A Wilderness of Error

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Morally Indefensible Key Art

"Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible."
- Janet Malcolm

Morally Indefensible

Chapter 7 | MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE

Joe McGinniss takes a page from Jeffrey MacDonald's playbook and invites famous journalist Janet Malcolm to write about the lawsuit – She'll understand... Or will she?
Joe McGinniss takes a page from Jeffrey MacDonald's playbook and invites famous journalist Janet Malcolm to write about the lawsuit – She'll understand... Or will she?
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"Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible."
- Janet Malcolm

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Episode 01 Thumbnail

Episode: 01

Episode Date: 08/18/2020

Episode Duration: 31:11 mins

FEBRUARY 17TH, 1970

Jeffrey MacDonald was the all-American boy. A green beret doctor with the perfect family.

More Details or Play Episode "FEBRUARY 17TH, 1970"


Episode 02 Thumbnail

Episode: 02

Episode Date: 08/18/2020

Episode Duration: 34:35 mins

THE TRIAL

At Doctor Jeffrey MacDonald's murder trial, journalist Joe McGinniss comes face to face with the evidence.

More Details or Play Episode "THE TRIAL"


Episode 03 Thumbnail

Episode: 03

Episode Date: 08/25/2020

Episode Duration: 26:19 mins

PEN PALS

Joe heads home to write his book about Jeff’s case while Jeff sits in prison serving three life sentences.

More Details or Play Episode "PEN PALS"


Episode 04 Thumbnail

Episode: 04

Episode Date: 09/01/2020

Episode Duration: 26:53 mins

THE CONFESSIONS

Jeffrey MacDonald's new lawyers uncover some startling new evidence.

More Details or Play Episode "THE CONFESSIONS"


Episode 05 Thumbnail

Episode: 05

Episode Date: 09/08/2020

Episode Duration: 22:02 mins

FRIENDS BECOME ENEMIES

Joe McGinniss's book finally comes out. It's called Fatal Vision.

More Details or Play Episode "FRIENDS BECOME ENEMIES"


Episode 06 Thumbnail

Episode: 06

Episode Date: 09/15/2020

Episode Duration: 28:36 mins

HOW MANY LIES WOULD YOU TELL TO GET TO THE TRUTH?

Jeffrey MacDonald finally gets his day in court... civil court, that is.

More Details or Play Episode "HOW MANY LIES WOULD YOU TELL TO GET TO THE TRUTH?"


Episode 07 Thumbnail

Episode: 07

Episode Date: 09/22/2020

Episode Duration: 28:55 mins

MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE

Joe McGinniss takes a page from Jeffrey MacDonald's playbook and invites famous journalist Janet Malcolm to write about the lawsuit.

More Details or Play Episode "MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE"


Episode 08 Thumbnail

Episode: 08

Episode Date: 09/24/2020

Episode Duration: 31:33 mins

THE FINAL WITNESS

After more than thirty years in prison, Jeffrey MacDonald is granted a new hearing to present evidence that may finally set him free.

More Details or Play Episode "THE FINAL WITNESS"


Episode Transcript

CHAPTER 7 | MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE

Throughout this series, you’ve been hearing conversations recorded by Janet Malcolm for the book she wrote about Joe McGinniss & Jeffrey MacDonald, The Journalist & The Murderer. In this episode you'll hear dramatic recreations from that book, condensed for clarity.

Throughout this series, you’ve been hearing conversations recorded by Janet Malcolm for the book she wrote about Joe McGinniss & Jeffrey MacDonald, The Journalist & The Murderer. In this episode you'll hear dramatic recreations from that book, condensed for clarity.

[typing]

[typing]

JANET BOOK: I learned of the case only after the trial had ended when I received a letter dated Sept 1st, 1987.

JANET BOOK: I learned of the case only after the trial had ended when I received a letter dated Sept 1st, 1987.

(MUSIC IN)

(MUSIC IN)

JANET BOOK: The letter, from a certain Daniel Kornstein, began:

JANET BOOK: The letter, from a certain Daniel Kornstein, began:

KORNSTEIN: I am the lawyer who defended Joe McGinniss, author of Fatal Vision in a six-week jury trial in Los Angeles.

KORNSTEIN: I am the lawyer who defended Joe McGinniss, author of Fatal Vision in a six-week jury trial in Los Angeles.

Convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald had sued Joe McGinniss over his book Fatal Vision. That trial ended with a hung jury. A new trial was coming. So, Joe had his lawyer send a letter to journalists, hoping they’d write about the case.

Convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald had sued Joe McGinniss over his book Fatal Vision. That trial ended with a hung jury. A new trial was coming. So, Joe had his lawyer send a letter to journalists, hoping they’d write about the case.

KORNSTEIN (REVERB): The MacDonald claim suggests that reporters can be sued for writing truthful but unflattering articles.

KORNSTEIN (REVERB): The MacDonald claim suggests that reporters can be sued for writing truthful but unflattering articles.

JANET BOOK: Kornstein went on to speak of ‘the grave threat to established journalistic freedoms.’

JANET BOOK: Kornstein went on to speak of ‘the grave threat to established journalistic freedoms.’

KORNSTEIN: Joe McGinniss and I both feel that the danger is sufficiently clear and present as to warrant your close attention and concern.

KORNSTEIN: Joe McGinniss and I both feel that the danger is sufficiently clear and present as to warrant your close attention and concern.

JANET BOOK: I took Kornstein’s bait --

JANET BOOK: I took Kornstein’s bait --

[SFX - driving through the country...]

[SFX - driving through the country...]

JANET BOOK: ...and a few days later I was driving up to Williamstown, Massachusetts to talk to Joe McGinniss at his house there.

JANET BOOK: ...and a few days later I was driving up to Williamstown, Massachusetts to talk to Joe McGinniss at his house there.

[SFX: car pulls up a driveway, squeaks to a stop, car door opens/closes, doorbell rings, birds chirping]

[SFX: car pulls up a driveway, squeaks to a stop, car door opens/closes, doorbell rings, birds chirping]

[music out]

[music out]

Janet Malcolm: This is awfully pretty here. That’s part of your house too?

Janet Malcolm: This is awfully pretty here. That’s part of your house too?

Joe: This little house back here is, yeah, carriage house. I have a friend who’s a painter who uses it as a studio…

Joe: This little house back here is, yeah, carriage house. I have a friend who’s a painter who uses it as a studio…

Out of thirty journalists who got Joe's letter, Janet Malcolm was the only one who responded.

Out of thirty journalists who got Joe's letter, Janet Malcolm was the only one who responded.

Joe: What this guy is doing here, what he threatens, if this gets anywhere, all of a sudden, we’re gonna wake up one day and see we don’t have what we always had, the freedom to write the truth. We've somehow surrendered that, unbeknownst to us, because of this [screen door opens] peculiar case out there in California.

