The Undisclosed Podcast is Not the New Serial

Serial was impossible to escape. Unless you resisted every urge to participate in the phenomenon, you probably know who Adnan Syed is and you probably know he is serving time for the murder of his ex girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Each week producer Sarah Koenig went point by point through all the players in Hae Min Lee’s murder. She explored the landscapes, courtrooms, diary entries, and police interrogations long forgotten by almost all but the few close to the crime. It was impossible not to get caught up in the drama and mystery of it. Just a few episodes into the series this past fall, I was waking up at the crack of dawn on Thursdays and reaching for my headphones before I started boiling water for coffee.

It’s easy to credit the success of the podcast with our collective fascination with whodunit murder mysteries. But that doesn’t really capture what made this show so terrific. The key was Sarah Koenig.

In one captivating episode after the next, Koenig retraced every important detail in the case and explained it in a way that was understandable and riveting. Using a storyteller’s sensibility, Serial made relatable characters out of Hae, Adnan, and Koenig. We cared about how long it took to get from the school parking lot to Best Buy because we cared about what happened to Hae Min Lee. The stakes—the lives of these people made relatable by the show—were everything to us. By the end of the series, every listener obsessed over the details of the case. I’ve yet to meet a person who’s listened to Serial’s entire catalog and not walked into an inescapable conversation about what happened on the day Hae Min Lee went missing.

Such was the power—the art—of Serial.

What the series didn’t do is find definitive proof of the killer, but not for lack of trying. Koenig pored over the evidence again and again and just couldn’t close the case. If we are to fault her for not fingering the murderer, we must assume that there is enough evidence out there in cardboard boxes and cell phone records to ID the person who strangled Hae Min Lee. It’s a possibility, yes, but one almost too tough to imagine after bearing witness to her obsessive investigation.

But maybe there is some stone left unturned? Maybe there is some yet unspoken testimony from a key witness? Maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

It seemed we’d never know, but then a few weeks ago we got news that a new podcast on the case was coming. Called Undisclosed, it was a show created by lawyer Rabia Chaudry, a longtime friend of Adnan’s and the catalyst for bringing Sarah Koenig onto the case. Chaudry would co-host the Undisclosed podcast with attorneys Susan Simpson and Colin Miller. All three work on behalf of the Adnan Syed Trust, a legal fund created for exonerating Adnan.

I’ll admit I was shocked at first to hear of the podcast. Part of me—the cynical part—wondered if it was just another case of someone trying to cash in on a national craze. However, Chaudry has been on Adnan’s side since the beginning. The truth is that Adnan wouldn’t be where he is today—in position to win an appeal—if Chaudry hadn’t championed his cause. So I set aside my cynical instincts and decided this might be a good faith attempt to set the record straight and prove Adnan’s innocence.

If she is indeed determined to set the record straight, though, she must have information we don’t know. Chaudry and her team must surely have something to add that Koenig and her team left out. They must know something definitive that Serial never mentioned. Otherwise, what’s the point?

After listening to the first episode, I’m sorry to say that I don’t know why this podcast exists.

First, the simple stuff: Undisclosed is disorganized. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to follow.

One minute into the show, Chaudry tells listeners that her Undisclosed podcast has no affiliation with Serial. In the next breath she advises us to go back and listen to Serial in order to follow Undisclosed. While it felt like somewhat of a crutch to rely on Serial to avoid explaining context, I was nonetheless willing to go with it. After all, I had listened to Serial religiously. Surely I could pick up on their version of a sequel, right?

I’m afraid not. Right from the start, I was rewinding the audio to recapture what points were actually being made. The hosts talk quickly, they switch narrators as if playing hot potato with the mic, the information is not organized, and very rarely are we given even the smallest amount of context to recognize the plot points in this complicated timeline. No matter how closely you followed Serial, you’ll struggle understanding what points Undisclosed is trying to make.

