'Surviving R. Kelly': Documenting Decades Of Abuse From The R&B Singer
This message comes from on points sponsor rocket mortgage by Quicken Loans. Introducing rate shield approval if you qualify, and if rates go up your rate stays the same. But if rates go down, you'll rate also drops to learn more, go to rocketmortgage dot com slash on point. From WBU are Boston and NPR. I'm David Folkenflik in this his on point this hour may not be appropriate for all listeners, it's upsetting. And and it should be upsetting for taking time to talk about a Grammy winning superstar performer with a silky voice. A man whose ballots powered many high school graduation and church service. A chart-topping sensation we're talking about the r&b superstar R Kelly and we're talking about the devastation. He is wrought porting to woman after woman who has surfaced with accusations. He compelled them to have sex with him underage accusations of being manipulated accusations of being brainwashed yet. Most of this is not new in fact, it started decades ago a new lifetime documentary has refocused our attention on Kelly's behavior. So why did it take so long for us to pay attention? Why did we turn away this hour on point R Kelly and ourselves join us given what we now know about R Kelly, or at least what we're learning. How does that change? How you think? About him and his music, and what did you think about the lifetime documentary? You can join us anytime at on point radio dot org or on Twitter and Facebook on point radio with us from Culver city. California is dream Hampton. She's a writer and filmmaker and the executive producer of the new lifetime documentary surviving are Kelly dream great to have you here. Thank you for having me. Joining us from Boston, Massachusetts, Renee Graham, she's an associate editor in columnist for the Boston Globe previously. She wrote a weekly column for the globe on pop culture and music Rene. Great to talk to you, David. Also, join us from Tempe. Arizona is my old boss Bill Wyman. He is among other things the former arts editor of salon, and the former assistant managing editor at NPR his writing on the arts and media has appeared in many publications and his latest in BuzzFeed news is how did the media get the Celtics are Kelly story so wrong. The New York Times led the way high a Bill. Hey, david. How are you? Thanks for having me, of course. So let's start with you dream you. A lot of time you produced a just searing six hour documentary for lifetime. Keep just distill for those of our listeners who may know r Kelly's music, but may not know the full story distill, what the cases against our Kelly. Tell us what the accusations are that count. Yeah. For nearly three decades R Kelly has built an ecosystem around his predation. He has been accused by women after woman many of them were girls when they met him teenagers are post teenagers, and they have the exact same story from different periods in his life of not only being preyed upon but being physically abused of having their movement controlled of being cut off from their families of being refused food. So this is definitely the foundation for this work for this docu series is. Jim, dear goddesses, heroic and relentless reporting. He broke the story the third week in December of two thousand and kind of never stopped and of course, last year in BuzzFeed, he published stories about where and what are Kelly was doing in this very moment. And in twenty nine thousand nine there are two families still hoping to be in contact with their daughters. One of whom are Kelly disappeared at seventeen and the other at nineteen. I wanna play a clip of one of our Kelly's super fans who he met when she was just thirty five years old. Her name is Asante McGee. She was interviewed in your documentary. She started dating. R Kelly eventually she moved into his Atlanta house Mitha actually met him personally against because I would just so much of that fan. I just couldn't see him as being that muster. But now actually being in the house in witnessing with my own eyes. I regret not listening in believe in of the allegations that happened. There's a difference between right, Kellyanne, Robert. Our Kelly is this fun laughing loving died. But Robert is the devil. Dream hampton. What was it like to speak of these to these women for your documentary? It should me to my core. I knew that this was going to be a dark story, and I don't think do hard. How dark it? We get the parents in particular had a real desperation in the I mean at this point. There are no spoiler alert a lot of people have seen this. But in upper sewed five we have an actual rescue. We flew a mother out to sit with us. We intended to interview her in the studio as we had the other parents, and she had seen attempts video and thought she might be able to find her daughter, and we had to follow her on that journey. We couldn't tell her to do anything. We always had legal breathing down our neck, which I appreciate it. And she literally gets her daughter out of a hotel where are Kelly had kind of stashed her as he went to a spot date. So I mean, yeah, there was a spectrum of emotions, and we're still in it. We're still in touch with. The two families who desperately want their two dollars back the Cleris and the savages. Renee Graham, this is a story about a world famous artists and these incredible allegations they involve women like Asante Mckee who was thirty five. They also involve a lot of women who said they were well underage when when our Kelly I went after them the story starting in some ways in the public view when when R Kelly than twenty-seven Mary's the woman who becomes a popstar Elliott who's then fifteen years old though, I think on the birth certificate that was light. How did fans react to that? And other developments that came into public view reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times the police investigation, how did fans react to R Kelly the artist and R Kelly the man, I don't think people make distinction between our Kelly the artists and R Kelly the man and that may be part of the problem. You know, there's a six year gap between when our Kelly Mary's Leah. And when Jim regardless is first story come out in Chicago pay. It was kind of a joke. No one really took it seriously. People were kind of like, oh, wow. He married a leash. She's only fifteen but it never had any traction in the way that I thought it would. I assumed it would be like, you know, what it was in nineteen fifties. When Jerry Lee Lewis, married his thirteen year old cousin and effectively his career ended, you know, he continued to perform, but he never again reached the heights that he he wants had that didn't happen at all with our Kelly. He just kept putting music out the music kept selling and the conscious kept selling it almost felt like like nobody cared. And then when the when the stories come out in Chicago papers about our Kelly. There was this kind of people whistled disgusted and annoyed. But it didn't really do anything to his career at if that's the thing. I never quite understood. Like, you know, you had all of these details in the story about R Kelly hanging out at McDonalds hanging out at high schools and picking up underage girls, and it never stopped his momentum. As. An artist it was it was it was really disconcerting him that. Then you had to ask yourself. Why that was? You know? I'm just looking at some of the details here. He's the one of the best selling music artists in the US with over thirty million albums sold listed by billboard is the most successful R&_B hip, hop artist of the years, nineteen eighty five to two thousand ten and the most successful r and b artist in history. Bill Wyman you've covered. Musical accident and figures for decades, how does this fit in in the pantheon of scandal? Where does our Kelley student? Well, it's in a way, I guess, maybe there's been some people murdered people. But it's uniquely awful. And the answer to the problem that we're all nagging with. I think from my particular purchase that the media sort of helped R Kelly along in just one very specific way, which is just not telling readers and viewers. What exactly the allegations were against him? And I and I hate to bring this up because I know there's people driving to work our home from work right now. But but what we knew by the year two thousand or two thousand and three where that he filmed himself having sex with underage girls. It's very well known who the woman was and how old she was. And again, I hate to say this, but there's video of him urinating into her mouth and face number deeper to right after that he was arrested in Florida with a camera full of pictures of him ING sex with under under other underage girls. And that case was thrown out on a legal technicality. Okay. So now, of course, every artist every accused person deserves the right to be assumed innocent etcetera etcetera, but at the same time there's a difference between someone accusing someone a he said she said or what they call circumstantial evidence. And the fact that these videos and pictures exist out there and the obvious inferences you can draw from that. So I personally thought one of my pet peeves through the whole process is the media hasn't shared just this basic information with people which could have helped change the trajectory of the way, he's used by the public, and I want to say his lawyer Steve Greenberg said to the this month, the allegations aren't true, he never knowingly had sex with underage woman. Never forced anyone to do. Anything? Never held anyone captive. Never abused. Anyone? I want to briefly go to yellow springs. Ohio Carmen, you're on the air. Why do you think this happened? Hi, you know, for me kinda the elephant in the room. So to speak is the fact that the things that ties all this together is that all of the women and young girls that he victimized are women and young girls of color. So, you know, Jerry, the Jerry Lewis things a little different. He got shut down immediately. Because you know, he married his younger cousin, but she was a little girl. Right. So the fact that this has been allowed to go on for so long without any repercussions for our Kelly. And in fact, not only whether or no repercussions his career continued to skyrocket is because these girls were were black girls, you know, and it kind of speaks to the lack of value that this country has four girls and women of color. Thank you for that. Call commun-. I appreciate it. A briefly Renee Graham how does that strike you as an explanation? I think she's absolutely right. I I can't believe that are Kelly would have been allowed to get away with this. If these were white girls white women, he was abusing it. That's I mean, that's really the heart. Breaking thing about this. You know on one hand. Yes. The media blue at the media didn't get it wrong. The media just ignored it. But so did the public, you know, the people who buying his records? They knew you know, they heard the stories they saw the jokes on Chapelle show. They heard the jokes that Chris rock made. You know, it became a punchline that was the problem here. And indeed one of our listeners writes in on Twitter, Michael downs asks really did know an on point radio watch ship hell show in two thousand three question is why we turned a blind eye. Not wise conduct escaped our attention. We'll be talking about race. We're talking about the media and more as we consider the case of our Kellyanne decades of allegations. Against him. You can join our conversation. Can we separate the art from the artist should be how did he survive so long with all these allegations out there? I'm