While this high-profile athlete charged with murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp hasn’t completely disappeared from the news, he by far hasn’t become the all-day, every-day headline his so-many-similarities predecessor O.J. Simpson was nearly 19 years ago.
Sure, stories posted as recently as a couple of days ago still show up in Internet searches. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/20133148645751304.html, http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-entertainment/echo-entertainment/2013/03/16/paddy-shennan-s-tv-review-oscar-pistorius-what-really-happened-bbc3-100252-32997429/, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/mar/12/oscar-pistorius-documentary-tv-ratings.
But they are post-mortems (pardon the insensitivity) and report no news or previously undisclosed facts. And, even though the U.S. isn’t necessarily the hub of the universe many Americans think it is, Pistorius has been out of the headlines around this neck of the world for weeks — or at least it seems that way. I was a bit shocked to realize today that the fatal shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was just a month ago.
Maybe because I was in the middle of the Simpson maelstrom it seemed like news about the case, the defendant, the victims, the victims’ families, the defendant’s relatives and relationships, Nicole Brown’s Bundy Drive condo, Simpson’s Rockingham Avenue house (it wasn’t a mansion — I was there with the jury as part of the trial, and that’s my assessment), their hairdressers, their housekeepers, their neighbor’s housekeepers, relatives of relatives of landscapers who once mowed their lawns. You name it. Maybe those kinds of stories are showing up in the South Africa media, but they sure aren’t making it into the mainstream media here.
About three months after Nicole Brown’s and Ronald Goldman’s butchered bodies were found outside the front door of Nicole Brown’s condo, a Los Angeles Superior Court research attorney reported to the trial judge, Lance Ito, that 27,000 Simpson-case-related newspaper stories had been published. That didn’t include any broadcast — television or radio — or cable news reports. And almost nothing was being produced for the Internet, which was pretty much prenatal back then.
So what’s the difference between then and now? Is the media less voracious these days than it was back in the Simpson-trial days?
Were the Simpson lawyers/prosecutors working to keep the story in the news so one side or the other could claim media exposure was adversely affecting their case?
Are Pistorius’s lawyers more effective at keeping their client and his case out of the news so they won’t be adversely affected by excessive media coverage?
Or, contrary to blazing comparisons of Pistorius and Simpson, are they simply not similar either as high-profile people or as defendants in murder cases?