updated 6/30/2005 9:19:25 AM ET 2005-06-30T13:19:25

Guest: Debra Opri, Tom Mesereau, Katherine JacksonJOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Michael Jackson's mother, she may be her son's strongest defender.  And she has got a lot to say.  And tonight, she is here in an exclusive SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY interview. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Good evening.  And welcome to the show. 

You know, throughout all his legal problems, through the court case, through the harsh publicity, Michael Jackson's family has stuck with him the whole way.  And leading the charge has been his mother, Katherine.  Now, she sat down in an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Rita Cosby for this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Rita, good evening. 

RITA COSBY, MSNBC:  Thanks, Joe. 

Tonight, an exclusive glimpse into Michael Jackson and what went on behind the scenes during his highly publicized trials, details you have never heard before from someone who knows him best, his own mother. 


KATHERINE JACKSON, MOTHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON:  Not one minute did I think he was a child molester.  And you know what?  A child molester has a pattern.  My son don't even fit that description. 


COSBY:  And this hour, you will hear for the first time incredible details about the king of pop, including a look into whether his early years on the road could have sparked some of his present-day problems and why he really named one of his sons Prince.

We will also hear what was done and what was said during that final drive to the courthouse inside that famous caravan of SUVs, as Jackson awaited word from the jury.  Katherine Jackson, Michael's mom, agreed to sit down with me for a no-holds-barred interview.  Nothing was off-limits.  A devoted mother through and through, she showed up every single day during the dramatic 14-week-long trial and had only one of six seats in the courtroom designated to that very large Jackson family. 

We begin now with Katherine Jackson as the clock was ticking toward a verdict. 


JACKSON:  We got up every morning and got dressed as if we were going

to court . And if the phone was ringing, we would look out.  And we saw the

·         you know, we had three black cars.  If they would park in front of the house, we would go to pieces, because we thought, oh, my God, it's come down. 

COSBY:  What did he say when he heard the verdict was coming down and you are heading to that courthouse? 

JACKSON:  Well, we were all nervous, because we didn't know what they were going to—how they were going to rule.  And we didn't do much talking on the way to the court.  It was quiet. 

I told him, just be patient.  And we will see how it works out.  And if they get the truth, then we know he will walk out that court. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant not guilty. 

COSBY:  How did you feel when you heard those words not guilty on all counts? 

JACKSON:  Well, the first not guilty, I was squeezing my two sons' hand, Tito and Randy.  Randy was sitting in front of me, and he just threw his hand back behind the seat and grabbed mine, and I had Tito's other hand, and Tito had his arms around me with his right hand.  And I was holding onto his left hand. 

And we were squeezing each other's hand, because we were nervous..

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Count 10, verdict.  We the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant not guilty. 

JACKSON:  And when they said not guilty for all 10 counts, I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders.  I was crying all the while.  They were tears of joy, of course. 

COSBY:  It's still emotional for you now here.  It's been over a week. 


JACKSON:  Oh, yes.  I find myself crying now. 

COSBY:  What did he say to you when the verdict came down, and what did you say to him? 

JACKSON:  Well, I just hugged him and cried.  And he hugged me, and I said, at last, they saw the truth. 

Michael's fate was in the hand of 12 strangers.  I didn't know what they were thinking. 

COSBY:  What was it like to look in these faces of 12 strangers and not know? 

JACKSON:  Yes.  And most of them were looking solemn.  And some of them looked like they were mean.  But I knew they were taking notes, and I felt that they would be fair. 

COSBY:  In this case, there were no African-Americans on the jury.  And a number of people expressed concerns, even you, that maybe he can't get a fair trial.  What does it say to you now about justice in America?  Does this change your perception? 

JACKSON:  Yes, it did.

But justice in America?  It changed my perception about those 12 jurors.  They judged accordingly and they judged the way they saw it. 

COSBY:  How painful was it for you as a mother to sit there in court and hear people saying that Michael Jackson molested them? 

JACKSON:  I can't even answer that question, because it was very painful.  I was very angry inside, more than anything else, to sit there and listen to these people lie on my son.  And I know they were lying. 

COSBY:  Was it hard for you to hear?  I mean, here was this boy, then 13 years old.  Whether the allegations were true or not, it is an ugly allegation.  That must have been hard as a mother to hear. 

JACKSON:  It was.  It was.  It was hard for me to sit there and just see him.  Well, how can I say?  He had acting lessons.  So...

COSBY:  You think he made everything up? 

