July 1, 2009 -- A close personal friend of Michael Jackson's embattled father has come forward to ABC News' "Good Morning America" to defend Joe Jackson against claims that the elder Jackson is exploiting his son's untimely death.
Joe Jackson has endured widespread criticism in the press in recent days for everything from alleged abuse of his sons early on in their career to self-promotion at the BET awards just days after his son's death, and for aggressively seeking to gain control of the singer's sprawling empire in the immediate aftermath of his son's death.
Jackson, who is separated from his wife, Katherine Jackson, was left out of the singer's will. On Wednesday, the Jackson family hired Ken Sunshine, a veteran New York-based public relations professional.
In a statement to ABC News authorized by Joe Jackson, Rutt Premsrirut, his close friend of many years, seeks to paint the celebrity patriarch in a decidedly different light -- as a dedicated father who has steered one of America's most famous families through decades of triumphs and tragedies.
This is a response to the negative media coverage that Mr. Joseph Jackson, father of the late Michael Joseph Jackson has been receiving recently.
To quote the late Michael Joseph Jackson in his autobiographical book "Moonwalker": "Before you judge someone, walk two full moons with them." Mr. Joseph Jackson, known to us privately as "Joe," has always been the man of steel, the go-to person during times of crisis. He deals with situations from a point of equanimity. Continuously compartmentalizing his inner emotions has become an everyday activity.
When his dear mother and father passed away, he never shed a tear. "I internalize my emotions, but they eat up on the inside over the years." This has made him very effective during times of crisis. Each time he would rise to the occasion and function at the highest levels.
When Michael Jackson collapsed at 11:30 [a.m. PT June 25], the security guard's first instinct was to call Joe in Las Vegas to find out what to do. Joe screamed into the phone, "Get yourself together and call 911, now now now !!!" That was him in action, no emotion.
In 2003, as an arrest warrant was issued for Michael, we were all curled up behind the gates of the CMX Entertainment complex in Las Vegas with no idea what to do. When Joe walked in, you would see Michael's eyes light up. He was running the show with Michael listening to every word Joe was directing. I recall the family friend, actor/comedian Eddie Griffin, saying, "You could tell, it was Papa Joe in charge! He made Michael feel so secure. He dumped the weight off his shoulders on his father Joe. As he knew that Joe was ready for war." Michael repeatedly asked Joe, "What do I do?" There was no one more capable to handle the crisis than Joe. He is like a professional billiard player; thinking two or three steps ahead.
During the trial, with everyone focused on the court proceedings, Joe went from door to door in Santa Barbara, knocking on strangers' doors introducing himself, meeting as many locals as he could. He struggled to get the community on his son's side. He had dinner with people in the community, brought signed Jackson memorabilia as gifts, and did his best to get to know them on a personal basis. He knew too well that legal court proceedings are not decided only in the court room but also in the court of public opinion. Now most PR firms would be thinking of a national or international campaign. But for this trial, the public opinion that mattered most was a very small community in Santa Barbara.
Many people questioned why Joe needed a lawyer during his son's trial. Even his family questioned his judgment and [they] were upset. It was only later that some realized the wisdom behind his actions. Not only Michael's lawyers but the whole prosecution side were under a gag order not to talk at all. Joe's lawyer was attending everything and maximizing the media outlet for Michael's interests. Joe was always willing to go to war to protect Michael and his family.
The media are disturbed that Joe once again has brought Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton into the Jackson family. To refresh the memory of the media, during the trial they were also around. Joe called it his "Plan B." Not only do they provide spiritual support and confidence but they were and are his political weight. Few remember the verbal attacks on Tom Sneddon by Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, the large community rallies they organized, or the racist stuff they dug up on Sneddon. Jesse Jackson sits on the board of Yucalpa ( A $12 billion private equity firm of Ron Burkle). He also sits on the board of Sony /ATV catalog representing Michael's interests.
Keeping his emotions inside has taken its toll on Joe. The last few years have seen him visit the hospital frequently. He began to distance himself slowly from his son's problems. He knows he is up in age. "At 80, I can only do so much".
The day Michael died, for the first time in years, he said nothing, became sad, then angry, then began leading once again. His finest hour.
The media commented negatively to the trucks going to Michael's L.A. home. Joe's reply, "If the media will pick up the $100,000-per-month rent, due next month, I will very gladly leave the stuff there." That is Joe dealing with reality.
Before getting to Don Lemon of CNN on the BET red carpet he had done several interviews and was simply looking forward to watching the show. To avoid speaking, he made sure to have along with him Michael Jackson's lawyer Londel McMillan, his longtime publicist Angel Howanksy and his longtime friend Marshall from the musical group "The Charlights." As the CNN reporter kept bringing up questions on Michael and the family, you could see Joe became uncomfortable. He began giving one-word answers, then struggled to change the subject and brought up his publicist to read a statement. As that did not work, he finally tried to push the spotlight on his friend Marshall with the record label story.
As usual the press turned it around to claim he is all business. He might be old, but if ever in a crisis there is no one better than Mr. Joseph Jackson on your side. The man of steel may never show his emotions on the outside, but neither did Napoleon during the moment of truth.
What about Joe being left out of Michael Jackson's will! Why leave a will to an 80-year-old father who will leave it further to the grand kids and you end up paying twice the inheritance tax! Michael knew Joe was a risk taker. Joe would bet the farm. He has lost millions of dollars in the past on bad investments but it is the same risk-taking of going for the jugglers that got the Jacksons where they are. Back in Gary, Ind., after discovering his kids' talents, he quit his job at the steel mill, spent his whole life savings on the best musical instruments he could buy. His wife was very upset, but he told her, "Don't worry, we are going to make it". With no other source of income, other than a few club performances, he knew he had to succeed. Many forget that Gary, Ind. is one of the poorest cities in the whole country. To raise nine black kids out of poverty to superstardom with class is worthy of respect. It was a trade with the odds against him, but it was a trade of a lifetime.
Kubler-Ross analyzed the five stages of dealing with death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. When asked yesterday if he wanted to go and see his son's body, he replied, "NO!!!!, I will not be able to sleep and the emotions will catch up on me. No, no, no no, no!! And he hung up the phone."
Wise men think twice and then say nothing. Those who know do not talk and those who have no idea run to the media to gain fame. When I called up to tell him about all the negative stuff in the press about the record label, he gave me a his most unique line of old, "At least they have not forgotten about us ..." and in his sadness, he laughed.