Diane Dimond: amazing mislead of the public – Criticised of being Unfair and Unbalanced – part 1
Dimond splits from Court TV, but is still oblivious as to why some consider her to be pro-prosecution .
“It was bound to happen,” one person commented when they heard the news of tabloid (tab) reporter Diane Dimond exiting Court TV in late August 2005. Whether she “exited” or was tossed out on her Jackson-scandal-chasing-ass, the news broke August 28 2005 much to the surprise of some.
According to MediaBistro, who got their information from Dimond’s fansite, Court TV “dismantled Diane Dimond’s investigative unit.” I’m not sure what’s more laughable: the fact that she had an “investigative unit” or that she has a fansite. Dimond is often accused of impersonating an investigative journalist and to some observers much of her Jackson coverage appeared to be a negatively spun, bastardized version of the truth. In my opinion, the unbelievably biased and pro-prosecution slant Dimond gave to her reporting caused scores of people to become alarmed.
Some critics say she reported information in a way which would have been best suited on an advocacy website or a talk radio show. The official word is that Dimond’s contract with Court TV was reportedly scheduled to end in December 2005 and they decided not to renew it. Instead of spinning her wheels on non-Jackson stories until that time, it seems she decided to split early. Or was she told to hit the road instead? Some are already suspicious about how Dimond’s dissociation with Court TV came about. As if we all haven’t had enough spin, it her exit is being cleaned up by a spokeswoman for Court TV named Patty Caruso. Caruso is quoted in a NY Times August 31 article titled “Reporter on Jackson Case Quietly Ends Court TV Term”. She says Dimond was hired for a specific story:
“Diane came to us with a story,” Patty Caruso, a spokeswoman for Court TV said. “That’s what we hired her for, and the story’s over. We love her…We did not give in to the Jackson camp.”
They hired her for a story? What story? The Jackson story? According to previous information, Dimond’s had relations with Court TV since at least 2001. They couldn’t have possibly “hired her for a story” on Jackson because the Jackson case didn’t exist. Could it be that she only landed the recent contract with Court TV and the ridiculously ill-fitting title “Executive Investigative Editor” because of the 2003 Jackson allegation? Probably. Or as more suspicious minds run, did she have more to do with helping the 2003 allegation materialize than we have yet to know?
As for Caruso’s claim of not giving in to the Jackson camp, she is right. They didn’t give in to the Jackson camp. They refused to fully report both sides of the story in an objective, two-sided way. They stuck to their guns and were as one-sided and pro-prosecution as they wanted to be. That stubbornness may have been the problem with so many Court TV die-hard fans having mixed feelings about the channel during the Jackson trial.
Dimond is also quoted in the favorable NY Times article as saying, “I defy any of these people that say I’m pro-prosecution to point out one program where I don’t give both sides”.The real question is who is she trying to convince? The public or herself? Notice the words Dimond chose. She specifically said “point out one program where I don’t give both sides.” Technically she may be able to lay claim to that to a certain point. However, the balance, context, detail and many times the accuracy are sorely lacking.
Say for example, a reporter appears on a show for 20 minutes. They spend most of that time shilling for the prosecution, while spending 2 minutes total on mentioning what the defense brought out in court. Technically, they can say they “presented” both sides. But it is nowhere near a balanced report full of context and detail from both sides in an accurate manner.
Real investigative journalists present the framework and important detail for accuracy’s sake. By contrast, most tabloid reporters seem to be figuring out how to appear unbiased, while pushing an agenda.
What caused the ire of many people, though, is the why in which she and those supporting her deny having a slant at all. Remember, this is someone who once had the audacity to publicly claim Geraldo Rivera wasn’t being objective in his reporting on the trial. As “Judge Judy” would say, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. In Dimond’s case, she figuratively unloaded a deluge of foul excrement, all while trying to convince the public that it was really raining chocolate cup cakes!
Not only did she draw fire from Jackson fans, but also from long-time viewers of Court TV and independent 3rd partie. Included among the latter category is Matt Drudge. Sometimes one has to call it like it is, and Drudge himself has had some very strong words for the way Dimond does business.
