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July 7th, 2009
10:32 PM ET

The secret children: Secret no more

Paris Katherine Jackson, 11, said goodbye to her father at the close of the memorial service.

Paris Katherine Jackson, 11, said goodbye to her father at the close of the memorial service.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Judging from the Twitterfall, a lot of fans were reduced to weeping puddles by the words of Paris Jackson. As that young girl stood at the microphone and tried to speak of her love for her father, she was a stark reminder of the simple fact that in the end the King of Pop was also a human being. I watched as the family swept her away from the microphone and hugged her, and heard the audience applaud with praise and sympathy for her courage in a terrible time.

But sadly, there is a legacy of that moment I can not ignore: For the first time, I know exactly what she looks like. I have heard her voice. And millions more…maybe hundreds of millions…did too.

Jackson was certainly not a typical father, and he did some things that defied defense: that horrific baby dangling episode, for example. In addition, there are all those troubling questions about his private conduct that will forever circle his biography like vultures.

But for as long as he was alive he did a pretty good job keeping his children’s faces hidden from the public at large. The masks seemed strange to the point of disconcerting, to be sure, but the alternative could have been worse. So there were the odd snapshots that showed up now and then, but not many, and almost never in the mainstream media.

And now? He has not even been put to rest, and already the hidden children have been paraded before the world. I have no idea whose idea that was, or if it was simply an oversight. I have no idea if Michael Jackson would have objected, although his behavior only a few weeks ago suggests he would have.

What I do know is this: Any hope of them going out for an ice cream cone, or a bike ride, or a visit to an amusement park was complicated before today; but now it is virtually impossible. They will now be met at every corner by fans with cellphone cameras, paparazzi, and curious gazes. In our celebrity crazed culture, the lives of those children just grew immensely more complex and problematic.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson • Tom Foreman
soundoff (389 Responses)
  1. ddloon1

    I think she is such a beautiful brave girl. The world has to see these kids sooner or later and deserve a voice and a life.

    July 8, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Hopefully, now that Michael is buried the emphasis will go on to other things and people will forget exactly what she looked like or sounded like as long as the segment with her speaking is not shown repeatedly. The children have a lot going for them – a loving family who will take good care of them, a consciousness of why their Dad had them wear the disguises which will hopefully help them realize that everyone is not their friend, and the fact that though beautiful children they look much like other children their age. Maybe that will help protect them although I'm sure that the Jackson family will be sure to protect them as much as they can while also trying to give them a normal childhood filled with love and family support.

    July 8, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  3. Yvonne Claire

    Perhaps, the children come forward to use the media attention in a positive light; using the media as a tool to carry on their father’s messages of peace, love, togetherness etc., which I’m sure he passed on to the kids. Paris seems precocious and courageous…who knows she could use her fame to make the changes her dad envisioned in the world.

    July 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  4. varja77

    Although Paris and her brothers will never read this, I will still write it.

    Paris, you are such a brave girl. We love your Daddy very much, he was so special with such a big heart just like you three are. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us.

    I wish you all the best in your life. you and your brothers have a wonderful big family and I hope your pain will someday go away, but your and our love for your father will always live.

    God bless you Paris, Prince and Blanket.

    July 8, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  5. Jeremy

    Michael Jackson's kids seem like very nice.I'm keeping them and the whole jackson family in prayer.His family and the world will miss Michael Jackson.

    July 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  6. Carol

    The comments above are all expressions of what we feel. The last one said it especially well. Healing hugs to the children. It is a painful loss to lose a parent at any age let alone at their tender ages. It seems ridiculous to cast blame on the family for letting Paris speak at the end. She did remarkably well. She showed poise , compassion, intelligence, and beauty. The world may have been kept back by Michael to protect his children but her speaking let those who spoke unkindly about him realize that he must have been a good father to have raised such beautiful children. I hope that they are given the respect that they as human beings deserve. Apparently money can buy a lot of things but respect from others is not one of them. The world can be kind and the world can be cruel. Hopefully the family will be blessed with lots of love and respect that will outweigh the negativity that follows those that achieve success. The song Smile was stunning by his brother Jermaine. It brought tears to my eyes. Brooke Shields was so thoughtful and poignant in her recollection of Michael. Life is not fair many times. So I hope that God's love will surround the 3 children in a calming happy way through their memories and their knowing that their father is still with them just in a different way. Prayers to all the family.

