Thursday, February 18, 2016

I Couldn’t Stand the Media During the O.J. Trial: Episode 3 of The People vs. O.J. Simpson

David Schwimmer as
Robert Kardashian
Source: FX
By Jenee Darden

Media coverage of the O.J. trial turned me cold to journalism for a long time. Between the tabloids hounding my family and sensationalized racial coverage, I was done.


I remember that darkened mug shot of O.J. on the cover of Time. I found it racially offensive, although Time said that wasn’t their intent. They had O.J. looking like the black boogey man before the trial began. Black folks were mad about that cover.  The People vs. O.J. Simpson depicts the editors and designers dramatizing the photo to cause more attention and sell more magazines. I’ve worked in journalism for 10 years now and had a great internship at Time magazine in London years later. I helped cover one of thecity’s worst terrorist attacks.  Still that scene is another reminder of why we need diversity in the newsroom.

This episode later gives us insight into more media power when Shapiro does an interview with the New Yorker. We see O.J.’s lawyers building the foundation of O.J. as a victim of a racist legal system, and framed by the LAPD. I’m interested in seeing more of Mark Furman in the series because his racism played a HUGE role in the jury ruling in favor of O.J.

Speaking of race I tripped out on that scene where O.J. rejects the idea of Johnnie Cochran joining the team and says, “I’m not black. I’m O.J.” Even O.J. believed his money and fame trumped race. Like I said before, if O.J. was a poor guy named Oscar Jenkins from Compton, he would be on death row.

DNA, DNA, DNA. The O.J. trial really introduced the greater public to DNA evidence. That was such a huge deal back then. People weren't talking about DNA evidence at the dinner table or with friends. This was new. 

Nathan Lane, Nathan Lane, Nathan Lane! What a wonderful surprise to see him in this series playing F. Lee Bailey. He’s such a good actor. 

I didn’t know Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian were divided on O.J.’s guilt/innocence. Very interesting.

Finally, scenes with my dad and Marcia Clark! Marcia tells my dad in the series she wants him to prosecute A.C. Cowlings because he drove O.J. in the Bronco chase. My dad called Mom and I to tell us he was going to do it. We couldn’t believe he would be involved somehow with the O.J. Simpson case.  I was so proud that my dad’s superiors trusted him with such a big case. I knew this would be a big boost for his career. Not long after, we got the call that he would be part of the prosecution against Simpson. The game changed. I’ll go into that in a future post.

The most powerful scene for me in this episode was of Kato Kaelin jogging.  Women in a drop-top convertible flashed their breasts at him. He was now a celebrity. After taking in their ta-tas, two guys ran by. They scorn him and accuse him of being a friend to a murderer. He turns to his jogging buddy to say how this situation is complicated. That’s exactly how I felt during the trial. Some people hated my father and thought he was trying to bring O.J. down. Others loved him and thought he was trying to bring the victims justice. I wasn’t sure who loved my father, who hated him. So I rarely told anyone he was my father.

I can’t wait for episode 4. I’ll have another blog post for you.

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