On this past Sunday, blogger Lisa Marie Basile was intending to debate criminal profiler Chelsea Hoffman on the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito . Both are feminists who have published articles on the case against Knox. Basile published two articles on international news site The Huffington Post arguing for Knox’s innocence. Hoffman has published articles supporting the case against Knox on All Voices and on her own site. The debate started being advertised about a week prior. About twenty minutes before the scheduled debate, Basile cancelled the debate, but still appeared with Hoffman to have a discussion.
I was not surprised by Basile’s withdrawal; in fact I was quite surprised she did it so late. I was pretty certain she would withdrawal earlier in the day when I saw a tweet from Basile to Hoffman mentioning second thoughts. Why, then, did the final decision only occur twenty minutes prior? The reason given for Basile’s withdrawal was the public response to her articles. She said she received “nonstop threats and harassment”. She also detailed some of the other harassment she received, but she did not call out any specific instance; she was reacting to the overall reaction and her desire to not want to deal with the public response to her articles. I’m not aware of the personal exchanges between Hoffman and Basile prior to the show, but somehow Hoffman still convinced Basile to appear, albeit without the debate format. Basile’s reasons for withdrawing from the debate the tone and primary topic for the discussion that followed.
They started out in supposedly “safe” territory by discussing the reasons Basile withdrew from the debate. The pair discussed responses to their public writings. Basile stated it was her first time writing about crime, and asked Hoffman about how people respond to crime cases in general, and if the response in the Knox case is typical. While they did specifically address responses from people who have long followed the case, they generally criticized and condemned the responses they received.
Many have criticized Basile and Hoffman’s sweeping indictment of twitter and other responses. Almost everyone who responded to the two of them prior to the show were apparently thrown into the same basket. Basile showed little willingness to separate out claimed threats or the documented sexist harassment she experienced from other criticisms of her views.
Eventually, Hoffman drew Basile into a conversation about the Knox case. I commend Hoffman for her ability to create a space that fed in to Basile’s need for a “safe” space. I need to ask, why was it necessary to create such a “safe” space to begin with? Because of the public response, or because of Basile’s unwillingness to deal with the public response to her articles?
Basile acknowledges that when she published her first article, she knew she was stepping into a highly charged, polarized debate:
When I wrote the May 2014 piece “Where Are All The Feminists? Why Amanda Knox’s Story Is About More Than Murder,” I was well aware of how deeply polarizing this case has been over the past several years.
Her false claims in her published articles were publicly criticized (rightly so). Shortly after her first article was published Basile demonstrated an unwillingness to engage in public conversation about the Knox case with her readers by requesting that people contact her privately to discuss the case. Despite Basile’s apparent reservations about the response to her article, she proceeded to publish a second article internationally, with an even more authoritative headline: “Almost Everything You’ve Read about Amanda Knox is Wrong.” When Basile published her second article, she tried to direct twitter comments to the Huffington Post article (the comments I added never seemed to appear).
Getting back to the non-debate, we should remember the two participants were feminist women. Part of the feminist perspective is that meaning is established by collaboration between individuals. Viewed through this perspective, Basile and Hoffman had a nice little session of collaborative meaning-making. However, the outcome did not construct a shared meaning of Knox’s innocence or guilt, as was expected from the announcement of the debate on the Knox case. The shared meaning they generated was more on their interpretation of the online responses to their articles.
Basile’s feminist persona generally (aside from the two articles she wrote) is that she engages with people expecting to establish this kind of collaboration. With two notable exceptions, Basile denounced responses to her articles as being “disrespectful.” The only two people she cites as being respectful are, in fact, two other feminists. It seems Basile limits her view of “respect” to be only those who engage with her to establish this collaborative meaning making. She rejects direct critiques of her views and arguments “disrespectful” of her “opinion.”
Judging by Basile’s stamp on what she considers “respectful” dialog, one interpretation is that Basile demands that readers engage with her with a feminist, meaning-making approach. My criticism is that if Basile had an expectation that she could make everyone engage with her in the same approach, or worse, an inability to deal with anyone in any other way, then she was simply unready to be published on the international stage. Her style of writing authoritatively on the case is also at odds with the way she presented her views as “opinions” in the chat with Hoffman. The contrast between the article and the show is so stark, it leads me to wonder if there was a ghost co-writer on the articles.
