Rescuing Amanda Knox

Ultimately, Amanda Knox is a project of restoring lost “innocence,” and the filmmakers seem eager to play their role.white-knight-2

The newest true crime documentary from Netflix, “Amanda Knox,” centers on Amanda and the eight years of court proceedings regarding the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.The movie presents interviews with Knox, her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, and British tabloid reporter Nick Pisa. The film resonates with American audiences, who have been primarily exposed to news media reporting favorably on the “home-town girl.” Amanda is America’s “woman in distress;” and the filmmakers are her white knights who have arrived to rescue her from the evil beasts of Nick Pisa and Guiliano Mignini.

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Cultural Constructions of the Femme Fatale by Steve Simkin

In the film, the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher is sidelined by focusing on Nick Pisa and the British tabloids as a stand-in for all media reporting, then portraying Knox (instead of Meredith) as the victim of Pisa’s reporting.

American audiences in particular have been outraged at the she-devil, femme fatale portrait of Amanda that is created by the British tabloids. Very few critics, if any, have looked at the role the Netflix filmmakers have in overturning this narrative.

While some feminists have spoken up, they have staunchly insisted on pushing the HIV claims made by Pisa (without fact-checking) as a key example of how Knox was persecuted for her sexuality. (The truth, according to Amanda, is the prison officials TOLD HER NOT TO WORRY; that the test could be a false positive and they would retest; and they DID NOT REQUEST her list of partners; it was her decision to write it in her diary) Almost all reviewers (save one) have missed that the it is the filmmakers who arrive to rescue Amanda and restore her lost “innocence.”

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To understand how the film reinforces that women need saving-and the positive American reception to the film-you first have to understand the narrow view of the case in the US media. After she was arrested, Amanda’s innocence campaign in the US pushed back on the image that was coming from the British tabloid media. Amanda’s family hired PR professional David Marriott, claiming this was done to manage the media requests coming into the family. However, later news reports tell it differently: “By enlisting her friends and family, and targeting specific news organizations to tell the family’s story, Marriott eventually helped reshape how the world saw the young American.” The Friends of Amanda pushed a counter-story of Knox being persecuted by the lead prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini.  The US media organizations were seemingly as content to report on what Knox’s representatives said without fact checking, as Nick Pisa was content to report on what trial informants told him without fact checking. Largely absent from US reporting was any real information on the case or evidence (a problem repeated in the Netflix documentary).

As supporters joined the campaign for Amanda’s innocence, they too focused their sights on Mignini and tabloid media reporters. Bruce Fischer targeted Guiliano Mignini and Nick Pisa as the “Architects of Foxy Knoxy.” Former FBI agent Steve Moore claimed that Amanda was being framed to cover for Guede. Jim Clemente, a behaviorist whose expertise was in child predators, claimed to know what happened to Meredith simply by ‘looking at a couple of photos.’ Amanda even had support from Seattle’s Judge Heavey, who wrote to Mignini in a plea for Amanda’s release.

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Knox’s innocence advocates: Bruce Fischer, Steve Moore, Greg Hampikian, David Marriott, Jim Clemente, Judge Michael Heavey (ret)

Over time, Knox’s innocence campaigners established the narrative in the US that Knox was being unjustly accused by a prosecutor with a vendatta. For its part, the US media was content to allow claims such as ‘Amanda was interrogated for 14 (or 43, or 46, or 53) hours,’ without ever fact checking whether this was true or not (See a recent Time magazine article with this claim). Knox’s innocence campaign was particularly focused on combating the tabloid narrative of “Foxy Knoxy.”

Another key component of her US based innocence campaign was that she was unfairly (according to the system in the US) retried and re-convicted, a belief which persists to this day. News organizations were content to think their audiences wouldn’t understand the Italian Courts, so instead they reported that Knox was unfairly being subjected to “double jeopardy,” that is, being convicted again after a trial court found her innocent.

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Enter the filmmakers.

