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I think we all cancel people in our hearts, and that's where the reality of the term resides. Welcome to You're Wrong about where the Nancys of the past become, the Karens of the present, except Nancy Kerrigan. I think she's right. I thought it would take you longer to bring that up.


You had that ready?


Well, if you say the word, Nancy, I see an image of a woman and a wife wearing leotard is giving it her all. I am Michael Hobbs. I'm a reporter for the Huffington Post. I'm Sarah Marshall and I'm working on a book about the Satanic Panic.


And we have a new theme song. I'm so excited about the feel like it. Oh, yeah.


We have gotten the comment many times from our listeners that we have a sort of surf rock, but a little bit spooky energy, and we're now replicating that in our theme music.


So, yeah, I, I sent you, Mike, a batch of songs and I sent that one in kind of on a whim because I was like, well I really like this, but like there's no way Mike's going to go for it, I guess going to toss it.


And then you were like, none of these work except for that one spooky surf rock one.


And I was like, yes, this is my doing.


So if you hate change as much as I do, then blame me and I'll be the most sympathetic to you of anybody.


We made our logo a little bit happier. We're making our music a little bit happier. I mean, we're just over time figuring out what kind of show this actually is versus what we kind of started off imagining it might be like. And yeah, I feel like we have a scary surf rock hard.


Yes. And I updated the logo without telling you. So we're even and we are on Patrón at Patrón dot com. You're wrong about and people lots of other ways to support the show. And we have been gathering questions for our first amay and we are going to be telling you more about that when we know more excited.


And today we are talking about Nancy Grace.


Again, I'm so sorry. We're just all stuck here in this dinosaur killing pit.


So I have no idea what this episode is about. The only thing that I know is that at one point you told me I just got off the phone with a lawyer for research. So all I know is that there are lawyers involved.


Nancy Grace's book is saying disparaging things about defense lawyers. So I feel like I have to talk to defense lawyers. Like I literally had a conversation or I was like, let me tell you what Nancy Grace says. I'd like respond to Nancy Grace's accusations. So, yeah, it's getting real.


So, yeah, what what are we talking about today? What's where are we diving in?


Well, I mean, as you'll recall in our first Nancy Grace episode, we kind of started at the beginning of Nancy Grace's book and she told us her origin story. And we fact checked that a little. And yeah. Tell us about that experience.


I mean, basically what we learned is that Nancy Grace became radicalized against the American criminal justice system as the result of her fiance being murdered and everything going exactly as it's supposed to that the person who killed her fiancee did a life sentence. And then over time, her origin story has slowly morphed into this thing where it's like a lifelong criminal and he's on parole and the justice system was too easy on him. And if only it was different than her husband wouldn't have died, et cetera, et cetera.


But that launched her career as like a tough talking, tough prosecuting prosecutor.


Yeah, we kind of have done like Nancy Grace Rises. Yeah. And now we're doing the dark grace. I don't know. Yeah, I've been watching a lot of Batman tweets lately, have been about the Batman movie.


So I'm bracing myself for like how many Batman metaphors we can get this episode.


I was just thinking, I mean, the way that Nancy retells her origin story reminds me of, like, if and the Tim Burton Batman, Bruce Wayne was like, oh, my God, the Joker killed my parents. And then he was like, oh, no, you didn't. Actually, I just really hate the Joker.


Right. So we know the story of Nancy Grace begins. And now we're going to talk really just go through Nancy Grace's book as quickly as possible. Thank you. And talk about her various characters and her various arguments and the things that she is objecting to. And a lot of this episode, I think, is going to be about Scott Peterson, because a lot of Nancy's book is about the Scott Peterson case, I believe, because that had been really the big headline making case in the years before this book came out.


So she has to talk about it and so do we. Yes.


We're back to our ANASTASIYA series of things Mike is only vaguely aware of.


Thank God. And also, we're back to talking about a case involving a dead baby, which I'm very sorry. Oh, God.


Yeah, but let's die then, because the sooner we get started, the sooner will be done where I guess where this is like the part and the Hobbit, where they're going through the scary forest. You got to get through it. Yeah. So let's start with defense attorneys and other wily characters. I know. And we've already heard a little bit of this captor. I'll give you Nancy's first paragraph. I was just doing my job. That's the tired excuse offered up by every defense attorney.


Whenever they're asked how they do what they do, how they pull the wool over jurors eyes to make sure the repeat offender they're defending walks free. This is an interesting first sentence for one reason that's camping out at me. Do you want to see it? No. She's assuming that it is the nature of every defense attorney to defend repeat offenders and to ensure that they walk free, because, I mean, a lot of our system in the United States is based on plea bargaining and.


Right. I think there are a lot of cases that you would look at and be like, Michael is not freedom here. My goal is like something less than what Nancy Grace wants. Right. Right. Let's try and get through this whole paragraph. I'll never know how they can look in the mirror when their client goes out and commits yet another crime causing more suffering to innocent victims. So this is great also because the implication here is that all defense attorneys defend repeat offenders, all offenders repeat their offenses and all crimes have victims.




And there's a clear delineation between criminals and victims. Yeah. What does the phrase innocent victims mean? I think we could do a whole episode. Yeah, I know that. Yeah.


Like something that when I was a little kid, I remember like hearing the phrase white trash for the first time and being like, that's so weird. Like isn't that weird to anyone else. We're like if white people are trash, you have to specify that they're trash. But the implication is that like, it's weird for white people to be trash and everything else is implied to be trash. Right. And so, like innocent victims is like, well, if someone's a victim of a crime, then they're a victim.


Like they can't. How can they deserve a crime to happen to you is not impossible if we're saying that no crimes should happen in our society at all.


