Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Convicting Jackson's Doc In The Media

Dr. Murray

"Doctor Death" is the headline on the front page of today's New York Post.

The Daily News goes further with a headline that screams "The Doc Did It."


Why even dispense with a trial? Let's save the taxpayer's a lot of money by simply letting the media declare Michael Jackson's personal physician guilty of his death. After all, the LA medical examiner has ruled his demise a homicide. And we know that the cops have been checking the doctor's medical records. He's obviously a "person of interest" if not a "target" or a "suspect" in the investigation.

The Daily News goes so far as to list "some of the sedatives" that it says Dr. Conrad Murray "administered" to Michael Jackson when he complained he couldn't sleep. It even lists the times. According to the News, Murray gave Jackson Valium at 1:30 AM, Lorazepam at 2, Midazolam at 3 and Propofol at 10:40.

The paper quotes a detective's affidavit which concludes Murray gave Jackson "lethal levels" of Propofol. The story then dutifully reports that Murray "has not been charged" but adds that it is "likely that Murray could soon face charges."

The Post, and I presume countless other newspapers across the nation, reports similarly, quoting one source familiar with the report as saying the Propofol interacted with the other sedatives to put Jackson into a "fatal coma."

But the one thing that's really missing from all this breathless reporting, much of it based on the actual record, is that these are just allegations. Allegations that may or may not be introduced as evidence in a trial if Murray is ultimately charged. And if they are, they won't just be presented in the newspaper with no retort. Unless he pleads out, Murray would mount a defense. And sometimes things come out during trials that upset the prosecutorial apple cart.

I'm not defending Dr. Murray here. I have no way of knowing whether he is guilty as declared by the media. But I do know that it's dangerous to declare that "The Doc Did It" - especially when he's not been charged by prosecutors.

Another high profile case comes to mind. That of the media persecution of Richard Jewell, who was a "person of interest" following the Centennial Park Olympic bombing in Atlanta. Jewell, a security guard at the park, thrust himself into the limelight after discovering a pipe bomb and helping to evacuate people before it went off. He seemingly craved attention - so much so that the agents investigating the bombing started focusing on him. Painting a picture of a wanna be cop using the bombing as a way to market his police-like prowess in an attempt to get a job in law enforcement.

The media then all but convicted Jewell of the bombing. The previously obscure figure's name was known to most Americans. He was the guy, many thought. When there's smoke there's fire. Why would they be focusing on him if he didn't do it? The cops must know some things that haven't been revealed.

Except, of course, he didn't do it. Jewell sued several media outlets, including the New York Post and settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

A good defense attorney can cloud up a case that may be built against Dr. Murray. How do we know he was the one who administered these "lethal levels?" Is it possible Jackson took some of the meds on his own and Murray was unaware of it?

Perhaps Murray's indulgent behavior toward his star patient did lead to Jackson's death. If so, that will come out at trial, presuming he is ultimately charged.

Until then, declaring in a bold headline that "The Doc Did It" is irresponsible at best. Let's at least wait until a jury of his peers says so before declaring Dr. Murray, no matter how culpable in Jackson's death he appears, guilty.


fnthngs said...

When there is a Tragedy in a Family,or in any situation, the heartsick want to find the "culprit" and the reason, which is understandable. But to push for conviction in the Media is unconstitutional and unjust. It not only makes finding unbiased jurors difficult it also spawns vigilantes ready for trial and conviction without a court hearing. It is Very sad to me that I see more and more "opions" in the media, rather than just stating the facts.

Firstlady_Mandey said...


I am certainly not defending Dr. Murray, as I have no prior knowledge of the history of his Character. I would however agree that the press has already charged him, by way of their character assaultive descriptions and labels thus far. Innocent until proven guilty is a fallacy regarding our current Judiciary System, as it appears to often refute this philosophy, particularly in high-profile Media cases. I do agree that Dr. Murray is clearly a TARGET of some agenda, however, that does not deny that he is responsible for all his actions as a Physician, and Medical Provider/Practitioner. Michael Jackson, one of the greatest Entertainers, and his family deserve JUSTICE, but let's hold our Judiciary to that task, not the Media Circus.


Allen said...