But why has she incited so much criticism from all types of people? Well it may have begun as early as 1993. Dimond is officially credited as being the “reporter” who broke the story about Jackson being investigated in 1993, though some say the real credit belonged to a series of lesser-known reporters. Who cares who broke the story. The fact is that the tabloid reporter, more so than most, seemed to ride Jackson all the way to a higher profile and career advancement both in 1993 and 2003. _
_Problem? What problem?__
Before we take a journey back to the past, it’s important to cite just a few examples of why a great number of people had such a problem with the way Dimond covered Jackson’s trial. It began suspiciously with Dimond being leaked information ahead of time that Jackson’s Neverland Ranch was going to be raided by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department (SBSD). According to an eyebrow-raising report from The Hollywood Reporter dated Nov. 20 2003 titled “Court TV coup: Dimond lands another scoop”, Dimond’s “highly placed sources” tipped her off about the search “weeks beforehand”. The practice of leaking such info to the media is clearly unethical. But since when have “ethics” mattered to vindictive law enforcement and tabloid reporters? She apparently had knowledge of something as she negotiated with the current Chairman of Court TV, Henry Schleiff. From the article:
She said: “I told them, ‘I want to go get you a big, juicy story, but I can’t tell you what it is; you just have to trust me. And you have to let me hire the camera crews because I don’t want anyone to know where I’m going.” ‘
Clearly long before the news of the raid broke, she was already using her “confidential information” for career advancement. The report goes on to detail how Dimond flew from New York to Santa Barbara, arriving in enough time to take a nap, station one of her two camera crews outside of Neverland, and get shots as the police were coming in to raid Jackson’s ranch looking for evidence—evidence which turned out to be non-existent. The other camera crew was stationed outside of the local police station “just in case Jackson was arrested”, states the report. Sounds like a set up if ever I’ve heard one. The way the government – the Santa Barbara D.A.’s office and the police – married the media during the Jackson case is another story yet to be told.
But, let’s get back to Dimond’s role. This is more than just being at the right place at the right time. What are the odds of this information randomly finding its way to her and only her? She just so happened to be the one reporter with an initial monopoly on this story? Just so happened to be the one to be leaked info by prosecution and law enforcement sources? Hell no, it’s not a coincidence. Dimond has been party to pre-trial hysterics; spreading false and/or unfounded pro-prosecution information, like the false “love letters” story. Remember that one? She has been the recipient of many exclusive leaks which she could have only gotten her hands on with the cooperation of some higher-up; some pro-prosecution source.
Those leaks include, but certainly aren’t limited to, the court-sealed 1993 settlement documents and information about an art book taken from Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in 1993.
She’s also actively gone out and pointed prosecutors to what she seemingly hoped would be evidence of wrongdoing against Jackson, as illustrated by the Henry Vaccaro story. That’s when she handled (on-camera) a pair of dirty old underwear thinking they were Jackson’s but not really knowing to whom they belonged. Now THAT’S class! Dimond has also gotten into legal trouble with allegations she disseminated about Karen Faye. And later, she ran into further legal trouble — which ended in her settling a case – with a fan she accused of harassing her. In the past, Dimond once traveled to Canada – a whole other freakin’ country, ay – searching for an accuser after the 1993 investigation. A kid who, mostly under non-Santa Barbara police questioning, admitted he was lying. He told police that he had been fed very detailed lies from a man named Rodney Allen. More on that later.
Love letter lie. Dimond was part of circulating a story about non-existent “love letters” allegedly written by Jackson to the 2003 accuser, Gavin Arvizo. During a November 24 2003 Larry King Live show, Dimond reported that “Mr. Sneddon and the sheriff” were looking for explicit “love letters” when they raided Jackson’s ranch. Never mind how illogical it is for Jackson to be in the possession of letters supposedly written to the kid. Moving on. When pressed by Larry King if she definitely knew these “love letters” existed, she said “Absolutely. I do.” From the transcript:
KING: Wait a minute! Hold it! … (CROSSTALK)
KING: Do we — hold it! Does anyone here — does anyone here — anyone — know of the existence of these letters?
COCHRAN: I don’t. I mean, I think that’s…
DIMOND: Absolutely. I do.
COCHRAN: … again, speculation.
DIMOND: I do!
COCHRAN: I don’t know of this.
