Tag Archives: New York Daily News

Will Simpson Tell All?

New York Daily News headline: Oscar-winning filmmaker says O.J. Simpson story still not complete, because, OJ: Made in America director Ezra Edelman says, “the final chapter in the Simpson saga is O.J.’s to write.”

But will he?

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Loser

Former Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, with guns blazing, is rising from the ashes of her humiliating defeat with the 1995 acquittal of O.J. Simpson in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Clark’s resurgence is due, in part, to a wave of sympathetic publicity with a recent airing of an FX multi-part melodrama.

She has narrowed the focus of her shotgun spray of blame that riddled her 20-year-old multi-million-dollar co-written post-trial memoir and taken aim on just the trial judge.

Although never camera or reporter-notebook shy in the years since penning that memoir, Clark is capitalizing on her newfound fame by targeting Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, who retired last year, with a revisionist trial  history extraordinaire.

The first fabrication that hit my radar was an interview a few weeks ago in which Clark claimed that Ito was the one who came up with the idea for Simpson to try on the so-called bloody gloves that led to defense attorney Johnnie Cochran’s now-infamous line, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Despite being in the courtroom and behind the scenes every day, meeting with Ito daily–sometime several times a day, keeping up with the media coverage and reading, hearing and writing a lot about the case in the years since, I had never heard anything about Ito coming up with the idea to have Simpson try on the gloves.

Rather than rely solely on my memory, although I would have  had to be deep in the clutches of dementia to have forgotten something that significant, I checked with a reporter who attended every day of the trial and probably had the best access to all of the lawyers in that case, and, eventually to Simpson himself.

“I never heard any such thing and think it’s an effort to rewrite history,” the reporter said.

I also checked with one of Ito’s law interns who worked in his chambers and was privy to every aspect of the case. Like the reporter, the law intern knew about or had heard anything like Clark’s assertion.

“Uughh,” the law intern, who is now a practicing attorney with her own firm, wrote in reply to my question. “I was there that day and I have no memory of the gloves idea coming from Judge Ito. As usual he had the job of ruling on their asinine ideas. She [Clark] continues to disappoint as a female attorney role model. She really has no moral compass.”

I’m pretty sure I know about the ethics of a judge presiding over a criminal case suggesting to lawyers on either side how they should present evidence. For confirmation, I contacted a judge who sat on the LA court bench during years I worked there, and who has since retired and is currently a private judge.

Such a comment would be very inappropriate for a judge to make, the retired judge said. “Even if it takes the form of ‘why don’t you’ do this or that, it would look like the judge was trying to assist that side. That is clearly unethical.”

To have done so without defense attorneys present would constitute ex parte communication, which is, without a doubt, judicial misconduct.

Given the scrutiny that trial, the judge and the parties got, it’s a sure bet that any such suggestion would have been found out and the judge would have been subject to reprimand, at the very least. Plus, Ito was absolutely assiduous to make sure he did everything completely by the books to prevent a mistrial or be overturned on appeal, should Simpson be convicted.

In other words, Clark pulled that little gem of finger pointing from some orifice other than her mouth.

In another interview, this time on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she said she had never had a judge be so openly sexist as Judge Ito was.  Judge Ito is many things, but sexist isn’t one of them, to which, I dare say, females in his personal and professional life, will attest.

Clark is quoted in Monday’s New York Daily News describing Ito as “unprofessional” and criticized him for allowing the trial to be “turned into a circus” because he allowed it to be televised and for “his infatuation with the media.”

Ho boy.

First, at one point in a hearing on whether to allow cameras, Clark advocated for televising the trial.

“Allowing cameras to remain in the courtroom would give the public the opportunity to see what the evidence actually is and to hear the truth,” she told Ito during a November 7, 1994, hearing on whether or not to televise the trial. “The best way to refute unfounded rumors and wild speculative theories is to permit everyone to see and hear the evidence that is presented in court. … No matter how thorough and fair reporters are, their coverage cannot equal the evidence of witnessing a trial first hand.”

Second, although plenty of antics went on nonstop outside the courtroom and around the courthouse, there was no circus in the courtroom — plenty of video footage exists and the trial transcript proves that. However, Clark herself was one of the clowns Ito struggled to keep reined in.

