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THE SITUATION ROOM
Briefing Today on Michael Jackson Autopsy; Erasing Issues of 'Black or White'
Aired June 26, 2009 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we're waiting for new information from the coroner on Michael Jackson's death. This hour, a news conference and newly released 911 tapes as people around the world feel the loss of the man and his music.
The "King of Pop" lived a lavish life knowing tremendous wealth and enormous debt. We're investigating Michael Jackson Incorporated.
And why President Obama says he doesn't take Iran's president seriously. The war of words heats up as Iran widens its crackdown on anti-government protesters.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports from around the world.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
All across the world today, we're seeing an outpouring of grief and appreciation for Michael Jackson. The pop star's sudden death at age 50 is only adding to the intrigue and notoriety that surrounded him most of his life.
We're standing by to hear from the Los Angeles Coroner's Office that's performing its autopsy on Jackson's body today. We'll bring you that briefing as soon as it begins this hour.
A former attorney for the Jackson family tells CNN he's been concerned about medications the pop star had been taking and whether that may have sent him into cardiac arrest. The L.A. police say they're trying to get in touch with Jackson's personal doctor -- I should say back in touch with him. His car was towed from the singer's home. We're told the car may contain medication pertinent to the investigation.
The 911 call made when Jackson apparently went into cardiac arrest was made public just a short while ago. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: Paramedic 33. What is your emergency?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. I need an ambulance as soon as possible, sir.
911 OPERATOR: OK, sir. What's your address?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 100 north Carolwood Drive, Los Angeles, California, 90077.
911 OPERATOR: You said Carolwood?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carolwood Drive, yes.
911 OPERATOR: OK, sir. And what's the phone number you're calling from?
Sir, we have a gentleman here that needs help, and he stopped breathing. He's not breathing and we're trying to pump him, but he's not...
911 OPERATOR: OK. OK. How old is he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's 50 years old, sir.
911 OPERATOR: Fifty?. OK.
He's not conscious, he's not breathing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He's not breathing, sir.
911 OPERATOR: OK. And he's not conscious either?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he's not conscious, sir.
911 OPERATOR: OK. All right. Is he on the floor? Where's he at right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's on the bed, sir. He's on the bed.
911 OPERATOR: OK. Let's get him on the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
911 OPERATOR: OK. Let's get him down to the floor. I'm going to help you with CPR right now. OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need...
911 OPERATOR: We're on our way there. We're on our way. I'm going to help you on the phone. We're already on the way.
Did anybody see him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have a personal doctor here with him, sir.
911 OPERATOR: Oh, you have a doctor there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But he's not responding to anything, to no -- he's not responding to the CPR or anything.
911 OPERATOR: Oh, OK.
Well, we're on our way there. If your guy is doing CPR, and you're instructed by a doctor, you have a higher authority than me. And he's there on scene.
Did anybody witness what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Just the doctor, sir. The doctor's been the only one here.
911 OPERATOR: OK. So did the doctor see what happened?
911 OPERATOR: Doctor, did you see what happened, sir?
Sir, we need...
911 OPERATOR: We're on our way. We're on our way. I'm just passing questions on to our paramedics, but they're on the way there, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. He's pumping his chest, but he's not responding to anything, sir. Please.
911 OPERATOR: OK. OK. We're on our way. We're less than a mile away. We'll be there shortly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. Thank you.
911 OPERATOR: OK, sir.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That was the 911 call. That tape has just been released.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is over at the coroner's office in Los Angeles. Let's go to L.A. right now.
All right. Set the scene for us. We're waiting this hour. The coroner is going to come out where you are, Ted. And tell us what's going on.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, yes, we're waiting for an update from the coroner's office. What we've been told is the initial phases of the autopsy have been completed and they have met with the family, representatives from the coroner's office, at an offsite location. And then they are expected to brief the media within the next half-hour.
In fact, there is a little commotion around the microphones now. It looks like there's a security presence here. So, we'll find out the initial phases very soon of this autopsy, but the toxicology reports are expected to take six to eight weeks. And that, of course, could provide key information as to what may have led to Michael Jackson's death.
But at this point, we're waiting for this press conference to begin, and it looks like there is some activity right now. So we'll monitor, and as soon as it begins, of course, we'll bring it to you.
BLITZER: And we're obviously going to be anxious to hear that.
The coroner, apparently he's already briefed the family or is briefing the family on these preliminary result, and then he's going to come and brief the rest of us? Is that right?
ROWLANDS: Absolutely. They did that at an offsite location. That presumably is done.
We had an update about an hour ago that they were in that process. And then, now, the public will be given an update within the half-hour. They said that right now they are targeting the bottom of the hour for that update.
One other thing that is going on, we've heard these reports of the doctor who was with Michael Jackson at the time that he took ill, the doctor that you heard in the background of that 911 tape that we just played. The LAPD -- I just got off the phone with them -- says they are confident that the doctor will and is cooperating.
