March 1st, 2005 Trial Analysis: Martin Bashir and Anne Kite (Direct Examination)
On March 1st, 2005, Martin Bashir was called as the prosecution’s first witness. I have already summarized and analyzed Bashir’s testimony in the following two posts:
In addition, you can read more about Bashir’s actions before, during, and after the airing of the documentary in the post below:
Here is a transcript and rebuttal of Bashir’s second hit piece on Jackson, titled “Michael Jackson’s Secret World”, which aired in February 2005, just before the start of the trial.
Finally, here is a post on how hypocritical many of Jackson’s detractors (including Bashir) and accusers are for professing to be Christians, but gleefully peddling lies to try to bring down Jackson.
On March 1st, 2005, Assistant District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss called Anne Kite to the witness stand in what would be the first of two days of testimony for her. Kite worked as the President of the Webcaster Alliance, which is a group of webcasters who play music on the internet. Her duties included helping to move forward legislation that would make it easier for people to be able to produce music and information on the internet, and to help people produce programming.
Prior to her stint as President of the Webcaster Alliance, Kite was president of a public relations firm called Gabriel Media. (She used the last name of “Gabriel” as her professional name.) She used her talents and experience from 20 years as a PR manager to help people and products get their information to the public.
Kite also specialized in what’s called “crisis management”, and she described it in this excerpt:
26 Q. All right. Can you tell me what the term
27 “crisis management” means.
28 A. Well, crisis management is a different type 280
1 of public relations. Crisis management comes about
2 when you have someone, or a product or a person, who
3 gets into a situation that is unexpected.
4 And in the case of crisis management, you
5 have to do a couple of different things. First of
6 all, you want to try to analyze the assets of the
7 client or the product, and then also their
8 vulnerabilities, what areas might they be attacked
10 And so crisis management is the – for lack
11 of a better term – the difficult part of public
12 relations, the difficult part of trying to help
13 someone present themselves or their product to the
15 Q. What do you mean when you say “the assets of
16 a client”.
17 A. Well, any client or any product has assets,
18 the things that are good about them, the thing that
19 the public perceives good about them.
20 Q. In general terms, can you tell me what the
21 goal of a public relations specialist is.
22 A. In general terms, on the best days, it is to
23 make sure that your client’s product, or their
24 person, the personality, is always presented in the
25 best light to the public.
26 Q. And the purpose for that would be.
27 A. So that they can create things for
28 themselves, whether they want to create more assets 281
1 as far as dollarwise, entertainment value, or
2 whatever it is they’re trying to sell.
3 If it’s themselves that they’re trying to
4 sell, you want to make sure they’re always presented
5 in the best light.
That pretty much explains how and why she was brought into the picture shortly before the Bashir documentary aired in the United States. In March 2002, she met attorney David LeGrand, and they worked together on several projects for the Webcaster Alliance. They also dated from July 2002 through January 2003. In late January 2003, LeGrand asked Kite to do some public relations work for Jackson, as he and everyone else anticipated the firestorm of controversy that the Bashir documentary would bring about, so the hiring of Kite was a preemptive action.
Here is an excerpt where Kite describes her duties:
11 Q. Who told you what your assignment was to be
12 as a public relations employee for Michael Jackson.
13 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. Foundation and
14 hearsay; it misstates the evidence.
15 THE COURT: Overruled.
16 You may answer.
17 THE WITNESS: Initially it was David
19 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: All right. And what
20 did Mr. LeGrand tell you your duties were.
21 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. Hearsay;
23 THE COURT: Overruled.
24 You may answer.
25 THE WITNESS: To help with the fallout from
26 the Martin Bashir video.