JACKSON:  Yes, I do. 

COSBY:  One hundred percent? 

JACKSON:  I do. 

COSBY:  How did you feel, also sitting there in court, because they talked about porno magazines.  They talked about booze.  Did you see a different side of your son that maybe you hadn't before? 

JACKSON:  Well, the porno magazines, a lot of them were sent to him. 

And I am sure he looked at them.

And the booze that he said he gave the children and the porno magazine that he was sharing with children, all those were lies.  I knew my son as a young man and a child.  But when they grow older, they change.  So, I guess he was no different than any other man that was out there in the world.  But one thing he is not, and that's a child molester.  He is not a child—he is not a pedophile. 

COSBY:  Was there ever a moment when you thought your son, Michael Jackson, was a child molester? 

JACKSON:  Not one minute did I think he was a child molester.  And you know what?  A child molester has a pattern.  My son don't even fit that description.  A child molester don't strike every 10 or 11 years or 13 years, like they are trying to say my son did.  And these were—back then, it was a lie, and it's a lie now. 

COSBY:  You believe in your son 110 percent? 

JACKSON:  I sure do. 

COSBY:  Do you think your son, Michael Jackson, has shaken these allegations of child molestation once and for all? 

JACKSON:  He has been proven not to be a child molester, and they know he's not.  But some people just want to believe what—they want to believe—they believe what they believe.  I can't stop that. 

But I wish they would stop and think about it, that he is not a child molester.  He is not a pedophile.  And he doesn't give liquor to children.  These kids were bad kids. 

COSBY:  If you could see the boy and the mother, what would you say to them? 

JACKSON:  You know what?  I couldn't even answer that right now.  It all depends on what mood I am in when I see them.  And I feel sorry for them, too.  And from what I hear about their past, I feel sorry for their future if they don't change their way. 


COSBY:  And joining me now is the man who convinced that jury to bring in a solid acquittal, probably the most sought-after attorney in the country right now, Michael Jackson's lead attorney, Tom Mesereau. 

How do you like that?  Good to see you. 


COSBY:  How do you like that introduction? 


COSBY:  That's a lot of weight on your shoulders. 

MESEREAU:  It sure is.  It sure is. 

COSBY:  What was your reaction?  I thought it was amazing.  Katherine Jackson talked about that moment, first driving to the courthouse, seven days.  You had to be saying, oh, my gosh, I don't know which way this jury is going to go.  I mean, you know.  You have covered a lot of cases. 

MESEREAU:  Well, you never know what the jury is doing because you don't know those individuals.  You don't know them as individual people and you don't know how they are interacting.

So, you are always nervous, and I was certainly nervous.  I was always confident.  I never imagined 12 people saying he was guilty of any of these charges.  But, again, you are always nervous because you don't know these people. 

COSBY:  Now, you are in the courtroom.  Let's take us through that moment.  Katherine Jackson talked in the piece about holding Randy and Tito's hand and just squeezing it and just this big feeling of exhalation as the not guilties were coming in.  What was that moment like for you?  You were standing next to Michael. 

MESEREAU:  We were sitting next to each other, but I don't really reach any type of conclusion until I hear all the counts, because, if he was convicted on one of those counts, particularly a felony count, he could have had a lot of problems.

So, until they were really all completed, I was reserving any feeling.  And, obviously, hearing all those not guilties was nice—don't get me wrong—but I really wanted to hear all of them not guilty, and that's what we heard. 

COSBY:  What did you say to Michael Jackson?  What did he say to you?  Everybody was saying in the court that, I guess, he slapped you on the back and just this feeling of whew. 

MESEREAU:  I went to his ear.  I said, Michael, we won.  And he looked at me and he just said, thank you, thank you, thank you.  The only words really coming out of him were thank you, thank you, thank you.  He was just so overcome with emotion and relief.  And I was overcome with emotion and relief.

And then he hugged me.  He hugged my co-counsel, Susan Yu.  And it was a joyous affair.  It really was. 

COSBY:  What was it like for you personally?  You know, covering this case, it was over a year-and-a-half.  You invested personally a lot of time, excruciating hours.  Was it just mentally and physically exhausting for you, too? 

MESEREAU:  Yes, it was. 

Typically, in a trial, I get up at 3:00 in the morning.  I like to do three to three-and-a-half hours of work before I walk into a courtroom.  I go to bed very early during a trial, say, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00.  And it was exhausting.  And I am tired still.  I need a vacation. 


COSBY:  What do you think won this case? 

