Michael Jackson on stage with guitarist Jennifer Batten, 1988
Michael Jackson: It’s Time For Outlets to Take Responsibility in Covering the Rock Star
By Charles Thomson
The Huffington Post, March 2, 2010
Last week Michael Jackson’s guitarist discredited widely reported allegations about the star’s behaviour on the road. So why is the media refusing to publish her comments? British writer Charles Thomson explores media bias against black music’s biggest star.
Aging glam-rocker Gene Simmons made international headlines last month when he claimed to know that Michael Jackson had molested children. In an interview with Classic Rock, Simmons alleged that Jackson was on tape ordering alcohol for children and that during the star’s 2005 trial a travel agent had testified to importing Brazilian boys for Jackson’s amusement. He also claimed that a musician friend had quit a Jackson tour after seeing ‘boys coming out of the hotel rooms.’
What followed was a classic example of copy and paste journalism. Within hours the story had been duplicated by hundreds of blogs, forums and news websites from Australia to India to the USA. None of them had fact-checked the story before they re-hosted it. Jackson was never on tape ordering alcohol for children. There was never any testimony during his trial about young Brazilian boys. Both of these claims were easily disproven by trial transcripts.
As a relative Jackson expert, I was also unaware of any musician ever leaving one of the singer’s tours midway through. So when I sat down a fortnight ago for an interview with Jackson’s long serving tour guitarist Jennifer Batten, I ran the story by her.
She told me that no musician had ever quit a Jackson tour. Two musicians had been fired but both were let go before the show hit the road, so they couldn’t possibly have witnessed anything going on inside hotels.