For a decade after his 1995 double-murder acquittal, O.J. Simpson held a grudge against Barbara Walters.
And against Karie Couric.
His gripe? The journalists’ reports about him surrounding the Trial of the Century, which he claims were “bogus.” Simpson even went so far as to get their bosses involved in trying to correct the stories.
He was particularly peeved at Walters for allegedly begging him to appear on The View years later, only to cancel the appearance without telling him.
“That pissed me off,” he said.
The fallen gridiron great made the comments in 2005 during an interview in New York City videotaped by his longtime promoter, Norman Pardo, host of BlogTalkRadio’s Courts Gone Wild.
Aired for the first time ever last night, the interview also finds Simpson – who’s currently on trial in Las Vegas on kidnapping and armed-robbery charges – bashing Geraldo Rivera’s “sleaze television” tactics, while saying that Howard Stern didn’t bother him because “One, I never listened to him. Two… I was his boss for a while, when this happened.”
Perhaps most stinging among Simpson’s claims is that Don Ohlmeyer, who was West Coast president of NBC at the time of the acquittal, called the head of NBC News to say a story being reported on the Today show about Simpson not telling his former in-laws where he’d taken his children – and traumatizing the kids in the process – was not true.
How did Ohlmeyer know?
Simpson says he and his kids were just a few feet away from the NBC honcho at the time – having all slept over at his house, where they’d had a warm reunion during Simpson’s first night as a free man after being jailed for 17 months.
Airing weeknights from 9 to 10 p.m. ET, Courts Gone Wild debuted September 8 and will run throughout Simpson’s Las Vegas trial.
To learn more about Pardo’s show, click here.
Scroll down to see Pardo’s exclusive videotaped interviews, or read the full transcript below.
OJ SIMPSON: The media to me has let America down – has let me down, obviously. It’s no wonder that they pass lawyers and used-car salesmen as the least-respected profession. There’s a reason for that, that that has happened.
I feel it has more to do with greed. As you know, during my trial, most news organizations reported record years. They made money.
Then they have to send someone to cruise over to a war zone – to L.A. They came out. Most of them are so lazy, they waited for [Associated Press correspondent] Linda Deutsch or somebody to come out and give them something, then they ran.
And they ran with every rumor. I mean, how many rumors? I would say my trial, and stuff around my trial, if somebody ever went through the media, and find out, this one, this one, this one from the trial. And every time they found out they weren’t true – when 90 percent of them weren’t true – you never heard anything else about it, because there was a new rumor.
So I thought [the media] let me down. I thought they let the American public down – in my case. I think in general they do. I read stories about what’s happening in Afghanistan. I have to look at it with a lot of skepticism. And I’ve had some issues in my life recently, that have happened, and I wonder. I said, If they can write this about me, that I know is not true, how do I know that they’re saying about this other guy is true?
(On major media figures who reported on Simpson during his murder trial.)
OJ SIMPSON: [Investigative journalist] Dominick Dunne says the most ridiculous things. He told me I looked when I walked out like I was guilty. Jesus. Thank you, Domenic. Let’s get rid of the juries. Let’s just have you look at people and see if they’re guilty.
Strangely enough, Howard Stern didn’t bother me at all. One, I never listened to him. Two, I was on the board of directors [of Stern’s former radio syndicate, Infinity Broadcasting]. So in a sense, I was his boss for a while, when this happened. And I didn’t listen to him then. But Howard is Howard. That’s his schtick. He makes money. Who cares? Not that I ever listened to him.
It got like – when people make guises of something they’re not. I mean, to me, Geraldo [Rivera] should be at The Globe or The Star. He really should be. I mean, this is a perfect example of this guy. Trying to act like he’s in danger [while Rivera was covering the U.S. War in Afghanistan for Fox News Channel and claimed to be at a friendly-fire scene, though it was later revealed that he was 300 miles away] and he’s somewhere and he said The Lord’s Prayer. He’s 200 miles away from there.
But guess what? Oh, it was a mistake. Oh, it’s alright for him to make a mistake. But nobody else – nobody could be wrong about. But guys like him, who put on airs to be something that they’re not. This guy created sleaze television. Remember he had his points he put out to the media about honesty in reporting? That in my day – you know, if you had a story about hookers, this guy had a story about midget hookers the next day. That bothers me. He doesn’t bother me particularly. But that type of person bothers me.
(On feeling stung by high-profile members of the media before, during and after his murder trial.)