And the purpose of the criminal justice system is not to determine how innocent the victims were, it's to determine whether something bad took place. Yeah.


And Nancy says, I've heard I'm just doing my job. It's in the Constitution too many times to count. I love her. She's like the Constitution, whatever, as she makes a wanking motion with her hand.


Yeah. Yeah, totally.


She does not like the Constitution. So the first actual case that she brings out is the 2002 murder trial of David Westerfield.


I have no recollection of this crime. I don't think I've ever heard that name before.


Neither do I. It apparently got a lot of media attention at the time David Westerfield went to trial for the murder of a little girl named Danielle van Dam. She was seven years old. And basically, this is just a story about how the defense attorney defended your client. OK, this is kind of gross. So here's what Nancy says. Knowing full well his client was a child killer, Feldman went into open court to launch a defense that consisted of dragging the seven year old victim's parents through the mud, ruining their reputations within the community and revealing to the jury and the world that the couple had once been swingers.


That offense boldly claimed the van Dams had unwittingly introduced a sexual predator into their home. Knowing it wasn't true, Feldman argued that someone else had killed Danielle, some predator linked to her parents. It's also I mean, it seems to me like a bad defense, like I would really say that, like that suggests that this guy is flailing, you know? I mean, because, like, that is something that, like, makes you and your client look so bad.


Yeah. Like, you don't have to be Nancy Grace to think that that's outrageous. Al-Saleh, it's not really a good alternate theory. It speaks to me of like someone doing their job badly. Yeah.


Or it's just an adversarial system. And this is all they had. Right. It's not clear to me that that's like an argument that defense lawyers shouldn't exist.


Yes. And so. Well, let me read you this is from the L.A. Times. Defense attorney Steven Feldman suggested that police bungled the case by not investigating people who may have been drawn to Danielle's home to partake in her parents sexually adventurous lifestyle. Feldman later quizzed Damon and Brenda van Dam about their sex lives and called witnesses to show that Brenda propositioned people at a local bar to come back to the couple's home and tidy, upscale Sabr Springs. And then it seems like the defense is alleging that someone who had come to the house as a swinger is a likely suspect.


But what's interesting to me about that is that, of course, the media is also going to latch on to like the swinger aspect of it. Yeah. And it's also like if you want to raise the argument of like, well, there's like people coming into the house who, like, know how to get into it, who have familiarity with it, who know that there's a child there. Like if someone comes to the house for, like some wholesome swinging activity or whatever, like the point is that you end up with all these different data points about people who know about the house and who lives in it.


So then if you're barred from mentioning the sexual activity of the parents of a murdered child or like whatever Nancy's law would have us do, then suddenly you have. Actually, a very reasonable theory that could actually explain some other crime, right, and he can't talk about it in the same way if these people were hosting book clubs and every month it was a different group of people that they were hosting. That does seem like that's a relevant piece of information that there are people who are familiar with the home, are familiar with the age of their child, et cetera.


If that's your theory, I mean, it still seems like a pretty weak theory, but like it seems like it's within the rights of a defense attorney to bring up an alternate theory of the crime.


I mean, if your client looks really bad, then like, what are you going to do? Or are you going to be like, well, I give up. Sorry, no argument.


Well, what was the what was the outcome? Was this guy put away?


Yes, he was convicted and sentenced to death and he's at San Quentin.


OK, well, I mean, not to say like the process doesn't matter as long as you get the outcome you want, but that seems like the outcome that Nancy Grace wants.


Yeah, I think that's exactly what Nancy Grace would ask for. Right. OK. And so her next story is about being on Larry King Live in 2002 with the defense attorney who defended another accused killer of a young girl. This one was Alejandro Avila, who was accused of killing a five year old named Samantha Runnion. So this is another. So it's interesting that she starts her book. It's I wonder if Nancy looks at the cases she features in her book, the way someone making a mix tape does, right.


Where, like, OK, first case, murder of a seven year old girl, second case murder of a five year old girl. That feels tactical to me.


Oh, totally. I mean, that's the whole thing, is you want to have the most grisly crimes.


So Alejandro Avila is facing the death penalty for this case. Nancy says at his court appearance, Avila, dressed in an orange jumpsuit over a white T-shirt and sporting a goatee, stood demurely beside his court appointed lawyer paid for by US taxpayers.


So there's her hatred of the Constitution again.


And then she says Samantha's horrific death could have been avoided. The dream died when John Pozza, Avila's defense attorney at his first trial, waged war against the two nine year old girls his client was accused of molesting. And basically her argument is that if his attorney hadn't successfully defended him against this earlier molestation charge, she wouldn't have been able to allegedly commit this murder. And like, yeah, that's a compelling argument. Yeah. To me, it's and her saying to me, like, if I accept all this is true, like I don't buy your conclusion, which is that once again, the defense attorneys shouldn't be able to defend their client because sometimes someone will be successfully defended and then they will commit a worse crime than what they were accused of before or what they maybe did before.


Like that happens at times.


I mean, isn't the whole thing whether you consider an innocent person going to jail a bigger injustice than a guilty person going free? Yeah, you have to calibrate the system somewhere, right. You have to put like for various things about like evidence and, you know, which witnesses are able to be admitted for all of these little tiny systems. You have to set the threshold somewhere. And typically the thresholds are set somewhere to prevent innocent people from going to jail.


And what that means is that some percentage of guilty people are going to go free. And the fact is, if you design a system to catch every single guilty person and convict every single guilty person, you're going to end up convicting a shitload of innocent people. Unlike pretty bad evidence. You're going to admit circumstantial evidence. You're going to admit janki forensic evidence. You're not going to be able to question witnesses that really don't have high reliability.


