Tag Archives: public perception

So, What’s the Problem with a Little Dramatic License

“The way the public perceives something can often be the exact opposite of the real facts, but public perception has a way of outweighing and eventually eclipsing the truth.”

That is the second sentence in an article posted a couple of days ago on the Rolling Out website, and is one of the more accurate statements I’ve read or heard in connection with the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Not the current TV miniseries, but the 1995 trial itself. Although the show in progress does do a lot to perpetuate public perceptions that were created during the trial and have continued for more than 20 years to overshadow reality.

The trial judge, Lance Ito, is an excellent example.

Anyone who believes the media-created Ito is the real person would have to wonder how a star-struck, celebrity-wannabe, incompetent, dithering, camera-pandering, media-hating, la-la-land person ever made it onto the Los Angeles Superior Court as a judge. Those media-invented labels are the exact opposite of the real facts.

My book, Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson shows in many ways the opposite of how the media portrayed him. (The book is now available for $10.99 directly from me, or on Amazon.com (Prime) by using this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0826218229/ref=olp_page_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1456499960&sr=1-1&startIndex=10

The FX miniseries not only perpetuates the erroneous perceptions of Ito, it reinforces them, which are then embellished to an even brighter shine by articles about the FX drama. An example is a review of the miniseries Episode 4 on the tv.com website that contains the following:

“BTW, did you notice how when Judge Ito told his wife Sgt. York that he’d gotten the big O.J. trial gig, A) he was wearing a seriously rad windbreaker …”

Never in all the years that I knew Judge Ito — before, during and after that trial — did I ever see him wear anything other than a business suit at the courthouse. The most casual he ever got was to loosen his necktie. Might he have dressed down more if or when he came in on weekends or holidays? I don’t know. But the day he learned that the judicial leadership of the court assigned him to the Simpson case was not a weekend or holiday. So, not only would Ito not have been giddy at the news, as he was portrayed in Episode 4, he would not have been wearing a windbreaker, rad or otherwise.

That might be considered taking a tiny bit of dramatic license, but it isn’t inconsequential. Details like that work on the subconscious and are a major part of the opinions people form about other people. The plethora of inaccurate and downright wrong details and labels the news media gave the public about Ito became mountainous by the end of the trial.