    July 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  7. Jacqueline

    I think it was perfectly natural for Paris to speak at her father's memorial. Even though Michael Jackson was a wierdo (he was, there were too many incidents for anyone to say otherwise) he treated his kids right and I'm glad that Paris got a chance to tell the world that. I don't believe it was a PR gimik in any way after hearing all the testimonies last night of the producers of the event and others. Jannet was supposed to speak, not Paris and I believe she spoke from her heart.
    Though Michael Jackson's personal life was riddled with questionable activities I'm glad that the world was able to celebrate and really re-discover his music, which made millions of people around the world happy

    July 8, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  8. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    The children truly are beautiful. I wish them a wonderful life with thier Grandparents and family.

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    July 8, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  9. Melissa

    I think introducing us to the children properly, rather than the very occasional picture in the media, was the right thing to do. It humanized it. It was needed. Both for them and for us.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  10. Shavonne

    These children have so much courage to come out in public now and speak about their father. Now if the world would just have some sense and realize that they are children and not ambush them with paparrazi and cell phone cameras. Let them grow up and have a somewhat normal childhood, for which we could only hope.

    July 8, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  11. Suzanne

    I've heard Anderson mention,many times, the pain he experienced upon his father's death as an adolescent. He quotes another who said a child who loses a parent knows now that everything is possible and nothing is safe. My father died suddenly when I was 12; I'm 62 now, and like Morrie Schwartz in his 70s told Ted Koppel, the grief never ends and the hole never fills. We tend to have no sense of our parents' other lives when we are that age. They are our world – and as Anderson says, time as we had known it, is no more.

    July 8, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  12. TJ

    I feel Micheal is smiling now and all the pain we the human race put him thru is gone. When a person loves unconditionally, children can see and feel it and that is one of the greatest gift any human can have and if you looked into his eyes down to his soul the ones that hurt him the most would of see that.
    Let his family freinds heal in peace and know he smiles down with love.

    July 8, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  13. al_NYC

    The kids were definitely what brought it home for me, we just did not lose an amazingly talented and creative entertainer, they lost their father
    Is it just me or did anyone else notice that Blanket strongly resembles Miko brando?

    July 8, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  14. Lynne

    Michael was too good and pure of heart for this world

    July 8, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  15. Kathy Carre

    I'm so sorry for every making fun of you Michael. Allow me to be the voice to say it out loud. Sometimes ignorance pulls out the worst in people.ie..when Susan Boyle performed for the first time. These past few days have taught us who Michael Jackson really is. A Daddy, a son and brother, an uncle...a humanitarian. Someone who loved to laugh from the gut. I am so sorry. Forgive me.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  16. Jools

    Miss or mrsMaria L Castorena wrote on July 7th, 2009 9:18 pm ET

    "I do not understand why the media – you – will not leave his kids alone. You I am sure are a parent or a son and must feel the heartache. It is therefore up to YOU to leave these kids alone and show some MERCY. Try to forget the dollar bills and simply leave them alone. I am certian too that Anderson could sympathize as he too had a famous parent."

    I think she, as others with the same remarks, raised a very important issue.

    The answer is very simple; celebrity news sells. BIG TIME. Why? Because there is an enormous market that devours this sort of news. There's a huge audience out there buying the tabloids and listening or watching "celebrity news" shows.

    The only way the media will ever stop hounding and harrassing (or condemning) people is if we stop buying the magazines, stop watching or listening to tabloid-tv or radio. It is that simple. No market, no media.

    It is up to each and everyone of us to take the responsibility of putting this kind of "journalism" to an end. Not "the media" are guilty, but us, the consuming audience.

    It won't be easy. But we can do it. If we really want to.
    And I'm sure mr Cooper will agree.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  17. Evinrude

    Heartbreaking? Yes, it was.
    Jochen Ebmeier from Berlin, Germany

    July 8, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  18. Kristine

    I have been glued to the TV through out this whole tragedy. Although I had never been a fan of MJ I know see what all the buzz has been about his talent. It is so sad that in death we now learn about who he was as a person and not just the pop star.My heart breaks for these children and in time they will be very proud to be his children and will have much to look back on through his music and many other works he achieved. RIP Michael, I hope the media will let you rest, Finally you can be at peace. With such a sad lonely life life you had..breaks my heart.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  19. Diana

    There is a lesson here for all of us to learn when it comes to 'famous' lives. They are human beings just like us and we ought to give them the respect and privacy which they so badly crave. Secondly, that we should not wait until they are no longer with us to show them that we appreciate, honor and love them. It is a shame that MJ received the Humanitarian award only yesterday. He should have received that long ago when he was still alive because it was no secret that MJ always gave to those that were less fortunate.

