A group of international fan clubs devoted to singer Michael Jackson has initiated its own battle against the media, who it argues have unfairly bashed the singer. Calling themselves “MJUnity,” the group is responding to a myriad of unprecedented broadcast coverage kicked off last week with the documentary “Living with Michael Jackson,” shown on ABC’s “20/20” and television stations worldwide. That program offered, according to Jackson himself, a “terrible and unfair” portrayal of the singer.
NBC’s “Dateline” devoted two hours of coverage with “Michael Jackson Unmasked,” reaching a viewership of 17.2 million in its final hour on Monday night. Most of the broadcast centered on Jackson’s facial transformations since he first broke onto the pop scene in 1969 as lead singer of The Jackson Five. MJUnity co-founder Deborah Dannelly states, “We find it disturbing, especially since we are on the brink of war with Iraq and threatened by a nuclear crisis with North Korea, that so much emphasis is put on frivolous aspects of Michael Jackson’s personal life in the interest of ratings during television sweeps.”
“Unmasked” featured interview footage by Ed Breslin, who is credited as authoring the book “Freak: Inside the Twisted World of Michael Jackson.” “Dateline’s” broadcast does not mention that Breslin is a reporter for the tabloid The National Enquirer, which provided the source material for the book. “Unmasked” also featured interview commentary from Ray Chandler, whose real name is Ray Charmatz, the uncle of the 13-year-old boy who accused Jackson of sexual misconduct 10 years ago.
Despite an 8-month-long investigation and two grand juries, no charges were ever filed against Jackson. In Mary A. Fisher’s October 1994 GQ cover story, “Was Michael Jackson Framed?,” she suggests that Charmatz conspired with the boy’s father, Evan Chandler, to extort millions from Jackson. According to the article (featured in its entirety on the MJUnity’s web site, www.mjfanclub.net/history/articles/gq_article.html), Charmatz was also unsuccessful in his reported attempts of soliciting a multimillion-dollar book publishing deal.
In her reaction to “Unmasked,” Ms. Dannelly contends, “You would expect such one-sided tactics from the National Enquirer or ‘Hard Copy,’ but from ’20/20′ and ‘Dateline?’ It is the contention of MJUnity that many broadcast and print media outlets have crossed the boundaries of fairness and objectivity concerning Michael Jackson, and have dipped into tabloid sensationalism and bias. If the mainstream media cannot portray an objective presentation about this entertainer in their quest for higher ratings, how can they maintain unbiased reporting for more important issues?”
MJUnity (www.mjfanclub.net) is a consortium of dozens of Michael Jackson fan clubs representing thousands of fans around the world. MJUnity was responsible for last year’s successful protest in New York City of Sony Music in response to the perceived lack of promotion of Michael Jackson’s most recent album, “Invincible.” Currently, MJUnity is launching writing campaigns to several media outlets, calling for more responsible and objective coverage concerning the entertainer.
About Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has been the subject of over 10 hours of broadcast programming in the past several days. “Living With Michael Jackson,” an interview with the singer, was first broadcast on ITV in England, and has since been watched by some 50 million viewers worldwide. “Michael Jackson Take 2: The Interview They Wouldn’t Show You” premieres on Fox TV (www.fox.com) Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. The two-hour special will feature never-before-seen outtakes filmed during Bashir’s interview, which were provided by Jackson himself.
Disclaimer: MJUnity is not acting on behalf of or endorsed by any entity, including but not limited to: Sony Music or MJJ Productions.