So this is jumping ahead. But later in the book, Nancy says, when allegedly wrongful conviction has taken place, we hear about it eternally.


My question is, why do we rarely hear the truth about perpetrators of violent crimes who are released to become repeat offenders? Citation needed.


Where is this tale full of tales? I do, actually.


I mean, on some level, I do actually agree that wrongful convictions, like straight up wrongful convictions do actually get media attention.


But also, I mean, I think that those are limited to a relatively small category of wrongful convictions, that they tend to be murderers and they tend to be people that are like it's pretty obvious that it was a wrongful conviction or forensic evidence exonerates them.


I think underneath that, there's a much larger number of people who are either wrongfully convicted of much lower crimes, you know, less aggravated assault, robbery, crimes that the media isn't interested in generally.


Like it is like murder or bust. Oh, yes, entirely in our trial coverage.


And then we also have a lot of people that actually are wrongfully convicted. But it's very difficult for us to ascertain that. Right, because it's like one person's word against another person or a jailhouse snitch or who did something. Yeah. Or they did something.


And I've had people send me tips. I mean, I think this is the experience of every reporter. You get these tips that like, you know, my brother was wrongfully convicted and they sent you a bunch of case files and a bunch of information. It's. Really hard to tell if it was a wrongful conviction, right? There were witnesses against them or there was some forensic evidence against them, but where you have to get people to talk to you and you have to take.


Yeah, I mean, yeah, this is why journalism costs money, because, like, part of it is like, how much time does it take to get sources to trust you? Like, how long do you have to be in a place, how many drinks do have to buy. Yeah.


Like I have not pursued these because I haven't had time. And like, you're doing some dumb podcast, young lady, who wants to talk to you about shows she likes.


But it's just like there's a huge gray area. Right. Like the legal system itself is not interested in these cases at all, which is which is the problem and which is the problem that Nancy Grace does not seem concerned about. No. Yeah.


Well, and then she like lately, though, like she does, like we're going to have to talk about this later. But like she does have a show now called Injustice with Nancy Grace. The like purports to, like, delve into wrongful convictions to some degree, which is like fascinating because it's like the the tide of what true crime is trying to do, just like true crime comes to oxygen thing. It's like it's come for Nancy Grace. That's an interesting moment.


OK, let's get back into the book. Yeah. And we have a section called Learning from the Master, which is about Nancy doing her breakout first show, Cochran and Grace in nineteen ninety seven with Johnnie Cochran. Oh, I don't know what to make of this description. I'm just going to read it to you. Working with Cochran gave me the chance to study the king of criminal defense for the next couple of years. And I found it incredibly enlightening.


I began to see something I've never been able to see before to understand what exactly it was that juries sometimes assign defense lawyers. I had always view them as quick and wily, like a beautiful snake that you kept in a cage but wouldn't dare touch a snake cage. I still feel that way. But now I understand why juries can be captivated by lawyers like Johnnie Cochran. I studied him carefully. I watched the way he talked. I listened to the words he chose to use his mannerisms.


I learned that juries can be struck by someone who is charming, attractive and affable. Cochran can give an opening and closing argument that could charm a bird out of a tree. I have always been so focused on the truth and the facts of a particular oh my God, so hell bent on justice that I was almost immune to a defense attorney's charms. I learned through watching him why juries are sometimes bowled over by someone like Cockrum.


Wasn't she a fucking prosecutor for like ten years? This is the first time she's met a defense attorney or seen them at work.


She's like, I had no idea why defense attorneys were found charming by anyone until I met Johnnie Cochran. Right. But also, what do you think?


That she's always been so focused on the truth? And I mean, this this is the thing.


It's like only my opponents ever use, like storytelling devices or emotion in the courtroom. And like, I'm just they're reciting facts.


Only Johnnie Cochran is trying to use charisma on a jury. I've never heard of that before. Exactly. So it's like someone who's, like, been a chef for ten years. They worked in like a Michelin star restaurant. And then they, like, got a cooking show with some other chef and they like it never occurred to me to caramelize the onions before. And you're like, yes, it did. That's like one of the main things you do every day.


We know that you were on CNN, Nancy.


We heard you the local accent. OK, so this is where Nancy swoops in for kind of her main topic, this chapter and one of the characters who are going to see a lot of in this book, Mark Geragos. OK, you know who that is? No, he defended Scott Peterson.


OK, OK. So that I am in no way familiar with tell me everything you know, I just did I literally have heard that name.


I could not tell you where or when, you know what kind of a case it is.


He murdered like it's a murder case. Right. But I don't know if it's his kid or his wife or anything.


This was in the name of the May 2003. Do you remember where were you then? I was living in London. Did people in London care or was so some kind of Big Brother fiasco there was like soccer happening? I don't think so. Yeah. OK, so Scott Peterson was accused of murdering his wife, Laci. She was pregnant at the time. And so the issue of whether the death of his unborn son can be also considered murder is one of the themes of the trial and the media frenzy around it.


And I actually am going to outsource some of the description of this to a 2003 Vanity Fair article by Maureen Orth called a made for tabloid murder. OK, so here's our description in a nutshell. The Peterson case, like the O.J. Simpson JonBenet Ramsey case, is before it has everything to make it the number one human interest reality TV soap opera in America. The pretty young pregnant wife goes missing on Christmas Eve. Her handsome husband's girlfriend reveals the affair they've been having.


The wife's body and that of her unborn baby are later discovered. A few mai. From where her husband claims he was fishing when she disappeared, he disses hair and is arrested carrying ten thousand dollars in cash. Scott Peterson later says that he goes fishing on the day his wife disappears. They spend the morning together. Then he is on his computer for a time, and then he goes out in his boat where he's observed fishing by various other Fisherpeople Fisher people.


