It's week three of The People v. O.J. Simpson, which means another week of our official Complex Pop fact-check. Thanks to tonight's episode, this editions helping of trues and falses, once so neatly divided, have gotten a little harder to categorize: “the media,” “the trial” and “the Juice” have congealed into one giant, overlapping, messy mess. The show is also starting to stray a little further from history, making some (maybe necessary) shortcuts and dramatizations to fast-track us to the trial. But if this week’s episode proves anything, it’s that things are rarely black and white.
You already know what happens to O.J. (he gets off, gets sued, and gets Juiced), so here are the answers to what you don’t: did Kim Kardashian play soccer? How long was the longest drunk driving case in history? What’s “Chiaroscuro?” Just keep reading.
True or False: Robert Kardashian scored a table at a busy restaurant on Father’s Day after his televised press conference.
This is something we can’t verify much beyond an educated guess. The moment played out like a throwback to episode two (establishing the root of the Kardashians' rise to cultural ubiquity), though it wasn’t followed by any chanting—which, as we predicted last week, “NEVER happened.” But Kardashian did find fame after his press conference—special treatment, name fumbles, and giggling probably followed. Now, did he use that Father's Day meal to deliver a foreboding treatise on fame to his not-yet-remotely-famous children? Ehhhh.
True or False: Kris and Robert were on opposite sides of the O.J. divide.
True. Our teens extrapolated on this in last week’s fact-check, and we got to see the rift play out on screen in a heated confrontation between Selma Blair and David Schwimmer. Kris Jenner talks about the impact of the trial on her and Robert’s relationship in more detail in her memoir. As far as the accuracy of American Crime Story’s reenactment of this moment, we can’t say for sure. TMZ’s “sources” claim it “really did happen,” but your call on whether to believe them.
True or False: O.J. is Kim’s godfather.
Also true! At least it used to be. In a 2008 article about O.J.’s life after the trial, he refers to the star as his goddaughter. The piece even includes a sort of heart-breaking line, where O.J “softly” tells the reporter, “I was in the hospital when she was born.” As for the real question: is O.J. still Kim’s godfather? There are no legal documents binding the two, so Kim might have severed that tie. But we don’t know for sure.
True or False: Kim Kardashian was a “ball hog.”
True or False: In an early press conference, Marcia Clark confirmed that the death penalty was “on the table.”
We were pretty surprised to learn this is false. At least it is according to Primary Source Marcia Clark, who went over some of the case details in a recent op-ed for the New York Post. Despite saying it on the show, Clark stressed that “there was never a discussion of the death penalty [for Simpson].” A 1994 New York Times article did seem to think otherwise, although the issue was positioned as one for DA Gil Garcetti.
True or False: The DA held the trial downtown instead of in Santa Monica (closer to the killings) because it would reduce the chances of an all-white jury.
This is true. Garcetti held the trial downtown in what he assumed would be a beneficial move for the prosecution, though it was a call that came back to haunt him. In an LA Times article, Southwestern University law professor Robert Pugsley claimed: “The exact same case—in Santa Monica—absolutely could have been a conviction.”
True or False: Mark Fuhrman sued the city under the claim that his job was turning him into a bigot.
True, minus some context. Fuhrman had applied for a “stress disability pension lawsuit,” hoping to leave the force and still get a check. Fuhrman was one of a growing number of officers looking to cash in with “psycho pensions” in the early to mid '80s. Fuhrman sued when the board voted 6-0 to deny his request.
The Dream Team
True or False: Before joining the Dream Team, Alan Dershowitz dismissed Shapiro (and the possibility of O.J.’s innocence) on Larry King.
There isn’t any footage showing Dershowitz on Larry King Live before joining O.J.’s defense. He did go on King's show after becoming part of O.J.'s council though (scroll to the bottom of this transcription to see King announce Dershowitz's appearance).
True or False: Shapiro represented Bailey in “the longest drunk driving trial in American history.”
F. Lee Bailey was repped by Shapiro, and the drunk driving case was pretty long. But the trial wasn’t eleven days—it was actually fifteen, with jury selection starting on Tuesday, April 6, 1982 and the verdict announced on April 21st. This case also gave us the source material for Bailey’s alt-lit title: How to Protect Yourself From Cops in California and Other Strange Places. As for “the longest in history,” that’s probably hyperbole. A DUI trial can supposedly “last months,” according to this law blog.
True or False: Cochran had to look into O.J.’s eyes and “believe him” before he would join his defense.
We couldn’t find any record that Cochran needed to meet with O.J. before joining his defense. Not that Cochran would have really needed this confirmation to join—by that point, the case had already started to take on the civil rights bent that Cochran staked his career on. And according to an off-the-record remark made to one Washington Post columnist, he didn’t think O.J. was all that innocent to begin with.
True or False: Time added “Chiaroscuro” (heavy shadow) to O.J.’s mugshot to make their cover stand out.
True, and yikes. We also tracked down the photography term the editor uses, after a number of completely off base misspellings (kuraskoro, kurosawa, etc). While Time denied that they were motivated by either sales or racism, most publications believed otherwise. “Rembrandt,” to that point, never seemed an inspiration. Also true? Newsweek ran stories that same issue on “Health Care” and “Gays.” Here are the two mugshots (the Newsweek original and Time edit) next to each other:
True or False: O.J.’s golf caddy told a tabloid he had “insight” to his mind on the day of the murders.
We couldn’t find anything that matched up with this directly. But, as with most of the falses on American Crime Story, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. O.J. did play golf on the morning of the murders (he said as much in his statement to the LAPD), and tabloid headlines were vicious in trying to get any information they could—even if that “information” was completely insane.
True or False: A New Yorker reporter showed up unannounced to interview Shapiro about “cash for trash” stories.
True and false—that plucky New Yorker reporter was actually show-consultant and People v. O.J. Simpson author Jeffrey Toobin. Toobin did write a story about “Cash For Trash,” along with his “An Incendiary Defense,” but the show took some liberties in joining the two. Toobin was already aware of Fuhrman’s legal history after a phone conversation with Dershowitz, and his meeting with Shapiro wasn’t as much by chance. A passage in his book does confirm that Shapiro confused New York Magazine and the New Yorker, though, in a mix up after the pair finally met.
True or False: Shively sold her testimony to “A Current Affair” for $5,000.
Remember when we said froyo-lover Jill Shively was a “difficult” witness way back in week one? This was why. But while it’s true that Shively sold her testimony (and was booted from the witness list because of it), the actual facts are slightly different. Shively sold out for 7,600 dollars on appearance, not 5,000, and to “Hard Copy,” not “A Current Affair.” So where did “A Current Affair” come from? That was actually the show witness Anne Mercer spoke to in a notorious 1991 rape case.
True or False: A prank caller informed Cochran he wanted his representation, before laughing and saying: “I killed her.”
No records of any kind of prank call to Cochran. Maybe they were thinking of “Maury from Brooklyn?”
True or False: Kato Kaelin’s career took off after his early involvement with the O.J. case.