Fox News will provide live coverage of O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing Thursday featuring as an analyst the former Los Angeles police detective famous for lying during Simpson’s trial about his repeated use of racist language.
Simpson has served nine years of a nine-to-33 year sentence for his armed confrontation with and subsequent robbery of memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007. He was arrested and later found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and conspiracy charges.
Fuhrman was one of the first officers to investigate the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, Simpson’s ex-wife, and Ron Goldman, for which Simpson was arrested and charged.
Part of Simpson’s defense team’s strategy, as outlined by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker, was to make the case racially charged, especially given that the victims were white and Simpson is black.
At the time, Los Angeles was still reeling from a 1991 video showing city police beating black taxi driver Rodney King, an incident which led to the 1992 L.A. riots. Toobin wrote the defense would bring up the issue of race, “even if it means that helping O.J. Simpson threatens the tender peace of the city of Los Angeles.”
One aspect of the strategy was to highlight Fuhrman’s past usage of the n-word, even though Fuhrman swore under oath that he hadn’t used the racial slur in the past 10 years.
The defense brought several witnesses refuting Fuhrman’s denial. The smoking gun came in a recorded conversation between Fuhrman and screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny in which he used the n-word more than 40 times. Beginning in 1985, McKinny taped interviews with Fuhrman and other Los Angeles police officers while researching a screenplay.
He was indicted on perjury charges, to which he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
“It is important to understand that, as a result of these charges, this plea and this sentence, Mark Fuhrman is now a felon and will forever be branded a liar,” California Attorney General Dan Lungren said at the time. “By pleading to a felony, Mr. Fuhrman will never be a police officer in the state of California again. He is also now the ultimate impeachable witness — a convicted perjurer.”
Simpson was acquitted of the double-homicide. In 1997, however, a civil jury found Simpson liable for the deaths and he was ordered to pay survivors $33.5 million.
Despite his legal troubles — or, more accurately, because of them — Fuhrman translated his heightened profile into financial gain. After retiring to Idaho in 1995, the same year the Simpson trial ended, he wrote a best-selling tell-all about his investigation and the subsequent trial titled “Murder in Brentwood.” It was published in 1997.
The book’s inside flap reads, “For O.J. Simpson to get away with murder, an innocent cop — a brilliant detective — had to be destroyed. That was the cynical strategy of the Simpson ‘Dream Team,’ and it worked. … Mark Fuhrman’s own hand-drawn maps of the crime scene and his reconstruction of the murders leave no doubt about what really happened on June 12, 1994.”
He also transformed that fame into a contributing position with Fox News as its “forensic and crime scene expert.” His biography on the site states he “rose to fame as a key investigator and was a witness in the O.J. Simpson trial” and mentions his “more than 55 official commendations during his 20 years with the LAPD.”
It does not mention his perjury charge.
During his time with the network, he has defended other police officers in prominent, racially charged shootings. Following the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by police in 2016, which sparked nationwide protests, Fuhrman said on Fox News that Sterling “has to take responsibility that he did have a gun, and he conducted himself in some manner to draw attention to a citizen who called the police.”
Fox News is making no secret of its views on Simpson’s parole. Consider a piece by prominent Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett titled, “O.J. Simpson, up for parole, should never be set free.” It begins, “O.J. Simpson, one of the most heinous and depraved killers in modern American history, is up for parole consideration.”
Simpson has never been convicted of killing anyone.
The piece also calls Simpson “a ticking time bomb” and states when “he gets angry, he resorts to violence and lawlessness.” When mentioning Simpson’s acquittal on murder charges, Jarrett puts quotations marks around the phrase “not guilty.”
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