on point

Where's the outrage over Fox's O.J. shill?

As if the Brown and Goldman families haven't endured enough heartache, now comes an unconscionable stunt that is sure to add to their interminable grief.

Taking time out from his exhaustive 12-year crusade to find the "real" killers of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, O.J. Simpson will get two nights of primetime on Fox to sit down with his book publisher Judith Regan to talk about the slayings he was acquitted of in the so-called "trial of the century."

The interview, portions of which will air Nov. 27 and 29, is designed to promote Simpson's upcoming "hypothetical" account of the killings that carries the title "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened." In the spirit of holiday cheer, the book will be published Nov. 30 by ReganBooks, a subsidiary of News Corp., which also owns Fox.

It would have been reprehensible enough if Simpson chose to use the upcoming TV exposure to tell the world of his anguish and despair over the loss of the mother of his two youngest children. But the way Fox is positioning the interview, the former football star has a different and even more sordid tale to tell.

"O.J. Simpson, in his own words, tells for the first time how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible for the crimes," the network said in a statement. "In the two-part event, Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders he has vehemently denied committing for over a decade."

If I'm reading this right, the man who has consistently tried to distance himself from the killings ? the man who was acquitted of the crimes in a court of law ? is now intending to give a tutorial on how he would have committed the murders if he actually was the perpetrator.

Normally it's the ex-jock or ex-coach who provides the color commentary on sportscasts, presumably because of their experiences in the game. If Simpson is going to give us his own anatomy of two murders, from where is he drawing his experiences? An old "Columbo" episode, perhaps?

Also in the Fox statement, executive vp alternative programming Mike Darnell says: "This is an interview no one thought would ever happen. It's the definitive last chapter in the trial of the century." Are we to take from that comment that there actually is news value to come out of this "interview"? If watching a white Ford Bronco in a low-speed chase is considered news, then maybe. The only value to be derived from this scheme is the money News Corp. hopes to take in from the sale of books to people just as pathetic as Simpson and those advertisers who really don't care what their products are associated with.

Regan told the Associated Press that the idea for the book came from Simpson and that she considers this "his confession." If this were indeed a confession, it might bring some small solace to the families. But this is no confession. There's nothing hypothetical about a confession unless the intent is to taunt. "If I Did It" ? the title alone accomplishes that.

Anyone can write a book about anything if someone's willing to publish it. The airwaves, however, are still public and beholden to a certain standard of decency. Which brings us back to the Brown and Goldman families. Can there really be no one in authority at Fox who finds this two-night exercise in amateur forensics and crass commercialism so tasteless that it shouldn't be aired? No one?
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