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Jokerman's Journal
Jokerman's Journal
June 17, 2014

Why are they chasing O.J.?

It was on this date twenty years ago that Traci and I left the mountain cabin where we’d spent the previous five nights, drove across Tennessee and checked into a hotel. I was still a TV news junkie at the time and while Traci took a shower I turned on a TV for the first time in nearly a week.

Boy was I confused. I had jumped right into the middle of the now famous slow-speed-chase. Every channel had live coverage of the same white Bronco being followed by the police. Of course they assumed their viewers knew about the murders and subsequent investigation so there was no background info for those of us who tuned in late, just the same, slow-moving Bronco. It took me several minutes to even figure out who was driving.

Traci finished her shower and found me staring intently into the screen still trying to figure out what the hell I was watching. “What’s this,” she asked. “Damned if I know, but it’s on EVERY channel.” As she sat down I told her, “I think that’s O.J. Simpson in the Bronco that the cops are chasing.” She looked puzzled, “Why are they chasing O.J.?”

In the year following that event I began to long for those days when I knew little about O.J. Simpson and rarely heard his name. I made a vow that I would turn off any TV news program as soon as the daily O.J. update began. As the “trial of the century” progressed from the fourth or fifth story of the day to the first or second story in every newscast I found myself completely cured of my TV news habit. Over the last twenty years I doubt that I have watched as many hours of TV news as they spent covering one month of O.J.’s trial.

For me at least, that was a defining moment for TV news. Broadcast journalism was officially dead and tabloid TV became the only game in town.

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