jackson? I think he is an overgrown kid that never had a childhood due to his career. because he is so timid and frail he won't put up a good fight to defend himself. If someone think they can get money out of you, you would be surprised what they would do to get what they want. Your comments please
Diane Dimond: Throughout the trial we heard from Mr. Jackson's defense attorney, Tom Mesereau that the boy and the mother at the center of the case were grifters, just after Jackson's money. Yet there was no evidence presented that she ever asked Jackson for cash. She took gifts from him, as countless other guests at his ranch have, and to date she has made no moves I can discover to try to file a civil suit.
OJ and Robert Blake both WON in criminal court but LOST in civil court. I find it odd if this boy and his mother are after money - why haven't they too filed a CIVIL suit?
New York, N.Y.: with all the coverage of this story -- why do you think people need to read your book? Haven't they heard it all?
Diane Dimond: My book contains never before reported material.
No, I don't think people have "heard it all."
Philadelphia, Pa.: Lisa Marie Presley stated she and her husband Michael had sex. While I don't know if her definition of sex is the same of what is in the dictionary, this still does not prove anything. Whether or not Michael Jackson was innocent or guilty, couldn't even a devoted husband have a hidden secret desire to molest young children? Doesn't that defense really mean very little?
Diane Dimond: I agree with you, Philadelphia.
Married people (men and women) have been found guilty of, and even confessed to, molesting children.
I think this is such an important topic that we just don't discuss enough in this country.
I write a chapter about an FBI profiler named Ken Lanning I wish EVERYONE would read. It's about WHO is a molestor and how they behave. A true pedophile is NOT the man in the dirty trench coat who hangs around the playground. He (or she)is an upstanding member of the community, most often. They have good jobs, contribute to charity, seem willing to help with even the most troubled children. In other words they could be your next door neighbor and you'd never know.
Annapolis, Md.: What are some of your scoops in the book? Please divulge.
Diane Dimond: The conduct of Juror #5 which I believe constituted juror misconduct
The actual transcripts of discussions between the 1993 boy and his psychiatrist
What that boy's mother predicts for Michael Jackson's future
How the Prosecution broke the news about the verdict to THIS boy-accuser
How MJ reacted when cops first went to Neverland with the body search warrant to take pictures of his private parts to see if they matched the boy's detailed description
What a security guard at Neverland SAW WITH HIS OWN TWO EYES between Michael Jackson and a 12 year old boy. And the guard passed TWO lie detector tests!!!
I could go on and on but I won't
Washington, D.C.: Would you agree that if Debbie did not take the stand on Michael's behalf that he would have been convicted on at least some of the counts of child molestation? Is she still trying to get custody of the children?
Diane Dimond: I don't think Debbie was a definitive witness in the case, although she sure didn't say what the prosecution thought she would say once she took the stand.
Post-verdict several of the jurors told me her testimony didn't really make a difference to them....and they all thought she was still in love with Michael Jackson.
Yes, I think she would like to have joint custody but as long as he is out of the country I don't think she has a chance of getting to know her two kids. And they don't know she is their mother.
Bowie, Md.: Overall, what did you think of the media coverage of the Jackson trial?
Diane Dimond: I thought there was too much daily-scoreboarding.
In other words - too many visiting lawyers who liked being on TV who would pop in every once in a while and then give their opinion as to who was winning and who was loosing on that particular day.
That's NOT the way a trial works and I don't like that kind of journalism.
Oak Park, Ill.: Diane,
I've long held the opinion that our system of elections and jurisprudence will not be able to withstand the pressures for immediate satisfaction that television news programs engender. I wonder if you'd be interested in responding to that.
Diane Dimond: I think I DID just respond to that. I hope you're wrong but I fear you may not be.
Hollywood Hills, Calif.: Ms Dimond, I have always admired your work dating back to your coverage of the William Kennedy Smith Trial on "Hard Copy"
What is your opinion of the first accuser (1993) NOT testifying in this year's case?
Do you think he could have made a difference in the outcome?
Diane Dimond: Yes, I think if the first boy testified he MIGHT have made a difference.
I think he didn't because, as sources close to him told me, he truly felt that it was the ADULTS in his life that got him into this mess back in 1993 and that it should be the ADULTS who should step up to the plate and testify at the trial - not him.
As you may recall his mother DID testify and I beleive that could go a long way toward reuniting them sometime in the future. They haven't spoken in about a dozen years.
Arlington, Va.: You seem to be making a lot of statements about Michael's health and financial well-being. You say I THINK a lot in your answers when you discuss his financial situation. Shouldn't you know before making statements that feed into the Michael drama? Do you make your money off the implication that you brought him down?
Diane Dimond: Michael Jackson was found not guilty. No one "brought him down" as you put it.
Oakton, Va.: Just a comment -- I enjoyed your reporting of the Michael Jackson trial -- I saw the heat you took occasionally for reporting on his behavior in court and thought you handled it quite well -- keep up the good work!
Diane Dimond: Well, thank you.