27 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: All right. What did
28 you understand your duties were at that point. 287
1 A. To immediately begin protecting Mr.
2 Jackson’s reputation.
3 Q. Did you research the issue, the problem.
4 A. Yes, I did.
5 Q. Did you evaluate the problem.
6 A. Yes, I did.
7 Q. Did you come up with a plan of attack.
8 A. Yes, I did.
In this next excerpt, Kite describes the exact date that she signed her contract, and the people in Jackson’s inner circle that she communicated with. Notice that she did NOT report directly to Jackson, which threw a linchpin into the prosecutor’s claims that Jackson was in charge of the conspiracy to force the Arvizos to shoot the rebuttal video and then fly to Brazil:
7 Q. So, my last question, if I can recall it
8 correctly was, what was the plan that you formulated
9 to approach — well, let me back up. Let me just
10 start at the beginning here.
11 You said you formulated an assessment of the
12 problem. How did you go about doing that.
13 A. Well, I took a look at a lot of the press
14 that was coming out, the information that was out in
15 the media. I looked at what was being played most
16 prominently, and figured that that was probably the
17 most vulnerable area of attack for Mr. Jackson at
18 that point.
19 So I began to formulate a plan, based on my
20 information of things that had come out in the press
21 in the past, and to immediately try to take the
22 focus off of Mr. Jackson’s frailties as a human and
23 put them back on his genius as a musician. That was
24 my plan.
25 Q. Okay. Did you sign a contract to come on as
26 a PR specialist.
27 A. Yes, I did.
28 Q. When did you do that. When was that 289
1 contract signed.
2 A. In the afternoon of the 14th of February.
3 Q. Did you become familiar with any other
4 individuals who were also hired to work on the same
6 A. Yes, I did.
7 Q. Did you communicate with them.
8 A. Yes, I did.
9 Q. Who were these people.
10 A. Ronald Konitzer. Marc Schaffel. Stuart
11 Backerman. Melanie Riley. And Richard, I think
12 it’s Eldon, from Bell Yard. And a team of some
13 other attorneys in the United K — United Kingdom.
14 Q. During the course of your employment for
15 Mr. Jackson, did you communicate with these
17 A. Yes, I did.
18 Q. Did you communicate directly with Ronald
20 A. Yes, I did.
21 Q. In what fashion. In what medium.
22 A. Both by e-mail and by telephone.
23 Q. Did you contact and speak directly with Marc
25 A. Yes, I did.
26 Q. Did you also communicate with him by e-mail.
27 A. Yes, I did.
28 Q. How about Mr. Backerman. 290
1 A. Yes, I did.
2 Q. Did you ever talk to an attorney by the name
3 of Mark Geragos.
4 A. Yes, I did.
5 Q. Who did you report to. Who did you report
6 to in terms of the hierarchy of this team.
7 A. Well, I spoke to David. I spoke to Marc
8 Schaffel. I spoke to Mr. Geragos. And I spoke to
10 Q. So would it be fair to say, you reported to
11 all of those four individuals.
12 A. Yes, at different times.
In this excerpt, Kite gives her impression of what everyone’s role was during her brief period of employment:
13 Q. And Mr. Konitzer, did you have an
14 understanding of what his function was in relation
15 to Michael Jackson.
16 A. I understood that Mr. Konitzer was the
17 lead —
18 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. Leading; and
20 THE COURT: Foundation; sustained.
21 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: It’s a yes or no question.
22 I would follow with foundation.
23 MR. MESEREAU: Same objection.
24 THE COURT: All right. I’ll allow a yes or
25 no answer.
26 Do you want the question read back.
27 THE WITNESS: Yes, please.
28 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Okay. The question — 291
1 THE COURT: The court reporter will read it
2 back. Thank you.
3 (Record read.)
4 THE WITNESS: Yes.
5 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: All right. And what
6 was it that you based that opinion on, or that
7 assessment on.
8 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. Leading and
10 THE COURT: Overruled.
11 You may answer.
12 THE WITNESS: On information that David had
13 given me.
14 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Okay. Did you also
15 base it on information that you obtained in the
16 course of conversing with Mr. Konitzer.