Yes. And this is theoretically the time when he would apparently have needed to be dumping her body and then her her body and her baby's body are found sometime later. OK, and so kind of from the start, he just doesn't look good. And this becomes a big story. And this was something that I did not make any effort to pay attention to at the time, but it was just ambient and the news. And then Nancy says another less than winning quality of the usually smooth defense lawyer is his penchant for sarcasm.


And late July 2004, Detective Dodge Hendee was on the stand testifying about what he found while searching Scott Peterson's warehouse. During cross-examination, he told Geragos he found what appeared to be cement residue in what looked like five rings, which indicated that Peterson had made five anchors, but only one was found. Geragos, trying to punch holes in Handy's theory, showed the pictures of the so-called rings and commented that they looked more like right angles than rings. He mocked, saying, Is this a and is this a ring?


Is this a circle? His attempt at witty sarcasm fell flat, although there were a few chuckles in the courtroom, some of the jurors looked disgusted by the treatment the detective received. When Geragos has long anticipated cross-examine, Peterson's former lover, Amber Frey was set to commence, he deadpanned in open court no questions. He then paused for a fact before adding just kidding. Well, there were a few people who thought this was hilarious. Certain members of the jury looked on stoically and never even cracked a smile, as if to relay the message.


What's funny about murder? Oh, God.


I mean, I don't know. Defense lawyers are bad because in this one case, a defense lawyer was kind of a dick. I don't know.


Is that the overall. Yeah, that's the thrust of her argument. I kind of agree that defense lawyers shouldn't be jocular like that. But I also I don't know how typical this is. Like she she still at some point has to prove that this is a larger problem in the criminal justice system.


I mean, is it even a problem? Because like my feeling about these examples is like, is that it like you say, this whole trial to draw examples of like this guy behaving inappropriately from and your example is like he's kind of snarky one time and then like makes kind of a bad joke before he questions someone else. I mean, trials go on for months. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I don't know, like, I feel like everyone is going to make like somewhat inappropriate attempts at levity in the course of their job.


And like, I don't know how you legislate against that. Right.


You know, I mean, I do that on this show constantly be subject to criminal sanctions and so do I.


And then you edit it out. Nancy Grace can't talk about how terrible of a person I am.


I mean, the thing with the court, it's like what's even happening.


The lawyer is like, this doesn't look like a circle to me. Yeah. I don't even know what you're supposed to do except do that.


I'm sure the prosecutors, the little witnesses all the time, too, like that's kind of part of the cross-examination.


Now, prosecutors are always nice.


It just seems like if you're concerned about people being mocked when they're on the stand, that's probably a separate issue from whether it's only defense attorneys that do this and it's only police officers that get this treatment. Yes.


So Maureen Orth articles partially from the perspective of the two National Enquirer reporters who the Vanity Fair journalist is kind of hanging out with and observing and watching them get their scoops. And so we have a quote in which one of them says, The Peterson story has broken perfectly. That has kept Laci going during the Iraq war. And as soon as the war finishes, her body washes up. And then as they're hanging out in the spa, a tough looking construction worker pops in to ask whether something he has come across is worth anything.


Hanahan says the man has contacted the Enquirer, which routinely pays five hundred dollars per tip because he believes he has uncovered a satanic mural and a house he is remodeling. Nice.


Hanahan leads over to pull the notebook out of his back pocket and starts writing deeply disturbing that that's the same amount of money that I have been paid for, like 3000 word feature stories.


But is it it's about finding a mural that you think is safe in the same town where a murder has taken place.


But so are you saying that Nancy Grace is sort of picking up the torch from the tabloids?


I really want you to talk about the satanic miracle. With me for a second here, I'm very pleased with how I managed to get us to a satanic cult theory and lay record time.


I'm just like skipping over the satanic mural thing just because it seems so outlandishly wrong.


That's why we have to talk about the satanic mural. It's not like call him a Satanist, but let's talk about it.


Hollamby It wasn't the same. So let's not talk about that Feria like you feel talking about Satanists who weren't there. So this becomes a theory.


This is in the news. A lot like this guy is not dropping in for no reason at all, like he has smelled on the wind. Yeah, man, this prevailing interest in Satanic cult and this is what Nancy Grace is going to take Scott Peterson's lawyer to task for, is that he's advancing the satanic cult theory and other stuff. She doesn't like him generally.


This is like an official theory. The Satanic cult theories like an actual you got to throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall, Mike. It's not as if this didn't work to convict people in the 80s. I mean, the guy is just late to the party, honestly, and like, it doesn't stay in the mix for that long. But, yeah, there's a period when the speculation about Laci Peterson's murder involves a lot of talk about saying this.


Holy shit. So Nancy says Geragos tried out a series of theories on the public statements and court papers to see if any would stay at the beginning of the trial. We heard a host of stories about people and events that might be tied to Laci's disappearance and murder. First came the story about a brown van and a missing shoe that would explain everything. Then came a mysterious woman with important information.


Those were followed by various and sundry tales, including Donny, the dope dealer, the evil burglars, the homeless killers, a besotted neighbor in love with Scott Peterson, a possible jewel heist, a deranged sex offender, a Hawaiian gang, and, of course, a satanic cult.


How many more orthotics are we going to have got? Homeless people. We've got sex offenders. We've got street gangs. Throw in some human trafficking and some kanthal culture.


We've got the whole, like, Pokémon gang.


