Michael Jackson‘s family and executors have called on US news channel MSNBC to cancel its documentary involving Dr Conrad Murray that is scheduled for broadcast on Friday. It is “morally reprehensible to cloak a murderer and convicted felon with celebrity status”, the singer’s sister LaToya Jackson wrote in a letter to network president Phil Griffin. “[And it's] disgusting to permit this criminal to profit from homicidal acts that left my family without a brother, my niece and nephews without a father, my parents without a son.”
Jackson’s letter is the not the first complaint Griffin has received this week: Jackson’s executors, John Branca and John McClain, called on MSNBC to “exercise proper judgment and refrain from airing this programme”. Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship was produced by British company October Films and shot prior to Murray’s conviction. It is due to air on Friday and Monday, accompanied by an interview by NBC News correspondent Savannah Guthrie. “Like so many of Michael’s fans, the estate is … disgusted by MSNBC’s irresponsible and inexplicable decision to air a Conrad Murray ‘documentary’,” the executors wrote.
For Jackson’s family and estate, the issue is not just a matter of justice – but money too. October Films claims it paid just $1 for two years of access to Murray and his defence. MSNBC says it did not “pay for access” to Jackson’s former doctor or contribute to his legal fund. But both the producers and network said they did not know what arrangements might have been reached with the documentary’s distributor, Zodiak Rights, the LA Times reports.
Murray’s defence attorneys have also denied knowledge of the arrangements. “They just didn’t tell me because they know I’d freak out,” said lead defence attorney Ed Chernoff. Asked about the source of the money that paid his own legal bills, Chernoff replied: “I can’t say that because I don’t know for sure.”
Even if MSNBC refuses the Jacksons’ plea to cancel Friday night’s broadcast, the family is asking to at least be given early access. “Take a moment to put yourself in our shoes and appreciate our suffering for the past two years,” LaToya wrote. “Michael is sadly and obviously unable to defend himself against whatever allegations may be made.”
On Monday, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson. The 58-year-old cardiologist administered the propofol anaesthetic that caused the singer’s death.