And you thought the Los Angeles bid for the Olympics would give Angelenos the media equivalent of acid flashbacks. Former NFL and Hollywood star as well as accused murderer O. J. Simpson will have a parole hearing this week after spending nine years in prison for armed robbery convictions. Simpson has already won reduced time on other charges, and could walk out of prison after being a “model inmate,” according to his attorney:
O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing is scheduled for this week — his former attorney says he's has been a model inmate and should be released pic.twitter.com/qt59QPrd87
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 17, 2017
It’s not just his attorney who thinks Simpson has a good shot at a parole grant. One thing OJ has working for him, the Associated Press notes, is that no one from this case will be arguing against his release:
Now 70, Simpson will have history in his favor and a clean record behind bars as he approaches the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault with a weapon. Plus, the parole board sided with him once before.
No one at his Thursday hearing is expected to oppose releasing him in October — not his victim, not even the former prosecutor who persuaded a jury in Las Vegas to convict Simpson in 2008.
“Assuming that he’s behaved himself in prison, I don’t think it will be out of line for him to get parole,” said David Roger, the retired Clark County district attorney.
In other words, Simpson may soon be free to keep looking for Nicole Brown Simpson’s killer on golf courses around Nevada, if not the US. Thanks to a decision by the Nevada parole board, we can all find out in real time the result of the hearing. Just like his murder trial 22 years ago when accused of killing his wife and Ron Goldman, at least one cable network plans to air it live:
O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing in Nevada this Thursday will be carried live on ESPN as an expanded, 90-minute Outside the Lines Special, and pool cameras in the hearing room make it all but certain the proceedings will pop up at least in part on other news channels.
In fact, the Nevada Board of Parole says about 30 news organizations have registered to cover the hearing at both the hearing location in Carson City and at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, where Simpson is incarcerated on the 2008 armed robbery and kidnapping convictions. …
The hearing begins at 10 am PT (1 pm ET), and ESPN has set aside a 90-minute slot under its Outside the Lines banner. The network’s Jeremy Schaap will anchor.
Er … ESPN? Yes, Simpson was a Hall of Fame athlete in the NFL, but he hasn’t done anything on a football field in decades. By the time of the murders, OJ was more famous for being famous and his Naked Gun comedic roles; now he’s more famous as a criminal. Outside the Lines would be the correct brand to use for ESPN in this instance, but if a parole hearing warrants live coverage, what does that say about the value of actual sports events and news that is its core business?
For that matter, why would anyone carry this live? It’s a parole hearing, not a Congressional panel hearing on a scandal. The only suspense in this event is whether the board grants parole, which would be material more suited for a quick breaking-news update. The 1995 trial that helped to create the talking-head monstrosity that is now cable news might have had more worthiness for a live transmission, but wound up as cheap exploitation fare, turning a legal process into a reality-TV show. What value will moment-to-moment commentary for a parole hearing provide that couldn’t just get summed up in a later news report?
There’s no halting “progress,” it seems, even in cheap exploitation fare. Let’s hope that the parole board resists the grandstanding impulses on all sides better than the principals did the first time around.