Joe: What this guy is doing here, what he threatens, if this gets anywhere, all of a sudden, we’re gonna wake up one day and see we don’t have what we always had, the freedom to write the truth. We've somehow surrendered that, unbeknownst to us, because of this [screen door opens] peculiar case out there in California.

Nancy: Hi.

Nancy: Hi.

Joe: Hi.

Joe: Hi.

Nancy: You started to munch before I brought back a lunch supply?

Nancy: You started to munch before I brought back a lunch supply?

Joe’s wife, Nancy Doherty is there too.

Joe’s wife, Nancy Doherty is there too.

Nancy: Oh.. So hungry!

Nancy: Oh.. So hungry!

Janet: I had a delicious sandwich and that wonderful bread and cheese toasted in your toaster oven.

Janet: I had a delicious sandwich and that wonderful bread and cheese toasted in your toaster oven.

Nancy: Oh.

Nancy: Oh.

[Screen door closes]

[Screen door closes]

[chimes/birds SFX]

[chimes/birds SFX]

[music back in]

[music back in]

Roles had reversed for Joe in the saga of Fatal Vision. There was a new journalist in town. And now, Joe was her subject.

Roles had reversed for Joe in the saga of Fatal Vision. There was a new journalist in town. And now, Joe was her subject.

Joe McGinniss: Crazy. Last night I had a dream. It was the retrial, right now. I said, 'Wait, I'm not ready for this. I just, I'm not ready yet!

Joe McGinniss: Crazy. Last night I had a dream. It was the retrial, right now. I said, 'Wait, I'm not ready for this. I just, I'm not ready yet!

Joe McGinniss: This can't be happening yet.' I was actually back in the courthouse. I said, 'No, no. This is much too soon. I haven't recovered yet. I'm not ready.'

Joe McGinniss: This can't be happening yet.' I was actually back in the courthouse. I said, 'No, no. This is much too soon. I haven't recovered yet. I'm not ready.'

Janet Malcolm: That was your dream?

Janet Malcolm: That was your dream?

Joe McGinniss: Last night, yeah. My amateur analysis of my own dream was that it's probably in regards to talking to you today. This, this was the new trial.

Joe McGinniss: Last night, yeah. My amateur analysis of my own dream was that it's probably in regards to talking to you today. This, this was the new trial.

In studying Joe’s betrayal of Jeffrey MacDonald, Janet Malcolm would find her thesis statement for The Journalist & The Murderer: how journalists betray their subjects is morally indefensible. And listening to these tapes Janet recorded, reveals her own form of betrayal. Of Joe McGinniss.

In studying Joe’s betrayal of Jeffrey MacDonald, Janet Malcolm would find her thesis statement for The Journalist & The Murderer: how journalists betray their subjects is morally indefensible. And listening to these tapes Janet recorded, reveals her own form of betrayal. Of Joe McGinniss.

Interviewer: Did Joe trust Janet Malcolm when she started talking to him?

Interviewer: Did Joe trust Janet Malcolm when she started talking to him?

Nancy: I mean she had a great reputation so he didn't really know any better, but um… He kind of realized as soon as she walked in the door that this was not a good idea.

Nancy: I mean she had a great reputation so he didn't really know any better, but um… He kind of realized as soon as she walked in the door that this was not a good idea.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

[THEME]

[THEME]

MONTAGE:

MONTAGE:

ANCHOR: Millions of viewers watched the two-part series of Fatal Vision here on NBC. 60 million on Sunday alone.

ANCHOR: Millions of viewers watched the two-part series of Fatal Vision here on NBC. 60 million on Sunday alone.

Guilty or not guilty of murder in the first degree?

Guilty or not guilty of murder in the first degree?

Guilty.

Guilty.

King: Joe McGinniss Did he hurt you with regard to appeals?

King: Joe McGinniss Did he hurt you with regard to appeals?

Jeff MacDonald: They replay that mini series every time I go to court!

Jeff MacDonald: They replay that mini series every time I go to court!

[I knew a mannnn]

[I knew a mannnn]

Floyd: I mean of all the suits one can imagine, a suit by a murderer! Hard to believe!

Floyd: I mean of all the suits one can imagine, a suit by a murderer! Hard to believe!

Bostwick actor: So you were keeping things from him?

Bostwick actor: So you were keeping things from him?

Joe: Always..

Joe: Always..

[who lied to the world]

[who lied to the world]

Floyd Abrams: The integrity of his life is that he’s a murderer.

Floyd Abrams: The integrity of his life is that he’s a murderer.

Joe McGinniss: That’s a fact.

Joe McGinniss: That’s a fact.

Floyd Abrams: That’s a fact.

Floyd Abrams: That’s a fact.

Bill Buckley: That's a fact.

Bill Buckley: That's a fact.

[hid from the truth]

[hid from the truth]

Wambaugh: And the fact that I told an untruth to get the truth, wouldn’t have kept me awake.

Wambaugh: And the fact that I told an untruth to get the truth, wouldn’t have kept me awake.

[and he made promises… and he broke promises...]

[and he made promises… and he broke promises...]

[THEME OUT]

[THEME OUT]

I’m Marc Smerling.

I’m Marc Smerling.

Chapter 7: Morally Indefensible.

Chapter 7: Morally Indefensible.

ACT ONE

ACT ONE

Why was Janet the only journalist to show up to write about the lawsuit between Jeffrey MacDonald and Joe McGinniss? Maybe it’s because she had been sued too… by the subject of one of her previous books, a psychoanalyst named Jeffrey Masson.

Why was Janet the only journalist to show up to write about the lawsuit between Jeffrey MacDonald and Joe McGinniss? Maybe it’s because she had been sued too… by the subject of one of her previous books, a psychoanalyst named Jeffrey Masson.

[music in]

[music in]

HOST: The New Yorker came knocking at your door. The New Yorker.

HOST: The New Yorker came knocking at your door. The New Yorker.

JEFFREY MASSON: The New Yorker did, yes.

JEFFREY MASSON: The New Yorker did, yes.

HOST: And Janet Malcolm, one of its most illustrious journalists interviewed you.

HOST: And Janet Malcolm, one of its most illustrious journalists interviewed you.

MASSON: She did.

MASSON: She did.

HOST: it was published and afterwards you sued her. You said that she misquoted you and --

HOST: it was published and afterwards you sued her. You said that she misquoted you and --

JEFFREY MASSON: Yes.

JEFFREY MASSON: Yes.

HOST: How did that feel, though, picking up a copy of the New Yorker? Flipping through it and seeing yourself --

HOST: How did that feel, though, picking up a copy of the New Yorker? Flipping through it and seeing yourself --

JEFFREY MASSON: It was a shock! I remember to this day, flipping it through it. I felt dizzy. I felt -- god, I never said anything like this! And I think she did it because it sounded more entertaining, more fun and my feeling was that she showed me in a light worse than I really was.