They have not had a second interview with him yet, but the sense that he is not cooperating or that he's on the run or anything of that effect is totally wrong. They're very confident they will talk to him, it will be part of this investigation.
At this point, there's been no criminal investigation launched at all. It is just very preliminary at this point. They still, however, have not talked to that doctor a second time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: As soon as the coroner shows up, we'll go there with you, Ted. Stand by.
I want to bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's also, in addition to being a neurosurgeon, he's certified as a medical examiner.
What are they likely to be able to tell us with this preliminary autopsy?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. It is an autopsy, Wolf, but you're really looking for anything that's really obvious as a potential cause of death here, so some sort of heart deformity, for example, a blood clot, for example, in one of the pulmonary arteries. That's called a pulmonary embolism. Or a blood clot near the heart, something like that that's really obvious.
Short of that, Wolf, it may not be much information at all. It may be that part of it's done, we need to wait, as Ted Rowlands said, another couple of months to get all those final tests back from urine, from blood, from tissue, to find out what those toxicology levels are.
BLITZER: But if it was drugs that induced this cardiac arrest, would they know that already, or does it take another six to eight weeks?
GUPTA: It would take a while. They can start to get some early toxicology back sooner than six to eight weeks, but they probably wouldn't know by now.
Now, there are different types of drugs that they're probably looking for, drugs that may have had an actual impact on the heart versus drugs that really caused someone to breathe very slowly or not breathe at all, and they don't get enough oxygen to their body, and that affects the heart. So, they're probably looking into several different things -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Basically, as we await the coroner's initial comments -- and he should be coming to the microphone fairly soon out there in L.A. -- it seems sort of extraordinary to me, at least, there was a doctor, apparently a cardiologist, who was on the scene trying to revive him, deal with him. We just heard that 911 tape. It's pretty amazing that a doctor, you know, was there and apparently treating him, maybe not just yesterday but for a few days.
GUPTA: It raises a lot of questions, Wolf. And it was very interesting.
I listened to that 911 tape with you and I read the transcripts very closely. There was a key question that was asked by the dispatch operator, which is, did the doctor witness Michael Jackson collapse or fall, or did he witness what happened? And if you notice, if you listen to that tape closely, the doctor never answers that question. He says, just, please, please, please, get help here.
So, if someone noticed exactly what happened to Michael Jackson, actually witnessed something, that's going to be a very, very important key piece of evidence in all this to try and figure out what exactly happened.
BLITZER: I'm sure the coroner wants to have extensive conversations with this physician who was at the Jackson residence when all of this went down.
We're going to come back to you, Sanjay, as soon as this coroner comes out and gives us his preliminary report. We're standing by for that.
We've also just received a statement into THE SITUATION ROOM from Elizabeth Taylor. And let me read it to you, exactly what she says, a very dear friend of Michael Jackson.
"My heart, my mind are broken. I loved Michael with all my soul and I can't imagine life without him. We had so much in common and we had such loving fun together."
"I was packing up my clothes to go to London for his opening when I heard the news. I still can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. It can't be so."
He will live in my heart forever, but it's not enough. My life feels so empty. I don't think anyone knew how much we loved each other. The purest, most giving love I have ever known."
Oh God. I'm going to miss him. I can't yet imagine life without him. But I guess with God's help I'll learn."
"I keep looking at the photo he gave me of himself which says, 'To my true love Elizabeth, I love you forever.' And I will love him forever."
That statement from Elizabeth Taylor.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson is speaking right now in southern California. Let's listen in. He was close to Michael Jackson, as well.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: ... his business, his catalog, and he was so excited about going to London. And of course 50 shows sold out in a very short period of time.
The world was ready for Michael to return, and Michael was practicing maybe three hours a day, real vigorous exercise. That's why we are so taken aback by the suddenness of this heart attack, because Michael was really in good physical shape. And his dance routines, his exercise routines, his diet routine -- he was there physically and mentally.
And so, at high noon, so to speak, his sun was eclipsed. And so Michael -- the family deserves our prayers. And Michael deserves his rest.
He has made this huge contribution in a relatively short period of time. We're all standing by it. So, at this stage, there are many questions we could never answer, but we lean to God, not to our own understanding.
BLITZER: The Reverend Jesse Jackson speaking out, obviously very, very saddened by this tragic loss.
Let's check in with Jack Cafferty right now. He has "The Cafferty File."
Jack, a sad day for the entire world.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Talent and torment, they often travel hand in hand, together. History filled with great artists and composers whose lives were a constant struggle against their own private demons. In the end, they leave us with a great legacy of their works, but it seems the only real peace they ever found was when they finally stopped breathing.
Possessed of one of the great talents in the history of show business, Michael Jackson also seemed for most of his life to be a tormented and unhappy man. Following his death yesterday, there were reports of prescription drug abuse, including a shot of Demerol possibly administered shortly before he collapsed and died from cardiac arrest.