But forget the presentation—what about the material itself? The show tries to establish a alternative timeline that would disprove the state’s own series of events that led to Adnan’s conviction. That the timeline is problematic was discussed at length in Serial. This show nonetheless takes a stab it by using a different read on cell phone technology, stray remarks by witnesses who didn’t testify, and revised versions from witnesses who did, only years after the fact. The show goes after Jay hard, convinced he is not only a liar, but an amoral collaborator in this miscarriage of justice. Despite the show attempting to provide a new timeline, little of what is presented jumped out at me. And what did raise my eyebrows was vexing, not convincing.

If you’re someone who wants desperately to believe that Adnan Syed is innocent—something he might be and something Chaudry surely believes—then you may not take issue with the show’s evidence. If, however, you have an objective bone in your body, you’ll see this for what it is: a pile of pro-Adnan logical fallacies. While Chaudry owns up to the fact that the show is meant as advocacy on Adnan’s behalf, this nonetheless does not excuse the leaps in logic.

After the lawyerly introductions are made, Chaudry jumps right into attacking the notion that Adnan didn’t remember what he was doing the day of the murder. She argues that he remembers many of the things he was doing on January 13, 1999. Also, she reminds us, memories–given our nature to reconstruct what actually happened–need to be corroborated with other witnesses’ testimony to be validated.

She says, “So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take what we have from Adnan, and then we’re going to take all the statements we have from testimony to police statements to some of the grand jury stuff, and try to corroborate what Adnan has said and try to figure out who’s not remembering correctly and who is remembering correctly.”

If you guessed that Undisclosed is going take the stance that Adnan is someone “who is remembering correctly,” you go to the head of the class. Chaudry wants to convince us that Adnan does remember as the opening gambit in her blockbuster podcast. Here’s the problem: The podcast manages to undermine that argument minutes after she makes it.

At 6:37, Susan Simpson says, “The fact that a witness remembers an event occurring on a certain date isn’t great proof that it actually did occur then, particularly when the witness wasn’t asked about it until months later. So for any given statement in this case, it shouldn’t be accepted that the witness is actually remembering events that occurred January 13th without some independent corroboration beyond that witness’s own statements.”

In other words, memory sucks. We can’t trust it. And if we acknowledge that confabulation–the ability of the mind to fabricate memories with no intention of deceit—is real, then we know that eyewitness testimony can be fuzzy. But we can’t have it two ways.

Why is Adnan’s memory so important, especially when he has misremembered certain things that happened that day (if you recall in Serial, he originally told police he did ask Hae for a ride home from school on the day of the murder but in later testimony changed his story). Who sets the standard for corroboration? And what do we make of all the witnesses who saw something different?

It feels like the only honest statement to make is: We have no idea what happened on January, 13, 1999. Didn’t we just go through all this with Sarah Koenig?

Here’s a doozie from 9:00 when Undisclosed becomes something of an M.C. Escher print, spiraling around on its own contradictions: “It’s worth noting that Krista’s memory now of that conversation is different from what it allegedly was back in March of ’99, when she gave a police interview. But, as we’ll discuss in later episodes, there are reasons to doubt the accuracy of that report. Here’s what Krista remembers now…”

If this sounds suspiciously like it contradicts points the show is trying to make about memory, it’s not the only time it happens. This is a recurring theme in the podcast. Right after the lawyers establish memory as a very tricky thing, they start picking favorite memories the way gamblers pick horses.

The thing is, even if a later episode proves that anyone’s testimony from 1999 was false, why would their memory be better now? Didn’t we just learn that “for any given statement in this case, it shouldn’t be accepted that the witness is actually remembering events that occurred January 13th without some independent corroboration beyond that witness’s own statements?”

I could go on and on. There were so many moments of this show that ground my ability to follow it to a halt. It’s important to emphasize how consistently you lose the thread of each point Undisclosed claims to be making. Sometimes you don’t understand why we care or what it’s trying to prove. Many times the lack of logic leaves you challenging everything the hosts are saying.