Sometime in 2011, Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn and Stephen Robert Morse decided to embark on the “filmmaking journeytogether to produce a movie on the case. The directors and producers were all in Perugia for Knox and Sollecito’s first appeals hearing in October 2011. Producer Stephen Robert Morse was clearly in the pro-Knox camp, and to a lesser extent, so was director Rod Blackhurst. Morse appeared to have adopted fully the innocence campaign’s narrative, including attacking Nick Pisa as a “shit journalist”. (Recently, posters to Fisher’s online forums have stated that Morse was with people from “Injustice in Perugia” when he confronted Nick Pisa on the street in Perugia).

Blackhurst, to his credit, was more reserved in his views; he tweeted out “Free Amanda Knox”  in three posts in 2010 and 2011 prior to starting the film;  one of the posts linking to the sensational Rolling Stone article, “The Never Ending Nightmare of Amanda Knox” which describes how Knox was “coerced” into a confession. On the day the Supreme Court threw out the case, Blackhurst’s tweet was a simple heart.

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The filmmakers of “Amanda Knox”: director Brian McGinn, producer Stephen Robert Morse, director Rod Blackhurst

51lzeme4xnl-_sy344_bo1204203200_The filmmakers may have had a ready-made outline in the way of Douglas Preston’s novel the Monster of Florence. Douglas Preston had joined Knox’s innocence campaign in part due to his own confrontation with Prosecutor Mignini. Preston’s novel  describes Mignini’s role in the search for the serial murderer called the Monster of Florence. Mignini’s search is portrayed as an Ahab-like endless pursuit with an uncertain resolution. While the Mignini of Preston’s novel is not destroyed by his pursuit of the “monster;” it does consume him.

Preston learned of the serial killer case while living in Italy from journalist Mario Spezi, who co-wrote the novel. While Preston was researching the case, Prosecutor Mignini accused Preston of obstruction of justice, and Preston was given the option to leave Italy. After this, Preston had an axe to grind with Mignini- and he ground it to a fine point in his novel. Preston believed Mignini was a “rogue prosecutor,” and Preston was particularly fond of pushing a story that Mignini saw satanic conspiracies, that Mignini “believes that Satan walks the land.” This satanism claim was pushed in the US and elsewhere by sympathizers in media organizations like CBS. Preston’s co-writer, Mario Spezi, was also charged by Mignini with obstruction of justice for interfering with the Monster of Florence investigation.

monsterBack to Perugia; in 2011, after the filmmakers decided to start their project, Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn hung out with Mario Spezi in Florence. Producer Stephen Morse was with Spezi at the courthouse when the appeals court issued their ruling. (Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi are thanked in the credits of the Netflix film).

The film suggests Knox has become Mignini’s new monster to pursue; as she narrates in the film: “people love the idea of a monster.” Netflix’s imagery for the film puts Preston’s story in Times Square in banner ads. But to American audiences used to the reporting over the last nine years, its Amanda who is being persecuted, and she is the damsel in distress.

Of course, damsels need their saviors, and Stephen Morse in particular seemed ready to be one of Knox’s white knights. In a now deleted blog post, he telegraphed the role he perhaps eagerly pursued: “it is my hope that one day her world will be free of the misplaced hatred that has already been lofted upon her for years.” It was Morse who got Plus Pictures on the project and it was Morse who connected the directors with Knox. Netflix has reportedly distanced Morse from the project, saying his producer title is only honorary. Indeed, it was the directors, who, after hanging out in Florence with Mario Spezi, managed to get the participation of Mignini, Knox, Sollecito, and Pisa.

white-knight-chronicles-reviewAmanda finally had her white knights. The”white knight syndrome” is a “compulsive need to be the rescuer.” White knights “see women as powerless and unable to defend or take care of themselves; their problems are a result of misfortune or the cruelty of this world, never as their own fault.”

In the film, everything happens to Amanda; she is not responsible for anything. Knox is presented entirely as a victim of a prosecutor colluding with the media to create the myth of Foxy Knoxy, and any of Knox and Sollecito’s actions that counter the film’s narrative are left out. Her incredulous story of coming home, seeing blood, taking a shower, using the bathmat (with blood on it) to “surf” to her bedroom and back is hardly explored. The cell phone and computer records that contradict both Knox and Sollecito’s stories are ignored. Knox says her slander of Patrick is because she “broke” under the pressure of interrogation, and there is no mention of her following statements and writings where she acknowledges Patrick is in jail because of her (oddly, though, in the film she doesn’t repeat the 53 hour interrogation claim). The film ignores that Knox’s conviction for slander was upheld in all five courts that heard the case. There is almost no mention of Raffaele’s inability to maintain a consistent story and his refusal to support her alibi throughout the trial and first appellate hearing. Sollecito makes a lone passing comment about getting stoned, though at Knox’s apartment pot was as common as pasta.

