The Blotter Presents, Episode 104: Injustice With Nancy Grace

Plus a Who Killed Garrett Phillips? preview, and the nature of crime-pod bingeing.

Hello, everyone! Eve’s off today, but I know she’d want me to remind you that, if we get 2000 paid subscribers by August of 2020, we’ll cover the Theranos trial in person. Now’s a great time to up that free sub to a paid one — or treat a friend or loved one to a gift subscription! — SDB

On this week’s episode of The Blotter Presents podcast, Chipperish Media’s Lani Diane Rich and I dig into Nancy Grace’s latest nuance-free project, Oxygen’s Injustice With Nancy Grace. What makes her so compelling for so many people? How can she still sputter about “pure evil” with a straight face? And will her cudgel-esque coverage ever go out of style?

We also discussed next week’s two-night HBO event, Who Killed Garrett Phillips?, so if you want to go into that documentary cold, you may want to save Ep 104 for later — but I’ll tell you right now, it’s a gooder: organized, compassionate, and tense. Director Liz Garbus is a reliably strong director who clearly spent years with this case and its people, and if you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend digging into A Dangerous Son, which I wrote up last month. — SDB

A very happy birthday to my dad, Dave Sr., who continues not to be the Zodiac. But if you did skip the Garrett Phillips section of the pod to avoid spoilers and you need more listening material today, I’ve talked about the Zodiac case a number of times: with Eve on Episodes 019 and 031; and in a Brief about the Monster podcast’s Zodiac Killer season premiere. — SDB

Alison Gaylin’s piece for CrimeReads yesterday speculates on what’s so compelling about true-crime podcasts specifically. Remembering how quickly she got sucked into Serial — same; after resisting it for weeks, I powered through eight episodes in a day — Gaylin talks about why this medium in the genre is so binge-able, noting that much has been written about “our attraction to true crime and how it safely fulfills our hidden desire to see evil up-close.” That’s not my grand unifying theory of the attraction to true crime — mine has more to do with consumers, particularly of serial-killer content, feeling they can control something that’s essentially random — but certainly that assertion lines up with why I and others are so interested in con/fraud tales. But Gaylin’s more interested in the how of the what, saying that “there’s something about having the story told to you that, for me at least, takes that intimacy one step further” and adding that headphones “invite.”

I like this idea, and as a podcaster and denizen of these internet streets since the mid-nineties, I think she’s onto something. The internet generally creates its own communities, and podcasts do the same thing with even more intimacy. Why we process information differently that’s heard versus read or watched is far above my pay grade, but it makes perfect sense that more senses employed to ingest a story would mean a stronger feeling of relationship with it and its teller(s). (The where is relevant here too; many podcasts are played on commutes, in a liminal space, or on long trips where listeners may feel alone except for the podcast hosts they’ve taken “with” them. I recall feeling like my 2011 cross-country trip was a group effort, undertaken not just by me but also by ESPN’s baseball team and Dan Carlin.)

Why do you listen, or not, to the true-crime podcasts you do? Is it the what…or the who? The story or the teller? Do you tolerate hosts you don’t love for histories you can’t quit? (It me and Real Crime Profile.) I’d love to know how you make these decisions with only 24 hours in the listening day. — SDB

The Act co-creator Nick Antosca doesn’t know anything about a Season 2. Antosca spoke to Business Insider’s Travis Clark about various aspects of the Hulu series’ first season — which dramatized the toxic fraud-spiral relationship of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee, although it…didn’t need much help in the drama department — including empathizing with the real people at the story’s center, how Michelle Dean’s research for her legendary Buzzfeed piece informed the narrative, and whether true crime is exploitive or a educational or both. Asked directly about a second season, Antosca said he’s buried in another project and doesn’t know anything, though my impression prior to The Act even getting cast was that it was imagined by Hulu as an anthology situation a la American Crime Story, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that Antosca, Dean, et al. would be tapped for future topics. We’ll keep you posted on any S2 intel, and if you’ve only recently gotten into S1, you can dig into my discussion about it in Episode 090 with Tara Ariano.

Joey King, who plays Gypsy, and Patricia Arquette, who plays Dee Dee, were both nominated yesterday for Emmys for their work in The Act. Arquette’s Dee Dee is considered a Best Supporting role, but Arquette is nominated as Best Lead for another crime docudrama, Escape From Dannemora. I’ve got some theories about their odds but we’d love to hear what you think; comment below! — SDB

Thursday on Best Evidence: Not entirely sure, but who doesn’t like surprises! I can tell you you’ll get a sneak preview of a crime-books Lineup feature on the blog, plus a story on local cops trying to keep true-crime “interest” from affecting their cases. Got something to tell us? Give us a call: 919-75-CRIME.

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