    I pray for his children and my heart goes out to his beloved mother, Katherine, his brothers and sisters.

    The press will undoubtedly pursue his children like prey in the wild. They will need to be protected not only by their family but also by the fans. If you one day run into either one of these beautiful children, don't allow yourself to become part of the feeding frenzy. If you see papazzi circling them like vultures, do something to stop it. Don't let it happen to them. Step up to the plate and do what any parent would do to protect their own child.

    Michael is free now, he has returned to the Light of Love yet I am certain of how the Universe works and can say without a doubt that he is watching all of this from somewhere out there. Michael, we will never forget you. We will always love you and now... we Understand.

    Let us now give him the respect and privacy he so deeply longed for.

    RIP my dear friend

    July 8, 2009 at 7:32 am |
  20. Lena- For Real

    Ok my post did not post for some reason. Im a realist. When I see the Media pratically destroying Michaels legaecy I must speak. I indicated in the prevouis post that He was wonderful and Micahel accomplished alot. Much more than we are told watching the news. They only spew negative remarks are not much of his postive acheivements are mentioned esepically in the last two weeks.
    Sheila Jackson Lee-Tx Rep: indicated that he visited the VA hospital
    and Martin Luther kings daughter- mentioned that he called her mother while she was dying . I never heard this mentioned, But I did hear all the negative News as usual.
    Remember; God does not like ugly and we all have to be judged according to the words in the Bible. We should not judges so quickly, when we all have our own issues to deal with.
    -- They probably won't post this one either - - They would rather put on other negative , disrespectful comments about him instead.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:26 am |
  21. Samantha

    I was teary eyed the whole time while watching the Memorial for Michael Jackson. But the one that tore my heart the most was what his daughter Paris said about him as a father. Michael, had some not good judgements in his life as a human being but his being a father, a philanthropist and someone who tried to make the world a better place to live is what all of us must keep in our hearts. Michael, will never die, his songs will always keep him alive in our thoughts. Michael, wherever you are and I know that the Lord has welcomed you to his grace...WE LOVE YOU! The legacy that you built on this earth will be cherished forever.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:13 am |
  22. Chicago

    allie65616 - You ask "Since when is it a issue what color a child is?" Your question would have best answered by Michael Jackson. After all, it was the "black" MJ who through great lengths not to have black children. IT WAS APPARENT THAT IT MATTERED TO HIM!!! Your answer really displays your ignorance. It is ignorance like your, the failure to aclnowledge obvious truths, that keeps people from being able to resolve the issues of the world and to create a sense of tolerance. They can not be resolved until they are acknowledged. You fail to acknowledge them.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  23. kelly mcarthur

    "Children need parents they can be proud of".
    I can't bear the thought , that we have lost someone who encouraged so many children with his words and actions, to continue to smile through their struggles.
    I was in an orphanage until I was 5 years old. When all the other kids were gone to school. My child care workers would let me dance and sing to the Jackson 5 – I would jump up and down on the beds and try on everyone elses clothes. Michael Jacksons message to me was simple – "Show loving kindness to all people!"
    My Psychiatric therapist spent a few weeks with me before I was to attend kindergarden that fall. She asked me one day "Do you know what love is?" I smiled back at her and said "You love me...don't you!?" She looked at me with a gentle laugh and smiled, then said, "yes I do!"
    I could'nt stop smiling. I kicked my legs back and forth and said... "Why don't you take me home?!" and she said..."would you like that?" and I said..."yes I would!"
    I've had a lost childhood. But I've smiled everyday. My Dad taped a picture above my desk , in my bedroom. It was a picture of a little girl running towards the ocean with her arms open, the words below it read "You were born with all you need to win at life, you were born to win."
    I grew up on the shoulders of my parents. They took me to every rock concert they went to. Michael Jackson was the first concert I went to without my parents. I wish I was on my Dads shoulders so I could see better. I jumped up and down so much I was sore for the first time. I talked to my parents about the concert. The message this time was "What if change was easier than you thought!"
    I love Michael with all my heart – I believe in him and he will always have a piece of my heart!!
    His passing has brought me a step backwards.
    Emotions are just that, and they are difficult to put into words, especially when they are painfull.
    Is the world ready for this message??
    I'm just little.
    Kelly M

    July 8, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  24. Linda

    Someone posted on here about Michael wanting to be white.What i want to say is please please go searching on the web, and you will find pictures of Michael where he had big blotches of black and white skin from vertiligo, it looked bad, so he had to go to a skin specialist to get his skin evened out. That upsets me so bad to think until people see for themself, they love to make judgments. It started years ago with those ugly blotches, he had to get help before it got worse and worse. Michael it is people like this I am glad you dont have to deal with anymore...God bless you, you worked hard in your life, and left us with great music memories. We love u!

