- Friday, August 16, 2004
by Gail Felix
I waited outside building "F" at
the courthouse to get my first ever media badge as a reporter for TheJusticeSystem.net
I couldn't have known then what was about to happen to me. I was immediately
brought into the ranks of some of the most influential reporters and
commentators of our time. I sat right in the midst of the folks who
report the news - whether we like what they say or not. Here are my
personal reflections of the experience.
I found running into the big media players amazing, since we here on
MJJF talk about these people everyday:
Mike Taibbi - NBC. A
Art Harris - CNN.
Front row seat.
Linda Deutch - AP.
The Grand Dame.
She was very nice, and, even as she was talking to the sea of reporters
waiting to get into court, I didn't hear her say one rude or untrue
word. She was polite and she welcomed me aboard. "If you have any
questions, just ask me," she said.
William Longeness - Fox News.
He had his daughter with him. He asked me if I was a lawyer reporter,
saying he was "naked" and had no one in the court room to
be his eyes while he did his reports outside. I told him I was just
a new cub reporter for the http://www.thejusticesystem.net,
and he asked if I could do color commentary for him. I wasn't able to
do that this time, but look forward to future opportunities like this.
Laurie Levenson - Loyola
Law School Professor.
She talked to reporters as if she were at a PTA meeting and not a court
hearing. That surprised me. I was all eyes and ears! Laurie talked about
the same everyday issues we all face: kids, school, and what the family
did on vacation. I'm sure that's normal, since being at a court hearing
was just no big thing to them.
Jane Velez-Mitchell - Celebrity
Diane Dimond - Court TV.
They were conversing while we were waiting for the afternoon session
to begin. Velez-Mitchell was gushing over Dimond's ability to just go
out before the cameras and start talking without even taking notes!
During this conversation, Dimond and Velez-Mitchell talked about everything
but the major bombshell of the day: Sneddon admitting that he lied about
knowing Bradley Miller worked for Geragos, and that he knew this fact
before the search! That was not mentioned by these two. But when a reporter
whom I don't know leaned toward the two women and began to eavesdrop,
Dimond turned to the reporter and said, "Excuse me, but I'm trying
to have a conversation here. You need to lean back."
Sharing unguarded moments with these people I've heard so much about
was almost surreal. Many of them stated they were from the OJ Simpson
media, and some of them called this a "wannabe trial of the century!!"
(Their words, not mine.) In the Courtroom, Diane Dimond audibly expressed
her displeasure at Sneddon's slip-ups and misstatements on the stand.
In one exchange, she admonished Sneddon under her breath saying, "Oh
you shouldn't have said that." Another time she groaned, "Why
doesn't Mesereau just stop asking so many questions?" She also
said that Sneddon and his team looked like undertakers. (Her words,
not mine.) Diane being Diane.
I also overheard Attorney David Cole say to Laurie Levenson that he
wanted to watch Mez take Sneddon apart. Levenson, However, later told
a reporter outside that she felt Sneddon's credibility was bruised,
but didn't think the defense would win this one.
A few things struck me as strange. One thing Sneddon said in the morning
was that he knew Mark Geragos only because of Laci Peterson and Winona
Ryder. He said that the only thing he knew about that was that Mr. Geragos'
client (Ryder) got convicted. What? No Susan McDougal? It's kind of
scary to think that a man in Sneddon's position could be aware of current
events only at the level of the Winona Ryder trial. Isn't it a shame
we can't hold our county legal representatives to a higher intellectual
I also found it odd that a reporter from Entertainment Tonight, a celebrity
driven television show, asked me for basic information about the Jackson
family. For example, he wanted to know who from the family was there
at court? He didn't know who Grace was, and he didn't know Karen Faye.
He also asked if all the members of the Jackson Five were there. I had
no response to those questions. Then he asked if LaToya was back on
board. I said, " According to reports, she has been on board for
years since her divorce from Jack Gordon. The situation in her personal
life caused her to make some bad decisions. This is her way of setting
the record straight." End of comment.
More than anything, I was struck by the incredibly genuine nature of
Katherine Jackson. I ran into her in the ladies room, and found her
to be a friendly, warm and open woman - exactly like her son! No surprises
there! I was delighted to find that she is just a Mom who loves her
children and wants the best for them, exactly as she represents herself
All in all, it was a very exciting initiation into reporting. I will
take away from this day a feeling of happiness in one sense, because
I believe that the majority of reporters on the scene have changed their
thinking since the charges were first filed. Many of them really do
know that Michael is innocent. Off the record, they said they did not
think Michael was a child molester.
But, in another sense, I feel great sadness. The truth about Michael
and his family is going to cripple these people in their pocket books.
I will not say that all reporters are bad people, but at least among
the media professionals I met, it seems to me that ratings and getting
the big story is more important than the life of a wonderful human being
and the pain of his family. When I asked if they were going to report
today's bombshell, they replied with smiles on their faces, "Why
would we do that?" I answered, "Because its the truth!!!"
But they repeated, "Why would we do that?"
And that folks is why we have TheJusticeSystem.net and MJJForum. We
are not afraid to report the truth.
I was proud to represent TheJusticeSystem.net and to be able to bring
this information to everyone at MJJForum. In the future, you can look
for more reports from me. For that, I can thank Carol Davis, along with
many of the veteran journalists who have been helpful to me.
We're planning some exciting coverage of the trial. No details out yet,
but we'll cover the trial in a way that has never been done in the history
of the media. Stay tuned.
Signing off for now, Gail Felix