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Last Friday I was home, getting psyched up for covering a basketball game that night, and ESPN, my usual TV station, was babbling about putting the O.J. Simpson sentencing on live at noon.
So I made sure I was paying attention, and there was a lot of talk as the court procedure was getting under way in the background.
I went to Headline News and found more talk.
Then I went to TruTV, which used to be called Court TV, and got the live proceedings. I settled down to watch how much jail time, 14 years after Nicole and Ron died, O.J. would be getting for trying to “get his stuff back.”
There were a lot of statements by attorneys, and then, just when it was starting to get good, TruTV went false, and gave me commercials. That’s right, in the middle of breaking news, it was commercials.
So I flipped back to ESPN, and there was a commentator doing a voice-over while the action went on in the background. Back to headline news, which was OK, and then in a few minutes back to TruTV.
Later as the judge was starting to rule, it was back to a commercial, and more voice-overs.
When it came back, I listened to O.J. plead for his freedom (yeah, right) and then it went to the judge. She doled out the sentences, and I did the math as she was going along and commented, “That means he’ll have to serve nine years.”
But the commentators came on and said 7½ years, but they didn’t sound very confident. I figured I had gone wrong somewhere, but the next day when the newspapers came out (count on newspapers, not TV), they all said nine years.
If my feeble brain could figure that out, why couldn’t the commentators and great legal minds?
But more annoying was the voice-overs. Why do television people feel they have to talk over the pictures? In this case, it was also over the true sound. I think I’m intelligent enough to know what’s going on just by listening to the judge and lawyers. I also think that a strong majority of Americans are equally, if not more, capable of listening and comprehending.
That’s why I’ve started watching a lot of sporting events without the sound.
So here’s a memo to ESPN: Shut up, already! Tell your great legal minds, you know, the ones who said an hour earlier that O.J. wouldn’t speak, to just be smart enough to let the public listen.
And for TruTV: Lay off the commercials during breaking news. Those companies, I’m sure, are smart enough to realize they are making enemies, and not selling anything, by breaking into the big story of the day.
And for O.J.: Enjoy the next nine years. You’re 61 now, that means you’ll be 70 before you’re eligible to get out, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll walk out the door in 2017. By the way: Did you cast your Heisman vote on time?
Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 528-3343.