November 29, 2006

Domenick Dunne, I believe, has a very unique niche in the annals of journalism, in his ability to make the most odious of murderers and criminals seem sympathetic. Truman Capote and Norman Mailer also had that skill, but with the difference that they were trying to humanize their subjects; Dunne seems to have come upon his literary gift quite unintentionally. It is hard to read Vanity Fair and not come away with a great deal of pity and sympathy for O.J. Simpson. While any rational person would see him as a narcissistic jock who manipulated the system to get away with the murder of two innocent victims, Dunne, with his condescending tone and Westside attitude, managed to make him seem like a modern-day Bigger Thomas.

Well, Mr. Samgrass has outdone even the master. Taking as his jumping-off point the aborted release of Mr. Simpson's "confession," Christopher Hitchens manages to combine racial code (his insistance on refusing to use his subject's first name) with assorted trivialities (his discovery that O.J. may have been barely as bright as Lindsay Lohan, an odd criticism coming from the man who shed such copious tears for the late Ricky Ray Rector) and a complete lack of awareness of the underlying story (ie., his feigned empathy to the "Coleman [sic] and Goodman [sic]families." That's right: OJ murdered Gary Coleman and Benny Goodman.) On the heels of a boneheaded article about Ian Fleming that failed to distinguish between the James Bond books and the subsequent movies with the same titles, he may have finally reached his nadir. [link via Roger Ailes]

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