Rabia Chaudry responds to my feminist take on Serial podcast, and I respond back to Rabia

Earlier this week I received the following email from Rabia Chaudry about my essay criticizing Serial from a feminist perspective:

Dear Ann,

I just read your recent blog post and want to bring a couple of things to your attention. First, you are by all means entitled to being offended by my potty mouth, my best friend 25 years ago declared I have Tourettes (clearly I don’t and neither of us even knew what it meant, but it was a way of explaining my proclivity for profanity), and certainly my mouth leaves much to be desired.

That, however, has nothing to do with things called “facts”. The charge that I falsely accused someone of child molestation is, in fact, false. I accurately pointed out that Mr. B was someone who had been accused by his then wife, in public at the mosque, of such acts. I can connect you with her. You know, so you can actually investigate. Attached you’ll find a clip from Susan’s blog noting his arrest. If you’d like the actual report of the arrest, I can connect you with Susan who can provide it. The community had heard of it back in 1999, and had even internally identified the victim, but since it seems it wasn’t prosecuted in exchange for him not testifying in Adnan’s favor, no one ever understood what happened.

I suggest, as “private investigator”, you’d be better served to find out who this man was and whether he had in fact molested a child before defending him. It doesn’t behoove a PI to make pronouncements about anonymous figures. Kind of defeats your purpose.

I am appalled that someone who calls themselves an investigator would find the attention to autopsy reports “ghoulish”. Isn’t the job of an investigator to do exactly that? Find and then analyze the evidence? Instead of talking about the merits of the lividity issue, this is a rhetorical, baseless attack for the sake of — what, blog hits?  If you have issues with the SUBSTANCE of Colin and Susan’s analysis, that would be worthy to see.  Ad hominem attacks are easy, where’s your analysis on these issues?

When cell tower experts from across the country are calling us to say “hey that evidence was totally misused in Adnan’s trial” and medical experts are telling us Hae was not buried for at least 8 hours, would you have us ignore these experts? When the state’s only witness has once again changed his timeline, rendering the state’s use of the cell phone evidence useless, who do we believe now? The State? Jay?

Jay, who in fact has domestic violence charges on his record, perhaps needs a bit more scrutiny. And certainly the man who killed another young woman in a similar fashion six months prior, from the SAME SCHOOL, does too.

As for Imran’s note, I can connect you with him personally and you can ask about it. If it had any merit at all, the police and prosecution would have used it.

Lastly, as for the Baltimore City Police conduct, you may want to revisit much that’s been written about their corruption, take note of the pending DOJ investigation, and take a listen to our upcoming episode on Monday.

Best,

Here is my reply:

First off, let me get this out of the way. I’m not personally offended by your potty mouth, Rabia. I mentioned it as an example of why you’re a polarizing figure. Some people love a feisty woman keeping it real as she drops F-bombs in the fight against injustice. Others not so much. As I see it, the swearing is just how you roll.

Since you wrote me a frank email, I’m going to give you my honest answers. I’m also going to try really hard not to confuse people who aren’t up on every detail of this case while, at the same time, adding some background to my original blog essay.

The Adnan critic I referred to, who was accused of being a child molester by your friends, was sachabacha. He was attacked on Reddit after he posted anonymously there — making the allegation, later verified by Serial, that Adnan stole from the mosque, and another accusation, not featured on Serial, that Adnan’s brother had called him a “masterful liar.” This resulted in a vicious pile-on designed to shut sachabacha down.

sachabachaaccusedof beingBilal

On Reddit, Rabia and co. originally accused sachabacha, a mosque insider, of being Bilal, an alleged child molester. Above is a deleted quote from Adnan’s brother, Yusef.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Rabia, but I think it’s conceded now that sachabacha is not nor never was Bilal, so the ugly accusations levelled against him, by Adnan’s brother and others, were completely out of line. Luckily for sachabacha, he’s just an anonymous internet person because your crowd has shown no qualms about smearing innocent people including, among many others — Stephanie, Don, Don’s mother, Detectives Ritz and MacGillivary, and, most favourite of all, Jay. In short, pretty much anyone who’s not Adnan.

Here’s your own brother suggesting, with zero evidence, that Stephanie might have done it:

Rabia's brother Saad suggests in his Reddit AMA that maybe Stephanie killed Hae

Rabia’s brother Saad suggests in his Reddit AMA that maybe Stephanie killed Hae

Accusations of murder are thrown around like they’re nothing, which is pretty ironic given that the goal of all this is to get a guy out of jail who’s ostensibly been wrongly convicted of murder.

Perilsoffingerpointing

The problem at the heart of Serial

Now, I’m not suggesting that all this finger pointing at innocent people is your fault, Rabia. People are going to do stupid things and you can’t stop that or be held responsible for every idiot on the internet, but if Saad were my little brother, I would have had a word with him. And if I were you, I also wouldn’t be praising Susan Simpson for her irresponsible exposure of Don’s completely irrelevant employment records.

You and Simpson both say you believe Don’s innocent and then you send out tweets like this. Sure, your official line for putting confidential information about him on the internet is that these were documents filed in court and you need to show that the police were lax in their investigation of Don. Well, in answer to point one, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Here’s an NYT article on the problem with people posting documents from court cases on the internet. And two, Simpson has in no way established that the police did not properly investigate Don. They interviewed him multiple times, they searched his home and workplace, they checked his alibi. (Unlike Adnan, he actually had an alibi.) It’s just ridiculous to argue they should have investigated him more because he had some bad employee reviews. The police do not have unlimited resources and they had a far more likely suspect in Adnan Syed.

Dragging Don through the mud was the example I originally gave of Simpson crossing ethical boundaries yet you accused me of launching baseless ad hominem attacks on her and Colin MIller to get blog hits. Well, yes, I am a journalist so I do want my work to get read, but my critiques were neither baseless nor ad hominem. And since you asked, I’m happy to elaborate on Simpson’s and MIller’s bad habits.

Let’s start with Simpson who specializes in producing reams of irrelevant data, can’t see the forest for the trees, and doesn’t recognize the difference between an assumption and a fact. Here’s a classic example of the latter from one of her first Serial blog posts. For some reason she can’t wrap her head around the idea that Jay might have noticed that Hae’s corpse had no shoes. To show how preposterous this is, she writes:

Sure. Some time during Jay and Adnan’s post-murder road trip through western Baltimore, Adnan could have turned to Jay and said, “By the way, I’m leaving Hae’s shoes in her car.” But does that really sound plausible? Adnan told Jay about what he had decided to do with Hae’s shoes? Of all the things they could talk about, of all the things Adnan might have told Jay, one of them was, “Oh by the way, Hae’s shoes are in her car”? Of course, there’s another explanation for why Jay knows where Hae’s shoes were left. Because he’s the one that left them there. And saying “Adnan told me” is simply Jay’s way of answering everything every question the detectives ask about things only Adnan should have knowledge of.