JEFFREY MASSON: It was a shock! I remember to this day, flipping it through it. I felt dizzy. I felt -- god, I never said anything like this! And I think she did it because it sounded more entertaining, more fun and my feeling was that she showed me in a light worse than I really was.

[PORCH SFX]

[PORCH SFX]

On Joe’s porch in Williamstown, Massachusetts, two journalists commiserate over being sued.

On Joe’s porch in Williamstown, Massachusetts, two journalists commiserate over being sued.

Janet Malcolm: I mean there was something about emotional distress in Masson's claim, too. I mean he talked about how he couldn't sleep at night, after my piece, and how he was very unhappy, and –

Janet Malcolm: I mean there was something about emotional distress in Masson's claim, too. I mean he talked about how he couldn't sleep at night, after my piece, and how he was very unhappy, and –

Joe McGinniss: Same symptoms that MacDonald has suffered. Yeah, sleepless nights, weight loss, anxiety –

Joe McGinniss: Same symptoms that MacDonald has suffered. Yeah, sleepless nights, weight loss, anxiety –

Janet: Weight loss would be great for Masson.

Janet: Weight loss would be great for Masson.

Joe: Right! Ha! (dipped)

Joe: Right! Ha! (dipped)

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

And because Janet had been sued, Joe seems comfortable talking to her.

And because Janet had been sued, Joe seems comfortable talking to her.

Joe McGinniss: You know, you’re in a unique position because you’re not only a writer but you’re also a recent defendant... I mean would you have been interested in this if you hadn’t just been sued?

Joe McGinniss: You know, you’re in a unique position because you’re not only a writer but you’re also a recent defendant... I mean would you have been interested in this if you hadn’t just been sued?

Janet Malcolm: I think so. I mean I’m interested in just what somebody feels like when this happens to them because I’m remembering my own feelings. And we won’t get into that. Um...

Janet Malcolm: I think so. I mean I’m interested in just what somebody feels like when this happens to them because I’m remembering my own feelings. And we won’t get into that. Um...

[music in]

[music in]

Janet doesn’t want to talk about her experience getting sued by her subject. But she is very interested in Joe’s relationship with Jeff. In The Journalist & The Murderer, Janet writes that she recognized this talk as a unique opportunity.

Janet doesn’t want to talk about her experience getting sued by her subject. But she is very interested in Joe’s relationship with Jeff. In The Journalist & The Murderer, Janet writes that she recognized this talk as a unique opportunity.

[typing]

[typing]

*JANET ACTOR*: I had never interviewed a journalist before, and was curious about what would develop between me and a journalistically knowledgeable, rather than naive, subject. (7-8)

*JANET ACTOR*: I had never interviewed a journalist before, and was curious about what would develop between me and a journalistically knowledgeable, rather than naive, subject. (7-8)

In her book, Janet said she had high hopes for this interview...

In her book, Janet said she had high hopes for this interview...

JANET BOOK: McGinniss and I would be less like experimenter and subject than like two experimenters strolling home from the lab together after a day’s work, companionably thrashing out the problems of the profession….

JANET BOOK: McGinniss and I would be less like experimenter and subject than like two experimenters strolling home from the lab together after a day’s work, companionably thrashing out the problems of the profession….

And in the beginning, Janet and Joe seem to have a lot in common.

And in the beginning, Janet and Joe seem to have a lot in common.

Janet: Well, my experience is probably much like yours, that while this stage of things is going on, you're taking it in, you're staying as open as possible, and here you are with another human being.

Janet: Well, my experience is probably much like yours, that while this stage of things is going on, you're taking it in, you're staying as open as possible, and here you are with another human being.

Joe McGinniss: Right.

Joe McGinniss: Right.

They both recognize that journalists have to befriend their subjects to get the truth. And writing that truth often requires a betrayal.

They both recognize that journalists have to befriend their subjects to get the truth. And writing that truth often requires a betrayal.

Janet: And only when you start writing it does that kind of more inhuman part of it take place...

Janet: And only when you start writing it does that kind of more inhuman part of it take place...

Joe: That’s right. That’s right. Subjects are constantly feeling betrayed because they don’t understand that there has to be that distinction between the two modes.

Joe: That’s right. That’s right. Subjects are constantly feeling betrayed because they don’t understand that there has to be that distinction between the two modes.

And right now, this journalist and her subject are in the befriending stage of their relationship.

And right now, this journalist and her subject are in the befriending stage of their relationship.

[typing]

[typing]

JANET BOOK: Nobody would “do” anything to anyone. The conversation would be serious, on a high level, maybe even lively and witty.

JANET BOOK: Nobody would “do” anything to anyone. The conversation would be serious, on a high level, maybe even lively and witty.

[music out]

[music out]

Joe: MacDonald just wants to control me. He wants to interfere with my life and my work. (dip underneath)

Joe: MacDonald just wants to control me. He wants to interfere with my life and my work. (dip underneath)

JANET BOOK: It did not work out that way. McGinniss refused the role of co-experimenter, preferring to play the role of subject. (p. 7-8)

JANET BOOK: It did not work out that way. McGinniss refused the role of co-experimenter, preferring to play the role of subject. (p. 7-8)

Joe: I’m embarrassed that somebody who’s supposed to be as good at what he does as I am could have been so badly fooled by this guy.

Joe: I’m embarrassed that somebody who’s supposed to be as good at what he does as I am could have been so badly fooled by this guy.

(darker music creeps back in)

(darker music creeps back in)

JANET BOOK: After the first hour of the five hours we spent together, I gave in to McGinniss’ imperative that we play the old game of Confession.

JANET BOOK: After the first hour of the five hours we spent together, I gave in to McGinniss’ imperative that we play the old game of Confession.

Joe: I didn’t know what the hell to think. And he's writing me these letters saying this is what happened, this is where I am. I can't not respond to these letters…

Joe: I didn’t know what the hell to think. And he's writing me these letters saying this is what happened, this is where I am. I can't not respond to these letters…

Like Joe McGinniss listened to Jeffrey MacDonald, Janet Malcolm listens to Joe… not revealing what she really feels. In her book she writes that Joe of all people should have known better.

Like Joe McGinniss listened to Jeffrey MacDonald, Janet Malcolm listens to Joe… not revealing what she really feels. In her book she writes that Joe of all people should have known better.

[typing]

[typing]

JANET BOOK: Of course, no subject is naive. Every subject of writing knows on SOME level what is in store for him, and remains in the relationship anyway, impelled by something stronger than his reason. That McGinniss, who had interviewed hundreds of people and knew the game backward and forward, should nevertheless exhibit himself to me as a defensive, self-righteous, scared man only demonstrates the strength of this force.