His life was filled with episodes of bizarre behavior, everything from his trial on child molestation charges -- he was acquitted -- to dangling his baby off that balcony, to the grotesque altering of his physical appearance through numerous plastic surgeries, to his failed marriages. The press had a field day with Michael Jackson. He sold a lot of newspapers for us.
But there was also a kind, gentle man who donated time and money to charity. Remember "We are the World"? He and Lionel Richie wrote the words and music to that song which raised millions and millions of dollars for hungry people in Africa.
When his hair caught fire during the filming of that Pepsi commercial, he donated the settlement from a lawsuit, $1.5 million, to a hospital burn center. So, as with all of us, there was more than one side to Michael Jackson.
Here's the question: How would you characterize the life of Michael Jackson?
Go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. You can post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: Jack, you're going to get a lot of comments, there's no doubt about that. Thank you.
President Obama is standing with a key ally against the crackdown on protesters in Iran, and he says he's refusing to take criticism from Iran's president seriously.
And remember, we're only minutes away from hearing from the coroner's office in L.A. on the death of Michael Jackson. We're hoping to get some new information about why Michael Jackson died.
Stand by for that.
BLITZER: Becoming the "King of Pop" is no easy feat. Michael Jackson certainly shattered sales records, but he also broke down color barriers. It may not seem like it today, but it wasn't all that long ago when African-American artists couldn't get heavy exposure in mainstream entertainment media.
Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's outside New York's famed Apollo Theater, where Michael Jackson performed.
And a lot of fans are paying tribute where you are, Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf.
And you know, crowds have been gathering outside the Apollo since yesterday. Michael Jackson performed here on amateur night back in 1969. People have been singing his songs, dancing in the street. As one fan told me, perhaps Michael Jackson's greatest legacy is that he was able to bring people together.
SHAILA SCOTT, KISS FM DISC JOCKEY: We are celebrating the life and the legacy of Michael Jackson.
SNOW (voice-over): Across the country, radio stations played his music as a tribute to the "King of Pop."
SCOTT: And this is truly a loss that is felt whether you are black or white.
SNOW: From his work as an adult to songs sung as a child, Michael Jackson is being remembered for transcending generations and color, going back to the Jackson 5.
JAMES WALKER, ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY: They were the Kennedys of the black community.
SNOW: Their regal status, says entertainment attorney James Walker, came at a time when black artists had difficulty getting on white radio and couldn't play certain venues. He says Michael Jackson changed the landscape.
WALKER: He showed that you could take a black artist and his brothers and sisters, put them on mainstream TV, put them in mainstream venues, and allow them to sell tickets and reach the masses -- black, white or brown.
SNOW: But not all barriers were race. As popular as "Billie Jean" was, the former head of CBS Records, Walter Yetnikoff, says he had a fight with MTV to air Jackson's videos.
WALTER YETNIKOFF, FMR. PRESIDENT, CBS RECORDS: There was "Beat It" and "Billie Jean," and MTV wouldn't play it; OK?
SNOW (on camera): MTV would not play it?
YETNIKOFF: They would not play "Beat It" or "Billie Jean" on the grounds that they were a rock station.
SNOW (voice-over): Yetnikoff says he threatened to pull videos of his other artists, and he says he sold MTV...
YETNIKOFF: I'm going to go public with what you just told me.
SNOW (on camera): And that was?
YETNIKOFF: That we won't play a black artist. That, you know -- and I'm going to go public with that statement. Watch what happens to you.
SNOW (voice-over): Jackson's videos took off on MTV and knocked down was another barrier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The black artists that followed him, who eventually landed on MTV, rode the coattails of Michael Jackson. It's all Michael; you know?
(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: And Wolf, consider this -- Walter Yetnikoff says that he was only president of CBS Records for three weeks when he was asked to sign off on a $3.5 million record deal for the Jacksons. He said he was unsure whether or not they would be able to sell enough albums, and he said his colleagues convinced him otherwise and the rest is history -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Mary. Stand by. We're going to be coming back to the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
But I want to bring in two of our CNN contributors, both of whom knew Michael Jackson well. Donna Brazile and Hilary Rosen are here.
You know, it's hard to believe, Donna, that he did break this barrier. We've spoken to people who worked at MTV, and they've confirmed that it was a struggle to get that video on MTV.
Can you imagine?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, yes, Wolf. I mean, look, we grew up at a time when America was still changing. And clearly, the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson helped us to bridge so many gaps.
I remember as a little girl just waiting to see Michael Jackson on "American Bandstand." And of course the Jackson 5 on "The Ed Sullivan Show" when I turned 10. So, he did break many barriers, and God bless him for doing it.