Okay, here’s one more: If you remember anything from Serial or the subsequent appeals, you’ll know that a young woman named Asia McClain wrote Adnan a letter a few days after he was arrested on February 28th to say that she remembered seeing him in the library the day Hae disappeared. Adnan did not remember seeing her when first contacted by the police. He did not use her as an alibi or mention her in his first interview with authorities after the murder. In fact, up until that moment in March, two months after the murder, Adnan had been unable to account for where he was after school that day in the minutes in which the state says Hae was killed.

Let me repeat that: Adnan was unable to account for where he was after school the day Hae Min Lee disappeared.

This was a sticking point in the original case. Adnan could not remember where he was. All he had was Asia in March saying, “I saw you that day in the library.” Ultimately, she did not testify and he had no alibi.

Now, Undisclosed rewrites history by telling us that Adnan remembers being in the library and seeing Asia McClain. We don’t get any details of the letter from Asia “jogging his memory.” Attorney Colin Miller provides this as his support for why we should trust this detail: “Is it possible Adnan is lying? Sure. It’s also possible he’s mistaken. What’s abundantly clear, however, is that his story in 2010 is consistent with the story he told in 1999.”

Let’s look at that timeline. Adnan goes two months after the murder without ever saying he was in the library and saw Asia McClain. Then he gets a letter from Asia in prison and then says that he saw Asia from that point on. In 2010 he still remembers seeing Asia.

In other words, Adnan had Asia’s letter in 1999 months after the murder and he didn’t forget what it said in 2010. That it provided support for a memory he didn’t have is apparently immaterial.

What is the value of this detail? At best, it’s undermined by the ongoing premise that memory—here, Asia’s—is useless, and at worst, it’s a criminal omission of a material fact that Adnan never recalled seeing Asia. I don’t much like being treated like an idiot, and this revision of history treats me exactly like that.

Despite what the creators tell you, it’s not easy to determine much of anything from this Undisclosed podcast. Forget that the audio is terrible. The show features mics that are hotter than an impromptu backyard karaoke session. Also, for the moment, put aside that the show desperately needs a bona fide producer. There are no discernable transitions between subjects or hosts. The worst part of this show is that it is presenting zero evidence in support of Adnan and is making a mockery of this investigation.

This is what a podcast sounds like in the hands of someone with a heavy-handed agenda and no experience producing radio. There is no objective point of view, no evidence that Adnan might be misleading or misremembering anything, and certainly not a single nod to the work done by the prosecution.

This is a podcast that exists as fuel for Adnan’s supporters. For everyone else, its only value is one of rubber-necking. Let’s get on with our lives.

 

 

Author Description

Eric McQuade is co-founder of The Timbre and a former-programmer-turned-writer. He has lived in D.C., Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, New Jersey, Colorado, Argentina, Cayman Islands, and the length of the Appalachian Trail. Right now he hangs his hat in Memphis, TN.

  • Colin Miller

    Eric: Thanks for the the honest feedback. We had some technical issues with the first episode, and we’re all new to podcasting and trying to find our footing. I appreciate the constructive criticism and hope you’ll give the second episode a chance.

    • guest

      A lot of podcasts start out rough coming out of the gate. Following Serial, the most popular podcast in history is no easy feat. Stick with it and there are loads of us who will be tuning in to episode 2!

    • Adeola

      Colin, for the second episode – can you please go through step by step of Adnan’s day chronologically? like literally 11 am = Adnan was doing this etc, 1 pm =. and soo on…

    • Ann

      Please ask Susan to speak slowly and enunciate. I have a hard time understanding her on The Docket when I can see her mouth. It’s impossible to know what she’s saying when she is racing so fast through her sentences that she skips syllables without the benefit of CC or lip reading. No, I do not have a hearing problem. You and Rabia are fine.
      Susan writes well. I’m thankful for that.

