Rich white man…guilty? Unbelievable!

I was living in Philadelphia during the OJ Simpson trial, and every day on my commute I’d pick up a copy of the Daily News, the city’s tabloid paper, and it was pretty much non-stop OJ coverage. It was weirdly fascinating, since OJ was that terrible combination of rich, famous, and obviously guilty. The trial was a prolonged spectacle of justice twisted to support a joyful media that knew a cash cow when they saw it, and a team of showboating lawyers who were more about putting on a show than practicing law. And then OJ was acquitted! The rich guy got off (although that was complicated by the fact that it was the rich black guy who escaped justice — there were a lot of people cheering for him, too.)

The latest law event comparable was the Alex Murdaugh trial. It was inescapable! It was unbelievable! It was a string of crimes where the culprit was clearly the corrupt Southern lawyer who seemed to think he could distract the law as it came crashing down on him by committing yet another clumsily executed murder, butchering his own family members. He was so obviously guilty that every death of everyone with any connection to the family began to look like another victim of a Murdaugh conspiracy.

I am so cynical that as the evidence piled up, I was convinced that Murdaugh was also going to be acquitted. The more damning the evidence became, the more certain I was that he was going to walk, because justice in America is synonymous with money. I was surprised when the jury adjurned and came back with a guilty verdict in only 45 minutes!

Amanda Marcotte has been reading my mind all this time.

Ah yes, why would cable news fixate on this truly bonkerballs string of crimes — corruption, fraud, drug abuse, and of course, murder — that would put any Southern gothic novel to shame? It hardly seems a mystery, especially when it seems that time spent not on this murder is instead dedicated to endless speculation about presidential primaries that are a year away and already have painfully predictable outcomes. (It’s Donald Trump and Joe Biden again, folks. Sorry to spoil the surprise.) And it’s not like they’re going to suddenly start having fruitful discussions on policy that will no doubt invite viewers to turn the channel.

Accusations of frivolity are something true crime fans have had to deal with for roughly forever. It’s a charge that has more than an air of sexism to it, as most such enthusiasts are women. But the Murdaugh case thoroughly exposes how wrong the “crime stories don’t matter” talking point is. The case cuts straight to the heart of so much of what is driving our current social-political climate, and in a more insightful way than most of the content the Beltway press is producing. (Oh boy, another interview with weaselly Trump voters in diners!) We’re in the midst of what is likely a decade, if not longer, of American crisis over exactly how much impunity we’ve allowed white men, especially those with money.

I think I’ve adopted a bleak mindset in which I’m helpless as rotten, stupid, rich men are going to trample all over the country with impunity. We can think of a few, I’m sure.

Donald Trump attempted a coup that led to a violent insurrection and he is not in prison yet. (And may be president again!) Social media owners like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are profiting off the destruction of democracy, and there seems to be no check on their power. Sure, Harvey Weinstein finally went to prison, but the powers that protect pampered white men have come roaring back, shielding other accused abusers like Johnny Depp and Kevin Spacey from consequences. Endless whining about “cancel culture” and “wokeness” is the battle cry of white male privilege — they will never fold to the forces demanding accountability!

The Murdaugh family story resonates because it’s so in tune with these societal concerns.

I’m still in disbelief that Trump is campaigning for president right now. The most corrupt and incompetent president in my lifetime, and he gets a free pass because he’s rich.

There are more.

Clearly, however, Murdaugh and his lawyer hoped he could bullshit his way out of this situation. It wasn’t a baseless belief. Murdaugh has a long history of evading justice that suggests he could pull it off. So it wasn’t hard to draw the connection between Murdaugh and the endless stream of glib rich white guy liars we’re subjected to on a daily basis: Trump. Tucker Carlson. Steve Bannon. Ben Shapiro. Ron DeSantis. I could go on forever. Men are always pissing on our legs and telling us it’s raining. We’re drowning in it.

What the Alex Murdaugh conviction tells us, though, is that there’s hope. Maybe, sometimes, we’ll see the wealthy and their puppets get their comeuppance.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Of course Trump is campaigning for president right now. Have you never heard of Berlusconi or Viktor Orban or other leaders of failing democracies?
    Fortunately 45 is the most fucking stupid in the wannabe dictator field.
    Even a useless bunch like the Democrats have a good chance of beating him.

    As for “justice” – unless the Democrats dare make a huge revision of the number of judges – like Lincoln did- (they won’t) you are stuck with a corrupt supreme court for a generation.

  2. weylguy says

    Surprised that Murdaugh was found guilty? Yes, he was white and rich, but also a Democrat in a deep Red State.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    The most corrupt and incompetent president in my lifetime…

    Three words too long.

  4. says

    “Donald Trump attempted a coup that led to a violent insurrection and he is not in prison yet. (And WON’T be president again!)”

    Fixed it for you. Especial when he’s on the brink of getting indicted for numerous crimes.

  5. robro says

    Last week there was a lot of news about yet another corrupt rich white man saying something under oath and for the record. Rupert Murdoch admitted that his business had knowingly lied about the “stolen election” to hang on to viewers. However, he did it in such a way as to deflect responsibility from himself, his son Lachlan, or other high-level leadership at Fox such as Suzanne Scott. It was the on-air personalities…the one’s caught in text messages saying that they knew they were promoting a lie…without so much as a wink at the way big news corporations work. He basically threw Tucker, Hannity, Ingraham and so on under the bus, except there’s no consequence for them. It will cost the Murdoch empire some money starting with the $1.6 billion suit from Dominion Voting Systems, and other could pile on, but that won’t hurt him too much.