Do you follow the lack of logic there? In Simpson’s opinion, it’s crazy that Jay would have known about Hae’s shoes therefore Jay was involved in murdering Hae. Not just as an accessory after the fact but as something more. This is a completely unjustified accusation based on a flawed leap of logic. What’s more, this type of magical transformation of assumption into fact happens multiple times in every one of her blog posts  as well as on Undisclosed.

Here’s a more recent example from your podcast. Simpson believes that Cathy has the day that Adnan visited her house wrong, which is important because it’s also the day of the murder. Cathy says she remembers it was that specific day because she went to a conference. Simpson finds a “workshop” related to Cathy’s field of study that  took place on a different day. She assumes, based on nothing, that Cathy must have been confused and attended this other workshop aka conference on another day. The Undisclosed crew declares Cathy is wrong. Again, an assumption is transformed into a fact.

You mentioned I’m a private investigator. I am and I’m also a journalist who writes about crime and courts. One of the things I’ve learned over decades in this business is that when you test your beautifully imagined and constructed theories in the real world, you often find out they’re wrong because people will give you facts and evidence that contradict them. Maybe, unbeknownst to Simpson, Cathy’s conference on January 13, 1999 was written in her diary. Maybe Cristina Gutierrez and her investigator double checked Cathy’s alibi because at trial Adnan’s lawyer references the building in which the conference was held. Maybe the prosecution checked it too, as is standard practice, because you don’t want your key witnesses blowing up on the stand. Maybe Simpson needs to actually talk to Cathy before declaring her a muddled mixer-upper who testified incorrectly 16 years ago.

But enough about Simpson. Let’s talk about Evidence Prof Colin Miller. You’re miffed that I called him ghoulish. Well, frankly, I thought it was better than creepy, which I also considered. You also suggest that I shouldn’t criticize him for investigating autopsy reports and analyzing the evidence. I actually have no problem with Miller playing amateur coroner if that’s his thing. My problem is with him posting his half-baked theories on the internet.

Although you chose to ignore it, I did explain in my essay that the issue with Miller’s blog posts is that there is no purpose to them. Take the one devoted to explaining why Hae’s head injuries demonstrate she couldn’t have been killed in the driver’s seat. In the prosecution’s closing arguments Kathleen Murphy argues that Hae was killed in the passenger seat. It’s only Jay, who wasn’t even there, who says Adnan told him Hae was killed in the driver’s seat. Basically the whole post, like all his other gruesome autopsy posts, is beside the point.

If this is some kind of intellectual exercise for Miller, he should go do it in privacy of his basement. Unless he reveals truly exculpatory evidence, there is simply no justification for putting this type of post on the internet without the permission and blessing of Hae’s family. It’s disrespectful and a violation of a murdered girl’s privacy in every possible way.

The other point that I should make while I am on the subject of Miller and Simpson is that the forensic evidence they discuss is open to interpretation. Their MO is to suggest an improbable hypothetical and show that it’s possible. They then try to demonstrate, unconvincingly, that the prosecution’s version of events must be wrong and theirs must be right. Sometimes, they even drag an expert in to help, which ultimately ends in a case of which lividity or cell phone expert are you going to believe?  The whole exercise is futile and irrelevant. One expert’s interpretation of complex data is not going to spring Adnan from jail. Once a jury of your peers has found you guilty of murder and the appeals court has rejected all but your very last avenue of appeal, you need to find either a large legal loophole or major evidence that proves you innocent. Nothing else matters no matter how many supposedly fishy red herrings Simpson and Miller spot.

Unfortunately for Adnan, he’s been looking for that elusive proof of his innocence for 16 years with no success at all. Even now, with the Innocence Project and This American Life on his side, no one can suggest a remotely plausible version of who killed Hae Min Lee other than Adnan Syed. Your email suggests, Rabia, that you’re grasping at the straw that it was Roy Sharonnie Davis who strangled another Woodlawn high school student in 1998 but wasn’t convicted until 2004 on the basis of DNA. (Not to be confused with Deirdre Enright’s Ronald Lee Moore straw.)

Enright's pinning her hopes on Ronald Lee Moore (above) as Hae's killer. Chaudry thinks it's more likely Roy Sharronie Davis. I think it's neither.

Enright’s pinning her hopes on Ronald Lee Moore (above) as Hae’s killer. Chaudry thinks it’s more likely Roy Sharonnie Davis. I think it’s neither.

The big problem with yours and Deirdre Enright’s third party theories is that there’s zero reason for Jay to be protecting some loser serial killer, be it Roy or Ronald, and even less reason for the cops to be framing Adnan and Jay to protect said serial killer. Not to mention that it’s highly unlikely that, after 16 years, nothing about this would have come to light. People almost always talk and this is exactly the stuff that lowlifes talk about.

Rabia, you make a big deal about how Jay’s a lying liar, which he is, but I’ve got to tell you that I find Jay a whole lot more credible than Adnan, who’s also been lying from the very beginning. On the day Hae disappeared, he told the police he asked her for a ride. Then he said he didn’t. Then he couldn’t remember the day at all, claiming it was just a regular day six weeks ago even though it was the very unregular day the police contacted him about his ex-girlfriend, who he had called three times the night before. And on and on.

Imran email re death of Hae Min Lee

One week after Hae disappeared and five weeks before her body was found, Adnan’s friend Imran wrote this email

Which brings us to the police. You ask me to believe the police didn’t think Imran’s email was important because they didn’t use it in court. Say what? Now, I’m supposed to put my faith in those same bumbling police who didn’t investigate  Don properly and used Jay to frame Adnan to protect some rando serial killer. The same police you accused of corruption on your last episode of Undisclosed?

Rabia, I’m not naive about police. In my work, I criticize them when they deserve it and praise them when they do a good job. I’ve watched The Wire and read David Simon’s Homicide, which BTW features some good and dedicated Baltimore cops. I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Detectives Ritz and MacGillivary engaged in any kind of misconduct whatsoever. Sarah Koenig said they both had good reputations. Jim Trainum said the Hae Min Lee investigation was above average and that they investigated three suspects. Ritz told Koenig that, knowing that Jay was a liar, they corroborated every part of his story.

