Orenthal James Simpson almost certainly killed two people in 1994.
When he allegedly did it, he had a long history that implicated him in potential violence, including accusations of stalking and wife-beating and one no-contest plea to spousal abuse.
Simpson’s acquittal was the result of a number of things, including the novelty of DNA evidence at the time and a poisoned racial atmosphere in Los Angeles after a series of high-profile police scandals involving racism, including the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King and the acquittals of police officers accused of brutality that led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
All of which is to say that the O.J. Simpson case is sui generis in the violence of the crime, the level of guilt that could be ascribed to him and the cultural milieu that led to his being found innocent. It is, in the annals of American justice, a case that’s almost unique in how violent and cruel it was and how it played out in the media.
We can easily forget that over 25 years, but not easily enough that President Donald Trump can or should be compared to a man who almost certainly committed double murder and used a mephitic racial environment in Southern California to beat the rap.
Such careless comparisons may easily be thrown around by some minor political kibitzer and pass with merely a sigh. Chuck Todd is the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and one of the network’s most experienced political “journalists.” That this utterance escaped his lips says a lot about where NBC “journalists” — and, indeed, plenty of the American media, are right now.
Instead of hosting the network’s premier political show, Todd was hosting “MTP Daily” on MSNBC, a sort of coarsened, dumbed-down, weekday version of the longest-running show on television that’s on the same network where “AM Joy” airs.
Todd was talking about the possibility of a Ukrainian quid pro quo with Andrew Weissman, former FBI analyst and member of special counsel Robert Meuller’s investigating team.
Weissman, according to Breitbart, has recently been seen promoting a strange conspiracy theory that Trump actually didn’t care that the Russians were tapping one of his calls with American Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland because it would have provided the Russians with ammunition they could use in the 2020 election and that he was expecting Kremlin support in 2020.
That might not necessarily discredit Weissman and the entire conversation straight off the bat, but it’s meant to provide some context as to what transpired during the Thursday edition of “MTP Daily” beyond Todd’s unusual remark.
“On substance, this is really not about the facts. The facts have been unbelievably clear; you had two and more compelling witnesses today saying, ‘Yes, there was a quid pro quo. And by the way, everybody knew it,’” Weissman said during the interview on Thursday, according to Newsbusters.
“So this is really not about the facts; it’s a question of what are the voters, whether it’s the voters in Congress or the voters in the election that’s coming up, are gonna care. I think that’s really the issue; it’s not sort of ‘package it.’”
“I’m having a quick flashback to the O.J. trial, frankly, where the facts were damning, but it didn’t matter,” Todd said.
“And yet, he was innocent, but everybody knew he was guilty. Are we about to head into a situation like that where he’s going to get acquitted and yet everybody’s gonna know he’s guilty?”
Todd’s flashback to the O.J. trial is a curious one in that I don’t think anyone was comparing Trump to a double-murderer. Except, um, another guy on MSNBC. In case you’re wondering, it’s probably the one you’re thinking of.
“I was just watching the vote in the House Judiciary Committee in the summer of 1974 where you saw six or more Republicans vote for impeachment, for that first article of impeachment. It’s much more tribal today. I mean, these hearings today are going to be much more like the O.J. trial, the great trial at the end of the 20th century, where people took sides very quickly,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said on Nov. 13.
“And I think [Republicans are] going to try to shift the attention from this simple matter of bribery, where the president, acting like a crooked local official, simply said, ‘Yeah, I’ll get you your foreign military assistance to fight off the Russian tanks, but first I want you to do me a favor, though.’ That’s what a local pol would do, a magistrate would do in the old days of Philadelphia, where, ‘Yeah, my drawer’s open, I need something here before we go on with this,’ for a zoning variance or anything.”
Straw men that obvious are usually seen out in pumpkin patches. There are so many things obviously wrong with both of these statements, of which I’ll give an incomplete list:
- O.J. Simpson is almost certainly a double murderer, someone who was linked to the crime via DNA and circumstantial evidence
- President Trump hasn’t stabbed his ex-wife and another man to death.
- The facts in the O.J. case were clear; the facts in the Trump case aren’t unless you’re Chuck Todd or Chris Matthews.
- The key fact in the Trump case will eventually reduce to whether or not he had mens rea — a guilty mind — when he requested certain investigations from the Ukrainians. Did he believe they were key to Ukrainian corruption? Did he believe the United States was at risk? Or was this solely an attempt to target his political opponents where his belief in the possibility of corruption and risk to the United States was so minor that this could be seen as nothing more than electoral cupidity?
- The key facts in the O.J. Simpson case reduced to whether he killed two people. Which, uh, he almost certainly did.
- Comparing a politician to an almost certain double-murderer may not be Mussolini or Hitler territory, but it’s clearly a cousin to that line of thought.
But, I mean, other than how the two cases are almost identical.
You can see how they mixed them up.
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