Did Fox Hinder 1st Amendment by Caving on OJ?
November 20, 2006 6:06 PM
This afternoon, News Corp.-owned Fox canceled its two-part special featuring OJ Simpson, “If I Did It,” which was to air Nov. 27 and 29. The show would have promoted the subsequent Nov. 30 release of his book by another News Corp. division, Regan Book.
There’s been a lot of public backlash, here, and everywhere about the ethics of this project. Fox axed the project after a dozen or so Fox affiliates refused to air the special, and after sister network Fox News Channel’s anchor Bill O’Reilly publicly chimed in, threatening to boycott products sold by any advertisers who sponsored the project. Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was equally adamant about the sensibilities involved here.
After all of this hubris on the part of News Corp., two questions remain: Was this really just a publicity stunt on the part of its Fox broadcast network? I doubt it. Fox, like P.T. Barnum, believed in never underestimating the intelligence of the masses. Wrong this time!
The second question is, and it came up in my previous blog: Should Fox stick to its guns and air and publish the OJ stuff in the name of the First Amendment? Rembember, OJ was acquitted. The glove did not fit.
That’s a dicier question, especially today, when we see some of our long assumed and now taken for granted liberties now under assail with the Patriot Act. I earlier asked if Fox should air this project. Now I’m asking if News Corp., the parent company, in the end, further curtail our rights to Free Speech? I’m not sure, would appreciate the feedback.