Placing the Blame on Dr. Conrad Murray

I feel bad for Dr. Conrad Murray, he of the marvelously tailored wardrobe, the exceedingly hot alleged mistress, and the hangdog mien of a man who knows that his trial is merely a prelude to a lengthy term in prison.

Dr. Murray, as everyone within range of TMZ, CNN, and the sound of Michael Jackson’s voice knows, is accused of killing Mr. Jackson by providing him with lethal doses of nasty-sounding drugs.

The good doctor is guilty of something, but not murder.  Stupidity, maybe.  What doctor would be dumb enough, or starstruck enough, to take on Michael Jackson as a patient?  Jackson was a murder malpractice suit waiting to happen.  When he finally died, the other 200 doctors who must have provided him the same, or worse, drugs, must have heaved sighs of relief big enough to blow a stiff breeze all the way to Neverland.  They all did the same crime, but they won’t be doing the same time.

Dr. Murray basically played medical musical chairs, and lost.  The music stopped and he had nowhere to sit down, except at a defendant’s table in a Los Angeles criminal courtroom.  He didn’t try to kill Jackson; he just took the family’s money and provided drugs.  Jackson’s own history of drug-taking was the real culprit; Dr. Murray was merely the not-entirely-innocent bystander.

But to incarcerate Dr. Murray, while not going after all the other drug pushers in Michael Jackson’s too brief life, is simply a manifestation of the age-old need to find a scapegoat.  Something bad happened; someone has to pay for it.  Why not the last doctor standing?

A Peanuts cartoon once showed Lucy, then Linus, and finally Charlie Brown all striking out in the ninth inning of a sandlot softball game.  “It’s all your fault, Charlie Brown,” came the inevitable cry, even though Charlie represented the last out and not all of the outs.  Same thing with Conrad Murray.

It isn’t Dr. Murray’s fault that Michael Jackson’s childhood was stolen from him; that he never had a normal life; that he took small children to bed with him to console himself.  Nor is it Dr. Murray’s fault that Michael Jackson hated his skin color, his nose, and, apparently, his own existence.

But somebody’s got to pay for it.

One wonders how much a doctor gets paid for being Michael Jackson’s personal physician.  I’m sure Dr. Murray’s fees have come out at trial, but it would be far too tiresome to search the record and find the exact amount.  I remember hearing that it was a very large fee, indeed.  Large enough, perhaps, to corrupt an otherwise upstanding medical doctor; certainly the Jackson family had established the going rate for that kind of transaction long ago.

Dr. Conrad Murray is indeed guilty of something.  He chose the wrong patient, cashed the wrong check, allegedly wrote the wrong prescription, and now he sits, morose and seemingly friendless, awaiting his show trial’s inevitable end.

Blinded by fame?  Tempted by fortune?  Guilty as charged.

But a killer?  No.  An enabler to a suicide, perhaps.  Michael Jackson took his own life.  It’s not fair for someone else to have to pay the price.

(Michael Levin is a New York Times bestselling author and runs, America’s leading provider of ghostwritten business books.)

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