    • Yona

      Collin – I have no clue what this guy is talking about. Your podcast is awesome. You covered many objective, new facts not brought up in Serial (for those complaining the podcast is too biased.) Just the changed testimony from the first trial to the second trial alone was worth listening to. Or the fact that police didn’t save notes from their interviews with some people at Cathy’s house. And then there’s the track coach. Thanks for this Podcast! I will be listening to every episode.

    • Gully Foyle

      Colin: Good work. This review was “premature” to put it mildly. Your work may lead to exonerating an innocent man and possibly implicating the guilty. As for “let’s get on with our lives”? Hae deserves better.

      • permafrost

        yes she does. thus is not just about helping Adnan, but getting justice for Hae.

    • Courtney Harper

      I just finished listening to every episode… I’m very much looking forward to hearing about some new cases and keeping up to date on the Syed case. Thanks to you and the rest of the team so much for your efforts.

  • SueSimp

    “All three work on behalf of the Adnan Syed Trust, a legal fund created for exonerating Adnan.”

    Brief correction — Colin and I do not work for the Adnan Syed Trust, nor do we have any affiliation with it.

    • O’Hanrahanrahan

      But the podcast is on behalf of the trust- so that is an automatic affiliation. This podcast to me seemed like a defense team working on a case and didn’t feel balanced at all.

      • SueSimp

        No more than the Serial team is affiliated with Mail Chimp.

        We’re three lawyers exploring what we’ve found about the case, and our thoughts and conclusions about that evidence — we’re not trying to be anything else. If you don’t want to hear what we’ve found, then no, you probably will not like the podcast!

        • Yona

          I liked the podcast, so don’t think that everyone is missing the point.

        • guest

          Or why don’t you stop stalking her? If you don’t like her or the podcast just ignore her.

          • iHateSusanSimpson

            If you don’t like me or my comments, just ignore me. Right? Or — oh, wait: you’re an oblivious hypocrite. So, you won’t. Right?

        • bob

          um no, mail chimp’s mission is not related to the case. for example if the podcast were debating whether man influences climate change, funding by mail chimp or dish soap would be at least ostensibly unlikely to influence content. funding by the koch brothers’ PAC, different story. i sincerely hope your team learns how to establish and build credibility.

          • permafrost

            welp, the evidence established credibility all on its own, didn’t it?

    • Adeola

      Susan, can you please talk more slowly on the next episode? It is difficult to understand your words at times

      • SueSimp

        Yes, I will be working on that (and other issues!) in future episodes.

        • guest

          Flagged. Grow up.

          • iHateSusanSimpson

            Flagged. Eat my shorts.

    • Yona

      Collin and Sue – maybe comments like these can help you sympathize with Adnan’s defense attorney – people look for reasons to convict. She didn’t have an easy job.

  • Adeola

    Great article! That first episode summary was basically: everyone’s memory is wrong except for Adnan Syed. It would be more respectable if those 3 just said at the outwright that they are extremely biased and the purpose of their podcast is to put forth “assumptions” slanted in favor of Adnan. I don’t understand why they are claiming to be objective – this is my main issue with the whole thing. Most people are interested in getting actual facts/evidence proving Adnan’s innocence, not mere speculation.

    • guest

      Sorry, did you miss the part where Rabia says she’s biased?

      They also support their assumptions with evidence and corroboration (when available). I thought this was done quite well in fact.

      Look, I don’t think the podcast was perfect, but I thought it was a decent start.

      • Adeola

        This was part of Rabia’s opening statement to the episode “I’m open to an objective analysis by others.. and I’m glad to have Susan and Colin here because they are gonna be providing that…”

    • Stephan Marosvary

      I want to pretext my comment, that I am neither qualified nor interested in a legal assessment of this case. E.g., the technicalities of admissible evidence in a U.S. Court strikes me as insane. Having said that I am also not interested in assessing whether the verdict was legitimate under U.S. Law.

