"People write negatives things because they feel that's what sells. Good news, to them, doesn't sell." ~ Michael Jackson
At a time when MJ fans are coming together in a focused, diligent effort to fight for justice in his name, the UK tabloid Daily Star chose today to publish unkind, unsubstantiated reports that some have paid bribes for the opportunity to visit his final resting place:
Who they're paying is unclear, it just says employees and former employees. What payroll are/were they on? Jackson? Forest Lawn? People have been interpreting it both ways.
This is the first clue that the story has a lot of holes in it, punctuated with a possible agenda. Regardless, this "news" has already begun to go viral on the internet as unquestionable fact.
I have questions. Like, how reliable is the source? They sound out of the loop and behind the times to me.
"They are littering the crypt with memorabilia and even posing for macabre photos by the megastar’s marble tomb."
The hundreds of tributes that adorn the area surrounding his sarcophagus are not left by a handful of fans. They have been delivered to the Holly Terrace patio doors in organized group gatherings and by individual visitors. Items that include flowers and balloons are then placed inside by cemetery personnel alone, no fans go in with. I have witnessed this many times, both large amounts from groups and single offerings.
Additionally, Forest Lawn confirmed to me in February that the Jackson family was made aware of these tributes by a high-ranking Forest Lawn executive and as a result asked that non-perishable items like cards, photos, artwork and letters be collected for them as they amass.
If any photos of fans posing in front of the sarcophagus exist, disrespectfully or otherwise, I haven't seen them published anywhere online. I've Googled my little fingers raw looking. If you have seen them, please send me the link.
“The family are now taking steps to drastically reduce the number of people able to visit Michael’s burial site and security has been tightened up. As part of the new measures, the list of people actually allowed into the mausoleum will now include family only and no one else.”
Forest Lawn confirmed to me that the Jacksons did edit a previously-robust list of approved visitor names down to just family members. Only family, or individuals personally accompanied by a family member, are allowed to visit MJ.
This, however, is not a new measure.
According to what Forest Lawn officials told me months ago, this decision was made after private photos which originally appeared on Facebook (I can confirm, I saw them there) ended up as exclusives on TMZ in October. I touched on those controversial images on this blog in November after communicating with primary sources involved in the situation.
I've heard, from multiple sources including insiders at Forest Lawn, about details involving investigations made into who sold what to whom and for how much since Michael died. Bribes have never been a part of those conversations and neither has paperwork that would back up anything I've heard.
Let me clarify one important point -- discussion is one thing, but without documented proof of any such allegations, speculating further on it in writing on the internet as fact puts us all in the irresponsibly slanderous gutter with the tabloids.
Not going there.
And I urge you not to either.
With so many other important issues looming on the Justice For Michael Jackson front today -- Conrad Murray's next court date on April 5 for starters -- why in the world would the family leak this particular story now? To what end?
It just doesn't make sense. Is it just me, or do you hear a big ole ax grinding somewhere in Unidentified Sourceland? Someone wants our collective attention without proving themselves worthy of it. It annoys me to no end.
There is a bigger picture here, too.
The additional danger in accepting this article as fact is that hundreds of innocent fans who have had the opportunity to visit Forest Lawn respectfully, to spend time at the Holly Terrace patio in order to express and process their grief (as people do in a cemetery) are being maligned. Moreover, this healing opportunity could be jeopardized in the future because of it.
And for what?
It very well may be true that at least one individual paid someone to get inside the mausoleum and do whatever. That, if proven, would be the real story. If I can verify it, you'll read about it here.
In the meantime, please keep in mind that this type of storytelling is purposely distortive and intentionally destructive. It lacks value and integrity. It's propaganda.
The tabloids don't care about your or me -- or backing up allegations with proof -- they care about making a profit and a name for themselves by breaking stories that other media will pick up on and give them credit for.
I hesitated to write about this because I didn't want to give this story another bump online, nor take the focus off of the amazing fan justice campaign currently in full swing. But so many of you have asked me about it that I felt you deserved a response, and that this editorial was the right way to do it.
Thank you for your emails and messages, and for caring enough to seek out the truth in a responsible manner.
Make that change.