Reaction to the publication and sensationalistic coverage of O.J. Simpson’s new book,If I Did It, has been visceral. The book is a supposed “hypothetical” exploration of how Simpson would have committed the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Fox News was set to broadcast a two-part O.J. Simpson interview scheduled for the November ratings sweeps, and Simpson was preparing for a media blitz in promoting the book. But the general public was horrified, and rightfully so. Here is a man who, though judged guilty in a civil court for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, seems to flaunt his guilt. Simpson not only seems to revel in causing pain to the victims’ families, but he also seems to have no concern over the effects his actions will have on his own children.
As the hype surrounding If I Did It grew, so did the public outrage. As a result, over a dozen Fox affiliate stations announced that they would not air the Simpson interview. Borders Group Inc., one of the nation’s largest booksellers, announced that all profits from sales of the book would be donated to charity. Newspaper editorials across the country called for a general boycott of the book. Popular Fox news host Bill O’Reilly said the network’s decision to air the program was “simply indefensible and a low point in American culture.” He was one of many TV talking heads who decried both Simpson and the voyeuristic culture that would encourage such blatantly disgusting opportunism.
The book and television deal have now been canceled. Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., admitted that the fiasco was an “ill-conceived project” and publicly apologized to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
Evidently, even in a scandal and celebrity-obsessed society, there is something overtly distasteful about a man profiting from the murder of his ex-wife and the mother of his children. Simpson’s narcissistic behavior—so blatantly arrogant and blind to consequence—strikes a chord deep within us. When someone’s lie is so big, so bold, so all-consuming, we instantly want to distance ourselves. It’s almost instinctual—a gut reaction to avoid contamination.
There is a lesson here. When we allow ourselves to be titillated by juicy details and by outright deception, there is an effect on us personally. It is the trickle-down effect that happens with all lies. We are affected by what we see and where our attention is focused. This serves as a reminder to constantly guard against dishonesty creeping into our lives, in whatever form. As Thanksgiving approaches, let’s give thanks that our gut instincts, our visceral reactions against dishonesty, do ultimately prevail.