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O.J. Simpson Hits Today's Media Coverage -- Where's Edward R. Murrow?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

O.J. Simpson Hits Today's Media Coverage -- Where's Edward R. Murrow?

Article excerpt

It's not every day you get a phone message from O.J. Simpson. But in the process of completing a story for E&P's next print issue about Associated Press reporter Linda Deutsch, the longtime AP scribe known for her courtroom coverage revealed that she was among the very few reporters to whom Simpson still spoke.

So I called Simpson for a comment about Deutsch, and he returned the call. He confirmed his admiration and appreciation for her fair reporting during his 1995 murder trial. He was acquitted of murdering his wife and her friend Ron Goldman then, but subsequently lost a civil suit brought by the Goldman family. But that tribute to Deutsch turned into a lengthy commentary about the media, with Simpson claiming celebrity coverage has only worsened since he went to court.

"When Paris Hilton was going to jail last week, more people knew about that than knew that we were sending people into space that day," Simpson said in a phone interview from Miami. "It has replaced what is real news. There was always a place for it, but it was [gossip writer] Rona Barrett. Now it is the equivalent of Edward R. Murrow reporting it today."

Simpson, who spoke on his cell phone while returning from an early morning round of golf, said he still gets up to five calls a week from reporters seeking comment -- but declines virtually all of them. "People ask me about Paris Hilton, when [NFL running back] Ricky Williams was in trouble, Pac Man Jones," he said. "Everything [Hilton] went through, I know about. But why do I want to talk to the media? If I comment, it becomes a story."

Simpson cited the recent story about him being asked to leave a Louisville, Ky. restaurant during Kentucky Derby week. He said the owner asked him to exit and he agreed, but was surprised it became a story anyway. "A guy pulls me aside at a restaurant, he is not a fan and he won't serve me," Simpson recalled. "I could make a big deal about it because it was illegal. But I said it was no problem, but it became a newspaper story.

"In this day and age, when someone not serving me in Kentucky, with no argument, is a story and we don't know that someone is going up in space and we know more about Paris Hilton going to jail, something is wrong," he added.

Simpson said he recently agreed to a rare interview with Marquez Productions of Orlando, Fla. for a documentary on media coverage because he wanted to discuss what he perceived as inaccuracies and sensationalism.

"It is about time that the news media point out that they are not doing their job," he said about why he agreed to the interview. …

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