JANET BOOK: Of course, no subject is naive. Every subject of writing knows on SOME level what is in store for him, and remains in the relationship anyway, impelled by something stronger than his reason. That McGinniss, who had interviewed hundreds of people and knew the game backward and forward, should nevertheless exhibit himself to me as a defensive, self-righteous, scared man only demonstrates the strength of this force.

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]


"Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible."
- Janet Malcolm

ACT 2

ACT 2

[ prison buzz in and prison door slam… ]

[ prison buzz in and prison door slam… ]

After Janet Malcom was finished with Joe McGinniss, she flew to California to interview Jeffrey MacDonald…

After Janet Malcom was finished with Joe McGinniss, she flew to California to interview Jeffrey MacDonald…

Jeff: If Joe hadn't misportrayed how he was going to portray me in the book, if he hadn't taken money, if he hadn't lived in my home, if he hadn't misled me for four years, we don't have a case. But as it was, he breached the contract and he committed fraud. And we sued him for those things..

Jeff: If Joe hadn't misportrayed how he was going to portray me in the book, if he hadn't taken money, if he hadn't lived in my home, if he hadn't misled me for four years, we don't have a case. But as it was, he breached the contract and he committed fraud. And we sued him for those things..

Janet: Yeah.

Janet: Yeah.

Jeff’s here to convince Janet Malcom that Fatal Vision is filled with lies...

Jeff’s here to convince Janet Malcom that Fatal Vision is filled with lies...

Jeffrey MacDonald: And you just leaf through it and you just shake your head. How could someone misportray whether or not I had a residency in orthopedic surgery at Yale University? I'm talking about outright falsehoods.

Jeffrey MacDonald: And you just leaf through it and you just shake your head. How could someone misportray whether or not I had a residency in orthopedic surgery at Yale University? I'm talking about outright falsehoods.

Janet: Yeah…

Janet: Yeah…

Jeffrey: He has in the book, unqualify -- unqualified. “He was not offered the residency in orthopedic surgery at Yale.”

Jeffrey: He has in the book, unqualify -- unqualified. “He was not offered the residency in orthopedic surgery at Yale.”

But Janet's time is limited… and Jeff wants to spend a lot of it on this Yale thing.

But Janet's time is limited… and Jeff wants to spend a lot of it on this Yale thing.

Janet: I mean we all make mistakes.

Janet: I mean we all make mistakes.

Jeff: Yes you’re right. That’s more in terms of a mistake.

Jeff: Yes you’re right. That’s more in terms of a mistake.

In the tapes we have, Janet doesn't seem interested in Jeff's residency at Yale. She doesn't ask much about the evidence that led a jury to convict Jeff either. She's more interested in the story of Joe's betrayal...'

In the tapes we have, Janet doesn't seem interested in Jeff's residency at Yale. She doesn't ask much about the evidence that led a jury to convict Jeff either. She's more interested in the story of Joe's betrayal...'

Janet Malcolm: What did it feel like to be in the same room with McGinniss?

Janet Malcolm: What did it feel like to be in the same room with McGinniss?

Jeffrey MacDonald: I don’t know. I sort of put up a wall, I guess. It was very cool intentionally because I didn’t want to look at him. I didn’t want to study him.

Jeffrey MacDonald: I don’t know. I sort of put up a wall, I guess. It was very cool intentionally because I didn’t want to look at him. I didn’t want to study him.

Janet Malcolm: Did you ever look at him? Did you ever make eye contact?

Janet Malcolm: Did you ever look at him? Did you ever make eye contact?

Jeffrey MacDonald: Oh yeah, I did occasionally. Yeah, there was eye contact. It was funny because he’s so transparent. When he lies, it’s so obvious.

Jeffrey MacDonald: Oh yeah, I did occasionally. Yeah, there was eye contact. It was funny because he’s so transparent. When he lies, it’s so obvious.

Janet Malcolm: Well, that’s possible, isn't it, for somebody to sort of put on a kind of performance?

Janet Malcolm: Well, that’s possible, isn't it, for somebody to sort of put on a kind of performance?

Jeffrey MacDonald: But then, that’s what I'm saying. Everything about Joe is a performance.

Jeffrey MacDonald: But then, that’s what I'm saying. Everything about Joe is a performance.

And that performance was most obvious in the encouraging letters Joe wrote to Jeff in prison...

And that performance was most obvious in the encouraging letters Joe wrote to Jeff in prison...

JOE LETTERS MONTAGE: Total strangers can see within five minutes that you did not receive a fair trial… What the fuck were those people thinking of? Spend a summer making a new friend and then the bastards come along and lock him up - but not for long Jeffrey…. Not for long.

JOE LETTERS MONTAGE: Total strangers can see within five minutes that you did not receive a fair trial… What the fuck were those people thinking of? Spend a summer making a new friend and then the bastards come along and lock him up - but not for long Jeffrey…. Not for long.

Janet Malcolm: Well, he had a very poor case. It was very hard for him to do anything about those letters, I mean that really –

Janet Malcolm: Well, he had a very poor case. It was very hard for him to do anything about those letters, I mean that really –

Jeffrey MacDonald: Right. Right.

Jeffrey MacDonald: Right. Right.

Janet: I mean what can you say?

Janet: I mean what can you say?

Jeffrey: Exactly.

Jeffrey: Exactly.

Janet: It sort of speaks for itself.

Janet: It sort of speaks for itself.

[birds chirping]

[birds chirping]

Back on Joe's porch in Williamstown, Janet asked Joe about those letters.

Back on Joe's porch in Williamstown, Janet asked Joe about those letters.

Joe: I -- look, those letters are embarrassing. I wish I'd never written those letters. I suppose now I can say that I wish I'd never written them because -- I'm embarrassed at how genuine the feeling in those letters is.

Joe: I -- look, those letters are embarrassing. I wish I'd never written those letters. I suppose now I can say that I wish I'd never written them because -- I'm embarrassed at how genuine the feeling in those letters is.

Janet Malcolm: Yeah. And things written, they take on a different life then, and they seem --

Janet Malcolm: Yeah. And things written, they take on a different life then, and they seem --

Joe McGinniss: Sure! What, five years later, you know? Six years later? One of these paragraphs is being viewed by six strangers in California? And they’re saying “Well, does that indicate that McGinniss was trying to deceive MacDonald?

Joe McGinniss: Sure! What, five years later, you know? Six years later? One of these paragraphs is being viewed by six strangers in California? And they’re saying “Well, does that indicate that McGinniss was trying to deceive MacDonald?

Janet: It’s horrible.

Janet: It’s horrible.

Janet sounds sympathetic to Joe here... Like Joe sounded sympathetic in all the letters he sent to Jeff in prison. In her notes about this interview, Janet reveals her real thoughts...

Janet sounds sympathetic to Joe here... Like Joe sounded sympathetic in all the letters he sent to Jeff in prison. In her notes about this interview, Janet reveals her real thoughts...

