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  • We All Grieve In Our Own Way…

    But Michael Jackson’s father, Joe, seems to have a particularly unique style.

    He showed up at the BET Awards show last night and engaged in a bizarre interview with CNN correspondent Don Lemon.

    Jackson said he was doing “great” and only under further interrogation did he admit that the last couple days had been hard on his family.

    When asked if he had anything to tell the world about his son’s legacy, the senior Jackson invited his spokeswoman up to read a statement which seemed more about declaring control over the estate and giving primacy to their lawyers than to eulogizing a lost son.

    It was not the time for prepared statements “written on behlaf of Mr. Jackson and the family” as the spokeperson announced. It was a time that called for heartfelt statements of loss, pride in a son’s accomplishments, concern for grandchildren etc.

    Instead, Joe Jackson kept calling on people to join him before the cameras, like Bob Barker on “The Price is Right.” One of the people he called on was there to plug a record company that the senior Jackson co-owns, but the name of which he apparently could not remember. We may be wrong, but it did not appear that the memory loss was due to being overcome with grief. Our advice to Joe — stay off camera for a suitable period. Ten, fifteen years sounds good.

    CNN’s transcript is below:

    LEMON: CNN is live on the red carpet of the BET Awards and so is the father of Michael Jackson, Joe Jackson joins us here tonight. How are you doing, sir? How is the family holding up?

    JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON’S FATHER: I’m great. My family is doing pretty good.

    LEMON: Yes?

    JACKSON: Yes, they are.

    LEMON: You want to tell – the last couple days, I know it’s been really tough for you guys.

    JACKSON: And? Yes. It has. It has been really tough. Remember we just lost the biggest star, superstar in the world. So it has been tough.

    LEMON: Why did you show up here tonight? It is to pay tribute to your son?

    JACKSON: Yes. To pay tribute to my son, Michael. Yes, we did. I did.

    LEMON: How is Mrs. Jackson?

    JACKSON: She is fine. Thank you.

    LEMON: Is there anything that you would like to share with the world about your son and about his legacy?

    JACKSON: Yes, I want to make a statement here. Give me the statement here. He’ll read the statement.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. This is written on behalf of Mr. Jackson and the family. Our family sincerely thanks all of you around the world for your love and support during our time of grief. Our beloved son, Michael Jackson, loved you all. Michael’s children are our first priority. We will have further announcements to discuss our plans going forward. Until such time, however, we have a personal and legal authority to act and solely Katherine and I have authority for our son and his children. We wish to handle his memory and legacy with dignity. And the attorney for the Jacksons is Londell McMillan and no one else has the authority to speak on behalf of the Jackson family at this time.

    LEMON: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Jackson, you know, I was talking to you about the legacy that Michael Jackson left. Do you think that the world even realizes how big your son’s legacy is?

    JACKSON: Now they seem to realize it now. But the only thing is, I wish the world had recognized him when he was living. Because, you know, but right now he is bigger than ever now. I wish he was here to see all this. To hear all this. Yes.

    LEMON: We’ve been hearing from the Reverend Sharpton, the Reverend Jackson, that you had some concerns regarding some of the last moments of the people who were around him in his life. Do you care to share that?

    JACKSON: Yes, yes. What was that?

    LEMON: I said you had some concerns about the physicians and the people who were around him during the last moments of his life.

    JACKSON: Yes, I am. I have a lot of concerns. I can’t get into that but I don’t like what happened.

    LEMON: You don’t like –

    JACKSON: This is my attorney here. LEMON: Yes.

    Sir, I was asking him and he said he would come in here. You’re Londell, right? He said he had some concerns about the last moments of his son’s life about, who may have been around him. Can you talk to us about that?

    LONDELL MCMILLAN, JACKSON FAMILY LAWYER: We can’t talk about that now. There is a second autopsy that is underway and we’ll let that process take its course at this time. We’ll have more detail at a later point.

    LEMON: have you spoken at all to the doctor at all?

    MCMILLAN: No, I have not.

    LEMON: Do you guys have any – do you know anything, Mr. Jackson, about funeral arrangements? Have you had time –

    JACKSON: We haven’t been through that yet but we’re working on that.

    This is (inaudible)

    LEMON: Thank you. How is – you said your wife — what about Janet and the rest of the family, the daughters –

    JACKSON: They’re all doing fine. But I want to make this statement. This is a real good statement here. Marshall and I have, we own a record company called Ranch Records. He’s talking about Blue Ray technology. That’s the next step.

    LEMON: That’s the next step. There had been, talk to us about the, your 60th wedding anniversary. As I understand in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. The entire family was there and Michael said that he had wanted the members of his family — over.