David Folkenflik in. This is on point. This message comes from an points sponsor, indeed when it comes to hiring. You don't have time to waste you need help getting to your shortlist of qualified candidates fast with indeed post a job in minutes. Set up screener questions then zero in on qualified candidates. And when you need to hire fast, accelerate your results with sponsored jobs. New users can try for free when you sign up at indeed dot com slash NPR, podcast, terms, conditions, and quality standards apply. What's unique about the human experience? And what are we all have in common? I'm guy Roz every week on Ted radio hour, we go on a journey to the big ideas, emotions and discoveries that fill all of us with wonder find it on NPR one or wherever you get your podcasts. This is on point. I'm David Folkenflik. We're talking about our Kelly and the recent lifetime documentary highlighting his alleged abuse of women. You can join the conversation for our Kelly fans. How do you feel about his music now follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook at on point radio? I'm joined by Rene Graham, she's associated and columnist for the Boston Globe. Bill Wyman, the longtime music and arts, journalist and dream Hampton. She's executive producer of the new lifetime documentary surviving R Kelly I think it's worth hearing another voice from that documentary. Lizanne Martinez met our Kelly in one thousand nine hundred ninety five a couple years after a sees me just a year after he had married. A leah. Who's then fifteen years old was at Martinez herself said she had sex with him when she was aged seventeen here. She recounts living with our Kelly. I felt like a sex object. You know, he would to say as someone help you with your career music was my joy. So I felt like my dreams come true. I just kind of like listen to him and said, okay, you know, and stay there by myself. He will have people follow me because he told me as much if you leave his hotel room or go anywhere. I have my voice following you. And I know everything that you're doing. So I was very fearful when hear from him for days, and then we come back, and it was just sex in Butte and. Mental and physical abuse. Dream hampton. We have a a a listener who writes in on point radio the bottom line is that our Kelly's behavior was ignored for as long as it was because we as a society don't value black girls that question again raised a buyer earlier listener Carmen, if these had been white girls, Sarah rights, they would have been more protected in the reporting that you and your colleagues did for your documentary how much evidence did you find support that or or what did you conclude on that question? Of course, I agree with Renee agreed with the person who vote in and it's one of the reasons that I approached and agreed to do this project because we had a vision of century, the black women and Liz at who is Latino and and centering them not doing a bio pic on our Kelly. So it's very important for me that we hear and see them tell their stories, which is different than reading it. But I also over the past year obvious. I've been thinking deeply about this. And it's a little more complicated than that. Also. I mean, our Kelly is someone who was able to do what he did because he operates under a series of closed and locked doors often with the lock on the outside of the door in a very literal way. But metaphorically that is also how he operates that trial where so you have people now who can say while he was found not guilty. Even though they know he's not innocent. And how was he found not guilty because the fourteen year old that he was abusing in the tape that Bill described refuse to testify. She was still with him ten years later when another one of our survivors kitty, you know, is in a relationship with him. And he introduces her to the girl who was fourteen when he abused her on the tape and at this point is twenty four and still close our Kellyanne in his life. So there was no one to testify against him. As Bill said that the Florida case fall apart on a technicality. There is a way that Chicago is not New York or or LA. So he was in his cloistered world inviting women into this cloistered world and girls and then throwing away the key. Once he locked them into these rooms there were women who would be in the studio who didn't see each other friends who had come as as kind of fans of his in it agreed to have sex, even though they were teenagers and couldn't legally consent and couldn't find each other in the house because it was that cordoned off. So I'm not giving fans like an excuse or letting them off the hook. But there has been a very complicated way that he has done what he does. He's built an entire ecosystem around it. You know? It was interesting just to be clear about the case that you're talking about the sometimes for instance, I allegations. The sex with minors in late two thousand is you said February two thousand two the Chicago police revealed an investigation into alleged child pornography, which is what some years later in two thousand eight he goes on trial for rather than underage sex. Remind us Bill Wyman white was that those were the charges. He was you know, as opposed to save statutory rape that he was pursued with right? And you'd think that'd be the case. And there was actually, of course, a network of young girls who had been charging him with this. And these cases tend to get eaten charges filed irt cases civil cases that he would settle out of court. So obviously, he's settling a lot of these charges in the background and the police were frustrated along the way because they couldn't get any of the victims to actual text testify or the girl's parents and one of the sad things about the girl in that one tape world talking about is that her parents worked with Kelly, and the