Get ready for another dramatic adaptation of the so-called texting suicide case. Deadline reports that UCP, a TV production company under the NBC umbrella has optioned Jesse Barron’s Esquire piece “The Girl From Plainville,” an article about Michelle Carter’s alleged role in Conrad Roy’s death.
Barron’s 2017 report “is considered the definitive account of the events,” Deadline says -- so definitive, in fact, that (as Sarah and I noted on The Blotter Presents) Barron is one of the most prominent talking heads in Erin Lee Carr’s HBO doc on the case, I Love You, Now Die.
Carr and Barron will be consulting producers on the show, with UCP president Dawn Olmstead saying that “partnering with Jesse and Erin on adapting this true crime into a drama series allows us to dive deeper into the events surrounding one of the most controversial trials in recent history.” (UCP is also behind Dirty John, which got The Blotter Presents treatment here and The Act, which was Blotter Present-ed here.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the property has seen a dramatic adaptation -- a point oddly absent from most media coverage of the UCP deal. Last fall, Lifetime dropped Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill (which was not good, Sarah and I agree), a take that starred Bella Thorne and Austin P. Mckenzie. According to the network, the show is no longer available for streaming, but it’s available for $5 on iTunes. -- EB
My late father once said -- almost in passing -- that he couldn’t even walk into a bank without trying to figure out how to rob it. My dad taught college his entire life and we were always poor, so I don’t think he ever acted on the drive, but man oh man do I wish he were alive so I could send him this episode of the How To podcast, in which serial bank robber turned consultant Joe Loya explains “how to plan the perfect heist—and getaway.”
If you don’t have the time or bandwith for the pod, How To’s Charles Duhigg has also dropped a lengthy text excerpt from the discussion on Slate, in which Loya explains that he actually got the idea to become a bank robber from “a U.S.Department of Justice book of facts on the coffee table in the waiting room,” where robbers’ most common mistakes were revealed. “And so I say, I’m going to flip the script,” Loya explains, saying he did the opposite of what investigators expect most robbers to do. -- EB
Readers: if you ever commit a crime based on something you read in the newsletter, first, don’t do that! Just don’t! But if you do, please tell all interviewers that they and their audiences can subscribe at bestevidence.fyi. Thank you!
The Crime Junkie podcast is under scrutiny for alleged plagiarism. I’ll begin by saying that I don’t listen to Crime Junkie -- I’ve tried, but it is not for me. That said, I’m intrigued by how this story is rolling out. Let’s break down the case:
Per BuzzFeed, former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Cathy Frye commented on a Facebook post of Flowers’, saying that on an episode of Crime Junkie on the disappearance of Kacie Woody, Flowers used information from Frye’s four-part series called “Evil at the Door.” According to Frye, the show only cited “research,” not her article, even though it contained “several details in the episode that she had exclusively reported on in her series.”
Crime Junkie subsequently deleted the episode, saying in a statement sent to Variety that “we recently made the decision to pull down several episodes from our main feed when their source material could no longer be found or properly cited. Since then, we’ve worked to put additional controls in place to address any gaps moving forward.” However, several other podcasters have since stepped forward to say that they recognized their own work in episodes of Crime Junkie, but were not credited.”
In one example, Robin Warder, the host of The Trail Went Cold, says that a source list for a case that he posted to Reddit was used by Crime Junkie, but wasn’t cited. According to Warder, issues like this are fairly common, as "there are sometimes issues in the true crime podcasting world with shows not citing their sources, and some podcasts don’t do any research besides reading off Wikipedia…But Crime Junkie is probably the most high-profile example of this."
The podcast has since removed four other episodes, Variety reports. As a longtime blogger, I’m fascinated by the controversy. When blogging was in its infancy, attribution was an ongoing conversation, from how legacy media accused bloggers of “stealing” even when they linked and attributed to how legacy media would themselves report on content by small or independent creators without giving credit.
If you spend any time with a newspaper journalist, for example, bring up broadcast media if you want to see them Hulk out. “They’re just reading the paper on TV and acting like they’re doing original journalism!” is a constant refrain. Radio gets it even harder, as “they don’t even have to go out there, they’re just in the studio reading our stuff into a mic.”
I’m not saying that any of that is OK -- to me, to be a trustworthy source you need to tell people exactly from where you’re getting your information. But many news outlets, for reasons both understandable (haste, copy flow, etc) and gross (wanting to seem like they own a story) do not. I’m hopeful that the attention placed on the issue of attribution helps podcasters develop the same street-rules ethics we bloggers built out in the late 90s and early aughts -- but given what a shitty job many mainstream outlets do regarding credit even today, it’s hardly surprising that Flowers followed their lead. -- EB
If you’ve wanted to watch The Inventor but don’t have HBO, you can now find it on Kanopy. The documentary on Elizabeth Holmes (and subject of a The Blotter Presents ep from March) is of course available to stream on HBOgo, but if you exist in the right spot of a Venn diagram on HBO non-subscriber status, lack of access to a password (I tip my hat to your ethics, friend!), and the card holder of a public library with a Kanopy deal, today’s your lucky day. If you’re not already a Kanopy user, you can search for your institution here, then can find The Inventor (and many other smart guy shows) in its “newly added” tab. -- EB
And, as I must mention any time Holmes comes up, if Best Evidence hits its paid subscriber goal of 2000 members by August of 2020, I’ll cover Holmes’s trial from the courtroom! This newsletter would make a great gift, don’t you think?
Are you watching Mindhunter this weekend? I wrote a little “what to remember from Season one” thing for Primetimer here, and expect to dive into its newly-dropped second season later today. Once I do, I was thinking about setting up an open thread to discuss the show as we move through it. If you’re interested, keep your eye on your inbox -- I’ll send out the thread details as they emerge. -- EB
Monday on Best Evidence: Does Scientology coverage count as true crime? Let me know if you think it doesn’t, otherwise I’m gonna be on that beat Monday.
What is this thing? This should help.