Michael Jackson said Thursday he felt betrayed by a “terrible and unfair” TV documentary about his life, in which the King of Pop revealed he sometimes lets children sleep in his bed.
In a statement issued Thursday by his London representative, Jackson said British journalist Martin Bashir broke the trust placed in him, and added he felt “more betrayed than perhaps ever before.”
Bashir spent eight months making the 90-minute program, which was to be shown in the United States at 8 p.m. EST Thursday on ABC’s “20/20.”
“I trusted Martin Bashir to come into my life and that of my family because I wanted the truth to be told,” Jackson said in the statement, released by his London representative, Stephen Lock.
“Martin Bashir persuaded me to trust him, that his would be an honest and fair portrayal of my life and told me that he was ‘the man that turned Diana’s life around.'”
Bashir is well known for an interview with Princess Diana during which she spoke about her troubled marriage and admitted being unfaithful to Prince Charles.
“Today, I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before; that someone who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair program,” Jackson said.
“Everyone who knows me will know the truth which is that my children come first in my life and that I would never harm any child.”
Granada, the television company behind the documentary, rejected Jackson’s criticism, however, and said the program was “a truthful, open and intimate portrayal of many aspects of Michael Jackson’s extraordinary life.”
“There has been no distortion, misrepresentation or breach of trust. Martin Bashir agreed with Michael that we’d make an honest film about his life and we’ve fulfilled that promise,” Granada said in a statement.
After the program was broadcast in Britain on Monday, the country’s tabloid newspapers were scathing about the man they call “Wacko Jacko.” The Sun said the “shocking confession” Jackson sometimes slept with children would end his career, while the Daily Express said Jackson “faces a wave of revulsion.”
But not all the fallout was bad. Jackson said he had received many messages of support from fans in Britain since the documentary was aired.
In California’s Santa Barbara County, where Jackson’s Neverland ranch is located, District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon, Jr., condemned the “media circus” around the documentary and called Jackson’s admission that he has slept in the same bed as children “much ado about nothing.”
“Sleeping in bed with a kid is not a crime that I know of,” Sneddon told the Santa Barbara News-Press.
And record stores in Britain reported a surge in sales of Jackson’s records. Virgin Megastores said sales of his 1982 “Thriller” album were up 473 percent from last week, while the greatest hits package “HIStory” was up 383 percent – sending both albums into the lower reaches of the chain’s Top 100 chart.
At HMV, sales of “HIStory” increased tenfold.
“I think it shows that exposure may not be particularly favorable, but it will always add to some degree of sales increase,” said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.
In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting a boy who had stayed at his home. He denied the allegations and reached a financial settlement with the boy’s family. No charges were filed.
When Bashir asked Jackson about his friendships with children, the singer said: “I have slept in a bed with many children,” including actor Macaulay Culkin and his brother, Kieran.
“When you say ‘bed,’ you’re thinking sexual,” Jackson said. “It’s not sexual, we’re going to sleep. I tuck them in…. It’s very charming, it’s very sweet.”
The singer has a 5-year-old son, Prince Michael I, and 4-year-old daughter, Paris, born during his marriage to nurse Debbie Rowe, which ended in 1999. He also has an infant son, Prince Michael II, whose mother has not been identified.
During filming, Bashir visited Jackson at Neverland, accompanied him on a Las Vegas shopping spree and was at a Berlin hotel in November when Jackson sparked worldwide outrage by briefly dangling Prince Michael II from a fourth-floor hotel balcony.
Speaking to GMTV television Thursday, Rowe defended Jackson and described him as a “really wonderful, loving, caring man.”
“There could be no other person that could be a better father. And I resent anyone making allegations that he is not a parent, and that he is not a proper parent,” she said.