MESEREAU:  I think the evidence won the case.  And the evidence usually wins cases.

COSBY:  Or the lack thereof on the other end? 

MESEREAU:  Well, no, not only the lack thereof on the other end.  We put on a case ourselves.  We had a story to tell.  We were not just going to rely on problems with their witnesses. 

We had a story to tell.  We put on a lot of witnesses ourselves, and we vindicated and cleared Michael Jackson completely.  He was acquitted of all felony counts and all misdemeanor counts.  They got nothing. 

COSBY:  Do you think this puts these issues to rest once and for all?  Tom Sneddon—we are going to show it a little later on—I asked him that question in an interview, the DA.  And he wouldn't rule out.

When I said, are you going to go after—you know, you or your office go after Michael Jackson in the future?  He said, no comment. 

MESEREAU:  This was an unjust prosecution.  It was done in a way that just makes me very, very upset, because they tried to find things that didn't exist.  They interpreted evidence wrongly.  They tried to really, in my opinion, pull a fast one on the jury by trying to sell things that just didn't exist.

And I hope they learned their lesson, and I hope they leave him alone, because he is a wonderful human being.  This case shouldn't have been brought.  And they just got to leave him alone. 

COSBY:  One of the people who is clearly not leaving him alone is his mother.  It was a great scene, seeing her go into the courthouse every day.  What did it mean to Michael Jackson having his family by his side? 

MESEREAU:  It was tremendous, really.  He gets tremendous strength from his family.  They're a wonderful family.  They were supportive.  They were united.  They were always behind him.  They helped him spiritually.  They helped him emotionally.  And he was lucky to have them.  It's a really wonderful family. 

COSBY:  Yes.  I have been impressed with them. 

MESEREAU:  Yes.    

COSBY:  Tom Mesereau, stick with us.  We're going to have you throughout the show.  We appreciate it.

But up next, everybody, a lot more to come.  The man who prosecuted the case, Tom Sneddon, did he cross the line? 


COSBY:  I spoke with Tom Sneddon after the verdict came down.  And I asked him to describe your son, Michael Jackson.  He called him—quote—

“a pathetic person.”  What do you say to Tom Sneddon? 


COSBY:  Jackson's mother answers that question when we come back. 


COSBY:  Michael Jackson's mom, Katherine, tells all—in just a moment, the pop star's physical and mental condition, plus, how she thought the media treated her son. 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No sign of Michael Jackson.  And, according to the countdown clock, he has one minute to arrive at this courthouse before that arrest warrant goes into effect.  And you can see his defense attorney Tom Mesereau walking out.  He is on the cell phone.  He has been on his phone all morning long. 


COSBY:  Who could forget the chaos outside the courtroom when Michael Jackson was minutes away from being arrested for arriving late for court?  When he finally did show, he was in pajamas and looking weak and disheveled.  He was in the hospital that morning saying that he was suffering from severe back pain. 

This trial clearly took a toll on Jackson's health, both physically and mentally.  He was admitted to the hospital several times during the course of the trial.  And jury selection was even delayed in mid-February after he was admitted to the hospital for the flu. 

I asked Katherine Jackson about her son's falling apart before our very eyes. 


JACKSON:  One of the reasons why it devastated him, the people that he was good to—and he would tell me.  He would say, mother, these people, when they would say, call your next witness, he said, I look around and I am surprised.  It's people that I have helped, and they are up there trying to get money off—make money off of me by lying.  I don't understand how people can do that. 

COSBY:  You talked about how frail he was.  And we saw that.  I mean, every day, you could see him deteriorating.  How much did he weigh, and how bad of a shape was he in when the verdict came down? 

JACKSON:  I don't know how much he weighed, but all I was worried about him eating, him not eating. 

I always say, you have to eat.  You have to eat, you know?  But he—and when I asked him how he felt, sometimes, he said, mother, don't ask me that. 

COSBY:  Were you worried that he may not even make it to the trial, that he was just so physically and mentally deteriorated from this? 

JACKSON:  It took a toll on him, but we were there to help him.

And so, we knew that he would get to the trial every day, because we had to.  And the judge had threatened that, if he didn't get there on time, or whatever, he said, no, you just get here within an hour or he was going to take the $3 million and all this other stuff. 

COSBY:  So, he had to—this is when he showed up in the pajamas that we all saw?

JACKSON:  That's where you all saw the pajamas.  And then they started making jokes of that.  The media started making jokes about him going to court in his pajamas.  What do you expect? 