Basile also seems to lack any self-introspection of her own actions and approach. Her online article criticizes people for providing citations to biased articles. She critizes Nelson’s article by saying “all but two of her links to ‘evidence’ direct readers to private, biased anti-Knox sites.” Then during her chat with Hoffman she admits (with a laugh) that her own citations may also be biased; and indeed they are; the links she provides for case information include the Knox advocacy site Injustice in Perugia, journalist Nina Burleigh who advocates for Knox, and she extensively quotes the error-laden advocacy piece written by Sollecito’s co-writer, Andrew Gumbel.
In an ironic moment, one of Knox’s white knights came to Basile’s rescue. Former FBI man Jim Clemente tweeted at the end of the conversation to Hoffman and another twitter user for being understanding and supporting Basile’s decision. Why did Clemente feel the need he had to thank Hoffman on behalf of Basile? According to follow-up tweets, Clemente didn’t seem to have been previously in contact with Basile regarding the with the alleged threats . Clemente also complemented Basile on her debate (which channel was he watching?) and on her articles. Basile was honored by Clemente’s admiration despite Clemente being one of the major violators of civil debate.
Viewers who turned in for a debate on the evidence and fact would have been disappointed by the style of conversation between Hoffman and Basile. My primary criticism is their grouping together all public responses, then basing their judgement on a sweeping categorization, instead of doing the harder work to “separate out the wheat from the chaff.”
Animosity and antagonism between camps has long been part of the case, but it can surely be traced to the early attempts by Knox family and advocates to suppress details of the case from the US. Direct attacks on people who believe differently has long been part of the strategy of Knox advocates. Knox advocates early on coined the phrase “guilters” (and its alternative, “haters”) for anyone who attempted to discuss the actual evidence against Knox and Sollecito. One of Knox’s white knight FBI men has been actively involved in pushing the “guilters” phrase, and even attacks the family of Meredith Kercher.
Despite appearances of a respectful discussion, this show wasn’t a vote in favor of two sides being able to really engage in meaningful debate on the evidence between two people of different sides. The two participants have had a passing involvement in the Knox case, and yet still weren’t able to get into a deep discussion of the case. The evidence of the case was discussed nominally, stated as general beliefs about a scattering of case details. Hoffman seemed to state that she will continue with debates, albeit on other cases. It will be interesting to see how those debates go, and if respectful dialog and a deep discussion of contested case details can mutually exist.
Crime Time with Allison Hope Wiener recently published a new video with guest Jim Clemente providing commentary on the Knox case. After their last show I pointed out many errors made by Clemente and offered to provide Crime Time and Wiener with research detailing the errors with citations to relevant documents. Wiener declined to take me up on my offer. Wiener and Clemente have produced yet another show full of errors. Below I detail some of the most blatant errors in their latest show.
Wiener started out the show by commenting on the Twitter conversations and feedback she received about her last show.
Allison: Most of [twitter] is completely not constructive, not intelligent, not based in facts. I just have to say most these tweets are just ad hominem attacks.
Like Jim Clemente’s, perhaps? Clemente provides multiple examples of ad hominem attacks, as seen in the graphic to the right. Wiener has thus far not condemned any of Clemente’s documented ad hominem attacks.
Clemente and Wiener get down to business spinning the Knox case to argue for her defense.
Allison: After holding [Knox] without any kind of preservation of her rights.
Knox was not being “held” during her questioning; she showed up unexpectedly at the station and started talking to police in the hallway (Knox, Waiting to be Heard, p107) , then moved into a room as Knox had been talking about possible people involved in the crime (Knox, p108).
Knox placed herself at the scene of the crime in her signed statements of 145am and 545 am (Knox, p118 & p122). The Italian supreme court ruled the first signed statement could not be used against her for the murder charge, thus actually upholding Knox’s rights as a witness: “Because there is one transcript which was declared inadmissible and the other admissible against others but not against Amanda. ” (Knox’s lawyer Dalla Vedova, Knox trial testimony)
Jim: The appeal is when it came out and that’s when [the evidence against Knox and Sollecito] was completely discredited.
Clemente is referring to an annulled legal judgement and an “independent” report, both of which have been resoundingly rebuked by subsequent court hearings (Italian Supreme Court; Nencini).
Jim: The knife that Rudy Guede owned was a pocket knife with no hilt, and so when you stab somebody with it, his hand slipped down to the knife, and that’s how he cut it. We see that thousands and thousands of knife assault cases.
