JonBenét · Hackers · Playboy
Part one of our two-part end-of-year budget doc cleanup
Three more days of 2022! That means two more days of Best Evidence this year — two days we’re spending with a sweep that will leave our budget doc completely clean. Will we have anything to write about on Tuesday, Jan. 3? We’ll see! We do know it’s almost your last chance to claim a paid sub to BE as a write-off this tax year.
We have a lot to get through, so let’s get to it! — EB
Paul T. Goldman review: A true-crime experiment with mixed results [Entertainment Weekly]
The reviews for this “metafictional true crime docuseries” are in, and it looks like critics aren’t sure what to do with this, per its logline, “groundbreaking project that mixes fact and fiction to tell a bizarre and incredible tale.” “Peacock’s ‘Paul T. Goldman’ Is Part ‘The Rehearsal,’ Part ‘Curb,’ and Totally Wild” writes Indiewire, “‘Paul T. Goldman’ Review: Peacock’s Docuseries Straddles an Uneasy, Laugh-Free Line Between Real Life and Satire” is THR’s take, and “‘Paul T. Goldman’ Is a Meta Journey That’s More Cruel Than Dazzling,” writes Variety. It drops on Jan. 1, are you planning on watching it? — EB
Hot Pod’s favorite podcast episodes of 2022 [The Verge]
Plenty here for folks who knew they meant to listen to something earlier this year but forgot what that exact podcast was. Maybe You’re Wrong About, “The Donner Party”?
'Dead Eyes,' but tons of heart: This small podcast is among the year's best [Fresh Air]
Then there’s Hot Pod founder Nick Quah, who proclaims Bone Valley a “clear knockout.” — EB
Bill Cosby Considering Return to Touring in 2023 [The Hollywood Reporter]
The comedian, who was credibly accused of serial sexual assault by scores of women, was apparently interviewed by radio personality Scott Spears, and said he was hoping to return to the stage next year. “We’re looking at getting back out here around Spring/Summer of 2023,” confirmed Cosby publicist Andrew Wyatt. Given the positive comments on Wyatt’s and Cosby’s instagram posts on the topic, I suppose he’ll have some sort of audience, I am dismayed to say. Meanwhile, We Need to Talk About Cosby remains on Showtime and is well worth a watch to remind oneself of the destruction the formerly-convicted rapist has wrought. — EB
‘The Imposter’ on Netflix: Why Everyone’s Suddenly Going Wild For This “Bonkers” Documentary 10 Years After Its Release [Decider]
I can’t top Sarah’s response to this article on Bart Layton’s 2012 doc on Frédéric Bourdin’s shocking missing person scam, so I won’t try: “‘Why’ is everyone ‘going wild for’ The Imposter? Really, Decider? The shit rules, that's ‘why.’” Contrary to Decider’s claim, the doc isn’t currently available on Netflix (at least, not in the U.S.), but it is on freevee or a wide variety of streaming rental services for less than $3. — EB
Adnan Syed hired by Georgetown's prison reform initiative [ABC]
Syed is the newest program associate for Georgetown University's Prisons and Justice Initiative and “will support Georgetown’s ‘Making an Exoneree’ class.” He was “one of 25 incarcerated students at Georgetown's inaugural Bachelor of Liberal Arts program” at Patuxent Institute, where he was imprisoned. Syed says he hopes to finish his Georgetown degree and then attend law school.
Scott Peterson is denied a new trial in the death of his pregnant wife [NBC]
Sorry, Dean Cain, you won’t be back for a sequel to The Perfect Husband, as after years of legal wrangling over allegedly false claims made by a juror in his 2004 murder trial, Peterson has been denied a new trial. Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo ruled that the juror in question did indeed submit juror questionnaire answers that were “false in certain respects,” but said the mistruths “were the result of a combination of good faith misunderstanding of the questions and sloppiness in answering,” not a bias against Peterson.
