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HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM HOW WE HANDLED THE BIG STORIES OF THE PAST?

A former colleague of mine, someone I consider a real treasure in journalism, posted on my facebook page her reaction to my continuing dialog about Chris Brown’s behavior: “why does anyone care about these people?”  Here’s my fast answer:

Nicole Brown Simpson and Rihanna: battered faces of domestic violence

How O.J. Simpson Tried to Bat Us Back on His Story

In June 1994, the great Roone Arledge, then president of ABC News, put me in charge of O.J. Simpson coverage for all his primetime magazine shows.  At the time, there were four hour-long shows each week: Day One, Turning Point, PrimeTime Live and 20/20.

I had missed the first few days of the Simpson story.  Ironically, I was in Washington, D.C. with Sam Donaldson, working on what, until then, was the biggest story of the year:  an exclusive interview with Paula Corbin Jones who had filed a sexual harassment suit against the President. (Funnily enough, I had to debate an ABC News vice president on “why we should give airtime to this woman and her lawsuit,”  which might be argued today was the first step which led to the President’s impeachment.)

The Paula Jones  interview aired not as the lead but in second position on the show Thursday night, behind the O.J. Simpson updates.  I quickly returned  to Los Angeles early the next morning, on Friday,  the day Simpson was supposed to turn himself in to police but instead led them on that fateful “low-speed white Bronco chase” that turned the story upside down and created a national viewing event that would continue for another year and a half.

Earlier in the week from Washington, D.C., I had quietly asked a freelancer/friend to get me the Simpson divorce papers from the courthouse.  The story was moving so fast, the PrimeTime Live producers on the scene had no time at all to even look at the file.  But late Friday night, as I read page after page, I saw it was all there — the admission of O.J. Simpson’s prior violence against his wife and the details of the domestic violence program he was supposed to complete.

Saturday morning I called my old friend Roy Firestone, the former ESPN sports anchor who I was certain must have interviewed Simpson.  It turned out, Roy had actually interviewed him years before about the wife beating charges.  The tapes were somewhere in storage and he was more than happy to dig them out for me, but he warned me that back then, in more innocent times, he had not pressed O.J. Simpson very hard to account for his behavior.

Later that nght, we aired a one-hour Turning Point, a broadcast that would drive O.J. Simpson into a fury. From behind bars, he insisted that his only lawyer at the time, Bob Shapiro, call me and Barbara Walters on his behalf to demand apologies, retractions and more.  We got it all wrong, Simpson had declared, even though we hadn’t strayed from the exact language in the divorce documents and his own words on tape.

We now know that Nicole Brown kept a diary which noted O.J. Simpson’s first abuse of her in 1977.  She kept the photo of her battered face in a safety deposit box.  She called 911 after Simpson broke the door jam of her condominium while kicking down the door.  Mark Fuhrman answered another 911 call after Simpson shattered the windshield of her Mercedes Benz with a baseball bat. And we also know that on June 12, 1994, O.J. Simpson’s violence escalated to a double murder when he slashed Nicole’s throat from behind, as if slaughtering a farm animal, and stabbed to death a bystander:  her friend, Ron Goldman.

DOES NICOLE’S BATTERED FACE NOT LOOK JUST LIKE RIHANNA’S?

Nicole Simpson’s battered face was once so beautiful, it haunts.  So does Rihanna’s.

The bruises on their foreheads look so similar.   I wonder, is that where blood coagulates when you’re beaten on the top, or side of your head? Read the rest of this entry »

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CHRIS BROWN’S VICIOUS CYCLE: THE OUTBURST, THE APOLOGY, THE FALL OUT ***UPDATED WITH NEW VIDEO,  AND REACTIONS

***UPDATED WITH FULL DETAILS OF THE MELTDOWN


I must say, I am confused, very confused.  As we all now know, on Monday  Chris Brown performed on GMA and after went back stage and had, shall we say,  a serious anger management issue — screaming in the face of a segment producer, screaming at his manager and throwing, depending on which report you read or which staffer you talk to, either a cooler or a chair which shattered the dressing room window, sending shards of glass to the sidewalk below.   This extreme behavior because Robin Roberts asked him about the changes in his life since his court-ordered restraining order against Rihanna was “relaxed.”

