Friday, October 12, 2007

Fighting For Our Right To OJ and Paris

Thought you'd all enjoy this Web-only piece for the Las Vegas Weekly, responding to some slightly indirect criticism I received in CityLife.

Fighting For Our Rights To O.J. and Paris

You may have heard that a few weeks ago, the nation’s most famous ex-murder defendant was picked up on armed robbery charges here in Las Vegas. Or you may have heard that the nation is mired in a seemingly unwinnable and endless war in some Middle Eastern country. Or you may have heard that there’s controversy over whether the president misuses his power to violate privacy, illicitly enrich his cronies and misinform the public.

What? You mean you know about all of those things? Why, that cannot be! Or, at least, the editor of the other alternative weekly, Steve Sebelius, doesn’t think you could possibly be so aware. You’re all too stupid to know about more than one thing!

I was more than a little amused to recognize myself as the fall guy in Sebelius’ column in CityLife a few weeks back following a fun little scrum he and I had on PBS’ Nevada Week In Review on Sept. 21. The biggest Vegas story of the week was the arrest and release of O.J. Simpson on charges he and a group of gunned-up thugs burst into a Palace Station hotel room to “retrieve” some sports memorabilia the ex-football star insisted was his. Now they face a slew of felony charges.

I had covered this situation for The New York Times and acknowledged on the TV program that I was surprised – and grateful, at least from a bankbook point of view – that The Paper of Record had me following the saga on a daily basis as it first unfolded. I never pretended that it was the sort of story that actually made a difference in people’s lives, but whether the fate of the nation is at stake isn’t the only motivation for committing journalism. Sometimes it’s just interesting and weird, and the central figure of the Trial of Last Century being caught up in such a ridiculous scheme in a place as prurient as Las Vegas has all the elements of something interesting and weird.