Unlike most people on the #FreeAdnan boards, I’ve also actually read those court cases involving Ritz that keep getting cited as proof that he’s the devil incarnate. In the Mable case, Ritz was one of dozens of people being sued: Screen shot 2015-05-16 at 3.15.44 PM It was a civil case which never even made it to the discovery phase before the plaintiff dropped out so we have no idea how Ritz would have responded. Then there was another case where Ritz is mentioned in passing for using an interview technique practised by police forces across the country until the courts ordered it modified. That hardly sounds like a black mark agains his character. And most recently, another civil case came out, where Ritz has yet to respond to the allegations against him. Screen shot 2015-05-16 at 3.25.43 PM So what to make of all this? It doesn’t strike me as at all out of the ordinary that a homicide cop in Baltimore would be named in a handful of lawsuits after decades of service. It comes with the territory just like getting snarked on by Susan Simpson. In the name of balance though, you might also want to consider this Baltimore Sun article about Ritz raising money for a child abuse center:

“He solicits all the golfers single-handedly and all the donations single-handedly,” said Ritz’s son, William. “He talks about it all year long, and then he stresses about it the last couple of months leading up to it.” Sometimes, like in police work, his diligence comes at the expense of his health. Last year, while canvassing Inner Harbor businesses for tournament sponsors and after working nearly 36 hours straight on cases, Ritz, physically spent, passed out on the street outside Power Plant Live. He regained consciousness as a few pedestrians helped him to his feet. But rather than seek immediate medical attention, he brushed himself off and headed home, only to continue fundraising later. (He subsequently sought medical attention.)

When I listened to Ritz on the latest episode of Undisclosed, I was struck by how much he sounded like a decent guy, unable to comprehend Jenn’s callous reaction to Hae’s death and Adnan’s plan to kill her. He had the same disbelieving reaction to Jay in episode one of Serial, asking him why he didn’t try to stop Adnan. Where you, Rabia, hear taps and rustling papers and conspiratorial corruption, I hear veteran homicide cops blown away by the casual cruelty and immorality of these kids. Imran’s awful email was yet another example. Hae’s life meant so little to Jay, Jenn and Imran. And to Adnan, who actually killed her.

In her attempt to explain away the Imran email, Simpson told a convoluted tale of two Imrans, claiming erroneously that the writer wasn’t really Adnan’s good friend but another Imran altogether. This is a perfect example of tunnel vision.  Imran’s email looks bad for Adnan so Simpson dismisses it and, worse yet, starts making stuff up to fit her Adnan is innocent theory.

Thanks for offering to put me in touch with Imran H, Rabia. If the offer still stands after this article, I would love to take you up on it. I would like to hear why he wrote what he did and see the apology email he’s rumoured to have sent. I’m a believer in redemption. It’s one of the reasons I feel far more sympathetic to Jay than Adnan — because Jay actually owned up to what he did. While I wish he had gone to jail for his part in the crime, he didn’t so time to let it go. As far as I’m concerned Jay has paid his debt to society. What’s more he’s apologized and shown remorse.

You mention the domestic assault charges he later faced, and say they deserve more scrutiny despite being dropped. You are right that we absolutely do need to hear his ex-girlfriend’s side of things before swallowing the explanation he gave the Intercept.

Since I wrote my essay, there have been more than 500 comments about it. A number of people agreed with me that Sarah Koenig was indeed wrong to brush off well- documented warning signs of intimate partner violence, but argued that wasn’t proof Adnan killed Hae. They were right, of course, but my essay wasn’t about laying out the entire case against Adnan. It was about the oddness of Koenig’s unfeminist ouevre being so lauded at this particular point in time, where we are supposedly so concerned about women’s issues.

So, for the record, let me tell you why I’m convinced Adnan is guilty.

  1. Adnan should remember what happened on that very un-normal day. He was called by police the same day his ex-girlfriend disappeared. He was interviewed by police two weeks later. The whole “I can’t remember that normal day six weeks ago” schtick is total BS. And Koenig was a sucker for believing it. There is no good explanation for why Adnan has no alibi. He was aware the day Hae went missing something was seriously wrong.
  2. Jay has no reason for framing Adnan nor does anyone else let alone Roy Sharonnie Davis or Ronald Lee Moore, who, between the two of them, probably have the combined IQ of a cactus plant.
  3. Adnan has no explanation whatsoever as to how he landed in this position. Yes, I know Deirdre Enright said innocent people often can’t help their case. But she was talking about not being able to find a body in a field as opposed to having no idea whatsoever why your buddy Jay might want to frame you for murder. People who work with killers will also tell you that this vaguey-vague “someone must have framed me but I don’t know why” explanation is a pretty common one among the guilty.
  4. Adnan has consistently lied about how people reacted to Hae’s disppearance, claiming it was no big deal, which is completely implausible. Hae had a new a boyfriend, a class trip to France booked, and university to look forward to. There was no way she’d take off to California in the middle of her senior year.
  5. Adnan’s good friend Imran appears to have been actively trying to discourage Hae’s California friends from looking for her a week after her disappearance, when, according to Adnan, no one was concerned she was gone.
  6. Adnan had no reason for lending Jay his car. The idea that he was concerned about Jay getting a birthday present for Stephanie is laughable.
  7. Adnan lied about asking Hae for a ride, contradicting the testimony of Krista and Debbie.
  8. Adnan wrote “I’m going to kill” on a break-up note from Hae telling him to back off. (If you think that’s no biggie, let me know how you feel about it when you see your daughters writing a note like that and then discover the recipient’s decorated it with “I’m going to kill.”)
  9. Adnan exhibited other stalkery behaviour towards Hae. She hid from him at school and wrote in her diary that he was possessive.
  10. Adnan never tried to contact Hae after January 13th even though he called her three times the night before.
  11. There is no explanation for the Nisha call other than an improbable butt dial.
  12. Adnan’s cell phone records place him in Leakin Park burying Hae’s body.

So that’s it for now, Rabia, 12 points and counting. I’ve probably left something off the list and if I remember it, I’ll add it later. But the bottom line is, just like the jury, I’m convinced way beyond a reasonable doubt that your guy is guilty.

If you ever find some evidence that shows I’m wrong — like the stuff you said a while back that your PI has dug up — let me know. Likewise, if  Adnan decides to admit to his crime, show remorse and ask for forgiveness, I’d like to hear.

