Jackson interview covers mostly predictable ground

It took almost 45 minutes, but eventually, America got the answers it was waiting for last night.

First, do Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley have sex? "Yes, yes, yes," said Lisa Marie, after remarking that she couldn't believe the fans would ask that.


Second, are they expecting a child? "I won't say when," answered Lisa Marie, with Michael adding, "It's in the hands of the heavens."

Not exactly the most hard-hitting journalism, true, but then again, the Michael Jackson saga isn't exactly on par with the latest developments in Bosnia. Of course, if it were, then there probably wouldn't have been millions watching when Diane Sawyer interviewed Jackson and Presley on ABC's "Prime Time Live" last night.


Arriving in the midst of a massive, pre-release promotional blitz, the interview seemed at first like just one more cog in the Michael Jackson marketing machine. With the release of his new album, "HIStory," six days away, Jackson is assured of being an almost constant presence in the media for the foreseeable future. This was just ABC's turn at the trough.

True, the show did come on like actual, hard-hitting journalism. Sawyer announced at the beginning of the show that there were no ground rules, and a pre-taped recap of the sexual abuse charges leveled against Jackson in 1993 seemed to suggest that the only reason the singer wasn't charged was that none of the children involved agreed to testify against him.

But when asked about the allegations -- all of which were eventually dismissed by the L.A. District Attorney -- Jackson, of course, denied everything.

"It's not in my heart," he said. "It's not who I am."

Gee, Diane, what did you expect? An on-air confession?

Jackson's anger over the charges was obvious. Claiming that he agreed to an out-of-court settlement only because it was the quickest way to end the ordeal, he raged against the indignities he was subjected to. "It was unfair, what they put me through," he griped.

Sawyer, pressing the point, mentioned the kids who've crept into bed with Jackson and asked if he didn't have a responsibility to stop them. Answered Lisa Marie, "I've seen these children. They won't even let him go to the bathroom without following him there."

Well then, Sawyer asked her, what about your own children? Would you let them spend the night with Michael Jackson?


"If I didn't know Michael, and know who he is and what he is?" Presley responded. "No way."

No way. That, more than anything Jackson himself said, seemed to quell all the doubts about Jackson's interest in children. Lisa Marie Presley seemed to be speaking from the heart, without any interest in record sales or marketing ploys.

As a result, she was the single most credible element in the whole interview.

When Sawyer questioned him on some seemingly anti-Semitic lyrics in the song "They Don't Care About Us," Jackson answered: "It's not anti-Semitic because I'm not a racist person. I could never be a racist. I love all races of people, from Arabs to Jew to, like I said before, blacks.

"But when I said, 'Jew me, sue me/ Everybody do me/ Kick me, kike me/ Don't you black-or-white me,' I'm talking about myself as the victim. You know? My accountants and lawyers are Jewish. My three best friends are Jewish. David Geffen. Jeffrey Katzenberg. Steven Spielberg. Mike Milken. These are all friends of mine. I was raised in a Jewish community."



To hear excerpts of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley's first joint TV interview, which aired last night on "PrimeTime Live," call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the four-digit code 6124. For other local Sundial numbers, see the SunSource directory on Page 2A.