Wednesday, January 21

"Journalistic Integrity"

In an e-mail message sent on Feb. 15, 2003, Marc Graboff, an NBC business executive, urged [Michael] Jackson's representatives to consider a bid of "$5 million for the exclusive rights to the footage and the interview."

Mr. Graboff then added: "Unlike with other networks, the acquisition of the rights to this special on NBC will have the added benefit of pre-empting NBC's planned broadcast of the one-hour [investigative program into Mr. Jackson by] Dateline scheduled for Feb. 17." The message was copied to the executive producer of "Dateline" and to the president of NBC Entertainment.

When first reported a year ago, deep in a Washington Post gossip column, Mr. Graboff said the offer "was not a quid pro quo: 'You give us the interview, and we'll kill the Dateline special.' "

But a close adviser to Mr. Jackson who negotiated with NBC said the offer had been precisely that.