    July 8, 2009 at 5:23 am |
  25. rb

    To all the ppl out there who are thinking and wondering that paris tribute to her daddy was stunt.
    I wanna tell you that to me she looks very smart and mature girl thats why she stood up and spoke for her dad to all the haters out there. Who are talking about if he is biological dad or other crap. She sent the message to all of you that her daddy was loving , caring and honest humen being, a great gift to America. She wanted to speak up may be she is tired of all of the crap people been talking about. She wanted to tell you doesn't matter what you think but listen what I gootta say THAT MY FATHER WAS GREAT...ISN' T that enough for all of you to stop.
    Why you all care if he is not the real father , he loved those kids and had them since the day they were born cared for them, loved them, protected them.
    what about the fathers who are the BIOLOGICAL FATHERS but abuse their kids, leave them, kill them or do hella crazy things. All of you need to stop that nonsense and leave them alone and let their wounds to be heeled. MJ was a miracle and Miracle don't happen often, so lets please remember him as A great entertainer and singer and let him RIP. And by the way who the hell are we, to talk about all this. Its his money, his life , his kids. Please give his family some privacy and remember we all are not saints. Remember his good work , his music and his legacy. Specially for the sake of those kids.
    I LOVE YOU MICHAEL. AND you and your kids are in my prayers.
    RIP KING

    July 8, 2009 at 4:29 am |
  26. jan

    I think that Michael’s daughter’s final statement was a defining moment in his life. She decided that it was her responsibility to defend her late father and tell the whole world who he really was. WELL DONE PARIS. You father would be the proudest man in heaven.

    July 8, 2009 at 3:47 am |
  27. Olane

    I share the pain with the Jackson family especially with the 3 orphans and my prayer goes to them

    July 8, 2009 at 3:45 am |
  28. Lisa

    The Jackson children lost a father and gained access to the world. I'm glad the isolation is over for them, that they'll have access to more of their family, and other children. I think living in the real world will be better for them in the long run than living in "Neverland." To be honest, right now I'm more worried about the potential financial explotation of them by those battling for their custody than paparazzi and gawkers. Those kids can always throw masks on if the later bug them, but they are going to be in big trouble if the people trusted to care for them manipulate and fleece them. I really wish the courts would appoint some accountable, but otherwise disinterested party, to oversee their finances. Let's see who steps up for custody if they won't get a single cent for doing so. What I'm seeing now is paws grabbing at these kids for control of Michael's estate, rather than a genuine love of these poor children, and I'm fearing intense behind the scene manipulation is being perpetrated. I hope I'm wrong. I really do.

    July 8, 2009 at 3:27 am |
  29. anoop lc

    my mother dont understand english but the death of michael and tears of his children and mother makes her so cry .i really feel so uncomfortable with her tears.Really the legend kid should be in good hands , no one better than kathrine jackson.Government should hold their hand as a contribute to legend who belongs to mud of usa.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:56 am |
  30. David

    Should Micheal really have needed to hide the faces of his children? Now with his passing before he is even put to rest the Jackson family paraded these children for the whole world to see? As this post reads the Jackson family was simply "showing off " these children.

    Perhaps this corospondent, and the rest of the media, be it mainstream like the writer of this story or the paparazzi and tabloid reporters.all three of which are essentially alike "professional journalist" should opt for words or sentences that are less slanderious.

    The media outlets are the sole reason for the "celebrity crazed culture" we live in today. And will be the reason for these children other celebrities and their families are unable to enjoy a Saturday trip to the ice cream shop, or the family outing at the amusemt park.

