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From the Field
The Nerve
By Phil Shuman

The "nerve" of OJ Simpson to give advice to Robert Blake!

Who is he to tell Robert Blake anything?

Why would anyone want to listen to what a ''double murderer'' has to say?!

All good questions, but Simpson did in fact give advice to Blake on recent editions of the nationally syndicated news magazine show EXTRA.

Love him or hate him, (and do we have to say which is more likely ? ) OJ Simpson has a lot of relevant things to say to Robert Blake, and that's why EXTRA approached him for an interview. The interview itself was the subject of quite a bit of news coverage, all the local stations used quotes and sound bites, it was on the front page of the NY Post, Extra reporters were interviewed on MSNBC ,Geraldo, and CNN.

Why the buzz ? Isn't Simpson ''old news"? Well, he was until the Blake/Bakely murder mystery came along ..

Perhaps you remember that Simpson lived through the most publicized trial of all time, from the perspective of the celebrity defendant. Even though Blake has not at this writing even been arrested let alone charged with any crime, Simpson has a unique perspective on life in the media firestorm. He knows first hand what Blake is going through now and has an idea of what Blake's life would be like if he ever comes to trial. So who better to ask about the Blake case?

Beyond the 'celebrity' angle, there are so many parallels. The wife (or ex wife) as the victim. The LAPD investigating, the Los Angeles County District Attorney as the potential prosecutor. The high profile defense team. Even an Italian restaurant.

So just what did Simpson have to say?

He advised Blake, for example, not to watch TV, because all of the talking heads and instant pundits would frustrate him and it would make Blake want to ''hit someone'' (brilliant comment).

He advised Blake not to take a lie detector test, because if he passes it no one will believe him and if he fails it could be used against him even though not admissible in court.

He advised Blake to make sure that his lawyers don't trash the wife, claiming he made sure his lawyers didn't do that, though that's a bit of revisionism there on Simpson's behalf.

Simpson also suggested that the relatives of Bonnie Bakely keep up the pressure on the LAPD to make sure they arrest the right suspect, implying that somehow in his murder trial they didn't have the 'right ' man. He went on to counsel Blake that if for some reason they never catch the person who killed his wife, that he must find the courage to go on with his life, as Simpson is saying he did.

He paints a picture of himself as the doting single parent, who takes his two kids to school, picks them up, and squeezes in a few holes with this 'golfing buddies' in between. A nice image, except for the minor detail that most people think he killed his kid's mother.

Given a choice, would we all prefer OJ Simpson fade away into obscurity?


But are we all still morbidly fascinated with him?


As news reporters, we're not 'allowed' to have opinions, we don't always have the luxury of choosing our news subjects. OJ Simpson is a newsmaker whenever he speaks; he is a national curiosity. His own words and actions reveal more about about him than anything written or broadcast. Much like a car accident, we can't help but gawk at him whenever he goes on public display.

About the Author

PHIL SHUMAN is a reporter for EXTRA. (Seen in Los Angeles at 7pm Mon thru Sat on Channel 4. ) Phil joined EXTRA in 1996. Before that he spent 13 years reporting for Channel 4 news covering everything from earthquakes and fires to Rodney King and OJ. Phil also hosts his own radio talk show on KABC AM 790 Sundays from 4 to 6pm, where he'd welcome your calls.