There is no evidence Guede was found with a pocket knife- it was Sollecito who had two pocket knifes confiscated from him and tested (Massei; Stefanoni court testimony).
Clemente must be referring to an incident where Guede was found in a kindergarten in Milan. Guede was found with a 40cm (16 in) kitchen knife he took from the kindergarten (The Borsini-Belardi Sentencing Report, P11; Massei, p45). The prosecution argues only one wound is compatible with a large kitchen knife; the wound on the neck that ultimately killed Meredith. The defense contends that a smaller penknife made all of the wounds. If you accept the defense’s argument, then Guede was NOT found with a knife that was compatible with the wounds. Clemente’s claim that the knife Guede was found with in the kindergarten is compatible with the wounds on Meredith is in conflict with Knox and Sollecito’s defense.
Jim: Nobody will answer the question how did Raffaele get two high-priced lawyers to travel to Germany to represent him before the Perugian cops got there. How did that happen? Who knew that he was there? Who would actually want him to be represented so that he wouldn’t talk to anybody, make any statements that didn’t coincide with the prosecutor’s case?
Clemente obviously doesn’t mean to be so blatantly wrong about the evidence to say that Sollecito ran to Germany, so we’ll set that one aside. Guede (not Sollecito) was arrested in Germany on Nov 20th, but not extradited back to Italy until December 6th. His arrest on the 20th was announced worldwide in the media. The documentary “Is Amanda Knox Guilty?” had an interview with Guede’s lawyer where the lawyer describes why he went up to Germany to represent Guede. Clemente should do his research before engaging in such hyperbole about the case.
Jim (talking about the bra clasp): The DNA expert couldn’t find his DNA on it. She blew it up and blew it up and blew it up.
Clemente is confusing the defense arguments against the bra clasp with the defense arguments against Meredith’s DNA on the knife. The bra clasp evidence is not LCN DNA (Massei).
Allison: Spare us all. We don’t really want to hear about how other people agree with that evidence.
As evidenced by this recent thread, Crime Time also doesn’t want to hear about the errors they publish on their own show.
Jim: People don’t understand the job of the defense attorney. The defense attorney is to help his own client, period. The fact that Raffaele is now separating defense from Amanda seems to be a strategy here.
Clemente seems to be arguing that defense attorneys will say anything to get their clients free. Justification for lying from a former FBI man? Really?
Jim (what Knox was told during the questioning): Raffaele is testifying that you did it.
Clemente is wrong again. Knox was not told Sollecito “is testifying that you did it,” she was told “‘he’s taken away your alibi’”(Knox, WTBH, p114).
People say that she was only questioned for two hours and they wrote, the interpreter came. Two hours is when she got, she signed this thing. But they waited 10 hours, or eight hours at least, before they called in the interpreter. They think “no its not in the file.” Amanda tells us she got there 1030 and left at 630. So there was a long time that went by. Anybody can write a different time on that damn statement. It doesn’t make it when it’s actually happen.
This is the most laughable claim of Clemente’s, that an interpreter wasn’t called for 8 hours. Knox doesn’t support Clemente’s claim: “The interpreter [...] arrived at about 12:30 am” (Knox, WTBH, p113). None of the Knox advocates have stood by Clemente’s claim; Weiner also has declined to stand by Clemente’s statement.
Allison: And given the behavior in this case, they haven’t really proven themselves, the Italian police, or the Italian courts to be particularly trust worthy, so we can infer that most of this case is probably not trustworthy. If you see somebody lying in one segment of the case, and denying somebody’s rights in one segment of the case, what would stop them from changing the time.
Here, Weiner veers completely into conspiracy theory territory by alleging corruption of both the Italian police and courts… to justify an allegation of changing time on a document. This allegation of changing the time the interpreter was present Knox herself doesn’t even support.
Jim: People keep bringing up that Amanda Knox lied. Well if Amanda Knox lied about using marijuana, it’s because she didn’t want to admit doing something that’s a crime. That’s typical. And any time when a law enforcement officer, and experienced law enforcement officer does an interrogation like that they can expect those kinds of things.
Is a former FBI man actually JUSTIFYING lying to police during a murder investigation? Really? And did Clemente REALLY just say that if Knox lied to police “its because she didn’t want to admit doing something that’s a crime”?