**JANET ACTOR**: McGinniss's letters are a horrendous example, caught in the act. How deeply awful and embarrassing. He left a record of the crime every writer commits, but leaves no written record of: the betrayal of the subject.

**JANET ACTOR**: McGinniss's letters are a horrendous example, caught in the act. How deeply awful and embarrassing. He left a record of the crime every writer commits, but leaves no written record of: the betrayal of the subject.

Back at Terminal Island, Jeff wants the world to know about this betrayal…

Back at Terminal Island, Jeff wants the world to know about this betrayal…

Jeff: I think generally speaking, the media is not about to run out and talk badly about Brother Journalist. Journalists have not been eager to discuss false reporting by Joe McGinniss. Pardon me please, but I really find journalists very cowardly.

Jeff: I think generally speaking, the media is not about to run out and talk badly about Brother Journalist. Journalists have not been eager to discuss false reporting by Joe McGinniss. Pardon me please, but I really find journalists very cowardly.

Jeff needs a journalist who’s not a coward. Who sees Joe for the villain he really is...

Jeff needs a journalist who’s not a coward. Who sees Joe for the villain he really is...

Janet Malcolm: I feel we’ve just started talking.

Janet Malcolm: I feel we’ve just started talking.

Jeffrey MacDonald: I know. I know. But if you want come back, because there is a lot to talk – I mean if you want to-

Jeffrey MacDonald: I know. I know. But if you want come back, because there is a lot to talk – I mean if you want to-

Janet Malcolm: I would very much like to. I uh have to go back to New York on Saturday.

Janet Malcolm: I would very much like to. I uh have to go back to New York on Saturday.

Janet Malcolm: Let me get the num- the address here.

Janet Malcolm: Let me get the num- the address here.

Jeff MacDonald: Oh, the address here? Is my name, Jeffrey R. MacDonald. Zero -- then my number, 00131-177…

Jeff MacDonald: Oh, the address here? Is my name, Jeffrey R. MacDonald. Zero -- then my number, 00131-177…

Janet says she’ll write Jeff… She’ll keep in touch. And as for Joe McGinniss… That interview ended very differently.

Janet says she’ll write Jeff… She’ll keep in touch. And as for Joe McGinniss… That interview ended very differently.

Joe: How can you write about living people without getting up close to them, learning who they are?

Joe: How can you write about living people without getting up close to them, learning who they are?

Joe was still hopeful that Janet would understand...

Joe was still hopeful that Janet would understand...

Joe: How do you get up close to them and learn who they are without developing some sort of personal relationship at the same time that you have your professional relationship? I mean where did my relationship with MacDonald go beyond that of author and subject?

Joe: How do you get up close to them and learn who they are without developing some sort of personal relationship at the same time that you have your professional relationship? I mean where did my relationship with MacDonald go beyond that of author and subject?

Janet Malcolm: But look, do you have any doubt about this yourself? I mean you're sort of putting this as kind of rhetorical questions. Do you, are you completely convinced in your own mind, or not? What, what are you saying here?

Janet Malcolm: But look, do you have any doubt about this yourself? I mean you're sort of putting this as kind of rhetorical questions. Do you, are you completely convinced in your own mind, or not? What, what are you saying here?

Joe McGinniss: Convinced about what?

Joe McGinniss: Convinced about what?

Janet Malcolm: That you wouldn't change it in any way. That this is uh...

Janet Malcolm: That you wouldn't change it in any way. That this is uh...

Joe McGinniss (stammering): I can't think of a way I would change this…All I was was being me, and then doing my reporting thing. Um. There’s no other way I would know how to do it.

Joe McGinniss (stammering): I can't think of a way I would change this…All I was was being me, and then doing my reporting thing. Um. There’s no other way I would know how to do it.

[music out]

[music out]

Janet Malcolm: Do you want to open the window or –?

Janet Malcolm: Do you want to open the window or –?

Joe: Yeah, maybe –

Joe: Yeah, maybe –

Janet Malcolm: It's getting a little stuffy, yeah.

Janet Malcolm: It's getting a little stuffy, yeah.

[PAUSE]

[PAUSE]

[TAPE CLICK]

[TAPE CLICK]

[typing]

[typing]

**JANET ACTOR**: At six o’clock the tape recorder clicked and though McGinniss sat waiting for me to put in a new tape, I decided to bring the interview to an end. When, two days later, he called to cancel our future interviews and to say ‘I want to put all this behind me,’ I was not surprised, and rather relieved.

**JANET ACTOR**: At six o’clock the tape recorder clicked and though McGinniss sat waiting for me to put in a new tape, I decided to bring the interview to an end. When, two days later, he called to cancel our future interviews and to say ‘I want to put all this behind me,’ I was not surprised, and rather relieved.

Later, when she sat down to write The Journalist & The Murderer, Janet no longer had to hide her true feelings about Joe McGinniss.

Later, when she sat down to write The Journalist & The Murderer, Janet no longer had to hide her true feelings about Joe McGinniss.

JANET BOOK: ...by banishing me, he had freed me from the guilt I would otherwise have felt. You can’t betray someone you barely know; you can only irritate and anger him and make him wish he had never made himself known to you. (95)

JANET BOOK: ...by banishing me, he had freed me from the guilt I would otherwise have felt. You can’t betray someone you barely know; you can only irritate and anger him and make him wish he had never made himself known to you. (95)

[music out]

[music out]

Bob Keeler: Have you noticed how many JMs there are in this case? There’s Janet Malcolm, and there’s Jeffrey MacDonald.

Bob Keeler: Have you noticed how many JMs there are in this case? There’s Janet Malcolm, and there’s Jeffrey MacDonald.

This is Bob Keeler from Newsday... He had been covering the MacDonald case almost from the beginning...

This is Bob Keeler from Newsday... He had been covering the MacDonald case almost from the beginning...

Bob Keeler: There’s Joe McGinniss, there’s the psychiatrist, Jeffrey Masson.

Bob Keeler: There’s Joe McGinniss, there’s the psychiatrist, Jeffrey Masson.

So, what’s up with that?

So, what’s up with that?

So he also got a visit from Janet Malcolm. Here’s how Janet described that meeting in her book...

So he also got a visit from Janet Malcolm. Here’s how Janet described that meeting in her book...

[typing]

[typing]

JANET BOOK: On an overcast day… I drove out on Long island to see Bob Keeler in his office at Newsday.

JANET BOOK: On an overcast day… I drove out on Long island to see Bob Keeler in his office at Newsday.

[music in]

[music in]

JANET BOOK: He is a fast-talking man in his mid-forties, with slightly receding hair and a slightly soft outline who has an air of bracing directness and unpretentiousness. (93)

JANET BOOK: He is a fast-talking man in his mid-forties, with slightly receding hair and a slightly soft outline who has an air of bracing directness and unpretentiousness. (93)

KEELER: I refer to her as a Manhattan wines-y and cheese-y lady...She came out. It was a Wednesday. She brought sandwiches, I remember. She sat there very uh placidly, I recall, waiting for the questions to descend upon her from the sky.