COSBY:  He was even heavily sedated.  I mean, they had to control him emotionally, too. 

JACKSON:  He had a back problem.  That's one of his problems.

But about him being heavily sedated, I really don't know, because he talked normal and he act normal, so I don't know who put that out. 

COSBY:  I know you told me that, as a mother, you wanted to get him to start eating again.  How did you do that? 

JACKSON:  Well, I just talked to him and told him, if you wanted to live, you have to eat. 

COSBY:  Were there days where he wasn't eating anything? 

JACKSON:  Yes, sometimes. 

COSBY:  Is he eating now? 


COSBY:  Slowly?

JACKSON:  Slowly.  But, you know, my son never was a big eater.  He was always thin. 

COSBY:  I understand, after the verdict, he was mentally and physically exhausted.  He slept a lot, right? 

JACKSON:  Yes, he did. 

COSBY:  What did he do right after the verdict?  You went up with him to Neverland. 

JACKSON:  Yes.  I was at Neverland all the time. 

COSBY:  Your family has been in the limelight for many generations now.  And there's been a lot of ups and downs.  Is this the worst thing that your family has ever gone through? 

JACKSON:  Yes, it is.  It's the worst thing that I have ever gone through in my whole life. 

COSBY:  How did this trial affect you personally as a mother?  Before the trial started, you told me you weren't getting a lot of sleep.  You were having nightmares.  What did it do to you? 

JACKSON:  Well, if you ask any mother that really loves and cares for her child, they would know how I felt. 

COSBY:  How concerned were you that your son Michael Jackson could have been sent to prison?  As a mother, that had to have been on your mind.

JACKSON:  Yes, it did.  It really did.  It leaned on my mind very heavily.  But I have faith. 

COSBY:  How would you have handled a guilty verdict? 

JACKSON:  I don't think I could have handled it. 

COSBY:  Were there any contingency plans if he were to be found guilty, because he was facing 18, 19 years?  They could have put handcuffs on him and carried him right away.  Were there any plans for his children, backup plans if the worst were to happen? 

JACKSON:  Yes, but I would rather not talk about that. 


COSBY:  But one thing that Katherine Jackson did want to talk about was her son's critics, including the fiery district attorney Tom Sneddon, and the press who followed Jackson's every move. 


JACKSON:  This is what the media did to him.  They tried to assassinate his character.  They don't even know him.  And if they get to know him, they would see how wrong.  They are very wrong. 

Michael is such a nice person, such a generous, giving, loving person. 

But what they did to him, he would never do to them.  He is a better person

than they are.  These people out there, the media, is what makes everything

·         the world got the family wrong.  They always say, we are fighting, we are doing this and we are doing that.  And they just love it, because people love to hear garbage.  They don't want to hear anything good.  We are nothing like they think we are. 

COSBY:  There's a “USA Today” poll that said that nearly half of those surveyed, 48 percent, didn't agree with the verdict.  Were you surprised by that? 

JACKSON:  No.  I know how America is and I know how they think. 

COSBY:  And only 34 percent, rather, agreed.

JACKSON:  Uh-huh. 

COSBY:  A lot of people were stunned at this number. 

JACKSON:  I know. 

COSBY:  Were you stunned? 


COSBY:  And disappointed? 

JACKSON:  Well, most of that is from the media, because, if they had listened to the case, if they were in court, they would have known what went on.  But the media have a way of swaying the public.  And there are two wicked women out there that's been doing this, and they know who they are. 

COSBY:  Do you think there are always going to be some people who believe that your son has done these things? 

JACKSON:  There might be.  There might be. 

COSBY:  Some of the jurors said that they believed your son may have molested someone else before, but they didn't believe the words of this family. 

JACKSON:  I think there was one juror.  I think they said juror number one said that.  I can't change his mind.  He believed what he wants to believe. 

COSBY:  I spoke with district attorney Tom Sneddon.  He was unapologetic, said he made no mistakes and would do it again.  What do you say to Tom Sneddon? 

JACKSON:  Maybe he did make no mistakes, what he called no mistakes, but he made a big mistake.  My son is not a pedophile. 

COSBY:  Are you angry at the way that some perceive that he went after your son, targeted your son? 

JACKSON:  You want me to answer that? 

My son is a better person than he is, because what he did to my son, my son would never do to anyone else. 

COSBY:  Attorney Gloria Allred...


COSBY:  ... is suggesting—and this is after the verdict—that your son is basically an unfit father and the kids should be taken away from him.  What do you say? 

