Jackson gets cash to tell his account of immorality

Friday, February 21, 2003 at 12:00am

Here's a moral dilemma that just about everyone will understand, with the possible exception of Michael Jackson. The Fox Television Network is paying the troubled singer millions to give his side of the story, after a firestorm of outrage over his videotaped admission that he sleeps with young boys.

Actually, there are not two sides to that situation, even though Jackson is so confused he doesn't know it. If you are an adult, you do not sleep with children who are not part of your family. Get it, moonwalker?

Jackson puts forth that he was conned by British interviewer Martin Bashir, and will provide outtakes backing up his opinion from the damning, original interview that ran on ABC. One of the outtakes shows Bashir telling Jackson, "Your relationship with children is spectacular."

Well, that's swell, but who cares what Martin Bashir thinks? What's important here is that Jackson stated on camera: "I have slept in a bed with many children."

Not swell, especially because Jackson, according to The New York Times, paid one of those children an astounding $25 million to shut up about bedding down with him. Apparently, Jackson learned nothing from that sordid scandal 10 years ago. A reading of the 12-year-old boy's charges released last week would make any responsible person's stomach turn.

So there is a moral dilemma in any business dealing with Jackson, and it is not hard to see. Jackson is being paid millions solely because of this controversy. He is not promoting a record or a movie or a concert tour. The allegations that he is a child molester are enriching him. Obviously, there is something very disturbing about that.

But a case can be made, and perhaps Fox will make it, that Jackson deserves a chance to defend himself with counter-evidence. The original interview was edited in England, and maybe Jackson has some points that were lost in the mix.

However, there is no question that Jackson wants money to tell his tale. A CBS news crew headed by 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley was all set to interview Jackson a few days ago. But he bagged it because one of his advisors told him he could get big money from a network. If Jackson really felt aggrieved, the 60 Minutes venue would have provided him with much more credibility than the paid deal will.

Your humble correspondent decided a long time ago that Michael Jackson is a disturbed man who should be kept away from all children, including his own. Anybody who would mutilate his face the way this guy has is self-loathing in my opinion. Jackson's modus operandi has been to lavish gifts on young kids and their unbelievably irresponsible parents. In return, he gets private "visits" with those children.

This is wrong and dangerous, and the California authorities should be ashamed for not taking a more aggressive approach to monitoring Jackson's behavior with minors. The quote from the Santa Barbara County district attorney that "sleeping with children is not a crime," is simply outrageous.

If it were up to me, I would not pay Jackson a dime. Any business deal with this guy is creepy and perhaps immoral. We are living in a time and a country where boundaries of decent behavior are collapsing all around us. Michael Jackson is the poster boy for that. He should be shunned.

TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor and author of the new book The No Spin Zone.

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