January 25, 1996
Web posted at: 1:35 a.m. EST
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- O.J. Simpson said that the media turned America against him Wednesday night in a live interview on a African-American cable network. Simpson, who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, said that he was "as innocent as anyone else out there."
In his first full interview since his acquittal of the double murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman last October, Simpson told Black Entertainment Television anchor Ed Gordon that the media played a large part in tainting America's view of him. "I think the media is the main reason why America is feeling the way they're feeling," he said. "They were lied to."
Simpson was also angry at the victim's families. "I have a side of me that is very angry at Fred Goldman and the Browns," he said. Fred Goldman believes Simpson murdered his son and has repeatedly said so to the press. But, Simpson said, he felt compassion for Goldman because of his loss of a son.
And he said that his ex-wife's sisters "haven't been true to the memory of Nicole."
"What they've done has been very self-serving," said Simpson, who accused Denise and Dominique Brown of selling "unflattering pictures" of their sister to "the rags."
When Gordon asked Simpson point blank whether he killed Nicole Brown Simpson or Ron Goldman on June 12, 1994, Simpson said, "No, I did not commit those murders. I couldn't kill anyone, and I don't know of anyone who was involved."
BET said that the interview would be a no-holds-barred session, but Simpson refused to discuss specifics, citing his contract with a video producer and a pending civil lawsuit against him. "I can't really talk about the evidence in the case," he said.
Simpson appeared to invite the opportunity to present his case in public after a nine-month trial in which he did not take the stand.
BET President Jefferi K. Lee said neither Simpson nor his attorneys set special conditions on the interview.
The network also did not promise Simpson any free time to promote his new mail-order video, but the producer of the videotape bought advertising time on BET before and after the broadcast as well as spots over a four-week period. On the video, which has not yet been released to the public, Simpson gives his version of events surround the murders.
Other highlights of the interview:
BET's Ed Gordon didn't pull any punches when he asked Simpson where he was the night of the murders. But Simpson said that to get that answer, people should buy his tape, which sells for $29.95. Gordon shot back, "Can't you give the people something for free?"
Simpson replied that he gave the Los Angeles Police Department a 33-minute account of where he was the night of the murders and that the prosecution could have let the people hear that for free.
On the day of his not guilty verdict, Simpson said that the media misrepresented people's reaction, dwelling on people who where against him and ignoring his supporters. He specifically referred to his drive from the Los Angeles courtroom to his Rockingham home the day of the verdict. "The vast majority (along the roadside,) I'm telling you 95 percent of the people were clapping and giving me the thumbs up sign," he said.
Simpson said he was surprised by the negative reaction to his efforts to repair his image following the trial when he initially agreed to be interviewed by NBC News. "This is America, I'm told. I'm as innocent as anyone else out there. I think one of the great things about this country is our right to speak," Simpson said. He canceled the interview because his lawyers said it would interfere with the wrongful death civil suit.
He also denied that he ever seriously considered doing an interview with CNN.
Simpson agreed to a pay-per-view TV appearance shortly after his acquittal, but cable companies turned down the proposal, fearing a public backlash.
During the interview, Simpson targeted anti-spousal abuse groups. "I was surprised by the reaction of a certain special interest group," Simpson said. He characterized his rocky history with his ex-wife as typical of most married couples. "We've had plenty of arguments, which I think is true for any couple that's been together for any length of time. I would say anybody who is out there or is in a relationship, just turn a tape recorder on. Next time you have an argument, you will not believe that was you."
Denise Brown, who now works with battered women's groups, testified at Simpson's trial that during an argument Simpson threw Nicole against a wall.
BET reaches about 44.2 million cable households including more than 90 percent of black cable households in America. It is seen in such major markets as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
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