NEW YORK — Viewers finally got a chance to see O.J. Simpson answer the question that divided America more than two decades ago: Did he do it?
Fox on Sunday aired a two-hour special, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession,” a repackaged version of a never-aired 2006 interview with publisher Judith Regan, in which he details a "hypothetical" explanation for the deaths of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman in 1994.
An unedited portion of the special — which also features a panel discussion with Regan and legal experts, including prosecutor Christopher Darden — was screened for journalists last week, including roughly 45 minutes of the interview. Simpson, who was acquitted of the grisly double homicide, is jocular and easygoing throughout most of his session, laughing as he recalls how Brown badgered him to get married and recounting his attempts to "get some" (from her and other women) after they had split.
He even plays the sympathy card for an incident in 1989, when he was convicted of spousal abuse after beating Brown so severely that she required hospital treatment.
"The one thing that hurts me as much as anything in this — aside from being considered a murderer — is being a batterer," Simpson says. "Somehow, I came out of all of that because of that night as the poster boy of an abuser."
The mood changes abruptly when Regan asks him to walk her through the day of the killings. Simpson shifts uneasily in his seat, glancing off camera and repeatedly dodging questions by plugging his ghostwritten companion book, “If I Did It,” for more details, because "it's not easy to discuss."
Describing the night of June 12, Simpson says he was accompanied to Brown's house by a man named Charlie. Inside his car, he had stashed a ski hat and knife. ("For the crazies, because you can't have a gun," he adds.)
He alleges that outside the house, he was confronted by Goldman and, soon after, by Brown, who fell and hurt herself. "At that time, I think Charlie had followed this guy in, to make sure there was no problem, and he brought in the knife," Simpson says.
Moments later, "this guy kind of got into a karate thing, and I said, 'Well, you think you can kick my (expletive)?' " Simpson continues. "I took the knife from Charlie, and to be honest, after that, I don't remember, except I'm standing there and there's all kinda stuff around. Blood and stuff."
Regan then asks Simpson whether he's ever blacked out before. "Not to my knowledge. If something like this were to take place in anybody's life, I'm sure it's something you'd have trouble wrapping your mind around."
Simpson says that when he regained consciousness, the question swirling around his mind was, "What happened?"
"It's hard for me to describe it," he says. "I didn't think anybody could be murdered the way they were without everybody covered in blood. We've all seen the grisly pictures after. Everything was covered in blood."
After that, Simpson only gives clipped, one-sentence responses: He says he has "no conscious memory" of putting on a glove, and that his companion, Charlie, kept screaming for them to leave the scene.
"He was in a panic, and I'm telling him, 'Shut up, let's get out of here,' " Simpson says. "It was horrible. It was absolutely horrible."
Who is Charlie? That's unclear. The special's executive producer, Terence Wrong, says Darden's "theory is that Charlie is O.J.'s alter ego."