KEELER: I refer to her as a Manhattan wines-y and cheese-y lady...She came out. It was a Wednesday. She brought sandwiches, I remember. She sat there very uh placidly, I recall, waiting for the questions to descend upon her from the sky.

[PAUSE]

[PAUSE]

KEELER: As she would put it, she would describe it as her Japanese interview technique. I didn’t study journalism in Japan so I didn’t figure that technique out. She said to me something like she feels that she could uh – for a New Yorker story, she could distill the essence of a person. I said, “Just do me a favor, don’t distill the essence. I’m speaking pretty okay English sentences. Just quote me as I am.

KEELER: As she would put it, she would describe it as her Japanese interview technique. I didn’t study journalism in Japan so I didn’t figure that technique out. She said to me something like she feels that she could uh – for a New Yorker story, she could distill the essence of a person. I said, “Just do me a favor, don’t distill the essence. I’m speaking pretty okay English sentences. Just quote me as I am.

[music out]

[music out]

KEELER: Janet Malcolm had this theory that people will say anything to any reporter. They want to tell their story. And, “Every journalist is out to screw you, is out to fool you.” That’s why I think that her whole argument is bullshit. It’s not true if you’re a daily newspaper journalist or if you’re a TV journalist or a radio journalist where people are seeing your work product on a daily basis as opposed to you sneaking up on them with a book that they only see at the end. You have to be fair to people.

KEELER: Janet Malcolm had this theory that people will say anything to any reporter. They want to tell their story. And, “Every journalist is out to screw you, is out to fool you.” That’s why I think that her whole argument is bullshit. It’s not true if you’re a daily newspaper journalist or if you’re a TV journalist or a radio journalist where people are seeing your work product on a daily basis as opposed to you sneaking up on them with a book that they only see at the end. You have to be fair to people.

[typing + reprise music]

[typing + reprise music]

JANET BOOK: As I was saying goodbye, Keeler, with his irrepressible desire to be helpful, thrust upon me a large blue loose-leaf book containing the transcripts of his interviews MacDonald, McGinniss, and others…

JANET BOOK: As I was saying goodbye, Keeler, with his irrepressible desire to be helpful, thrust upon me a large blue loose-leaf book containing the transcripts of his interviews MacDonald, McGinniss, and others…

Keeler: I think I gave her a binder, with a lot of documents in it transcripts of my interviews with Joe, and my interviews with Jeffrey. So I thought to be helpful to her, I would let her borrow it.

Keeler: I think I gave her a binder, with a lot of documents in it transcripts of my interviews with Joe, and my interviews with Jeffrey. So I thought to be helpful to her, I would let her borrow it.

[typing]

[typing]

JANET BOOK: When I got home, I leafed through the book and put it aside...An interview, after all, is only as good as the journalist who conducts it… and I felt -- to put it bluntly -- that Keeler, would not get from his subjects the kind of authentic responses that I try to elicit from mine with a more Japanese technique.

JANET BOOK: When I got home, I leafed through the book and put it aside...An interview, after all, is only as good as the journalist who conducts it… and I felt -- to put it bluntly -- that Keeler, would not get from his subjects the kind of authentic responses that I try to elicit from mine with a more Japanese technique.

BOB: And I, to be honest, I don’t remember whether she gave it back, but I was trying to be helpful.

BOB: And I, to be honest, I don’t remember whether she gave it back, but I was trying to be helpful.

[typing]

[typing]

JANET BOOK: When I finally read Keeler’s transcripts, however, I was in for a surprise and an illumination. MacDonald and McGinniss had said exactly the same things to the unsubtle Keeler as they had said to me.

JANET BOOK: When I finally read Keeler’s transcripts, however, I was in for a surprise and an illumination. MacDonald and McGinniss had said exactly the same things to the unsubtle Keeler as they had said to me.

When Bob finally read The Journalist and the Murderer… he felt like another betrayed subject.

When Bob finally read The Journalist and the Murderer… he felt like another betrayed subject.

Keeler: I was kinda ticked. But I was ticked because of stupid stuff. You know, we all have levels of vanity. And uh, I would have to acknowledge that I was balding and had a soft outline, certainly true. Why she had to say it is a whole other story.

Keeler: I was kinda ticked. But I was ticked because of stupid stuff. You know, we all have levels of vanity. And uh, I would have to acknowledge that I was balding and had a soft outline, certainly true. Why she had to say it is a whole other story.

[music out]

[music out]

ACT 3

ACT 3

JANET ACTOR: Dear Jeff:

JANET ACTOR: Dear Jeff:

[piano theme in]

[piano theme in]

JANET ACTOR: One of the lessons of your lawsuit, it seems to me, is that a writer cannot be as friendly as McGinniss was with you and still retain his freedom to be as unfriendly toward his subject in print as he pleases.

JANET ACTOR: One of the lessons of your lawsuit, it seems to me, is that a writer cannot be as friendly as McGinniss was with you and still retain his freedom to be as unfriendly toward his subject in print as he pleases.

Janet Malcolm wrote many letters to Jeffrey MacDonald in prison.

Janet Malcolm wrote many letters to Jeffrey MacDonald in prison.

JEFF: Dear Janet. The question seriously misses the issue. It is not friendly v. unfriendly, what the lawsuit was involved with was lying.

JEFF: Dear Janet. The question seriously misses the issue. It is not friendly v. unfriendly, what the lawsuit was involved with was lying.

**JANET ACTOR**: But wouldn’t you agree that it was only in the matrix of a friendship that such a misrepresentation could have been made and accepted by you?

**JANET ACTOR**: But wouldn’t you agree that it was only in the matrix of a friendship that such a misrepresentation could have been made and accepted by you?

JEFF: McGinniss cleverly disguised the truth. Rejected easily available and checkable facts, and created his own “artistic” version.

JEFF: McGinniss cleverly disguised the truth. Rejected easily available and checkable facts, and created his own “artistic” version.

**JANET ACTOR**: I think I have most of the material I need… If there are things about yourself that have not come up in our talks or letters that you think belong to our interview, please write to me about them.

**JANET ACTOR**: I think I have most of the material I need… If there are things about yourself that have not come up in our talks or letters that you think belong to our interview, please write to me about them.

[music dip]

[music dip]

JEFF: Meditation.

JEFF: Meditation.

[music post]

[music post]

JEFF: I believe it’s meditation which has helped me focus on what is important -- and not be consumed with anger or rage because of the loss of my family followed by the false conviction.

JEFF: I believe it’s meditation which has helped me focus on what is important -- and not be consumed with anger or rage because of the loss of my family followed by the false conviction.

