If bottom-feeding book publisherMichael Viner ends up slithering onto the stand in MichaelJackson’s defense, the jury may want to fact-checkhis testimony. Viner—who has profited from every media circus sinceO.J. with scandal-exploiting tomes like The Private Diaryof Lyle Menendez and Jayson Blair’s Burning Down MyMaster’s House—has been portraying himself as a key witness forthe defense based on a conversation he claims to have overheard betweenLarry Feldman, who was once attorney for Jackson’saccuser, and wizened CNN staple Larry King. According to Viner,Feldman confided to King and a group of friends gathered at a Los Angelesbreakfast spot in 2004 that he believed that his own client’s abuse storywas fake and that the boy’s family was out to shake down Jackson. SinceFeldman now denies saying this about his client, and since King’s ownaccount of the conversation has proved inadmissible, Viner’s version couldindeed be a boon for the defense. But if Santa Barbara DA Tom Sneddon is lookingto discredit the Hollywood sleaze merchant, he needn’t dig too deep.
Viner’s zeal for attaching himself, remoralike, to the latestheadline-grabbing tragedy sometimes leads him to play loose with the truth,sources say. One frequently cited example dates back to the assassination ofRobert Kennedy in 1968. According to several sources Viner has long bragged thatas a volunteer on Kennedy’s ill-fated presidential campaign, he wasstanding next to the candidate when he was shot at L.A.’s AmbassadorHotel. Viner was so close, in fact, that gunman Sirhan Sirhanran into him afterward, breaking his ribs. Not so, according to a copy of theoriginal police report on the assassination (obtained by Radar) thatstates that Viner was nowhere near the Ambassador Hotel at the time. (Thisdidn’t stop him from gushing to investigators that Sirhan had beenhypnotized into pulling the trigger, a theory deemed in the report to be of“no value.”) For Jackson’s sake, we hope Viner’s graspof events is more rooted in reality this time around.