Otherwise Rabia, I don’t think this is a gulf that can be crossed. I just can’t get behind the campaign to free a guy who killed his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend and has never once said he feels a single bit of remorse.

There was no miscarriage of justice in the case of Adnan Syed. The fact that he’s in jail is justice.

Serial podcast rehabilitated a schoolgirl’s murderer, so where’s the feminist outrage?

We are in the middle of what, for lack of a better description, I will call a radical feminist moment. Not a day goes by without some poor soul being shamed on the internet for a multitude of sins ranging from mansplaining and manspreading to making us all live in a rape culture and depriving women of jobs in the gaming industry.

Yet right in the middle of this media-fuelled, girl-power moment, something inexplicable has happened. It is Serial, last year’s blockbuster of a podcast all about loveable, enigmatic Adnan Syed, who back in 1999 murdered Hae Min Lee, the 18-year-old girl, who had just dumped him. Serial, which led many people to conclude — despite piles of evidence to the contrary — that Adnan did not receive a fair trial, was brought to you not by the usual misogynists and rape apologists but by the impeccably liberal staff of This American Life. It was fronted by Sarah Koenig, radio reporter and earth mother extraordinaire.

Adnan Syed I'm going to kill note

Sarah Koenig consistently minimized the warning signs of intimate partner violence, including Adnan Syed’s writing “I’m going to kill” on a break-up note from Hae Min Lee telling him to back off.

As I write (April 20, 2015), the accolades for Serial’s innovative investigative journalism keep rolling in. Earlier today it was announced that it had won a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting and last week Koenig was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2014. When she isn’t working on the next season of Serial, Koenig’s out being fêted on the speaker circuit. Mysteriously, there are no trigger warnings and calls for safe spaces when Koenig arrives on campus despite her iffy perspective on the very sensitive subject of intimate partner violence.

As an example, consider that in November 1998, two months before she was strangled to death, Hae Min Lee wrote a break-up note to Adnan Syed telling him to move on, accept her decision to end their relationship, and to “hate me if you will.” On the back of this note, Adnan Syed wrote: “I’m going to kill.” The police found the note when they searched the Syeds’ house after his arrest.

Koenig waved this all away, describing it as “a detail you’d find in a cheesy detective novel” and a “stray thing” that could be meaningless. Too bad that we’re talking about real life here and Hae Min Lee did, you know, actually turn up dead. But then Koenig also managed to overlook the fact that Hae asked a teacher to help her hide from Adnan and that, in her diary, she described her ex-boyfriend’s possessiveness as a problem, a direct contradiction of what was said on the podcast.

Teacher testimony transcript Hae hides from Adnan

Teacher Hope Schab helped Hae hide from Adnan but this was never mentioned on Serial. (Trial 1 transcript)

Yet despite Koenig’s consistent minimization of incidents that are classic warning signs of intimate partner violence, there has not been one serious feminist critique of Serial in the mainstream US media. Yes, a couple of Brit pundits expressed shock, but that was before Christmas and they were pretty much ignored and then forgotten.

Just like race beat out gender two decades ago at the OJ trial, allowing a wife killer to be transformed into a symbol of justice for African Americans, so, today, can Adnan can be hailed as a representative of the wrongfully convicted despite the plentiful evidence against him and the transcripts that show he had a fair trial. Koenig’s “I nurse doubt” cri de coeur is V.2014 of “if the glove don’t fit you must acquit.”

I’m not sure, however, that Koenig would have gotten away with the rehabilitation of Adnan Syed, had she not been aided and abetted by the Innocence Project — an organization that pre-podcast I had always respected, but about which I now, to borrow a handy expression from the Serial songbook, nurse some pretty serious doubts. Deirdre Enright, director of investigations for its University of Virginia law school branch, deals a serious blow to Innocence Project credibility every time she opens her mouth about Adnan.

Take, for example, the final episode of Serial in which she asks Koenig: “What makes mores sense? That little 17-year-old, never-been-in-trouble-with-the-law Adnan killed someone or that Ronald Moore, rapist and murderer who got out of prison 13 days before Hae disappeared, that he killed someone?”

“Right, I know,” says a dumbfounded Koenig instead of, “Hold on a minute there, Deirdre. Isn’t it way more likely that a woman will be murdered by her intimate partner as opposed to some random serial killer? And BTW, how does Jay fit into your wild third party strangler theory?”

Oh wait, Koenig did actually ask about Jay and here’s what Enright replied:  “Big picture Sarah, big picture.” The big picture, to put it bluntly, is that Enright is talking like a freaking crazy lady, and if it weren’t for her impressive credentials, no one would be paying the slightest bit of attention to her theories. Emperor, new clothes and all that.

Which brings me to still more lawyers spouting nonsense — Rabia Chaudry, Susan Simpson and Colin Miller, who have been keeping Adnan Syed’s story in the news since Serial ended. Their new Undisclosed podcast made its debut last week, burning its way up the iTunes charts.

As a result of their newfound status as quasi public figures, the Undisclosed lawyers have come in for quite a bit of criticism, some of which is crazy and unhinged, and has, of course, been chronicled in the media. What the MSM fails to mention, however, is that these lawyers have, in a number of instances, demonstrated a startling lack of respect for ethical boundaries.

Chaudry, a polarizing figure with a potty mouth, set the tone right at the beginning of Serial when she and her gang accused an Adnan-critic from the Baltimore Muslim community of being a child molester.

Simpson is more cautious, sticking to innuendo and classic just-asking-questions tactics. She recently published the unflattering employment records of Hae’s last boyfriend Don in a misguided attempt to show police hadn’t done their job (sorry, I don’t want to link to this one), all the while conceding Don didn’t do it. So what’s her excuse for dragging him through the online mud 16 years later then? It’s to make one of her hallmark illogical points — that the police should have devoted more time to investigating an innocent dude.

Miller, meanwhile, has been ghoulishly poring over autopsy reports, a subject in which he has zero scientific training, and talking to “experts” apparently unwilling to attach their names* to his tenuous theories that prove nothing. I can’t help but wonder if he’s ever spared a thought for how Hae’s family might feel about his futile ramblings over her corpse.

