It gives me endless pleasure to pass on the news that Adnan Syed, the murderer of high school student Hae Min Lee and dearly beloved boy friend of Sarah Koenig of the revolting “Serial” podcast, will be spending countless more years rotting in a prison cell. I’m not going to bother going through the details but if you like you can read this recent New York Times story, “Adnan Syed of ‘Serial’ Is Denied a New Trial by Maryland Court of Appeals.”
It’s utterly sickening that the whiny Koenig and countless other liberals went to bact for this murderer, without a thought about the young woman he killed, Hae Min Lee. I wrote about the story years ago when I had the unfortunate experience of working — actually not working, since the place produced so little, especially given its immense subsidies from the sleazy oligarch Pierre Omidyar — at The Intercept.
Here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote for Politico, about quitting my job at that vile shit show, which includes how Intercept staffers, especially Jeremy Scahill, had a hard on for Syed.
The beginning of the end for me, though, came as The Intercept launched into what would turn out to be basically the biggest story of its short existence: The Serial chronicles.
In my final months, I helped edit and write a few stories for The Intercept with Natasha Vargas-Cooper about the wildly popular podcast Serial. Natasha landed two key interviews with figures in the murder case and she wrote a series of stories that I helped edit and shared a co-byline on two of them. The stories challenged, directly and indirectly, the narrative laid out in the unexpected podcast hit by the makers of This American Life. The podcast’s narrative followed the investigation and prosecution of Baltimore teen Adnan Syed, who was convicted and is serving a life sentence for the murder by strangulation of a teenage girl (and who dumped her body in a park in Baltimore). Serial’s thesis was straightforward: Syed did not get a fair trial.
Our stories, though, showed the opposite—documenting the work of the prosecutor and the star witness. Given the viral success of the show, our follow-up stories were a huge success—possibly the biggest thing The Intercept has ever published. They were, though, hugely controversial inside our organization. Why wouldn’t a huge editorial success be celebrated inside The Intercept? Because we were siding with The Man.
Now I believe the American justice system is badly flawed and often racist, but in this instance, I firmly believe, the system worked. I believe Adnan Syed murdered Hae Min Lee and was rightly prosecuted for it.
But I came to realize that the system working correctly—and the right people going to jail—isn’t a good narrative to tell at The Intercept.
Publishing the Serial stories was a huge headache: There were constant delays and frustrations getting them out, even after it became clear they were drawing huge traffic. Our internal critics believed that Natasha and I had taken the side of the prosecutors—and hence the state. That support was unacceptable at a publication that claimed it was entirely independent and would be relentlessly adversarial towards The Man. That held true even in this case, when The Man successfully prosecuted a killer and sent him to jail.
Some colleagues, like Jeremy Scahill, were upset after the first installment of Natasha’s interviews with Jay, the state’s flawed-but-convincing key witness, and our co-bylined two-part interview with the lead prosecutor, Kevin Urick, both of whom had refused to speak to Sarah Koenig for her Serial podcast. Jeremy even threatened to quit over the second installment, according to two of my colleagues who witnessed what they described as his “temper tantrum” in the New York office. He told them he couldn’t believe that we’d so uncritically accepted the state’s view of the murder—even though our stories were backed up by our own research, our unique reporting and our reading of court documents.
The internal objections delayed the second installment of our interview with Urick by a full week. And even though both Glenn and Jeremy aren’t technically editors, they reviewed the second article in advance of publication. I asked them by email to cease and told them it was inappropriate for them to review our work—we answered only to our editors, not to them. Meanwhile, as the delay mounted day by day, Natasha and I (and the prosecutor, Urick, whose exemplary work we defended) were hung out to dry—our story only partially told—as social media falsely but relentlessly attacked it on the dumbest grounds.
Natasha left The Intercept within weeks of the Serial chronicles. I wouldn’t be much longer. The Serial saga was just a sign of things to come.