JACKSON:  My son is the best father you want to—and she helped put child services on my son. 

And child services found nothing wrong with the children or wrong with the way he is raising his children.  They are normal children.  They are very smart children.  There's nothing wrong with them.  No, his children shouldn't be taken away from him. 

COSBY:  Are you disappointed that people are still making these comments after the verdict? 

JACKSON:  No, because I know that's how people are. 


COSBY:  And, in just a moment, we will hear what a very outspoken Tom Sneddon had to say when I interviewed him the night after the verdict.  You will hear from him directly. 

Plus, life after the trial for Michael Jackson.  Will he stop having boys sleep in his bedroom?  And can Michael's early years performing in the Jackson Five be blamed for his problems today? 

Much more to come in my exclusive interview with Katherine Jackson and also Tom Mesereau when we come back.


COSBY:  More of my exclusive interview with Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, where she talks about Michael growing up.  Did his superstardom so early lead to problems later? 

But, first, the latest news from MSNBC world headquarters. 


COSBY:  The Neverland raid that started it all in November of 2003. 

Police went back again the next month.

More than a year-and-a-half later, a battered Michael Jackson walked out of court a free man.  But will the allegations against him ever really go away? 

The day after the verdict, I spoke to the man who prosecuted Jackson, DA Tom Sneddon.  And I asked him how he felt about the case that will define his career, for better or worse. 


COSBY:  What do you say to people who say that you personally had a personal vendetta against Michael Jackson, that you were driven by it, that you spent all this taxpayer money, hundreds of search warrants, tons of time, and it was a waste of taxpayer's money, because the jury sort of laughed it off? 

TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Rita, first of all, there weren't 100 search warrants in this case. 

Second of all, we didn't spend a ton of money.  And, third of all, that whole idea of the revenge is such nonsense.  I see that you folks in the media that really believe that garbage, come down here and check my life.  See what have I been doing the last 10 years.  You know, I have a family.  I have a large family.  I have grandkids.  I play sports.  I work in the community.  I volunteer my time. 

If you think I have given this one passing thought once that case ended in 1993 and '94, you are just—you are not in touch with reality.  I mean, I had a chance to make probably $1 million writing a book on that case and turned it down.  I had chances to go on...


COSBY:  Will you ever write a book on this? 

SNEDDON:  I had chances—probably not.  I mean, I'm just not—probably not.  But, I mean, I had a chance back then to do that.  I had a chance to go on TV.  I had a chance to be interviewed. 

I never said one word after that press conference ever in 10 years. 

COSBY:  Everybody makes mistakes.  What mistakes did you make? 

SNEDDON:  That's a...


SNEDDON:  Well, maybe having this interview. 



COSBY:  And maybe it was. 

Joining me now is Jackson family attorney Deb Opri.

What do you think of the very feisty Tom Sneddon? 


grapes.  The

poor man, he should retire now.  I have dealt with the Tom Sneddons of the world in Santa Barbara county.  And let me tell you something.  This was a vendetta.  Tom Sneddon did not have a case, and yet he prosecuted Michael Jackson.  Had it been anyone else, Michael Jackson or that other person would not have been in the courtroom. 

COSBY:  You talk about a vendetta.  One of the things that Katherine Jackson talked to me about was the media.  She felt that there were some good members of the media who were fair, but she felt, for the most part, a lot of them really went after the family and also Michael.  What do you think? 

OPRI:  Well, let's just put aside the 100 sheriffs and talk about the 100 media pundits.  Maybe one of them were favorable to Michael Jackson.  It's despicable. 

We have Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.  We have a First Amendment right to free speech.  Let me tell you something about free speech.  You have the right to cover a trial.  You don't have a right to stick your personal opinions down the throats of the public.  Everybody has their own mind.  They are quite intelligent. 

I think, if the media should start operating with the respect of the public and for the persons who—right to fair trial, I think perhaps we will have a better First Amendment guarantee of free speech. 

COSBY:  And you talk about personal.  Really quickly...

OPRI:  It's being abused.

COSBY:  You know the family very well.  How do you think this took a toll on them? 

OPRI:  They want to be left alone.  The media...


COSBY:  So you think this was maybe one of their final interviews? 

OPRI:  Yes, I do. 

The media desecrated the Jackson family and Michael Jackson.  Why do you think the media doesn't want to speak to anyone?  You know, why?  They didn't give anybody a fair shot.  The Jackson family has long been a joke of the media.  And I can name a specific few names out there.  But let's be honest.  Court TV was an extension, was an extension of the prosecution.  And the Jackson family knew it. 


