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OJ Simpson Beaten? Doubt Cast on National Enquirer Story

Feb 16, 2011 – 3:15 PM
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Mary Phillips-Sandy Contributor

The National Enquirer can't let go of the idea that O.J. Simpson is being assaulted and harassed in prison.

The rumor made the rounds anew this week, with several media outlets picking up the tabloid's sensational story (headline: O.J. Beaten Unconscious in Brutal Prison Attack!). According to the Enquirer, Simpson was beaten "to a bloody pulp" by fellow inmates at Nevada's Lovelock Correctional Center after a group of white supremacists overheard him bragging about his "sexual conquests of beautiful white women."

In 2007, Simpson began serving a nine-year sentence for his alleged involvement in an armed confrontation in Las Vegas.

There are a few problems with the Enquirer's story: First, it's not true. Lovelock spokesman Steve Suwe told Surge Desk, "None of that happened. We've talked to him, we know where he's at, he's physically fine." He added that Simpson "just does his time. He's not a big issue for us and the inmates."

Second, the Enquirer was caught chasing a similar tale just over a year ago. In December 2009, a Lovelock spokeswoman had to swat down rumors of an O.J. beating, saying she didn't know where the misinformation originated. However, she revealed that the facility had received calls from the National Enquirer about the alleged story.

Several months earlier, in July 2009, the Enquirer ran with another O.J.-terrorized-in-jail tale, this one headlined O.J. Terrified Cellmate Will Murder Him. According to that report, Simpson called a friend "in a panic" because his "increasingly menacing" cellmate had threatened to kill him.

The National Enquirer enjoyed a brief respite from its tabloid reputation after it broke the story of John Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter in 2009. The paper's reporters had trailed Edwards for years, and the published results of its investigation -- which proved to be accurate -- ended Edwards' political career.

After the Edwards story exploded, Emily Miller at Politics Daily recalled that the Enquirer had scored other scoops, uncovering scandals about Gary Hart and Donna Rice; Jesse Jackson and his illegitimate child; and Hillary Rodham Clinton's brother Hugh Rodham. "The National Enquirer is a supermarket tabloid," Miller wrote, "but the time has come for the media elite to admit that it has an excellent investigative reporting team."

Just not when it comes to O.J. Simpson's time behind bars, apparently.

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