Making a Murderer, the immensely popular Netflix documentary about accused murderer Steven Avery, has begun to attract a bit of criticism regarding its methods. Avery was wrongly imprisoned for rape in 1983, and exonerated by DNA evidence 18 years later, but he wasn’t out long before he was arrested again for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. The engrossing show revisits both trials, and—without spoiling any of the plot—effectively manages to cast doubt on the judicial competence and rectitude of Wisconsin’s Manitowoc County.
Yet one representative from that group, prosecutor Ken Kratz, has been vocal in accusing filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos of constructing a false narrative in the 10-part series. He argues that they left out critical evidence in their rush to advocate for Avery’s innocence, and lost their objectivity in the process. Earlier this week, he told The Wrap that Netflix should “either provide an opportunity for rebuttal, or alert the viewers that this series was produced by and for the defense of Steven Avery.”
Demos and Ricciardi have dismissed his claims, saying that they presented the state’s most compelling evidence and simply couldn’t include everything. Until recently, the streaming giant had not made a formal response, but Netflix chief Ted Sarandos broke that silence yesterday.
“I don’t think documentaries are unbiased, they do take a position,” Sarandos said. “This is the filmmakers’ position, and they did a great job laying out the facts.”
Even with this decision made, the question of whether “advocacy journalism” requires a specific label is one that might persist in the age of true-crime investigations. But then again, isn’t all journalism a kind of advocacy? As George Orwell put it, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”