Subdued Reaction To Simpson Conviction

Correction Oct. 6, 2008

The story made reference to university students who only remembered "the Dancing Itos from 'Saturday Night Live.' " The Dancing Itos were actually on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Former football star and movie actor O.J. Simpson could spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted in Las Vegas on Friday of 12 charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery. The verdict came 13 years to the day after Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife and a friend of hers.

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Welcome back to All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Andrea Seabrook. O.J. Simpson could spend the rest of his life in prison. A jury convicted him late last night of kidnapping and armed robbery. He and a crew held up two sports memorabilia dealers a year ago in a Las Vegas hotel room. The verdict came down 13 years to the day since he was cleared of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, in one of the most covered and melodramatic trials of the 20th century. NPR's Allison Keyes went out, today, to see what folks think of the latest Simpson verdict.

ALLISON KEYES: When O.J. Simpson was on trial for murder, you could hardly walk by a television set without seeing a closeup of his somber face and arm-waving arguments going on over whether or not a black man, who was once America's sweetheart, had brutally murdered his white wife and her friend. This time around, not so much.

Mr. JOHN HAGGER: I got to confess, I didn't really follow this one like the last one.

KEYES : John Hagger's (ph) gray hair glinted in the sun as he stood on the street in Washington, D.C., calling Simpson an old story that should be forgotten. Hagger was a little surprised, though, to hear that Simpson faces a possible life sentence for this particular crime.

Mr. HAGGER: I hate to say it, but, in this town, people seem to do six months for armed robbery, and they're out on the streets. So, why is O.J. being made a - you know, life in prison is kind of harsh in that sense. It's almost, you know, they're trying to get back at something else.

Ms. MICHELLE JENKINS: It's kind of messed up because it does seem like it's get back.

KEYES : Michelle Jenkins (ph) pursed her shiny pink lips in thought and said she hadn't watched this trial the way she had the first one, but...

Ms. JENKINS: I know it was, like, him and a couple of other men, so I don't know. I think life is too harsh for that. That's kind of crazy.

KEYES: Dionne Ford (ph) doesn't think this was a revenge verdict. He thinks Simpson blew the second chance he'd been given last trial.

Mr. DIONNE FORD: I think he definitely deserves something.

KEYES: So you think he was just stupid?

Mr. FORD: Very.

KEYES : Why didn't this trial consume the country? University of Memphis criminologist Wayne Pitts thinks he knows why.

Dr. WAYNE PITTS (Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Memphis): He is a caricature now, and this is not taken very seriously.

KEYES : Pitts wrote a paper on the cultural significance of the original Simpson trial and was surprised the students surveyed didn't remember the case as significant.

Dr. PITTS: What they remembered more were Dancing Itos from "Saturday Night Live." They remembered the bloody glove. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The "Dancing Itos" were on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."]

KEYES: Pitts agrees with Washington D.C. resident Darius Robinson (ph).

Mr. DARIUS ROBINSON: It's totally insignificant in the face of a total theft of the public treasury by the individuals associated with the Federal Reserve. You will loot the country once, well, you loot it as many times as you'd like. That's what I think about the O. J. verdict.

KEYES: And oh yeah, there's that presidential election thing happening, too. Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

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