      I am interested in determining who killed Hae Min Lee. In order to answer this question we should focus on the big picture. We have Jay, who admits under the pressure of a polic investigation to have been part of the body disposal and therefore being accessory to murder. He can demonstrate that this is the case by pointing police to the car. He also says it was Adnan Syed, who admitted him that fact to him. At this point there are only three scenarios possible:

      1. Jay’s story is right (with him being a bit more or less involved)
      2. Jay killed Hae by himself and framed Adnan
      3. Somebody else did it but Jay framed Adnan regardless

      I am convinced that the police did thoroughly investigate all of these three scenarios. They even grilled the streaker who found the dead body an then reported it to the police. The circumstantial evidence against Adnan is absolutely overwhelming (key witness, lack of alibi, motive, behavior, his line of defense) and looking for inconsistencies in the memories of relatively uninvolved witnesses, all of them at best related to the events on a hear-say basis seems just silly to me. I don’t give credence to any of the memories of anyone, in particular those who were interviewed 6 weeks after Hae’s disappearance.

      Similarly, trying to look for anomalies in data to support the “prosecutor conspiracy” against Adnan doesn’t do any justice to this case. Hae Min Lee was brutally murdered and the pro Adnan camp doesn’t seem to care at all.

      • lujk

        lol interviewing the person who reported the body convinces you that they led an in-depth investigation?? That’s an extremely low bar.

  • Curtis Bloes

    They aren’t very good broadcasters. The narrative they are trying to present is garbled and impossible for all but the dozens of people that are obsessing every day on Reddit to follow. We casual listeners coming in from NPR are clearly not the audience.

    When I heard about this podcast, I was hoping it would be a clear telling of the story from Team Adnan’s perspective indicating their version of the events of that day, but it looks like instead they are going to merely try to create doubt, which is disappointing to say the least.

    I’ll give the show one more episode, but I’m holding out very little hope that they are going to ever present it in a way that will be listenable.

    …and I already listened to a much better show that ended up not neither getting a confession from Adnan nor giving us solid proof about why it couldn’t be him.

  • 21 Minutes

    First off, Adnan Syed is guilty. This was proven in a court of law.

    He is no longer innocent until proven guilty. He is now guilty until proven innocent. To reverse this you have to provide NEW evidence. Discrediting the prosecution’s case or saying that there was reasonable doubt, will not prove his is innocence.

    Adnan Syed has no alibi because he was killing Hae Min Lee.

    • guest

      Ummm….this is a page reviewing the podcast, not a place for your to chant your mantra. Save it for Reddit.

      • 21 Minutes

        Unfortunately this podcast does nothing but regurgitate everything from the BLOG. All it does is try to discredit the prosecution’s case. To be of any benefit, this podcast needs to prove Jay is lying about everything and do so beyond ANY doubt.

        Jay is the key to getting Adnan Syed exonerated.

        Jay’s testimony is the most troubling and damaging piece of evidence against Adnan Syed. Jay has to recant all his entire statement (each and every one of them) to prove Adnan is innocence. Accusing Jay of lying will not exonerate Adnan. Accusing Jay of being a drug dealer will not exonerate Adnan. Accusing Jay of murdering Hae Min Lee will not exonerate Adnan. . Accusing Jay of protecting a mysterious 3rd person will not exonerate Adnan. Nothing you say about Jay will lead to Adnan being innocent.

        I don’t debate the ability of Susan or this podcast to disprove details of the case, but, that is over now. It’s been over for 16 years. Adnan was found guilty. if you really want to exonerate Adnan Syed, you need to prove that Jay Wilds is lying about everything… and not just the time and location of the infamous “trunk pop”.

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  • KylieC

    I loved Serial and eagerly waited to hear more about the HML case with Undisclosed. I thought I knew enough of the story after hearing it many times, and reading about it online. I’m sorry to say the first episode here confused me. I didn’t know what was going on or what points were being made. This review is spot on, and I’m glad it wasn’t just me. However, I will still be waiting for Episode 2. Thanks for doing this!

    • permafrost

      I also felt the first episode didn’t go deeply enough into the details of Adnan’s day. that said, the rest of the series was amazing, and I’m looking forward to following season 2. this podcast may actually correct a miscarriage of justice.

