On Monday, News Corporation announced that it has canceled publication of the O.J. Simpson book and television special “If I Did It,” in which OJ Simpson was to have given an account of how he might have murdered his former wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said, “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson.”
Following that announcement, CNN conducted a public opinion poll. The results reinforced Murdoch’s decision: 55% of people thought the project was offensive, 30% thought it was inappropriate, and only 12% thought there was nothing wrong with publishing the hypothetical confession. CNN’s editorial conclusion? “The book and accompanying TV special were pulled largely because of widespread public disgust and condemnation.”
No doubt, this debacle will be publicly dissected and debated over the next several weeks, and additional, unsavory information will likely be revealed. For example, Nicole Brown-Simpson’s sister, Denise Brown told Today Show host Matt Lauer that Murdoch’s company offered the Brown and Goldman families “millions of dollars in hush money.” And well, what do you know? O.J. himself acknowledges that any financial gain from the project that flows his direction is “blood money.”
Though News Corps has distanced itself from the project, the rights to the book could still be sold to another publishing company, and the television interview could be distributed through other channels, according to an article in the New York Times. But in the end, and whatever comes next, I believe the New York Daily News summed things up succinctly and best:
“What kind of utterly soulless corporate culture thinks up something like this in the first place? What kind of creepy mold grows in the petri dish that is Fox that someone could even imagine for a minute it was a good idea to pay O.J. Simpson several million dollars to discuss how he might have sliced his wife’s head off? How many levels of bonehead management had to sign off on a project that so grotesquely affronted the simple human decencies?