Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola
Mishawaka, Indiana, USA
March 10
Kevin Gosztola is a multimedia editor for He will be serving as an intern for The Nation Magazine during the spring in 2011. His work can be found on OpEdNews, The Seminal,, and a blog on Alternet called "Moving Train Media." He is part of CMN News, which produces a weekly podcast or radio show on Talk Shoe. He is a 2009 Young People For Fellow and a documentary filmmaker who graduated with a Film/Video B.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago in the Spring 2010. In April 2010, he co-organized a major arts & media summit called "Art, Access & Action," which explored the intersection of politics, art and media and was supported by Free Press.

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Editor’s Pick
JULY 7, 2009 1:32AM

Tuning into the Michael Jackson Memorial & Feeling Guilty

Rate: 8 Flag

Feeling Guilty About Wanting to Watch the Memorial? Thank the News Media. 

Today, coverage of the public memorial service for Michael Jackson will be inescapable and will further infuriate those who wish for the media madness surrounding the King of Pop to come to an end. The event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles is expected to “command nearly unprecedented media coverage.”

There is reason to avoid the public memorial service. As david comments on

david (07.06.09 at 07:37pm)

who wants to go to that? I hate funerals. The bathrooms are going to be crowded and I won't be able to take a doo doo

Though, millions of Americans won't be able to decide whether they can handle crowded bathrooms or not (only 8,750 winners were picked). So, another reason to avoid watching the service is the News Media. 

Despite how infuriated I am with the news media, I will be tuning into the event. I write that with one caveat: I will be tuning into Black Entertainment Television (BET) or MTV for the memorial and urge others to do so as well.

I am a fan of Jackson’s music. I have, since Jackson died, read many articles on Michael the Musician and Michael the Humanitarian and I admire and respect the passion, creativity, and energy that Jackson put into all that he did.

I do not care about Michael the Child Molester or Michael the Pervert or Michael the Man Who Bleached His Face and Couldn’t Stand to be Out in Public with His Kids Unless His Kids Had Masks On. But, this is the Michael Jackson that the news media wishes to discuss and remember.

It’s evident on any news show you tune into. News personalities give televised tours of Neverland and the Michael Jackson estate and share with the public the deepest, darkest, and dirtiest secrets and think they are actually reporting “the news.”



Don Lemon can defend it all he wants. But, he and others who talk like him and justify wall-to-wall coverage of Michael Jackson's death by exploiting Michael Jackson's career and achievements do not get it.

This is not news. Nobody needs to know any of what these news pundits or “anchors” think Michael Jackson may or may not have been thinking or going through in his bedroom---why he had all those locks on his doors at Neverland or what it’s like to be the first news crew in the room where Michael Jackson collapsed.

Somehow and in some way, the news media have succeeded in further polarizing public opinion on Michael Jackson. Not only have they done that, they are annoying the hell out of people so much that many are starting to agree with Republicans.  

For Jackson’s family, musicians, and the King of Pop, a huge public memorial for fans---a celebration of Michael Jackson---is understandable and acceptable. His impact on music was and is immeasurable and many artists were shaken when he was pronounced dead.

This public memorial will hopefully make it possible for Michael Jackson’s closest friends and family to move on (even if it seems like the memorial is designed to help AEG recoup some of the money lost because of Jackson’s death).

The LA Times reports the schedule:

* MSNBC will begin its coverage at 8 a.m., with Chris Jansing anchoring. Fox News' Shepard Smith will anchor the day, beginning at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, CNN will start at 9 a.m. with Anderson Cooper, Larry King and Don Lemon as anchors. (CNN will carry the service on sister networks HLN, CNN International and CNN en Espanol as well.)

* On ABC, "Good Morning America" will air a special edition from Los Angeles and Charlie Gibson will anchor "Remembering Michael Jackson" with "Nightline" anchor Martin Bashir when the service begins. At 9 p.m., Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters will co-anchor a special edition of " 20/20," reporting on the highlights of the service. " Primetime: Family Secrets" at 10 p.m. will focus on Jackson's children.

