ABC News Paid For “Other Materials”

And I was hoping I could ignore O.J. Simpson Trial, Vegas Edition.

The New York Times reports that a key witness, Thomas Riccio, yesterday testified that ABC News paid him $15,000. ABC News said it paid not for the interview but for “other materials.”

Mr. Riccio’s recording of the planning and execution of the meeting — and the fact that he sold it to before sharing it with the police — had been widely reported, but until Monday he had not publicly disclosed that he had also been paid by mainstream news organizations. Under cross-examination by one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, Yale Galanter, Mr. Riccio described his negotiations with ABC News and “Entertainment Tonight.” He said that producers from both had told him they could not pay him for an interview, but that when he said he would not cooperate without pay, they offered money for photographs of Mr. Riccio with Mr. Simpson and rights to use the audio recording.

A spokesman for ABC News, Jeffrey Schneider, said the network never paid for interviews. What it paid Mr. Riccio for, Mr. Schneider said, were rights to broadcast parts of the audio recording on “Good Morning America” and to show several photos of Mr. Riccio and Mr. Simpson together on the day of the hotel-room meeting. He said Mr. Riccio had been interviewed to clarify parts of the audio that were difficult to hear. The interview was broadcast on “Good Morning America.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.