Holly Madison Exposes the ‘Horrible’ Dark Side of Being a Playmate in ‘The Playboy Murders’ 1st Look [Us]
ID’s The Playboy Murders “is an anthology series recounting murders and mysteries that intersect with the world of Playboy,” hosted by The Girls Next Door reality star Holly Madison. I’m curious to see how this series tackles the brand, which was once known for a sort of casually acceptable misogyny, without shaming women engaged in sex-adjacent professions or seeming puritanically judgmental. Can it be done? — EB
JonBenét Ramsey’s Dad Reflected On The “Fools” Who Investigated The Case, The True Crime Boom, And The People Who Still Think He Killed His Daughter [BuzzFeed]
The SEO-friendly URL of this piece is “jonbenet-ramseys-dad-wants-case-solved,” which, no duh, I guess? (Unless you’re one of the folks who thinks he did it/was involved in a coverup, I suppose.) The 79-year-old Ramsey is on the interview circuit to promote Suburban Nightmare: JonBenét Ramsey, a new doc that dropped on Tubi (these streaming service names are getting beyond parody, right?) last week. Per Ramsey, “We've been trying to get the case out of the hands of the Boulder police because we think they're incompetent, and so we asked the governor to intervene to get the ball rolling again.” — EB
So I guess that poses a question:
This poll will be active for three days, so we’ll tell you the results in 2023! — EB
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody [Wired]
This is a quick update on an ongoing police corruption/cover-up case in India; here’s a snip:
The case of the Bhima Koregaon 16, in which hackers planted fake evidence on the computers of two Indian human rights activists that led to their arrest along with more than a dozen colleagues, has already become notorious worldwide. Now the tragedy and injustice of that case is coming further into focus: A forensics firm has found signs that the same hackers also planted evidence on the hard drive of another high-profile defendant in the case who later died in detention—as well as fresh clues that the hackers who fabricated that evidence were collaborating with the Pune City Police investigating him.
‘There are so many unsolved murders’: the true-crime podcasters reviving cold cases [Guardian]
This is an interesting interview with Mandy Matney (Murdaugh Murders) and Hedley Thomas (The Teacher’s Pet) about the impact their shows has on their respective cases. Matney’s comments on how podcasting can enact more change than traditional journalism is something I found especially provocative:
I wanted to do a podcast ever since I listened to the first episode of Serial; I was probably 25 at the time, I was young in my career. I listened to that episode and it just changed my idea of storytelling, and changed the way that I thought about journalism.
Then, for two years, I was investigating a boat crash in South Carolina that killed a young girl, and it was pretty much only followed locally; that’s the only people that cared about it. But then the kid who was accused of driving the boat was suddenly murdered, along with his mom, in June of 2021. And that got the whole world’s attention: swarms and swarms of media covered this case, and they were all getting the story wrong; they were making it look like this powerful family [of the boat driver] had to be the victims, and somebody from this boat crash was taking advantage of them.
And basically, I cared so much about getting the story straight. I realised that true-crime podcasts are super popular, and I realised that my work in print journalism was not going to reach the number of people that my competitors would, no matter what I did. I thought: “If I don’t do it, somebody else will, and they’re going to do it the wrong way.”
The Top Twenty-five New Yorker Stories of 2022 [New Yorker]
With a lot of publications, I think “why should we care about your traffic leaderboard,” but with the New Yorker, a publication so dense that a lot of great work gets missed, a listicle like this has actual utility! And there’s a lot of true crime on this one, from The Unravelling of an Expert on Serial Killers to The Johnny Depp–Amber Heard Trial Is Not as Complicated as You May Think to many others. It’s worth saving this for a nice sit-down with a blanket and a drink, there’s plenty to read here. — EB
Ex-CNN Producer Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Charge in Deal [Associated Press]
Almost a year to the day after former CNN producer John Griffin was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl and conversations with “purported parents of minor daughters, in which he allegedly tried to persuade them to ‘allow him to train their daughters to be sexually submissive,’” a plea deal has been reached: Griffin pled guilty to “using interstate commerce to entice and coerce a 9-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.” (This 2021 CNN piece on the claims against Griffin is pretty shocking and vile; you have been warned.) As a result of the deal, all other charges will be dropped. Griffin was a mid-level producer at CNN for eight years, and was suspended after his arrest, and eventually fired by the network. — EB
Friday on Best Evidence: The last of our budget doc for 2022. See ya, year!
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Fun SEO fact: cramming keywords in the URL does squat for your SEO; it might've worked back in 2015 but not now. Still, I doubt we'll see the end of JonBenet content being milked for clicks every which way anytime soon, and I can't see an end point for the case.
To Bill Cosby, in the artful snark of Dorothy Zbornak: go hug a land mine!