PRINCETON, NJ -- Two of the defendants in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case have reached an agreement with prosecutors to testify against the former NFL star in exchange for their pleading guilty to a lesser charge in the case. Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas last month on charges including kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from an incident involving the theft of sports memorabilia.
A recent Gallup Panel poll finds most Americans hold a negative opinion of Simpson, including more than two-thirds who have a "very negative" opinion of him. A solid majority of Americans think that Simpson is guilty of armed robbery in this recent case. If he were convicted in this case, most Americans say they would not think that justice had finally been served for Simpson's possible involvement in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman more than a decade ago. Nearly three-quarters of Americans think the news media are paying too much attention to this case.
The Sept. 24-27, 2007 Gallup Panel poll finds only 7% of Americans have a positive opinion of Simpson, while nearly 9 in 10 Americans say they have a negative opinion of Simpson, including 68% who have a "very negative" opinion of him.
Sixty-six percent of Americans believe Simpson is guilty of armed robbery, while 17% say he is not guilty and the rest have no opinion.
It appears Americans are compartmentalizing their reaction to the Simpson murder case in the mid-1990s and the new armed robbery case. When asked how they would feel if Simpson is convicted on the armed robbery charges and receives a long prison sentence as a result, most Americans (58%) say they would not think that justice had finally been served for Simpson's possible involvement in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Just 38% say justice would be served.
Over the course of Simpson's trial for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, the majority of Americans consistently said the charges against Simpson were true, with this percentage ranging between 61% and 75% in 1994 and 1995. When Gallup most recently updated this trend in 2004, 78% said they believed the charges against Simpson were true.
Simpson's murder trial in the mid-1990s was arguably the most closely watched trial in the history of the news media. Given the high drama of Simpson's possible involvement in yet another serious crime, one might understand the media frenzy surrounding the current case. But is it too much? The latest poll finds an overwhelming 74% of Americans saying the media is paying too much attention to the latest Simpson arrest, and only 23% say the media are justified in the amount of attention they are paying.
Attention Paid to Simpson Armed Robbery Case
When the poll was conducted, just 11% of Americans told Gallup that they are paying a "great deal" of attention to the news about Simpson's arrest. An additional 37% were paying a "fair amount" of attention, and slightly more than half were not paying much (38%) or any (14%) attention to this matter.
Americans who were paying a "great deal" of attention to the case are not much different from those who were not following the story as closely in their overall views of Simpson and his guilt or innocence in this case. The vast majority of both groups say they have a negative opinion of Simpson, and also think he is guilty of armed robbery. However, a majority of those following the story closely say justice would finally be served in the Simpson-Goldman murders if Simpson received a long prison sentence as a result of his current charges; only about one-third of those not following the story as closely share this view.
Also, the more attentive group is slightly more likely than the less attentive group to say the media are justified in their coverage of Simpson, but a solid majority of both groups says the media are paying too much attention to it.
Results for this panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,006 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 24-27, 2007. Respondents were drawn from Gallup's household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. The final sample is weighted so it is representative of U.S. adults nationwide. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.