What’s fact and what’s fiction in Netflix’s tale of serial killer Charles Cullen?
Netflix’s “Making a Murderer,” the true-crime docuseries following the trial of the former Wisconsin county sheriff who spent 15 years on death row before a second jury convicted him of murder, has been criticized by some in the journalism world.
While Netflix received criticism for casting documentary filmmaker Laura Ricciardi as a suspect in the murder of Teresa Halbach, the documentary series is being heralded by some as a modern-day David vs. Goliath story.
“It’s a very unusual opportunity for the media,” says David Klinger, an investigative journalist and president of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group that advocates for news consumers to have a say in which stories they consume and how they are framed.
“For a large part, documentaries have become the default position in society,” Klinger says, “but this is the first time that a documentary has been made in which the subjects are themselves fact.”
“Making a Murderer” is an hour-long documentary that premiered on the streaming service in 2017. The series explores the trial of former lawman and Wisconsin sheriff Charles Cullen, who is serving a life sentence without parole for murdering Teresa Halbach. Cullen is serving his time in an upstate prison, where his time served in prison is a factor in the likelihood he remains behind bars when he is released.
In the program, there is a moment when reporter Amy Robach sits down with Cullen, who’s currently in an upstate prison, and his prison counselor, Michael Smerling, to talk about how he and other inmates live.
In an interview with WISC-TV, Cullen explained that he has learned to embrace the prison life.
“I think, and many people can agree with this, there has been a lot lost in the process with me,” Cullen said. “I’ve lost my mom, I’ve lost my sister, I’ve lost my aunt