Friday, November 24, 2006

Why Any of Them Do It

Thanks to Kerry's tip, I read Judith Regan's "Why I Did It," apologia over at MSNBC. I don't know how many of you have been following the story of O.J. Simpson's new book If I Did It . Judith Regan, considered the best editor in the business, contracted with O.J. to write a virtual confession of his murders of Nicole Simpson Brown and Ronald Goldman. Simpson's book was set to be released on November 30th and Fox News had lined up an interview with O.J. to promote the book. Controversy and outrage forced Rupert Murdoch to kill both the book and the interviews on Fox.

Judith Regan's apologia is truly disturbing to me. Granted, I know nothing about the details of her past abuse at the hands of her psychiatrist husband. I cannot imagine, furthermore, what it would be like to lose a daughter to such abuse. But, what amazes me is that this publisher would find it "healing," or even vindication, to publish O.J.'s "confession." Here you have a man who writes a book solely to pay his bills; he is capitalizing off of his fame and the notoreity of these murders. This is not a selfless act, wherein he wishes to pay amends or take responsibility for what he did. Rather, it is a story of an ambitious editor profiting off of a ruthless, narcissistic man.

Regan argues:

In the past few days, since the announcement of the forthcoming book and televised interview "If I Did It," it has been strange watching the media spin the story. They have all but called for my death for publishing his book and for interviewing him. A death, I might add, not called for when Katie Couric interviewed him; not called for when Barbara Walters had an exclusive with the Menendez brothers, who killed their parents in cold blood, nor when she conducted her celebrated interviews with dictators Fidel Castro or Muammar al-Gaddafi; not called for when "60 Minutes" interviewed Timothy McVeigh who murdered hundreds in Oklahoma City, not called for when the U.S. government released tapes of Osama bin Laden; not called for when Geraldo Rivera interviewed his dozens of murderers, miscreants and deviants.

Nor should it be.

“To publish” does not mean “to endorse”; it means “to make public.” If you doubt that, ask the mainstream publishers who keep Adolf Hitler’s "Mein Kampf" in print to this day. They are likely to say that there is a historical value in publishing such material, so that the public can read, and judge for themselves, the thoughts and attempted defenses of an indefensible man. There is historical value in such work; there is value for law enforcement, for students of psychology, for anyone who wants to gain insight into the mind of a sociopath.

But that is not why I did it. That is not why I wanted to face the killer. That is not why I wanted to publish his story.

I didn’t know what to expect when I got the call that the killer wanted to confess. I didn’t know what would happen. But I knew one thing. I wanted the confession for my own selfish reasons and for the symbolism of that act.

There are two things I find interesting about this bit of her own confession. I think it is telling that she draws an analogy between her act to publish Simpson's book and Barbara Walter's interview of Fidel Castro. At first, I thought, "but she is trying to make a huge profit off of a sicko and Walters was delivering the news." However, the more I mulled this over, I think that Regan's analogy is quite apt. What is disturbing is it shows that what we think is "news" is nothing more than a commerical transaction: soulless, motivated by the public's fascination with tragedy and pathology, and mutually beneficial to the contractors. The only benefit that "news" interviews give the viewer is a prurient satisfaction of their intrique with murderers and other infidels (pun intended). Regan's confession is tantamount to an exposé of the true motivations of televsion journalism: profit and circus-like entertainment for the masses.

The second disturbing element of her apologia is her claim that "to publish" is not "to endorse," but rather "to make public." I find this sophistry also quite telling. Perhaps it manifests her own psychology and so her long-winded defense of her decision to publish Simpson will one day have "historical value." This is a unique opportunity into the mind of a sociopath editor/publisher; it reveals the clever ways in which she rationalizes her decisions. "I am not ruthless for publishing this book; I am making public an historic document that millions will study to understand sociopathy." Pahleeze!

Regan goes on:

My son is now 25 years old, my daughter 15. I wanted them, and everyone else, to have a chance to see that there are consequences to grievous acts.

Does she really believe her choice to publish a faux confession by a killer who has already been acquitted of this crime will teach her children that there are consequences to actions? This is the most creative parenting I have ever seen. Make a shit load of money off a psycho, and then sell it as family values move--a lesson in accountability.

I dunno, are any of you MMF readers buying this?