COSBY:  Well, I am glad that we had the family on and were able to showcase Katherine Jackson. 

OPRI:  Yes. 

COSBY:  Thank you very much, Deb Opri.

OPRI:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  Appreciate you being here.

And one question that continuously comes up, could Michael Jackson's problem with his children stem from his early years?  Let's give you a little background here.  Michael was born August 29, 1958, to Katherine and Joseph Jackson.  His dad was a steel mill worker, barely able to make ends meet, as the nine brothers and sisters lived in a small two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana, with—get this—one bathroom. 

The Jackson Five was formed in the mid 1960s.  And Michael soon became lead singer, but they didn't hit it big until 1969, when Berry Gordy signed them to a contract as the next big Motown act.  But did Michael miss something along the way to the superstardom? 

More now of my exclusive interview with Katherine Jackson. 


COSBY:  What happened in Michael's childhood that he feels such an attachment to children?  What did he miss? 

JACKSON:  Michael started singing when he was very—at a very young age.  And he missed out on a lot of things in his childhood. 

Most of the time, he was in the studio when the other kids had free time.  And then, after that, he went on tour and he had to practice and do all of that.  He did miss out on a lot of his childhood. 

COSBY:  Why is he so attached to children? 

JACKSON:  You know what?  The only way I can answer that question is, all of my children are like that. 

If a little kid came in the room now, they would gravitate to that child, pick him up, hug him and squeeze him and kiss him and all that.  That's just what they do. 

COSBY:  Is there anything that you would have done differently as a mother in raising him? 

JACKSON:  Well, the only thing that I feel that I didn't do, I didn't prepare my children for the world. 

They were sheltered.  The world is evil, and the world is wicked.  And I didn't prepare them for that.  That ranch was not built to lure little children into there just to molest them, as the prosecutors tried to say.  He gives back.  And he has always been taught to give and to share.  And this is what he always says.

And when I ask him, Michael, please, don't let anyone else come on your ranch or don't get friendly with any of these families, he said, mother, if I have to help these people, from now on, I will help them from a distance. 

And I was thinking to myself, forget it.  Don't help them at all if they are going to cause you this much, you know, problems in your life.  But he never said that he would not help. 

COSBY:  When he said he will help from a distance, was that after the verdict? 

JACKSON:  During the verdict.  And after, too. 

COSBY:  Do you think he will change and maybe not do as many things with young boys, maybe not even have them even near his bedroom at all? 

JACKSON:  Well, you know what?  Michael didn't lure these children in his bedroom.

And as my grandson told me—he said, grandma, you know how that is.  He said, when we are with uncle Michael, we have so much fun.  And after time come to go to bed or to go in, we keep following him.  And we just follow him right into the bedroom.  We would bunk on the floor and all this stuff.  And we have fun. 

COSBY:  But do you think, from here on out, he will say, OK, no kids, no boys in the bedroom, because I don't want to be accused of something? 

JACKSON:  Well, I am sure he is not going to do that now.  Twice, he has been accused of doing something he hadn't done. 

COSBY:  After this ordeal, has Michael lost trust in people? 


COSBY:  Will it change him? 

JACKSON:  It's hard for him to trust anyone, almost. 

COSBY:  What kind of a relationship does Michael have with his children? 

JACKSON:  Very—I wish you could see it. 

COSBY:  I wish I could, too. 

JACKSON:  Very good, very good relationship with his children.  They love him to death.  And he loves them. 

COSBY:  There were some commentators that were taking some jabs at the names of the kids, one of the them being Prince, Prince Michael.  Where did that name come from? 

JACKSON:  Well, my father's name is Prince.  My grandfather's name is Prince.  And my great grandfather's name is Prince.  And I don't know what they are trying to say. 

COSBY:  So, it was a loving tribute to your father?


COSBY:  Not a wacky name that was picked... 

JACKSON:  No, it's not. 

COSBY:  There was a bad dad list that came out recently.  And your husband was listed, along with Michael, that your husband—stating that your husband would get the kids up at 4:30 in the morning and rehearse. 


JACKSON:  That is not the truth. 

COSBY:  Did your husband push them too hard, maybe push Michael too hard early on? 


COSBY:  Michael has even sort of said that, though.  He has suggested that. 

JACKSON:  Michael said that because, sometimes, when the kids—like any other family, if they are wrong, if kids do something bad, you know, they get spankings. 

