Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Review: ‘Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case’ By Diane Dimond

By Lamont Jones

Volumes have been written about legendary entertainer Michael Jackson and the child-molestation accusations that have swirled around him for more than a decade.

Now Dimond serves up her version, a gripping page-turner that dissects the multiple allegations of child sex-abuse leveled at Jackson, who, since the first case in 1993, has gone from superstar to falling star.Dimond, who credits herself with breaking the first story in 1993 while working for the syndicated TV program “Hard Copy,” takes readers on the scene and behind the scenes from that case through Jackson’s second abuse scandal, a trial that ended in his acquittal in June.

She serves heaping helpings of compelling information, some of it quite graphic, that never made it through mass media filters and into the domain of a public that tends to privilege sound bites and briefs over detail and nuance.

True objectivity is impossible, especially for a journalist who has covered a story so painstakingly for so long. But Dimond bends over backward to be even-handed, perhaps to ease those who night be skeptical because of her tenure with Fox News. But her other credentials are sufficient to outweigh that suspicion: anchoring news and covering the 2000 presidential election at MSNBC; co-hosting a nightly news program on CNBC; working stints as an on-air correspondent, investigative unit anchor and chief executive investigative editor for Court TV; and receiving a citation from Time magazine for her continuing coverage of the Jackson case as among “The Best TV of ’93.”

Dimond tracks the story through mid-2005, describing, for example, the devastated lives of the accusers’ families, former Jackson employees and other ordinary people who got caught up in the controversy.

She also reveals that when Jackson’s camp contacted organizers of the Live 8 African relief charity concerts about the singer possibly performing, they turned him down, another sign that Jackson’s reputation may be irreparably tarnished.

Facts are one thing; truth is another. And Dimond’s account has a certain ring of truth. She marshals an army of relevant facts — personal interviews with witnesses, corroborating court transcripts, sworn affidavits, confidential child welfare records supplied by secret sources — to paint perhaps the most thorough picture to date of what happened in the Jackson cases, how, and why.

Jackson’s supporters will have a difficult time writing off Dimond’s book as a get-Michael literary vendetta.

The author scrutinizes not just Jackson and his team, but also his accusers and their families, law-enforcement practices, jury dynamics and the historic difficulties of proving child sex-abuse allegations.

Dimond never says whether she believes Jackson is guilty of molesting his accusers or if she thinks he’s a pedophile. But by the end of her book, it’s difficult to conclude that he is neither.

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