BLITZER: You were working at the Recording Industry Association of America for many of those years, and you got to know him at the time. But remind us how difficult it was to get Michael Jackson's video on MTV.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. In truth, I didn't know him well. I met him several times, but "well" would be too strong a word.
The interesting thing about the Michael Jackson story, Walter Yetnikoff, obviously, president of the record label then, it's true they wouldn't play him, and MTV had a very narrow view. But the other truth is that Michael Jackson made MTV.
He created the concept of music video as an art form, and as soon as "Billie Jean" started playing on MTV, every single other artist that was out at the time and ever since has wanted a video that meant something. It's not just enough to sing the song. What Michael Jackson did was he created the narrative and the story and the dancing and the theatrics of music, and that was him.
BLITZER: You brought some of the old albums, Donna. And I want you to show our viewers some of them.
BRAZILE: Well, I think that was part of Michael Jackson's genius, is that he wasn't just a songwriter, a gifted songwriter, but he saw the narrative, he saw the whole piece, and he created harmony.
But Wolf, I'm a lover of all types of music, but I have some of my old Michael Jackson albums. And this is just a sample. Just a sample.
BLITZER: So do our viewers. Some of these...
ROSEN: So, ,"Off the Wall" was his first...
BLITZER: "Off the Wall" was huge.
ROSEN: It was the first big hit for a solo album. And then came "Thriller." And then came "Bad."
BLITZER: And this is Donna's personal favorite, "Bad."
BRAZILE: Oh -- well, and "Man in the Mirror." One of the singles, this was perhaps one of my all-time favorites.
BLITZER: I've got "Thriller" over here. You got "Thriller" over there?
BRAZILE: Oh, I have...
BLITZER: I have "Thriller" here. I'm going to show it to our viewers later.
BRAZILE: Look at you. Can you dance, too? You know all the words?
BLITZER: We're all going to be dancing to Michael Jackson's music, because you can't just listen to Michael Jackson. If you're listening to "Thriller" or any other album, you've got to move. Right?
ROSEN: The nice thing about today which I'm grateful for is his music is being played all over the world all day long, and everybody else is getting into it. All ages. My kids are discovering Michael Jackson now.
BRAZILE: So no matter if you to Iraq, Seoul.
BLITZER: Yes. I think there's going to be a comeback even after his death. I'm sure people are going to be listening even in greater numbers.
BRAZILE: That's right.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks very much.
Remember, we're standing by to hear from the coroner in Los Angeles momentarily. We'll go out there and get the preliminary results on the cause of death.
Also, some other news we're following. He's sorry, but it appears he's not going anywhere. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, there's no indication about a pressure to resign, but you're going to find out who he's apologizing to right now.
And a famous author writes that Michael Jackson was surrounded by shameful enablers who supplied him with prescription drugs. That from self-help guru Deepak Chopra. He's here. I'll talk with Deepak Chopra right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: These are live pictures right outside the Los Angeles Coroner's Office. They're waiting for the coroner to come out and give us a preliminary result of the autopsy. As soon as he comes there, we'll go there live.
Stand by for that.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
All right. We're going to go to the Los Angeles coroner's press conference. It's about to begin. As soon as the coroner goes to the microphones -- you see these live pictures coming in -- we'll go there. He'll update us on what this autopsy has shown, at least so far.
There's no doubt he had undeniable talent, unparalleled success. Unusual scandals, though, at the same time. All of it will be written into Michael Jackson's final biography.
The boy star grew into a musical genius, but ultimately became something of a tragic figure. IN interviews over the years, Michael Jackson would use haunting, disturbing words to break through tabloid fodder and tell us his story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe the performance that you put on.
MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: What I do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
M. JACKSON: Well, most of my songs are fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, what do you put into it?
M. JACKSON: Well, whenever I sing, that's what I really mean, like I'm singing a song. I don't sing it if I don't mean it.
M. JACKSON: I went through my schooling with three hours with a tutor, and right after that, you know, I go to the recording studio and record. And I'd record for hours and hours until it was time to go to sleep. So, it would be nighttime. And I remember going to the recording studio. There was a park across the street, and I'd see all the children playing and they'd be rooting and making noise, and I would cry. It would make me sad that I would have to go and work instead.
Oh, there's a lot of sadness about my past life and, you know, adolescence, and my father and all of those things. It just made me very, very, very sad.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: So, he would tease you, make fun of you?
M. JACKSON: Yes.
WINFREY: Would he -- did he ever beat you?
M. JACKSON: Yes, he did. Yes.
WINFREY: And that was difficult to take, getting beaten and going on stage and performing?
M. JACKSON: Yes.
WINFREY: And why would he beat you?
M. JACKSON: Because he saw me -- he wanted me -- I guess -- I don't know if I was his golden child or whatever it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. JACKSON: Nobody thought this would last.
And I remember going to the recording studio. There was a -- a park across the street. And I would see all the children playing. And they would be rooting and making noise. And I would cry. It would make me sad that I would have to go and work instead.
