A Research Of The Media Coverage Of The O.j Simspon Trial

OJ Simpson more commonly known as the “The Juice”, is a well-known and well-liked retired football celebrity. The backstory of why OJ Simpson may sound so familiar to you is because he allegedly murdered his wife Nicole Brown and her restaurant waiter friend Ronald Goldman. He is well known for his charisma as an ex football to an actor and broadcaster. The only way I believe OJ Simpson left as an “innocent man” was due to the media coverage affecting the trial. He was a lead suspect of the murder of two innocent people, the way media covered this case dictated how most white Americans and most black Americans viewed OJ’s trial. The white media accused OJ guilty, while the black media saw this case as a racial misconduct. During the trial, the black community react vigorously towards OJ Simpson Trial, they protested the LA streets to the court house believing he was an innocent man. Meanwhile, the white community also protested against the black community to prove OJ was guilty. These protests continued on for eleven months. There was a distinct difference in white media coverage and black media coverage which caused the case to have two very different views.

The media coverage of the O.J Simspon trial was televised, usually media covering court cases is very controversial. One of the biggest mistakes made in during the trial was Live Broadcasting the whole thing to the public. According to LA Times writer, Stephen Battaglio, anywhere from “95 million to 105 million people watched OJ’s verdict,” this is when media coverage changed throughout the way we watch T.V today. Charles Ogletreea professor at Harvard Law School said, “White, black, immigrants who were from different races, women and men, rich and poor — and everyone was glued to the television.” O.J.’s trial was the sixth most viewed live broadcasted case, that is about how many people watched the Super Bowl in 2010. In the beginning, the media portrayed Simpson as an innocent husband grieving for his ex-wife Nicole Brown until evidence was used against him to prove he murdered his ex-wife. OJ Simspon abused Nicole Brown verbally, physically, and humiliated her for 17 years. One of the most evident evidence presented in the case is how he abused Nicole was when she called 911 yelling, “He’s going to kill me!” NY Times writer Kenneth B. Noble includes a prosecutors evidence stating, “Not only did defendant verbally abuse, physically abuse, degrade and humiliate Nicole through their relationship, but he stalked and harassed her as well,” O.J. Simpson was a manipulating person in their marriage. He was a hard-drinker who reacted on anger when under the influence of alcohol which led him to physically abused Nicole Brown. He was an obsessive stalker who wanted to control Nicole’s life. When Nicole divorcd OJ, she saw this as an opportunity to start her life over and to move on from her abusive marriage. But OJ who was an obsessive stalker, he would still try to control Nicole.

The timeline provided by investigators gives us a glimpse of how OJ Simpson is the killer of two innocent lives. On June 12, 1994 at 6:30pm Nicole and others arrive at a restaurant called Mezzaluna. At 9:15pm Nicole’s Sister calls Mezzaluna to say that her mother had left her glasses there. Ronald L. Goldman goes to pick up the glasses. At 9:00-9:30 p.m, Brian “Kato” Kaelin and O.J. Simpson go to McDonald’s for Dinner. At 9:45 p.m Kato and O.J. return from McDonald’s, and at the time Kato was staying in O.J’s guest house. At 9:48-9:50 p.m Goldman leaves Mezzaluna with a white envelope containing Nicole’s mothers glasses. At 10:45 p.m Nicole’s neighbor hears a dog bark and cry while he was watching T.V. The prosecutions would later cite these barks as the barks of Nicole’s dog who was theoritcally crying out at the murder of it’s owner. At 10:25 p.m a limousine driver named Allan Park arrives at O.J.’s home. O.J. was scheduled to leave on a redeye that night from LA to Chicago at 11:45 p.m. At 10:40-10:55 p.m., Allan Park, the limo driver, buzzes O.J.’s intercom several times, but there’s no answer. Just before 11:00 p.m., the limo driver sees a shadowy figure, six feet tall, 200 pounds, walking across the driveway towards the house. At about 11 p.m., the limo driver tries buzzing the intercom again, and this time, O.J. answers. O.J. tells the limo driver that he had overslept and had just gotten out of the shower. At 11:45 p.m., O.j. departs on an American Airlines flight to Chicago. And taking us back to the start, at 12:10 a.m., the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman are discovered outside her townhouse stabbed to death. Evidence found at the crime scene included a blood-stained glove left by the suspected killer, a knitted hat, and a bloody footprint. Detectives would arrive at O.J.’s house at five a.m., and would discover some key pieces of evidence. Meanwhile, O.J.’s flight lands in Chicago. According to lead prosecutor, Marsha Clark, detective Ron Phillips called O.J. to inform him that his ex wife was dead. O.J.’s response? “Who Killed her?” O.J. was questioned for three hours by the LAPD, but was released. On June 17, 1994, four days later, O.J. was charged with two counts of murder, but he famously did not surrender to the police, and was declared a fugitive. O.J. was in the passenger seat, while the car was being driven by his friend, Al Cowlings, who would later explain he didn’t stop due to the fact that O.J. was suicidal by holding a gun to his own head in the car. In fact, a suicide note by O.J. was found. During the chase, CNN recorded a phone call between O.J. and homicide detective, Tom Lange. This is how that conversation goes, [Tom] “Nobody’s gonna get hurt”, [O.J.] “I’m the only one that deserves….”, [Tom] “No, you don’t deserve that”, [O.J.] “I’m gonna get hurt”, [Tom] “You do not deserve to get hurt. Don’t do this” [O.J.] “All I did was love Nicole. All I did was her.” The chase ended in O.J.’s home in Brentwood, and he surrendered to the police at 8:51 p.m. Now going back to O.J.’s suicide note, aside from thanking those who meant a lot to him in his life, O.J. professed his innocence “ First, everyone understand I have nothing to do with Nicole’s murder. I loved her; Always have and always will. If we had a problem, it’s because I loved her so much.” During the Branco Car Chase, OJ held a gun to his head while his best friend A.C was in the back seat begging police officers to let OJ free or else he will commit suicide. This alone caused the black media to protest OJ’s innocence even more using the excuse of “He is an innocent man who is scared to be put in jail wrongfully.” During the Bronco Car chase, it was live broadcasted and shows how the black community was showing love and support on the bridge of the freeways with the posters saying “WE LOVE YOU JUICE.” But the white media saw this as someone who is simply guilty running away from the law. This caused a race war between black people and white people, obviously not all black people were for O.J., the same goes for white people. The Media likes to show both sides of the story and only broadcast what people want to see and not what they need to see. The media likes to twist stories and make it seem a certain way when it is not supposed to be portrayed the way it was.