**JANET ACTOR**: Dear Jeff. You mentioned “forgiveness” as a quality that meditation strengthens. Can you see yourself forgiving McGinniss?

**JANET ACTOR**: Dear Jeff. You mentioned “forgiveness” as a quality that meditation strengthens. Can you see yourself forgiving McGinniss?

[music out]

[music out]

As far as I can tell, Jeff never answered that question.

As far as I can tell, Jeff never answered that question.

Marc: When did you hear they were going to settle?

Marc: When did you hear they were going to settle?

Nancy: Well the trial had gone on for seven weeks. And the insurance company was not willing to go back again for another trial. They’d already spent 850,000 dollars. It was like -- how -- another trial?! You know, it felt like anything could happen.

Nancy: Well the trial had gone on for seven weeks. And the insurance company was not willing to go back again for another trial. They’d already spent 850,000 dollars. It was like -- how -- another trial?! You know, it felt like anything could happen.

Rather than go through another trial, Joe McGinniss decided to settle with Jeffrey MacDonald… He paid him $325 thousand dollars.

Rather than go through another trial, Joe McGinniss decided to settle with Jeffrey MacDonald… He paid him $325 thousand dollars.

Nancy: And then of course Janet Malcolm trashed our lives further… so.. uh - hmm... let’s talk about it later.

Nancy: And then of course Janet Malcolm trashed our lives further… so.. uh - hmm... let’s talk about it later.

In March of 1989, the first of a two-part article appeared in the New Yorker:

In March of 1989, the first of a two-part article appeared in the New Yorker:

[typing]

[typing]

**JANET ACTOR**: Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.

**JANET ACTOR**: Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.

[music in]

[music in]

**JANET ACTOR**: He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.

**JANET ACTOR**: He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.

The articles became her book. And Joe became the posterboy for what not to do as a journalist.

The articles became her book. And Joe became the posterboy for what not to do as a journalist.

WGBH: It was a devastating critique that clung to McGinniss.

WGBH: It was a devastating critique that clung to McGinniss.

IAN FRAZIER: It takes a moral question that might not have occurred to you. Do you have moral obligation to a murderer? And the interesting thing is... yeah!

IAN FRAZIER: It takes a moral question that might not have occurred to you. Do you have moral obligation to a murderer? And the interesting thing is... yeah!

MODERATOR: Is what Joe McGinniss did morally indefensible? He befriended Jeffrey MacDonald.

MODERATOR: Is what Joe McGinniss did morally indefensible? He befriended Jeffrey MacDonald.

PANELIST: Yeah I think if a reporter is gratuitously cruel to someone, lies to someone in order to get information. I agree that is morally indefensible. But that’s not what most reporters do.

PANELIST: Yeah I think if a reporter is gratuitously cruel to someone, lies to someone in order to get information. I agree that is morally indefensible. But that’s not what most reporters do.

Toward the end of his life, Joe would write an unpublished memoir. Thanks to Nancy Doherty, we have an excerpt, read here by an actor:

Toward the end of his life, Joe would write an unpublished memoir. Thanks to Nancy Doherty, we have an excerpt, read here by an actor:

[typing]

[typing]

JOE ACTOR: Malcolm carved me up like a turkey. Almost overnight, I became not only a carved turkey but a cooked goose.

JOE ACTOR: Malcolm carved me up like a turkey. Almost overnight, I became not only a carved turkey but a cooked goose.

[typing]

[typing]

JOE ACTOR: Nothing I’d written in the five books I’d published to that point mattered. She turned me into a journalistic leper ... and what she wrote about me twenty-five years ago haunts me even today. The worst of it was that I had only myself to blame.

JOE ACTOR: Nothing I’d written in the five books I’d published to that point mattered. She turned me into a journalistic leper ... and what she wrote about me twenty-five years ago haunts me even today. The worst of it was that I had only myself to blame.

[music out]

[music out]

Throughout his life, Joe would be asked about Janet’s book over and over again.

Throughout his life, Joe would be asked about Janet’s book over and over again.

Charlie: That brings me to the Janet Malcolm business. It must have been a terrible time to have yourself taken over the coals like that.

Charlie: That brings me to the Janet Malcolm business. It must have been a terrible time to have yourself taken over the coals like that.

McGinniss: I was angry. Uh ‘cause I think she had it completely 180 degrees wrong. She tried to use this, my relationship with MacDonald, as an example of a general proposition that writers tend to have a seduction and betrayal relationship, and I think…. (DIP DOWN / TRAIL OFF)

McGinniss: I was angry. Uh ‘cause I think she had it completely 180 degrees wrong. She tried to use this, my relationship with MacDonald, as an example of a general proposition that writers tend to have a seduction and betrayal relationship, and I think…. (DIP DOWN / TRAIL OFF)

Nancy: He never really got over that, that somehow he would be pilloried for doing what he thought was good, hard, journalistic work. He wasn’t treated in the same way by his peers and he didn’t get books to review anymore. He felt that he’d lost respect.

Nancy: He never really got over that, that somehow he would be pilloried for doing what he thought was good, hard, journalistic work. He wasn’t treated in the same way by his peers and he didn’t get books to review anymore. He felt that he’d lost respect.

Nancy: It’s too late now to do anything about it, but. It’s, in a way, it’s a tragedy. On a small scale. It’s not like murder, but. It’s the murder of a reputation.

Nancy: It’s too late now to do anything about it, but. It’s, in a way, it’s a tragedy. On a small scale. It’s not like murder, but. It’s the murder of a reputation.

[music out]

[music out]

Joe suffered greatly from Janet’s book. All because he misled a convicted triple murderer. Is what Joe did morally indefensible..? I’m not so sure. And I’m not alone...

Joe suffered greatly from Janet’s book. All because he misled a convicted triple murderer. Is what Joe did morally indefensible..? I’m not so sure. And I’m not alone...

Marc: Let me ask you, if you were in a conversation with somebody like Jeffrey, and discovering new stuff along the way would you be completely honest with him?

Marc: Let me ask you, if you were in a conversation with somebody like Jeffrey, and discovering new stuff along the way would you be completely honest with him?

Keeler: I don’t know if I would’ve had it in me to just lie to him outright. I don’t know that I could’ve done that.

Keeler: I don’t know if I would’ve had it in me to just lie to him outright. I don’t know that I could’ve done that.

This is Bob Keeler from Newsday again.

This is Bob Keeler from Newsday again.

Marc: Which is what Joe did?

Marc: Which is what Joe did?

Bob: Yeah, I think Joe kind of did.

Bob: Yeah, I think Joe kind of did.

Bob Keeler: Joe – maybe he did it artfully. Maybe he said, “Keep those tapes coming, Jeffrey. The book is really coming along.” You could say that Joe was really untruthful with him in the sense that he was pulling stuff out of him. But whether he actually told him an out-and-out lie saying, “Oh, Jeffrey, I think you’re innocent,” I don’t know how much of that he did.

