Marc Levi / Flickr oj simpson...
Marc Levi / Flickr

Nick Bryant at the BBC has an interesting thesis: How OJ Simpson paved the way for Donald Trump. He finds a number of parallels.

It seems entirely fitting that OJ Simpson should reappear at this surreal juncture in American life because many of the trends that culminated in the election of Donald J Trump can be traced back to his arrest and trial.

Consider first of all the impact on the US media of that slow-motion car chase, as “The Juice” headed down the 405 freeway in the back of his white Ford Bronco pursued by a small armada of police cars and a squadron of news helicopters. With viewers glued to their televisions ­that day, Domino’s recorded a record spike in pizza deliveries.

It was the moment arguably that real-time, rolling news truly came of age.


In last year’s presidential election, the media fixation with Donald Trump demonstrated how that recipe still works now. His candidacy could almost have been tailor made to fit the requirements of real-time cable news and Twitter, its digital equivalent.

In ratings terms, his road to the White House became the political equivalent of that freeway chase, an improbable journey we couldn’t take our eyes off partly because we were fascinated to learn how it would end. Donald Trump exploited this. The billionaire reality TV star, sensing immediately his media pulling power, became the ringmaster of an OJ-style circus.

Bryant points to a number of ways how America reacted to the Simpson trial and the verdict is similar to how America split over Trump. For example…

Another parallel. When historians study the rise of post-truth politics, the triumph of feelings over fact, they will surely trace at least some of its origins back to the OJ Simpson trial. In that LA County courtroom, the evidence overwhelmingly pointed towards Simpson’s guilt on charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Yet some jury members admitted afterwards they wanted to give the LAPD and the prosecution team a bloody nose. For some jurors, it was a protest verdict, based on emotion rather than the facts of the case.

emphasis added

Read The Whole Thing. It will provide food for thought even if you don’t agree with Bryant.

And let’s hope whatever goes down with Trump doesn’t become a farce like the Simpson trial.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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