The Blotter Presents, Episode 113: Unbelievable and Sports Criminals

Plus: Gossip roundup!

In today’s episode of The Blotter Presents podcast, Sarah and guest AB Chao discussed Unbelievable, the Netflix series that’s generated nearly universal raves. They don’t disagree with the praise heaped on the show, which Sarah describes as “infuriating” and “weirdly hopeful at the same time.” They agree that the show works both as a procedural and as a drama, saying that it’s “emotionally true and uncynical.”

One thing I worried about, and they put to rest, is the fear that the show would veer into victim-porn territory. But while they characterize it as unflinching, they say it never crosses the line into exploitation -- which is important, in my opinion, when we’re talking about coverage of sexual assault. If you haven’t watched Unbelievable yet, here’s the link, and you can listen to Sarah and AB’s conversation about it here. -- EB

The other property under scrutiny today is a Parcast podcast called Sports Criminals. So far, the pod is only two episodes in, with both covering the case of so-called Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius. Which seems like a great topic to kick a podcast off, right? It’s got all the elements you could want: a fight to succeed, a beloved hero with a secret history of violence, a beautiful victim, a fall from grace.

Sadly, Sarah and AB agree, the podcast squanders those advantages -- in fact, Sarah says, they struggled to “figure out how a seemingly foolproof choice of premiere topic could have gone so tiresomely wrong.” From the writing, to the pacing, to the structure, none of it works for Sarah or AB, and they pronounce the show “melodramatic without being interesting.” (Which seems like something one might put on an enemy’s tombstone.) You can hear their dissection of the podcast here. -- EB

The folks behind a Making a Murderer clap-back say that they’ve wrested a confession from an as-yet-unidentified prison inmate. It’s been a while since we’ve heard about Convicting a Murderer, a show that made headlines in early 2018 when it began production. As Deadline reported at the time, documentarian Shawn Rech says he was misled” by MaM, so he decided to mount his own investigation with the help of MaM-famous folks like District Attorney Ken Kratz and lead investigator Tom Fassbender.

Now Rech is telling Newsweek that during production on the 10-episode show -- which has yet to find distribution, Rech says, and won’t be completed until March -- “a notable convicted murderer from Wisconsin” confessed to the murder of Teresa Halbach during filming.

Rech says he’s not naming the alleged confessor, who he says was neither Steven Avery nor Brendan Dassey, but instead passed the information on to law enforcement for confirmation. As you can see in the tweet above, Kathleen Zellner, who you also know as Avery’s attorney (and god’s gift to dark lipstick), isn’t counting on its veracity quite yet -- but if the confession is proven to be truthful, it seems like CaM might have to pivot away from its early “they got the right guys” hypothesis and turn its cameras to the release of Avery and Dassey, after all. -- EB

I promise that this isn’t going to turn into a celebrity (question mark?) gossip newsletter but this one is too brow-raising to pass up. So, according to Entertainment Tonight, Lana Del Rey is allegedly dating Sgt. Sean "Sticks" Larkin, of Live PD, a show I’m not wild about and which QUITE COINCIDENTALLY just launched its fourth season last Friday.

So, the obvious question here is if there’s now some sort of new PR strategy for reality figures in which the “star” of a show is matched with a palatable but arguably edgier woman to create the perception of depth for both? (See: Zooey Deschanel and property brother Jonathan Scott.) The ET piece doesn’t offer much to support their headlined allegation that the two are a couple other than saying that “Upon the release of the pics, ET has learned that Del Rey and Larkin are, in fact, dating.”

The news certainly doesn’t make me more inclined to watch Live PD, but it did make me aware that Larkin is the host of something called Live PD Presents PD CAM -- information that I’m now passing on to you, so I guess I’m part of the problem. -- EB

The Department of Justice has made some new rules that will impact the future investigation of cold cases. In what the DoJ characterizes via press release as an “interim policy,” it says that privacy concerns are shaping how forensic genetic genealogy (that’s using DNA intel from genealogy websites, as was done to catch the alleged Golden State Killer) should be utilized by law enforcement.

In the release, US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen says that “Forensic genetic genealogy gets us that much closer to being able to solve the formerly unsolvable. But we must not prioritize this investigative advancement above our commitments to privacy and civil liberties; and that is why we have released our Interim Policy -- to provide guidance on maintaining that crucial balance.” In the new policy, which you can read in full here, investigators are told that genealogy websites must only be used as a last resort, after all other “traditional” methods (this includes a search of the FBI's Combined DNA Index System) have been exhausted. In addition, if a genealogy site does provide a lead, investigators must “then turn back to traditional investigation methods” to pursue the case. -- EB

Thursday on Best Evidence: More on how Chanel Miller is telling her story.

What is this thing? This should help.

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