Bob Keeler: Joe – maybe he did it artfully. Maybe he said, “Keep those tapes coming, Jeffrey. The book is really coming along.” You could say that Joe was really untruthful with him in the sense that he was pulling stuff out of him. But whether he actually told him an out-and-out lie saying, “Oh, Jeffrey, I think you’re innocent,” I don’t know how much of that he did.

[finale music in]

[finale music in]

It’s true. We could never find a letter from Joe to Jeff in which Joe clearly says that Jeff is innocent... and in all those tapes Jeff made for Joe… Jeff never asked. I wanted to talk with Janet Malcolm about all of this but she declined to be interviewed.

It’s true. We could never find a letter from Joe to Jeff in which Joe clearly says that Jeff is innocent... and in all those tapes Jeff made for Joe… Jeff never asked. I wanted to talk with Janet Malcolm about all of this but she declined to be interviewed.

Her book became a staple in journalism schools across the country. And the debate it sparked would go on for years -- in college campuses and in newsrooms. And there was somebody... sitting in a federal prison, who probably enjoyed the book more than anyone else.

Her book became a staple in journalism schools across the country. And the debate it sparked would go on for years -- in college campuses and in newsrooms. And there was somebody... sitting in a federal prison, who probably enjoyed the book more than anyone else.

JEFF: Dear Janet: I personally believe you let McGinniss off a bit easy! (laughter)

JEFF: Dear Janet: I personally believe you let McGinniss off a bit easy! (laughter)

Jeff: The opening was great, even I was startled + started laughing when I read it you were brave, all in all -- you should feel pretty good.

Jeff: The opening was great, even I was startled + started laughing when I read it you were brave, all in all -- you should feel pretty good.

Jeff: Best Regards -- Jeff

Jeff: Best Regards -- Jeff

[typing]

[typing]

**JANET ACTOR**: Dear Jeff, I was happy to hear from you. Thank you for your encouraging words about the Masson trial.

**JANET ACTOR**: Dear Jeff, I was happy to hear from you. Thank you for your encouraging words about the Masson trial.

Remember how Janet was getting sued by a psychoanalyst named Jeffrey Masson? She hired Gary Bostwick, Jeff’s lawyer and ultimately, she won that case.

Remember how Janet was getting sued by a psychoanalyst named Jeffrey Masson? She hired Gary Bostwick, Jeff’s lawyer and ultimately, she won that case.

**JANET ACTOR**: I was very surprised to learn that you could be out on parole and have chosen to remain in prison to establish your innocence. This seems unprecedented and should be better known. It has made a great impression on me.

**JANET ACTOR**: I was very surprised to learn that you could be out on parole and have chosen to remain in prison to establish your innocence. This seems unprecedented and should be better known. It has made a great impression on me.

**JANET ACTOR**: All my best,

**JANET ACTOR**: All my best,

[MUSIC OUT]

[MUSIC OUT]

**JANET ACTOR**: Janet

**JANET ACTOR**: Janet

[CREDITS MUSIC]

[CREDITS MUSIC]

Next week: the final chapter. It’s 2012 and Jeff’s lawyers get him a new hearing to prove his innocence once and for all.

Next week: the final chapter. It’s 2012 and Jeff’s lawyers get him a new hearing to prove his innocence once and for all.

Megyn Kelly: This guy might be getting out of jail folks.

Megyn Kelly: This guy might be getting out of jail folks.

But not if Joe McGinniss has anything to do with it... The journalist and the murderer get their final showdown.

But not if Joe McGinniss has anything to do with it... The journalist and the murderer get their final showdown.

[CREDITS]

[CREDITS]

If you want to know more about the MacDonald murders, tune into our docu series, A Wilderness of Error on FX September 25th at 8PM, or the next day on FX on Hulu.

If you want to know more about the MacDonald murders, tune into our docu series, A Wilderness of Error on FX September 25th at 8PM, or the next day on FX on Hulu.

Morally Indefensible is a production of Truth Media in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment.

Morally Indefensible is a production of Truth Media in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment.

This episode of Morally Indefensible was produced by Zach Hisch and Julia Botero, with help from Danielle Elliot, Ryan Sweikert, Kevin Shepherd, and Jesse Rudoy.

This episode of Morally Indefensible was produced by Zach Hisch and Julia Botero, with help from Danielle Elliot, Ryan Sweikert, Kevin Shepherd, and Jesse Rudoy.

Story editing is by me, Marc Smerling, and Danielle Elliot.

Story editing is by me, Marc Smerling, and Danielle Elliot.

Alessandro Santoro is our associate producer. Our archive producer is Brennan Rees. Scott Curtis is our production manager.

Alessandro Santoro is our associate producer. Our archive producer is Brennan Rees. Scott Curtis is our production manager.

Fact checking by Amy Gaines.

Fact checking by Amy Gaines.

Kenny Kusiak did the music and mix. Sound design by Kenny Kusiak and Zach Hirsch.

Kenny Kusiak did the music and mix. Sound design by Kenny Kusiak and Zach Hirsch.

Additional Music by John Kusiak and Marmoset.

Additional Music by John Kusiak and Marmoset.

Our title track is “Promises” by The Monophonics.

Our title track is “Promises” by The Monophonics.

Voice reenactments by Logan Stearns, Jesse Rudoy, Nick Dietz (DEETZ) and Marie Lenzi-Sperling.

Voice reenactments by Logan Stearns, Jesse Rudoy, Nick Dietz (DEETZ) and Marie Lenzi-Sperling.

Legal review by Linda Steinman and Jack Browning of Davis Wright Tremaine.

Legal review by Linda Steinman and Jack Browning of Davis Wright Tremaine.

Special thanks to Sean Twigg, Mae Ryan, Luke Malone, Brian Murphy, Joe Langford, Peter Schmul, Diana Decillio, Bob Stevenson, Christina Masawicz, Bob Keeler, and Errol Morris.

Special thanks to Sean Twigg, Mae Ryan, Luke Malone, Brian Murphy, Joe Langford, Peter Schmul, Diana Decillio, Bob Stevenson, Christina Masawicz, Bob Keeler, and Errol Morris.

If you’d like to continue the conversation online, find us on Instagram and Facebook @morallyindefensible and Twitter @morallyindef m-o-r-a-l-l-y-i-n-d-e-f.

If you’d like to continue the conversation online, find us on Instagram and Facebook @morallyindefensible and Twitter @morallyindef m-o-r-a-l-l-y-i-n-d-e-f.

If you've enjoyed Morally Indefensible, don't forget to subscribe! And leave us a review on iTunes. It really helps other people find the show. And thanks for listening.

If you've enjoyed Morally Indefensible, don't forget to subscribe! And leave us a review on iTunes. It really helps other people find the show. And thanks for listening.