the media has been very reluctant to name them. Because when you identify the parents, you end up denting the girl, but both of her parents was. Plo were part of our Kelly's inner circle. Okay. So you had all these pre what are presumed to have been payoffs. And then so the prosecutors decided, okay? Well, we can't get the victims on the stand. We can at least establish that. This woman was underage by by unbelievable testimonies. I had to say this in my story to that. They had a woman on the stand who says, yes, I know that's the woman because I had group sex with her and R Kelly that was filmed as well. But they did not. They did not convince the jury, and of course, Kelly deserves to have that noted as well as his denials a dream. Go ahead. It's sound like he wanted to say. Yeah, I'm sorry to interrupt Bill. I just wanted to note that her aunt the singer sparkle Stephanie Edwards. Heroically did take the stand and identify her knees and say, so she had a family member that was advocating for her when she didn't know to advocate for herself. And when her family was unwilling to advocate for her and sparkle, you know, lost her. Entire career. She was a protege of our Kelly's. He was writing songs for her. This is back when there was a music industry, the one video that well, the the two or three videos that she had were well over they were six figure budget videos. There was an investment in sparkle. And she threw that away to stand up for her fourteen year old niece who she coming from a family of musicians and singers had introduced are Kelly when the girl was only twelve not in a here's my niece. Let me offer up to you. But in I live in the studio. My niece is coming by my brother plays bass on some of you, you, you know. I mean, he's right Bilas, right. It's complicated. And it's sick often. And the girls were sacrificed that girl in particular, not just by the public. But by sometimes the people closest to them who failed to protect them. I wanna take a call now from Baltimore Maryland. Kelly sounds like you did watch this series. What did you take from it? Thank you for taking like, oh, yeah. I really enjoyed the docu series. And the question that I could away with is what is it going to take to pool? Our Kylie legally. I wanna ball. I think that we're room and reckoning as Sidey that will no longer Stanford, but with the statute of limitations that around sexual abuse missile charges. These so many states what is it gonna take to get us this year? Thank you for that Kelly. Anyone wanna wanna swing at that pitch? What do you think is there is there any of there have been a couple of of investigations launched? A as I understand it in the wake of the documentary and recent reporting from from. A gym on at on bud feed taking a raising questions about whether or not he's forcing to women to do things against their will wh-. What do you see actually likely to be able to hold our Kelly accountable? It is very complicated. Because I think a lot of people like me were journalists and in a way, I I have to let the court system take. Its course, I, you know, I accept it that all a lot of these people get get off on these big charges are Kelly the most prominent Bill Cosby, obviously didn't someone like Roman Polanski obviously had to flee to escape punishment for these sorts of charges. So the system sometimes worked sometimes doesn't and as a journalist you can't kind of bemoan that or or or I I guess I you can. But that's not really my job. And I think it just comes back to all of us. Standing up is people journalists doing their jobs and just insisting that the word. You the words are Kelly has to include a comma who. Who blankety blankety blank really interesting test case, if I can go back to Roman Polanski, he was treated the same way just to be clear, the famous director of Chinatown in so many other incredible movies, right? Who was accused of having sex with a child back in the seventies and jumped on an SST overnight from LA right on the eve of being sentenced, and and a lot of people sort of say, oh, he was a Randy European and he fell afoul of American morality and stuff. Like that. Again. I hate to talk on the X rated fashion. But what happened is that he fee found this thirteen-year-old girl, he isolated her and you in an empty mansion gave her champagne gave required lewd and raped her and then Ainley raped her. And that's what the plea. That's what she told the kid the police the next morning, right? And over the years when you don't explain that to people they think, oh, it's just sort of a little she was seventeen or something like that. And I think that we sort of the journalists need to kind of make people confront the facts of the case. And then we can debate it, and we don't sort of acclimate people to the. Sort of lack of precision that sort of really pays to the benefit of the celebrity. Right. I mean, it kinda doesn't it? It's part of the it's if you're doing something that the PR team is high five in themselves about journalists should question themselves. And I think that's the first step, and then people need to step up and say, hey, I'm not gonna let my kids go to an R Kelly concert because you can imagine what goes on backstage an art Kelly concert, but he got to tour for fifteen more years. It seems to me that the story is an incredible, you know, bleed Bess of of elements of race of gender of class of money power of fame. And you know, it's also now happening in a slightly different moment. It's the metoo moment in two thousand seventeen is. I mentioned the reporting revealed that what appeared to be groups of young women living in our Kelly's homes families came up publicly and begged for their daughters to return home among the people interviewed for the lifetime. Documentary was Toronto Burke, she's founder of the metoo movement. And she