Editorial by John Ziegler

LA Times Requests and Rejects JZ Editorial On O.J./Blake Questioning


The LA Times recently requested that I write an op-ed piece on my recent pursuit of O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake and the lessons I learned from those experiences. Several days after requesting that I get them the piece as quickly as possible, they rejected it saying it didn't work for them. This marks the second time that the LA Times has requested a specific opinion article from me and then decided not to run it (not to mention they requested a copy of my book and then never reviewed it). Fool me once...Fool me twice... Here is what was submitted.

As a talk show host, a large part of my job is to ask questions. Often the questions I ask make newsmakers uncomfortable or even angry. This has never bothered me because I perceive that it is an indication that the questions I am asking have at least some validity. After all, if there is no credibility to an inquiry, it is highly unlikely to provoke a passionate reaction. However, last week I had three separate situations where the response to my attempt to confront public figures was truly astonishing and an indication that something in our societal value system is seriously amiss.

My strange odyssey began when I tried mightily to make sure that O.J. Simpson's recent return to Los Angeles did not happen without Simpson at least being forced to answer some pointed questions and the organizers of that event (as well as potential future ones) knowing that allowing someone like him to profit from his image still provoked considerable outrage. For the first time since (most believe) he killed two people, Simpson was publicly signing autographs for money. I had been assured on the air by the host of the event (a fourth-rate 'Horror' convention which promoted Simpson's appearance on their website with a blood splattered photo of the fallen hero, as well as a banner at the site proclaiming his appearance over a haunted house appropriately named 'Bloodshed Medical') that I could have full access to the site so long as I did not create a dangerous situation.

Unfortunately, after I confronted Simpson for only a few brief moments following his entry to the surreal show, several very large security personnel broke the promise I had been made. I was rather roughly restrained from further following the now nearly crippled former football great to where he was to sign his name for money in a way that would avoid having to pay of any of the enormous wrongly death judgment against him. Not being one to give up easily, I continued trying to make my way through the security to get to where every person in the place other than me was allowed to go. In the end, I didn't have much more to show for my considerable labor than being drenched in the sweat of the big uglies whose job it was to keep me away from O.J.

During this fiasco the small, mostly white, crowd was indisputably almost universally against me and my efforts. I found it more than bizarre that the person who was just trying to ask Simpson a few questions he has never been forced to answer was the 'bad' guy who had taunts and insults thrown his way, while the guy who killed two people and divided the nation in the way his lawyers lied in his defense, was an idol worthy of being protected at all costs and whose signature the freakish crowd was eager to pay for.

Eventually, an absurd 911 call was made which laughably claimed that a 'celebrity' (presumably O.J.) was being 'assaulted with a deadly weapon.' So questions are now considered a 'deadly weapon'? Well, if anyone knows about what makes a deadly weapon, it is Simpson.

The rich irony of the LAPD being called to prevent O.J. Simpson from being asked questions was seemingly lost on most who were there Luckily for me, the LAPD has understandably no love for Simpson (one officer joked that he had brought another bloody glove since it hadn't worked the last time they tried it on him) and no action was taken.

I then turned to the Robert Blake civil trial (which the judge is running more like a comedy show than a legal proceeding) where the evidence of his guilt, though strong, is not nearly as overwhelming as it was against Simpson. Blake also lacks any security at all (even his attorneys tend to leave the court without him) which makes asking him questions about his testimony rather easy. Getting answers, however, is not. The second time I tried to get Blake to explain some seemingly incriminating statements he had made while on the witness stand (a place he mysteriously avoided during his criminal trial), Blake scurried back into the courthouse to get the authorities to make me 'leave him alone.' Thanks to that nasty First Amendment, all the Sheriff's deputies were able to do was escort Blake to his car while he tried his best to ignore my inquiries. This of course did not stop some bystanders from angrily echoing to me Blake's pleas for me to 'leave him alone.' I could not help wondering if they also felt that Blake should have left Bonny Lee Bakley alone.

Incredibly, this phenomenon of the questioner being considered far worse than the one whose acts created the need for answers apparently even pervades the fourth estate itself. In the halls of the Burbank courthouse where Blake's civil trial is taking place I was astonished to witness the extremely cozy relationship between famed Associated Press reporter Linda Deutsch and Blake. When I asked Deutsch if she thought such behavior was appropriate considering her position, she informed me that she thought Blake was innocent and that he had been 'exonerated' in the criminal trial. When I politely informed her that in our justice system a 'not guilty' verdict is hardly an 'exoneration,' and that I was shocked that someone of her position did not understand that simple reality, she immediately stomped off and absurdly complained to a courtroom clerk that she had been 'attacked' out in the hall. The reality is that what happened to Bonny Lee Bakley was an 'attack,' and it was my questioning that should undoubtedly be 'exonerated.'

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