Oh, there's a lot of sadness about my past life and, you know, adolescence, and my father, and all of those things that just make me very, very, very sad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, he would tease you, make fun of you?
M. JACKSON: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would he -- did he ever beat you?
M. JACKSON: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did?
M. JACKSON: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that was difficult to take, getting beaten and going to stage and performing?
M. JACKSON: Yes. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why would he beat you?
M. JACKSON: Because he -- he saw me -- he wanted me to -- I guess -- maybe I don't know if I was a golden child, or whatever it was.
And just think. Nobody thought this would last.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. JACKSON: They were chanting they wanted to see the baby, so I wanted to show them the baby. I'm not going to let him fall.
It's very loving. That's what the world needs now, more love, more...
M. JACKSON: ... more heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world needs a man who's 44 sleeping in a bed with children.
M. JACKSON: No, you're making it -- no, no, you're making it all wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, tell me. Help me.
M. JACKSON: Because what's wrong with sharing love? I mean, you -- you don't sleep your kids or some other kid who needs love, who didn't have a good childhood?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, I don't. I would never dream of sneaking -- sleep....
M. JACKSON: I would. I would.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, I would never dream...
M. JACKSON: Because you have never been where I have been mentally.
If you really want to know about me, there's a song I wrote, which is the most honest song I have ever written. It is the most autobiographical song I have ever written. It is called "Childhood."
M. JACKSON (singing): Have you seen my childhood? They should listen to it. That's the one they really should listen to.
(singing): Before you judge me....
This is it. I mean, this is really it. This is the final -- this is the final curtain call. OK?
I love you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. JACKSON: I really do. You have to know that. I love you so much, really, from the bottom of my heart.
BLITZER: Michael Jackson in his own words. We will have more of that coming up.
We're awaiting a news conference, the coroner in Los Angeles about to go to that microphone, those microphones -- you see it right there -- and give us a preliminary result from the autopsy.
We don't know how much information the coroner will provide, but we will have live coverage. We expect that to begin momentarily.
As we await the coroner, let's bring in Dr. Joshua Perper. He's a forensic psychologist, the chief medical examiner in Broward County, Florida, gained nation -- international attention, indeed -- for several high-profile autopsies, including the one for Anna Nicole Smith.
Dr. Perper, thanks for joining us.
Tell us what you specifically will be listening for when the coroner emerges within a few minutes.
DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, it depends what's going to be the extent of his disclosure.
Most likely, he would say that Michael Jackson didn't have evidence of trauma, that there was no evidence of natural disease. Without this, it cannot be totally excluded, because, sometimes, people don't experience symptoms and they are not diagnosed and have natural disease.
So, he will mention -- make this kind of statement. And probably, even if there is a natural disease -- now, that's unlikely because we don't know of any kind of disease which Michael Jackson had. He had a recent physical examination, was negative. And the fact that he took various drugs increases the likelihood of a drug- related death.
But even if he has natural disease, the coroner is not going to make a determination of the cause of death until he's going to have the entire picture of both the microscopic examination and toxicological examination analysis of various drugs.
BLITZER: How much can he really learn, the coroner, in these initial hours after his -- his death?
PERPER: Basically, we have to know -- and we don't know yet -- whether he received any kind of injection or medication immediately prior to his death.
This would increase the likelihood that his death was drug- related. Basically, the purpose of his disclosure will be to indicate whether there was any natural disease or not. And, as I said, chances are that he didn't have any significant medical condition contributing to his death.
BLITZER: Without getting overly scientific or graphic, Dr. Perper, tell us the procedure, what the coroner has just done in these immediate hours after his death.
PERPER: Well, what he did, obviously, he documented photographically all his procedure.
He examined the body on the outside to see if there's any evidence of injury, trauma, or any skin disease, or any kind of abnormal manifestation. This is going to be followed by an internal examination, in which he is going to open the body surgically and take out various organs, such as the lungs, the heart, the liver, and so on, examine them by naked examination, perhaps by using some kind of magnifying glass or instrument, and then observe any deviation from normal, in terms of size, discoloration of tissue and so on.
He will take microscopic sections from different organs in order to be able to examine them microscopically. And, as I said, sometimes, it's possible, just by visual examination, to arrive at the diagnosis of a disease which might caused death, such as an enlarged heart, narrowing of the arteries of the heart, the coronary arteries, and so on.
And I would say that, in this case, the likelihood of finding a natural disease are not great. Now -- now, obviously, this cannot be discarded. And we will have to listen to what are his findings. And...
BLITZER: But all of those procedures, Dr. Perper -- Perper, that you just described, the coroner has already done all of that; is that right?
PERPER: That's correct.
BLITZER: So, he's got a -- he's got a wealth of information already.
But a lot of the information, the tissues, the -- that has to be sent away for further examination?