said, no one seemed to be listen. To these families these families came forward and we're making desperate pleas to get their children back to get their their daughters. Back home and away from our Kelly. We've been watching them since they came forward and twenty seventeen tried various attempts to get media attention. But it doesn't take hold. And again, I think that goes back into this idea that black girls don't matter. They don't matter enough, and it's proven over and over again, we're Nate Graham, we have kind of consensus today that on this discussion that young black women and young black girls weren't taken seriously enough in this case, how are we looking at this differently? In light of the metoo movement that Toronto Burke helped to launch the metoo movement really sort of broke nationally and worldwide in late twenty seventeen I think there was an idea that here was a moment when people need to revisit our Kelly's. And if we were going to talk about predation, and we're gonna talk about sexual assault and men in positions of power. Our than how weren't we talking about our Kelly? And so there was this little push to get his name back out there and start talking about what he's done what he's been accused of. And the women who've accused him the thing to remember is that yes, I absolutely do believe that the public reception has been different because the victims have been have been women of color. But I also think you almost brings us back to the idea of blaming women and victim blaming and the fact that we heard this would Harvey Weinstein, we heard this Bill Cosby, and we hearing it again with our Kelly that somehow these girls and women they wanted it. They force themselves on these men would have to rape these women 'cause they're famous they can get any woman, they want, you know, that narrative never really goes away. And so you have to really even go back. You know, you separate the two, you know, society doesn't care about women, but society, really really doesn't care about black women. And so you sort of put those two things together. And it was almost like a story made to be ignored a one thing. We haven't really talked about about. And yet is you know, we've talked about the media. But we haven't really talked about the fans, and the fact that you know, and it needs to be said are Kelly's fan base is black. You know, I don't know a lot of white people listen to our Kelly, and I certainly don't know a lot of black men who listened listening are Kelly. So I would say the bulk of our Kelly's fan base is black women. And so what do you do with that? What do you do when you go to these shows? And you look you see these clips, and you see all of these women screaming for our Kelly twenty five years after we first started here acusations about his mistreatment of women and girls, you know, that's really heartbreaking when you think about it. And I think that's as complicated in this as as any aspect of this case, Rennie Graham, you know, he obviously earned the dick names, the king of ARIN be the king of pop soul. He sold. He went three Grammys for I believe I can fly and at four more top forty hits than any other male solo artist in the nineteen nineties you mentioned it's fan. Base mostly African Americans mostly female fans often very young female fans at that. As we saw in this documentary and have seen over the years. There's an element of race though, that that one of our callers raised which was a question of him as a black man under attack and under occupation. How did? The sense of him being and battled play out among a prominent African Americans and among African American institutions as over the years. Well, you know, I I think there is a sense because you look at the history of this country, and what's been done to to to black people. What's been done to black men, and this idea that they're always being torn down there always being accused always being attacked? So if you're within that community, I think there's an instinct to want to protect them from that. And I think Jim dear God has made a very interesting point in a recent interview where he said, he he thinks the reason why a lot of people ignored his reportings because he's a he Nicole himself a fat white guy and that immediately people felt like, oh, it's this white man going after our great black idle. You know, that's you know, the history of this country is what it is. But you know, it doesn't mean that every single person has to be uplifted. And if you have someone within your community who's harming your community, which is exactly what our Kelly has been doing for for deck. Aids. I think you have to let that person go. There's no point in defending that person a dream Hampton. We only have a couple minutes left before the end of the segment of the show. But there was this thing that I read in preparing for this in which a one of his r Kelly's former aides as talking to a records executive and the record executive says, okay before we signed the contract is there anything is there anything to some of these accusations. What about that tape and referring I believed the tape in which he's urinating on on a young woman on underage woman. And the aide says have you seen it in record second says no and the ad says I haven't either if I did I wouldn't be able to work for him. How much of this industry was based on willfully looking away. Well, I think that we have done that historically with so many of our public figures, and I didn't want us to be able to do that anymore. I wanted his fans who as Rene said are us are black women. I my mentions on Twitter would also tell you that plenty of black men are fans of his or at least coming to his defense in this moment. And he's a fifty one year old Aren B singer. So his fate was at this point to kind of slip into a relevance. He has