News

Bill O'Reilly encourages viewers to stay away from 'O.J. garbage'

George Rush and Corky Siemaszko
New York Daily News

NEW YORK - Fox News firebrand Bill O'Reilly threatened Friday to whack Rupert Murdoch in the wallet for promoting O.J. Simpson's book.

Vowing to boycott any company that advertises on Fox's two-part special hyping O.J.'s "If I Did It," O'Reilly declared: "If every American walked away from the O.J. garbage, it wouldn't happen."

"I'm not going to watch the Simpson show or even look at the book," he added. "If any company sponsors the TV program, I will not buy anything that company sells -- ever."

Geraldo Rivera, another Fox News star, piled on and called the book "appalling."

"I will bash this project every minute I have the opportunity to bash this project," Rivera said.

Simpson's book is being published Nov. 30 by ReganBooks, which is named after its head, Judith Regan, and is an imprint in Murdoch's News Corp. -- which also owns Fox broadcasting.

Faced with a fusillade of fury from even house conservatives like O'Reilly, the media titan was unavailable for comment Friday.

"I can't reach him today," Murdoch's spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, said. "I would have no comment for him."

A HarperCollins insider pointed out that Murdoch should have known what kind of book Regan was promoting.

"I know that HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman had to sign off on the O.J. book and I would think that she would have had to run it by Rupert, considering what a (bleep) storm it would create," the insider said. "Rupert's bottom line is making money."

But appalled advertisers were already running away in droves from the TV tie-in Regan is scheduled to host on Nov. 27 and 29 on Fox Broadcasting. And some Fox affiliates told the network they would not carry the special at all.

Bob Thompson, a Syracuse University professor and pop culture expert, said he's not sure whether this whole controversy wasn't manufactured to produce ratings for Fox.

"My theory has always been that Fox News and Fox Broadcasting are the perfect synergy," he said. "One produces this outrageous programming that pundits on the other channel can complain about."

In an eight-page statement which described being punched in the face by a former lover, Regan defended her decision to publish the O.J. book and painted herself as a defender of battered women.

Regan insisted her plan behind Simpson's supposedly hypothetical homicide book was to extract from him a confession to murdering wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994.

Regan also suggests she is unfamiliar with the reported $3.5 million her company paid for the book, saying the deal was made with a "third party" and the money was supposed to go to Simpson's children.

"It's just amazing that she's trying to spin this as her revenge against her own abusers," the HarperCollins insider said.

Lisalyn Jacobs of Legal Momentum, one of the nation's oldest women's legal rights organization, said whatever Regan's motivations were "the notion that a company is going to assist Simpson in profiting off this murder is outrageous."

Cheryl O'Donnell of the National Network to End Domestic Violence said they have gotten "hundreds of calls from survivors and their families who are outraged and have been retraumatized simply by knowing this book is being published."

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