Fact as Fiction as Fact (Part 2)
The story so far: Rupert Murdoch owns Fox TV and also ReganBooks, among many other things. Judith Regan has arranged to publish a book in which OJ Simpson explains how he would have done the murders, if he had done them. She has also interviewd him for a two-part puff-piece on Fox News. Growing numbers of people (not least the relatives of those he hypothetically didn’t murder) have become vocally angry about this latest attempt to drag it all up and give OJ several million dollars for his trouble.
Yesterday Rupert Murdoch reacted to the growing public anger about these festive OJ Christmas specials, by personally intervening and cancelling both. He claimed that they were both seriously “ill-judged” and apologised for any distress that they might have caused.
Judith Regan then issued a long (2,000 words and more) statement in which she defended herself and her decision to create the book and tv show. The complete statement is wonderfully deranged, as she adopts the best, and most modern, defence of all. She claims that she is the real victim in all of this.
Her reasoning follows a long, shallow, rambling path that claims her heart was broken by her first husband and as a result she quite naturally wanted to see justice done in the OJ Simpson trial. She says (in part):
I wanted it because I had once been that young woman who loved with all of her heart and believed in the goodness of man, the trusting girl who fell for the guy, who believed in the beauty of romance, the power of love, the joy of family and the miracle of motherhood. Like Nicole Brown, I believed with all my heart . . . and then got punched in the face.
On that day, October 3, 1995, as Howard and I sat watching the television with a conference room full of people, I said, “He’ll be acquitted.” I said it out loud, and the others in the room looked at me in a way I’d been looked at before: “Oh, God. She’s crazy.”
But I knew it, because I’d been there. I’d listened to the lies (“She hit herself’), watched him charm the police (“Sir, I don’t know why she’s saying this”), endured the ignorance of one cop who looked at me with disdain and said “You must like it,” and couldn’t understand why they didn’t believe me.
That man was tall, dark, and handsome. A great athlete. A brilliant mind. He was even a doctor, with an M.D. after his name and a degree that came with an oath: “First, do no harm.” He was one of the brightest men I’d ever met. And he could charm anyone. He charmed me. We had a child. And then he knocked me out, with a blow to my head, and sent me to the hospital.
He manipulated, lied, and broke my heart.
And then, after all but leaving me for dead in a hospital, where his daughter died a few days later, he left for good.
So as I watched this new scene play itself out, I knew that this man—the killer, as Kim calls him—would be acquitted.
The essay then takes in her feelings when her parents sent her to confession at the age of seven or eight, and moves slowly and aimlessly along several other gulleys before finishing, not with any clear explanation about why she commissioned the book, nor with any apology to those who were distressed by it, but with another look at her own life, and the problems and epiphanies that she has suffered as she clawed her way back from hell.
I thought back to Christmas Eve, a few years ago. The man who broke my heart was now standing on my doorstep, shaking. He talked about my son, now in his twenties, and told me I’d done a great job raising him alone.
During the years that I was running from work to homework, from my office to every school play, assembly, swim meet or parent conference, he never showed up for a single thing. While I was raising my son, he had lived a high life and then lost everything. He ended up in prison, lost his medical license, lost many of his worldly possessions, lost his looks and now, most of the women who once cared had gone, too.
And he was losing his mind. His hand was shaking violently. He had Parkinson’s disease, and was a broken man. He looked at me. The girl he’d left in the gutter had raised two children alone, had built a successful company, and was now a happy woman.
“I guess you think I’m getting my comeuppance,” he said.
And strangely I didn’t. That a man who had so much could throw it all away and fall so low—it gave me no pleasure.
I was sad for my son, sad for the women he’d left behind, sad for the mother and siblings he’d disappointed and I was sad for him that he’d missed the opportunity to live a beautiful life.
When I sat face to face with the killer, I wanted him to confess, to release us all from the wound of the conviction that was lost on that fall day in October of 1995.
For the girl who was left in the gutter, I wanted to make it right.
The moral of this story, as Jack Webb might say, is that in my soap opera I am the star and everything else is a plot device. Welcome to twenty first century solipsism, where my stubbed toe overtrumps your heart disease every time.