COSBY:  So, it was just a good spanking, not a beating, not abuse? 



COSBY:  And with me again is Michael Jackson's superstar lawyer—I got to put that in—Tom Mesereau. 

Tom, is there an innocence?  One of the things Katherine Jackson obviously talked about, you know, maybe sheltered early on, didn't have the normal childhood.  He was performing when all the other kids were playing out on the streets.  What is Michael Jackson like? 

MESEREAU:  He is a very, very kind, extremely sensitive, intuitive, very generous individual, very easy to talk to, very honest about himself, really a delightful person to be around, yes.

COSBY:  Was your hardest task to say to the jury, look, maybe his behavior of having children around, young boys around is not the normal thing for the average adult, but that doesn't mean child molestation? 

MESEREAU:  Well, the evidence, first of all, was not that just young boys were around.  Families were around.  He never did anything with children without the parents involved.  And his bedroom is like a large duplex home.  OK? 

And parents stayed there.  And sisters stayed there.  Brothers stayed there.  Sons and daughters stayed there.  It wasn't like a limited type of thing to boys.  The prosecution spun that to try and get a conviction, and they were wrong. 

To answer your question, Michael did it out of generosity and kindness.  And he is going to have to stop doing that, because he is a target.  He is the biggest target in the world.  He is a magnet for false lawsuits and false allegations. 

COSBY:  Do you believe he will change his ways? 

MESEREAU:  Oh, absolutely. 

COSBY:  He's going to have to.  He knows that now?

MESEREAU:  I told him, don't let these families into your home.  Don't feel sorry for everybody that gets in front of you.  You are a good-hearted, generous person, but you are also a very, very big target.  And I think he will change that. 

COSBY:  What do you think is ahead for Michael Jackson now?  Where is he now?  Nobody knows.  Do you know? 

MESEREAU:  I don't know where he is.

COSBY:  You honestly don't know?

MESEREAU:  I don't know where he is.  And I haven't asked where he is. 

COSBY:  Do you—he's with his family, is my understanding.  He's with his children, right?

MESEREAU:  It's none of my business.  I don't know. 

COSBY:  What do you think is ahead for him?  Do you think we are going to see him come back, and do you think he's going to take at least maybe a few weeks, few months to regroup? 

MESEREAU:  I hope he does, because he took a terrible emotional and physical beating in the case. 

He lost weight.  He couldn't eat.  He couldn't sleep.  It was a terrible ordeal for him.  So, I hopes he takes a lot of time off and gets his health back and just stays away and is quiet.  As far as the future goes, he has offers all around the world this very moment.  He is one of the most popular, well-liked people in the entire planet.  So, he will never hurt for opportunities. 

COSBY:  Real quickly, do you think he has the potential to really come back strong, if he gets himself together? 

MESEREAU:  Well, I am not an expert in the music industry.

COSBY:  But knowing him?

MESEREAU:  But the answer would be, yes, absolutely.  He is a very talented.  He's a genius.  He's loved all over the world.  He has constant opportunities to do things. 

COSBY:  Tom Mesereau, thank you very much.  And congratulations on a great trial. 

MESEREAU:  Thank you for having me. 

COSBY:  Thanks so much.

And so, what is ahead for Michael Jackson?  Is he about to sell Neverland?  And what is the deal on the rumors that he and his family could be working on a new reality show? 


JACKSON:  We have been offered a reality show.  We are not like the Osbournes. 


COSBY:  More of my exclusive interview with Katherine Jackson, that's coming up next.



COSBY:  Many of Jackson's fans stuck with Michael throughout the trial, never wavering in their support.

So, what's next for the king of pop?  A musical comeback?  Perhaps a reality TV show?  Maybe his mother knows best. 


COSBY:  Do you think it's going to take him a while? 

JACKSON:  It just might. 

COSBY:  Do you think it will take weeks or months?  A lot of people say it's going to be a few months to—for him to sort of get back. 

JACKSON:  It just might. 

COSBY:  I have been told that he is out of the country, that he is recuperating somewhere. 

JACKSON:  I would rather not comment on that. 

COSBY:  Is he somewhere at least relaxing? 

JACKSON:  Yes.  He is somewhere in a nice location, and he is relaxing. 

COSBY:  With his children, I understand. 


COSBY:  With the people he loves. 

JACKSON:  Yes.  Yes. 

COSBY:  Are you still in touch with him? 


COSBY:  Will you say to him that you are proud of him for the way he handled all of this? 

