A 2006 interview with former football star and actor O.J. Simpson, previously thought to be lost, was aired for the first time on Fox on Sunday night. In it, Simpson “hypothetically” discussed the double-murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994.
Brown and Goldman were brutally murdered near the front entrance of her home; after the infamous Bronco chase, Simpson was arrested and charged with the murders.
Found not guilty in a criminal case known as the “Trial of the Century,” Simpson had a $33.5-million civil judgment levied against him in the 1997 wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Goldman and Brown families. (The outstanding judgment, which remains largely unpaid, is now worth about US$58 million with interest.)
The 2006 interview, which Simpson conducted with publisher Judith Regan, has never been seen by the public. Regan eventually went on to publish the controversial book If I Did It through HarperCollins. That book was born, in part, from the contents of the interview.
In 2006, Regan reportedly paid Simpson US$3.5 million to participate in the book’s creation, and it was lined up to be a Fox TV special. But Fox nixed it after public outrage that Simpson was paid for the interview. Regan was subsequently fired from HarperCollins and she sued News Corp. (HarperCollins’ parent company) for defamation.
The case was eventually settled, and the book was later released by the Goldman family, but the special never saw the light of day.
Multiple sources report that Fox was given approval by the Goldman and Brown families to air the interview after the tapes were rediscovered in a box at the studio.
While Simpson repeatedly clarified that everything he said in the interview was fictional, as he progressed he began to give further specific details and describe things from a firsthand point-of-view.
In his description, Simpson told Regan that he and his friend “Charlie” went to Brown’s house on the night of the murders (June 12, 1994).
“As things got heated, I just remember Nicole fell and hurt herself,” he said. “And this guy kind of got into a karate thing. … I remember I grabbed the knife, I do remember that portion, taking the knife from Charlie and to be honest after that I don’t remember. … I think everything is covered, … would have been covered in blood,” Simpson said, alternating between talking about Charlie and speaking from his own personal perspective.
Celebrity gossip site TMZ reported that Simpson wanted to go to Brown’s house that night in an attempt to “scare the s**t out of her.” He said he took the Bronco to her home with his friend, and only brought a knife, hat and leather gloves to appear threatening.
Simpson also said he “blacked out” and regained consciousness covered in blood, according to TMZ’s account of the interview.
“You write about removing a glove before taking the knife from Charlie,” Regan stated.
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“You know, I have no conscious memory of doing that, but obviously I must have because they found the glove there,” Simpson replied. He said he and Charlie then fled, discarding the bloody clothes on the way.
“I think Charlie is O.J. This is no hypothetical,” said Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the criminal trial and a contributor to the Fox special. “I think he’s confessed to murder.”
“This idea that this is a confession interview is a joke,” said Simpson’s lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, who added that Regan “scripted” the interview hoping to juice sales of her book.
Regan denied that accusation in a statement.
“As anyone can see from his responses on the special, I did not feed him lines,” she said.
Twitter users were divided. While some found the interview very convincing, others thought it was a new low for Fox.
Simpson was released on parole in October 2017 after spending nearly nine years behind bars for a botched hotel-room heist.