Where were you when the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced?
KPCC – which is, I regret, a long-distance listen for me these days – asked that question on their website the other day. Other than being abruptly reminded of the OJ fiasco by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a few months back, I hadn’t consciously or intentionally thought about all this since – gosh. I can’t even recall. Which is something I’m sure I would’ve thought impossible at the time given how OJ’s trial coverage was non-stop through every media venue that existed from the first moment every channel’s broadcast was interrupted to follow his white Bronco’s storied freeway drive.
My question for you: What is a current-day equivalent to the OJ trial? Is there anything happening today you’d place at that level of prominence or notoriety?
I was in 8th grade and had gone to get something from my locker during class, when I passed an office with the door open and a radio on. No one was inside at the time, so I stood in the doorway and listened as the verdict was delivered.
My interest in the whole ordeal was actually fairly limited. Because the trial had been such a huge part of all avenues of media for such a long time by that point, however, it was still shocking to finally hear a verdict, even if for no other reason than that it meant this was all (basically) over. It was like getting a surprise finale episode of a show everyone had been watching, but which they feared might never go off the air and they’d be stuck with it forever.
I was only there listening for a minute or so since I happened to have passed that door at exactly the right time to catch the announcement, so as soon as it was over I went back to class – Mrs. Doty’s social studies class on the second floor of the old Heritage Christian High School building in West Allis, WI – and blurted out something about how they’d just said on the radio that OJ wasn’t guilty.
I remember believing the whole time that he really *was* guilty, but the feeling in my chest at the news was something like… relief?
Shortly thereafter, the principal made an announcement to the whole school about it over the intercom system, since the trial had been such an enormous part of everything for so long by then and so many people were eager to hear how it turned out. It would’ve been like suddenly hearing news today that the primary elections were being cancelled.
It was just such a constant ordeal, the ubiquity of which almost cannot be overstated. You would have had to TRY to not hear about this trial, and even then it would take some spectacular luck to be successful in that attempt. Well – spectacular luck and perhaps more than a pinch of willful oblivion. There just wasn’t as much new news flooding in at the same speed then as there is now that anyone can record, report on, and share their stories and findings. This trial wasn’t *all* there was on the news then, but most days… boy you sure wouldn’t know it.