* CBS' "The Early Show" will broadcast live from Staples, with Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith anchoring. Katie Couric will anchor the "CBS Evening News" at 6:30 p.m. and "48 Hours" at 10 p.m., both from Staples.

* NBC's "Today" will air a "split edition," with host Meredith Vieira in Los Angeles. Live coverage of the services, anchored by Brian Williams, will begin at 10 a.m. Williams also will anchor "Nightly News" from Staples Center. At 10 p.m., Lester Holt will anchor a special edition of "Dateline." 

This is sheer insanity.Coverage will be as much if not more than Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech and it will be earning more coverage than many of the 2008 Presidential Debates.

The memorial does not even start until 10 am PT. Hosts and pundits will inevitably be competing for one of Jon Stewart’s Rippy Awards as they spend hours beforehand yammering on.

The news media does not want to move on. They would like to keep us all in this echo chamber for eternity because Michael Jackson means and always has meant high ratings.

The wall-to-wall coverage of Michael Jackson is preferable to coverage of Honduras, Iran, or Obama in Russia because properly covering any of those would require news organizations to actually have foreign correspondents in those countries digging up information on what was happening.

See this September 27, 2001 article from the LA Times on the cut back in international coverage and the shift to “soft” news---“Foreign News Shrinks in Era of Globalization.

This "soft" news is so central to news media that they will violate people who are mourning the loss of a loved one. Indeed, the Jackson Family has not been able to take a breath since Michael Jackson was pronounced dead and when the family buries Jackson tomorrow, they will be faced with a bloodsucking parasitical swarm of media that will try to get as close to the family as it can even though the memorial is supposed to be private.

I am very pleased with people like Deborah Young who are posting comments on what the news could be covering instead of continuous coverage of Michael. 

Young posted to fingerlakeswanderer's post, "Desecrating Michael Jackson's Corpse":

This is all Bread & Circus, designed to keep us throngs from paying attention to all of the important stuff that affects us:

1. Iran has taken hostages. Again.
2. We are all being set up to be taxed to a debilitating measure.
3. Castro, Chavez & Obama are meddling in Honduras where the democratic people threw out a wanna be dictator and these 3 are backing the dictator. [but you can't meddle in Iran]
4. The TARP money didn't work. The stimulus money didn't work. Spending our way out of a recession didn't work & we're facing a Depression as a nation.
5. N. Korea is threatening to nuke America while Iran is threatening to nuke Israel and they are both getting closer each day to make good on those promises. I have N. Korean missiles pointed at me as we speak, here in Hawaii.

I have read many comments expressing this sentiment. This sentiment will be mine the minute that Jackson's public memorial service is over.


Cover real news & most importantly, leave him and his family alone. 


For those content with contending that Michael Jackson was a pedophile--"Michael Jackson tainted as a pedophile, but many experts didn't believe rumor":

After Jackson's trial, Slate's Jacob Weisberg argued forcefully that Jackson did not fit the typical profile of a sexual predator and was instead stuck in a state of asexual arrested development.

The dots, Weisberg wrote, connect quite easily between Jackson's tormented childhood -- abusive father, various sexual traumas, life in the spotlight, lack of conventional upbringing -- and the sad spectacle of his later years.

"Almost everything that seems freakish about him can be explained by his poignant, doomed effort to get his stolen childhood back...

"What emerged at the trial wasn't the picture of a man playing with children in order to seduce them. It was the picture of a man playing with children because he sees himself as one of them."

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Is the impact that he made on music more important than the lives he destroyed as a pedophile? He makes me sick, and I for one will be glad when all of this is over.
It's only inescapable if you can't bear to turn off the TV or leave the house. I'd actually forgotten all about MJ until I read this post.
I'm afraid I would have to agree with Natalie on this one. Just as their is an asterik after some baseball records ( due to the strike some years ago) there is and should be the acknowledgement; after Jacksons achievements, "he was a pedophile who escaped justice".