been holding on and doing spot dates and there's been heroin work by organizers like mute Kelly who have tried to deny him some of this income to create a kind of professional death. And I think that that work is legitimate. And I believe in black girls and black women. You're hearing the voice there of dream Hampton. She's executive producer of the new lifetime documentary surviving R Kelly as well as the columnist in Boston Globe, editor Renee Graham, and Bill Wyman, the music journalist, we're discussing R Kelly and the sexual abuse allegations against him and our society's reaction to what we've learned. You can join our conversation. What's your question for our guest today? I'm David Folkenflik in. This is on point. Izenberg? Join me on NPR's ask me another as we challenge. Contestants and celebrities to nerdy work games music parodies. And punter full trivia, find us every week on the NPR one app and wherever you listen to podcasts. This is on point. I'm NPR media. Correspondent David Folkenflik. And we're having an upsetting. And I think important conversation today this hour, we're discussing R Kelly and the decades of sexual abuse claims against him. You can join our conversation did the recent documentary on lifetime cause you to rethink your support of our Kelly. Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook at on point radio. My guest today, our dream Hampton, executive producer of the new lifetime documentary surviving are Kelly Renee Graham, associate editor and columnist for the Boston Globe and Bill Wyman music and arts journalist who's written about R Kelly in the coverage of him by the press as recently as this week. I want to start the segment with just reminder of the human element one of the incredible things about documentary was bringing these accusers. The these women who say they've been mistreated by our Kelly to life as individuals as people Joycelyn savage was nineteen years old when she began relationship with our Kelly her parents claim their daughter has been brainwashed by the singer and is being held. Captive her father, Tim savage, told ours podcast edge of fame last year? They've only had a handful of short phone conversations with their daughter and occasionally the phone rings. It's our Kelly himself, and he won't put their daughter on the phone. We don't have no proof of life. And when you understand you have no proof of life desk, dislike bearing somebody into ground. I talked to Mr Kelly on March the first twenty eighteen you know, and he told me that trust the process to see my daughter. How can you tell a father that haven't seen his daughter in over two years to trust the process? You tell me trust the process, the see my own baby girl, we're getting a lot of response from listeners about this. And I want to take a call now from Cleveland, Ohio. Jeff, what do you make of of how long are Kelly has been has been just going on? Despite all of these accusations. Well, I think this is an unfortunate circumstance of lack of information lack of awareness and to some degree function of class. I I listen to NPR for the last thirty years. I never remember hearing anything about our Kelly. I mean, my ya is classical music, and I didn't know who are Kelly is until I saw the lifetime special. And I also get a New York Times news feed. Now, why why didn't I hear about our Kelly before the Curtis courageous group of women put on this documentary? That's part one part two. So that's the information and the awareness. You know, you can't you can't force people to be aware. Even though you give them the information and. I think that was another failure from the late nineteen nineties until just recently. And so I I also fault the jury 'cause I don't think they had all the information. I don't think they were aware and I fault the the record label. You can't tell me that they didn't have more awareness. I mean, he was to the cash. Cow Jeb don's is though it sounds a little bit like the murder on the Orient Express. You feel like there's a lot of guilt to assign to a lot of different players here. Right and okay. So let's let's throw this to Bill Wyman because Bill this is in your wheelhouse. You've written this week about this very question about the information that Jeff raised in that that important point that he made there the information being gotten out by journalists. And in fact, you assign in some ways as did the caller some responsibility, the New York Times and a journalist who for awhile was its chief music critic, a Khalifa sunny, if I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly, but you say that there was this almost willful minimization or or somehow sidelining of r Kelly's behavior in writing about him as as a player in the musical scene. Yeah. And I think it's really fair actually two point this particular finger because the New York Times is the New York Times even more than today. The New York Times is a cultural arbiter it particularly in the arts and music, and of course, the movie world that what the times covered what it didn't cover was a signal to everyone else. And I wrote about this at the. Time in outraged me, then and still does now how systematically and again, I I wanna make it clear. I'm not jumping up and down about this. I'm not saying this gleefully. I'm just saying factually story after story talked about what had genius. He was how how repressive will. He was how he was this bad boy in a freak. And it kinda say, oh, and there was this thing about a videotape. But let's talk about how he's overcome that. He's more respected than he ever has been. He's triumphed over all these scandals on the scandal was almost as though the scandal were a physical impediment or a disease or or some sort of personal tragedy as opposed to something that was as a result at least allegedly of his own behavior of his