Believe the hype: Michael Jackson’s revelatory one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey appears to have been an even bigger public relations coup than Jackson could have dreamed. According to a Gallup poll conducted for Entertainment Weekly in the days following ABC’s 90-minute telecast, sympathy for the reclusive performer has skyrocketed. And if those polled put their money where their mouths are, Jackson’s album sales will soon be soaring heavenward as well; nearly half the respondents who watched the special say they are now more likely to buy one of Jackson’s albums than they were before the interview aired. That attitude has already had an impact on sales; in the week after the interview, Dangerous jumped from 26th to 12th on the charts.
Jackson’s popularity apparently transcends even the fact that people don’t necessarily believe everything he has to say. While the Gloved One’s gloves- off remarks about his allegedly abusive father are taken as truth by an overwhelming majority, his insistence that he’s in love with Brooke Shields met with more skepticism, particularly from people over 50. Also thought suspect was his announcement that he suffers from a skin disease; fully half of 18- to 29-year-olds say they don’t buy his comments about the cause of his ever-paler skin. But Jackson’s fans are a forgiving bunch: An overwhelming 91 percent of those who saw most of the special say they admire him — even if they can’t take him at face value.
*Are you more sympathetic or less sympathetic to Michael Jackson than you were before the Oprah interview (asked only of people who saw most or all of the show)?
More sympathetic: 73%
Less sympathetic: 6%
No difference: 18%
*Do you believe Michael Jackson when he says his father beat him?
Don’t know/other: 20%
*Do you believe Michael Jackson when he says he has a skin disorder that causes his skin to become lighter?
Don’t know/refused to answer: 14%
*Do you believe Michael Jackson when he says he is in love with Brooke Shields?
Don’t know/other: 32%
*Are you offended when Michael Jackson grabs his crotch during performances?
Not offended: 53%
*From what you have recently heard about Michael Jackson, are you more or less likely to believe stories about him in the press?
More likely: 13%
Less likely: 55%
No difference: 21%
*How much do you admire Michael Jackson as a person?
Somewhat/very much: 62%
Not much/not at all: 32%
*How much do you like Michael Jackson’s music?
Somewhat/very much: 60%
Not much/not at all: 38%
*Are you now more or less likely to buy a Michael Jackson album?
More likely: 26%
Less likely: 34%
No difference: 38%
*Do you think Oprah Winfrey did a good job or a poor job interviewing Michael Jackson (asked only of people who watched at least part of the interview)?
Good job: 88%
Poor job: 3%