2006-11-23 / This Week's Attitude

This Week's Attitude

Media Mogul Outfoxes O.J., But Not Me!
By Neil S. Friedman


When media tycoon Rupert Murdoch suddenly canceled "ill-considered" plans for a book and interview by O.J. Simpson on Monday, following a wave of revulsion and unending backlash over the forthcoming projects to return Simpson to the media spotlight, it briefly stunned me because I had completed my column for this week on the snowballing controversy.

So much for my best laid plans to remain relevant and passionate when I choose a topic to write this weekly feature.

With a shortened week due to Thanksgiving, I faced a minor challenge - whether to junk the entire piece and start anew or find another topic. But, after contemplating my quandary, I decided to write this introductory explanation and leave much of what I had already written before the cancellation of the proposed book and two-part television interview. Nevertheless, I made some minor revisions and what follows is most of what I wrote before I was outfoxed by Rupert Murdoch.

One final note. Despite Murdoch scrubbing the projects - after five days of criticism and condemnation - anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that it was primarily a business decision rather than some grand, noble gesture.

When I first learned that O.J. Simpson had put himself back in the media spotlight with a book ("If I Did It, Here's How It Happened") and parallel television show where he reveals how he would have killed his wife and her alleged paramour - if he did it - the first thought that came to mind was, "Is he out of his @!#$%^*& mind?"

But O.J.'s got nothing left to lose - his reputation and honor virtually vanished a decade ago during that long trial - because the double jeopardy rule prevents him from being retried for the June 12, 1994 murders of his wife Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.

As his publisher Judith Regan pointed out - no doubt to stir book sales - "This is his confession." Part of the hype for the book is that O.J. promises to disclose exclusive, explicit details of what only he knows really happened that night.

As the animated Bart Simpson - who's only connection to O.J. is the surname - often utters when he's speechless, "DUH!"

Of course O.J. can reveal heretofore undisclosed details no one else knows - he frickin' DID IT ! Most Americans know it. His victims' families know it. His lawyers knew it. The prosecutors knew it, but botched their case when they were blinded by the spotlight. And, despite the criminal trial acquittal, O.J. knows it, and has finally decided- more or less - it was time to cleanse his soul. Not to mention pocketing a few bucks - from a grisly tragedy that left their children without a mother!

If the return of The Juice begs the question, "Why?" The answer is, undoubtedly, shameless greed.

Unexpectedly, O.J. may reap profits from the projects because his lawyers found a loophole in the civil judgment that found him guilty in the wrongful deaths of his wife and Goldman and ordered him to pay their families $33.5 million in damages, most of which he has yet to shell out.

By the way, the sleaze factor rises when you take into account the combination of media involved. The publisher is an imprint of HarperCollins and the television show will debut on Fox Television. It's hardly a coincidence that both are properties of News Corp., the Australian-based media empire, owned by Aussie native Rupert Murdoch, that has negatively impacted contemporary news coverage, which is now regularly inundated with an excess of celebrity gossip.

Even as O.J. Simpson returns to the limelight, he remains a divisive celebrity. The media spotlight on him breathes new life into the nation's pervasive racial divide and discord that was prevalent in the wake of the criminal trial verdict that acquitted Simpson of double murder, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

When the 1995 verdict was televised, most white Americans were shocked and awed that the former gridiron superstar apparently got away with murder. However, many African-Americans were elated that a black man, whom many of them admired for his athletic prowess and respected for his success, had beaten a system of justice that too often seems biased against minorities and which previously resulted in the unjustified imprisonment of some young men simply because they could not afford the kind of lawyer who might have bargained for more reasonable sentences or plea bargains.

I've never been a fan of the animated "Simpsons" series, but I'd rather watch a few episodes of that than watch a minute of O.J. hypothetically confessing to murders for which he should have never been acquitted.

It may be wishful thinking, but we can only hope that those who thrive on our culture's obsession with celebrities and their incomparable lives find other more suitable icons on whom to focus their attention and turn their backs on more notorious celebrities who deserve only to be ignored and forgotten.

Now that the despicable projects have been scrapped, there's little juice left to squeeze from the O.J. saga. For some, the next time many Americans want to read about Simpson is when his obituary is published.

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