PERPER: That's correct.
He -- he has the finding of his naked-eye examination. He doesn't have the finding of microscopic finding, because it takes time for such tissue to be prepared for microscopic examination.
And, most important, he doesn't know what are the drugs in the blood of Michael Jackson, although he has the opportunity of doing a -- a rapid screen of the urine for a presence of drugs. And this might direct more his investigation, in -- in conjunction with knowledge of what medication were given to Michael Jackson.
BLITZER: You -- you performed the autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith, as a lot of our viewers will remember. I want to play this little clip of what Liza Minnelli, a friend of Michael Jackson, said on the CBS "Early Show" this morning.
Listen to this, Dr. Perper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EARLY SHOW")
LIZA MINNELLI, ENTERTAINER: Oh, you had to know him well to really know what he was like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MINNELLI: And I'm sure that now the accolades are going. And I'm sure, when the autopsy comes, all hell is going to break loose. So, thank God we're celebrating him now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Are there comparisons at this early stage that people can draw legitimately -- because folks out there are doing it -- between the death of Michael Jackson and the death of Anna Nicole Smith?
And, just to remind our viewers, you performed her autopsy.
PERPER: Well, I -- I think they are very similar.
And it's a fact that the -- in the entertainment world, very famous people use drugs and took drugs and abused drugs, and some of them, unfortunately, died as a result of drugs, of medication. So was the case with Marilyn Monroe and John Belushi and Elvis Presley and many others.
BLITZER: Dr. Perper, I'm going to have you stand by, because I want you to help us better understand what the coroner is about to say. We're told he should be out there momentarily, the coroner.
We will take a quick commercial break. We will continue our coverage of Michael Jackson's death right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're getting new information on when this news conference with the coroner will take place. Someone from the coroner's office is speaking right now.
Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking for the coroner's office, it appears it will be Chief Craig Harvey at this time.
QUESTION: Craig Harvey?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Craig -- C-R-A-I-G -- Harvey -- H-A-R-V-E-Y.
QUESTION: And his title is chief?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He's a chief investigator.
And that's all I have. He's with the L.A. County Coroner's Office, not the P.D.
QUESTION: Can you tell how the coroner's office is (OFF-MIKE) at this time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I -- no, I can't.
QUESTION: How about the LAPD?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The LAPD is just assisting with the crowd control, and I don't -- I can't tell you about the investigation so far. I haven't talked to the detectives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, just the usual death investigation that we normally conduct whenever there is -- whenever there is a death and we don't have a doctor to sign the death certificate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) found the same drugs that killed Ledger?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know anything about that.
QUESTION: Why is there a delay? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't. I just came out to give you the message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would imagine, you know, again as they have been saying, probably agent eight weeks, eight to 10 weeks, something like that. You usually have to wait for toxicology results to come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's normally about 60 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Is it unusual to do an autopsy so fast?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know any more. I have been -- I have been away. Because our homicide rate has dropped so much, it probably isn't any longer.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) family can claim the body?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that. They have -- they will be able to answer those questions. I don't have any information on that right now.
Anyway, thank you very much.
BLITZER: All right. You -- you heard the announcement -- actually, you may have missed the announcement. They're going to delay the statement from the coroner at least one hour, maybe an hour- and-a-half.
The coroner, the chief coroner of L.A. County, will be coming out, Craig Harvey, within an hour or 90 minutes. We will, of course, have live coverage once that happens.
But let's go to our Ted Rowlands. He's out there with all those reporters awaiting what's going on.
I know there's going to be a lot of speculation, because this is, what, the second time they have already postponed this briefing by the coroner.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
And we have been told that representative from the coroner's office, presumably, the chief investigator, who will be Harvey, will -- who will be investigating -- or updating the public, is meeting with the family. Maybe that meeting went long. And, of course, that's speculation.
But we had been told, first, they would meet with the family; then they would come and address the public.
One interesting thing the detective just mentioned was the death certificate -- certificate, Wolf. LAPD wants to get in touch with this other doctor who was with Michael Jackson at the time of the death. If he does not want to sign the death certificate, then, immediately, by default, this becomes a coroner's investigation.
That's part of the motivation to get in touch with this doctor as soon as possible, according to police sources at LAPD, part of this motivation to get in touch with him. And, talking to doctors, it's very common that no one would want to sign this death certificate because of all the potential problems in case there is a change in terms of cause of death down the line.
UCLA Medical Center, keep in mind, didn't want to sign it either. No doctor there has signed that death certificate.
BLITZER: All right, Ted, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you. And, of course, once the coroner, Craig Harvey, emerges with his report, preliminary report, we will have live coverage here.
I want to bring back Dr. Joshua Perper, who is the forensic pathologist, chief medical examiner in Broward County, in Fort Lauderdale, down in Florida Florida.