Jim: It doesn’t mean she’s guilty of murder. If she lied, if she lied to get, if she wrote that, if she signed that “statement” against Lumumba to get out of that interrogation, then that was a self-preservation move.
Here, surprisingly, Clemente agrees with the courts; Knox’s statement against Lumumba was a self-preservation move to get out of her questioning with the Perugian police.
This letter was sent to the Guardian’s Reader Editor on 4 May 2014, and again on 3 June, 2014. The Reader’s Editor did not respond to either of the email submissions.
Gumbel’s May 1st, 2014 article in the Guardian is a thinly veiled advocacy piece for Sollecito and Knox. He left out a significant phrase from a Nencini passage he cites; this phrase he omitted undermines one of his main claims.
“Una peculiarità è, ad esempio, il rilievo che all’interno della villetta di via della Pergola quasi non sono state rinvenute tracce di Amanda Marie Knox – se non quelle di cui si dirà e riferibili all’omicidio – né di Raffaele Sollecito.”
Many of Knox’s support sites fling all sorts of allegations against Italian officials connected to the case. For example, several of these sites openly state that investigator Italian officer Stefanoni lied on the stand regarding the DNA evidence. On mainstream news sites, however, the reports have stopped short of openly stating that officers and officials engaged in illegal activity, leaving their readers to make those claims in comments. Until now.
Lisa Marie Basile, a blogger for the Huffington Post, is well versed in publishing according to her bio. An outspoken feminist, she is listed as the founding editor of the feminist magazine Luna Luna. Recently, Basile published a blog article on the Huffington Post site regarding Amanda Knox. The primary point of her article is that feminists need to rush to Knox’s defense because of how Perugian officials treated Knox and because of the image of Knox created by the tabloids.
Basile cites one event as a key event for Italian officials portraying Knox as a sexually-liberated female: Knox being told in prison she may have HIV and the subsequent publishing of Knox’s list of sex partners. Basile states the prison officials deliberately lied to Knox to get Knox’s sex list to give to the media. Here is what Basile wrote:
Why is it OK to lie to someone about their having HIV only to attain a list of sexual partners which would then be leaked to the media? This is an example of systematic character defamation — the modern equivalent of throwing an accused witch into the lake to see if she drowns. What sort of pain must we put others through in order to forge our own versions of the truth?
In this statement, Basile makes the actions of the prison officials as a matter of fact. This particular event is the launch point for her full article; that Knox was made out to be a sexual woman in the media, and the case against Knox is only based on the sexualized media and prosecution-generated image .
There is a significant problem with Basile’s published allegation against the prison officials and police. Knox herself doesn’t even claim it to be a fact! Knox writes in Waiting to be Heard that the doctor even told her the first test could be a false positive. Knox wrote the list in her diary based on her own decision- nobody asked her to write down her list. Knox doesn’t claim she was lied to; the suggestion that it was a lie came later from her father.
Further, if Basile had in fact read the MetroNews article she links to in her Huffington Post piece, Basile would be fully aware that even in that article Knox doesn’t claim that the officials lied. The MetroNews article quotes Knox as saying it was her lawyers that believed it was a ploy by the prison officials.
Basile announced in this tweet that she doesn’t actually know if her allegation is true, merely that “judging by their other behaviors, it would make sense.”
Her piece is listed on HuffPo under blogs, which readers might understand are opinion pieces. Basile uses this in her defense; that her piece is just an op/ed piece. Could a reasonable reader understand that Basile’s allegation against the prison officials is just a statement of her belief, or would it be read as a published claim that events in fact did happen which is why Basile is calling for feminists to support Knox?
Its also hard to understand how Basile’s claim applies to her own publication, the Luna Luna Magazine. Her profile on Huffington Post lists Basile as the “founding editor” of Luna Luna Magazine. Basile cross-posted her article to her own magazine’s website. On the Luna Luna website all of the information talks about the publication being a magazine. Thus the article on the Luna Luna site is not clearly indicated as an op/ed, which Basile claims it is on her twitter feed.
To summarize: Basile published an article that contains allegations against prison officials as a statement of fact. Basile herself admits she cannot provide proof of these allegations, merely that “judging by their other behaviors it makes sense.”