KING: Hold it! …
DIMOND: I absolutely know of their existence! (CROSSTALK)
KING: Diane, have you read them?
DIMOND: No, I have not read them, but I absolutely know that that… was tops on the list of the DA and sheriff’s department, things to look for inside Neverland. Listen, Larry…
KING: But you don’t know what they say.
DIMOND: … these are letters that are written in Michael Jackson’s hand. They are said to be — no, I’ve not read them, but…
KING: OK. Well, then…
DIMOND: … they — they went after them because they’re said to be so sensational and so salacious in nature…
KING: Yes, but how…
DIMOND: … that this could be a key to the prosecution…
KING: I see. Now, let me…
DIMOND: … if and when this goes to trial.
Where’s both sides of that story? Of course the public now knows there were no “salacious love letters” written “in Jackson’s hand” to the accuser. But that’s what law enforcement sources told Dimond. And, as she often seems to do, she drank the prosecution’s kool-aid and ran with the information with zero independent confirmation. An unbiased reporter would have simply reported what he/she knew to be the factual. But, as you can see from the transcript snippet above, she claimed she “absolutely” knew these letters existed though she’d never seen them. And she wonders why some accuser her of having a pro-prosecution slant? It took a November 24 2003 appearance from Sedgwick County (Kansas) District Attorney Nola Foulston on On the Record w/ Greta van Sustren to add another dimension to the Dimond story. Foulston told the host that these “love letters” do not exist and that any information about them which came from the media is “patently false”. Ouch. From the transcript:
FOULSTON: Greta, you’re making an assumption, and the assumption is wrong. The letters, at this particular point in time, do not exist. I’ve been in contact with Mr. Sneddon, posed the same question to him, and he was surprised. …At the time, as late as today, there has been no discovery per se of any, quote, “love letters.” And so any information that has come to you or to other members of the media is patently false. VAN SUSTEREN: And that is extraordinary information. I guess you fall in a category with Trace and Pat tonight, breaking news, Nola, because that’s extraordinary information, you know, that — because people have been talking about these love letters… (CROSSTALK) FOULSTON: Well, I can tell you tonight that in my discussion with Mr. Sneddon within the last hour, there are no love letters that have been found. And I can’t tell you that at a later point in time, but the information that is being disseminated is not from law enforcement. Certainly, it’s not from Mr. Sneddon. Certainly, it’s not been discovered in any documents that have been heretofore reviewed by law enforcement. …So I’m telling you this evening, there are no such animals. “The New York Post” has the wrong story and Diane Dimond has the wrong story because it is not correct.
Foulston turned out to be right. So where did Dimond get her information? And why was she so adamant on Larry King’s show claiming to “absolutely” know of these letters? Other lazy members of the media often depended on reporting from Dimond, so it was important that such questions needed to be asked.
_Leaks and the Leaking Leakers who Leak them_
1993 Settlement Docs. Probably one of the more outrageous leaks involved someone violating a court order and leaking the court-sealed documents about the 1993 settlement with Jordan Chandler to Dimond. As reported in a previous MJEOL Bullet, one has to wonder if Dimond actually read through the 1993 settlement document before she broke into Court TV’s regular programming, waving the document around like a child who had just gotten a new toy.
Dimond trumpeted the “scoop” as if it were an admission of guilt in writing by Jackson. It didn’t live up to the hype. Reading through the document, nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, the real document didn’t contain anywhere near the things the public had been led to believe since 1994. There was no stipulation forcing the accuser not to testify against Jackson in any criminal proceeding, like we had all been led to believe by the media. As a matter of fact, Dimond’s “scoop” explicitly stated in the documentation that the only thing Chandler had to do was to notify Jackson’s attorneys if he was subpoenaed to testify against Jackson. That’s it.
She appeared on a number of different shows spinning the document into the stratosphere. At one time she claimed Jackson had admitted to “sexual negligent touching”. Red fag #1: How in hell do you accidentally (negligent) molest someone? That’s illogical. According to many legal experts who later read the document, she didn’t seem to have an understanding of what she was reading. Nowhere was it stated that Jackson admitted to sexually touching anyone. She also tried to make a non-existent direct connection between Chandler’s original lawsuit and the final settlement agreement.
