O.J. Simpson debated by Dan Le batard and Pablo Torre Credit: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

This month, OJ Simpson returned as a weekly NFL analyst on It Is What It Is, the popular digital sports show hosted by hip hop legends Cam’Ron and Mase. Simpson typically appears to talk NFL. But this week, a clip went viral of Simpson chiming in on Cam’s beef with NBA athlete Ben Simmons to give out his credentials from growing up in the projects of San Francisco.

Many online reacted to the intensity of Simpson’s comments given the unanswered questions around the death of his late wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

But on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Tuesday, Le Batard and guest Pablo Torre questioned the ethics of Simpson appearing on the show at all. While it scratches an itch for many sports fans to reconnect with Simpson, the two former ESPN personalities argued it can be dangerous to erase the past of controversial figures in the name of entertainment.

“I am just glad that through proxy, through Cam and Mase, I can actually indulge in I think a genuine fascination that everyone has stayed away from,” Torre said. “The only place he can be platformed with that level of intimacy and welcome obviously is going to be on a pseudo-satirical but actually real sports show, hosted by two former rappers.”

Le Batard worried IIWII giving Simpson a platform could help clean up Simpson’s public image again.

“This begins his rehabilitation,” Le Batard said. “Because he is charming … this is normalizing OJ Simpson now.”

And because Cam and Mase “don’t have to listen to media standards,” Le Batard said, by operating independently with a sponsorship from Underdog Fantasy, they are rewarded with unique attention and viewership. Episodes with Simpson tend to perform better on YouTube than shows with just Cam and Mase.

Still, Torre argued that accountability must come for Simpson at some point if he remains in the public eye.

“As much as I love (IIWII), they’re not exactly deposing OJ Simpson,” Torre said. “It just feels like at a certain point, there are questions that he has never actually admitted answers to … when do any of us feel icky? And I think if you are in anything resembling the business of accountability and news, you can’t ignore that.”

While Cam has publicly stated he believes Simpson is innocent in the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman, ignoring the issue altogether can do harm to not only the victims’ families but also others involved.

Torre argued that where that leaves IIWII is in a position of not actually being a more “authentic” version of content than mainstream media programs. Instead, it’s a sanitized version that ignores the elephant in the room.

“In all of these platforms that are not actually newsrooms … you don’t want truth either,” Torre said. “Because you’re not asking the hardest questions.”

Across sports media today, nontraditional hosts are scoring conversations with the juiciest guests. While the thrill of that is giving way to breakout media stars right now, Torre argued there is a limit to the trust those hosts can build with audiences and the relevance they can ultimately have.

“I fully understand the entertainment impulse. I want it, I’m guilty of it,” Torre said. “All I’m saying though is those people, whether you’re Pat McAfee or (Cam’Ron) … you’re just not interviewers. You’re not doing news. So you’ve just got to be very clear about what it is and what it isn’t.”

[The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.