Just as with O. J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Phil Spector (although that one the jury got right) and a litany of other talented people who believe their contributions put them above the law and above the poor souls they victimize ; history should indeed give as much ink to their misdeeds and those they wronged as it does to their "contributions".
I don't think he was a pedophile. I agree with his friends and cohorts which Crabby Golightly highlights in her post, "Can an Accused Child Molester Also Deserve Adulation?"

"My family always maintained our belief that Michael was innocent in both (sexual exploitation) cases," Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika, who grew up visiting Neverland, purportedly wrote. "Those that were close to Michael, all would admit he was quirky and had bad judgment at times. But to think Michael could abuse a child was unfathomable in my mind.''

Brad Sundberg, the technical engineer for several of Jackson's projects, also dismissed the abuse charges in an interview with an Alabama newspaper.

"There's a huge difference between loving kids and wanting to be around kids and any level of sexuality," he said. "Did he make some mistakes in judgment? Absolutely. But, he was not the reclusive monster he was made out to be."

I guess, my question to you and others like you, Natalie, is why must you contend that Michael was a pedophile? Couldn't your belief that he was a "pedophile" stem from the news media you saw or heard from the 1990s to now?
And, why Lonnie did you read this post? It clearly involved Michael Jackson so you could have avoided it.

I guess I have trouble with the word "unfathomable." Which doesn't imply a lack of evidence, but an inability to process such evidence wherever or however it exists. An inability or unwillingness to fathom it.

This, although the main evidence for wrongdoing came from MJ himself in the interview with the BBC where he said the ultimate form of love was to share his bed with someone and the boy beside him he did share his bed with and this child later made an accusation of abuse.

Did MJ deny putting wine into soda cans and calling it "Jesus juice" and encouraging the young kids he shared his bed with to drink it? I didn't read that he did. Did MJ deny having an alarm system leading to his bedroom which tripped off every time anyone came down that hallway? I didn't read that he did.

The people in his life who surrounded him could have protected him as well as the children he slept with by encouraging him to avoid the appearance of pedophilia (particularly after he had already faced serious allegations). But they chose not to. That is telling about the people he surrounded himself with. (People, who not incidentally, were out in front of the media calling the underprivileged and underaged children MJ shared his bed with who later made abuse charges "leeches." These same individuals who are also not incidentally now in line to be enriched by his estate for the rest of their lives.)

I read Crabby GoLightly's post and I found it balanced. I don't think people have to look at the evidence and the allegations of abuse if they don't want to. And as you say, innocent until proven guilty is our standard of law. But, obviously, people don't think of OJ as innocent although the law found him so. It's complicated when the already large power differential between an adult and a child are exacerbated by massive celebrity and stunning amounts of money. And this is what I find most difficult to fathom.
ps but I also appreciate the "feeling guilty" aspect of your post. humans are complex, artists are complex, and even those who are inappropriate with kids are complex. putting people into black and white categories (no pun intended) reduces the humanity in each of us and doesn't really do much for progress in understanding, compassion et al. I'll be glad when its over (the service) too & hope california taxpayers aren't left with another state bill we can't pay.
My own immediate family villifies Jackson only because they do believe the mainstream media and its treatment of the pop star. I choose to reserve judgement for many reasons, one of which is that I do think he made a tremendous impact on the music of my era (I'm 44) and he will hold a place in my life's history. Early on in the saga, PBS's Frontline aired a piece on the media's role in the first molestation charge. This piece questioned the integrity of the media and its role in "making the news" instead of "reporting the news". Michael Jackson's life became a huge part this shift, I think, leading us to the current state of the media in the USA. I don't know if MJ is guilty or innocent, and I will never know, because the whole story will never be told. I do bring up this point whenever my family seems to think it's necessary to make comments, and in my own way, try to help them see the harm the media can do to one man.
I passed by the Staples Center today on the Metro. The stations are crawling with police, but all seem to be in a great mood. Many excited and fashionable people all over the trains today. The Staples Center was surrounded by film crew vans at 7am.

I do not believe that MJ molested children. Big stars, especially eccentric and vulnerable ones like Jackson, fall prey to all kinds of mayhem from grifters.

