The O.J. Simpson Parole Trial: Is it worth appointment TV Thursday AM? Why ESPN is all over it

In this May 14, 2013 pool file photo, O.J. Simpson sits during a break on the second day of an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool, File)

Considering most of American TV viewers have never seen a live parole board hearing, perhaps CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN Headline News are providing a public service by airing such an otherwise secretive-sort-of-thing Thursday starting at 10 a.m.
There must be some inherent risk to our society at large that this current prisoner at Locklock Correctional Facility in Nevada may be deemed fit enough to be set free early, with restrictions and probation visits. So it’s a good thing we all have ample warning.
Or, when you’re talking O.J. Simpson, all common sense is suspended.
Add ESPN to this coverage as the 70-year-old former USC football star and ABC and NBC sportscaster appears on a videoconference call to explain to a four-person board in Carson City, Nev., why he should be turned loose nine years into his current sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping.
(More information at the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners website here.)
ESPN, of course, has a vested interested in the Simpson saga and can use this opportunity to promote the documentary “O.J.: Made in America” which won an Oscar in 2017 and was recently nominated for six Emmys because of its June, 2016 TV run.
Simpson was convicted on 12 charges brought against him in October 2008 for armed robbery and kidnapping as it related to him trying to reclaim some of his memorabilia. He has been at Lovelock on a term that carries a maximum penalty of 33 years.
In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
The plan will include Jeremy Schaap hosting a special 90-minute Outside the Lines special from Bristol, Conn., that covers this hearing, after an hour-long SportsCenter 9-to-10 a.m. to promote it, and a followup from 4-to-5 p.m. with Hannah Storm, by which time a decision about his parole release should be rendered.
ABC legal analyst Ryan Smith and Jason Reid of TheUndefeated.com will also be available to talk, with reporters Mark Schwarz and Shelley Smith in Nevada.
“The fascination with the life of this former football star, famous actor, and felon – has not waned in half a century,” said Craig Bengtson, ESPN’s VP and Director of News. “We need to see how the final chapters in the story of O.J. Simpson play out.”
It should be noted that Bob Ley picked a great time to go on vacation. He doesn’t have to involve himself with this.
ESPN will be using a pool video feed from the hearing.
“All of this is taking place during the absolute slowest week on the sports calendar and as a TV producer when you see something like this, like the parole hearing for Simpson pop up in the third week of July, you are thanking your lucky stars that you actually have something of real news value to talk about and produce,” David Sarosi, the coordinating producer of Outside the Lines and E:60, told Sports Illustrated.
“But even if it was January 20 (a presidential inauguration day), we would still be doing this, I assure you.”
If the board determines Simpson to be such the model citizen that he can leave, that would lead to a release in October.
More than 240 media credentials have been issued for the hearing, and a dozen satellite trucks are expected in both Lovelock and Carson City, according to USA Today. The parole board reports that approximately 30 organizations will be attending at each location.
“The media interest in this one case is a disruption to our operation,” the board said in a statement. “A decision (on Simpson) is being made at the time of the hearing so that the board’s operation can return to normal as soon as possible after the hearing.”
And, to our otherwise normalized summer.

Also for what it’s worth:
Vegas oddsmaker Jim Murphy, who has previously put out spreads on things such as Lingerie Football, presidental elections, movie releases and iPhone sales, has chimed in with the Simpson appearance. Miller has the odds of a yes vote on Simpson’s release at -450, with a no at a plus-300. He also has Oprah Winfrey as the plus-450 favorite to do the first post-prison interview with Simpson, followed by Stephen A. Smith (plus-550) and Charlie Rose (plus-750).

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