I’m not a legal expert and even I know that content gets changed from beginning to an end of a settlement in a civil case. Of course this appeared to be of little consequence to Dimond, especially in her initial reports. Information like that went unreported, while she threw in unconfirmed gossip from other “sources”. To her apparent misinterpretation of the settlement docs, she added information about monetary settlement amounts. Dimond had the figure all the way up to $25+ million dollars. And she appeared on the Today Show June 16 2004 saying the following:
“I have also found out, from other very well placed confidential sources, that upon signing this agreement, the boy got like a signing bonus, a seven figure signing bonus. Maybe as much as $2 million more dollars. His mom and dad split $3 million. Michael Jackson also agreed to pay his attorneys fees – Larry Feldman’s fees of more than $5 million. So that’s an extra 10 on top of this $15 million.
None of this information is found in the copy of the settlement she obtained. The only figure mentioned is $15 million. Many of the bombshells Dimond definitely “forgot” to mention in her reporting is that the 1993 accuser and family were NOT stopped from cooperating with prosecutors in any possible criminal case back in 1993 because of this settlement. [pagebreak]
The myth has long been that Jackson wasn’t prosecuted in 1993 because of the settlement. Again, unlike what has become folklore, there is no stipulation in the settlement stating that the accuser can’t testify against Jackson in any court of law.
There is NO stipulation that the accuser couldn’t talk to police for a criminal case. NO stipulation that the accuser couldn’t pursue criminal charges as a result of signing the settlement. NO stipulation that they couldn’t talk to prosecutors in 1993 or for the 2003 case. Not to mention the plain-as-day paragraph which begins “This Confidentiality settlement shall not be construed as an admission by Jackson that he has acted wrongfully with respect to the Minor, Evan Chandler, or June Chandler…”.
The very early reports from her were so atrocious that even the oft-chicken-little Dan Abrams bought into it at first, repeating Dimond’s initial interpretation in a telephone interview on MSNBC before he had actually read the docs. It took real lawyers and independent pundits like prosecutor Paul Pfingst to step back and add perspective to the reporting of this document because the media – at Dimond’s example – lost their minds at first. Did she report both sides of this story? What do you think? Art book.
Another leak given to her by her “highly placed sources” was one-sided information about an art book called ‘The Boy: A Photographic Essay’. The “both sides” she claims she always reports was damn near non-existent. This is one of the legally obtained books – among the many thousands – which Jackson owns. It had been in the possession of law enforcement since 1993. By the way, it was quickly turned into ‘child porn’ by Nancy Grace. Never mind the fact that she waved around the book she referred to as ‘child porn’ on her show! It was only later that non-lazy and independent researchers found info about it. And later still until we learned in court that the book was a gift given to Jackson by a female fan named Rhonda. She had signed it “To Michael Jackson, from your fan Rhonda. xoxoxo”. Ouch!
This book is filled with pictures taken behind the scenes of the classic movie Lord of the Flies. lordoftheflies.org even displays some pictures from the book on their website. The book has no erotic purpose, is legally obtainable, and was never alleged to have been shown to any accuser. At one time, it was even in the Library of Congress. Its Congress Catalog Number is 65-7 according to an image scan of the book found on lordoftheflies.org. Ouch. Ouch. Let’s just say that Dimond didn’t do as thorough a job in reporting these pertinent facts as she did in trying to get the public to believe “only pedophiles” would own a book like this. As she often does, she went with her pro-prosecution source’s interpretation and ran with it. And when the rest of the public found out the context and the detail, Dimond looked all the more one-sided.
_Bullsh–t Rule #18: A good tabloid reporter tries to knock down true Michael Jackson stories__
Dimond has also been caught actively attempting to discredit information about and around Jackson as well. One example of such a practice was during a Jan 4 2005 appearance on Court TV’s Crier Live concerning a holiday party at Jackson’s Ranch in December 2004. Jackson’s publicist, Raymone Bain, released information about the charities with children who were in attendance. In an apparent effort to undercut any positive news, Dimond claimed that all but one of the charities didn’t exist. And further she claimed the one which did exist denied they had any contact with Jackson at all. Thanks to research by an independent (indy) researcher, we now know that her report to knock down the Jackson charity story seems based on false information. This is what she said on Crier Live about the charities:
Dimond: So we checked out who are these kids and where did they come from? Raymone Bain is the PR lady and she sent us a list of who they were. We checked them all out, and they don’t exist. These places don’t exist, except for one. There is only one that exists we finally found them. She had listed ‘Santa Barbara children special needs children’ and we finally tracked that lady down and she said “We absolutely did not send any children there [to Neverland].”
