Sixty-five million people tuned into the 1984 television adaptation of journalist Joe McGuinniss’ smash best-selling book Fatal Vision to try to make sense of the unfathomable true-life horror story of Jeffrey McDonald, a military medical doctor accused and convicted of brutally murdering his wife and two young daughters. It was a scandalous crime that jolted the world and became a cultural moment that captured the public’s imagination and never let go.
Now, the highly anticipated new podcast Morally Indefensible from Marc Smerling (Crimetown, The Jinx, Capturing the Friedmans) and Truth Media, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, makes its debut focusing on the divisive backstory of McGinniss’ writing and reporting of the book that gave rise to the landmark TV series and MacDonald’s infamy.
Controversy surrounds Fatal Vision to this day. MacDonald enlisted famous journalist McGuinniss, who later became his friend, to write an account of his story that would prove him innocent, but the published book was not what he expected, and it has had lasting repercussions for both men.
In Smerling’s unique multiplatform approach to telling this layered and complicated story, Morally Indefensible launches as a lead-in companion to the premier of FX’s new five-part docuseries, A Wilderness of Error, based on the book of the same name by author and documentarian Errol Morris.
A Wilderness of Error tells the story of MacDonald, but from a different perspective, and premiers Friday, September 25 on FX, streaming the following day via FX on Hulu. The premier includes three episodes airing back-to-back-to-back from 8 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. ET/PT, with the final two episodes airing the following week.
Mark Smerling directs and executive produces alongside Blumhouse Television (The Jinx, The Loudest Voice, The Good Lord Bird) and UCP (Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers, Mr. Robot, The Act,) a division of Universal Studio Group, for FX Networks. Additional executive producers include Michael Jackson and Rachael Horovitz, who acquired the rights to the book; Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman, Mary Lislo, Dam Olmstead, and Jessica Grimshaw.
Currently, MacDonald is still in prison, but maintains his innocence to this day. A new parole hearing is scheduled for later this year.
Listeners can subscribe to Morally Indefensible across all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.