Before reading any further, be warned that huge spoilers lie ahead for those who have not watched the show.
The six-episode series, which won two Emmys and a Peabody, concluded with Durst muttering to himself as he went to the bathroom with his microphone still live. "What the hell did I do?" he whispered to himself. "Killed them all of course."
The damning statement, which sounded an awful lot like a confession, added to the infamy of the show. According to the New York Times, however, it was heavily edited, using two sentences plucked from a long rant and presented in a different order than they were spoken.
This is so nuts. In *that* scene in "The Jinx", HBO selectively edited Robert Durst's "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course" lines - they weren't consecutive sentences, and they weren't said in that order. https://t.co/hdW9Mf9Dlq pic.twitter.com/oUZLzFFhr6— Tom Gara (@tomgara) April 24, 2019
According to the Times, Durst's lawyers will now attempt to present those edits as "manipulations" in an effort to weaken the prosecution.
Speaking with the Times, Oscar-winning filmmaker and University of Southern California professor Mark. J. Harris said, "The editing is problematic. They put those lines together in a way that's very damning. But it is definitely more ambiguous in the transcript."
Rick Goldsmith, who co-directed the 2009 documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, disagreed.
"It's not deceptive as long as it doesn't misrepresent what the person says," he said. "It's effective storytelling."
Further, The Jinx's editor Zac Stuart-Pontier added that the two lines were never meant to be interpreted together.
"We put the line 'killed them all' at the very end of the last episode to end the series on a dramatic note, not to link it to any other line," he said. "It didn't occur to us that other journalists would connect it with 'What the hell did I do?' There are actually 10 seconds between the two lines, and I think the experiences of reading it and hearing it are very different."
Robert Durst's trial is scheduled to begin on September 3.