Attorneys’ conduct so egregious, including that of Clark — in spades — that Ito, after repeatedly fining them, finally resorted to issuing a court order spelling out what they could and could not do — down to “no eye rolling.” I included the entire text of that order on pages 136-137 in my book, Anatomy of a Trial. Even then, he continued to have to fine them and threaten to hold them in contempt because they refused to behave. The amount in fines Ito levied against the Simpson trial attorneys — on both sides — exceeded that of any criminal trial in the state’s history at that time.

So far as being “infatuated with the media” is concerned, disappointment or even contempt for many of them would be more accurate as he witnessed their excesses and making him the brunt of their exaggerations and misrepresentations.

In that Daily News interview, Clark said, “He sits down for a six-part interview in the middle of the trial about his life. Who does this?”

What Clark is misremembering is (1)  Ito didn’t sit down for a six-part interview and (2) an interview he did do wasn’t in the middle of the trial.

Months before the Jan. 23, 1995, opening statements, a TV reporter asked to interview Ito in connection with the opening of an L.A. museum exhibit of the World War II Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, which is where a man and woman who married and became Ito’s parents met. After long consideration and conferring with a number of people, he finally decided to do it, but only with the assurance that the subject would not be the Simpson case but would focus only on the exhibit and the issue of Japanese internment. He also insisted on several other conditions, including that the station not promote the interview in advance and would air it only once and that would be during an 11 p.m. newscast.

As described on page 25 of Anatomy of a Trial the station violated every condition, including buying full-page newspaper ads and splitting the interview into six parts, which aired in six consecutive broadcasts.

Then there was this in a June 14, 2016,   Chicago Tribune article:

“Clark said that while she was generally pleased with the FX series, it failed to capture how Ito was ‘entranced by his media moment’ and ‘the steady stream of celebrities coming in and out of chambers’ during the trial. Sometimes the celebs Ito had invited backstage demanded to meet her, too, she said.

“‘I’m actually trying a lawsuit … I don’t need to meet Jimmy Dean,” she said of one encounter with the crooner-turned-sausage king. “I mean, I love your sausage, sir!'”

Did celebrities show up at the trial? Yes, as more and more it became the place to be seen. Many were, themselves, members of the media. And yes, some did meet Ito in his chambers, although I would hardly describe it as a “steady stream.” And one, which became a disastrous fiasco, was entirely my doing,  which I have rued every since.

But Jesus, Jimmy Dean? I saw neither of them. Neither did I hear or know of any who even asked, much less demanded to meet Clark. I don’t know of any who thought she was worth their while. So maybe her bruised ego is prompting her to make such a claim now.

“This is disgusting,” the reporter I talked to about Clark’s glove claim said. “She is trying to sell her books and somehow find absolution for her inept performance 22 years ago. To attack Ito is beyond the pale.”

What does Ito have to say about all of this?

Nothing. Which is what he said during, and has continued to say since, the trial. At least not publicly, which is why Clark thinks she can say whatever she wants without consequence. Given that Ito has consistently refrained from speaking out against his critics, Clark can be pretty sure he won’t now.

While Clark and her ilk have capitalized on their fame from the trial over and over and in many forms and formats, Ito hasn’t. He hasn’t written a book or gone on the rubber-chicken circuit or hauled in huge speaking fees like Clark has and is continuing to do.

I’m pretty sure he won’t speak up this time either. Clark probably isn’t worth his while.


Remember Where You Were When…?

The evening of Friday, June 17, 1994, I was winding down from a hectic work week that was dominated by the criminal case involving former football star-turned TV and movie celebrity O.J. Simpson capped by his disappearance that morning. He had failed to surrender to police at his lawyer-brokered time of 11 a.m. on charges that he had murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and a man at her condo, Ronald Goldman.

My husband and I were making a quick trip to a nearby shopping mall and thinking about grabbing a bite to eat. As always, our car radio was tuned to an all-news station. En route came a report that a car in which Simpson might be riding had been spotted on a freeway and might be trying to flee. I turned up the radio.