The list of organizations which attended the party was posted on Jackson’s official website, MJJSOURCE.com. And the indy researcher – who did something more than just Googling — actually found and listed the addresses of each charity Dimond claimed she couldn’t find. Click the to see the details. Ironically the one “charity” she claims she tracked down – and spoke to a “lady” about – may have been a misinterpretation by her. Bain listed “…and children with special needs of Santa Barbara county” at the end . Anyone else reading that would take it to mean other children with special needs around Santa Barbara County. But not Dimond. She claims this simple additional phrase was an actual charity; claims she tracked down the “lady” over this charity; claims the lady denied sending any children to Neverland for a party! How could something so easily checkable have gone completely unnoticed by her and her so-called investigative unit? Further, why the need to report it anyway? To purposely try to persuade the audience that Jackson and his “camp” were lying about Jackson’s charitable nature? If this weren’t a pattern, one could simply chalk it up to lazy reporting. _
_Who’s that lady pawing those dirty draws?_
There’s this phenomenon of her actively going out to find information and directing the DA’s office to what she may have hoped would be “evidence” against Jackson. She once went to New Jersey to interview Henry Vaccaro. Vaccaro is involved in a legal lawsuit with both Michael and Janet Jackson concerning memorabilia he sold in violation of a court order.
A little back-story first: Vaccaro was awarded memorabilia belonging to the Jacksons who had filed for bankruptcy stemming from non-payment of a storage facility. The judge ordered that Vaccaro could sell items belonging to the Jacksons who were a part of the bankruptcy suit. But he was ordered by the judge to return property belonging to those who were not party to that bankruptcy: namely, Michael and Janet Jackson. Vaccaro didn’t do that and sold items belonging to the two biggest superstars in the family, who had nothing to do with other family member’s legal entanglements.
Anyway, a part of this “memorabilia” was a pair of dingy old underwear, which he claimed belonged to Jackson. No proof at all of this was offered, however. What did Dimond do when she heard dirty underwear was found reportedly belonging to Michael Jackson? Why, she ran to see it, of course. In one of Dimond’s reports about the story, you can clearly see her holding up the underwear on camera with a smile on her face. I’m not kidding. She then called the Santa Barbara D.A’s office. This action apparently drew the attention of the NY Daily News, who wrote an article about it. The report dated March 14 2005 titled, “Did Jax reporter brief DA?” gives details. The article posses the question: “Has Court TV’s Diane Dimond helped prosecutors gather evidence in the Michael Jackson case?” Vaccaro told the paper that Sneddon phoned him after Dimond’s report. From the transcript:
The morning after Dimond’s visit, Vaccaro told me yesterday, Sneddon personally phoned Vaccaro, said that Dimond had informed his office about the underwear and other potential evidence, and asked to borrow the items for use in the investigation. But Dimond, through a Court TV spokeswoman, insisted yesterday that she simply had sought comment from Sneddon’s office “on some evidence that might be of interest to the prosecution.”