white-knight-2To fully save Knox, the dual media images of guilt and sexual promiscuity needed to be confronted.  To deal with the image of guilt, Knox’s questionable reactions after the murder are swapped out with Pisa’s clear lack of empathy. The film cuts between Pisa’s statements on orgasmic headlines with scenes from Meredith’s funeral, putting Nick Pisa’s amorality at center stage. He becomes the wolf in pursuit, preying on innocent victims for his own gratification.  Knox’s own insensitive actions after the murder are replaced by the actions of someone who responded even worse.

At this time, Meredith’s death, shown in images of the funeral, becomes simply a temporary stand-in for Knox, and Meredith is quickly replaced on the way to Knox’s eventual redemption. Knox’s sex life becomes the topic of Pisa’s reporting, and the film similarly replaces Meredith’s death with Knox’s victimization by tabloid media. By the time Pisa makes the claim that the HIV test result was a ploy, Knox has almost fully replaced Meredith as the victim, and Pisa has replaced Mignini as the primary evil pursuing Knox. Even though Pisa admits himself that much of what he wrote was false, audiences are quick to latch onto Pisa’s newest salacious statement that the HIV test result was a deliberate ploy to get and publish Knox’s sex partner list. The implication is clear- Amanda is being pursued by Pisa and the tabloid media because of her sexual promiscuity.nxj6s

Meredith is reduced to an afterthought in Amanda’s tale; Meredith is not the one needing saving now. She doesn’t even warrant a R.I.P.  mention in the film’s conclusion.

The filmmakers have disclaimed any role in constructing a narrative by stating they have simply let the subjects of the film a free and open space to say what they wanted to say. The production of a feature film, instead of an interview, obviously involves many decisions. This is where the narrative is constructed; whether through deliberate storytelling on the part of the filmmakers or, as may be the case, inadvertently through their own background and assumptions. They filmmakers stated they ‘started with the final supreme court ruling and worked backwards;’ which privileges Knox’s story and appearance in the film. The film takes the Supreme Court’s statement on “media pressure” and swaps in Pisa’s tabloid reporting on “Foxy Knoxy.” Musically, the film could have replaced the score with Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” to the same effect. Instead of contrasting Meredith’s funeral with  Knox’s diary writing that she “could kill for a pizza” (made days after the murder), the film instead edits the funeral together with Pisa’s pursuit of headlines over any sense of humanity for lost life. And-as the directors later state-they didn’t have a film without Mignini, the target of many of Knox’s US supporters.

abc.pngA successful narrative is as much a process of exclusion as it is of inclusion, and the film makes several significant omissions. One key omission is the ruling from the Nencini appeals court, which contradicts the film’s narrative of the damsel in distress. The Nencini court was the second court to uphold the conviction of Knox and Sollecito, and Mignini had nothing to do with it. Judge Nencini harshly criticizes the independent experts Conti and Vecchiotti who appear in the film. The film reduces this appellate hearing to a quick 10 second screen mention.  During the appeals, the focus in the US was still on Mignini. Commentators on news sites in the US blamed Mignini for ‘retrying Amanda until he got the ruling he wanted,’ thus American audiences were primed to accept this story of redemption.

patrick-lumumba_1361210cOne person excluded from the film is Patrick, the Congolese man Knox blamed for the murder after about about two hours of questioning on the evening of November 5th. The filmmakers chose not to go from Perugia to Poland, where Patrick resided after losing his business in Italy. Patrick would have offered a more nuanced telling of the story. But ultimately, the black man who lost his business due to Knox’s accusations destabilizes the narrative of the woman in distress.

Rudy Guede, who had an apartment near Raffaele, is also almost entirely left out of the film. Guede is the only person serving a sentence for Meredith’s murder. The film’s editing suggests that Guede changed his story and blamed Knox to get a reduced sentence; again reinforcing the pursuit of Amanda as the central theme.

