Hard to believe but it has been ten years to this week that the verdict in the O.J. Simpson double-murder case came down.
FRONTLINE marked this milestone with a serious look at the O.J. "Trial of the Century" and what it meant for America. They aired their documentary The O.J. Verdict on Tuesday on PBS stations across America, and it also is being streamed on the FRONTLINE website. Here's the link. They have interviews with many of the key players in the trial including the attorneys and some of the media people who covered it.
Back in 1995 these news outlets went insane covering the trial and a lot of people were embarrassed to cover it, thinking it was tabloid trash. But the fact was that a lot of people got caught up in that trial, and it really did say a lot about race relations in America. It came on the heels of the L.A. riots and the Rodney King beatings that were caught on tape, so there was this atmosphere of distrust for the LAPD that permeated the trial and the defence team exploited it to the fullest.
It was certainly the most watched trial in history. The verdict was one of those "where were you" type of moments. Me, I was in Ray Hazzan's TV class at the University of Western Ontario, and Hazzan was begging us in vain to watch the verdict on CBC Newsworld, but the class wanted to watch CNN and that's the channel we tuned into to see the verdict. We wanted to see CNN because CNN owned the story. All the time it was Jim Moret, Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack covering the trial, and every night Larry King had something on about the O.J. case.
Ah, the glory days of CNN, when everyone watched. Those were the days, and that was quite a trial.