All right. So this is the satanic cult case at its strongest. I'm going to present this to you. So Lacey's body is found in San Francisco Bay in April of 2003, and her baby was found the following day, her baby's body. And so thank God they're found separately. And so the question is, did something called coffin birth take place? What the fuck is that? So Maureen Orth describes this and she describes it as the built-up gas and the decomposing body inside of the mother expels the baby.


Shut the fuck up. That's a fucking thing, evidently. Oh, yeah. So that's something that could have happened. Oh, God.


However, when the NBC correspondent comes forward with the addendum to the autopsy report, the information in it that catches the media's imagination is that there is, quote, a post-mortem tear going from the baby's right shoulder to the right lateral abdominal wall.


I want to bury my face in a pillow right now. So bad. This is so gross.


So this is very troubling to hear. Right. And this is what shows up in the media. And people start being like, yeah, I don't know, sounds like a satanic cults, me or like something weird, like, oh my God, it's just horrible, right? Because she's been dumped in the water apparently and is found very badly decomposed. And her baby, who has been inside of her, is found in much better condition than she is, which is also extremely haunting.


Oh, so, again, I mean, this this plays into the whole you know, the way Nancy Grace's career works, like there's a reason why this is one of the case that she spends a lot of this book talking about. And there's a reason why the Casey Anthony case was such a big part of her career. Also, like she really like the deaths, the deaths of tots. That's her. Yeah, I'm her wheelhouse.


I mean, she talks about how, like wrongful convictions get so much media attention, but like no wrongful conviction has ever received as much forensic every tiny little detail type dissection as these fucking white lady murder cases. Yeah.


I mean, it's and it's and again, I think that, you know, if you contemplate these details, like, I think it's important to like I don't want to, you know, sure, you can do whatever you want.


But it's important for me as someone who disagrees with Nancy Grace, to be like, yes, Nancy, like, you're right, this is horrible.


Like, I don't want these things to happen to babies. Like, we agree. Yes. But the sadness of Laci Peterson's death and of her baby's death is not in itself stronger evidence that her husband did it. Yeah, true. Yeah. And there's this thing that I think we just kind of happens. Right. And especially in kind of cable to crime media, where it's like, aren't you sad? And people are like, yeah. And then it's like, doesn't that tell you that we should.


Push harder for, like, bad things to happen to the person who are saying we know did it and it's like, oh, right. It's sort of like, don't you think Scott Peterson did it? And you're like, I don't know. And it's like, well, look at the grisly details of this murder. What do you think now? Like, well, the evidence that he did this grisly stuff is the same regardless of like how grisly the murder was.




It's just evidence that it's horrible. And so, like, if you already suspect him and then you're pumped full of details about how terrible this crime you already committed was, then you're just like, fuck you, Scott.


I feel like you control effort through this book for dead baby. I really didn't. I suspect you. I did control for Satanic Cult.


Definitely. Those two terms gravitate toward each other.


They control for you. Yeah. Yeah, they did.


So they release the addendum to the autopsy report with this weird new information about the cut on the baby's body, the fact that Laci does not have her baby inside her anymore when she's found and Marine or it says here now was the tantalizing idea that the baby may have been cut out of Laci as well. The combination of a knife and a satanic cult sent the media pack racing. And 30 minutes later, the whole idea was being discussed on Fox Cable by Linda Vestre and Rita Cosby.


Jesus fucking Christ. At three pm, Pat Buchanan and Bill Press abandoned national politics in order to focus almost exclusively on the breaking news first reported here on MSNBC by Dan Abrams. By then, the prosecution had made a complete U-turn, and at four o'clock, CNN announced that the prosecution had set out a press release, saying it would request that due to, quote, numerous leaks to the media today, the judge made public the full autopsy report at 5:00 p.m. Both Wolf Blitzer on CNN and Lester Holt on MSNBC discussed the feeding frenzy.


MSNBC editor in chief Jerry Nachman characterized the story as, quote, crack for us and the business. We can't stop ourselves.


I don't even know where to go with that. It's like, do these people not know that the satanic panic was fake?


No, no one knows that. That's why I talk about it all the time. I mean, people do know that. But it is something that we haven't reckoned with and we really hadn't in 2003. Like, this is like five years after the San Antonio four were convicted. This is no one's in a thoughtful place about this yet, apparently.


So it really it hadn't been, like, thoroughly debunked by then.


Oh, no, but yeah. I mean, it is very interesting because, like, I guess we have higher expectations of 2003 than we do of nineteen eighty three, although God knows why.


I think you can actually say that like the early aughts and kind of the era around the start of the Iraq war where this kind of golden moment of counterfactual thinking and the United States, because like every conversation that wasn't about Laci Peterson I think was about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And I feel like it's almost like the Nancy Grace thing on the macro scale. It's like we have been hurt by how terrible 9/11 was. Like we have to do something like, aren't we sad?


Look at Saddam Hussein. Aren't you mad? Like, he's almost it's almost like he and Scott Peterson were similar figures on the same moment. It was just different scales. And one of them was this guy in Modesto.


This is you at your grad school best, almost like Scott Peterson and Saddam Hussein were the same.


They were there like this. You know, this guy who, like, is guilty of something, right? Like Scott Peterson was having an affair and he was being real slimy about it. And he had a pregnant wife and he didn't look great. He you know. Yeah, but it's like looking at someone who, like you have no reason to like or feel sympathy for, but who also like you, you maybe lack the ability to prove did the very specific thing that you need to prove that they did.


And at the end of the day, it's like, yeah, but come on.


Yeah, this guy sucks. You're sad and we're mad. And look at this fucking guy. Yeah, that's true. Yeah.