The film presents Mignini as a moralistic Ahab; except Mignini’s monsters that he chases endlessly are everywhere. Mignini’s statement when looking at the brutality of Meredith’s murder- “was it a monster that did this”-  becomes an indictment of his own pursuit. Instead of the film presenting a richer view of the evidence that led a trial court and an appellate court to convict Knox and Sollecito, the film concludes with a religious commentary from Mignini: final judgement will not come in this lifetime, but in death.

Ultimately the blame for “Foxy Knoxy” is laid at the feet of Nick Pisa. He becomes the real wolf preying on Amanda, and it’s Nick Pisa that the filmmakers ultimately slay.  In doing so, the white knight filmmakers restore Knox’s lost “innocence” and rescue her from the beasts that have pursued her for the last nine years.

In the end, the brutality of Meredith’s murder is all but forgotten.

By and large, those who have not been subjected to the “woman in distress” reporting have rejected the film’s narrative. They remember that the real story of a girl enjoying la bella vita before she is interrupted by the evil that besets her…

…is Meredith Kercher’s story.

As it currently stands, the Italian courts have ruled that Guede did not kill Meredith alone. The case is unresolved.

For additional information and reactions to the documentary:

Full list of evidence in the trial of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Stephanie Kercher, sister of Meredith: “Why will Amanda Knox not stop speaking about Meredith Kercher’s murder?” Sister of victim speaks out to warn we still don’t REALLY know what happened despite ‘unnecessary’ Netflix show. (UK Daily Mail)

Documentary leaves people of color out of the story (The Stranger)

Producer Stephen Morse attacks credibility of Nick Pisa.

How the documentary misrepresents the DNA evidence. (True Justice for Meredith Kercher/Krissy G)

 

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Shocking! Producer Stephen Morse attacks credibility of journalist Nick Pisa years before Pisa appears in Morse’s documentary!

Stephen Morse, a producer for the Netflix documentary “Amanda Knox,” has on several occasions expressed his criticism of Nick Pisa and the Daily Mail. On at least two occasions Morse accused Pisa and the Daily Mail of deliberately lying. Morse writes in one of his twitter posts from 2011 that he confronted Pisa on the “lies” published by the Daily Mail.

According to Morse and one of the directors, the three of them started on the film in 2011. Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito had been convicted at the trial level, and their appeal to the Hellmann court was scheduled to be heard in late September of that year.

Morse traveled to Italy in late 2011 to cover the trial and provided twitter updates. His belief in Knox’s innocence shows in his tweets. It seems that one of the co-directors of the “Amanda Knox” documentary, Rod Blackhurst,  was also in Perugia at this time.

During the appeal hearings, Producer Stephen Morse provided the first evidence of his criticisms of Pisa and the Daily Mail. He claims that citations to ‘fraudsters’ would be better than citing Nick Pisa and the Daily Mail:

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Several days later, Morse confronted Nick Pisa in Perugia. While the details of this confrontation are not known, it is clear what Morse though of Pisa. His tweet uses the hash tag “#nickpisashitjournalist”; which reads “Nick Pisa Shit Journalist.” Morse writes the he confronted Pisa on the “lies” in the Daily Mail, which Pisa denied:

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A year later Morse repeated his claim that the Daily Mail and its reporters printed lies:

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In 2014, three years into working on the “Amanda Knox” documentary, Morse continued his criticism of the Daily Mail on his blog. Morse wrote that Knox was innocent, which he found out upon arriving in Perugia in 2011. Morse wrote of his desire to see Knox “free from the hatred that has already been lofted upon her for years.”

“In the narrative of Amanda Knox, Amanda has been portrayed as the bad guy, especially for people in the United Kingdom, who saw the trashy, headline-driven press in The Daily Mail, The Sun, and The Daily Mirror that target “working class” citizens of that former empire.” -Stephen Morse, 24 Feb 2014

In a now-deleted blog post, while in the middle of working on the film, Morse describes his desire for a rehabilitation of Knox’s image in the media:

“Amanda has responded with strength and intelligence to the people who have created hateful Facebook groups against her, like Perugia Vi Odia (Perugia Hates You), and it is my hope that one day her world will be free of the misplaced hatred that has already been lofted upon her for years.” -Stephen Morse, 24 Feb 2014

In recent reviews of the documentary, its clear Nick Pisa does not come across as sympathetic in the documentary. The Guardian writes that Nick Pisa becomes “a one-man symbol of how shameful that coverage became.” (Guardian, 15-Sep 2016). The Daily Beast writes “The filmmakers put much of the onus on tabloid reporters like Nick Pisa” (Daily Beast, 18-Sep 2016).

