It's The 20-Year Anniversary Of The Greatest Prank Call Of All Time

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The O.J. Simpson car chase had its share of memorable moments. For you, maybe it was the absurdity of a white Ford Bronco leading a phalanx of police well under the speed limit, or the knowledge that Simpson had a gun to his head, or Al Cowlings telling police "You know who I am, goddammit" or just the realization that O.J. Simpson had probably indeed killed two people. But don't sleep on the ludicrous brilliance of a Howard Stern fan somehow making it onto the air.

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't Howard Stern regular Captain Janks that talked his way into speaking with ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, but a devoted fan, one "Maury from Brooklyn." The call itself was nothing spectacular—a supposed witness saying, in cartoonishly racist dialect, that "I see O.J., man, and he looks scared." And closing, naturally, with a "Baba Booey."


The real wonder was the multiple levels of failure it took to put a prank caller in the air during, perhaps, the single biggest breaking news event of that century. In a 1996 interview, Stern put all the blame on ABC.

"If Jennings wasn't a wooden Indian, he would have realized that this guy is a fake. First of all, his dialect was obviously phony. Second, a shucking and jiving black man is obviously not O.J.'s neighbor. All Jennings could see was his exclusive!"


The perfect coda was Al Michaels jumping in, informing the audience (and Jennings) that the call was "totally farcical." The whole thing remains as damning an indictment of the cable news era (and maybe the birth of reality TV) as you could hope, even more so because you know it could just as easily happen today.