The Journalist and the Murder

After deceiving the villain in Fatal Vision, Joe McGinniss errs anew by siding with the victim in Cruel Doubt

What Bismarck said of legislation and sausages, one must also admit of the more titillating varieties of journalism: those who love the product would do well not to examine the process too closely. That is especially so with the faddish nonfiction genre of factual crime reconstructions, in which, for tactical reasons of getting the inside story, authors generally ally themselves either with careerist police detectives and prosecutors, or with pathetic victims cooperating in a further invasion of their privacy, or with criminals. Each bond can be unseemly, its results distorting.

Consider Joe McGinniss. When writing about subjects other than crime, he...

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