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Dateline's Josh Mankiewicz Recalls the Time an Interview Almost Got Out of Hand: "Here We Go"
The Dateline correspondent discussed all things true crime during his CrimeCon 2023 panel in Orlando, Florida.
Josh Mankiewicz has spoken to murderers more times than he could count since joining NBC's Dateline in the late '90s. By now, many of those interviews have blended together, sometimes making it difficult to distinguish the details of such encounters. But there's one interview that stands out in Mankiewicz's memory, largely because of how wrong things could've gone.
"We’re interviewing a guy whose girlfriend was missing and he’d been convicted of her murder," Mankiewicz shared during his panel "Matrimony, Luminol, and You" at CrimeCon 2023.
The correspondent noted that this interview took place years ago, declining to reveal the person's identity. The only additional details he shared were that, to this day, the woman's body has never been found.
Mankiewicz then set the scene, explaining that he's normally not that scared of the subjects he's speaking to because there's typically a corrections officer in the room with him. But in this instance, the guards chose to stand in the hallway outside. So, it's just him, a producer, the cameraman, and the convicted murderer. As the interview progresses, Mankiewicz noticed the subject becoming agitated.
"I thought, this guy is about kick my ass in a way that that everyone in the world was about to see," he shared. "He was probably a second or two from getting out of his chair."
The tension in the room was palpable. Out of the corner of his eye, Mankiewicz said, he saw a cameraman "grab a case," prepared to step in and defend the Dateline correspondent.
"And then [the interviewee] realized, 'I'm locked up. If I hit this guy, it’s going to be worse for me in here.' And he controlled himself," Mankiewicz recalled, adding that the subject stepped out of the room to gather himself.
Now, Mankiewicz said he's able to laugh about the situation, but at the time he thought to himself, "Here we go."
This was one of the many stories Mankiewicz, a.k.a. the Mayor of CrimeCon, shared about his time working on Dateline, which is going into its 32nd season this Friday, September 29 at 9/8c on NBC.
Mankiewicz said that it's been wonderful to work alongside Keith Morrison, Andrea Canning, and more, describing it as the experience of a lifetime. He's met wonderful people and been able to help families seeking answers, giving him a sense of purpose and drive. He added that he hopes to give everyone the platform to share their story, noting that the "families that bang on law enforcement's door frequently get results, more than families that are passive."
His mission to help others goes beyond Dateline, with Mankiewicz revealing that there are plans to record the third season of the Dateline podcast Missing in America next year.
And while Keith Morrison was unable to join true crime fans in Orlando for this year's CrimeCon, the host had a quick video call with Josh to see how things were going and to promote his upcoming podcast Murder in Apartment 12, which "examines the case of Arkansas beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer, who was found murdered in her apartment days before her 20th birthday," according to NBC News. The six-episode series premieres wherever you get your podcasts on Tuesday, September 26.
All of this is to say that Mankiewicz and Morrison aren't slowing down anytime soon.