Last night, many people were surprised when I noted on Twitter that former Los Angeles police Detective Mark Fuhrman -- currently back in the news due to FX's dramatic miniseries The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story -- works for Fox News. But it's true. Despite committing perjury and being caught on tape spewing racial epithets, Furhman got a gig on Fox News, which frequently hosts him to discuss racially charged news stories.
Fuhrman, who was a witness for the prosecution during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, became toxic with the discovery of hours of audio tape of him using racial epithets. As New York Times television writer Danielle Henderson described them, “The Fuhrman tapes are deplorable, laden with racial epithets, confessions of coercion, and blatant bragging about how he's worked the system in order to victimize minorities.”
Fox News describes Fuhrman as “a forensic and crime scene expert for FOX News Channel” in his official biography, and while the network notes that he “served as a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective for 20 years” and “was a witness in the O.J. Simpson trial,” it omits any mention of the controversy over his racist comments that featured so heavily in the case.
As laid out by the Philadelphia Inquirer during the trial, after Fuhrman testified as a witness for the prosecution about the evidence he had uncovered at the murder scene and at O.J. Simpson's home, defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey asked Fuhrman, “Do you use the word nigger in describing people?” Fuhrman responded “No, sir.”
Bailey followed up and asked him, “And you say on your oath that you have not addressed any black person as a nigger or spoken about black people as niggers in the past 10 years, Detective Fuhrman?” Fuhrman replied, “That's what I'm saying, sir.”
Concluding the line of questioning, Bailey asked Fuhrman, “So that anyone who comes to this court and quotes you as using that word in dealing with African-Americans would be a liar, would they not?” To which Fuhrman replied, “Yes, they would.”
In 1985, Fuhrman gave a recorded interview to aspiring screenwriter Laura McKinney, who was working on a screenplay about female police officers. During that interview, Fuhrman used the word “nigger” to refer to African-Americans 40 times.
As a result, during the Simpson trial, Fuhrman was widely condemned and even the prosecutor referred to him as a “bad cop” during closing arguments.
In October of 1996, after Simpson had been acquitted of the double homicide, Fuhrman was charged with perjury, and he entered a plea of no contest, admitting that he had lied under oath about using the racial epithet. He was given probation and a fine, but no jail time. At the time, LAPD Chief Willie L. Williams said of Fuhrman: “The wounds that were opened up by his comments will take years for this department to overcome.”
After writing a series of true-crime books, Fuhrman resurfaced as part of the Fox News team. During Fuhrman's time on the network, Fox has used him as an expert voice on several racially charged incidents involving police:
- Fuhrman told Fox News about the “people” he “dealt with” for 20 years who would “kill somebody and go have some chicken at KFC.”
- Fuhrman was invited on Fox to discuss the killing of black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
- Fuhrman appeared on Fox to discuss the videotaped beating of a black man by white LAPD officers.
- Fuhrman appeared on Fox's Kelly File to discuss protests in Ferguson, MO.
- On Fox, discussing the arrest of a Muslim teen over a homemade clock, Fuhrman said, “I don't feel sorry for Ahmed ... He was passive aggressive.”
- On Fox, Fuhrman defended the actions of a school police officer who dragged and threw a black student across the floor.
In addition to criminal justice issues, Fuhrman has also appeared on Fox to discuss the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare.
On February 3, Megyn Kelly discussed The People Vs. O.J. Simpson on her show, The Kelly File. Kelly noted that Fuhrman was a “frequent guest on this show,” but instead of hosting Fuhrman, she spoke with Simpson defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Discussing Fuhrman, Dershowitz said, “He's a smart guy, and I think he's rehabilitated himself. Look, he had a terrible past and did some terrible things and said some terrible things. He helped us win the case.”