Rep. Lewis blasts King for speaking 'evil' of Jackson

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) says that GOP New York Rep. Peter King was “off the wall” in calling Michael Jackson a “pervert.”

King caused a firestorm on Sunday when, in a video clip posted on YouTube, he said that the media “disgraced itself” with the wall-to-wall coverage of the death of the former pop star, whom King called “a pervert ... a child molester ... a pedophile.”

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On Tuesday, Lewis told The Hill that those comments were “inappropriate and unnecessary.”

“To speak evil of the deceased at a time that his family and fans are mourning is not fitting or appropriate,” the civil rights icon said.

King, who is considering a run for higher statewide office, berated the nonstop glorification of a person he says is a “low-life.”

“Too many people in public life have made fools of themselves by talking about Michael Jackson as if he’s some kind of hero — there’s nothing good about this guy. He may have been a good singer, did some dancing, but the bottom line is: Would you let your child or grandchild be in the same room as Michael Jackson?” King said on the YouTube clip that has been viewed nearly 70,000 times.

King continued his assault on Jackson on Monday, telling CBS-2 in New York, "He did violate young boys, he did put them in terribly inappropriate positions, and that's a terrible signal we're sending as society that we're somehow condoning that behavior, and you are condoning it when you give him this type of, when we give him this type of regal coverage and, you know, millions of people fighting to get to his mega-memorial."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) appeared to fire back at King in her remarks delivered at Monday's memorial service for Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. "I can tell you as a member of the United States Congress," she said, "we understand law, and we know that people are innocent until proven otherwise, that is what the Constitution stands for."

Jackson Lee praised the singer for his humanitarian work, adding, "That is why, on the House floor on June 25, 2009, Congressional Black Caucus and the House of Representatives stopped, stopped, stopped and had a moment of silence for this wonderful legend and icon."

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) was one lawmaker who walked out of the moment of silence, telling L.A. radio host John Ziegler that he was "nauseated by it. ... The cloakroom was pretty well packed. I think there were a lot of people who were disgusted by it."

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Jackson Lee has since introduced a resolution honoring Michael Jackson, which has been referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee.

On Monday, Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.) blasted King for making “such scandalous and outlandish comments about Michael Jackson, (who) … has been found innocent of the allegation against him and has never been classified in any court as being a pedophile.”

Rush, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, demanded that King apologize to Jackson’s family.

Further, he should be “ashamed of himself for politically exploiting the tragic death of the music superstar by expressing headline-grabbing fodder as he contemplates a run for higher office,” the press release posted on Rush’s website reads.

But the Long Island Republican will not back away from his comments.

“King believes his remarks speak for themselves and stands by every word he said,” King’s spokesman Kevin Fogarty wrote in a statement Tuesday.

 

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