Betty Broderick · Just Mercy · Joe Scarborough

Plus: Thinking critically about, well, [waves hands] all of it

Just Mercy is free to stream this month. As you of course know, the movie is a fictional adaptation of the work of civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), with Jamie Foxx playing Walter McMillian, a man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death.

You can probably guess why Warner Brothers made the sudden announcement to drop it for free on most streaming services, and your suspicions would be confirmed by the studio’s press release, which says in part that the film is “one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society.”

There’s a lot to say about the ways brands are tackling the current social justice crisis (next time we all get a drink, let me tell you about the press releases I keep getting from a popular food delivery app) and there’s something about “humbly offer” that raises my hackles like you wouldn’t believe. But Stevenson is the real deal, Jordan is a thoughtful and interesting person both as a performer and as a public figure, and Foxx was actually on the steps of San Francisco’s city hall calling out the cops yesterday, so I think I am in. — EB

Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story kicked off Tuesday. The advance word on the USA series is…not inspiring, I’m sad to say. EW says it’s “a tabloid excavation undone by shaky storytelling” and Variety calls out the characterization of Broderick as first “monomaniacally obsessed with her ex-husband, then as having been pushed to this seeming madness by his mistreatment of her, then overdoing it again, then revealed to have been right all along, and so forth.” [“We’ll be talking about the series with Dr. Marcia Chatelain next week as well. That we weren’t given screeners is likely not a great sign.” - SDB]

If you’re into more coverage of the show and its related case, Amanda Peet (who plays Broderick) also did a recent interview with Variety on the show, saying her friend, Holland Taylor, told her “Don’t play crazy” when it came to Broderick, and to instead “look at each scene as a legitimate protest or a justified experience.” And next month, Oxygen has a Snapped on the slaying of Dan and Linda Broderick planned, a July 15 episode that includes “in-depth interviews with former detective Terry Degelder, friends of Dan Broderick, Betty’s attorney Jack Farley, and the author of Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story, Loretta Schwartz-Nobel.” — EB

There’s a lot of crime and crime-adjacent coverage out there this week, and even when it seems straightforward, it makes sense to view it critically. It’s hard as a reporter not to rely on the narratives provided us by law enforcement — a lot of the time, the arrested person or the alleged victim aren’t available, so it’s write what the cops tell you or nothing at all. It’s a problem that ethical journalists have grappled with for years, as they compete with other outlets (Nextdoor, crime apps like Citizen, and broadcast TV) for attention. We all need to grapple harder than ever these days, as it seems like the divide between the police and the rest of us is feeling starker and starker. Here’s some stuff I’ve been thinking about a lot these last few days:

  • How Nextdoor Courts Police and Public Officials” [Citylab} Nextdoor’s business model is in large part predicated on your belief that crime is just getting worse, especially where you live. They’ll go to some pretty great lengths to stoke those fears!

  • “‘Unarmed Black Man’ Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means” [NPR] NPR’s Public Editor, Kelly McBride, revisits her news org’s use of the phrase “unarmed black man” in news reports. “The phrase has become journalistic shorthand for this message: white people unjustly shooting a black man, because their racial prejudice led them to assume he was a threat,” she writes, but on examination she says that it also “presumes the first question we should ask about a black jogger is: Was he armed?”

  • Prosecuting Karen—Amy Cooper and the Selective Prosecution of Yasmine Seweid” [] Amy Cooper, the former financier who allegedly gave a false report to police when she called them after a Central Park birder asked her to leash her dog, will not face charges for filing a false report. Compare that to an 18-year-old Muslim woman who was prosecuted over her reports of an attack on the New York subway, and you might wonder what gives

Even the National Enquirer refused to report on Donald Trump’s allegations against Joe Scarborough. I will spare you the tweets from the American commander-in-chief that imply that Scarborough, the host of a news chat show, might somehow be responsible for the death of a female congressional aide.

According to the Daily Beast, the Trump administration’s commitment to the yarn was so significant that presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner approached Enquirer publisher David Pecker and pressured him to do a story on the matter. Pecker subsequently tasked reporters to take on the tale, TDB reports, but “people with knowledge of the matter said reporters were ultimately unsuccessful in finding even threadbare proof to run a story.” “If there was something there we would’ve bit into it and stayed with it,” an anonymous source tells TDB. — EB

Friday on Best Evidence: Damn you, universe, are you seriously going to make me write about Tiger King again?

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