We must stop demanding that people fall into narrowly proscribed sex roles determined by sniffy suburbanites. We must not allow such a lens to be our means of determining who is safe/acceptable and who is not safe/unacceptable. Mr Jackson's persona was not restricted to someone's narrow, bourgeois idea of "marriage material" - but that doesn't mean he was a pervert!
As damning as the totality of the evidence against Jackson was, here's what finally convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt that he was a pedophile.
His first accuser was able to accurately draw pictures of the skin discolorations on Jackson's genitals, including the shift in their position between flaccid and erect. I have never heard a reasonable explanation for this that was not criminal. I think that is why Jackson paid that boy over $20 million. I think if that boy had agreed to testify, Jackson would have been convicted.

"As damning as the totality of the evidence against Jackson was, here's what finally convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt that he was a pedophile. His first accuser was able to accurately draw pictures of the skin discolorations on Jackson's genitals, including the shift in their position between flaccid and erect."

Exactly, where did you read about this? I think you probably got this from some tabloid news media organization which had and continues to have little regard for the personal lives of actors, musicians, and anybody else who is a somebody in the world of entertainment.
but Kevin, for the sake of argument: can you see that whatever MJ did or did not do, it's ironic that the same people who enabled his complex lifestyle with alarm bells and all (yes, from the media--but what we know about all public figures comes from news organizations....should we expect all our information about the singer to come directly from him like Palin's supporters are refusing to believe ethics investigations that come from the hoary media represented by the tabloid journalist katie couric?)....but regardless of what happened. If you want to celebrate MJ's life that is one thing. But vilifying those who complained about his treatment of them is on another level. And the Jackson estate has not been shy about vilifying the underaged underprivileged boys involved in the allegations.

and M. chariot I must respectfully but firmly protest your description of eleven year old boys as "grifters."
Well said. That's all I've got to say about that... (Sorry Forrest)
Kevin, your accusation that evidence about genital markings is merely tabloid gossip reveals you haven't done any research as to what the police and DA have said publicly and to journalists about the case that MJ settled for $20 million. You can find info about the genital markings in particular on this page here:

Now if you want to contend that the police and DA are in on some plot to fabricate evidence against MJ, have at it. But I find that people who defend him as you are doing here have generally not wanted to look at what's on the record from reputable sources about the evidence against him. You lose credibility dismissing information that you aren't informed about.
Thank you, Silkstone.
Silkstone and LeedsJr,

Let's say this "evidence" is accurate and true: What does it matter? What's it to you?

Can't you understand the love and the moment and leave this all alone?

No, what you hate so much---the outpouring of passion toward Michael---it grates at your nerves and your mind.

People with sentiments like Silkstone and LeedsJr are bothered that we may look past accusations.

I'm going to finish watching this memorial. Dig me up some more "evidence", please.
Kevin, and what is it to you if we object to people glossing over something (child molestation) that we find horrifying? Why are you so upset? You are the one that here and on other people's OS blogs keeps trying to tell people what to do - to leave MJ and his family alone, to focus on his music and ignore the rest, etc. You seem determined to prevent people from having thoughts or feelings that are different from your own.

And how, exactly, do you know what's in my heart? You've never met me and we've never communicated before this morning and yet you think you know my innermost feelings. That tells me a lot.

I see you are an aspiring documentary filmmaker. I hope that in that process you learn to be open, to listen to other people, especially those who see the world differently than you do, to not make assumptions, and to understand the difference between the subjective and the objective.

and that's all I have to say.

To answer your questions:

It's nothing to me.

I certainly could have "left this alone". The only reason I commented was because you asked this question:

"I guess, my question to you and others like you, Natalie, is why must you contend that Michael was a pedophile?"

I thought you were asking an honest question and trying to start a legitimate discussion. Obviously not. I will leave you to your delusions.
Silkstone and LeedsJr

We disagree. That's fine.

I have my perception of him and you have yours. Obviously, like yourself, you think you are right and I think I am right.

None of the words written were intended to be a personal attack on anyone.
And for the sake of our discussion (which I have engaged in even if I do not think of Michael as a pedophile)...