  • KAT

    “If you guessed that Undisclosed is going take the stance that Adnan is someone “who is remembering correctly,” you go to the head of the class.”
    And that about sums it up. Anyone who has not been following this case closely since SERIAL may not know that this has been the starting point for every blog that has been written by the people that have access to the full transcripts, police notes, full discovery in this case. Let me save you from having to listen to the remaining episodes of this podcast by summing up what you are going to hear. Every single witness in the trial was either lying or mistaken about the day in question. The cops are bad. Prosecutor, bad. ME, bad. Science, bad. Trust no one except Adnan and the two people that appear to support his fuzzy memory of January 13th, 1999, Asia and Coach Sye, who testified at trial that track began at 4:00, not 3:30. What you will not hear is any newly discovered exculpatory evidence, because after 16 years, none has been found.

  • Sue D.

    They will never be able to fix their missteps in logic because if they do, they will be forced to conclude the opposite of what they are trying so desperately to prove. Unfortunately, the podcast highlights their desperation, their bias, and the lack of exonerating (or even questionable evidence) in this case.

  • crtum

    I think Disclosure did make a few points about the case that we did not hear (or I missed it) during Serial, the coaches input for instance. I look forward to hearing another perspective on this case.

  • Fluorophore

    This was a curious exercise in crafting a hastily tossed word salad. Shoddy production aside, the content wasn’t very compelling or interesting. Folks, it’s likely everyone has an awful recollection of that day. If we’re just going to review statements, new and old, from various witnesses, this is unlikely to make for illuminating discussion. Further, hammering away at Jay’s credibility has already been done. I don’t think anyone would trust that guy to mow their lawn, but it doesn’t mean Adnan is innocent. The more likely scenario is that they both had a hand in it, yet Adnan stuck with his story of not knowing where on earth he was for hours after school.

    It’s an interesting case and if I were on the jury, I’d have found it difficult if not impossible to convict based on the scant evidence. This podcast seems intent on clearing Adnan’s name which is quite another leap.

    To be persuasive in argument, it would help to be better organized and at least humor the idea of neutrality and evidence-based conclusions. Episode one didn’t give me much hope for that.

  • Elizabeth@thebackyardlemontree

    The thing I found most frustrating about the Serial podcast was the lack of logic and clarity about a lot of the evidence, it was brilliant story telling but relied too much on the police narrative of events. I’m a big fan of Susan Simpson’s blog and I love her precise, lawyerly dissection of the evidence. I obsessively, familiar with all the facts of the case and I didn’t find their analysis confusing at all.

  • Bucky01

    After 1 episode this podcast has proved quite a disappointment, as eloquently stated above. As presented in Serial, the only thing that we KNOW for sure is that Jay led the police to Hae’s car, so the serial killer angle that was brought up towards the end of the podcast is out the window right there; it was either Adnan, Jay, or some combination of the 2. As far as we know, Jay’s only affiliation with Hae was through Adnan, so if there is any chance of clearing Adnan’s name, you have to establish a reason that Jay would want Hae dead, otherwise you’re just talking in circles.
    P.S. For the record, even though I am mostly convinced of Adnan’s guilt, I still can’t figure out how in the world the jury convicted him…

    • smushmoth

      Actually we don’t even know that.

    • permafrost

      actually, the police had already found the car and led jay to lead them (tapping on the recording of his interrogation). undisclosed wasn’t so useless after all.

  • guest

    That’s your user name? How disturbing.

    • iHateSusanSimpson

      Says a troll posting anonymously… Hi, Rabia.

  • Devon Taylor

    We have deleted several comments from this thread. Censoring discussion is not something we relish nor that we feel should be necessary among an intelligent adult community. However, threatening, bullying behavior intimidates readers, discourages thoughtful discourse, and will not be tolerated at The Timbre. Please take your vitriol elsewhere. Many thanks.

