October 11, 1995
Web posted at: 9:45 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Charles Feldman and CNN reports
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Citing pending litigation, O.J. Simpson backed out of a planned hour-long interview which was to have aired Wednesday night on NBC.
In a statement read Wednesday afternoon by his attorney Johnnie Cochran, Simpson explained his reasons for backing out of the interview.
"It was agreed this would be a conversation, not a confrontation," the statement said. "Because of pending litigation there would be some questions that I could not obviously address at this time." (113K AIFF sound or 113K WAV sound)
"However, it has become clear that NBC has, perhaps in an attempt to appease the first public viewpoints, concluded that this would be time and an opportunity to retry me. I have concluded this is not the appropriate time for me to speak, therefore I am postponing my appearance today. I look forward to addressing all questions at a time when reason can prevail." (255K AIFF sound or 255K WAV sound)
Simpson was to have been interviewed on NBC's "Dateline" by anchors Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric with no restrictions on the questions they would ask.
"Katie Couric and I were prepared to ask Mr. Simpson the many questions that remain unanswered in the wake of his acquittal," Brokaw said during a live cut-in Wednesday. "But last night, Mr. Simpson's lawyers contacted NBC News President Andrew Lack and began to explain to him the issues that prevented Mr. Simpson from speaking at this time. They also objected to reports of the nature of questions Katie Couric and I were prepared to ask."
The interview would have been Simpson's first public appearance since his acquittal last week on charges he killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Simpson did make a brief phone call to CNN talk show host Larry King just days after the end of his trial.
The planned NBC interview sparked protests from women's groups who objected to the network's giving a forum to an alleged wife-beater. Some of NBC's own employees signed petitions at the network's Burbank, California, studios protesting NBC's decision to give Simpson a platform on network television when he didn't take the stand to tell his story in a court of law.
Legal analyst Stan Goldman of Loyola Law School said the cancellation is a public relations nightmare for Simpson.(148K AIFF sound or 148K WAV sound)
"Having agreed to it and backed out in effect at the last minute because they wanted to ask him specific questions about the night of the crime makes him look pretty bad," Goldman said. "I mean, that he didn't look bad before is debatable. Now it makes him look even worse."
Simpson had tried and thus far failed to sell his story to pay-per-view cable channels before opting to sit down at his former employer's network.
In either case, a clear purpose would have been for Simpson to show he has nothing to hide in an effort to rehabilitate his image in the court of public opinion.
During the hard-hitting interview that NBC promised, he may have had to answer such questions as: What was he doing on the night of the double murders? Why didn't he answer his door when his limo driver came to pick him up to go to the airport? And, if Simpson is so anxious to tell his side of the story now, why didn't he tell it to the jury, under oath, in court?
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