It took 12 years for the tapes to surface, but television audiences were able to finally hear what Fox billed as O.J. Simpson’s “shocking hypothetical account” of the 1994 murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman.
On Sunday, the network aired the two-hour “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?,” in which the former NFL running back outlines how he might have killed Goldman and the mother of his two children. Simpson was acquitted of the murders, but he was deemed responsible for them in a civil lawsuit.
In the interview, Simpson described Goldman as “a guy that I didn’t really recognize. I may have seen him around, but I really didn’t recognize him.”
At one point, Simpson referenced a friend, whom he identifies only as “Charlie,” who went with him to confront Brown and handed him the knife that would be used as the murder weapon in the scenario.
“As things got heated, I just remember Nicole fell and hurt herself and this guy kind of got into a karate thing. And I said, ‘Well, you think you can kick my ass?’ And I remember I grabbed the knife — I do remember that portion, taking a knife from Charlie — and to be honest after that I don’t remember, except I’m standing there and there’s all kind of stuff around and …” he said, trailing off.
Judith Regan, who conducted the interview in 2006 for the book, “If I Did It,” pressed Simpson: “What kind of stuff?”
“Blood and stuff around,” he replied.
Simpson at first resisted discussing the killings but later appeared at several points to validate the prosecution’s timeline and theory of the case. He also lapses into tenses that don’t sound speculative, saying at one point, “Obviously I must have” taken a glove off after the killing, given that one was found at the scene.
Simpson also refers to blacking out, the vast amount of blood spilled (“It was horrible”), having been “fed up” with Nicole for bringing what he considered unsavory characters around his children and sneaking back into his house after the murders.
After the interviews were originally conducted, Regan, who was the publisher at News Corp.-owned HarperCollins, saw her book deal withdrawn amid backlash over the prospective book and a TV special Fox planned to air. She was subsequently fired and filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against the company, which was eventually settled. The book was eventually published elsewhere.
Regan told CNN on Monday that she found the interview “incredibly disturbing.”
“I had a friend text me last night and say, ‘Remind me never to play poker with Judith Regan,’ because, she said, I kept my poker face throughout the interview,” she said. “It was very difficult to sit and talk to him with the things that he was saying without reacting in the way in which I felt. So it was traumatic to revisit it. It’s a traumatic, sad, tragic story that I think affected a lot of people in a lot of different ways.”
In what appeared to be a move to undermine the ABC premiere of “American Idol” — a show Fox closed the curtains on in 2016 — Fox decided to air its Simpson special to compete against its former hit program.
This time, though, Simpson stands to make not one dime from the telecast, which was hosted by former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien and included a panel of experts, including Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden. Fox also promised it would air public-service announcements about domestic abuse during the special.
Filmmaker Terence Wrong said the producers reached out to Simpson, who did not respond.
An attorney for Fred Goldman said the family welcomes “the airing of these tapes.”
“While justice has eluded our family, Fox Entertainment enables everyone to make their own judgment,” the statement added.
Simpson was released from prison in October, having served time for kidnapping and armed robbery in his attempt to recover sports memorabilia.