Michael Jackson and CBS

Michael Jackson and CBS
: If CBS News paid for a Michael Jackson interview, that is utterly reprehensible.

But I’m not sure the network did.

The New York Times story alleging the deal is clear in the headline — “Michael Jackson’s $1 Million Interview Deal,” it says online — but is far less clear in the story.

Says The Times:

But Mr. Jackson’s business associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the “60 Minutes” interview was part of what was originally a $5 million deal to put on an entertainment special for CBS during a sweeps period and that CBS had already advanced the singer $1.5 million of that fee.

CBS postponed the special, which was incomplete, after the authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Jackson on multiple counts of child molesting. But the Jackson associate said that in renewed negotiations, CBS agreed to pay another $1 million to the star to grant the interview so that the network could finally broadcast its entertainment special. It is now scheduled to be broadcast on Friday evening.

The way I read that, they paid him for the entertainment special and didn’t even pay him the full amount of the deal.

The only thing they have to contradict that is an unnamed Jackson associate (a dubious description if I’ve ever heard one!) arguing that “in essence they paid him” for the interview. The story then concedes that is is “unclear how much Mr. Jackson will ultimately earn from the programs.”

But wait: You just said that he was to be paid $5 million for the entertainment special. He has been paid half of that amount. The special is now scheduled to air (a cynical act in and of itself).

All this is not to say that there are not dangerous and dubious connections being made between news and entertainment deals these days. The same network reportedly offered entertainment deals for Jessica Lynch that were tied to news interviews. That’s paying for news. If the Jackson deal was tied to the interview, that, too, would be paying for news.

But so far as I can see, The Times doesn’t have a smoking gun.

: UPDATE: Roger Friedman at FoxNews also takes The Times to task for basing the story on an anonymous source. And Friedman speculates that that source is a disgruntled former Jackson manager who now runs sex clubs.

: UPDATE: Felix Salmon dissects the Times piece, head-scratcher by head-scratcher.

Methinks this is turning into a case for the Public Editor!

Into the Ombuscave, Okrent. On with the Ombudscape! Fire up the Ombudsmobile!

  • Jeff – I just tried to e-mail you and it got spit back saying that your e-mail address was listed on “SPEW”. I’ll post the full message when I get to an office; on my Treo now.

  • What’s SPEW?

  • KMK

    Go to http://www.spews.org/ type in your isp and see if your on their list.

  • Marcel Perez

    Some of the allegations Michael Jackson makes are scandalous for the police, if true, and absurd beyond comprehension, if false.
    His being held in a “poo poo, feces cell with feces smeared all over the walls, floor and ceiling (and, oh, the horrible smell)”. “They asked me how the smell was, and I answered “it’s okay”. (this has been slightly paraphrased).
    He accuses the police of wrenching his shoulder so badly that he “can’t move or sleep at night”.
    Where was Mark Geragos all this time? I can’t believe some of the claims he makes. I wonder if he has any toenails or fingernails left that the police might have forgotten to yank out with pliers. They could have yanked out all his hair but that wouldn’t be too painful, seeing that he wears a wig. And yanking facial hair would only be right…as pubic hair (rumored) does not belong transplanted on anyone’s face.
    He does further damage to his case by reiterating all or most of his earlier statements regarding sleeping with children unrelated to him. All these interview statements will be placed into evidence during his trial.
    Michael will forever be estranged from his beloved Neverland, as the authorities have sullied his home so badly (I can believe this one) that he could never live there again.
    So goes the never-ending and continually shocking saga of Michael Jackson; a man who has already taken up far more space, time, and air on this planet then his sad life warrants.

  • KMK: If Steven was trying to SEND me email and he got the SPEW message, that must mean that the list thinks that HE is sending from a spam-suspicious IP or account, no? This one’s not on my side of the euqation, right?

  • Jeff:
    Right. Some link between him and you is rejecting him.
    I just checked, buzzmachine.com is NOT on SPEWS

  • My guess is he’s sending from a problematic cablemodem/DSL IP address.

  • Andy Freeman

    > If CBS News paid for a Michael Jackson interview, that is utterly reprehensible.
    It can’t be wrong to pay interview subjects because payment would interfere with the interviewee’s truthfulness or objectivity. (Both news organizations and interviewees have agendas.)
    It can’t be wrong because they can’t afford it.
    News organizations are the only biz that think that they shouldn’t pay for their inputs.

  • KMK

    Jeff and Seth,
    If I have it right Steve emailed you and got a reply saying your email address was listed with spews. A few things could have happened here
    -he could have typed in your address wrong (happens to the best of us)
    -your isp, meaning your provider, has been listed with spews
    -your email has been listed as a spammers email address.
    Seth you checked buzzmachine.com but as I understand it Steve emailed Jeff. buzzmachine is his site address. Did Steve send you the reply yet?

  • Jeff – OK, it might be my e-mail, but it might be yours. Getting a chance to read the message in full, it blames both “recipient” and “sending IP”:
    Hi. This is the qmail-send program at schwa.the44.net.
    I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
    This is a permanent error; I’ve given up. Sorry it didn’t work out.
    : does not like recipient.
    Remote host said: 550-Your mail has been rejected because the sending IP is listed at SPEWS. See
    550 http://www.spews.org.
    Giving up on

  • Putting in a comment with my correct new e-mail address in the text box.

  • Just went to SPEWS and entered the suspect IP (not sure whether it’s yours or mine) and it said “This was NOT found in SPEWS.”
    See : http://www.spews.org/ask.cgi?x=

  • buzzmachine.com is then using some blacklist which uses SPEWS, or SPEWS itself.
    schwa.the44.net, your machine, *IS* on SPEWS

  • KMK

    Steven send Jeff another email and see if it goes through (same way as before) not through reply or anything just send him a test email. I think this was just a wierd ip/isp mix up. If you get the same message again then the message you posted means it’s on Steven’s end which means Steven’s provider is listed with spews.

  • I think it’s “real”.
    Buzzmachine’s ISP uses SPEWS in some form.
    Steven’s net address in blacklisted by SPEWS.
    Hence mail from Steven to Jeff is rejected (given those locations)
    Another day in the spam wars …

  • I sent the e-mail from my Treo — might that be part of the problem?

  • KMK

    Seth did all the checking for you both. Your treo email service provider is the problem and you should let them know you’ve had this spews reply because it means whoever you email that uses spews as a spammers block list will not get your email and you’ll keep getting these spews replies.
    Jeff you thought it was cool Howards phone had people ha, your blog has people. Hats off to Seth for the sleuth work.

  • Marcel Perez

    I know you folks with the technical problem meant no harm, and hopefully got the gliches worked out, but…what happened to our subject of Michael Jackson and his interview? I think it got lost in the middle of other business.

  • button

    I don’t discern any case there inre Jackson.
    Looks like all-sizzle/no steak to me.
    So, don’t worry about Michael.
    [a lawyer’s daughter]

  • If only Les Moonves had had a treo to use to explain (while on vacation) how after looking like CBS was ready to use synergy to get an interview with Jessica Lynch they allowed a similar situation to happen with Jackson.
    Jackson may or may not have gotten an extra million for the interview, but it looked like he did the interview because CBS agreed to finally air the special promoting his latest failed greatest hits album.

  • Greg D

    I’d like to reiterate Andy’s question: What’s wrong with “news” organizations paying for interviews. Or, to put it another way, what’s wrong with people who give interviews (and therefore business) to news organizations receiving renumeration for their time and effort?