On February 4th, 1997 America was glued to their television sets in eamest apprehension. Was this phenomenon due to the State of The Union address President Bill Clinton was scheduled to give at nine o'clock? The answer, unsurprisingly, was no. In fact, so many tens of millions of viewers were watching for the sole reason of hearing the O.J. Simpson civil suit verdict.
How can America deny being a country obsessed with O.J when even the networks were considering bumping the President's address for a court decision? The last time a State of The Union address was bumped was in 1986 because of the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. This decision was made because the explosion was a public ordeal and a truly tragic occurrence, something that would affect all of America and leave them weeping for days. You can hardly classify the reading of a verdict in the same light as a public tragedy.
Unfortunately, it seems as though most of America can. What is happening to the nationalistic pride that drove this country to excellence years ago? What about a nation guided by the President who anxiously awaited his every word. Is there no more nationalism in America? The serious dilemma of the evening was whether CBS or NBC would show the Simpson verdict or the address. After the White House was contacted and they made it clear that they would not bump the President and mocked the media for even considering it, America's muscles tensed in distress. Would we see the verdict? Mothers cried and children shrieked. WAIT, the networks have devised a plan; perhaps they could show the address and scroll the verdict on the bottom of the screen. America sighed a sigh of relief. The mothers dried their tears, children quieted and fathers mumbled something about faith in their television sets.
So America watched the verdict and the address and a troubled country was put to rest on that night. It is unfortunate, though, that our country is struck by apathy toward the path in which our President is guiding us in the future, but if a football player kills his wife and another man, we are hooked. O.J. junkies who do nothing but devote their lives to every second of the trials have no clue what country they are even in right now.
Imagine if our country paid as much attention to the President as we do to O.J.!! ?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.