I -- I wonder if you want to speculate why they keep delaying this initial announcement by the coroner. What, potentially, goes through your mind, Dr. Perper?
PERPER: Well, apparently, they did not discuss the matter with the family.
But this shouldn't take an hour-and-a-half. So, unless they got some additional new information, which they want -- which they have to digest before basically presenting it to the public, it's very difficult to know what, because, at that time, the physical findings of the autopsy should have been known.
Perhaps they want to do a more detailed screening of urine toxicology, so they can provide some more detailed information. But that's really speculation.
BLITZER: Is it -- I mean, it doesn't become more high-profile than this. The enormous pressure on this medical examiner, this coroner in Los Angeles, you went through it with Anna Nicole Smith in Fort Lauderdale.
Give us a little sense of how a professional, a doctor, a pathologist deals with this enormous pressure, with the whole world literally, Dr. Perper, watching. PERPER: Well, when you have this kind of pressure, that that's a function between the amount of the pressure, which, as you mentioned, it's significant, and the reaction of the individual to the pressure.
In other words, you have to keep cool to give actually the finding, to make sure that what you're saying is accurate, to use the appropriate languages, not to insult the family or the friends or the people who love him and the fans.
So, it's -- it's in a way an endeavor in which you have to display professional precision and also a little bit of this diplomacy in dealing with the media. And be accessible to the media in the border of what you actually know, without going into wide speculation of -- or assertion.
BLITZER: In other words, be as transparent and as open as possible?
BLITZER: Dr. Perper, we're grateful to you for your expertise. Thanks so much.
If you -- if you don't mind, maybe you can stand by and join us after we hear specifically from the coroner. And we will be able to get your analysis of what we have heard. We expect that to happen within an hour or 90 minutes or so from now. But, Dr. Perper, thanks so much.
PERPER: You're welcome.
BLITZER: We're going to stay on top of this story. We're not going to go very far away. We will of course have live coverage of the coroner, once he emerges, Craig Harvey, the L.A. County chief coroner.
Also other important news, though, that we're following, including Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- he -- he wants an apology from President Obama. But President Obama says, don't hold your breath -- tensions flaring right now in the Iran crisis. We will have complete details.
And Michael Jackson's gold mine and mountain of debt -- we're digging deeper into his bizarre financial situation.
BLITZER: As we await the coroner's report on the Michael Jackson death, let's check some other important stories we're following.
President Obama and the German chancellor putting on a united front today against the post-election crackdown in Iran. Speaking over at the White House, the president once again strongly condemned what he calls horrifying scenes playing out in Tehran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. And despite the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it.
As I have said before, the Iranian people will be the ultimate judge of their government's actions. But, if the Iranian government desires the respect of the international community, then it must respect the rights and heed the will of its people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Obama also rejected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's demand that the United States apologize for alleged meddling in Iran's internal affairs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Yes, I don't think -- I don't take Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran.
And I'm really not concerned about Mr. Ahmadinejad apologizing to me. I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people. And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who have been beaten or shot or detained. And, you know, that's where I think Mr. Ahmadinejad and others need to answer their questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's check with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File."
Strong words from the president today, Jack.
The question this hour is, how would you characterize the life of Michael Jackson?
David writes: "Just add him to the list of extremely talented people that self-destructed. He, like Elvis Presley before him, had too many enablers around that should have done more."
Terry in Virginia writes: "We will never know the full extent of the abuse he suffered as a child that drove his private life into the ground. Fame, is it really worth the price he paid? He was a great entertainer surrounded by millions of fans. And, yet, he seemed like the loneliest man on the planet."
Tom in Florida writes: "A better question is how we characterize our values. Three celebrities died this week. One served this country in wartime with honor and rose to the rank of colonel. Another battled a long and painful illness, but chose to share her story with others. The third has faced charges of sexual misconduct with young children and been rumored to be an abuser of prescription medications for years. Today, the House of Representatives paused for a minute to remember and honor him. What the hell has happened to who we hold in high regard?"
Patti in California writes: "Michael Jackson was born a sweet, happy child, and his money-hungry father turned into a freak. Joe Jackson abused him mentally and physically, making him spend hours and days rehearsing, shoved him onto a stage, and that is where he grew up, alone. His mother couldn't or wouldn't protect him. His brothers lived in fear, so no one could help him."
Buck in Nebraska writes: "To be honest, the death of Mr. Jackson is meaningless compared to the death of Neda Agha Soltan and hundreds of her fellow Iranians. Please, please get the media focus back on the revolution in Iran, if only for a couple of minutes an hour, I beg you."
R.M. in Chicago writes: "Love him or hate him, he was a man of enormous talent and a touchstone of our youth for an entire generation, if not more. We don't often grant our celebrities the right to be as flawed as we are, even when their circumstances propel them toward even greater dysfunction. Rest in peace Michael. Thanks for 'Thriller'-ing us."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. We have got a lot of mail. You might check it out.