***THIS JUST IN: Chris Brown threw both a cooler and a chair at different times.  After he left the set, his behavior was described as “batshit.”    He spotted a  cooler by the props department and  threw that towards the office of the executive producer. He then continued the tirade as he walked down to his dressing room.   Once he and his entourage were in the dressing room, the door was closed and  a chair was thrown thrown through the window, presumably by Brown.

Now Brown has explained what happened and apologized, sort of, not on GMA, but on BET. I, for one, think apologies should at least sound more heart-felt than obligatory. And I don’t think they should come with a soundtrack, as this does.

I also feel strongly that this one should have been directed to the GMA segment producer and to Robin Roberts who has chosen to remain publicly friendly to the star. In the BET video, Brown asks fans not to threaten Robin Roberts, as he says he’s learned  of on twitter. (No outrage on his part there, however.)

A sincere apology  should also be given to internet fans for whom he was to perform a second song before storming shirtless out of the studio. And, of course,  the hair and make-up team who were frightened enough to call security.

TMZ first published Rihannas assault photo

Chris Brown also owes an apology to the Superior Court judge who, just weeks ago, modified the court order (questions about which really ticked him off) that barred him from contacting or being near ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Part of the order  is still in effect; he’s still prohibited from  harassing or annoying her.

I wonder if Rihanna found the GMA outburst annoying or harassing.  And I wonder if it triggered any post traumatic stress disorder she might have resulting from the beating he gave her that fateful night before the Grammy Awards.

Last December 21st, Brown tweeted to fans, “‘im done with class” and sent out to fans a copy of his domestic violence course completion certificate.   In a follow-up tweet, he wrote, “i have enough self respect and decency to be proud of accomplishing this DV class.. Boyz run from there (sic) mistakes.. Men learn from them!!!thx”

After pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna,  giving her a bruised face (a photo of which would be leaked to TMZ)  the 21-year-old R&B singer was sentenced to five years probation, 1,400 hours of community service and ordered to complete that one-year domestic violence course. Read the rest of this entry »

note from your friendly blogarist: “Paint by Numbers” will be an occasional, yet regular,  feature of daily Xpress meant to reach behind the press releases for a more accurate picture of the state of broadcast news than reported by MSM and industry websites.

KEEPING THEM HONEST

The inaugural column of  Paint by Numbers looks at this week’s entry from “TV Newser” reporting the current state of competition amongst the morning shows.  Here’s our first tutorial: the story re-posted here is based on a press release which addresses Nielsen’s tally of  total viewers, a common public relations ploy.  Those who understand the business of the news business know the only viewership that matters, the viewership which determines profitability and stability,  is adults 25-54, more commonly called the demo.

The Today Show winning streak is not challenged.  But the fight for #2 and #3 may not quite look the same in the Paint by Numbers that follows the TVNewser take:

Morning Show Ratings: Week of Dec.6

By Molly Stark Dean on December 16, 2010 2:20 PM

The “Today” show was still on top last week — another week closer to a 16-year streak.

“Today” topped #2 “Good Morning America,” but GMA cut the total viewing gap with NBC’s “Today” by -10% week-to-week and -20% year-to-year. Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos was in Afghanistan Monday, and off Tuesday.

“GMA” increased its total viewership by 2% week-to-week.

CBS’ “The Early Show” increased by 7K from week-to-week.

The averages for the week of December 6:

Total Viewers: NBC: 5.65M / ABC: 4.68M / CBS: 3.09M

A25-54 rating: NBC: 2.68M / ABC: 1.75M / CBS: 1.28M

Read the rest of this entry »