NBC’s "Dateline" devotes an hour to Elizabeth Smart tonight, and it’s a profile in courage.
"I think people are just amazed and so impressed by what an incredible woman she’s become," said Natalie Morales, who reported the story for NBC. "It’s an example to all of us. And I think that’s why there’s such an incredible amount of interest in her story."
“Dateline” airs Friday at 8
The hourlong “Dateline” report on the Smart kidnapping and the Brian David Mitchell trial airs Friday at 8 p.m. on NBC Channel 5.
The report — the first half of a two-hour "Dateline" that airs at 8 p.m. on KSL Channel 5 — retells the story of Smart’s 2002 kidnapping, her startling rescue nine months later, her transformation into a victims’ rights activist, and her strength during kidnapper Brian David Mitchell’s trial.
"The way she testified on the stand — even though we don’t have that on camera — to have her words now and see her composure and how well she handled herself, it was the story of her courage that struck all of us," Morales said. "We felt we really needed to give it a lot more of that treatment."
"Dateline" did not interview Smart, but will air a few clips of her speaking in early interviews or appearances. "She’s very guarded about what she’ll say about those nine months," Morales said. "I think she really just saved it for the trial, just to make sure she got the ending that everybody wanted."
The show includes an interview with her parents, Ed and Lois, taped in August. And another with Ed, conducted on Monday, plus an interview with several jurors from Mitchell’s trial.
There’s nothing new to anyone who has paid even minimal attention to the case, but it’s still somewhat startling to see Ed and Lois Smart talk about how quickly Elizabeth recovered from her ordeal.
"The first couple of days was about all it took," Lois says in the interview. "After that, she just slipped back into her place and it was almost as if she’d never left."
Morales was somewhat surprised.
"In fact, I did say to them, ‘Did she have more therapy? Was there more to it?’ " she said. "They’re very strong believers in their faith and letting things sort of work themselves out. I think they feel like it’s been the best approach for her to let her talk about it as things have come up. It seems to have worked for them and for her, as we saw in the courtroom."
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