I hear so many negatives about myself it's nice to hear something positive. I appreciate it. :)
Washington, D.C.: Explain to me what makes you an expert on Michael Jackson and what happened in the privacy of his home. Why would I want to buy your book?
Diane Dimond: I don't profess to be expert on anything.
I'm an investigative journalist.
Washington, D.C.: Will Jackson ever set foot in this country again?
Diane Dimond: Maybe, but probably only briefly. I don't beleive he will ever live here permanently again. His lawyer Tom Mesereau has said as much
Falls Church, Va.: His career over?
Diane Dimond: I'd be surprised if he launches a successful revival
Alexandria, Va.: Can you bring us up to date on some of the "characters" in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.
Diane Dimond: Oh! There were so many - can you be specific? I try to keep up with what they are all doing.
Oakwood, N.J.: It seems the juries in the OJ case and in the MJ case had trouble with what constitutes "reasonable doubt" ... what do you think about that?
Diane Dimond: That is one of the best questions!!! I think we need to take a really hard look at how we instruct our juries in this country.
the verdict when I spoke to the jurors it was clear they didn't get the concept of reasonable doubt although many mentioned it as the reason they voted to acquit.
Juror number one, for example, Ray Hultman told me (on Court TV Live) that he really thought Jackson was a career pedophile but that when he got back in the jury room other jurors "explained away" some of the testimony. He declared that was "reasonable doubt" which it wasn't! You can say that the sun will not come up tomorrow -- but that's not a very REASONABLE way to believe!
Washington, D.C.: What's up next for you after this book? Will you follow another celebrity case? Go back to Court TV or another TV venue?
Diane Dimond: Well, right now I'm just resting through the holidays. My contract with Court TV is over, the book is now out and I feel for the first time in a long time I can just take a bit of time for myself.
I moved to California from my NY home for the trial so I'm enjoying being back with my husband and my cats.
Alexandria, Va.: The Jackson family: Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Jermaine, LaToya, Janet, Debbie Rowe, Messereau?
Diane Dimond: The Jackson family continues to put forth the image that they are all one big happy unit but I don't beleive they are - most have significant money problems that Michael used to take care of but can do no longer. Debbie Rowe has enough money to live from her settlement agreement with Jackson - although I beleive he did not pay her ALL he agreed to. Tom Mesereau is the big winner here - he is the attorney du jour and can now command huge fees if he wants to. I think, however, he will continue his considerable pro bono work for indigent minority defendants.
Santa Barbara, Calif.: do you know if the prosecutors plan to go after any of the "unindicted co-conspirators" in the Jackson case?
Diane Dimond: I don't beleive so.
If they had won conviction of Jackson they might have but I don't think they have the stomach for it now
Re: another expert on pedophiles: Anna M. Salter, Ph.D.
Her book, "Predators" should be a must-read for all of us, and not just for protecting children.
Diane Dimond: I second that!!!
Again, I wish we paid more attention to the issue of sexual abuse of children in this country.
I think the scandal in the Catholic Church has helped focus attention on it but more needs to be discussed.
Sterling, Va.: Diane, what do you think would have happened if you did not break the stories of the boys and Michael Jackson? Would it have been inevitable that someone else would eventually have put the stories in the news? What benefit would you hope the public would get out of reading your book and knowing the story of the boys and their encounters with Michael Jackson?
Diane Dimond: Someone would have reported it. But that someone might have simply taken the Team Jackson denials, run with those and left it at that. Early on I saw so many discrepancies in their spin that it just made me keep digging. Plus, Jackson's treatment of people left a lot of angry people who wanted the "truth" as they called it to get out. Just because someone is angry doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth.
Aberdeen, Md.: Have you interviewed anyone from the Jackson family, either before in your career, or in your book? Have you ever met Michael Jackson? What do you think he thinks of you?
Diane Dimond: I know for a fact Mr. Jackson does not like me. None of his family does.
Although I have e-mailed with some members of the Jackson family I cannot tell you that any have ever agreed to be formally interviewed by me.
Bowie, Md.: Ms Dimond,You have said the Jackson team did things to try to intimidate you as you covered the case -- can you give some examples?
Diane Dimond: As I write in the book - when I worked at Hard Copy on the Paramount Lot in Hollywood MJ fans would surround me at the stage door when I left to go get my car, my automobile was broken into once as it sat INSIDE the guarded lot, my office phone was tapped by Jackson's private detective (confirmed to me by FBI sources)
This time around fanatic fans would surround me and yell terrible things when I was live on air and during the verdict watch they stashed piles of fist-sized rocks near my live shot site to throw at me if the verdict didn't go their way. Also - this time there is the Internet and I get an awful lot of death threats and hate mail that way
Washington, D.C.: I'm not an expert, but shouldn't the title be "Be Careful Whom You Love"?
Diane Dimond: ahhhh. Maybe you are right!
Rocci Fisch, who's running this for the washingtonpost.com site says my time is up. Thanks everyone for chatting with me - even those of you who have a negative impression of my work.
Happy T-Day to all!
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