17 A. Yes, I did.
18 Q. And Mr. Schaffel.
19 A. Yes, I did.
20 Q. Did you base it on information that you
21 obtained by way of e-mails from other members of the
23 A. Yes, I did.
24 Q. And from Bell Yard.
25 A. Yes, I did.
26 Q. Was it clear from — clear to you — well,
27 did you also base it upon the conduct of all of
28 these individuals on the team that you previously 292
2 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. Leading;
4 THE COURT: Sustained; leading.
5 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Did you consider
6 conduct as part of this assessment.
7 MR. MESEREAU: Same objection.
8 THE COURT: Overruled.
9 You may answer.
10 THE WITNESS: Yes, I did.
11 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Okay. And based on all
12 this information, did you form a belief or an
13 understanding as to what Mr. Ronald Konitzer’s role
14 was in relation to Michael Jackson and this team
15 that you’ve described.
16 A. Yes, I did.
17 Q. What was that.
18 A. That he was the leader.
19 Q. Also based on all that information that I’ve
20 asked you about, were you able to form an opinion as
21 to what Mr. Schaffel’s role was in this team.
22 A. Yes. Yes, I did.
23 Q. And what was that.
24 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. Foundation.
25 THE COURT: Overruled.
26 THE WITNESS: That he was in charge of the
27 public relations effort for Michael Jackson.
28 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Same question as to 293
1 Mr. Backerman. Based on all the information you
2 obtained during the course of your employment, were
3 you able to form an assessment or did you obtain an
4 understanding of what Mr. Stuart Backerman’s role
6 A. Yes, I did.
7 Q. And what was that.
8 A. That he was the spokesperson for Mr.
10 Q. What’s a spokesperson in the PR realm.
11 A. Well, in Mr. Backerman’s case, it was my
12 understanding that he would be the one that would,
13 for the most part, get out and speak in front of the
15 Q. So the actual face person that would be in
16 front of the camera.
17 A. For the most part, yes.
Just prior to the court adjourned for the day, Auchincloss asked Kite to explain her assessment of the PR problem that besieged Jackson after the airing of the documentary:
18 Q. All right. You previously said that you
19 assessed the problem based upon your review of what.
20 A. The information that was coming out in the
22 Q. Uh-huh.
23 A. The information that was coming from the
24 Bashir documentary.
25 Q. Uh-huh.
26 A. And the bombardment of questions that were
27 coming from people in the press that were looking to
28 delve into other aspects of Mr. Jackson’s empire. 294
1 Q. All right.
2 THE COURT: All right. We’re going to stop
3 for the afternoon.
4 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Okay.
5 THE COURT: I have a couple of points I want
6 to address.
7 One is that the District Attorney must lodge
8 a transcript of the videotape that was played today
9 with the Court as soon as you can.
10 MR. SNEDDON: Judge, in order to do that,
11 I’ll need permission of the Court to withdraw the
12 exhibit so I can have it — have a transcript made
14 THE COURT: Any objection to that.
15 MR. MESEREAU: No objection, Your Honor.
16 THE COURT: All right.
17 MR. SNEDDON: Thank you.
18 THE COURT: The second thing is that even
19 though we are not redacting documents anymore,
20 sealing documents, California Rule of Court 2073,
21 which relates to the filing of documents on the
22 Internet, which we do in this case, has some
23 restrictions that you cannot put on the Internet.
24 For example, addresses, phone numbers of parties.
25 I’m not going to read the whole statute to you, but
26 that’s what I’m talking about.
27 So when you file a document, you must file
28 it — file a redacted version in compliance with 295
1 California Rule of Court 2073 so that may be placed
2 on the Internet.
3 I don’t intend to do any separate sealing
4 orders, because they’re just — it’s a statutory
5 requirement that you redact those.
6 Any questions about that.
7 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: No, Your Honor.
8 MR. MESEREAU: No, Your Honor.
9 THE COURT: All right. We’ll recess until
10 tomorrow morning. I’ll see you tomorrow at 8:30.
11 (The proceedings adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)
On the next court date, Anne Kite continued her testimony and described why she felt that Jackson was being taken advantage of by certain members of his inner circle, and 18 year sheriff’s office veteran Albert Lafferty testified about the photographs and video footage that he filmed during the Neverland raid in November 2003.