  • DforDerivative

    Right at the start they say, “this is not Serial”, and that they are not podcasters, and that it is funded by Adnan’s legal fund. What was the point of the review again?

  • Cedar Forest

    Well, I am very much enjoying Undisclosed. The first podcast was rough, but by Podcast 2 Hae’s Day, I learned many more details not given in Serial. WOW!! I actually am following all of the quick talk. There is just a LOT of information given. I like that this podcast is more logically organized than Serial, and that the lawyers are digging deeper to get to the bottom of many mysteries, like, that Hae had another diary most likely on the floppy disc found in Hae’s car that was “lost” in evidence. Like that Hae had a pager that was never found. Why weren’t her pager records searched? Like why didn’t anyone check Adnan’s computer account to see if he had logged in from school and checked email after Hae had left that fateful day? Undisclosed makes me think that police are more concerned with closing a case than actually really finding out who really did the crime. Keep going! Great work all!

    • permafrost

      no one checked any video from the library, or can remember if the library had video, did the best buy have a payphone, many track team members were never interviewed as witnesses because Gutierrez let law students find members based on Woodlawn yearbooks, not a roster…

  • RP

    This review is so on point! My thoughts exactly. We’ve established that human memory is completely flawed and we cannot rely on it as evidence, so unless there is some hard evidence that can serve as actual proof of something, this is a waste of time. 🙁

  • SGUIRE

    Don’t listen to Eric. As s criminal defense attorney, I can say you guys are killing it, and if the podcast doesn’t sound like this American Life, it’s because you are lawyers not entertainers. Serial was fluff compared to undisclosed and Koenig’s relentless wimpiness is being well contrasted with what I felt she should have done: what you are doing. Digging deep into facts. I can’t believe Eric is criticizing your amateur status re podcasting, when Koenig’s investigation was all amateur hour, best lampooned by SNL’s Kris Kringle sketch with the cheap mockup of a sleigh. Go get it!

    • Tiffany

      I’m with you – and maybe this is because I’m into the legalese and wanted Koenig to go into more of the legal implications of the things she was discovering – I’m lapping it up!!

      I love the direct comparison, i.e., she said this in interview 1, she said this in interview 2, but she said this at the trial.

      I’m enjoying it. There’s always a critic with a blog.

      Happy hump day!!

  • Schuyler

    I’m kind of surprised by this article. I don’t think it’s trying to be Serial at all; I think it’s supplemental. Serial was great (though it started to grate on me after a while), but Undisclosed is an attempt at providing a lot more detailed, factual information than Serial could or wanted to provide. And to be honest, I didn’t go into it expecting that it would be terribly unbiased; however, I did find myself wanting more in-depth legal analysis, which I didn’t get from Serial. I do agree there were some organizational issues and the speed was so fast it was hard to keep up, but I think there’s been a lot of progress here and it’s noticeably better.

    A comment about the production… one thing I love about podcasting, and truly appreciate, is that it’s a medium that pretty much anyone can participate in if they wish. I don’t go looking for podcasts because they’re made by large networks and people with a performance or radio pedigree. One of the reasons I fell in love with podcasts is they’re easily accessible and there’s the potential for a lot of equity in podcasting. The day that podcasting becomes an elite medium is the day I lose interest.

  • Martha Leslie

    If the murder happened in the school library area, then it would not have been in the defendant’s best interest to disclose a witness placing him at the scene.

  • Melissa

    I’d be curious to see if your opinion has changed now that Undisclosed has reached episode 5. I find myself more fascinated with this case now than ever before and extremely sad for the families of both Adnan and Hae Min Lee that so much real evidence in this case was not investigated further.