    Do they not deserve some privacy? Those who are blessed with god given talents are actually cursed with the stalking of all media outlets who seize the oppurtunity when those that are idolized reveal theirselves to be mere mortals. Often destroying their lives or the lives of yheir families with unrelenting accusations and slanderious words.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:53 am |
  31. anoop lc

    Thank you so much for writing a piece of importanmt thing concerning legend kids.Yes for sure the life would be quite complicated for children from media eyes but this is the fact ,no one never can hide it.If there is something good left on media and journalist they should give some gap to children but i know media connected people have been so parasitest that to feed themself they will cross any human behaviour limit .i respect good journalism.
    god bless those beautiful kids and for sure michale jackson will be watching from heaven whther u compare him with vultures.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:45 am |
  32. TexAnnie **

    I have always felt like Michael Jackson appeared to be such a lonely lost soul. He was a musical genius, and while his sensitivity was certainly often misunderstood, I think he was a good caring loving person. There is no doubt he loved his children. And today's comments by his lovely little daughter tell us that his children loved & adored him too. My heart breaks for them. I just wish we could have shown Michael Jackson the same love in his lifetime that we have shown in his death. Rest gently gentle soul. You will be missed.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:32 am |
  33. JOYCE

    what about joseph jackson ?? he made the jackson what they are !!!! if it wasent for his stern ways where would they be ????he took them gary indiana to a mansion , so how bad could he be ???

    July 8, 2009 at 2:31 am |
  34. Cindy

    Anderson, Thanks to Cnn for broadcasting Live on Michael's memorial day., It's hard to come to the realization that an icon of our culture has passed. Michael Jackson's music is what we listened to as we were growing.
    I will remember him for those who can't deal with whatever they need to chill out and this is m.j. day that will go down in history that he was the the greatest in music history, and people of all color loved him and all around the world ,M.J. don't have to deal with all the hurt, pain that many people cause him and put him through, he was the pop of this time and for the one can't deal with this so be it. He is at peace now he don't have to hurt anymore.So people let him rest in peace.

    When Marlon Jackson and Paris Jackson spoke I just broke down in tears. It was such an emotional moment and Paris was talking about how great her father was to her. It was great to hear her voice and see the emotions and how this affects her a great deal.

    RIP Michael Jackson!!!! You are forever loved and missed and will live on forever in my heart and that of all the people who love you. Thank you for your contribution to the world.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:28 am |
  35. Robin

    Maybe now he will find the peace he never had on this earth. Hopefully the children of this great person will get to stay with Michaels family. His mom might be getting up there is age...but look at the family. You could see the love between those children and the love between those children and the family. As far as Michael being their father ..he was and is and always will be. For any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Daddy. As Paris made it clear today that he was "Daddy". They do not really know the "mother"–leave them where they are for that is best. As far as them being there today and on that stage ...why not...he was their Dad...they had the right. They look comfortable with the family, and were not forced on stage. It was good for the world to hear Paris call Michael "Daddy and Father". It made alot of people realized he was human. Something that he probably longed for.

    Thank you to the children and the family for sharing your Daddy, Son, Brother and Uncle. May the brightest stars in the heavens shine upon you always. For Michael will always be with us on this earth.

    You could see the love in the picture on cnn between the children and the Jackson family. You can see they belong together. They are going through enough and no one needs to make it worse on them.

    May God bless all of you and watch over you. With all the love and kindness the world can offer. And you could see how well Michael was raising the children. They were showing it to each other and the family. They were and are his children and he was and is their daddy...let them be.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:27 am |
  36. greg

    Vulnerable children need protection. Why did this event even occur if it caused grieving, orphaned children to be exposed to billions of on-lookers? Why was this a public event? Why were these children brought on stage? Why were these children not made THE priority? Why did the adults put the fan's "closure" ahead of these vulnerable small people? Repeated behavior.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:26 am |
  37. Jody

    Anderson,

    You were so fantastic with Meg Stapleton (is that Palin's spokeswoman"s name?) I laughed about her ridiculous basketball analogy which many non-sports fans wouldn't understand. Great that you called her out on that. And that hoop crap! What was she talking about?

    Also, thanks for all the great MJ coverage. I didn't know I cared, but I shamefully admit I was glued and ended up being reminded about his great music.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:23 am |
  38. JOYCE

    debbie row shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!! a dog can have puppies but that dont make her a mother! a mother dont sell her kids no matter what !! but perhaps you are not the real mother.just the carrier, because it's no money worth my kids!! shame on you , do you see dollors signs again???

    July 8, 2009 at 2:22 am |
  39. Deborah

    Please check out LaToya in this picture! Look at facial structure and skin color – I have noticed that before. Esp when compared to her siblings! There is just something very very wrong when people want to change themselves sooooo much – gives me a sick feeling in my stomach as to what really has happened to them all in the past. I will pray for all of them!

    July 8, 2009 at 2:21 am |
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