Published November 09, 2011
Michael Jackson's family is asking MSNBC not to air a tell-all documentary called "Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship" that it made with the cooperation of Dr. Conrad Murray during his involuntary manslaughter trial.
In a letter from Jackson Estate Executors John Branca and John McClain to CEOs of Comcast and NBCU and the Presidents of MSNBC and NBC West Coast Business Operations, the network is criticized for giving Murray a platform to air his views when he declined to testify on his own behalf at trial.
The executors "demand that you exercise proper judgment and refrain from airing this program." They also want to know if Murray or his reps were paid for access, and criticize the network for "moral loopholes aimed at excusing a reprehensible program stemming from Michael Jackson's tragic death that not only will be aired, but which is being heavily promoted on 'The Today Show' in order to boost ratings at a struggling network."
Dr. Conrad Murray, convicted ofinvoluntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death, calls Jackson an "addict" in an interview with "The Today Show" that will air later this week to promote the documentary. NBC News reporter Savannah Guthrie conducts the interview with Dr. Murray. In it she asks if he was right in leaving Jackson alone after administering propofol to the ailing pop singer.
"Had I known what I know today in retrospect, that Mr. Jackson was an addict, and he had shared that information with me, addicts may behave in a way that is unreasonable, and you may consider it," Murray said.
Murray's attorneys said Jackson was addicted to the painkiller Demerol. Jackson's family has denied that Jackson was addicted to the drug. The autopsy did not reveal the drug in Jackson's system.
Murray is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29, and could get up to four years in prison.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER
No sooner was Conrad Murray led away in handcuffs after his conviction on manslaughter charges in the death of Michael Jackson then we discovered your MSNBC network inexplicably will show him in primetime (sic) Friday night as if he is worthy of celebrity.
The mere title of your "documentary," "Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship," is bewildering. Since when was Dr. Murray ever Michael Jackson's friend? Since when does any doctor - let alone any friend - act in such an irresponsible manner in the care and treatment of another human being?
MSNBC excerpts released thus far suggest Dr. Murray, who refused to tell his story under penalty of perjury in a court of law, apparently has no qualms about smearing the reputation of his "friend." In fact, MSNBC seems ready to let him say what he wants with no fear of cross examination. According to his one-sided spin, Dr. Murray says: "He asked me, 'Please Dr. Conrad... I need some milk so I can sleep. If I don't get any sleep today, I cannot perform, I cannot do anything.'" Thus, MSNBC gives Conrad Murray a platform to shift the blame post-conviction to Michael Jackson, even though a jury considered the evidence and rejected this very argument.
We have read news accounts that Dr. Murray has had cameras following him since 2009 as if he is his own reality show. We have also seen October Films claiming that Dr. Murray received a nominal $1 for "an exclusive look at the last two years of Murray's life" while leaving open the question of whether payments were made to his representatives. As the executors of the estate of the victim of Dr. Murray's crime, we would like to know how much money in total was paid for this privileged "access?" Was it really only $1, or was it more?
It doesn't matter to us if it was a production company, Comcast, NBC Universal or MSNBC that paid for "access" to Dr. Murray because all are morally culpable. It is equally irrelevant whether any or all interviews took place before the jury convicted him. These are moral loopholes aimed at excusing a reprehensible program stemming from Michael Jackson's tragic death that not only will be aired, but which is being heavily promoted on The Today Show in order to boost ratings at a struggling network.
Dr. Murray's victim, Michael Jackson, was a loving father, an incredible talent and someone who had much left to give the world. Dr. Murray is a convicted felon who a judge felt compelled to have placed in handcuffs and jailed immediately after the jury delivered its verdict. He is not someone NBC Universal should be giving a platform to on a prime-time pedestal. We demand that you exercise proper judgment and refrain from airing this program.