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The Fox network’s plans to air a special featuring OJ Simpson and a hypothetical account of how he “would have” killed his ex-wife and her friend, Ron Goldman, has sown a rare case of public dissension at News Corp, the network’s usually tight-knit parent company.
Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly, two of the best-known personalities on Fox News, have attacked the television group’s decision to air the programme later this month. The two-part special is scheduled to coincide with the publication of Mr Simpson’s book, OJ Simpson: If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened, by News Corp’s HarperCollins division. Mr Rivera, who has been criticised for his own journalism in the past, called the programme “the most appalling thing I’ve ever seen”.
Mr O’Reilly, anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, was similarly outraged: “Shamefully, the Fox Broadcasting unit is set to carry the programme, which is simply indefensible, and a low point in American culture. For the record, Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel,” he said.
Mr Simpson, a former football star, avoided conviction in a much-publicised criminal trial after his former wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were found brutally murdered outside her Los Angeles home in 1994. Yet he was found liable in a civil trial, and ordered to pay $33.5m to the victims’ families.
The outbursts over the Fox broadcasts represented a rare case of internal tension at News Corp, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, and prides itself on typically avoiding the spats and infighting common at other media conglomerates.
Fox and News Corp spokespersons declined to comment, while REGAN, the HarperCollins imprint that is publishing the book, did not return calls.