Monday is the 10th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson (search) verdict. Lots of people have thoughts about what that day meant in American justice and American race relations — and a bunch of other high-minded topics.
I remember it as the day cable news started — the cable news we know today.
Up until O.J., cable news was what the big networks derisively called one of our competitors: "Chicken Noodle News." It was big network lite, the hardworking kids in Atlanta trying to be big and falling short, except when there was a war or an earthquake.
But the O.J. trial showed people who were interested in investing in cable news that it could be done, that you could "sustain coverage," as we say, nearly endlessly. The O.J. trial proved that the electronic infrastructure — cameras and satellites and stuff like that — was in place and could go on as long as the batteries were charged and the anchors could talk.
Up until then, there were doubts about cable news. That trial erased all doubts. And in my mind, it clearly was the moment that cable news was born.
Now, in fact, MSNBC and FOX News didn't actually come along until later. But since I was there, I can tell you it was five minutes later.
As of that 'not guilty' verdict, the big guys with the big checkbooks were putting the wheels in motion.
Now one other thing, just for the sake of future trivial pursuit games.
Before the O.J. trial, I was a street reporter in local TV — had been for 20 years — and I was pretty much destined for another 20 if my legs would hold out.
The O.J. case sprung me. Geraldo asked me to guest host, I moved to the East and was one of the original crew of anchors at MSNBC. After a few years, FOX asked me to come here.
If in 1995 you had said to any news director in the country that 10 years later John Gibson would have the No. 1 cable news show in America, they would have laughed you out of the room.
I know there are people who would still laugh. But it's true. The O.J. trial was what got me here.
Another thing to blame him for.
That's My Word.
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