Columnist Hirsen: Simpson Trial Changed Media Landscape

Friday, 13 Jun 2014 04:29 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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When police followed murder suspect O.J.Simpson's white Ford Bronco 20 years ago in the slow car chase watched around the world, it unleashed a whole new era of reality television, says Newsmax "Left Coast Report" columnist James Hirsen.

"It certainly altered the media landscape," Hirsen said on Friday's edition of "America's Forum," on Newsmax TV. "It gave birth to reality TV," and directly contributed to the rise of the Kardashian sisters, with Robert Kardashian gaining fame defending Simpson.

"The whole country was transfixed by this news story," said Hirsen. "The celebrity obsession was given impetus by the O.J. case."

More than 95 million people watched at least part of the police chase, or more than watched the Super Bowl, he pointed out. "It gave birth to a whole new tabloid news concept," and made stars out of people like Marcia Clark, Johnny Cochran, Greta Van Susteren, and F. Lee Bailey, among others involved in prosecuting the case.

"It was the biggest media event of its time," Hirsen said. "That kind of event can't help but alter the media landscape. as the technology came into being that allowed us to break stories with multiple devices."

The Simpson case is still affecting the nation's 24-hour cable news cycle, as the networks are "still searching for a new O.J. story," as evidenced in CNN's recent coverage of the lost Malaysia Air jet.

"There still hasn't been since O.J. a story quite as large as looming and as overpowering," said Hirsen. "It went on for such a long time. It started with the original report of the arrest which interrupted the NBA finals."

In other media issues, Hirsen spoke of Silicon Valley's role in modern elections, including House Majority Eric Cantor's failed bid for re-election in Virginia this week.

"David Brat ran an ad that showed Eric Cantor with his arm around Mark Zuckerberg," said Hirsen, noting the Facebook founder has been making "very public appeals for immigration reform."

But, at the same time, Hirsen believes there were other reasons behind Cantor's loss.

"Some people want to use immigration reform as sole reason," he said. "I think there's a lot more than that."

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