Thursday, January 01, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Jay

Hat tip, Ben. An excellent interview with Jay telling his side of the story regarding the events making up the podcast Serial. A few key parts:

In “Serial” you are depicted as a petty weed dealer. Is that why you didn’t initially cooperate with the police? It doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to not talk to the police.  
 It wasn’t just like I was selling a nickel bag here and there. At the time, this was Maryland in the ’90s, the drug laws were extremely serious. I saw the ATF and DEA take down guys in my neighborhood for selling much less than I was at the time. And they were getting sentenced to three and five years. I also ran the operation out of my grandmother’s house and that also put my family at risk. I had a lot more on the line than just a few bags of weed.  
The other thing to understand is something about the culture of Baltimore—this is where the ‘Stop Snitching’ video comes from. This is where it was produced. It went national, but it was produced in Baltimore. This is where people would have their house firebombed and still tell the police they knew nothing about it rather than to try to make some sense of what’s going on. And that’s not necessarily me—but that is my family, that is my uncles and cousins. It’s where I’m from.
Is this when you first saw Hae’s body in the trunk of her car?  
No. I saw her body later, in front of of my grandmother’s house where I was living. I didn’t tell the cops it was in front of my house because I didn’t want to involve my grandmother. I believe I told them it was in front of ‘Cathy’s [not her real name] house, but it was in front of my grandmother’s house. I know it didn’t happen anywhere other than my grandmother’s house. I remember the highway traffic to my right, and I remember standing there on the curb. I remember Adnan standing next to me.
There is a lot more. Read the whole thing. After reading this, I'm more convinced Jay's side of the story is basically the truth. I also found myself re-thinking Koenig's reporting and finding myself frustrated by it. She was unable to get any of the people closest to the case to talk to her: Jay, Adnan's father, Hae's family, the detectives, the judges, the jurors, the grand jury people. She was never able to depict the scenario laid out by the state (or Jay here) AND never able to articulate an alternative scenario that made any sense. Basically, she reported around the case, getting access only to heresy and peripheral characters, and ultimately, made a mountain out of a molehill. She made the story about herself, her obsessions, her biases, and did not seek out the truth about what happened. In the end, she fell back on saying nothing but vagaries, which was not only right back where she started, but also willfully ignorant of the POV of the people closest to the story.

I suppose defenders of Koenig would argue she tried to get access to the detectives and to Jay, but if you read Jay's account about how Koenig approached him and the danger it put him in, her approach was doomed not to work. Basically, the people closest to the case didn't trust her and with good reason. Her project was based upon the idea Jay is lying, the police were shabby, and the judges and jury were manipulated. But I'd go the other way. I think she is a fool and was seduced by a liar (Adnan) and resorted to fictionalized, serial storytelling to make a non-story more interesting and compelling.

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