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AMERICAN MORNING

Jackson Case

Aired December 29, 2003 - 09:16   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: In his first television interview since his arrest, Michael Jackson said he is not a pedophile, and he denied that he's done anything wrong. But he also said he still thinks it's OK to share his bed with young children. The interview with "60 MINUTES" was aired last night on CBS. With us this morning to talk more about this new twist in the child molestation case against the singer is Pat Lalama of the TV show "Celebrity Justice."
Hey, Pat, good morning.

PAT LALAMA, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Good morning to you.

O'BRIEN: So let's start by rating his performance. How do you think he did?

LALAMA: I think it was a wash. I think it was exactly a repeat of what I saw, what the world saw, 10 years ago, when he gave his videotaped address, saying I am an innocent man. It's the equivalent of taking out a full-page ad. You know, it's the best publicity you can buy, but I don't really think it helped him or hurt him.

I will say this, I question the business did the dislocation for two reasons, actually, Soledad -- one is that I really believe sincerely that in this particular case, that there was -- there could not have been an abuse of authority. I just believe with all my heart that the sheriff and the D.A. instructed all members of law enforcement to treat him properly, don't give anybody any reason to get angry or to have any ammunition against us. I just don't think in this case there was any abuse of power.

Secondly, and I'm not a doctor, but when he left the sheriff's department, did he not raise his hands and give the peace sign? I mean, I don't know, does that seem like a man with a dislocated shoulder who could barely move and was in such great pain? Although again, I don't know for certain.

O'BRIEN: Do you think there's anything that was said last night that could hurt his case?

LALAMA: I don't -- no, I really don't. I just went away from it thinking oh, there we go again, it's the same thing. I think it was very, very carefully orchestrated and choreographed by Mark Geragos who, of course, we know is brilliant at using the media to his client's best advantage.

I think one of the things that could be a problem is the comments from Mr. Geragos, I believe it was something to the effect that 150 employees would never allow alcohol to be served, you know, to a minor. Well, you know, how do you really know? And if the prosecution were able to get one of those people to get on the stand and say otherwise, it could come back to haunt him. But I really don't see anything terribly dramatic that could impact this case. I think for what it is, Michael Jackson did as well as anybody could have.

O'BRIEN: The closest he came to even talking about the charges in any way was this soundbite that we have. I want to play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER: Before I would hurt a child, I would slit my wrists. I would never a hurt a child. It is totally false. I was outraged. I could never do something like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, so give me a sense of what you thought from that quote, where he's basically explaining that, you know, that's his I am 100 percent not guilty?

LALAMA: I think it is that. I'll tell you, Soledad, I believe that he believes that whatever it is he does, and it may just be that he shares his bed with a child, I believe that in his heart, he believes that there is nothing wrong with what he does. I mean, only the judicial system in the end will determine based on the facts whether, you know, what he does is legal or illegal. But I think as a matter of the heart, he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. I do think that when he goes into the explanation of his childhood and how damaged he is, I think he feels that. And I do believe that he lives in that environment, that Peter Pan-like environment.

LALAMA: January 16th, he's due back in court. Do you think there are going to be any more interviews that we will see on any of the networks, or anywhere with Michael, in maybe even print, as well? I mean, do you think that the next morning, they say, OK, that went well, we got our message out, we accomplished what we needed to do, let's do a media tour, maybe something not quite as a media tour. Do you think that will happen?

LALAMA: Like you said, I don't think it will be a media tour. I think that Mark Geragos and the people who handle Michael Jackson carefully watch the events, will carefully see how the media plays it. It will be like a cat and mouse game -- how do we, the media, cover these matters and should we go forward? I think they'll take on a day by day basis. I doubt if you'll see much more prior to the court date.

O'BRIEN: OK, so floating the trial balloon, as they usually say in politics, but in this case, as well.

LALAMA: You're absolutely right. I agree.

O'BRIEN: Pat Lalama, from "Celebrity Justice" Nice to see you, as always. Thanks for joining us.

LALAMA: My pleasure.

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