OJ SIMPSON: Barbara Walters, when I was in jail the first week, and I was very – all these things were being said that were just wrong. And I’m hearing [about] people they make my friends – that I barely knew! – and all of a sudden they were close friends of [my ex-wife, Nicole [Brown].
But Barbara was on – what is her show? 20/20? – gave a report at the end of the show. She tells Hugh Downs O.J.’s contract with NBC was up, his contract with Hertz was up, he was paying about $55,000 in child support and alimony. And Hugh Downs looked at her and says, “You know, a lot of people think that kind of pressure would lead a man to maybe do something drastic.” And so that was the gist of what it was.
I was livid! My lawyers were livid. Hertz had resigned me to an extension. NBC had resigned me to an extension. And I didn’t pay any alimony.
So here’s an investigate show, with Barbara Walters. They could make one phone call. They could call NBC and found out that that wasn’t true. They could call Hertz and found out that that wasn’t true. They could call anyone.
But they went on and gave a total, New York Post-type story. Barbara Walters! But did she ever go on TV when she found out it wasn’t true? ‘Cause she found out – ‘cause I tracked [former ABC News Chairman] Roone Arledge down from jail. He was at the Deepdale Country Club [in Manhasset, N.Y.], playing golf.
And I said, “Tell her this: I’d like to speak to her.” And I spoke to her about it. She never corrected herself. I mean, we had a long talk about it. But she never made a public apology about it. And then, years later – the only reason I brought it up; I wouldn’t bring it up, ‘cause I accepted her apology – about a year ago, I guess, I was in New York promoting this Internet thing I was doing, and they called me and begged me to come on that show, The View.
And I said, “Are you sure you want me on that show, The View?” Then they talked me into the show. And the next day I gonna go on the show and she’s on TV saying, “Well, we’re not going to.” They didn’t call me and tell me. She went on TV and said she cancelled me because, “Well, we didn’t want any…” Made me look really bad. After they convinced me to come on the show! So that pissed me off.
There was one other incident in the media that bothered me: I’m out – my verdict is in. I’m at Rockingham [Simpson’s former estate in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles]. I got to see my kids. I haven’t seen my kids in 17 months. So I talked to [my in-laws] the Browns and my buddy A.C. [Cowlings] is gonna go get them out the next morning. But I can’t get out of my house. It’s like Troy – I’m under siege, right?
So I find a way to get out of my house. And I meet [my kids] and the house we want to go to, the media’s there. So we end up going to Don Ohlmeyer’s house. And Don is head of entertainment at the time at NBC.
And my kids and I, we have a great afternoon together. And we’re up late night. First thing in the morning, both kids are hugging me on the bed. Sydney [my daughter] wants me to get in the pool. So she’s in the pool. Justin [my son] is going into Don’s arcade room. And I’m outside there. And Don’s housekeeper calls me – “You gotta come see this.”
Susan Ford is on Katie Couric, and they’re giving this report: O.J. spent the night with the kids, but that man – what a horrible person he is. The Browns are so worried. He never called, he never said where he was at. They were worried, they were calling the police, finding out if anything had happened to the kids. He showed up at three o’clock in the morning. Sydney was traumatized. And Katie Couric is going, “Oh my god, oh my god.”
I’m sittin’ there – my mouth is on the floor. My kids are right out here with me. My kids never went back to Laguna. The Browns knew they were with me. This is a total false, bogus story.
So Don calls the head of news for NBC, I can’t think of his name now, to tell them the story is not true. They go, How do you know it’s not true? And Don says, “Trust me.” Because Don couldn’t tell them. And they guy kept saying, “Well, Don, how do you know it’s not true?” And I’m standing there with Don.
So Don says, “So that’s what we’ve come to in journalistic integrity – ‘How do you know it’s not true?’ – not, that we know it’s true because of?”
So that’s what NBC News and the Today show is all about. We had to prove that it wasn’t true. And to Don’s credit, he never gave, you know… And once, four or five months later, when I invited him back to my house, I was able really to read the riot act to the NBC people. I mean, how can you guys just do that?
This is the Today show, this is Barbara Walters.
If you’re saying Howard Stern, Geraldo Rivera – Howard, I apologize, puttin’ you in the same category with Geraldo. So I do apologize, Howard. But Geraldo – who cares? They’re going to say what they’re going to say. This guy’s going to lie, make up crap anyway.
But the Today show? Barbara Walters? You expect more from these people.
And ask them if everything I just said isn’t true.