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As you might imagine, we are working around the clock here in Santa Maria (search) covering the Michael Jackson (search) trial. Sleep is not high on the agenda for anyone. Of course it is hard to feel sorry for ourselves — the hard jobs are those of the D.A., the defense attorneys, judge and the jury. The jury is the most difficult job. Even if the verdict is obvious to a juror — guilty or not guilty — it still is not easy.
From time to time we laugh and joke while working, but it does not escape us for one second the seriousness of the matter we cover. The crime alleged is serious and the consequences of a guilty verdict are serious. The risk of the wrong verdict is also serious. It is horrible when an innocent man or woman is found guilty and horrible when a guilty man or woman is found not guilty. Both families involved in this case — the accuser's and Jackson's — must also be in enormous pain.
On the lighter side, check out the pictures posted today on this blog. One of our producers celebrated his birthday here (yes, working around the clock.) We attempted to celebrate his birthday after the show but we don't have the usual party fare tools. We did get a cake but the candles — check the pics — are not exactly what he expected for a 30-something-year-old man. We did the best we could with no shopping time in an unfamiliar town!
Two pictures also show a little fun —teasing — of my old employer. Check the pics and you will understand. Covering this trial, I have run into so many old friends and several from CNN. Big media events do that — they draw us from all over. When we run into each others it is big greetings and smiles and I worry that people on the street seeing us think we are just out here having a big party while a serious trial is going on and that we are flip about it. Appearances can be deceptive. It is inescapable that it is fun to see old friends — but we all know this is serious and we do care.
I am unable to post your e-mails here on the blog as is my routine because I can't seem to access the FOX News e-mail from my hotel room. I read your e-mails during the day from our live site where we have some fancy satellite hookup but don't have time to do the blog until I get back to the hotel at night.
I do have one e-mail for you — Laura Ingle's trial note describing the court proceedings (see below.) Wednesday, I saw Michael Jackson for the first time in court. I was struck how vacant he appeared — no emotion, just blankly staring. Of course he is under enormous pressure and, to top it, we are all staring at him and people are screaming at him going in and out of court.
I find trials fascinating until they get to this point. I hate waiting for verdicts and I hate verdicts. No one wins and there is always a loser no matter the verdict. Yes, many deserve to lose, and I know this, but I still hate to see it.
Yesterday, in some "down time," we took a tour of Laura Ingle's radio studio. You should see it! It is a tiny room in the back of a coffee shop! My estimate is that it is 5 feet by 6 feet. We shot some video of the studio (may show tonight) and took some pics (see the blog.) The foreign press also has a presence in the coffee shop. As I walked through and met the foreign press, I teased them and told them that all our trials are like this Jackson trial.
Did you see the end of our show last night? We had our crew go to one side of our makeshift set and turned the camera on them. In part I wanted their families to know they are still alive and well... and second, for some fun... it was our "Today Show" moment. It was not fans jumping up and down with signs outside their studio at Rockefeller Center (search), but it was the best we could do. And yes, we are trying to have some fun here as we work around the clock but I can't emphasize enough — trials are serious business and we know it.
E-mail from Laura Ingle of KFI radio:
Subject: Laura note, May 31 — June 1
The tension around the Michael Jackson trial is so high... It feels like sitting in a big fat pressure cooker this week. Tuesday, jurors and Jackson had the day off, but the attorneys and judge were hard at work hashing out the jury instructions. Today, after that was finished up, jurors were called to the courtroom to hear the judge go over the 10 felony counts and 28 overt acts prosecutors have charged Jackson with and the rules for deliberations.
Inside the courtroom today, Jackson's mom and dad and two of his brothers listened as the judge reminded jurors of the charges against Jackson. It must have been wildly uncomfortable for all of them (as I'm sure it's been for weeks) hearing out loud what prosecutors believe Jackson did to a 13-year-old cancer survivor. Jackson didn't flinch, seems disconnected and a little worried. Today when he walked into court, some reporters said they saw him hold the hands of him mom and dad. Tomorrow, for the critical phase of closing arguments, I've heard that Janet Jackson is expected to be here too. The swelling fan base should go nuts with that!
While we were waiting for the judge and jury to come in for instructions today, I noticed prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss (search) come in holding a huge article that just came out in Vanity Fair about Jackson. It was odd to see him clutching the Maureen Orth article in court... just goes to show you the attorneys do pay attention to the media. I also noticed Auchincloss looking at pictures of evidence on his laptop computer while we were waiting for the instructions to start. Looked like photos of the notes the accuser wrote Jackson... I remember seeing them at trial. They said "I love you" over and over... I wonder if the D.A.'s team will be using those in closing arguments tomorrow?
Whatever happens, the world will be watching — international media reps have descended on this tiny town once again for the end of the most famous celebrity to ever face a felony. Stay tuned!
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