Perhaps it’s just coincidence but the debut of Undisclosed and the latest round of Serial plaudits coincided with the arrival on the internet of various documents discrediting the #FreeAdnan movement. Over the weekend, an email written by Adnan’s good high school friend, Imran, made its way on to Reddit. It shows that one week after Hae’s disappearance, before anyone knew she was dead, Imran wrote to a friend of Hae’s in California, who was concerned about her:

Imran email re death of Hae Min Lee

On her blog, Rabia Chaudry brushed this highly troubling email off as a “sick joke.” Other Adnan supporters, a number of whom remain Facebook friends with Imran, also dismiss it as a failed attempt at humour, the type of thing crazy teenagers do — just like Adnan writing “I’m going to kill” on a note from Hae. It’s not clear whether Sarah Koenig ever saw the email although I’ve been told but can’t confirm that Imran was one of the people she interviewed in the Rumours episode of Serial. Imran did not respond to my requests for an interview.

As someone who doesn’t think your average teen is down with joking about a friend’s death, I’m going to suggest a non-humourous interpretation of this callous misogyny: Imran, an Adnan acolyte who doesn’t seem at all moved by the gruesome murder he describes, was clumsily trying to help with a cover-up. I would further suggest that my theory is supported by the fact that after Adnan is arrested, Asia McClain — who is being touted by #FreeAdnan as their new star witness — describes Emron (sic) as upset and looking like “crap.”

Evidently the much maligned police — who Simpson and Chaudry constantly accuse of failing to do their job — were concerned enough about this email to subpoena information about the IP address from which it was sent in an effort to confirm the identity of the sender. That’s a strong indication they didn’t believe it was a joke but rather potential evidence.

It’s pretty obvious to anyone able to confront facts that the Imran email undermines the whole premise of Serial’s first episode, that Adnan couldn’t remember January 13, 1999, the day of Hae’s murder, because for him it was just another regular day in the distant, six-weeks-ago past. The email shows that, as far away as California, friends were talking about what had happened to Hae and trying to get information. No one was blowing off her disappearance as Adnan preposterously claimed to Sarah Koenig in Serial and she audibly nodded along.

As more and more non-Serial sanctioned information comes to light, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the  #FreeAdnan movement is little more than a collection of useful idiots fooled into fighting against an imaginary miscarriage of justice. Their goal is to spring from prison the remorseless killer of a young woman, who had her whole life ahead of her until Adnan Syed stole it away.

Amidst all the publicity and noise, it’s important to remember that Serial is not the new Thin Blue Line and never will be. The right man is behind bars and that’s a good thing, no matter what Adnan Syed supporters want to talk themselves into believing.

 


Read Rabia Chaudry’s response to this essay and my response to Rabia.

*The day after I published this post, Colin Miller quoted his first and only named expert in months of ghoul blogging. Probably just a coincidence.

May 9 Update: This article got linked on Reddit yesterday and has generated a lively discussion.

Avoid guys like Adnan. Read The Gift of Fear and then pass it on. It’s a great book:

Jay’s and Jenn’s police statements suggest Mr. S might be more than a Serial red herring

Until I read Jay’s statements to the police, I was pretty convinced that Mr. S was a red herring. But no more.

Both Jay and Jenn say the reason they confessed is that they didn’t want an innocent man — that would be Mr. S — to go down for murder.

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But that’s hard to fathom even if you believe, as I do, that, despite its inconsistencies, Jay’s story is overall credible.

Until the body is discovered, Jay and Jenn have not exactly shown themselves to care much about Hae’s murder let alone justice and right and wrong. Jay continued to hang out with Adnan after he killed Hae. And Jenn watches reports about Hae’s death on TV and does nothing. Remorse is missing in action.

So why do the two of them care so much about Mr. S? And why do they care before he’s even been charged?

My theory is that Mr. S has to be tied in some way to Jay or Jenn and possibly Neighbour Boy or even Stephanie. Somehow Mr. S heard about the murder and went to the grave site to see if the talk was true. This explains how he found a body, that we have been told was so well concealed even the surveyor, who had been informed of its exact whereabouts, could barely spot it. Someone who knew about the grave had to have told Mr. S exactly where it was.

Mr. S then did the right thing and reported it, causing Jay to panic when he learns this fact, very possibly, from Jenn, who has a number of inside police connections which are never fully explained (see below). Depending on how much Mr. S knows and reveals, it could be far bigger trouble for Jay than just accessory to murder. Perhaps Jay had even told Mr. S (or told someone else who passed the information on to Mr. S) that he had a bigger role in Hae’s murder than just helping with her burial.

At this point, Jay realized that if he didn’t step in, the whole, entire story would come out as opposed to just his sanitized version of events. Jay could even go down for murder while Adnan went free. This is why Jay decides to go to the cops. It’s almost certainly not out of any sense of justice. He’s likely very scared of what Mr. S might say and where it could all lead.

If — and big if here — this theory is correct, it leaves the following  questions. Did the cops know about Jay’s Mr. S connection? If they did, why did they let Jay take a plea, instead of, possibly, getting Mr. S to send both Jay and Adnan down for murder? How come, if there is a Mr. S connection, beyond finding the body, the cops stopped pursuing it? Why do they never appear to follow up on Jenn’s multitude of police contacts leaking what should be confidential information about the investigation?

The producers of Serial have said that they believe they know more than the defence knew about the investigation at the time of the trial, and that they may now have more information than the prosecution had. Could this knowledge be that Mr. S had more to do with the case? If my theory is correct, it also explains why Jenn’s full name is used. Maybe after all these years, she just decided to tell the whole truth and she’s ready to live with it.

Standard Disclaimer: This theory could be totally 100% wrong.


For a regular gal, Jenn has a hell of a lot of inside connections

Asked if she had ever made anonymous calls to the police about Hae’s death Jenn says on page 29:

No I thought about it but I never did ’cause I have friends that work at Woodlawn Precinct and I know a couple detectives there and a couple of officers but I didn’t, I told um, what I did is probably about two weeks after the information I told my friend that I knew about um this, I knew that this girl was killed.

McGillivary later asks Jenn about having discussed Hae’s death with someone named Josh. She says on page 31:

Yeah Josh, his name’s Josh, ’cause the minute they found her body um the day that, what I had heard was that that found a foot in Leakin Park. somebody had found a foot sticking up out of the ground in Leakin Park um and I you know, I didn’t even think that it was Hae’s body at all. I mean dead bodies always get dumped in Leakin Park but you hear about it all the time. Um so I happened to mention something to (name redacted). We were in her car and Josh was in the car. Josh is (name redacted)’s boyfriend. He oh and he and I said to (name redacted), I said,”yo, did you hear anything about that body” and um he’s like um, she was like, she’s like “yeah my mom found a body at the gate this morning when she unlocked it.” Her mom works at inaudible. It’s in Leakin Park. And I said to (name redacted) I was like, I was like “you know what else.” And I don’t know whether (name redacted) or Josh had mentioned that the bod was strangled. Um and I was like if it was strangled I was like I bet you it was her body. I bet you they found Hae. And that’s all I said so I guess at that point then, Josh and his friend Mark who was in the car as well inaudible.

