Shakeup in Jacko Camp

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, December 30, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST-HOST: Michael Jackson's spokesperson, Stuart Backerman, quit yesterday over what he calls strategic differences with other members of the Jackson team.

In an interview that aired Sunday night, the King of Pop (search) said he still sees nothing wrong with sleeping with kids. Is Jackson's team giving him the right advice?

Joining us from Los Angeles is the publicist who represented Michael Jackson during the 1993 allegations, Michael Levine. And from Boston, criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Nathan. And here in New York, FNC legal analyst, Peter Johnson.

Gentlemen, welcome.

All right, Michael. Let me start with you.

The chief spokesman for Michael Jackson takes a hike yesterday, takes a powder after seeing this interview. You were Michael Jackson's publicist in the early 1990's during the first round of these allegations. You knew what the deal was out there in Neverland (search). What is going on?

MICHAEL LEVIN, FORMER JACKSON PUBLICIST: Well, I think, first of all, anyone who makes a decision based on conscience when in a vocational matter should be applauded.

I don't know what happened. I don't know if he was fired. I've heard some people say he was fired. I've heard him say he's resigned. I don't know what happened.

But I know that I take him at his face. If he said he resigned, he resigned. And I think that anyone who makes a decision like that in any vocational matter, but makes it based on conscience, is doing something very laudable.

I have to consider, as I reflect on my own life and career, whether or not what I did in 1993 was appropriate. I came to conclude that it was, because I thought at the time that Michael was being treated very unfairly by the media. I think that's far less true today.

His own statements are the most damning thing that he does, and this idea that he has that it is appropriate for a father of three, a 45-year- old male, to sleep in the bed with little boys, is an idea that is so contemptible to most Americans.

I know he really believes it. I trust him. It's not his sincerity that I question. It's the appropriateness of his judgment. And...

CROWLEY: Peter, in the 60 Minutes interview, Michael Jackson made some serious charges against the police.


CROWLEY: He said they hurt him with the handcuffs. They manhandled him. They locked him in a bathroom for 45 minutes.

The cops yesterday and today say no way. Categorically untrue in every way. They have him on videotape. The entire booking took 35 minutes or less.


CROWLEY: Why would Michael Jackson make charges like this that can so easily be disproved?

JOHNSON: Because he's needed to create the Shakespearian melodrama.

CROWLEY: The victim thing?

JOHNSON: In this melodrama, he is a Jesus Christ-like figure walking amongst the children...

CROWLEY: In his mind, maybe.

JOHNSON: This is in his mind.


JOHNSON: Walking amongst the children and maybe even sleeping with the children.

Prosecutors -- Sneddon is this vindictive old man, glory-seeking man, last hurrah, who wants to get Michael Jackson. The sheriffs are abusive, harassing, brutalizing people. The accuser's family are money-hungry extortionists.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: How much of that's true?

JOHNSON: That's what he believes, and that's the construct that he wants the American people to believe, that he's a victim, that he's victimized, that's brutalized, that we should feel sorry for him. These charges are not true.

COLMES: Let me go to Geoffey Nathan. Why did Mark Geragos allow his client, Michael Jackson, to say he still slept with -- or had no problem sleeping with young boys, even though, you know, he said that he wasn't a pedophile.

Why would any attorney allow a client to say that?

POMERANRTZ: Because he can't control the client. I mean, the issue in some circumstances is that a client is entitled to say what he wants to do with regards to his defense.

The attorneys can make a recommendation, and I'd be very surprised if Geragos actually wanted him to go on air and say that he was going to do something in addition, like slit his wrists.

JACKSON: I disagree. I would disagree with that. -- We've seen him on the show holding the child, touching the child's hand. He cannot deny this closeness with this child or any other child.

COLMES: Do you think Geragos says go ahead?

JACKSON: He has to. What's he going to say, I was wrong in touching the child? I was wrong in sleeping with the child before? He has to say it.

GEOFFREY NATHAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: ... entirely natural. There's nothing wrong with him going on air and saying that he has an affinity for children.

I wish that when Geragos went on the air that he had something forensically to say, such as the fact that the child's blood platelets level had been checked and that they were normal, and that there was no consumption of alcohol.

JACKSON: That wasn't said, was it?

COLMES: Michael Levine, you've said a number of times you'd rather have a hot implement in your eye than represent Michael Jackson again.

You represented him in '93. You had no problem then. Why then and not now?

LEVINE: I believe I chose a hot butter knife.

COLMES: I knew it was one of those implements.