What media is doing is Unconstitutional what happen to it is innocent till proven guilty?
Are they trying to tell the public in wrong way if this thing get settle a done and if Dr Murray convicted of crime. They say we told you so? Or it is all about sell some news to Michael Jackson's fans? I think any way you look at it is wrong

WorthyOfUrAttn said...

This is another tactic to sway the public and jury for the conviction of Dr. Murray, if brought to trial. It's the same seed planting ambush that was used to railroad President Obama out of his campaign. Michael could have taken these perscriptions on his own but its his Doctor's responsibility not to provide a mixture that is deadly. If doctor Murray's name is on ALL that labels of the interactive medications that rendered Michael's death, then he's guilty.

Anonymous said...

Trial by Media is, sadly, not unusual in our society. When you have a media machine that feels they have to look for the sensational then facts become irrelevant.
Michael Jackson was a user of drugs - FACT. He had a dependence on drugs - FACT. He was anxious about his comeback tour - FACT.
Now I am not saying that these drugs were illegal, nor am I saying that the doctor wasn't culpable in allowing this lethal cocktail to be administered. However it would appear that the afadavit that was given by the doctor to the police was in fact not reported accurately.
So will the court case find that he was RESPONSIBLE for the ultimate demise of MJ, or will they find that he was GUILTY of the ultimate demise? There is a fine line there, in my opinion.

Bahaneh said...

Hello Gary,
no matter what,@ the moment Dr Murray is center of attention,He was there every night according reporters & news,,,,& I'll say he is directly responsible,He prescribe & provide all that medication .Q?, why Michael Jackson wasn't sleeping like normal ppl. & all that drugs & oxygen tank In Hi's Bedroom again according reporters & news,I think If Dr Murray is not "target" or a "suspect" He is @ the moment enter of all attentions he must be completely investigate ,He must answer to a lot's of Questions ,,,, why all stars Need DRUGS to sleep,don't they know how to make a clean happy& drug free life???Or what is the problem here that we have some of our Stars in this kind of weird life style,,,,Money pushed them to death,,, :( I don't like this,,,,I loved My Star very much,,,,He was one of the best :(

Anonymous said...

Hello from Bullbreed

I agree that another headline would be more appropriate something like "The doc is a possible suspect".

but i see these types of snare headlines all the time.

In this case they use the report to justify it .

I guess buyer beware extends to story headlines or should we call it "the Hook"


Anonymous said...

Wow alot to consider here.....you have a two way street here with many famous celebs. firstly you have the celeb who tends to think they NEED a drug to keep going and then another to rest. They have lots of money and lots of pull/influence to cause enough problems if they don't get it. On the other hand you have doctors who should be educated in what these drugs can do yet overlook these facts for the money. Just who is to blame? The celeb who insist on NEEDING something or the doctor who gives? I've heard soo many times of a doctor giving medication because the patient or patients guardian/parent would have a "fit" if they didn't. To me this is wrong. Many times the patient, will go from doctor to doctor until they get what they want. So just who do you blame? Shouldn't the person insisting be blamed also? As for media.......they have always been gung-ho on matters and made critical judgements on many cases they shouldn't have. People really need to not listen to media hype so much. I don't believe in someone being guilty until proven innocent and ya how judiciary system does do this alot but the media is worse :)

Anonymous said...

Let's be realistic: if you're the physician to a megastar, you're going to be in the limelight like it or not, especially if they die under questionable circumstances. Marylin Monroe ring a bell? Elvis? Come on guys, the Doc knew when he became Jackson's personal physician that he was walking into a hornets nest.

Having been in the medical field, I can tell you that there is an obligation on any physician and that is to make certain that your patients are receiving the best and safest care possible.

Since the man was at Jackson's home enough to treat him and prescribe, why did he not run a tox screen to find out what other common drugs were in that emaciated body?

EVERY drug on the list I've heard is a common drug. Some are pain killers; others anti-depressants. He owed it to his patient to either say NO, I will not treat you because of this or to get Jackson into rehab for his own good.

The latter is preferable but where that doesn't work, the Dr. has a responsibility to refuse continued care and to report suspect abuse of controlled substance medications to the authorities.

Yes, Jackson would have been arrested and forced into rehab by the courts and yes, there would have been some scandal (like this would be new?)

But at least he would be alive.

Drs. who cater to the rich and famous addicts of Hollywood and the recording industry need to have their licenses revoked and charged with the same offense as would be charged to a common drug dealer.

-LD McLellan