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Just the facts, ma’am

Apr 2, 2012
by Kara Pound, '06

Alumnus Michael Barnes provides on-air analysis of Conrad Murray trial

When Headline News (HLN) was looking for analysis on the Conrad Murray Trial, they called on attorney and policy advisor Michael C. Barnes, ’96. Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician, was accused and convicted of involuntary manslaughter when the pop star died of acute propofol intoxication under his care.

Because of his previous work in drug policy, Barnes was tapped by HLN to provide commentary on the infamous case after producers had seen some of his clips providing analysis on other issues.

“I started [out] doing radio interviews for clients. Then producers and bookers would contact me to talk on other topics,” Barnes said of his media analysis experience.

Prior to establishing his law firm — DCBA Law & Policy in Arlington, Va. — in 2004, Barnes served as confidential counsel in the White House Drug Policy Office, where he provided executive direction on policies aimed at reducing substance abuse. This experience combined with a law degree made him a perfect candidate to give analysis on the Conrad Murray Trial.

During the week — in a Los Angeles studio that CNN and HLN had created solely for the Murray case — he spent roughly four hours a day watching the trial via television feed and then, during breaks in the trial, would give analysis on what had just taken place.

“I approached it from a purely legal perspective and looked solely at the facts in the case,” he said. “In that regard, I was one of the lone voices saying during the analysis of this trial that the facts of the case did not show that Michael Jackson was necessarily an addict.”

Barnes said he thought the trial and testimonies did a good job of showing that Jackson was dependent on anxiety medication and that he needed better insomnia treatment.

“I wanted for the media coverage of the case to be consistent with the facts of the case and not with preconceived notions about the victim,” he said.

Barnes’ analysis proved to be popular. He was featured on HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight.” He also spent time at the CNN Washington, D.C., studio and flew up to New York to do a few programs including “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

With a bright future in televised analysis, Barnes says he would be happy to continue providing commentary for trials as long as they are covered based on the facts and not on the drama or intrigue associated with them.

“I want to focus on issues,” he said. “I want to focus on making a difference.”

Barnes graduated summa cum laude from Flagler with a B.A. in communication. He went on to La Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for his master’s degree and George Mason University School of Law, where he obtained his Juris Doctor degree.

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