Moving on to the rest of the article, Basile’s arguments are no different than the radical claims any fervent Knox supporter spouts. Basile first claims “there is no credible or realistic evidence” that places Knox or Sollecito at the crime scene; she ignores Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, the footprints revealed through the use of luminol that contained Knox and Meredith’s DNA, and Knox’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood in the bathroom. Basile reports on Knox’s “interrogation” without actually looking at the facts in evidence: Knox wasn’t called to the station, Knox and Sollecito went right after dinner, and Knox blamed patrick in about two hours of questioning, while a translator was present. Basile ignores this evidence to make her point, then later has the chutzpah to say “like all murder cases, the facts should dictate the proceedings.”
Basile simply dismisses the evidence as “circumstantial or forced,” without explaining what she means by “forced evidence.” Basile’s criticisms of circumstantial evidence are undermined by the US convictions of Scott Peterson and of Utah doctor Martin MacNeill, both of whom were convicted on almost entirely circumstantial cases. Since Basile clearly has a problem with convictions based on circumstantial evidence, in the interests of equality will we see Basile take up the cause of clearing the name of these two murderers? Somehow I doubt she will.
Basile ironically asks the question “What sort of pain must we put others through in order to forge our own versions of the truth?” Despite Basile’s criticisms over a perceived lack of evidence in the Knox conviction, she seems to have no qualms levying baseless allegations against prison officials that she knows she can’t prove. Basile thus forges her own version of the truth at the expense of the Italian officials connected to the Knox case.
Many readers provided corrections to Basile’s information and references to source documents and Knox’s statements. But what was Basile’s recommendation for online editors and authors? Don’t engage with your readers.
Apparently Basile’s criticisms of all things Italian stops short of alcohol.
What do Knox supporters blame for her woes? Anything and everything connected to the case! Read the growing list:
Knox has had a number of “experts” come to her defense, including two former FBI agents and a DNA scientist. These three all argue for Knox’s innocence, despite having fundamentally different views on the nature of the evidence against Knox.
Greg Hampikian is the director of the Idaho Innocence Project. He penned a letter to the Italian courts questioning the DNA used to convict Knox. Though Hampikian had no formal role in Knox’s defense, he conducted multiple interviews in the US where it was advertised that he was in part responsible for Knox’s release. He also frequently informed people he ‘knew what happened.’ Hampikian believes the evidence was collected well, but the investigator used shakier evidence in the case against Knox. This is a quote from a CNN article that interviewed Hampikian:
GRIFFIN: Greg Hampikian is a forensic scientist and director of Idaho’s Innocence Project. He also was working with the Knox defense team. He says Italian investigators did a good job processing the crime scene, collected excellent evidence, but clung to shakier evidence that proved their theory, a classic error, says Hampikian
Steve Moore is a former FBI agent who has been one of Knox’s strongest advocates. His view on the evidence completely counters Dr. Hampikian’s assessment of the evidence. In written testimony to a subcommittee of the House of Representatives in congress, Moore charges that the evidence against Knox is fabricated:
In the Knox case, we had rooms full of tainted and fabricated evidence to argue.
Jim Clemente is a recent addition to the Knox camp. He has admitted to basing his judgment on looking at photos of the crime scene then talking to his buddy, Steve Moore. Oddly, though, for over a month now Jim Clemente has avoided saying whether he agrees with this buddy Moore regarding the evidence being fabricated. Clemente does believe that people (presumably officials in Italy) are lying about Knox’s involvement, but Clemente to this day hasn’t said he agrees with his buddy, Steve Moore.
Knox’s three “experts” fundamentally disagree on the nature of the evidence against Knox. It seems that no stone will be left unturn as her supporters continue to blame everyone and everything for Knox’s woes.
This statement, which attempts to justify Knox’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s blood and DNA ignores the circumstances in which the mixed DNA and blood was found:
1. In another roommates PRIVATE bedroom
2. In the room with the supposed “break-in”
3. In the footprints revealed through the use of the forensic chemical luminol.
4. With evidence that Meredith’s blood was tracked outside of her room (as is patently obvious from the bathroom)
5. In a spot that you would expect to find blood tracked from Meredith’s bedroom to the bathroom.
6. With evidence that both Knox and Meredith were bleeding that evening/the next day (Knox’s blood was on the bathroom tap).
Knox’s supporters want you to believe that finding Knox’s DNA under ALL of the circumstances listed above is somehow not incriminating. The courts ruled otherwise.