  • julio

    Although I listened to the original Serial podcast – as well as Slate’s reaction podcast – I never really got why everyone loved Sarah Koenig. I found her constant voicing of her own angsty wavering and completely useless intuitions to be extremely irritating, and kept waiting for her to carefully itemize all the evidence in terms of what was solidly known and uncontradicted, what was extremely shaky or contradicted, and what simply could not be true. There were plenty of hard but obvious questions she refused to ask or answer. The massive craze for Serial certainly testifies to their skill in “story-telling” but it also, frankly, reeked of an audience wallowing in a shallow, hipstery aesthetic experience of voyeurism and a complacent lack of desire to get at the truth. The fact that aestheticism was the dominant mode of engagement with the podcast comes out in criticisms of Undisclosed’s production values. I guess there are a lot of podcast parvenus as a result of Serial, but guess what people, this is the norm in podcasting. Most podcasts are not put out by professional radio producers – and the ability of people to put out their own podcasts is part of the great democracy of it. Personally, despite the obvious bias, I find Undisclosed tremendously useful and refreshing because it is dealing with the evidence very directly. There have been a few very solid and persuasive segments that added something to our understanding of the case. And even though it is advocacy, it is presented in a hard headed way which, if you want to dismiss, you must engage with consistently (rather than finding a few points you found unpersuasive).

  • Rob

    Anyone who has listened to subsequent episodes will recognize that this “review” is meaningless.

  • Al

    Couldn’t disagree with this article more; this is a great podcast with significant merit. With over 20 million downloads, I’m sure the author is in the minority.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Lyndsay Vaughan

    I think this review is pretty redundant for reviewing just the first episode. Although I find it a bit heavy with information sometimes I do find it very interesting.
    I think the technical issues they had at the start they addressed & fixed later, & they do make it clear they aren’t presenters or journalists.

  • Roshan Jain

    I agree with much of what you say… the podcast is sloppy and selective. However, it does seem to tease out new facts about the police investigation — the Police were selective as well. And they were under pressure to get a conviction because another Woodlawn student had been strangled and killed in the preceding year with no leads. How could Hae’s car go undiscovered for six weeks in a Park and Ride which would be more or less empty every night? It is inescapable that Jay had tremendous incentive to lie/frame Adnan because his liberty was at stake. Police misconduct? Their slant and lack of production values/ability to story tell are unfortunate. But they dig deep into contradictions in stories from the witnesses that were not presented in serial or by Adnan’s attorney.

  • David Randall

    Spot on review, grasping at straws…and I’ve listened to all episodes of both Serial and Undisclosed.

    • permafrost

      that the cell phone evidence was useless meant nothing to you? Jay getting a lawyer provided by the prosecuttion, the tapping in his interrogation before he changed his answwers, the police finding hae’s car before talking to jay, Jay possibly being the crimestoppers tipstern Gutierrez failing to interview a bunch of ppl who couldve provided Adnan’s alibi, the fact that Don ‘s work alibi came from his mom and stepmom? none of that made anything seem shady?

  • Tenner

    Just started listening to the podcast Undisclosed and trust me, don’t let this horrible review of the podcast dissuade you from listening to it. Yeah, the first episode is kind of fast-talking and a bit haphazard but it’s nothing like described here.
    Listen to it with an open mind and decide for yourself.

  • Martin David O’Reilly

    you’ve completely… completely missed the point of undisclosed. Please stop reviewing. You aren’t qualified to.

  • Brian Sitzes

    Everyone attacks the timeline. The first problem with a timeline at all is that few people can remember precisely when an event occurs that doesn’t stand out, the second problem with timelines and suspect statements is that generally the interviewee is busy minimizing their involvement, hiding other criminal activity they were taking part in at the time and in particular with the timeline in serial almost everyone giving statements were high at the time. One witness describes Adnon sitting on her floor so out of it on dope he seemed almost comatose. Rather than seeing this impeding or effecting the timeline of statements Koenig skips it entirely, sympathizes with the drug use and says “I’ve been that high person on afriends floor.” When you deal with criminals you never get the entire story, add to that the fact they were driving around smoking pot all day and is no wonder the timeline is screwy.

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  • Courtney Harper

    I highly recommend you listen to more than the first episode! As with all new ventures, especially ventures pursued by people whose expertise lies in other areas, they had some kinks to work out.

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