If you were around for the Trial of the Century, which pitted OJ Simpson, his all-star defense team and an ill-fitting glove against some of the best the state of California could muster, you probably already have an opinion about the football star’s guilt or innocence. The trial was one of the first the nation could literally watch start to finish. And watch they did. OJ’s trial was must-see TV. The lawyers knew the public was watching, and they put on quite a show. When the verdict was passed down, reasonable doubt derailed common sense. The jury just didn’t want to believe the Juice was a cold-blooded killer.
Fast forward a couple of decades and OJ has been convicted of assaulting someone in a hotel room. Many folks have shifted their opinions, and now there’s another wrinkle in the narrative that has blown public opinion wide open. Police have reported they are studying a knife found by a construction worker on the property. Apparently, the worker was taking part in the demolition of OJ’s infamous house, the one where Simpson was living when his ex-wife and her friend were stabbed to death. The worker, not sure if it would lead to anything, gave the knife to an off-duty cop who was working security at the construction site. The cop, who is now retired, held onto it for an unknown amount of time before turning it over to the department.
Immediately the public grabbed the story and ran with it. Furor was created. Now, the police are saying the story could all be a hoax stirred up by the recent release of the FX TV docudrama, People v. OJ Simpson. If this is a PR stunt, it might qualify as brilliant. The story brought the case right back to the public consciousness, even as every other news cycle is focused on the presidential race or the wars in the Middle East. Even if it’s strange coincidence motivated by the pre-release press related to the show, the publicity only helps show promoters … and, from a legal standpoint, it can’t hurt Simpson.
Since he was already acquitted, double jeopardy laws make it highly unlikely Simpson could be charged with any crimes related to the “discovery” of the knife.
But, from a PR perspective, this new “evidence” only hurts OJ. Those who are already convinced he killed Nicole will be even more convinced. Those on the fence will begin to lean, and, if they watch the TV show, will likely end up more convinced he did it. Those who are convinced otherwise will be left in a lonely position, bereft of anything other than a naked hope in their former hero, who, if nothing else, has likely fallen from grace.