When she is asked by the cops what she and Jay did once they learned Hae’s body had been discovered, Jenn says on page 39:

Um maybe we talked about it but we still, we still decided that not to talk or say anything to the the police yet but then like I was at work one day and um I was talking to this lady named Lisa XXXXXXX. I think is her last name, and I know her husband works for Baltimore City Police, I believe his name is Chris, and I believe Lisa, like Lisa had asked me um did I know anything about the murder, she just asked me if I knew Hae from Woodlawn ’cause they all knew that I inaudible and I was like “yeah I know here” and um and she had mentioned something to me about um there being a possible suspect um a person that found the body in the park and then I remember that and I remember going to Jay and saying “hey yo, they think they got a suspect for Hae’s um murder and they think it’s the person that found the body because apparently the body was found, this is what I got from Lisa, that the body was found so off in the park that why would anyone be back there, so that the original suspect was a person and when I told Jay that Jay was concerned. He was like “yo, that’s no good.” He’s like “we can’t let the wrong person go down for this” and I was like “alright” and then that was I mean that was pretty much ah at that point. It was like then I was to a point that when I knew there was a different suspect that might be going down for this I was thinking now I’m ready, theat’s when I told my mom um and that’s when I was well maybe I should see if I can call into Detective Dawn in Woodlawn and maybe talk to her and see how I can, let her know what I have to know and not go through any of this.

Had you done that?

No I did not do that because I was still thinking just keep your mouth shut because that’s what Jay asked you to do, you’re Jay’s friend and then I felt like this was a point like now I had started feeling bad again cause I felt bad for Hae’s family like I think that would be horrible for ’cause I know if I had inaudible if I did. You know like inaudible like they hadn’t, I mean they had no idea as who had done this to them and I was like well maybe now since I know as a law biding citizen I should go and tell then what I know, but I didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Jian Ghomeshi and the anonymous women: What’s next?

Update, Oct. 29: I have just heard Carol Off’s interview on CBC with a woman who said she was attacked by Jian Ghomeshi. I found it completely convincing because Carol Off asked all the questions that needed answering. I have not one shadow of a doubt that this woman’s account is true. I also really, really wish she had reported it to the police. And so does she. And, just one more thing, I wish her nurse friend had encouraged her to go to the police too.


Many people are outraged when I tell them that Jian Ghomeshi’s accusers lose credibility with me because of their failure to report his alleged assaults to the police. How dare you say such a stupid thing, they say. You support rape culture. Or, if they’re kind, they just face palm.

“Why didn’t they report it?” has become the new “Why didn’t they just leave?”

Please don’t tell me how hard it is to report a sexual assault. I get it. I’ve been following this issue for 40 years. And when you go on and on about how difficult it is, you’re ignoring decades of progress. You’re acting as if nothing can ever change. And you’re discouraging other women from coming forward. So, yes, when I hear a woman didn’t report an alleged sexual assault, I do wonder why.

Now please take note again, and understand that that does not mean I’m accusing this non-reporting woman of being a liar. But it does mean I have some questions for her.

In the Jian Ghomeshi case, the answers the Star provided from the three women who said they were violently assaulted, did not answer those questions. The Star stated:

None of the women filed police complaints and none agreed to go on the record. The reasons given for not coming forward publicly include the fear that they would be sued or would be the object of Internet retaliation. (A woman who wrote an account of an encounter with a Canadian radio host believed to be Ghomeshi was subjected to vicious Internet attacks by online readers who said they were supporters of the host.)

Here’s the problem. The women are more likely to have their identities revealed and be sued by having gone to the press instead of the police. If charges had been laid, their names would have been protected by a publication ban and anyone breaking the ban would have been subject to criminal prosecution. For some reason, this  was not mentioned in the Star.

Nor was the fact that the vicious internet attacks sparked by the woman who wrote about her date-gone-wrong with Ghomeshi were equal opportunity. Anyone who reads comment threads can go see for themselves that Ghomeshi was vilified right alongside the writer.

It also deserves to be said that the Carla Ciccone article — a blind item published in 2013 and designed to generate buzz — was probably where this current mess began. It brought the talk about Ghomeshi out onto the internet in a way it never had been before. It’s why people were speculating before his Facebook post went up that this was going to be a sexual story.

To come back, however, to the specific allegations of violent assault made in the Star article, I find them shocking and disturbing. But I also find it shocking and disturbing that, for the accused, there is really no way to defend himself against this type of anonymous accusation in a trial by media.

Of the four accounts given by the women to the Star, the one I actually found the least credible was the story of sexual harassment at work.

The woman said she complained about Ghomeshi’s behaviour to her union representative, who took the complaint to a Q producer. As the woman recalls, the producer asked her “what she could do to make this a less toxic workplace” for herself. No further action was taken by the CBC, and the woman left the broadcaster shortly thereafter.

As a former employee of the CBC (a very long time ago), it just defies belief that the union rep would blow something like this off and that the Q producer wouldn’t know it was a ticking time bomb. And why was there no complaint to HR? (Yesterday, both the CBC and its main union said they had never received a formal complaint against Ghomeshi.) Where were the sympathetic women colleagues? This is, after all, the CBC we’re talking about not the NFL. Given that the Star says it had several detailed interviews with this woman, how did these questions not come up?

I know that by now some of you readers are very angry at me for putting the alleged victims on trial and being part of the whole rape culture apparatus. So once again, I get it. I know that, in a criminal action, even if the accusers are highly credible, they would be up against a defendant who, as an immensely talented broadcaster, knows exactly how to tell his story. It could very well end up a “he says, she says” case with a jury unable to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

I have no solution to propose to that problem just like I have no solution to the problem of murderers who walk on a technicality or the inhumane delays in getting cases to trials. I don’t, however, much like your solution where due process is thrown out the window, we accept that women never ever lie about sexual assault, and we forget about that whole right to face your accusers thing.

Speaking of which, in his Facebook post, Ghomeshi made a comment that hasn’t really been picked up on. “The ex has even tried to contact me to say that she now wishes to refute any of these categorically untrue allegations,” he wrote.

Given that his statement was highly strategic and very well planned, I can’t help but wonder if hearing from the ex won’t be the next instalment in this awful story. The internet outrage machine will soon be ready for its next stoking once the election news has died down.