own actions. Exactly. And it was all part of the celebrity narrative, the celebrity come confronts the challenge and overcomes, and this was before he even went on trial. Okay. And it was you could almost make an intellectual argument for it after he was acquitted. But certainly before it really created this PR. Our world in which he could continue. It was. Well, first of all, the caller was from Cleveland, and there they had the Cleveland orchestra's concert master, William pursell, you know, it was accused of like sexual harassment to sexually harassing students. Right. And in does it exists in this little corner of people who care about classical music as he said he does. And in that way, we have seen this segregated what Rene talked about earlier his fan base is black. He had one breakthrough song I believe I can fly. And there was this way that people who did write about him these places like the New York Times don't always employ music journalists and critics who have any stake in the community in the black community. So it's just another story that they cover. They're not deeply invested in what happens to this community or even what's being said in this community. And I'm not saying that what was being said in this community was to throw our Kelly away in barbershops across America. For instance, when that abuse tape circulated. It went viral on the streets. People weren't always condemning him. I think Chapelle is a mixed bag. But then you had Aaron mcgruder who was a little more clear in his condemnation in his satirical combination. But the the the author of the boondocks exactly who did a really great, you know, episode on that. But I just wanted to throw in that this this architect of his PR was a publicist who was with him forever. Regina daniels. Who defended him who came up with all, you know, he this strategy that Bill is talking about that put forth is idea of him is triumphant you know, black man, who's, you know, shaking off all of these ill found charges. She then had her own daughter who are Kelly had known as a child, you know, he's slept with her daughter at eighteen and they finally had a falling out. His predation really knows no limits, and it wasn't until it happened to her own child which sadly is the myopic way. So many of us live. Our lives that is not until it directly affects us. Whether you're talking about you're living in your corner with your classical music. You are a fan whose daughter hasn't yet. You know, come across our Kelly or he hasn't come across her. But yeah, Regina Daniels. It's public, you know, she was his publicist and her daughter her stepdaughter. She enjoys Daniels had known are Kelly's since she was in middle school, and the moment she turned eighteen because at some point he did start to, you know, have some sense about like not one to settle all these lawsuits and started praying on eighteen and nineteen year olds as soon as you turn eighteen he began sleeping with her. If I if I can just inject something really quickly issue, of course grim. I think it was really interesting when when when dream was talking about how a lot of people don't we act with until directly affects them, and I think that's been the impact of surviving or Kelly. It literally took these stories and these women and put them in our homes, we couldn't ignore it in the same way that. We could if we didn't read that newspaper or see that piece online here it was sort of night after night hour after hour, and that's why we're talking about that in a way, it's tragic because nothing is different in a way now that it was a year ago. But we're talking about this because we had to we watched it, and it caught fire, and it made people talk about this situation that they'd normalized so long ago, you know, there was a story in the Atlanta Journal constitution in two thousand sixteen talking about an art Kelly upcoming album and his Christmas tour and even asked him as holiday songs and the allegations where we we do to align that said Kelly has also endured his share of scandal that was it that was long as said, so that's incredibly typical to of coverage that normalization, and what's the vibe in? Our Kelly has done has forced us to drop that and deal with these issues directly. You know, it reminds me a little bit of the coverage of Ray rice said the still of the picture of him dragging by. A hair his then fiancee out of the elevator New Jersey casino after knocking her unconscious the leak. Says you're suspended two games. When videotape is leaked to TMZ of him, actually, cold-cocking her and knocking her unconscious in that thing. And it's you can see the video of it. Suddenly the league moved swiftly and bans him for life that a power video amplifying greatly the kind of reporting done by Jim dere. Oh goddess and his colleagues at the sometimes and BuzzFeed tremendous reporting, but this really brings it all together. I think it's important to acknowledge R Kelly denies this in two thousand seventeen in response to a movement of times up saying that people like him should no longer be allowed to be stars. Given the accusations statement is people said R Kelly supports the pro-women goals of times up movement. We understand criticizing famous artist is a good way to draw tension. Those goals in this case, it is unjust an off target. