O.J. Says Media Victimized Him p. 40

By: M.L. STEIN FIRST IT WAS O.J. Simpson's lawyer, Robert Shapiro, battering the media for their trial coverage in a recent Los Angeles speech. Then lead prosecution counsel Marcia Clark, in a New York City appearance, whacked the press for the way it has covered her, especially her changing hairstyles.
Now, Simpson himself has stepped forward in a surprise address at a Los Angeles suburban college to accuse the media of "victimizing" him and putting down black athletes and black jurors.
A Los Angeles Times story quoted him as complaining of racism in media coverage of his case and attacking the press and broadcasters for "shading" stories.
Reporters, he said, "never let the facts get in the way of a good story."
The speech was a surprise because he was not the scheduled speaker at El Camino Community College in Torrance.
In fact, said the college's public relations director Mary Ann Keating, very few people on campus knew he was coming.
Keating told E&P the Muslim Student Association had invited a Muslim teacher, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, as its speaker at a seminar on the media.
"We didn't know Simpson was coming until his limousine pulled up at the last minute," said Keating. However, fliers announcing his appearance had been plastered around the campus that afternoon.
"We got had. The students got had," she added. "O.J. had not been invited."
Keating said only "300 people tops" showed up for Simpson's speech in a 2,000-seat auditorium.
"About half were media," she added.
Still, Simpson got a rousing ovation, according to news reports, with some students chanting, "O.J! O.J.!" or shouting his nickname, "Juice."
Kabbani, Keating said, initially asked that no press be admitted to the symposium, a request that was refused. "I told him that this was a public speech at a public college and that Simpson, the students and the press all had the same First Amendment rights," recalled Keating, a former Times reporter.
"I think the press was expecting to fight it out with us and seemed taken aback when they didn't have to," Keating said with a laugh.
Simpson's remarks dwelt more on TV than the print media, but he described himself as the victim of a bad press.
"I feel I have been victimized," he said.
The former athlete and sports announcer also condemned the media for allegedly assuming in their reports that black jurors could not understand the DNA testimony.
And he said he resented a media suggestion that he had been "coached" in the course of the case with the implication that a black athlete was not articulate enough to speak for himself.
Following his speech, he signed autographs and
slapped hands with admiring students.
Not admiring, recounted Keating, were dozens of irate callers who protested Simpson's appearance at the college. "The calls were in the order of 'how could you let a murderer on campus?' " she said.
Makes charges in unannounced appearance at college event
# Editor & Publisher n June 22, 1996


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