Hold it! This isn’t just reporting “both sides”, as she likes to insist she always does. The Daily News report also goes on to talk about Dimond’s coverage. More from the article:
In her Court TV report last March on Vaccaro’s collection, Dimond is shown daintily lifting the soiled briefs and speculating that they might contain “DNA evidence.” When the camera was turned off, Vaccaro recalled, “she told me she was going to call the prosecutor about this.” …Dimond’s behind-the-scenes contact with Sneddon’s office was revealed in just-unsealed court papers involving litigation between Vaccaro and the Jacksons concerning who rightly owns the collection…
The scandal-seeking tabloid reporter took the situation and did what she thought was helping the prosecution’s investigation against Jackson. Still wondering why people think she has a pro-prosecution slant? Well it should no longer be a question by now. _
_If the make up fits…
Dimond didn’t stop there. She got in trouble with allegations she relayed about Karen Faye, Jackson’s longtime makeup artist. In an August 17 2004 report on Crier Live, Dimond claimed that “confidential sources close to the investigation” told the Attorney General’s (AG) office that Faye engaged in illegal activity by using makeup to create that large bruise on Jackson’s arm. The bruise is what Jackson showed the public during a 60 Minutes interview after he was reportedly manhandled by authorities during his arrest. In an “investigation” which didn’t include any statement or evidence from Jackson’s side, the AG concluded that there was “no evidence” that Jackson had been manhandled by police. I would have thought they at least needed an actual statement and doctor reports from Jackson to conclude an independent “investigation but I guess that’s just me. Moving on. The following is what Dimond reported about Faye in that August 17 2005 report:
DIANE DIMOND: Court TV has learned, exclusively, much time was spent trying to find and question this woman: Karen Faye, Michael Jackson’s loyal, long-time make-up artist. She’s seen here in a recent Fox special. According to confidential sources close to the investigation, informants told the AG’s office it was Faye who had actually applied makeup to create the bruise seen here on Jackson’s arm. And that it was all smoke and mirrors.
Without providing the names of any of these “informants” or the name of the “source(s)” who “exclusively” told Court TV that the AG was searching for Faye, Dimond rather recklessly left a serious allegation of illegal activity to hand out there for the public. This drew the ire of Karen Faye. Faye is a private citizen publicly accused of serious illegal activity according to Dimond’s “sources”. Dimond’s report about the police abuse investigation was about as one-sided as you could get. So on Sept 10 2004, Faye released a statement and sent a letter to Court TV demanding a retraction of the scurrilous allegation. As far as we know, they never retracted the allegation. The scolding letter from Faye’s attorney was made public. Here’s a snip from it:
Pursuant to California Civil Code Section 48a, on behalf of my client, Karen Faye, I hereby formally demand that your company, Courtroom Television Network LLC (“Court TV”), retract and correct the statements described below, made during Court TV’s broadcasts of Catherine Crier Live on August 16, 2004 and August 17, 2004, by Catherine Crier and Diane Dimond. …The above-referenced statement “According to confidential sources close to the investigation, informants told the AG’s office it was Faye who actually applied makeup to create the bruise seen here on Jackson’s arm, and that it was all smoke and mirrors” is not true, and demand is hereby made that your company correct the broadcast of that statement. Karen Faye had nothing to do with applying makeup to Michael Jackson’s forearm, and to her knowledge, no one did so.
Did Dimond try to contact Faye for a comment on the story? More from the scathing letter to Court TV:
In addition, your company’s “smoke and mirrors” comment has now apparently falsely and maliciously created the impression in the minds of your viewers, and in minds of the public generally, that Karen Faye participated in some sort of scheme to create a false impression that Mr. Jackson had been subjected to unreasonable force by members of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department. (see Karen Faye Demands Apology from Court TV)
Not only were the allegations reckless, but they were also dangerous to Faye because the police could have tried to prosecute her for something she didn’t do based on false information. _
_Dimond the media-whore?__
Dimond had recent legal entanglements based on allegations of harassment she leveled against B.J. Hickman. Hickman is a Jackson supporter who was outside the courtroom. Hickman would often refer to Dimond as ‘Demond’ a play on her last name. He would also exercise his free speech to lobby against Dimond’s coverage, reportedly calling her a media whore. As a result, Dimond sought a temporary restraining order against him. It was granted. Hickman then sued Dimond for his attorney’s fees to fight the harassment allegation. An article from the Santa Maria Times titled “Restraining order is dismissed” talks about what happened after:
Hickman later demanded in court documents that Dimond pay $30,000 in
attorney’s fees he claimed to have accumulated while fighting the order. Dimond filed a counter-complaint, requesting that Hickman pay $4,555 in legal bills she supposedly accrued. A financial settlement was reached this week, but terms were not disclosed in court documents.
I’m sure the humor of her having to settle the case, especially in light of the fact she started the fight, isn’t lost on you. In Part two of this special MJEOL Bullet, we’ll look at some of the history of Dimond’s reporting and how it impacted the 2003 case. It will also include her suspicious involvement, particularly with one story where she tracked down a “street kid” in Canada and took him to the police herself so that he could make false allegations against Jackson. Stay tuned