"In the Leaving Neverland documentary, there's a brief exchange between Katie Couric and Johnnie Cochran, who was OJ Simpson's lawyer, about Vanity Fair saying something—it was about my article ['Nightmare in Neverland,' published in January 1994]. Johnnie Cochran didn't deny what was in the article, he just said, 'I don't believe anything I read in Vanity Fair, do you?' There's a non-denial denial." —Maureen Orth, in conversation with The Ringer, March 2019
For 11 years, National Magazine Award-winning journalist Maureen Orth tirelessly researched and reported on the downward spiral of Michael Jackson for Vanity Fair. Beginning with 1994's "Nightmare in Neverland," not one of Orth's five painstakingly fact-checked pieces were ever challenged by Jackson, despite being rife with information that directly opposed his own narrative as he fielded multiple allegations of child sexual-abuse.
That Orth's stories went to press unscathed is undoubtedly a testament to the veracity of her reporting. However, it is dually illustrative of her subject's confidence in his ability to dominate the very mass media he so often decried. With the help of a "huge public-relations train," Jackson used his shrewd business acumen and wealth to bend the truth to his benefit and ensure his voice was the loudest.
Arguably his most masterful manipulation of the press came in the form of an interview with PrimeTime Live's Diane Sawyer on June 14, 1995. Seated alongside then-wife Lisa Marie Presley, Jackson was given carte blanche by Sawyer and ABC News to make the grandest of declarations—that he had been "cleared" of all charges made against him two years earlier—erroneously and unchallenged.
Below, five more lies that Michael Jackson told the public on that night in 1995.
DIANE SAWYER: Did you ever—as [Jordan Chandler] says you did—did you ever sexually engage, fondle, have sexual contact with this child, or any other child?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Never, ever. I could never harm a child or anyone. It's not in my heart, it's not who I am, and it's not what I'm—I'm not even interested in that.
DS: How about the police photographs, though? How was there enough information from this boy about those kinds of things?
MJ: The police photographs? That they took of me? There was nothing that matched me to those charges—nothing! That's why I'm sitting here talking to you today. Every—there was not one iota of information that was found that could connect me to these charges.
DS: So when we've heard that there was a marking of some kind...
MJ: No markings.
"[Those familiar with the evidence] say there are definite markings on Jackson's genital area, including a discoloration on his testicles... According to the sworn affidavit of a law-enforcement photographer, there is a dark spot on the lower left side of Jackson's penis.
"[Chandler], according to those familiar with the evidence, was able to draw—first for the district attorney, then for his own lawyers—an accurate picture of the dark spot on Jackson's penis. The boy's drawings were sealed in an envelope and clearly postmarked on a postal meter before the police ever photographed Jackson. According to these sources, the boy's drawings were an accurate match of the photographs." —Maureen Orth, "The Jackson Jive" (September 1995)
DS: Why did you settle the case, then? Why did you settle the case—and it looks to everyone as if you paid a huge amount of money to get silence.
MJ: Most of that's folklore. I talked to my lawyers, and I said, "Can you guaruntee me that justice will prevail? And they said, "Michael, we cannot guaruntee you that a judge or a jury will do anything." And with that, I was catatonic, I was outraged—totally outraged! So I said, "I have got to do something to get out from under this nightmare." [...] We got together again with my advisors, and they advised me—it was handsdown, a unanimous decision, resolve the case.
DS: How much money was it? Can you say how much?
MJ: It's not what the tabloids have printed, it's not all this crazy, outlandish money. No, not at all. I mean, the terms of the agreement are very confidential.
"Jackson paid $25 million to settle the Chandlers' lawsuit, with $18 million going to [Jordan], $2.5 million to each of the parents, and the rest to lawyers." —Maureen Orth, "10 Undeniable Facts About the Michael Jackson Sexual-Abuse Allegations" (March 2019)
"The money, paid in one lump sum, was handed over without Michael Jackson's ever being put under oath for a civil deposition, which could be used in a criminal trial. People close to the investigation say that Jackson's lawyers kept putting off any depositions, and agreed to settle the night before Jackson was to have been put under oath." —"The Jackson Jive"
MJ: It just isn't fair, what they put me through, 'cause there wasn't one piece of information that says I did that... they turned my room upside down, went through all my books, all my video tapes, all my private things and they found nothing. Nothing, nothing that can say, "Michael Jackson did this." Nothing!
"Investigation sources say police found a lewd, commercially published hardcover book of black-and-white photos of nude boys aged 7 to 12 'at play,' and according to one, that book 'is often found in the home of pedophiles.' There was also a picture of a nude little boy, scantily draped with a sheet, found in Jackson's bedroom." —"The Jackson Jive"
"Jackson had an extensive collection of adult erotic material he kept in a suitcase next to his bed, including S&M bondage photos... Forensic experts with experience in the Secret Service found the fingerprints of boys alongside Jackson's on the same pages. Jackson also had bondage sculptures of women with ball gags in their mouths on his desk, in full view of the boys who slept there." —"10 Undeniable Facts About the Michael Jackson Sexual-Abuse Allegations"
DS: Any other settlements, in process now or previously, with children making these kinds of claims? We have heard that there is one, not a case that the prosecutors would bring in court but, once again, you're talking about shelling out—
MJ: No, that's not true... I think—I heard everything is fine and there are no others.
"Law-enforcement sources, however, confirm[ed] that there [was] another boy who [had] a lawyer and [was] currently negotiating a settlement with Jackson. Of the boys mentioned in the district attorneys' press release who accused Jackson of sexual misconduct and are unwilling to testify... 'The status regarding these two [was] basically the same.'" —"The Jackson Jive"
DS: In ["They Don't Care About Us"] you say, "Jew me, sue me," and some people are saying that that is antisemitic.
MJ: It's not antisemitic, because I'm not a racist person. I could never be a racist, I love all races of people, from Arabs, to Jewish people, like I said before, to blacks. My accountant and lawyers are Jewish. My three best friends are Jewish. David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Mike Milkin—these are friends of mine. They're all Jewish! How does that make sense? I was raised in a Jewish community.
"[The Jews are] like leeches. I'm so tired of it. They start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money. Big house, cars and everything—end up penniless. It is conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose." —Michael Jackson, in conversation with Dieter Wiesner (2003)
"According to [an affidavit given by Sergeant Deborah Linden, then a deputy sheriff for Santa Barbara County], 'Jackson told [Blanca] Francia that he bleaches his skin because he does not like being black and he feels that blacks are not liked as much as people of other races.' Others told me that Jackson had special names for blacks, including 'spabooks.'" —Maureen Orth, "Losing His Grip" (April 2003)
Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
"The facts don't lie, people do." —The Jacksons, 2019