OJ Simpson once cheerily attended a Slasher convention, which gives you a taste of the audacity of an accused killer who’d write a book entitled If I Did It – Here’s How It Happened. But Simpson’s “hypothetical memoir” detailing the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman has proved too much even for the broadminded tastes of Rupert Murdoch — News Corporation announced today that they’re pulling the book

Publisher ReganBooks is a subsidiary of HarperCollins, which is owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation, and a television interview folded into the US$3.5m deal with Simpson conducted by publisher Judith Regan was also set to air on Fox News. But after a dozen Fox affiliates flatly refused to run the two-part special, the victims’ families slammed the book, public outrage grew and, most importantly, sales plummeted. Murdoch released this statement: “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project…We are sorry for any pain that his has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.”

Many books have been withdrawn over the years because of plagiarism, but a book’s removal on the grounds of offensive content is pretty unusual, especially from the media corporation responsible for When Animals Attack and loofah fan Bill O’Reilly. Murdoch may not have been so quick to pulp had sales been better — according to The International Herald Tribune, the book made it into Amazon’s top 20 last weekend, but by yesterday, had fallen to No. 51. 

But one of the central figures in this sordid tale is publisher Judith Regan, who has come under fire for her decision to publish OJ’s gory tome.

Regan is no stranger to bad taste — “Labelled the ‘enfant terrible of American publishing,’ Regan has long stood out in an industry that still values — or claims to value — propriety over profit,” reports The Miami Herald.

She began her publishing career as a reporter for The National Inquirer (they originally leaked the first purported extracts of Simpson’s book) and since heading ReganBooks has provided the Murdoch empire with bestsellers such as former baseball player Jose Canseco’s ode to steroids, Juiced, and Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a P-rn Star, A Cautionary Tale.

And in a stunning confession of her own, Regan wrote on the Fox News website that her decision to publish Simpson’s “confession” was “personal”.

Referring to herself as “the girl who was left in the gutter”, Regan confesses that she was once a battered wife and that she identified with the murdered Nicole Simpson:

Conviction is what I wanted — and not just in the legal sense…. For me, it was personal…. …I wanted the confession for my own selfish reasons and for the symbolism of that act.

…as the killer sat before me I was not filled with vengeance or hatred. I thought of the man who had beaten me so many years ago, who left me in a hospital, the man who broke my child’s heart.

Regan may have a talent for tapping into the public’s fascination with bad taste, but this time the public, and Rupert, didn’t bite.

Peter Fray

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