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If you read Monday's blog, you would know that we have once again taken the show "on the road." We made it as far as L.A. last night — and today the four-hour drive to Santa Maria (search) where the Michael Jackson (search) trial is being held. It is not easy to get to Santa Maria and the flights are filled today — no doubt with members of the media racing back to what is expected to be the closing days of the Michael Jackson trial. Today there is no court, but Tuesday it starts early... actually, everyday it starts early. This judge is an early riser.
My flight was "uneventful," which is what you want from a flight. After I boarded and before we took off, a man with a very colorful and "busy" sport coat came up to me. I was so busy looking at his sport coat that I did not notice at first who it was. It was Pat Boone (search). He put his hand out and said, "Hi Greta. Pat Boone." I looked up and of course recognized him (he has also been on our show.) I quickly apologized for not recognizing him sooner but confessed to being focused on his jacket — which was very cheerful. He said his wife said that the jacket really stands out and that people stare at it. The jacket does stand out and yes, I did stare at first. Pat was in D.C. for the Memorial Day weekend festivities.
Pat and I talked for about 10 minutes — mostly about Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne. Ozzie and Sharon had told me a while back that they were friends with Pat (they had been neighbors years ago.) Pat said, "Yes, we [referring to Sharon and Ozzie and himself] are the odd couple." He added that he likes them very much. I agreed that they seemed at first glance to be unusual friends — but all three are very friendly so maybe it is no surprise. Pat told me that while he and the Osbournes were neighbors that Meatloaf had put a contract on the house that was next door, too. Pat was amused at his then living arrangements and his friends. It was obvious that Pat likes Sharon and Ozzie very much.
Since we had some time to kill in L.A. last night, we called Adam Housley (FOX News L.A. correspondent) and Susan Estrich (FOX News contributor and professor at USC Law School) to meet us for a drink in the hotel. Susan is in the midst of finishing her new book, which must be finished (or comes out?) in September.
In about an hour, we begin the last leg of our journey (by car to Santa Maria — the flights are all booked!)
With all the time passing, it is easy to lose track of the Michael Jackson trial. It seems like this trial has been going on forever! If you want a quick guide... check out this A/P article by Linda Deutsch. Linda has been in the courtroom daily and has covered more trials than any nine journalists I know. She gives the best thumbnail sketch to bring you up to date — or, if you have not followed the trial, the article tells you enough to understand the trial:
By Linda Deutsch
AP Special Correspondent
SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — When prosecution and defense attorneys present closing arguments in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial, they will tell two different stories based on the same facts, a reprise designed to convince jurors that Jackson is either a predatory pedophile or a wealthy victim of scheming grifters.
As in the classic movie, "Rashomon" — where critical events related at a trial change when seen through different perceptions — jurors will be asked to look at both sides and decide which one is the truth.
Was Jackson a humanitarian trying to aid a cancer-stricken boy and his family, or was he a self-involved celebrity trying to repair his damaged image by holding an entire family captive until they made a video praising him?
Loyola University Law Professor Laurie Levenson, who has attended the trial, said that unlike most cases, closing arguments would be critical in this one.
"Neither side was able to dominate the trial enough to be confident in what the verdict will be," she said. "Both sides have to persuade the jurors what to see in the facts that have been presented. They have to help them figure out the biggest enigma: who is the real Michael Jackson?"
In closing arguments that could begin as early as Wednesday, prosecutors will paint Jackson as a manipulative molester, a weird appearing celebrity who thinks he is immune from the rules that govern normal people's conduct.
The defense has taken the tack of embracing Jackson's odd appearance and lifestyle and is likely to argue that he should not be penalized for being different.
They will remind jurors — perhaps through the use of videotape evidence — that although Jackson did not testify, they heard him sharing details of his difficult childhood and his desire to make children happy with his Neverland amusement park.
The defense will seek to demonize the accuser and his family as well as those they contend fell for their story. They will say there are financial motives everywhere and remind jurors how the mother approached other celebrities with her tale of woe before she hit on Jackson.
Prosecutors are relying not just on the current case but on a series of allegations against the star 12 to 15 years ago. They will suggest he got away with molestation before and wants to get away with it again.
They have highlighted so-called propensity evidence they were allowed to present under a unique California law known as penal code section 1108. It allowed them to resurrect allegations from the early 1990s that Jackson molested other boys — claims that never resulted in criminal charges. Jurors were not told that Jackson paid millions to make two of the claims go away. They did hear, however, that some of his accusers sold stories to tabloid magazines for thousands.
Prosecutors called one young man to say he was touched inappropriately during tickling sessions many years ago. The defense called three now grown-up men, including actor Macaulay Culkin, to say they were never touched sexually by Jackson.
