How disingenuous is this. The same magazine, Newsweek, that joined in the symbolic stoning of Judith Regan for daring to publish O.J. Simpson's memoir of murder is promoting its current issue with an article on the subject with a vengeance. Editor-in-chief Jon Meacham in his editorial proudly declares: "For the first time in the Simpson drama--arguably the most celebrated American criminal case of the last half century -we have what can be read as a confession in Simpson's own words."
Wait. Isn't that exactly what Judith Regan said?
In a pathetic stab at earnest sincerity, Meacham confesses that "we weighed arguments for and against revisiting the Simpson saga. A few voices argued that printing anything would only draw attention to a book that was a bad idea to begin with. But others believed-- and I am among them--we have something newsworthy we should share with our readers."
Newsworthy? Isn't that also what Judith Regan said?
In the Newsweek article, written after journalist Mark Miller read one chapter of the book called "The Night in Question," he expresses his disdain and astonishment. "What is striking about the chapter I read is," he writes, "is how clearly Simpson invokes the classic language of a wife abuser. In his crude, expletive-laced account, Simpson suggests Nicole all but drove him to kill her. He describes her as the "enemy."
Isn't that, too, precisely what Judith Reagan said? What she wanted to prove Simpson to be, in his own words?
The truth is that, whatever you think of Judith Regan, there is a double standard here. Her head rolled for wanting to bring us a confession from an avowed wife abuser and killer in his own words, a confession that America has been waiting years to hear.
Meacham and Miller stole her thunder. Regan got fired. Meacham and Miller I expect will be making the rounds of the talk shows. And this issue of Newsweek is flying off the shelves.
Let me be clear: aiding a should-have-been-convicted killer-turned-writer in illegally protecting his assets, as Regan apparently did, is surely reprehensible. But is that the reason the book itself was pulled from the shelves? We live in a country that holds among its dearest values freedom of speech. How then did we wind up with a banned book? With Murdoch behaving like the Pope, pulling out of the market 400,000 copies of If I Did It, as Newsweek reports, "for destruction." What are we saying: no books are to be published by murderers inadvertently sprung by an imperfect judicial system? What's next--no In Cold Blood?
I don't know Judith Regan. I met her once, for a second. I do know that for every sensational book she published, she also published others, like mine: Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church. And I know that she is a brilliant marketer, but that her talent sometimes sends her off the deep end. That may be a small part of what happened here. How provocative is the title If I Did It? She's also provocative with cover art. I know of a book she published about an alleged case of child molestation that had a cover so grisly that the bookstores refused to display it. The cover art was changed.
Whatever we think of Regan, we judged this book by its title. Now we're judging it by a chapter. We should be able to judge it on its merits. And if Miller is right, and Simpson finds another publisher, or Ron Goldman's attorney seizes the copyright from Simpson and publishes the book (with money finally going to the grieving and aggrieved families of Simpson's victims), we may be able to do that.
For now, Regan's been pilloried and banished. You can bet the guys at Newsweek won't suffer any similar fate.