  6. divineconspiracy667 says

    I remember the OJ trial. I was going to college at the time, and the media coverage was inescapable. About the only way to escape the trial on TV was to watch the music channel (Muchmusic in Canada), and even then you’d catch the occasional snippet.
    Fast forward to now when I don’t have cable TV and I’ve never heard of this Murdaugh guy. Nothing about the trial has popped up in any of the algorithms that push content to me. I count that as a win.
    It definitely is a surprise to hear a rich white man going to jail. He must’ve been very bad and extremely incompetent in his criming in order to get away with it.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Sunak; Not quite as white as his predecessors, but just as malign.
    Good news; Sunak’s attempt to distract from the economy by being even more inhuman to refugees has little chance of being successful. And anything that hurts the tories makes me cheer up a bit.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Robro @ 6
    When I get my voodoo certificate, I am totally resurrecting* Rupert Murdoch to let him do the menial jobs the Brits used to leave to immigrants, pre-Brexit.

    *I know he is still alive. And 91 (rubs hands).

  9. wzrd1 says

    @robro, my reading suggests that a $1.6 billion loss would cause significant financial injury to Fox. The total amount is literally all of Fox’s assets.

  10. robro says

    wzrd1 —According to Yahoo, Fox Corp is pulling in $30+ billion in annual revenue. That might get curtailed some if advertisers balk but that’s a big if. So should Dominion actually win and get paid*, the award is only about 5.0% of the business’s annual revenue. And, $1.6 billion is a drop in the bucket for Murdoch’s personal wealth which I’m sure is well protected from this litigation. According to Forbes, his net worth as of 2022 is over $20 billion. Bloomberg pins him at $12 billion in 2019.

    I’m confident that the lawyers will drag out a Dominion win for years.

  11. wzrd1 says

    I’m sure that the lawyers will have protracted appeals, but remember liquidity of assets. Most assets are tied up or otherwise encumbered and not easily available. It’s unlikely to be fatal, but it’s certainly injurious and advertisers won’t want to be associated with or investing in Fox.

    Circling back to Murdaugh, one critical thing that helped convict him was that which defense attorneys usually do their best to avoid – his own testimony. His big ego made him hang himself.

  12. whywhywhy says

    #13 “advertisers won’t want to be associated with or investing in Fox”
    Maybe for a few weeks, possibly months but they will be back. Just like all the companies that stated they would not donate to politicians that supporter the J6 insurrection. Most of them are back donating to the same folks again. The big key is if the cable companies will stop the sweetheart deal they gave Fox News. It receives enough money in cable fees to remain profitable even if all advertisers pulled their money. Only ESPN garners a larger percent of the cable fees.

  13. says

    This is nothing new. Remember Bernie Madoff? A rich, white fellow ripped off and swindled a ton of people only to end up in prison for the rest of his life? Not to mention a particular rich, white guy (Brian Epstein) who ended up in prison for numerous sex crimes only to be allegedly murdered by his cellmate?

    There nothing really new about rich, white men going to prison for numerous crimes and stayed locked up there for the rest of their lives.

  14. cartomancer says

    A murderer called Murdaugh? Call the Professor of Applied Nominative Determinism right away!

  15. wzrd1 says

    Yeah, during the trial, my phone was alerting pretty much every 5 minutes with some blurb on the trial. I just swept them from the screen, as most trial reporting is just rubbish.
    But, one headline that’s been repeated did stick in my mind, although I didn’t read the story. His own testimony sunk what weak defense that he did have.
    Good riddance to bad, multiple murdering rubbish.

  16. says

    On a related note, convicted rapist Brock Turner’s probation expired last week. Women in Dayton, Ohio are tracking his movements and sharing it on social media. Not sure if him or Kyle Rittenhouse wins the award for white privilege, but this shit keeps happening.

  17. says

    @Owosso Harpist
    Yeah, no biggie.
    So I’ve been trying to watch the Netflix series on the Murdaugh murders, but despite three attempts have yet to reach the end of the first episode. So far it’s all about Paul, eventual victim I guess, behaving like a spoiled, entitled and very drunk brat and getting a young lady killed. Really, I just don’t much enjoy watching dysfunctional families dysfunction. Maybe it’s because I know how the story ends, but it seems oddly familiar and predictable, like maybe Tolstoy had it wrong.

  18. wzrd1 says

    @Ray, I agree. I’m honestly considering things outside of the legal framework, to protect all.
    At an honest to God level.
    Then, take my medicine of terminal punishment.
    Kill off predators, add in enough, call it a win.
    As I said, considering.
    I’m proficient with firearm, long range firearm, edged weapon, bludgeon (not preferred, due to resistance and potential for escape) and a few other methods.
    As I’ve said, I’m a nice guy, but there’s another side of me, the one that engaged terrorists as a peer and frightened them.
    Honestly, I’d far prefer playing with my grandkids, while safe and enjoying the experience again.
    And keeping that monster restrained.

    Instead, we have a threat to my grandkids.
    That’s a really bad move.
    Still working a few angles to make it mutually bad for all. Worst result, ain’t gonna be pretty, two superpowers fucking each other, best result is sanity returns to humanity for a fucking change.
    Not anticipating sanity, but am expecting something in the middle.
    Well, that or global cobalt-60, not my choice.

  19. S maltophilia says

    OJ was whiter than most people. It’s one of the first instances of class trumping complexion.

  20. birgerjohansson says

    Crook-on-crook slander at Mussolini Political AC.
    Trump called DeSantis “Tiny D”
    I won’t mind if the name sticks.