Monday, October 10, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Run of His Life: The People vs. O. J. Simpson, excerpt eight)

from The Run of His Life: The People vs. O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin:

One of the enduring fictions of the Simpson case was the notion of the defendant himself as “involved” in his defense. Press reports persistently portrayed Simpson as virtually a member of his own defense team. O.J., it was said, was “plotting strategy” and “planning his own defense.” Simpson’s attorneys manufactured this idea primarily as a gift to their client and as a way of remaining in his good graces. Moreover, the idea of Simpson as a formidable figure in his own right—an African-American of stature—helped rally black support to him. In addition, the lawyers knew that many journalists would take their line about Simpson’s level of involvement at face value, even as it was transparently false. Treating Simpson as the equal of his lawyers fit nicely with the paternalistic approach many mainstream journalists take in writing about race. According to these informal standards, white reporters can write with candor about the intellectual limitations of their fellow whites, but not blacks. Absurdly, black sensibilities are thought to be too tender for the truth. Indeed, it is thought to be flirting with a charge of racism to draw attention to the intellectual limitations of any African-American, especially a prominent one like Simpson. So accepting the idea of Simpson as the peer of his attorneys relieved the mainstream press of confronting the obvious truth about him—that was an uneducated, semiliterate ex-athlete who could barely understand much about the legal proceedings against him.

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