Did Citing Tip Make it So?

The haiku I wrote 20 years ago today,

Tip appears in print.

Attorneys quote it as fact.

The press makes the news


was based on an August 3, 1994, Los Angeles Times column that recounted an earlier Times story, which included a list of “tips” that had been churned up in the O.J. Simpson case. One tip, which the Times said it  wasn’t able to verify, was from a man who claimed to have been across the street from Nicole Brown’s Bundy Street condo the night she and Ronald Goldman were murdered. The man reportedly told police he saw two bearded white men near the condo’s back gate, subsequently heard a woman scream, then saw the same two men run away. The day after that Times story, the Times columnist wrote, Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran said in court that, “There is at least one witness who police have talked to some time ago, and are apparently talking to him even as we speak,” who, Cochran said, “has given testimony or evidence that is totally inconsistent with the theory of a lone assailant and is entirely inconsistent with the fact that Mr. Simpson is that assailant.” The Times columnist went on to report that, “When Cochran told the story in court, it was picked up by all news outlets, without going through the process of verification.”

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