JACKSON:  I am.  Most people go to pieces.  They probably couldn't go there every day and watch people stab you all over with lies. 

COSBY:  Neverland is the place which was raided, the place where these allegations stem from.  There's been some thought.  Some people are saying, maybe Michael Jackson should get rid of it, because of all the painful memories.  What do you think? 

JACKSON:  I don't think he should.  But he worked hard for that.  It's a beautiful place. 

COSBY:  Do you think there's some people who would want him out of Neverland?

JACKSON:  Oh, yes. 

COSBY:  For other reasons? 

JACKSON:  Well, of course, Tom Sneddon, for one.  Of course they do. 

And why?  This is a free country.  It's supposed to be. 

COSBY:  Do you think he should sell his portion of the Beatles catalog, so he can pay off his debts? 


COSBY:  A lot of people are saying that's an easy way to pay off all the debts.  Why not? 

JACKSON:  Why do they want it?  It's his catalog.  He bought it.  He worked hard for it, and they want to put him in a position where he would have to sell it?  No. 

He bought them fair and square.  Who are they to say that he shouldn't have it?  Who are they to say that you think Michael Jackson should have the Beatles catalog and take a poll of it?  What is wrong with these people?  He bought it, and that's what business is about. 

COSBY:  Is he doing OK, though, financially? 

JACKSON:  Well, if he wasn't, he wouldn't be where he is now.  He wouldn't be alive. 

COSBY:  Financially alive? 


COSBY:  He is not at the edge of his rope, as some have described? 

JACKSON:  You know what?  They describe—they said -- 10 years ago, they put out that Michael Jackson was broke.  So, I will take it for that. 

COSBY:  But he is doing OK? 

JACKSON:  Yes, he is doing OK. 

COSBY:  Do you think he will come back stronger and bigger than ever? 

JACKSON:  If he wanted to, he could. 

COSBY:  There's been some word that maybe we will see a Jackson tour again, the family back together touring.  Would you like to see that? 

JACKSON:  I would love to see that. 


COSBY:  Do you think they could be as good as they were before? 

JACKSON:  I think so. 

COSBY:  Maybe better? 

JACKSON:  I hope so. 


JACKSON:  And as far as they are saying that we are shopping for a reality show, that is not the truth.  We are not shopping for no reality show. 

COSBY:  “The Hollywood Reporter” was quoting that somebody was shopping on behalf of the family. 


COSBY:  That's not true?

JACKSON:  We have been offered a reality show and turned it down.  We are not like the Osbournes.  And I don't think they did them right, but they still worship them.  But I wouldn't ever do that. 

COSBY:  Would you absolutely never consider a reality show?  Is that out of the question? 

JACKSON:  It's out of the question. 

COSBY:  For all the family members, not just you? 

JACKSON:  I am sure it's for all the family members. 

COSBY:  What would you like to say to all the fans? 

JACKSON:  There were fans from all over the world, from India, from Japan, from Germany, France, everywhere.  They were out there with banners and signs.  And I would like to say to them, thank you for your love and your support. 

COSBY:  And, finally, if your son is watching this interview—and I hope he does, from wherever he is—what would you want to say to him? 

JACKSON:  He know what I want to say to him, that I love him and that

·         oh, whew—that he was very—he was very strong through the whole thing. 

COSBY:  And a mother's love helped him get through it.

JACKSON:  Yes.  I tried. 


COSBY:  And we want to thank Katherine Jackson and the whole Jackson family for letting us into this home for this exclusive interview. 

She is truly the rock of this family.  And seeing her walk into court every day by her son's side is one of the most powerful and lasting images of this trial.  She wanted to thank the fans who stood by her son through his darkest and most desperate hour, especially those in their hometown of Gary, Indiana. 

When we come back, we will hear once more from Joe Scarborough. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, don't miss a minute of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in the coming days.  We're going to have Karl Rove, Robert Redford and the Reverend Billy Graham joining us this week.

We'll be right back in a second.


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I'll tell you what.  We have learned an awful lot tonight about Michael Jackson, about his mother, and about what makes that family tick. 

It was a remarkable interview.  And we want to thank Rita Cosby again for bringing it to us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Well, that's all the time we have for tonight.  Don't miss a minute of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  In the coming days, we've got Robert Redford, Karl Rove and the Reverend Billy Graham.  They will all be joining us.

And make sure you watch Imus tomorrow morning.

And if you have something to say, send me an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com.   

Stick around.  “HARDBALL” is coming up next.  We'll see you tomorrow.



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