Roy Firestone is a big fan of Ezra Edelman, who directed “O.J.: Made in America,” saying, “I think he does a great job,” and “I think the documentary is very compelling” and “Ezra doesn’t need me to congratulate him on the great work he’s done.”
But Firestone is none too pleased with the way in which he – Firestone – is portrayed in the Part 2 of the documentary, which aired Tuesday night. A clip is shown of Firestone interviewing Simpson and appearing excessively fawning and chummy with him.
There’s just one problem.
“People are forgetting something really important,” Firestone said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “There is no context to this clip on this show. This interview was done two years-plus ahead of the murders. There was a allegation, but no criminal charges were filed at the time I was doing the interview – and I don’t believe there were ever any criminal charges filed – for an incident that I think happened on or around New Year’s Eve, I’m wanting to say it was 1992.”
It was actually 1988.
“I was the only person to bring up the subject of domestic violence,” Firestone said. “Now short of calling a man a liar and having finger prints or evidence, if a person denies it and he does it somewhat jovially and my exchange with him is somewhat jovial in context of the times, not 24 years later, and to be judged as somehow an enabler or someone who is chummy with a double murderer – and make no mistake: I definitely believe he savagely murdered two people – is so unfair and so ridiculous without an attempt on Ezra’s part or ESPN’s part to try to give me a chance in context to put it into perspective. It was exactly what people were thinking of O.J. at the time in 1992.”
“Now, some might say, ‘You’re getting a little defensive here, Roy,’” Firestone continued. “Well, maybe because I don’t want to be in any way linked or associated or even inferred by other people as some kind of enabler. One of my best friends had a sister murdered in a horrific domestic violence episode. I go speaking all over the country about the horror of domestic violence. Every nine seconds in America, a woman is assaulted. One-third of all women worldwide are assaulted, murdered, beaten. (Abuse) is the No. 1 killer of women worldwide. The idea that I would look jovial or chummy or in some way irreverent with O.J. without the context of the time of that interview is damned unfair.”
Firestone has received considerable backlash since the documentary aired.
“I’m not proud of the joviality that comes across in this interview,” Firestone said. “It really makes me squirm and it disgusts me. But this is the only time (a member of the media) asked him about domestic violence on camera. It’s unbelievable to me that people cannot see the context of this. Are there things about this interview that make me not so proud? Sure. But again, remember where I was – and where the country was and where the world was – with somebody like O.J. Simpson. He was a beloved individual. I think I referred to him as ‘Juice.’ Well, that’s jovial, I guess. But everyone called him Juice and everybody thought he was America’s hero. Everything from Naked Gun to NBC Sports to Saturday Night Live to, of course, NFL football, he was an American hero. But again, to be put out of context, a sound-byte from something that I did before the fact and judge it in retrospect is unfair.”