In this case, those representing OJ Simpson consisted of 11 lawyers called “The Dream Team.” When Johnnie Cochran joined the Dream Team to lead the case, he switched the case to focus more on racial misconduct. Although, Robert Sharpiro did not believe the case should focus on throwing the “Race Card” but to focus more on a logical solution. During the trial on 1994, racism was still a big issue amongst the black community. Many speculate race played a factor in O.J.’s acquittal because of the events that surrounded the trial. In 1992, race riots occurred due to the LAPD’s senseless and horrific beating of a black man named Rodney King. A beating for which the assaulting officers were acquitted of all charges. The defense strategically used law enforcement racism as a reason for O.J.’s charges. They showed a video of Simpson handcuffed, as soon as he returned from Chicago, demonstrating the rush in judgement by the police. Perhaps one of their biggest arguments was centered around detective Mark Fuhrman. During the trial, the defense played for the jury a tape of audio in which detective Fuhrman was recorded using racial slurs over 40 times. Now this is important because Detective Fuhrman was the first man to step inside O.J.’s Brentwood Rockingham Estate after the murders occurred. According to detective Fuhrman’s own testimony, it was during this time that he alone discovered the notorious matching bloody glove behind O.J.’s guest house. With this information the defense was able to suggest that there was foul play and helped O.J. be declared as innocent. The black media was able to influence the case by using a sensitive topic. Christopher Darden, a black deputy district attorney, assigned to the O.J. case summarized it in this quote, “It will do one thing. It will upset the black jurors. It will say, whose side are you on, ‘The Man’ or ‘The Brothers’?” Racism during 1994 was an on going heated topic, by throwing the race card, this gave OJ’s case to focus more on racism than what the actual case was about. You can view this all on youtube, even if this case was broadcast 25 years ago, there’s still news coverage on this topic today! After the defense spoke about Mark Fuhrman, a handful of protesters and O.J. Simpson supporters faced-off near the former football star's Brentwood mansion. Members of the Jewish Defence League screamed 'Guilty!' while the Simpson supporters yelled their faith in OJ's innocence. Los Angeles police, who had been watching the protests, called in reinforcements to break-up the confrontation which caused people to react viciously and to protest even more for O.J.’s innocence. Not only was the trial was broadcast live, but news outlet also broadcasted the protests between pro-O.J. and anti-O.J

Some people may argue the black media coverage on OJ helped him leave as a free man. While it is true black media influenced the case, OJ is guilty based on concrete evidence and testimonies. Unfortunately, he was declared innocent by the court. As many would ask themselves, how can O.J. Simpson leave as an innocent man when there is concrete evidence that he is the killer. Well, during the 1994 trial Johnnie Cochran was able to influence the case and media by stating they should focus more on the racial misconduct. Marcia Clark, lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson Trial, used the media to get her side of the story heard when the court wouldn’t let her speak. When she was using evident facts, the defense team was becoming fearful of Marcia Clark. Since Marcia Clark used the media to speak her mind of the case, the defense team decided to use the media as well to help them win the case. They were using media as a tool to interfere with each others point of view.

As discussed, I believe OJ Simpson is guilty and only left “innocent” when Johnnie Cochran became the lead defense of the case instead of Robert Shapiro. Robert Shapiro did not want to make this a race thing but when Johnnie Cochran joined the dream team, they were able to put the focus on racism than what the actual case was about. He's guilty, it shows how facts were looked upon and they went by emotions. The role of how media played onto this trial had a negative outcome. I believe the courthouse did not do their job right by allowing the trial to be broadcasted live. This could of caused the defense, prosecutors, jurors and the judge to work differently knowing they’re being watched by millions of people.

For Black people, the acquittal by a mostly white jury was vindication of the feeling that a black man anywhere in the general area of a murder was accountable to be legally lynched. The evidence against OJ appeared to have been forged. If it hadn’t been for the fact that he could afford a million-dollar defense team, yet another innocent black would have been thrown in jail, or even executed on broken evidence. White people, on the other hand, have rarely been wrongly mistreated by police. They think that, if the police have filed charges against you then you’re probably guilty. There was enough clear evidence that OJ was guilty. The media played a big part in this case, especially since O.J. Simpson was one of the most well known ex football players. The media focused on O.J. for being a celebrity instead of focusing on what he did. I believe that is the main issue we struggle with. No matter what news coverage that is going now, there will always be a twist in the story so it can match people’s political views or what they want to hear.  

16 December 2021
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