More reports aired. The car, a white Ford Bronco, wasn’t exactly fleeing. It was proceeding along within the speed limit — with a huge phalanx of police vehicles tooling along behind — apparently heading north from Orange County. No attempt by law enforcement to stop or corral the Bronco. Bizarre.

More reports. It looked like Simpson might be holding a gun to his head. Gawkers were flocking to the anticipated route reported by the media and crowding freeway overpasses, screaming, cheering, waving signs. Signs? People actually had time to make signs before or while rushing to a freeway overpass near them?

Forget why we had gone to the mall, I needed to find the nearest TV set — like in an anchor store home furnishing department. There, we joined other store customers and and gawked along with them — and, it turned out, a media-estimated 95 million other Americans. Television stations and networks across the country interrupted their regular programming — which included an NBA championship basketball game and coverage of international soccer’s World Cup — to broadcast the “chase.”

The rest is history, or rather what the media reported as history.

Yesterday, director of NYCityNewsService at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and former New York Daily News city editor Jere Hester, told listeners of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation‘s Q with Jian GhomeshiWhy the O.J. Simpson Bronco car chase was a game-changer“.

Something Hester said stopped me short.

“All of a sudden,” Hester said, “we were seeing him in a far different light. … this was someone who had a better than stellar reputation in the entertainment and sports world for 20-plus years and we were seeing that image transform before us.”

That image. A media-made image, for sure.

What struck me was the irony of another media-made image and how Hester formed his opinions and conclusions, not as someone who actually covered the Simpson case, although he believes he did. But as a member of the television-viewing public.

Twenty years ago, instead of being in Los Angeles and attending court proceedings in person, Hester was sitting in his New York Daily News newsroom watching events on TV. Yet, listen to this delusion:

“I came at this from a unique vantage point. For the most part, I was watching this on television, so my vantage point was seeing this through the eyes of the public.”

That, I submit, is NOT a unique vantage point. That is the same vantage point 100 million-plus other people in the U.S. and countless more in other countries had. Nothing about sitting in a newspaper newsroom makes his vantage point any more unique than Joe Blow sitting in his living room — except, perhaps, having more people around him to chew what they were viewing with.

And that has been my point and the primary reason I wrote Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson (University of Missouri Press, 2008).

What you see on TV is not the full or necessarily accurate picture, or complete or spin-free story.

Hester makes that point himself, not just in his comment about the media-made image of Simpson going into what quickly became known as that “slow-speed Bronco chase”, but in his observation about the courtroom and the proceedings during a brief visit he made to Los Angeles during the trial.

Someone who, through the media, we thought we knew.

Hester agreed that the fluff, such as Marcia Clark’s hairdos, overshadowed substance in “Simpson land.”

Although not indicting the media, he did say that being in the courtroom presented a different view than what he saw on TV.

“If you’ve ever had the experience of being at a taping of a television show … it was very much like that. You see that when you ever go through TV studio, it always looks bigger on TV than it does in person. The people look different.”

But the actual “show”? “I’m walking into what’s really kind of  an average-sized courtroom in the Los Angeles courthouse  and you’re seeing  these very familiar figures  and your first kind of instant recognition is the way that you would have when you pass a celebrity on the street and you do a double take.”

During proceedings, however, he realized the trial was not about entertainment “on any level, but that it was a search for justice.”

That said, he also realized that the “court of public opinion was going to have an effect in this case.”

And that’s where I part company with Hester. The court of public opinion had an effect on the aftermath of the case. But the trial itself, was the the prosecution’s to lose, which it did.

And that other media-made image? That of the trial judge, Lance Ito. That image fell victim to the “court of public opinion” along with what would have been a different judicial career.

Much of that is covered in Anatomy of a Trial, along with caveats and counsel for other jurists, courts and news organizations.





FCC Should Be Fair to Public, Not Murdoch

So Rupert Murdoch wants a “fair hearing” for his application to be allowed to buy the Los Angeles Times, even though doing so would violate FCC rules barring corporations/individuals from owning more than a certain number of news outlets in any given area.

