Monday, November 20, 2006

Not Sure if This is Surprising or Not

Fox has announced that it is canceling the O.J. Simpson special and book.
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation, announced this afternoon that his company had canceled publication of the pseudo-memoir/confessional by O.J. Simpson, “If I did it,” as well as the corresponding television special scheduled to be broadcast on the Fox network next week.

“I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project,” Mr. Murdoch said in a statement. “We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I've been a bad blogger recently, as real life has slowed me down. Here's to hoping I can pick it back up again soon. That said, I saw something today that is truly incredible, if not really related to economics at all:

Sorry is also what O.J. Simpson is *not* saying:
In a stunning announcement, FOX TV says it plans to interview the 59-year-old former football star and actor about "how he would have committed" the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, for which he was acquitted in a criminal trial.
On Nov. 30, Simpson's book, titled If I Did It, which Regan is publishing, goes on sale. Its text "hypothetically describes how the murders would have been committed," according to a press release.
The Post says that Simpson was reputedly paid $3.5 million for the book.
So, let's just say "wow." Two questions:
  1. Does anyone think he is "hypothetically" describing anything? I'd always been agnostic about whether O.J. did it or not. I didn't see the evidence (except through the lens of the media), so I always punted the question. But one must ask, "if he were innocent, why would you write a book like that?" Of course, I guess you could also just ask "why would you write a book like that?" and find it equally hard to come up with an answer.
  2. Ah, there's the answer: $3.5 million. This begs the question: will you buy the book? Do you know of someone who would? (By the way, I always thought that all of Simpson's earnings these days, above a certain "survival" level, go to the Brown and Goldman families to pay the award from the civil trial. If that's right, then O.J. isn't getting incremental income from this $3.5 million or book royalties- they'd just get passed on to the Browns and Goldmans.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

How can this be?

From today's

Bush Trumpets Iraq Verdict to Rally Support

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — President Bush on Sunday seized on the conviction of Saddam Hussein as a milestone in Iraq, seeking to rally Republican voters with the issue of national security as some polls suggested that his party might be making gains in the final hours of the campaign.
How can the conviction of Saddam Hussein have any effect on voters' choices at this point? Isn't this just the realization of something that was a foregone conclusion? In order for this to make a difference in your vote, I figure that the following need to be true:
  1. You feel that the conviction of Saddam Hussein will have positive effects on the situation in Iraq, and
  2. You felt there was some chance that he was going to be acquitted and walk free.
  3. Combined, these two things are enough to push you over the margin. That is, either you were really on the fence, or you think this makes a huge difference, or you thought there was a big chance he'd be acquitted.
Otherwise, this news has no impact on your voting opinions, because it doesn't provide any new information or the realization of any uncertain outcome. I think it was pretty clear from the time Hussein was captured that he was essentially done and thus finding out that he's been sentenced to death is really not big, important news. That is, it doesn't tell me anything new.

If the news was that Osama Bin Laden had been captured or killed, or the top Al-Qaeda leaders around the world had been rounded up, then that's one thing and could conceivably convince people that things are going better than they had previously thought. But how does the conviction of a man that was captured a long time ago and clearly was never going to be a threat again change anyone's opinion of the Bush Administration?

I just don't get it. As an economist, who really wants to believe in rational updating and information processing, any evidence that Hussein's conviction is swinging voters is extremely puzzling. Either you like the way the Bush Administration and Republican Congress have been handling things or you don't. I fail to understand how this could affect that in any material way.