BLITZER: Yes, I know you did.
All right, Jack, thank you.
We are going to be speaking with Deepak Chopra just in a few moments, an old friend of Michael Jackson. And he has a loving tribute to his friend on HuffingtonPost.com today -- Deepak Chopra, my next guest.
BLITZER: He wrote a powerful, powerful essay on HuffingtonPost.com today.
Deepak Chopra is joining us now from Los Angeles.
He was a very dear friend. And you -- you really -- that really came through in your words today, Deepak.
DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "THE BOOK OF SECRETS": Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tell us something, you know, about Michael Jackson that you want the whole world to know about right now, at this really, really tragic moment.
CHOPRA: OK. So, you know, I think the whole world does know, to some extent, that the -- that Michael was a victim of childhood trauma and abuse. There's a lot of medical literature, Wolf, that shows that, when you have been verbally or mentally or physically or sexually abused as a child, that this has physical consequences on you, that -- there's a paper in psychosomatic medicine that says children who have experienced this have a very like -- high likelihood of autoimmune diseases.
What the world doesn't know, most people don't know, is that Michael had lupus, which is an autoimmune disease. He had vitiligo, a skin disorder, which is also an autoimmune disease. It causes great disfigurement of the skin.
So, he hid from the world because he was -- in many ways, he had a sense of shame. He had a sense of self-loathing, which expresses as autoimmune disease also. So, he would cover himself up. And, of course, the world called him "Wacko Jacko" for that reason.
He also, as a result of his childhood trauma, had this tendency to mutilate himself, in a sense. This obsession with plastic surgery was, in a sense, an expression of that mutilation.
People called him weird. And he would very frequently say to me: "Why do they call me weird? Aren't -- isn't the world weird, where we have climate chaos, global warming, extinction of species, war, terrorism, where there is genocide in places like Sudan? Isn't that weird? Why do people think that's normal?"
And, you know, when we talked about even simple things, like the -- the grizzly bear disappearing in Canada, he would start to weep. He had a lot of compassion. He had a lot of love. He had a lot of innocence. He had a lot of joy. And, at times, he could go ecstatic.
CHOPRA: I remember...
BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a second, Deepak. His relationship with -- with his three kids, you saw that up close.
BLITZER: What was it like?
CHOPRA: Well, whenever I saw the kids with him, they were extremely well-behaved. They were very playful. He would play with them. They loved their father. And they loved people around them. You know, those are very beautiful children. And, fortunately, they're really normal.
BLITZER: I want to read to you what you wrote on "Huffington Post" in your "Tribute to My Friend, Michael Jackson." And then I want you to explain this.
CHOPRA: Mm-hmm. "He was surrounded," you wrote, "by enablers, including a shameful plethora of M.D.s in Los Angeles and elsewhere who supplied him with prescription drugs. As many times as he would candidly confess that he had a problem, the conversation always ended with a deflection and denial. As I write this paragraph, the reports of drug abuse are spreading across the cable news channels. The instant I heard of his death this afternoon, I had a sinking feeling that prescription drugs would play a key part."
All right, elaborate.
So, after the trial in 2005, Michael came and spent a week with me. He stayed at my house. He came to our center. And, at one point, he suddenly asked me for a prescription. He knew I was a physician. I had a -- a (INAUDIBLE) license.
And he asked me for a prescription for a narcotic. And I said, "What the heck do you want a narcotic prescription for?"
And it suddenly dawned on me that he was already taking these, and that he had probably a number of doctors who were giving him these prescriptions. So, I confronted him with that. And, at first, he denied it. Then, he said he was in a lot of pain. He said he had back pain.
I knew all the pain was muscle aches and pains and musculoskeletal pains from the stress that he was going through.
I said: "Michael, you don't need these drugs for that. There are so many ways to do it."
And, for a while, I lost him. You know, I have had that happen with many with other celebrities in Hollywood. There's a plethora of doctors in Hollywood, they are drug-peddlers, Wolf. They are drug- pushers. They just happen to be having a medical license.
And I hope that this episode today, this tragic death of a great human being, will bring to light the huge problem we have in Hollywood with some of the medical establishment, the celebrity doctors who not only initiate people into the drug experience, but then they perpetuate it, so that the -- the people become dependent on them.
I will be bold enough to identify these people at a certain time, but I think the police should do their own investigation. And I think this is something that really should be investigated, because it's a disease.
The number-one cause of drug addiction in the world, and particularly in the -- the United States, is not street drugs, but medical prescriptions given legally by physicians.
BLITZER: He seemed so frail to all of us who saw him. And you saw him on many, many occasions. You have known him, what, for 20 years. Was he really frail? How much did he weigh? Because he seemed almost sickly at certain times.
CHOPRA: Well, recently, he had gone on a diet. He was excited about his concert in England.
He was talking about this new song that he had done. He had shared the music with me.