The news reports suggested that he was the killer before knowing if O.J. Simpson was even in Los Angeles at the time that Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered. The Los Angeles news media spoke with neighbors of Nicole Brown Simpson who claimed to have heard gunshots on the night of June 12, 1994 and the reporter insinuated that O.J. Simpson must have pulled the trigger. The TV news coverage between June 13 – June 17, 1994 profoundly shaped public opinion of OJ Simpson’s guilt or innocence.
It is important to understand that in June 1994 Americans’ sources for the latest news were limited to the following: daily newspaper (print-only), television newscasts, 24 hour cable news (Two choices: CNN or Headline News) or news/talk radio.
Before we could access an infinite stream of news and opinion from the palm of our hand, one’s daily newspaper and television newscasts played a pivotal role in shaping American’s understanding and influencing public opinion of each day’s news.
The first five days of television news coverage of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman (media reports almost never identified him by name – instead, the media reports called him: “a man,”/ “a friend,”/“another person,”/“Ronald Coleman,”/ “an unidentified, 26-year old man”) can best be described as “a ferret on crystal meth.”
The news coverage between June 13-17, 1994 was a cornucopia of inaccurate reports and an overstating of potential/rumored evidence.
Episode 14 of OJ Simpson: Fact or Fiction? showcases 5 Days In June: The TV News Coverage that Shaped Public Opinion of OJ Simpson’s Guilt or Innocence.
Some of the Highlights of Episode 14:
- The earliest news reports of the death of OJ Simpson’s ex-wife;
- Los Angeles television news coverage of the LAPD investigation of the murders between June 12 – 17;
- Leaks to the media from “sources” which were presented as fact;
- Robert Kardashian reading OJ Simpson’s letter on June 17, 1994;
- A minute by minute breakdown of the night of June 17, 1994;
- Al Cowlings frantic call to 911 from the I-5 freeway;
- NBC’s broadcast of game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks;
- Audio of OJ Simpson’s conversations with Detective Tom Lange during the so-called Bronco chase;
- Audio of a prank call made to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings by a fan of the Howard Stern Show and sportscaster Al Michaels’ informing Mr. Jennings that it was a farcical call; and,
- The safe conclusion to the standoff.
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