October 12, 1995
Web posted at: 12 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK (CNN) -- O.J. Simpson called the New York Times on Wednesday after pulling out of a scheduled interview with NBC News. In his first detailed interview since his acquittal on murder charges last week, Simpson said his lawyers had convinced him that answering questions about the case might make it more difficult to defend himself against pending civil suits from the families of the murder victims, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Simpson said he felt interviewers had been preparing to "retry" him.
Simpson's attorney in the civil cases, Robert Baker, filed court papers Wednesday asking that all the suits be dropped because Simpson already has been acquitted of criminal charges.
During his 45-minute telephone interview with the Times, Simpson also said it was wrong for him to "get physical" with then-wife Nicole in 1989. The incident led to Simpson pleading no contest to charges of spousal abuse. He said he is now willing to meet with "battered women" to "talk about my relationship." Tammy Bruce, president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women, called Simpson's offer absurd. "Battered women only need one batterer in their lives. There is nothing he can tell them they don't already know," she said.
Elsewhere in his interview with New York Times reporter Bill Carter, Simpson said:
Simpson, according to the Times, did not address the unanswered questions that still surround the murders. He said he had intended to use the television interview to combat what he called "ridiculous misrepresentations" in the media about the case and his life in the days since his acquittal.
Simpson said he was told he would have to give a deposition in the civil suits and that NBC, seeking questions to ask him in the interview, had spoken to the lawyers for the plaintiffs. "My lawyers told me I was being set up," he said. "They felt the interview was going to be tantamount to a grand jury hearing." Andrew Lack, president of NBC News, said Wednesday night that he did not know whether the lawyers who have filed the civil suits against Simpson had been contacted by the network.
According to the Times, Simpson said he began to question NBC immediately after he agreed to the interview, because the network press office had given what he called a "dishonest account" of the decision to broadcast the interview entirely free of commercials. "That was my stipulation," Simpson said, yet it was credited to the NBC president, Robert Wright. Lack agreed, telling CNN's Larry King it was a "misunderstanding." (138K AIFF sound or 138K WAV sound)
Referring to protests aimed at NBC after the interview was announced, Simpson said he concluded that "pressure being exerted on NBC" had changed the tone surrounding the interview. "I said from the beginning I didn't want a confrontation," he told the Times. "I've had 16 months of confrontation. I didn't go into this to be retried, to be cross-examined." But Simpson conceded he told NBC he would do the interview with no preconditions. He said all his lawyers except one, F. Lee Bailey, disagreed with his decision to conduct the NBC interview. "Maybe I'm a little cocky," he said. "But in my heart I feel I can have a conversation with anyone."
-- O.J. Simpson
Simpson told the Times he questions polls showing that up to 70 percent of the public is convinced of his guilt. "I don't think most of America believes I did it," he said. "I've gotten thousands of letters and telegrams from people supporting me. I saw all those people when I was driving home in that car, on the overpasses. I think about five people reacted negatively. I saw two negative signs. Thousands of people were giving me the thumbs-up sign. But what did I see on TV that night? The two negative signs."
Simpson cited numerous examples of what he labeled "outright distortion" by the "so-called responsible media." He included in that category an interview Wednesday on CNN in which it was said that the NBC interview had fallen through because Simpson's lawyers insisted on reviewing the questions in advance. "That never happened," he said, "but CNN said it did." The comment, made in error on CNN's "Showbiz Today" by People magazine columnist Mitchell Fink, was later corrected on air.
Simpson also denied reports in Los Angeles in the past week that he had delivered his two children back to the Brown family at 2 o'clock one morning after his post-trial reunion with them, "leaving my daughter traumatized." In fact, Simpson said, he watched those reports the next morning as he was "about to get in my Jacuzzi with my daughter."
He also denied rumors that he had married model Paula Barbieri in the Dominican Republic, or was about to do so. "I've spoken to Paula," the Times quoted him as saying, "but she has not been to my house. I have not seen her. But I saw a guy in the Dominican Republic saying he had confirmed that we were there."
Simpson said that among the telegrams and letters he has received are many from supporters who identify themselves as white. "They say, 'O.J., we are a white family, and we thank God you're free.' That's one of the things this case did: make people have to identify what race they are when they say they're supporting you."
Simpson called himself "a fighter," but he conceded in his phone call to the New York Times that " I don't have an image anymore. I'm a realist. I know I'm never going to be a spokesman for Hostess Cupcakes."
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