“Getting away with it”

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I still clearly recall the relief I felt when I got home from work that distant Monday night and read the news. The June 13, 1994, Orange County Register said OJ Simpson’s wife and her friend had been found murdered in Los Angeles, and then it added, “Mr Simpson was reached In Chicago.” If he was in Chicago, I reasoned, he couldn’t have murdered his wife. Right?

That relief was short-lived. I wanted Simpson to be innocent, I really, really did. But it soon emerged that he might not be. Like many Americans, I admired him. At least, I admired the man I mistakenly believed he was.

As it turned out, Simpson was only recently in Chicago, and the murders happened while he was still in L. A.. Then came the blood evidence, citing damning probabilities like 1 in 100,000. Then came the whole ballgame: the blood of one of the victims, Ron Goldman, a young man Simpson had never met, was found in OJ’s car. That, as the saying goes, was that.

But I was wrong. In a bizarre, unconscious conspiracy between the mainstream media and much of the popular will, the possibility of OJ Simpson’s innocence was kept artificially alive, like some cockamamie experiment cooked up by Victor Frankenstein. Talking heads emerged and were made famous by that artificially induced possibility, especially CNN’s newest OJ darling Greta Van Susteren. The debate was endlessly recycled on TV and radio. Incredibly, the media breathlessly spoke of the enduring OJ Simpson murder “mystery.”

Mystery? It was no mystery. Simpson’s guilt was obvious. But only clear-thinking pundits like Vincent Bugliosi, and plain-speaking court observers like Ron Goldman’s father Fred, dared to angrily shout truth to power, the power of the media’s latest cash cow. OJ Simpson was the hottest thing for TV and radio news since Watergate, and they milked that cow till the udders bled. And Simpson got away with it.

I would like to think the media learned something from all that OJ business, but I can’t. If anything, the media has since become even more exploitative, even more mercenary, even more whore-like.

As I write this, two months shy of 30 years after I first read about the Simpson murders in the Orange County Register, little has changed. Much has become worse. OJ Simpson is dead, but the media is still creating artificial controversies where none exist. A recent New York Times headline referring to Trump and Biden screams, “Two Imperfect Messengers Take On Abortion,” as if they are somehow equivalent and equally as “imperfect” as each other.

Donald Trump is a man who would make it illegal for any woman anywhere in America to get an abortion. He supports the fascistic, misogynistic notion that women should endure judicial punishment for getting an abortion. Joe Biden wants to restore Roe v Wade as the law of the land, and make abortion available to any woman who needs one. In what universe is Biden like Trump? In what sense is Biden’s message imperfect like Trump’s message so clearly is? Would the New York Times also favour us with a headline about how Hindenburg’s and Hitler’s plans for Germany were imperfect and somehow equivalent?

I am heartily sick of how the media continues to coddle Donald Trump’s candidacy as if it were normal and continues to let him get away with his crimes. There is nothing normal about the man. He is a dictator wannabe who tried to violently overthrow the government, he is a known criminal under indictment in four jurisdictions with 88 total felony counts, he is a judicially identified rapist, a jail-bound conman, a liar, an admirer of Hitler, Putin and Kim. He is the most dangerous American alive, a psychopath who, through criminal negligence, stupidity and incompetence, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans from Covid-19.

I am an agnostic who sometimes wishes there was such a thing as hell. This is one of those times. Wherever OJ Simpson is right now, I hope it’s not too very long before Trump joins him. The world is better off without Simpson. It would also be better off without Trump. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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