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extrordinary contributions to our culture, we have a call here from Baltimore, Maryland, Carl tell us your thoughts about a about our. Kelly and about these accusations. Good day to every could they'd everyone. I just think that more time these these spent on removing the myopic view of the fan base. And and I guess I should lead with I'm I'm a black male African American male. I've seen this for years. I've seen the Arcelli. You know, just I've seen it escalate over the years, and it it went from him being the army boogeyman to as soon as some fans need him. All of that stuff goes out a window, and he's not kidnapping anybody. People are being basically brought to him, and they already know what the Bill is with them. Our fan base is what fuels this guy if you take away the fan base. I think it was said earlier that there aren't a whole lot of people that aren't black females that are really pushing him. So how do we get to them to show them? Look, this is real this is made up. Nobody's trying to tear are clearly down. Nobody's trying to you know, do a lynching of of of his character or anything. He did these things he's doing these things. How do we drive that point home? Thank you for that Karl let's throw that. What do you say Rene Graham? How do you drive that home? I don't know. I I'm hoping that this documentaries. People are still talking about that still having an impact will will force people to look at that. I hope people understand that every time they stream his music or download his music or by a concert ticket. They're helping fund what you know dream really eloquently called this ecosystem of predation. And so I'm hopeful that this will be that moment. I've thought that before I thought that when he married Leah. I thought that when when Jim Dewar Gaza story came out about, you know, the the quote unquote, sex cult in two thousand seventeen I always think that's the moment. Maybe it comes now. Because as I said these women and their harrowing stories were in our homes, and I and maybe that maybe that makes us each we'll see their efforts to to try to do just that the summer of two thousand seventeen. There was a hashtag movement. Mute are Kelly which began co founder. Her or a Nikkei Odelay explains in the documentary. They had very simple intentions the goals of Megyn Kelly in the beginning. We're very humble it was let's get him off Atlanta radio. And let's get this concerts cancelled. I thought that that would be a really kind of simple ask with the twenty five years of receipts that we have against this person. I'm a net was met with resounding silence. You know, the radio stations would not respond would not call me back. And subsequently you've seen some figures. Like, Tom Joyner, say's not gonna play R Kelly anymore, some artists both in the documentary and outside if it had said, you know, I made mistake and collaborating with him in the past or you know, I'm I'm not going to support him in the future. One question. I have dream Hampton is about how much of this played out in public view. That is you know, our Kelly didn't totally hide his interest in sex. He didn't hide his he was asked frequently about young women and kind of played it off as well. You know, I'm only interested in nineteen year olds. But I wouldn't be interested in younger women, and yet, you know, he married a girl who should have been probably a sophomore in high school at the time. How much of this was really there to be known, regardless of how concrete the accusations were well, the hope that we laid it out in a way that and I think that we did. And thank you for saying that a relentless way six hours that we thought maybe we had two hours, then we knew we had four and then. We realized we had six, and we we stack these stories we knew we had to cooperate. We know that people as Rene said don't believe women. Definitely don't believe black women. They blame them for as the caller said. And I appreciate his call. But I do understand that point of view that these women kind of give themselves and even more nefarious, they believe that their families give themselves to the to R Kelly, but I had a lot of empathy for the parents who believed selectively in the criminal Justice system, and this moment that he was found not guilty. And maybe they were just rumors and they live way down in Florida. And they don't they didn't know every single thing. They didn't know about sparkles testimony. They didn't know that the judge didn't allow other evidence about settled lawsuits to go into the case. The judge wouldn't allow the fact that he'd married a lead to go into the case. And then there's this complicated thing about the truth of our own families in our own lives. My father when he was thirty seven, you know, married a nineteen year old. My grandfather married, you know, down in the south, my grandmother when she was fifteen and he was twenty six so many of us have the Aleve story was one. We just weren't. Sure was this Elvis Presley marrying Priscilla, Jerry Lewis. We found that to be discussing on a number of levels was this a rock and roll story like Jimmy page who continues, you know, well into his old age. It wasn't just the fourteen year old back in the day. So there was this way that we had to create an a- tapestry to show that not only has this been behavior that he has been that this has been his behavior for almost three decades for that. It's escalated, well and one of the most haunting things in your documentary in some ways, the young girl. High schooler went out to cheer him on during his trial trial pornography, ended up being one of the young woman, he cultivated, and according to her that he had sex with underage you've been hearing their voice of dream, Hampton writer, and filmmaker and executive producer of the recent lifetime documentary surviving R Kelly dreams so glad you could join us for this out Rene grams, associate editor and columnist for the Boston Globe. Brennan, my great. Thanks. Thanks so much, David. We've also heard from Bill Wyman music journalist and former arts editor at Salonen NPR Bill. Thanks so much. Thank you, David make sure to continue our conversation online or get the on point podcast or website on point radio dot org are executive producers Karen Shiffman. I'm David Folkenflik. And this is on point.