Can the Media Echo Chamber Actually Give O.J. His Comeuppance?
Just days after making a big deal about avoiding the whole O.J. Simpson media debacle, I've accepted two more offers to discuss it on television.
By the time you read this, I will probably have already appeared on Fox & Friends Monday to deconstruct the scandal (6:15 a.m., if you don't have al ife and are actually reading this before then); I'm also due to visit local Fox affiliate WTVT-Ch. 13 next Monday. And I joined a panel of pundits and commentators to chew over the issue this morning, on CNN's Reliable Sources.
I'll admit, i'm intriguted by the idea of appearing on a channel like Fox, which seems to loathe me so much. And I'm having a tough time resisting the debate. But I'm also hoping to advocate a radical idea: turning the media circus against those who would profit from it.
It's an idea that journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell advanced during our discussion on CNN. Pundits will dissect the Simpson interview endlessly the following day; YouTube will likely be filled with unauthorized video clips and critics like me will write column after column dissecting the madness. (Some viewers won't have a choice: nine Fox affiliates owned by other companies have already said they will not air the show.)
So you can experience the interview without ever actually watching the TV show (especially, those of you who have Nielsen Media Research ratings boxes on your TVs). I've told people for years that my job as TV critic is to watch the crap so you don't have to: maybe it's time we all took that concept a little more seriously.
The same strategy works for Simpson's book, as well. Read the endless reviews; check out the feature stories on the issues raised. Just don't buy the book. Don't give Simpson the satisfaction of giving the world the finger and making a buck as well -- with a little extra effort, you can soak up all the information he delievers without actually giving him or publisher Judith Regan a dime of your money. And wouldn't that just be the coolest media coup ever?
Speaking of Regan, her statement released last week claiming her history as a battered girlfriend prompted publishing the book will go down with Mark Foley's molestation charges as the all-time worst justification of the year. Especially since the New York Daily News reported that Regan rejected a book from Nicole Brown's sister in 2004 because it wasn't salacious enough; if she wanted to help victims of domestic violence, you think Regan would have started with Nicole Brown's survivors.
I wish I had taken a few moments on CNN this morning to challenge Philadelphia Inquirer TV writer Gail Shister when she said "I don't think we should be in the business of telling people what not to watch on television."
I thought that was funny, because that's exactly what TV critics do for a living. I love Gail to death, but she's not exactly shy about telling folks when she thinks a particular TV series is tanking; why would we hold ouer tongues when faced with something much more loathesome and potentially corrosive to society?
Anyway, since this is a discussion that's going to happen with or without me, I've decided to try and engage it in a way that makes sense. And what makes the most sense right now is to urge you to use me -- and critics/journalists like me -- to keep Simpson and Regan from using you. (to see how desperate O.J. can get for publicity, click here)
Talk about turning the media circus on its ear....