A California gold rush, except for reporters, media, America

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Bronco chase down a California highway is most known to those old enough to remember being entranced by the Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson trial.

Most millennials just know the “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” jokes and the Kardashian family as a result of the case. Most had zero knowledge of his marketing success with Hertz, his rocky beginnings in the NFL or his desire to be seen simply as “O.J.” and not as a black man.

And for young reporters, there’s a strong possibility we missed out on another journalistic goldmine, as with the Watergate scandal and the murders of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The past nine or so months have seen a resurgence of material surrounding Simpson and his actions that led to his acquittal in 1995, his civil case against the Goldman’s – the family of the late Ronald Goldman who died along with Nicole Simpson – and how he landed himself in a Nevada prison for 33 years.

Up until that point, few things outside of race relations in American garnered worldwide coverage.

But Simpson’s trial was in essence a reality show, like those who followed President John F. Kennedy’s attempt to force Alabama governor George Wallace to integrate the state’s flagship university documented in the 1963 ABC film titled “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment.”

America came to a complete standstill when his trial was televised. CNN had a chokehold on coverage and people rushed home from work to see the next installment. There were enough stories to go around twice and still have more to write about.

In nine months, the cup overflowed with Simpson gold for everyone to share and become rich with at least two stories a day on the trial.

Honestly, it’s easy to understand why the coverage of his trial was important and why consumers tuned in. It demonstrated how the American legal system is intended to work and how evidence proves guilt or innocence, except there were three factors that derailed the case.

First, finding an impartial jury had to be the most difficult part of the case. No matter who was selected, it was going to be improbable that personal feelings were brought up in deliberation.

Second, the prosecution’s case became weaker and weaker by the day. From Chris Darden’s assertion that black people couldn’t handle hearing racial slurs and be objective, to an LAPD detective perjuring himself, which brings up the third flaw.

Once it the perjury was discovered, the case shifted more to proving the detectives prejudice history than the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.