    JACKSON: My birthday?

    LEMON: Your wedding anniversary. You and Katherine – in Las Vegas.

    JACKSON: Oh, that was fantastic. Yes, it was. A lot of people were there. A lot of people I was glad to see. It was a fantastic job. The first one though. That was our first wedding anniversary we had. And they came out. Fantastic.

    LEMON: What’s next for you guys?

    JACKSON: We got a lot of fixing to happen but I can’t announce it right now. OK.

    LEMON: All right. Thank you. Joe Jackson, the father of Michael Jackson and also here with friends and his attorney and also joined us. And it’s you know, kind of a surreal moment to talk to the father, everyone has been wanting to hear how the family is doing and you heard him say, he said they’re doing all right. Katherine Jackson who is the mom is doing all right, and Joe Jackson still standing here as he leaves the stage.

    And I asked him about the concerns, you know, about the last moments of his son’s life. If he had concerns with the doctor and he said absolutely I have some concerns and then brought his attorney up to talk about the concerns there. The attorney said they can’t discuss it right now. That they had to proceed legally before they make any sort of comments regarding the last moments of his life.

    But you heard Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the Jackson family, saying there are concerns and also saying they’re moving on as a family. It has been very tough for them. Obviously, very tough for the family the last couple of days. And you know, we have been – we asked him about coming to this event. Why he showed up. And he said he wanted to make sure that his son’s legacy lived on and he wanted these people, these folks right now at this moment to pay tribute to his son. I’m Don Lemon reporting live from the red carpet.

  • “Take This Outside….”

    Howie Kurtz’s CNN program “Reliable Sources” turned into Wrestlemania for News Junkies today.

    Kurtz had on Huffington Post blogger Nico Pitney and Washington Post writer Dana Milbank who duked it out over a question Pitney asked at this week’s Presidential news conference.

    Milbank and others accuse Pitney of colluding with White House staffers who told him in advance he might be called on by the President if he asked a question via the internet from Iranians.

    Pitney kneed Milbank in the groin by bringing up some of the Postie’s past questions to Obama including a series of questions regarding how the POTUS looks in a bathing suit.

    The pundit dust up can be seen in the video below:

    Several lessons can be gleaned from the snark match.

    If you are booked to take part in a confrontational interview — beware when your opponent shows up with a file folder (as Milbank did in this case.) Chances our your opponent has done some research which he plans to clobber you with — whether it is out of context or not.

    Also, don’t let your opponent throw you off your game plan. Pitney was scoring some points on Milbank when the clever columist interrupted him and changed the subject…ducking and weaving from Pitney’s questions while throwing some haymakers of his own.

    Toward the end of interview, Milbank showed signed of having been rocked saying: “Look, Howie, I can’t deal with fiction on this show. I mean…” Kurtz sounded the bell on the match suggesting that the two combatants “take this outside.”

    CNN’s transcript of the segment is below:

    KURTZ: A presidential news conference usually proceeds from the AP reporter, to the network correspondents, to the major newspaper writers. But President Obama set off plenty of chatter at this week’s presser by giving the second question to a “Huffington Post” blogger. It wasn’t just the selection of Nico Pitney — Obama has called on “The Huffington Post” before — but the way the president seemed to invite a particular question.


    OBAMA: Nico, I know that you and across the Internet we’ve been seeing a lo of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet.

    Do you have a question?

    PITNEY: Yes, I did. But I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.

    “Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad…”


    KURTZ: All right.

    Nico Pitney, you said the White House notified you that you would probably get a question at the news conference. Everyone assumes what we just saw was orchestrated.

    PITNEY: No. From beginning to end, there was no planning involved. I was the one who posted that I was going to be soliciting — that I was soliciting questions from Iranians. I chose the question.

    The reason President Obama made that comment is because he was trying to make a point that he was taking a question from an Iranian. And it’s interesting that Dana, of all people, wrote this column very negatively. I mean, this is a person, Dana, who, when he had a chance to ask Obama a question, he approached him in the hall during the campaign and asked him not one, but multiple questions about how he looked in a bathing suit.

    I mean, that to me is pathetic, and I would — you couldn’t stage manage me into that, Dana.

    MILBANK: Well, Nico has some — evidently, some very interesting things to do.

    What I have never done in my life, Howie, is worked in collusion with an administration, whether it’s this one or another one. I believe that whether it’s Nico Pitney, with “The Huffington Post,” or whether it’s Carl Cameron, with Fox News, the White House should not be calling somebody the night before saying, we are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular subject asked in a certain way.