So my point about this is that, like, it's not as if Scott Peterson's lawyer is the only one who's pushing this narrative. Right. This is something that the NBC legal correspondent is, like excitedly offering to the public and that like we just watched this timeline of this entire day of the cable TV media first excitedly reporting details, then reporting on more details and then reporting on their reporting of the details. So to me, the point is that, you know, Nancy Grace is right to think that a satanic cult conspiracy is kind of a bad theory.


But also like her blaming the defense attorney for being the one who, like, pushed this topic onto the American public feels a little disingenuous. Right. And so actually, this is a weirdly credible theory.


So let's get into that. Wait, watch. The satanic one is I'm not saying that's where this is going, but I was surprised by the relative depth for this theory. I would love it if the.


You're wrong about about this episode. Is actually that it was a satanic cult. That's like your dedication to truth, like no matter where it leads us. Man, this turns out this is one of them. Sorry, everybody. OK, so Maureen Orth tells us, in fact, there were reports of a brown van in Laci Peterson's neighborhood at the time she disappeared. And what the media is saying is like there was a Brown van Satanas, maybe van equal Satan, because, you know, the Satanists sale of vans, famously van drivers.


The police claim the van belonged to landscapers, but Maureen's source says witnesses reported that the vehicle had had no lawn mowers or rakes in it and that the occupants were not identified.


The way we do this with these fucking trials, it's like we zoom in on these, like, completely absurd pieces of information. They were their fucking lawnmowers in the van.


Also, when can you ever see what's inside of a van? Like the reason these panel vans don't have windows in them is so that you can't see the equipment in them that might be valuable for stealing. Or so it's not like knocking around, like breaking windows potentially. Yes.


I mean, first of all, it's never a van. Secondly, if there weren't lawn mowers in the van, that's not evidence that like it was Satanists.


No, it's our lawn mowers or Satanists. It's like if you're in a van, you're either mowing the lawn or sacrificing a baby. Oh, so.


Yeah. So that's that's not super convincing. The Vanity Fair article also tells us that the defense has claimed that there is apparently this anonymous young woman who has gone to a rape crisis center in the area who says that she was raped in the brown van that was spotted in Lacey's neighborhood. And apparently one of her assailants told her, if you want to see the other part of the sacrifice, keep a close look at the newspapers and read about it. This stay.


Oh, really? Yeah. Oh, and one of the van's occupants allegedly had a tattoo on his arm, six six six, supposedly a satanic symbol. This is not the strong case. I'm going to show you, by the way, this is like the satanic argument at its saddest and most hilarious.


This is sad and hilarious. Yes. Yeah.


And so the defense is saying there's this anonymous woman who said something to someone about what someone else told her. And it's like, how do we know this person exists? Right. How did the Rape Crisis Center know to contact you with this information? Right. OK, so now I'm going to read you an article from The Modesto Bee.


Before Scott and Laci Peterson, there was the Salina massacre headline in the Modesto Bee article is a cult or just bizarre?


I mean, brunch or breakfast. So the murders, they kill four victims and they're apparently a group that has defected. OK, so we have a former group member named Angela Young who left before the murders, who says, quote, It was very serious, not Costabile. Then leader Gerald Kroos manipulated group members through bizarre activities that included indoctrination into various forms of being called sleep deprivation and brainwashing and direction. Witnesses said some members beat, raped and tortured each other.


The deputy district attorney who tried this case says there was no evidence of any cult or rituals that the defense tried to make it seem that way, which is also interesting to me because we have like the prosecutor is not the one who's trying to make the cult argument, right. So a lawyer for another one of the defendants in this case says they remember stories of rituals under the full moon at midnight and says diaries and letters by group members made reference to desecrating graves, beatings for disobedience and even murder.


Modesto Attorney William Arthur Miller recalled many of the same things, plus allegations of animal sacrifice. He said group members listen to heavy metal music just before the murders and remember talk of group members dancing at one point as if in a ritual. Oh my God! Miller said. Crime scene photos reveal a scrap paper scrawled with a ritual prayer or chant a length of hair from one of the victims was a fix by a magnet to a refrigerator door. He said, sure, the Satanists are said to use parts of the victim's physical being to cast spells.


A lot looked like satanic worship, Miller said of the writings. He recalled the members saying that, quote, the sacrifice of a newborn baby was the cleanest thing you could do. I took that to mean most cleansing, Miller said. Some of the writings revealed references to Altar's witchcraft, bloodletting curses, dining with the dead, pentagrams, demons, ghosts, visions, secret oath and the father of darkness, Goetze. The Salada group referred to itself as Children of Satan, Children of the Night, false prophets of Revelations and judge and jury of people's faith.


I mean, this actually sounded pretty convincing to me at the beginning, and now I'm extremely less convinced. What part is kind of convincing to you initially?


What is the idea that, like, this is a fucking cult and like there's some dude in charge of it who brainwashes these people into committing murders for him? Like that's something that has happened. Yeah, but yeah, it's interesting that. The media needs there to be these like weird, dumb artifacts of like ritualistic stuff and like heavy metal and hair on a magnet and these sorts of things that don't actually really matter.


Like the media has to believe in the power of the Satanism to consider the Satanism important.


Exactly. And it's like it reminds me of the panic over street gangs that you'd have like three or four kids that are arrested for, like, beating somebody up or whatever. And they would try to exoduses this group of kids, like they had signs and symbols that they sent to each other and they wore the same clothes. And it's like they're they're accused of an assault. Like an assault is bad enough. It really doesn't matter if they had, like, a secret handshake like that doesn't make the crime any more exotic, but it's like this push to make it like this separate thing, like it's a different category of crime.


It's the same thing here where it's like I don't like goats.