It leaves the question: did Nick Pisa know that this documentary was being produced by the person who confronted Pisa in Perugia in 2011 and accused Pisa and the Daily Mail of lying?

Netflix has attempted to distance Morse from the documentary, claiming the title “producer” was only honorary. But the film that will be broadcast across America on September 30th by all reports reflects the published views of producer Morse during the time he claims he was producing the “Amanda Knox” documentary.

Coincidence?

I think not!

 

Errors in Lifetime’s “Murder on Trial in Italy” about Amanda Knox

The movie provides a confused look at the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The flashbacks are difficult to connect. For an overview of the evidence in the case, visit the evidence page on The Murder of Meredith Kercher Wiki.

  1. Knox was NOT “tried twice” for the same crime; her original conviction from 2009 was affirmed in 2014 by the Florence appeals court. 
  2. Most of the dialogue is fictional.
  3. The relationship scenes with Meredith are not based on available evidence. Meredith did not like confrontation, despite what the film shows on the stairs. The only accurate scene is that Meredith did attend the classical concert with Knox and left half way through.
  4. Postal police did not show up looking for meredith; they were looking for Filomena, as they had that information from the cell phone. Meredith’s british phone was foreign-registered, and they did not have that registration data.
  5. Postal police did not drive right up to the house and stop; they took some time finding the house, as it was off a long driveway to a main road intersection.
  6. The cottage was not connected to other structures, as shown. Thus you don’t get a view of the 2nd floor window that was broken.  The Cottage
  7. Knox wouldn’t have to “go upstairs” after entering the house; the driveway entrance leads directly to their apartment. Knox also did not notice the broken window when she first came home as Hayden says; Knox showered, left, then came back with Sollectio before the broken window was allegedly found.
  8. The movie implies Knox didn’t take a shower but “ran back” to sollecito’s. Knox actually did take a shower in her bathroom, according to her testimony and stories.
  9. The layout of the cottage is wrong; it shows porch doors off the kitchen next to the entryway; in reality this is the location of the bathroom that Guede’s excrement was found in.
  10. The drops of blood were on the sink, bidet, light switch, and door frame.
  11. Knox did not “run back to” Sollecito’s after seeing this evidence; she took a shower, returned with a mop to Sollecitos, mopped the floor in Sollecito’s kitchen, and may have had breakfast with him before telling him what she saw at her apartment.
  12. Filomena’s bedroom was actually off the kitchen; not across the hall from Knox’s as shown in the movie.
  13. Knox did not come down to meredith’s door after it was broken; she never saw into the room. Knox and Sollecito remained in the kitchen.
  14. Meredith wasn’t in town when Knox moved in; she had gone back to visit her parents.
  15. Knox did not go to the chocolate festival with Sollecito; the festival occurred prior to Knox meeting Sollecito.
  16. Knox and Sollecito did not go on a picnic (as also mentioned by Nikki Battiste) .
  17. The film does not mention the other guys Knox hooked up with and/or brought home prior to Sollecito; thus Meredith’s comment “you’ve already got a boyfriend” would never have been said about Sollecito.
  18. The luminol prints were found when the police returned in December; not the same day the murder was discovered.
  19. Knox and Sollecito did not wander around the city after the murder was discovered; they were taken to the station.
  20. Knox and sollecito were not at the memorial for Meredith; they had been getting pizza. The memorial happened on the evening of the 5th.
  21. Knox was introduced to Patrick (and the job) by someone else.
  22. The bloody footprint on the bathmat wasn’t from a shoe, as shown; it was a bare foot print.
  23. The luminol was not used before Knox and Sollecito’s arrest; it was used several weeks after.
  24. The movie claims the luminol prints were all of the same smaller size; in reality one of the prints was measured and found to match Sollecito’s footprint measurements. 
  25. Nikki Battiste claims Knox didn’t mention at the police station that Meredith’s throat was cut; according to her trial testimony, Knox admitted she referenced Meredith’s throat being cut.
  26. Qunitavalle did not provide his statement until some time after Knox and Sollecito’s arrest. He was discovered by a reporter, who encouraged him to come forward.
