Oprah Winfrey went back to her roots as one of television’s most iconic talk show hosts for an emotional discussion with two men who claim Michael Jackson molested them when they were children.
Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland delved into the multiple accusations made against the singer by Wade Robson and James Safechuck shortly after HBO aired the second installment of its Leaving Neverland documentary, in which both men detailed their accounts of misconduct.
A longtime advocate of sexual assault survivors, Winfrey explained, “This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption. It’s like a scourge on humanity. ... If it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then some good would have come of it.”
She didn’t shy away from the uncertainty surrounding the doc and questions about the motives of Jackson’s accusers. Wade Robson denied being sexually abused at the hands of the singer during two trials, one in 1993 and another in 2005, in which the singer was accused of child sexual abuse and molestation.
Robson explained, “I didn’t think about it, as far as that concept ... I couldn’t even go there, I couldn’t even question Michael. If I was to question Michael and my story with Michael, my life with Michael, it would mean I would have to question everything in my life. It wasn’t even an option to think about it.”
Safechuck echoed that sentiment, saying, “Michael drilled in you, ‘If you’re caught, we’re caught, your life is over, my life is over.’ It’s repeated over and over again, it’s drilled into your nervous system. It takes a lot of work to sort through that.”
Although Jackson’s accusers and the film’s director, Dan Reed, stand by the doc, the Jackson estate has vehemently denied any wrongdoing by the singer.
His estate filed a lawsuit against HBO claiming the documentary is based on false accusations. The estate accused the cable network of breaking an alleged nondisparagement agreement with Jackson after the network aired his Michael Jackson in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour concert film in 1992.
Winfrey, who received backlash for interviewing Jackson’s accusers, closed the hour-long discussion about the bigger picture. “The story is bigger than, as I said in the beginning, it’s bigger than any one person. And don’t let any person in your world make it just about what Michael Jackson did or did not do. It’s about this thing, this insidious pattern that’s happening in our culture that we refuse to look at.”