I mean, I care about writing about goats because I like goats. Goats. Yeah. I mean, I guess the question is like, why does the cold part matter? Like, why is that important? And like, it seems to be important to the defense attorneys in this case because talking about how they were part of a cult is a way to talk about how their own agency was abused and chipped away over time. And like, that's potentially useful defense.


Right. And then if you're the media, then I guess it matters if it's a cult because, like, that's a scary story that moves. Yes.


Well, there's also the thing where, like what happens when you zoom in on these pieces of evidence and you start having a debate about like, was there a lawnmower or was there not a lawnmower is you forget the zoomed out thing that like, if all of this is true, if there was an occult murder in this city some number of years before the Laci Peterson murder, and if there was a brown van parked in that neighborhood on that day, neither one of these are evidence that Laci Peterson was killed by a satanic cult.


Like you'd need actual evidence of that.


Yeah, I mean, I think what I find most interesting about this whole cul de sac, actually, is that like the satanic cult murder aspect, like is credible in itself. If it's true that they're talking about worshipping Satan and if that's what they believe themselves to be doing and you know, and then it depends on how you define cult. But if you have, like a group of people living under the thumb of a charismatic leader who's controlling their behaviors and thoughts, then like, yeah, that's probably how these things happen.


And then if worshipping Satan and talking about Satan and then committing murders in a way that relates to that larger culture is part of it, then like I just feel like we found our first satanic cult. Here it is.


They didn't kill Laci Peterson. There is nothing to indicate that. Right. But like, sure, here's a satanic cult murder. What amazes me most, though, is that I started researching the satanic panic. I mean, I say it at the top of every episode. I've been doing this for like three years. I have never heard of this case. No one talks about it. Like here is like as close as it seems like we're going to get to a satanic cult murder.


And everyone's like, no, I just want a wrongly accused lesbian rights.


No, thank you. But that, of course, is like so telling about moral panics. Right. Is that the actual things, the actual harms are so unexpected. Right. In the same way that there are real cases of like actual sort of like human trafficking, like people recruiting poor and marginalized people into doing sex work. But like people are not interested in those cases because it's like it just like a twenty six year old asshole guy. And like this 14 year old girl whose parents were on drugs because she's not an innocent victim.


Right. And it's the same thing here where it's like, I guess it was a satanic cult, but it's like there's only a couple of people and like, it's kind of a boring satanic cult.


Yes. It's the early 90s at a time when, like Dr. Bennett Braun is arguing that the Satanists have infiltrated the highest seed of American government, which, like his people in the Modesto area, clearly have not.


And they're killing former members rather than like plucking people out of society at random.


So, yeah, it's funny because, like the satanic cult element, I'm like, sure, yeah. Why don't I buy it?


And the part where it falls apart is this idea that the Peterson defense is putting forth like this could be connected to the cult that killed Laci and Conner Peterson. Like it's these people who we put in prison years and years ago and the school whose leader is out of commission and isn't capable of committing any more murders. Apparently, like this is the long game. Like that's where it gets silly, actually, in terms of the existence of the call, if I'm like, sure, why not?


I'm Sarah Marshall.


I'm working on a book about the satanic realness, about the satanic proportionate response.


Yeah, none of this has anything to do with Nancy Grace, but I fucking love this because this is the way we enjoy Nancy Grace.


Let's my sneaking away. We don't talk about her.


So here's my favorite passage in this article and maybe in anything ever in. Vanity Fair, one of the people who the media was desperate to talk to and to this article describes their hunt for is Amber Frey, whose relationship with Scott is considered by members of the press and the prosecution as one of his motives for killing Laci. Because if he did murder his wife, then it's best to blame it on a woman. Yeah. So Maureen Orth tells us, I have since learned that when Amir's name surfaced last winter, a number of producers and reporters hoping to catch her visiting her dad embedded themselves for up to two weeks at a time.


And Ron Frye is 81 year old mother's house where he lives. They'd all be sitting here all day long. He said they were here so much. They know my dog's name, my mother's name. They would talk about my little dachshund, who is kind of smart. He dresses himself, but they never got to see that. And Maureen or says, pardon me? And he says, My little dog puts his own shirt on.


My God, I feel like this whole episode, maybe this whole podcast has been leading us toward the sentence. My little dog puts his own shirt on.


We're done. We're done. Play the theme song. This is it. We've done a lot of good work today.


One of the interesting things about Nancy Grace's audio book is that it is read by the same reader who also does the audio book of one of my favorite books ever written, which is Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer. I love that book. Yes. Yeah. It's where Janet Malcolm has been interviewing one of the jurors in the trial that she's studying. And this woman has gone on this long, confusing monologue about how she loves the Constitution. And she loved it as a girl and she bought it on a trip to Washington and she couldn't get through it.


But she respects it so much and just this weird, beautiful, strange soliloquy. And Janet Malcolm writes, As I listened to Lucille Dillon, I felt more acutely conscious than ever of the surrealism that is at the heart of journalism. And people telling journalists their stories as characters and dreams deliver their political messages without warning, without context, without concern for how odd they will sound when the dreamer awakens and repeats them. My little dog puts his own shirt on.


Oh, my gosh.


So, yeah, let's finish up Nancy Grace's argument against the existence of defense attorneys and then I think we can be free for the rest of the day. OK, so then her example and this is an interesting one, too, this is about, OK, this is another Garagos case. She's sticking with this guy.


This is Scott Peterson's attorney. Is she really? Yeah. She really does not like him.


He's kind of a worthy adversary. So Geragos defends Michael Jackson. Oh, wow. When Michael Jackson is accused of child molestation. So Michael Jackson pleads not guilty in January 2004 and then basically puts on a little show for his supporters outside the courthouse. He dances on top of an SUV and in his fans to join him at Neverland Ranch.