    PITNEY: But I was… MILBANK: Nico, the night before, sent out an e-mail to his colleagues — “Some big news. The White House called earlier this evening and asked if I could ask a question of President Obama at his press conference tomorrow on behalf of an Iranian. I’m about to post a solicitation to the blog Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. It seems fairly like that this will happen, but as they told me, this is not 100 percent.”

    PITNEY: This is exactly as I described it. I posted an initial solicitation.

    MILBANK: At the request of the White House.

    PITNEY: No.

    MILBANK: No, it says right here in your e-mail that that’s what you did.

    PITNEY: No, it doesn’t. In fact, it’s exactly what I wrote…

    MILBANK: “I’m about to post a solicitation to the blog Facebook, Twitter,” after hearing from the White House.

    PITNEY: Facebook, Twitter, exactly. So, my solicitation was merely over e-mail.

    When I found out that the White House was going to potentially take this question, I went to a Farsi language social network site, to Twitter using a Farsi message, to Facebook. I tried to — if I was going to have that opportunity, I was going to canvass as many Iranians as possible.

    MILBANK: That’s fine.

    PITNEY: So it is — and, you know, for — this is someone — Dana’s column…

    KURTZ: Do you think there’s some jealousy involved by maybe the establishment in the fact that you got that very prominent second question?

    PITNEY: Oh, I mean, I think it’s jealousy. I think it’s hypocrisy.

    You know, Dana wrote a column, as his colleague at “The Washington Post,” Greg Sargent, pointed out, hailing the “Mission Accomplished” banner moment in May, 2003, the day after.

    MILBANK: What?

    PITNEY: I mean, it’s…

    MILBANK: Look, there’s plenty of fiction here, but I brought some other — shall we go through the record here, Nico?

    PITNEY: Go through what record? MILBANK: Your Web site was complaining about I was not holding the Bush White House to account. I’d like to say that here’s a full list of documentation of me holding the Bush White House to account.

    PITNEY: Well, I’m not sure where…

    MILBANK: Your colleagues at “The Huffington Post.”

    Let’s pose — can we just pose one question, Nico? If the White House called up Fox News and said, “Major Garrett, we will call on you tomorrow if you ask a question about health care, and you ask it in a certain way?” Would you say that’s OK?

    PITNEY: They didn’t say in a certain way. See, this is dishonest. And it’s been dishonesty and errors from the beginning.

    Your initial piece on this posted an hour after the press conference, had two errors, which you acknowledged to me an e-mail. You said you had corrected them. It took seven hours.

    MILBANK: Is that right, Nico?

    PITNEY: And the signal is you are very quick to malign and very slow to correct.

    MILBANK: Look, Howie, I can’t deal with fiction on this show. I mean…

    KURTZ: All right. I’m going to — you two are going to have to take this outside, because I want to get Amanda Carpenter in.

    Does any of this smell like collusion to you?

    CARPENTER: Well, I can tell you from — I hear a number of claims from the right side of the issue on this, and they say that Nico is a person who worked on Democratic campaigns, then went on to go work for the Center for American Progress, where he ran a very partisan blog called “Thing Progress,” and then was asked by the White House to ask those questions. So he’s not — I mean, the question was fair.

    KURTZ: Well, I don’t think he’s not denying that you have left of center views.

    PITNEY: No. I mean, I think the question is the quality of the question.

    CARPENTER: But the concern from the right side of things is…

    PITNEY: Jeff Gannon asked softballs. I asked a legitimate question.

    CARPENTER: I’m not saying you did anything wrong, but I think the administration calling you beforehand, thinking that you are probably going to ask something sympathetic, escorting you to the front of the press room, to then ask a question in a place where everyone should get a fair crack at the president, is unfair.

    PITNEY: I mean, the question, again…

    KURTZ: It was a legitimate question. Let’s make that clear.

    PITNEY: It was a legitimate question. Sure.


    PITNEY: It was be a strange conspiracy, considering Obama dodged the question.

    KURTZ: Well, there’s no guarantee you get an answer.

  • Universal Rules of PR – Do Not Apply In Italy

    Almost everywhere, if you are being accused of misdeeds, the rule is to never “repeat the negative.” You never want to have the specifics of the charges against you – to come out of your mouth.

    Those rules don’t seem to apply in Italy — where the electorate admires politicians with wandering eyes and loose lips.

    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is under fire for his fondness for young women and starlets and has been accused of hiring some for sex.

    The PM’s response? According to AP:

    “I have never paid a woman,” Berlusconi was quoted as saying in the interview. “I never understood what the satisfaction is when you are missing the pleasure of conquest.”

    For more on Berlusconi’s antics — which apparently are enough to piss off the Pope, see the feature below from The Today Show.

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