  27. Qunitavalle did not testify Knox bought bleach; only that she headed to that section of the store.
  28. Sollecito and Knox were not walking down the street when called in on the 5th; they were having pizza, missing the memorial. Sollecito delayed going in to the station so they could finish dinner.
  29. The investigators did not “manhandle” Sollecito during his questioning.
  30. The reason Sollecito gives for retracting his support for Knox’s alibi is that police didn’t “give him a calendar” to know what day they were talking about (per “Honor Bound”).
    sollecito
  31. Knox was not by herself in the hallway when doing yoga/gymnastics; she was with a policeman.
  32. Knox was taken into the questioning room because she was providing the policeman with a list of names; not because Sollecito had retracted his support for her alibi as the movie shows.
  33. The police did not know about the text FROM patrick, as Knox had already deleted the incoming message. Her phone only contained an outgoing text TO patrick, but her sent folder did not have the name associated with the number. Police were questioning her about the text she sent, not the one she received.
  34. Mignini was not present during Knox’s initial questioning and statement. According to an interview with him, it was Knox that wanted to continue talking after her 1:45am statement, leading to the 5:45am statement.
  35. Her questioning on the night of the 5th was not for “13 hours” as Hayden says; Knox started talking to police at about 11:30pm and blamed patrick within about 2 hours, then signed her first statement at 1:45am. After that there was a break; she again made the statement leading up to her 5:45 am statement.
  36. Knox wasn’t immediately told she was under arrest after blaming Patrick; she didn’t understand this until later that day.
  37. It was not a finger print that led to identifying Guede; it was a partial palm print.
  38. The police did not wait to tell Knox the first HIV test may have been a false positive; Knox was told immediately the HIV test result could have been a false positive.
  39. The police did not request a list of Knox’s sex partners after the HIV test; she decided to make a list and write it in her diary after a prison official said she may want to think about who she caught it from.
    knoxhiv
  40. Guede did not say “Knox wasn’t involved;” he gave an alibi that he met Meredith for a date, and when he showed up for the date Knox wasn’t home. His alibi claimed he was in the bathroom when Meredith was murdered.
  41. Guede didn’t change this story substantially.
  42. Guede’s DNA was not “all over the bedroom;” the instances of Guede’s DNA were only the specific ones discussed- bra, sleeve of sweatshirt, on her body, and on the purse. 
  43. The blood on the bathroom tap was not mixed; the tap blood contained only Knox’s DNA. This blood was not on the tap on the previous day, per Knox’s own testimony. 
  44. Meredith’s DNA was on a scratch in the blade on the knife taken from Sollecitos, not the tip.
  45. The prison doctor did not ask Knox to make a list of her sex partners. 
  46. Knox did not wave and smile to the press; she waved and smiled to her family when she entered court and laughed with her lawyers.
  47. It wasn’t Deanna who said “she only lived there for two months; she barely knew you.” This is a statement Knox made:

    But in the end, I only knew her for one month, and more than anything, I am trying to think how to go forward with my own life. (Knox, Translated Trial Testimony, The Murder of Meredith Kercher Wiki)

  48. The dialog about the first phone call Knox makes to her mother on the 2nd is not what is recorded in the court testimony, though Knox does testify she didn’t remember this first phone call.
  49. Knox was not asked about Quintavalle’s testimony. She did not say anything about being in his story previously.
  50. The closing statement by Mignini is fictional and contains several errors that he wouldn’t have made.

Fox news gets a “D” for their misleading report

If ABC News fed the beast of American jingoism, Fox News provided the dessert. (Liberals in the US will hardly be surprised.)

Yesterday, I reported on the misleading report published by ABC News. Their report took seventeen (17!) paragraphs before they correctly called the latest “retrial” an appeal. But by the time ABC News talked about this week’s proceedings as an appeal, they already used the word appeal five other times referring to other things, which prevents any average reader from understanding that the current trial is an appeal.