Jon Stewart Rips Rupert Murdoch For Interest In LA Times http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/jon-stewart-rupert-murdoch-la-times_n_2980849.html?utm_hp_ref=media

My question is, why? What’s so special about Rupert Murdoch that he should be allowed to violate the law? Or be above it? Or not have to comply with it? Or be given a path around it?

The Daily Show‘s  Jon Stewart pretty much nailed it when he pointed out that Murdoch is, “petitioning the government to circumvent the media consolidation laws that ‘were created with him in mind.’”

Stewart Torches Rupert Murdoch For Trying To Get Around Media Monopoly Laws ‘Created With Him In Mind’ http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-torches-rupert-murdoch-for-trying-to-get-around-media-monopoly-laws-created-with-him-in-mind/

Murdoch’s News Corp. already owns two Los Angeles TV stations. He might argue that because L.A. has at least three other major commercial English language TV stations, owning the Los Angeles Times wouldn’t create a monopoly. And he might even hold up New York City as an example.

Murdoch owns two New York-area  TV stations and a newspaper, the New York Post. Even though the FCC granted his petition for a waiver so he could own those three news companies, one huge difference between Los Angeles and New York is that Los Angeles, for all intents and purposes, has only one major daily newspaper and that is the Times. The New York Post isn’t that city’s major daily newspaper–far from it. The New York Times is. And even though the Post, which is a shiny-object, hyped-headline tabloid, isn’t the largest daily in New York, that city has other daily newspapers — the New York Daily News and Newsday are two besides the Post and the Times.

It’s bad enough for a large metropolitan area to be served by only one daily — or any publishing frequency — newspaper, but to further shrink residents’ and workers’ options with a single company or individual owning not only that paper, but two or more other news outlets does not benefit anyone except the owner and results in a less informed populace. I know. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I live, has only one daily newspaper which is owned by the same corporation that owns one of the four major TV stations and perhaps the most popular radio station. That corporation has a decided editorial point of view and it shows.

Another factor that should be paramount to the FCC as a government agency is that the government needs the news media as much, maybe even more, than the media need the government. That is because commercial news outlets are the primary means available to the government to get important information to the public.

During my years with the Los Angeles courts, an ongoing challenge was to get information to people. The information more often than not concerned programs that benefited court users — or would if they knew about them, hours of operation, jury service, and so much more. At the time, a number of news organizations were available.

Add to Murdoch’s request for a “fair hearing”, is the odorous trail he has strewn across the landscape, particularly in the UK where one of the newspapers he owned there shut down with the editor under suspicion of the unethical, if not illegal — that’s yet to be determined — hacking of private citizens’ and public figures’ email and telephones.

Why in the world would the FCC give special preference to someone with that kind of track record? That agency should to what it was created to do, serve the people. Not clear the way for an already megla-billionaire to further enrich himself at the expense of Southern Californian’s access to a variety and diversity of news sources–unless the commissioners’ have bought into that SCOTUS distortion that in this country money is speech. If so, that money/speech is becoming decidedly obscene. 


Perception-Shaping Words

“Innocent until proven guilty” has become such a quaint saying, at least as far as some cases appear in the media.

The following blurb — “The Olympic sprinter was afraid of intruders, thought his girlfriend was in bed next to him and thought he fired on a burglar who was hiding in the bathroom. Pistorius’ defense escapes being rational — but he could also escape a murder rap.” — ran beneath the New York Daily News headline “Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing already mirroring the spectacle that was the O.J. Simpson trial”


Both the headline and the blurb hum with opinion-shaping references and terms.

Just coupling Oscar Pistorius’s name with O.J. Simpson relative to the murder charges lodges against them automatically casts the pall of suspicion and sense of injustice embraced by many that marked and still dog Simpson and his acquittal.

Then the overall suggestion that Pistorius’s story of how he came to shoot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is implausible implants subliminal if not overt doubt  on that story.

And there are buzz phrases such as “Pistorius’s defense escapes being rationale” and “…also could escape a murder rap”.  Those assertions pretty much nail Pistorius’s guilt, at least so far as the headline and blurb writers are concerned, wouldn’t you say?

So just what does “innocent until proven guilty” really mean? Or has it become meaningless?