LEVINE: But I want to make the point -- I'll answer you, but I want to make the point, I do believe that there were moments in that interview, 60 Minutes interview, in which Michael did come across as probably sympathetic. He certainly came across as fragile.

I do think that there were points, absent the outrageous remark that he made in which he continues to believe that sleeping in the bed with boys is appropriate, I think that there was some -- he certainly shored up some support among his base.

COLMES: Well, why wouldn't you represent him now, if you did then and had no problem? You still say it was a good thing you did it in 1993. Why now?

LEVINE: OK. All right. Because I think the context is quite different. He is, first of all, now acting -- after having been charged and settled.

Second, I think that this idea that his own damning statements are so outrageous, so jaw-droppingly outrageous as to say publicly that you think after having been charged and settled a case -- not charged, I should say, but accused and settled the case -- there -- his own statements are so damning it seems that he has such an urge in some areas of life to be self- destructive, that I would not want to in any way...

COLMES: Let me go to Peter Jackson. On this Nation of Islam (search) issue...


COLMES: And standing behind Mark Geragos during one of Geragos' news conferences, was one of the -- was Leonard F. Mohammed, identified on the Nation of Islam's Web site as his chief of staff.

Nevertheless, there's denial on all sides about his relationship with the Nation of Islam. What's going on here?

JOHNSON: Well, there has been denial but there have been confirmed reports, as well, that they do have some connection to Michael Jackson and...

COLMES: Well, they can't have it both ways, can they?

JOHNSON: Well, we've seen Mr. Mohammed standing there with Michael Jackson, and Mark Geragos says, of course, he's a supporter.

It's also spurred all kinds of leaks in terms of the finances and what went on at CBS in terms of the payment for the interview there.

CROWLEY: Yes. You know what? I don't know whether Michael Jackson is associated with the Nation of Islam. There are some conflicting reports about that.

But Geoffrey, let me ask you. Forget about the race card. What about the Peter Pan card? It seems to me that Mark Geragos is going to trot this out and say this guy has arrested development, you know. He's got stunted emotional growth. Is that the kind of thing that would play with a jury?

NATHAN: In terms of the victim. The issue is whether or not Michael Jackson's got the maturity and the ability to project himself appropriately to a jury. And I'm not so certain, based upon the interview, that he has that.

And Geragos may, in fact, want to perceive jury waived if, in fact, this case makes it that far, because Jackson's not going to be able to project himself well to a jury based on the interview. I would have to recommend he waive his right to a jury trial and let a judge decide his fate.

CROWLEY: Michael, this idea of Michael Jackson being a Peter Pan? He's called himself a Peter Pan.

He said Sunday night in the interview, look, you're all talking about sex. That's not how my mind works. Is it possible that Michael Jackson is, in fact, asexual?

LEVINE: Of course. Anything's possibility. And I don't want to comment on his sexuality. I want to comment on the utterly inappropriate comments that he's made.

CROWLEY: Yes. But if this is going to be part of his defense, Michael he could bring this up.

LEVINE: Listen. He can have any defense he wants. It is indefensible to say that sleeping with little boys is appropriate behavior.

NATHAN: He didn't say he's sleeping with little boys, Michael. He said he shared a bed and when he was in the bed he was sleeping on the floor. He didn't say he slept with little boys. I'm sorry.

LEVINE: You obviously...

CROWLEY: He said -- he doesn't seem to think there was anything wrong with it.

LEVINE: You didn't hear the interview.

NATHAN: I heard the interview just fine, and he didn't say that he slept with little boys.

LEVINE: Absolutely.

NATHAN: And he said to his brother...

LEVINE: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting, sir. Monica. One at a time.

NATHAN: He did say, sir -- listen to me -- he did say that he found absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping with little boys.

CROWLEY: Yes. And that's an uphill battle for a defense lawyer.

JOHNSON: I think it's obviously, though, Mr. Levine regrets his involvement with Mr. Jackson.

LEVINE: NO. Not at all. That's not the truth.

JOHNSON: And apparently has some knowledge that brings him to this statement today.

LEVINE: That is not true.

JOHNSON: That's what it is, but apparently...

LEVINE: You're miscategorizing what I'm saying. That's not true.

JOHNSON: Well, what I'm saying -- Well, why won't you defend him today?

LEVINE: Because I'm simply saying that I don't think his statements today are consistent with...

COLMES: We have to leave it right there.

LEVINE: I think they're self-destructive.

COLMES: Michael, thank you. Geoffrey, thank you.

CROWLEY: Happy New Year, guys.

COLMES: Monica, nice working with you.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.