Prosecutors are expected to say as they did in opening statements that Jackson was a star on the skids trying to resurrect his image by granting access to an interviewer who skewered him with his own words in a video documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson."
On that video, the world saw the boy who would become his accuser holding Jackson's hand and resting his head on the pop star's shoulder.
When the show raised a storm of controversy because of Jackson's acknowledgment that he allowed children to sleep in his bed, albeit non-sexually, prosecutors say he entered a panic mode, decided to produce a rebuttal video and needed the boy and his family to participate. They will say he was at the heart of a conspiracy that involved child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
And in the weeks after the family performed on the video, prosecutors allege that Jackson then for the first time molested the boy. The defense is expected to ridicule that time line as unbelievable.
Prosecutors also say Jackson gave the boy alcohol to make him a willing victim and they cite as circumstantial evidence a large trove of girlie magazines found at Jackson's home and one or two art books that contained photos of men in homosexual poses.
Defense attorneys will attack the boy's mother as a money hungry charlatan who was playing for high stakes. They maintain it is absurd to think the mother will not sue Jackson for millions. Her history as a welfare cheat and her behavior in a lawsuit against a department store that brought her $152,000 will be cited as evidence of her propensity to lie.
Prosecutors will certainly remind jurors of the demeanor of the boy, both on the witness stand and in a powerful video shown at the very end of their case in which he haltingly described the alleged abuse. They will say that if jurors believe him, they must convict. The defense will remind jurors that the boy took acting lessons, has been described as cunning and shrewd, and that the boy himself said Jackson broke his heart by rejecting him as a friend. They will say this is a case of revenge.
Rather than escaping from Neverland, the defense may argue that the family was forced to leave and their exodus was akin to the exile from Eden, the end of their dream of spending their life in luxury with Jackson as their father figure and benefactor.
"Jurors will not easily decide this case," said Levenson. "They know that they will be second guessed on so many things."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
And now, some of your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
Ms. Van Susteren and FOX News,
Thank you for your program on the animals on Monday, May 30. This was a nice break from the Jackson trial and other political shows that you've spent much time on recently.
I wish you could have made this a 90-minute segment so that more time could have been spent with each animal type and the interviews and discussions more extended. "Jack's" (I've forgotten his last name) explanation of the purpose of a zoo at the beginning of the program was interesting and I wish that more time could have been spent discussing this topic.
Although I'm sure programs such as this one are expensive to produce they are worthwhile to the public. Important issues may be raised in a non-controversial and non-threatening manner. Keep up the good work.
E-mail No. 2
Ms. Van Susteren,
The Memorial Day program at the Columbus Zoo was magnificent. We regularly watch your program as we are FOX News "junkies" but occasionally we do get tired of all the court stuff, the legal problems people have and this referenced program was as refreshing as spring water. This show was a true "family" quality show!
Well done and why not plan some more of such "off topic" shows?
E-mail No. 3
What a wonderful program you had Monday night. Thank you so much, I really enjoyed seeing you interact with all those wonderful animals (except those roaches). I also enjoyed the WWII Monument tour with Sen. Dole. It is such a treat to get a break from all the ugly happenings in the world. Keep up the great work, I really enjoy all of your programs even if I disagree. Thanks again,
Clifton Park, NY
E-mail No. 4
Thanx... I so enjoyed your show from Jack Hannah's zoo... what a hoot. It looks like you are a natural mid-western gal that loves animals (and I could tell the animals were very comfortable around you)... I've never seen a person that was so relaxed w/every kind of creature... but you were! Great camera work also.
I was on the deck takin' pix of a snake the other day, and when I told hubby, he turned green... creatures fascinate me... I love learnin' about them.
'Davy' Crockett, TX (formally from IN)
E-mail No. 5
Thank you for showing the zoo footage tonite Greta! That was cool! You are such a trip, you're like a little kid at Disneyland. And Jack, well, that guy is a trip times ten! He sure liked sharing his zoo! It's nice that FOX News lets you do this kind of feature journalism. LOL. A refreshing break from the daily criminals.
San Francisco, CA
E-mail No. 6
What a fun time I had today, when you took me to the Petting Zoo. You were certainly BRAVE when you held still when your host placed those HUGE roaches on your jacket. Euoooh!
I just loved the anteater and all those other lovely animals. The cat with the rabbit feet. Wow. The little elephant was so cute and curious, hopping around just like any little kid.
I enjoyed them all, and you made it seem like I was there with you.
Thanks for the fun.
Your Friend and Fan,
Edna Mac Donald
Doctor of Chiropractic
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