Jian Ghomeshi, Me and Sex and Scandal at the CBC

Update, Oct. 29: I have just heard Carol Off’s interview on CBC with a woman who said she was attacked by Jian Ghomeshi. I found it completely convincing because Carol Off asked all the questions that needed answering. I have not one shadow of a doubt that this woman’s account is true. I also really, really wish she had reported it to the police. And so does she. And, just one more thing, I wish her nurse friend had encouraged her to go to the police too.


 

My first full-time job was as a researcher at CBC radio, ex-home of Jian Ghomeshi. Not long after I started a call came through from the ex-wife of the host of the show. She demanded I find her ex-husband and put him on the line. He hadn’t paid child support — or so she said. I placed the call on hold and turned to one of the more senior researchers for advice. “Get used to it,” she told me.


Updated below after the Star’s report on sexual assault allegations

Read: Jian Ghomeshi and the anonymous women: What’s next?


This was the pre-voicemail era so we got a lot of calls. Along with the ex-wife, there was the ex-girlfriend, the new girlfriend, the landlord and more. I dined out on the tales. I also learned Barbara Frum had leukaemia, a very different type of secret, but a ‘Corporation’ secret none the less. There were lots of them.

Peter Gzowski — or affable old Peter Golly Gee Whiz as my late mother used to call him   — was, cough cough, exceedingly difficult to work with, a fact that was kept carefully hidden from the public to whom he was supposed to be an avuncular Canadian hero. It’s true, he could be as nice as in real life as he was on the air when he wanted to, but almost exclusively to members of his inner circle or Mordecai Richler, another notorious grump. To suck up to Mordecai, who was coming in for an interview, Peter once ordered a bottle of Scotch to be purchased and presented to him just before they began their chat. Once the “on air” button lit up, they were the best of buddies. The rest of us were still nobodies delivering the expensive whiskey.

There are many other CBC scandals that I learned about in my six very educational years there. Some of them did  end up in the headlines, like Peter Mansbridge and Wendy Mesley splitting up and Cynthia Dale taking the latter’s place. Others, far more juicy, remained strictly for the consumption of insiders unless revealed by Frank magazine.

Earlier this year, when I attended a dinner party with some of my colleagues from the old days, I told them how much I loved Jian Ghomeshi for his amazing interviews and ability to get people to talk while asking the tough questions. They told me what a pompous ass he was. I said that I didn’t care. T’was ever so. The talent is almost always two faced. It’s the nature of the beast.

What I do care about, however, is the smears of people who malign others on the internet. There but for the grace of God go you and I and everyone else. If what Jian Ghomeshi says is accurate he is being punished for his kinky sex life amid a societal hysteria about what constitutes sexual consent. It’s McCarthyism meets lack of due process at a corporation where one of the stars cheated on his dying wife with…

No, I didn’t just say that, because I don’t believe that anyone’s personal life should be put all over the internet unless those in question choose to overshare it themselves, which Jian Ghomeshi absolutely did not — until he was forced.

Update October 27The Star has published its article on some of the sexual assault allegations made against Ghomeshi. It starts by noting that the the three young women who made them are all about 20 years younger than him. They were fans who met Ghomeshi at public events that he had promoted on CBC radio and who he contacted through Facebook for dates.

The age gap bothers me, because of what it says about the power dynamics.

The three women allege Ghomeshi “struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.”

This is clearly grounds for going to the police but none of the women did so or was willing to go on the record using their names. The Star says “the reasons given for not coming forward publicly include the fear that they would be sued or would be the object of Internet retaliation. (A woman who wrote an account of an encounter with a Canadian radio host believed to be Ghomeshi was subjected to vicious Internet attacks by online readers who said they were supporters of the host.)”

I understand these fears. I’m scared of being sued and becoming the object of an internet hate campaign, but it would never stop me from reporting a violent sexual assault.

When asked by the Star why they hadn’t contacted the police, “the women cited several reasons including fears that a police report would expose their names and worries that their consent or acceptance of fantasy role-play discussions in text or other messages with Ghomeshi would be used against them as evidence of consent to actual violence.”

Sexual assault charges are covered by an automatic publication ban which prevents the victim from being named. Those who break a publication ban face criminal charges.

The content of the texts and messages is indeed central to the question of what happened.

The Star also reported on an incident of alleged sexual harassment at work, a woman who says Ghomeshi “approached her from behind and cupped her rear end in the Q studio, and that he quietly told her at a story meeting that he wanted to ‘hate f—‘ her.”

The woman said she complained about Ghomeshi’s behaviour to her union representative, who took the complaint to a Q producer. As the woman recalls, the producer asked her “what she could do to make this a less toxic workplace” for herself. No further action was taken by the CBC, and the woman left the broadcaster shortly thereafter.

I find these allegations quite incredible. As someone who worked at the CBC for years, the whole scenario simply does not ring true in any way. Why was the union rep not contacted by the Star or the producer ? Why was there no HR complaint? This is the CBC we’re talking about not the freaking NFL.

As for the Carla Ciccone article, which is cited repeatedly as proof of Ghomeshi’s skeeviness, even though it never names him as the man in the article, well, being a bad date isn’t criminal. And yes, the author did get lots of hateful blowback for the article, but so did Ghomeshi.

The charges that the women interviewed by the Star have made against Ghomeshi are serious ones for the police and a court of law. The fact that the women didn’t go to the police weakens their case in my eyes. And, yes, I know what you’re going to tell me about rape culture, but due process is due process.

My years on this earth have taught me that there are abusive men and women scorned, and hell hath no fury. I’m aware there are many contradictory studies about the rate of false accusations in sexual assault cases. After reading much on this topic, I have concluded that the rate of false reports is probably in the 3-5% area. Unlike some people, I can’t just brush this off.

I don’t know what the truth about the Jian Ghomeshi situation is. I suspect over the next few days we’ll find out a lot more and, at the end, we still won’t know, but that won’t stop an awful lot of people from being absolutely convinced that they do indeed know the truth about what happened.

What I believe in is due process and the right to face one’s accusers. And if those accusers make potentially career and life-destroying accusations, but won’t go to the police, they do not deserve to be granted anonymity unquestioningly.

 

Believe her or not, discussing Linda Tirado’s teeth is a lose/lose situation

When I wrote my response to Linda Tirado’s viral poverty porn essay, I skipped over the subject of her teeth. Every fabulist sprinkles a few grains of truth in her story and the teeth could have been the honest bits of Tirado’s tale for all I knew.