Ian Halperin published an extensive article on MJ after his death. He wrote about Michael:

I had started my investigation convinced that Jackson was guilty. By the end, I no longer believed that.

I could not find a single shred of evidence suggesting that Jackson had molested a child. But I found significant evidence demonstrating that most, if not all, of his accusers lacked credibility and were motivated primarily by money.
ok--last comment: did you read the vanity fair article? vanity fair as a news organization is generally more highly respected than the daily mail...which is technically a british middle market (tabloid) second in sales to the Sun....
since you were complaining about tabloid journalism...
I've read the article and I don't think you are going to like what I have to write about it...

The DA, Tom Sneddon, was going after Michael Jackson. I have been going through a Google search of Tom Sneddon and Michael Jackson.

The penis pics just seem like part of a shakedown led by this DA.

Thanks for the comments, dolores.
"And as you say, innocent until proven guilty is our standard of law."

Exactly. It is a standard of law, which is to say of legal, rather than moral judgement. It doesn't mean that one really is innocent in an existential or moral sense just because twelve people harbor some measure of doubt. Robert Blake and O.J. Simpson killed their wives irrespective of the juries' verdict. And Michael Jackson's willingness to pay $20,000,000, which isn't chump change even for him, just to shut up his accuser cannot be interpreted as an index of guiltlessness, except by the most wilfully slavish of his fans.
"Let's say this "evidence" is accurate and true: What does it matter? What's it to you?

Can't you understand the love and the moment and leave this all alone? "

I find this disturbing. If we're saying the evidence is accurate and true, then I'm glad he's dead so he can't hurt any more kids. We're not talking about petty theft here - it's child abuse.
Your reasoning, of course, implies that MJ was a repeat sex offender. I think Ian Halperin sums up Michael's flaw the best:

"Appearing in a documentary with British broadcaster Martin Bashir, he not only admitted that he liked to share a bed with teenagers, mainly boys, in pyjamas, but showed no sign of understanding why anyone might be legitimately concerned...

...Jackson also deserved much of the blame, of course. Continuing to share a bed with children even after the suspicions surfaced bordered on criminal stupidity."

He made criminally stupid decisions. I get that.
Flaw? You call pedophilia a flaw? We're not talking about table manners here. The man was a child abuser. You can rationalise is however you want - the fact remains he abused those children. If there's a hell, which I doubt, I hope he rots in it.
Prove that he abused children. You can't.

Point out children who were genuinely abused, whose parents weren't simply trying to glean money from the pop legend.

Michael had moral flaws. But, he loved and genuinely cared with his heart about children.

Natalie B, you hope he rots in hell if there is one? Yeah. Me too. I hope he rots in hell so you can let go of your anger and frustration.
Kevin, you have it wrong...again. I'm not angry or frustrated at all. And I happen to agree with you about the parents. Anybody who let their children spend time alone with Michael Jackson after he paid off the first childs family (who are complicit in any abuse that came after by their willingness to be paid off instead of letting justice run it's course), are just as guilty as MJ.
I think "their willingness to be paid off" was the point. Going to trial on these allegations was a scheme to milk Michael, to get money.
I've been struggling to find the words that express my opinion in the matter of whether or not MJ was a predatory, child sexual abuser. I am immensly sad about both his life and his death, on a number of levels. I have known MJ all of my life; he was 2 months older than I am.

It is undeniable that he loved children. It is undeniable that he became somewhat fucked up. There are many reasons how and why this happened to him, and it is the source of the great sadness of his life.

Most who knew him well will tell you several things - he spent a lot of time and energy trying to recapture the childhood he lost; he was a very gentle, loving soul; and he had mild to severe arrested development on several levels.

Was he a predatory, serial, sexual child molester? I doubt it. I have personal experience there, and there is nothing gentle or loving or arrested about those men. Is it possible that MJ lived in his mind as a 13 year old boy, and did 13 year old stupid sexually-oreinted things around these other boys? Is it possible that grifter parents spied an opportunity and seized it, coaching their sons into realistic allegations that could have been supported by "evidence" easily obtained in many ways by boys who lived with him? Is it possible that MJ was truly innocent of nefarious behaviour but sunk by his own lack of guile and maturity? Yes, yes, and yes.

