Rupert Murdoch, under pressure, may have scrubbed his company’s plans to publish the controversial book by OJ Simpson, and cancel an interview with the former sports star on Fox Television, but that is not the end of the story.
Copies of the pseudo-confessional book called If I Did It, had already been shipped to bookstores, and although retailers have been asked to return all copies in their unopened boxes, bootleg copies are already in circulation – in some cases, commanding a record price. There is every likelihood pirated copies will soon be on sale on the streets and similarly with the TV interview, which is already in the can.
In cancelling the TV interview, originally scheduled to air next week, the chairman of Fox admitted buying the manuscript – for a reported $3 million – may have been a big mistake. The decision to recall the book followed massive protests in the US. Critics even called for a boycott of any companies that might have advertised on the television programme.
Several TV stations affiliated to Fox said they were themselves cancelling airing the interview. Even some top ranking journalists working for News Corp and the Fox TV network protested.
Some – off the record – even suggested the deal had been a “disaster” for the Murdoch companies. Even the Murdoch-owned NY Post reported the pull-back on its front page under the headline “OJ Slashed – Knife Falls On Book, TV Deal”.
The rival NY Daily News was much more accusatory. It described the deal as “despicable” and “too repulsive even for Rupert”.
What will happen to the money that was paid upfront is uncertain. Legal experts say it is unlikely that Simpson can be forced to hand the money back.
Murdoch himself was aware of the deal from the start, it has been claimed.