Fox News does slightly better; they only take 16 paragraphs before almost describing the current process as an “appeal.” They don’t actually call the proceedings an appeal- they talk about the outcome of the current proceedings as an “appeal verdict.” Fox News also uses “appeal” or “appellate” five other times, referring to the first annulled appeals trial and ruling. Again, by the time readers gets to the paragraph that mentions an “appeal verdict,”  they have no basis for understanding what “appeal verdict” means.

Fox News also does slightly better in stating that the acquittal was overturned, but they follow the rest of the US mainstream media by referencing the acquittals ruling to create an interesting story.  A ruling that has no current legal basis in the proceedings in Italy, as it was tossed out by the Italian supreme court.

The processes going on in Italy is an appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito against their conviction for murder. It is NOT the third try to find them guilty. They have already been found guilty by the first court, and they are appealing that decision. The guilty conviction is provisional until all appeals are exhausted and the supreme court approves a final ruling.

In the United States, both state and the US supreme court toss cases back to the appellate level all the time.

Channel 5 TV FAIL: The window climb

According to one Knox’s supporters, repeatability is one of the measures of good science. Repeatability means if you repeat an experiment *under the same conditions*, it  will lead to the same result. If the conditions are not the same, then repeatability is not relevant. Here, then, are ways in which Channel 5 fails at repeating (recreating) elements leading to the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Below is an analysis of the window climbing demonstration.

Continue reading

ABCNews gets an “F” for their Amanda Knox reporting

American Jingoism needs to be fed, and this week ABC News supplies the chow.

ABC News begins misleading readers with the headline: “Amanda Knox’s Third Trial Starts With Plea for ‘Dignity of Truth’.” Nowhere in their headline would you understand that today’s proceedings were an appeal. The Italian Supreme Court threw out the last appellate court ruling, and kicked the case back to the appellate level.  It happens all the time in the United States. The American media loves to report on the acquittal, but within the Italian legal process that acquittal is gone- it was annulled.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have the original conviction for murder facing them, and this case is re-hearing of their appeals for their original guilty conviction.

It takes readers seventeen paragraphs before ABC News calls today’s proceedings an appeal. 17! And they put this on the second page. Does someone know what the reader drop-off is between the first page of a news report and the second page?

By the time you get to the seventeenth paragraph (17!), ABC News has actually already used some form of “appeals”  FIVE other times, and none of them referring to today’s proceedings.  In the very first paragraph, ABC News misdirects readers from understanding the later use of “appeal” by referring to the reading of a letter from the Kercher family: “Amanda Knox’s third murder trial began in an Italian courtroom today with a written appeal from the sister of Meredith Kercher.”  By referring to this as a “murder trial” separately from an “appeal”, ABC News sets up readers to believe this is something completely new. Or, as people from the US like to shout, “Double jeopardy, double jeopardy!”

Their reporting then goes on to talk about the appeals court: “an appeals court threw out the verdict in 2011.” Then, in talking about the Supreme Court ruling, ABC News NEVER MENTIONS that the acquittal was thrown out. Not a single mention of this significant fact. ABC reports on the Supreme Court’s criticism of the appeal sentence, but doesn’t mention it was thrown out. ABC News only reports the Supreme Court ruling asked a “new court” to do a “new trial,” without once mentioning that this sent the case back to the appellate level.

By this time, ABC News has led readers to believe that the acquittal was still valid, but, hey, you know, the Supreme Court just wanted someone else to try the case again.

ABC News digs this point in, by using a quote from Carlo Dalla Vedova, Knox’s attorney. He “asked the court if Knox “is being treated like other defendants… Is this constitutional that she be tried endlessly?”” (Oh, they forgot to mention- another defendant, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, is going through the EXACT SAME PROCESS alongside Knox.)

Because the acquittals ruling makes such an interesting story, ABC News revisits a finding of that ruling- a finding that was tossed out and has no value in the proceedings today. In discussing the ruling, ABC News uses a version of “appeals” for the fourth time and fifth time. They first discuss the finding of the “appeals court“, and in the last line of the paragraph they refer to the “appellate ruling.” However, the ABC still hasn’t said that this ruling was thrown out, overturning Knox & Sollectio’s acquittals.