And he has refreshments.


And again, this is an argument against Geragos. OK, what exactly where they celebrating Jackson being indicted for child molestation, the anguish of a family who, along with their cancer stricken son, must now endure a long, drawn out trial. The entire episode was a bizarre mockery of the justice system. Regardless of whether Geragos orchestrated the whole performance, he let it happen.


I mean, I kind of agree with her. I don't know. I mean, that whole thing was so gross. I don't know.


I mean, to me, it's like. Yeah, like it's gross to think about someone putting us back in, like, our 2004 brains, like, whatever we didn't know, whatever we believed about Michael Jackson or wanted to believe about him, then it's like it's incredibly insensitive to be publicly celebrating and offering parties for your supporters and I guess celebrating the fact that you have supported this is what I would imagine that's about. You know, when you're accused of something so serious and like it like it does suggest things aren't well, it's, I guess, someone who's not well.


So, yeah, it's like it's it's a it's a strong indictment of his client's character.


I mean, also, if I can take you back to the clip that we watched last week. She has a guy that is on trial for killing his wife and then burning their house down and making it look like an arson. She gets a conviction of him. And we have a clip of her celebrating the conviction of this guy. We see her saying, like God, another one like is she really saying that like people on the other end of this system of justice don't also celebrate an outcome that they wanted?


Like I'm sure prosecutors have celebrated like someone who shoplifted from Wal-Mart getting like ten years in jail because it's a mandatory minimum thing or three strikes thing. Oh, sure.


And to me, the craziest part of this personally is that, like, she's blaming his lawyer for this. And it's like I challenge any lawyer to control the behavior of a pop star that they're representing, like pop. Stars are used to doing whatever ridiculous thing they want, which is part of the reason why they seem to and to crimes in a way that the people around them just sort of soften and about.


There's also the thing I mean, I don't know super duper much about the justice system, but I also think that we have, like, the only court cases that we interact with and see in detail our celebrity court cases like the kind that take nine months. And those are not typical like to to extrapolate from like, hey, here's a celebrity case that went the wrong way and a client and a lawyer who acted wildly, insensitively in the kind of celebrity trial of which we have, I don't know, four or five every year.


You can't just extrapolate to the entire system from like a very unique circumstance.


It's like studying Hollywood by like studying the Batman movies and being like as we can see, in 1997, things got really campy.


So in conclusion, Michael Jackson threw a party and Nancy Grace thought that was gross. And I agree with Nancy Grace. Like, I think honestly, the interesting takeaway of this chapter and really of this book is like how much it's possible to agree with Nancy Grace about the very limited, low stakes argument that she's making and then like, yes. And Bruett, you know, and just be like, yeah, sure. Like, I can believe everything you're saying, but also, like, truly, Nancy, like what bearing does that have on the systemic problems that we're trying to solve?


Right. OK, hiding behind the Constitution. The Founding Fathers set up our Constitution in a way that allows defense attorneys and defendants to literally get away with murder. These are the rules lawyers have to play by and they aren't going to change.


They may fluctuate a tiny bit based on Supreme Court rulings, but generally speaking, those are the rules.


I also hate due process, but we're on the same page. Oh, and then this is great, too, because she's previously complained about a defendant wearing why she hasn't complained about it, but she's like he was wearing a jail issued jumpsuit and he looked like a criminal. And then she makes one of my favorite tough on crime arguments, which his defense attorney is very wisely dressed clients in their Sunday best and have them sit there and look serious and thoughtful for the duration of the trial.


And it's like, what are they supposed to do, Nancy? Are they supposed to let them wear their prison jumpsuit so you can talk about how much they look like a murderer? Well, exactly what are people what do you want?


Right. I feel like Nancy Grace relating to the legal system is like a toddler who's clearly just like had a big day. They're not going to be pleased by anything. You are them. Let's continue this charade. You're like, do you want a snack? He's like, now. And you're like, do you want a video?


And she's like, no, right. You're like, Nancy, we know feel like you're not going to want anything. I you you're not going to want jumpsuit, you're not going to want no jumpsuit like you just are upset. Right.


I mean my understanding is there's like Supreme Court cases about this and stuff that it's like to have the presumption of innocence. You have to allow somebody to look innocent in court. And of course, this ends up coming down to resources because who can afford, you know, a suit and, you know, a haircut and like a way of looking nice during their trial. But the idea is that humans are affected by the way that things look a lot more than we want to admit.


And so putting somebody in a suit makes them look a little bit more innocent. And if we actually believe the presumption of innocence, then we should be able to let people do that.


It's this weird Mobius strip, right, where like the point of the trial is to determine guilt. And so if you are going to get upset that someone is dressed up in a way that doesn't communicate the idea of their guilt to the very people that have to decide whether they're guilty or not, like you just want everyone to be found guilty.


Yes. And that is really the conclusion of Nancy Grace's case against defense attorneys.


So it is basically like three well, maybe four anecdotes.


There's the child murderer guy who is the other child murders, the other child murder guy. There's Scott Peterson and there's Michael Jackson. Those are four examples.


These are the horror cases against lawyers.


This is actually this is actually more robust than like any article about like campus political correctness gone wrong.


I read in the last ten years or so, in conclusion, Nancy Grace is like doing more hard hitting journalism than many of us would like to believe, given the context and what poor excuses pass for journalism. And Satanist cults are real. And there it's a little dog out there, the same shirt on and off.


He's waiting for you. I'm amazed you didn't close with anything Batman related.


This is this is unprecedented.


It's a little dog. But isn't that sure? We go.


We got there.