Barbra Streisand Apologizes for Her Remarks About Michael Jackson’s AccusersBarbra Streisand apologized on Saturday for her comments about the men accusing Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in the documentary “Leaving Neverland.”CreditNoel West for The New York Times
- March 23, 2019
Barbra Streisand apologized on Saturday for saying that two men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them — as detailed in the documentary “Leaving Neverland” — were “thrilled” to be with him.
In an interview with The Times of London published on Friday, Ms. Streisand also showed sympathy for Mr. Jackson, saying, “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has.”
“You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there,” she continued. “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
She added that she believed the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the men who claimed in the documentary that Mr. Jackson had abused them when they were children.
She said she felt sympathy for Mr. Jackson, and that he was “very sweet, very childlike” when she met him. She added that while she felt bad for the children, she also felt bad for Mr. Jackson and blamed the children’s parents.
“I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him,” she said. “Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”
Her comments drew widespread criticism on social media. Shortly after the interview was published, the hashtag #CancelBarbraStreisand began trending on Twitter. Social media users criticized Ms. Streisand’s comments as tone-deaf and said they were tantamount to telling sexual assault survivors to just get over it.
Dan Reed, who directed “Leaving Neverland,” asked on Twitterwhether pedophilia was tolerated in parts of the entertainment industry.
In a statement to The New York Times on Saturday, Ms. Streisand said she wanted to make it clear she did not side with Mr. Jackson but she reiterated her feelings about the children’s parents.
“The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children,” she said. “It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”
Ms. Streisand issued another statement about three hours later in which she apologized. Referring to the Times of London interview, she said her words “as printed do not reflect my true feelings.”
“I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims,” she said in the second statement.
“I didn’t mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way,” it continued. “Like all survivors of sexual assault, they will have to carry this for the rest of their lives. I feel deep remorse and I hope that James and Wade know that I truly respect and admire them for speaking their truth.”
Mr. Reed, Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck did not immediately respond to messages and emails sent to their publicists.
In August 1993, Mr. Jackson was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department over claims that he had molested a 13-year-old boy. In 1994, Mr. Jackson settled a lawsuit brought by the boy’s parents for $23 million.
In a 2003 documentary, Mr. Jackson discussed sharing his bed with a young cancer survivor. The film sparked a criminal investigation, and Mr. Jackson was charged with child molesting, serving alcohol to a minor, conspiracy and kidnapping. He was found not guilty of all charges in 2005.
“Leaving Neverland,” which HBO began showing in two parts this month, features Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck detailing how they met Mr. Jackson, how thrilled they were to work with him and how he ingratiated himself with their families to have access to them.
In the documentary, Mr. Safechuck, who was about 9 or 10 when he met Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Robson, who was 7, described how Mr. Jackson appeared larger than life and how they felt special because he had chosen them as buddies.
The relationships soon turned sour, they explained in the documentary, after they felt that Mr. Jackson replaced them with other children.
Mr. Jackson died in 2009 at age 50. Several years after his death, Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck separately sued the pop star’s estate. Both cases were dismissed, and both are under appeal.
Mr. Jackson lived a majority of his life in the spotlight.
At 5, he was the lead singer of the Jackson 5, a music group his father, Joe Jackson, started with Michael and his four brothers. Michael Jackson later became a solo act and sold 750 million records. He became popular for groundbreaking music videos in the 1980s.
On Saturday, Diana Ross, who knew Mr. Jackson since he was a child and when they were both on the Motown record label, tweeted her support of Mr. Jackson.
“This is what’s on my heart this morning,” Ms. Ross tweeted. “I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is A magnificent incredible force to me and to many others. STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE.”
While Ms. Ross did sing with Mr. Jackson onstage many times, Ms. Streisand chose not to collaborate with him. In the interview with The Times of London, Ms. Streisand said she turned down an opportunity to sing a duet with Mr. Jackson for his 1987 album “Bad.”
Correction: March 23, 2019
An earlier version of this article misstated the year Michael Jackson died. He died in 2009, not in 2005.