Yes, Linda’s online ramblings about her mouth had the usual warning signs — like the dentist who accused her of meth use — but I just didn’t want to go there. Now, however, Tirado has put out a 15-minute rambling YouTube monologue about her teeth, which the Huffington Post has gleefully reposted with a headline blaring: “Is this what you want? Author of viral poverty piece takes out teeth to prove her story.”

As tabloid headlines go, it’s absolutely brilliant, just like HuffPo’s earlier Linda Tirado heds — “Meet the woman who accidentally explained poverty to the nation” and “This is why poor people’s bad decisions make perfect sense.”

The Huffington Post, you see, has been exploiting Linda Tirado aka KillerMartinis from the get-go. Unlike the mainstream media, which has almost unanimously passed on  her story, due to all the giant gaping holes, HuffPo has been all over it, credulously gobbling up everything Linda feeds it. Whether it’s for the page views or because HuffPo can’t admit it was wrong or both, this online news organization is ignoring all the warning signs about Linda Tirado.

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Granted, something similar to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle affects all of us discussing the Linda Tirado situation. It’s not possible to engage without some degree of exploitation, but the Huffington Post and its reporter Ryan Grim can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge there might be something to admit.

HuffPo’s mission now, you see, is not just to continue exploiting Linda Tirado, but to savage her most vocal critics for the usual sins — hating, trolling and jealousy. Those critics are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the teeth. There’s just no way for them to get into the details of dental plates without looking bad even if they happen to be right.

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And yes, despite that dentistry video — described to me in an email as “fascinating macabre theatre” — we have no idea how Linda Tirado’s teeth became so bad. Maybe, despite her history of telling tall tales, the teeth story she’s putting out there is actually true. But it’s also possible that she took her insurance money and spent it on killer stilettos and martinis, and that her dentist had a point about the meth.

Right now, we just don’t know. Except for HuffPo, which does. The teeth tale and everything else is exactly what Linda Tirado says it is for this leader of the online news industry. Linda’s fantastical story would likely still have cred if it weren’t for Angelica Leicht aka @Writer_Anna’s biting critique, which also went viral. Sometimes it takes a girl from the dildo beat to point out in public that the emperor has no clothes.

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What @glsailor clearly doesn’t know is that when you write about sex toys for a living, you get to know the naked truth.

Linda Tirado’s Poverty Porn

Once upon a time Linda Walther Tirado aka KillerMartinis wrote an essay about what it feels like to be poor. In spite (or perhaps because) of its nihilism and hopelessness, Linda’s story enchanted the internet and went viral.

Linda Tirado Poverty

Linda’s essay was hailed as brilliant, honest, brave, and shared and discussed all over Facebook, Twitter and the Huffington Post. But as anyone who knows a thing or two about poverty could tell you, Linda’s tale was pure poverty porn. Not honest or authentic at all, but designed — like all effective porn — to make its target audience feel good.

Cooking broccoli is so hard, Linda wrote.

Yes, yes, yes, responded her readers.

Planned Parenthood is three hours away and I can’t afford the gas, Linda explained.

Don’t stop, they said.

Smoking is the only thing that keeps me sane, Linda  revealed .

Oh my Gawd. More, more, more, said her fans. Where can we send you money for hitting every poverty talking point there is from junk food to the Patriot Act, and all in one easy read?

Linda quickly set up a gofundme.com account. And within a few days, she had raised more than $60,000 to write a book about what it’s like to live in dire poverty and despair — and also to head to Vegas for some much needed R and R.

If it hadn’t been for a bunch of haters poking holes in her fairy tale, Linda might have been able to keep on fundraising and reach her final $100,000 goal. But trolls did things like actually pay attention to paragraph two of Linda’s article, where she outlines a day in the life of a two-job, full-time student mom of two very young children. Anyone who did the math or actually knows anything about working mothers with babies and toddlers, would see instantly the story was ludicrous.And this is before factoring in Linda’s later claim that she drove an hour through snowy mountains to get to one of her jobs.

Then there was the curious fact that Linda skipped right over the crucial issue of child care, kind of a giant red flag waving. And a bit of internet surfing would have revealed to the “news” organization that spread Linda’s story that — for someone with two jobs, two kids and a full-course load — she spent an awful lot of time online at Jezebel.com, asking, among other things for decorating tips and how to preserve her china cabinet.

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The trolls also uncovered that Linda was a homeowner — no mortgage either — who had recently crowdfunded some overdue bills. And she turned out to have multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as internet personalities. Before she became a downtrodden young mom making bad decisions, Linda was a lesbian taking on the Mormon church, a hard-nosed political operator who knew the president, and a feisty fast food franchise manager putting entitled customers in their place.

Linda’s fans leapt to her defense accusing her detractors of being creepy stalkers who didn’t  want poor people to live in nice homes, vacation in Vegas or have an active fantasy life.

Linda herself was a little more circumspect. In a very tl;dr explanation on her fundraising page, she confessed that her essay was not 100% true. “I never meant to say that all of these things were happening to me right now,” she admitted. Then, further demonstrating that poor people can indeed be clever, Linda buried a whole bunch of information about her music lessons and private schools in acres and acres of effusive thanks to her donors.

Linda  also continued to display a certain way with words. She told everyone that her parents “helped us find a house to live in” never actually clarifying that she owned the house even when she talked to credulous reporters.

Linda followed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s example, coming sort of clean and moving on. She wasn’t going to  let a few pesky revelations spoil her moment of glory. Like any good con artist, she also knew her mark’s weaknesses and that people hate to admit they’ve been conned.

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After all, Linda’s fans had gone all out, calling her the voice of her generation or, as the HuffPo put it atop the article where Linda admitted she went to private school and wasn’t really poor, “the woman who accidentally explained poverty to the nation.”

What’s more, Linda was clearly relishing the new role her enablers had given her. Holding forth on Twitter, where she tweeted an astounding 1,500 times in one day, she flattered her newfound fans, entertained proposals from fellow poverty activists, and ignored the annoying types asking for clarification. That would  be letting facts stand in the way of the essential truth, which is, as all right thinking people know, small minded and pedantic.

But it turns out there is one factual line that even Linda’s staunchest supporters wouldn’t cross and that’s kiddie poverty porn. As one gofundme.com participant earnestly put it: “She didn’t claim to have an ill child. Refreshing, IMO.”

Read the follow-up: Why discussing Linda Tirado’s teeth is a lose/lose proposition