ABC must have had at least two contributors to this article, because here, in the 17th paragraph, they suddenly turn completely and say “The appeal will be heard by a panel….”. ABC’s report NEVER CONNECTS today’s proceedings with this paragraph, leaving readers confused as to which appeal they are talking about.  ABC’s article ends without mentioning any reference to this appeals: “The next hearing in the retrial is set for this Friday.”

Despite those criticisms, I do have to point out a the positive portion of ABC’s report. They do devote a significant portion of the article to murder victim Meredith Kercher. they report on the letter and the statement from Meredith’s family that was sent to the court.

Huffington Post feeds American jingoism

On September 25, Huffington Post published an article by crime writer David Lohr, titled Amanda Knox retrial: What could happen? Lohr’s article spews contempt of the proceedings in the Italian courts, and contains many inaccuracies. His article is also extremely lopsided, only using as a reference an “expert” connected to the Knox family and the Friends of Amanda group. In addition, Huffington Post’s push of this article contained the same contempt for the court proceedings in italy. By publishing wrong information and biased information of the Italian courts, the Huffington Post feeds the jingoistic response that has been typical of the US audience.

Huffington Post frequently changes their lead headlines, oftentimes publishing something sensationalistic leading to an article that is more balanced. However, in this case, Huffington Post lead in their ticker with language found in the author’s article, which described the “circus-like” proceedings of the case.

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Lohr’s primary source is Anne Bremner, which as he states is “well known as counsel and spokesperson for the “Friends of Amanda Knox” organization”. His only other reference is an expert witness for the defense. Lohr provides no balance to his article, which may be what led to his statement regarding the “circus-like” proceedings in Italy.

The most significant error in Lohr’s article is he attributes Knox’s acquittal to the  Italian Supreme Court. He puts words in their mouths that they never said:

…their verdicts were overturned by the Italian Supreme Court at a second-level trial. In an official statement about overturning the convictions, the judges wrote there was a “material non-existence” of evidence to support the guilty verdicts.

The court of appeals acquitted Knox and Sollectio, not the supreme court. To discuss the annulment of that acquittal (a decision the italian supreme court actually made), Lohr uses a much weaker quote from FOA spokesperson Bremner:

“The case was overturned purportedly because the decision of the appellate court had ‘inconsistencies,'” Bremner said.

Actually, the acquittal by the appellate court was overturned because of lack of logic and breaches of law, along with other inconsistencies made by the appellate court. And this is not a “purported” action- this is an actual documented action that happened, and the Supreme Court’s reasoning can be found in the translated documents at perugiamurderfile.org.

Lohr falsely attributes a statement to the Italian supreme court regarding the strength of the case, then uses a biased source for a quote for the annulment of the acquittal. He therefore feeds the American perception that the Italian courts are illogically pursuing a conviction against Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollectio. Lohr continues pushing Bremner’s false information:

“The last verdict standing in this case is the acquittal,” Bremner said. “There can be no extradition attempt absent a change to her status.”

In fact, the acquittal was overturned, and the last verdict standing is the original court’s conviction. Lohr can confirm this through a simple google news search if he wanted.

Lohr reports that in an extradition hearing “factual innocence is a defense and the double jeopardy argument exists.” He provides no grounds for this statement. The double jeopardy argument is actually limited to what exists in the treaty; Amanda Knox’s own lawyer is also reported by the Toronto Sun as stating that double jeopardy does not apply, as this is a continuation of the same case on appeal.

There are many other biases and inconsistencies in Lohr’s article. He says that Knox only signed a single statement in her questioning on the night of the 5th and morning of the 6th. He continues with the “50 hours of questioning” line that Knox and the Friends of Amanda pushed early on in the case; Knox’s most recent statements only talk about the 8 hours of questioning between Nov 5th and Nov 6th. (Knox ignores that her first statement came after less than three hours of questioning, at 1:45 am.) Lohr also says the “prosecution plans to move forward with or without her,” without further stating that Knox’s attendance is not required, and it is Knox’s own decision to not be at the trial.

The wide publication and ticker heading that Huffington Post gave to such a biased article feeds the jingoism that exists in the US. One only need to read the comments to Lohr’s article to see the jingoism at work.