Nobody can ever really know what exactly happened in MJ's mind given the singular and unfathomable (word used correctly here I believe) nature of his experience, his genius, his abuse, his suffering, his abuse, and his genius.

I think that sums it up for me.
Thanks for leaving your comment, Kellylark. I greatly appreciate it.
Jesus Christ, superstar, lord have Mercy

How many times does Kevin have to explain it?

What is this, a posse looking for someone to lynch?

Kevin, this is what happens when you go against mainstream TV.
Thank you, kevin, for giving me a safe venue to get this out once and for all.
For the record, I do not idolize Michael Jackson. I did not cry. I have not been mourning. I have been reflecting on this moment and wondering what all the news coverage and the public memorial means. I have been asking is this a symptom of a culture and society that we must confront and change or is the outpouring of sympathy and tribute to Michael Jackson warranted. Did he actually make the kind of impact as a musician and humanitarian which warranted all of this wall-to-wall coverage on news and entertainment channels ever since his death nearly two weeks ago?

I'll put that out there and then say that I am done pontificating on Michael Jackson. I am done. Showbiz Tonight, TMZ, and Access Hollywood can now continue talk of Michael Jackson (although I wish they would just cease operations and leave celebrities alone).

We have all given Michael his due. It's past time to move on.

I'll have a posting on health care up tomorrow. It's time to get back to what really matters.
I really appreciated your article today, Kevin. We share many of the same sentiments. Thank you for posting!
Thanks, Renee.

Phaedo, I bet you have firsthand experience with MJ, a "probably really unpleasant human being." I weep for you and your family. Truly, I do and hope you can overcome any hardship you have endured.
Kelly Lark, I found your analysis beautiful, nuanced, deeply compassionate and sophisticated in the ways of human emotion.

Let's not forget the McMartin case. The fantasy that pedophiles lurk on every street corner waiting to snatch our children from our gleaming cavalcade of gas-guzzling SUVs presents the modern psyche with the same opportunity that witches, adulteresses, and other "sinners" presented to our ancestors. It is the opportunity to siphon all of our personal frustration and misery and resentment onto a new scapegoat - with a righteous howl of hatred and paranoia and a remorseless condemnation.

And who would dare to refute our praiseworthy rage? Only those who are secretly witches/pedophiles/etc too! Raise a bonfire in the village square! For the Lord will have his vengeance tonight!
It’s sad to see the word “Pedophile” continuing to be used to describe someone who was found not guilty on all ten counts for which he was charged after a trial and investigation spanning 574 days.

In conversations I’ve had with others regarding this case I’ve found, much to my grief, that many who are very vocal about Michael’s alleged guilt have never studied, for themselves, what is publicly available regarding “The People Of The State of California vs. Michael Joe Jackson” They have relied, instead, upon second hand accounts, rumors, and innuendoes.

Proving someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard for a guilty verdict in a United States court of law. It is often not sufficient for those who insist on finding guilt where a jury has found otherwise.

Comparisons to the trials of O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake have been made many times. I would suggest that those who knew Michael Jackson best for years have consistently maintained his innocence - albeit while agreeing he may have shown poor judgment. The memorial held at Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 7th, 2009 is testimony to that. The same cannot be said about Mr. Simpson or Mr. Blake.

I would urge those who continue to use an incendiary word like Pedophile to describe someone found not guilty of the offense to ask themselves if they would want to endure the same sort of slander after having been declared not guilty by a court of law for a similar crime.

There are those who condemn and would love to ban the works of artists such as William Bouguereau (considered one of the French masters) because of their depiction of the human figure at various ages. What was once done in innocence would be met with vicious accusation, suspicion, and attack in our day .

Not everything is as it appears. Perhaps for this reason, if for no other, we should contend that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Especially those whose life has been characterized by giving so much good to the world.