Headsup: Will Gladwell perpetuate hoax at heart of new book Monday in Los Angeles interview with Brit Marling? We'd appreciate someone warning her, also Larry Wilmore, and help them avoid legal liabilities.

Category: NY Times

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

As Fake News Is Increasingly Not Being Bought Into, Painstaking Newspapers & Websites Are Benefiting

Posted by Peter Quennell

Co-founder David Mikkelson of snopes.com, one of the main debunkers of fake news 

Fake-news seems to be the only hard-news topic on American news channels these days. Our poster Hopeful said this about it last Thursday:

Fake news, a dreadful new trend. It makes slanted news stories seem tame in comparison with outright lies. Believe only half of what you read, stay cautious and consider the source. That will be my new mantra.

Hopeful is far from alone, it seems. Particularly in the financial industries professionals just cant risk betting on what might be myth-making. Fox News long blamed as a main cause of it is moving to a new place under the sons of Rupert Murdoch.

And the New York Times as the American newspaper of record (it is usually huge, if you havent seen a paper version) which most of the time strives for extreme carefulness is seeing a bonanza in its newspaper and online-subscriptions. This is a report by the influential Seeking Alpha investment site.

Fake News Will Boost The New York Times by Duane Bair

Apparently, in the year 2016, an alarming number of Americans are unable to decipher the difference between obscure conspiracy theories and actual world events.

While I won’t comment on how profoundly sad that statement reads, it is worth discussing its impact on traditional media. The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) remains the most read and one of the most respected news outlets in the country.

With such high levels of uncertainty regarding basic facts, Americans are increasingly turning to media brands they know and trust. The years of declining revenue may finally begin to reverse as the new normal in political discourse emerges.

The Oxford dictionary named ‘post truth’ as the word of the year for 2016. Anyone tuning into recent world events can immediately understand the context of that decision. With the seeming explosion of “fake news” and little to no desire by social media companies to rein it in, traditional media may grow in stock as it has maintained a relatively solid reputation for fact-based reporting.

In an attempt for higher ratings, many traditional media networks and newspaper have stepped into dangerous territory, by giving voice to untrustworthy sources that regularly misinform. Many in the public have been able to recognize this phenomenon. The select news outlets that resisted are being rewarded with massive subscription bumps.

As other news outlets continue to cut costs and eliminate high expense in-depth journalism, The New York Times is investing in this space. Readers are noticing and subscribing to the times while abandoning some peers. Subscribers are longer lasting and reflect a more positive outlook than simple viewer gains that are inevitable in the lead up to an election.

Over the next four years, we are likely to see an onslaught of misinformation from formerly fringe elements of the media. If the 2016 campaign period was any indication, the next few years will likely see a blurring between uncontested facts and skewed innuendo.

A recent Buzzfeed poll (don’t worry, the methodology is sound) of 3,105 respondents found that 75% of regular news consumers were unable to distinguish a fake news story from the truth. The new administration may, in part, be adding to the confusion.

 


Monday, March 07, 2016

Knox’s Nasty-Prisons Hoax: NY Times Describes How Italy Leads The World In Rehabilitation

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



A classy restaurant in an Italian prison which inmates in training fully run

1. The Knox Picture Of Italian Prison Conditions

Three years ago Amanda Knox devoted 200 pages of her book to an extended horror story about her stay in prison.

Knox provided zero proof. Knox has never published her charges in Italian in Italy, so the rebuttals by those Knox maligned are not (yet) in.

But almost immediately English-language corrections and rebuttals started to flow.  See also all these rebuttals here.

Knox was contradicted by her own lawyers who had visited her often and heard no complaints. She was contradicted by the US Embassy in Rome which monitored her often and heard no complaints. She was contradicted by Rocco Girlanda, an Italian Member of Parliament, who checked her conditions over 20 times (and then wrote a loving book) and reported no complaints. Her own parents reported no complaints.

Even so, one year ago, Knox reissued her notoriously dishonest book. It had been added-to, but not even one of the malicious claims was withdrawn.

Our main poster Chimera highlighted the lies throughout the entire book (over 400) and Posts #3 to #9 here are devoted to Knox’s prison lies.

2. The Real Picture Of Italian Prison Conditions

The Italian prison system was historically always very humane - bathrooms and sometimes kitchens attached to cells; TV in all cells; walk-around rights during the day; numerous group activities such as concerts and games; hair-dressing for women and even massage; and skills training for inmates in an occupation of their choice (Guede and Sollecito both completed degrees).

Around five years ago, largely because of immigrant crimes, the prison population (previously below 100,000 - in the US, California prisons alone hold almost twice that) began to balloon.

New prisons were built, with no expenses spared, and in these images you can see the result.

Stories of extreme over-crowding have gone away, and the New York Times profiles the new prisons and their programs of today.

For years, Italy has struggled with its prison system, as well as how to balance punishment with rehabilitation. Overcrowding had become such a problem that in January 2013 the European Court of Human Rights ordered the country to fix the system. [Actually the ECHR cannot “order” anything, and anyway the building program was already well under way.]

Italian lawmakers responded with more alternative measures for minor crimes. In 2014, Italy also repealed harsh drug sentencing laws enacted during the 1990s, similar to the “three strikes” laws in the United States. In 2014, Italy began releasing 10,000 inmates (of roughly 60,000) who had been convicted of minor offenses.

But the issue of how best to rehabilitate offenders “” and lower the recidivism rate “” remained difficult. Italy has long allowed inmates in medium-security prisons to move around the facilities during the day.

“The main problem has been that they do little during the day, which doesn’t help them at the present, nor for their future outside prisons,” said Alessio Scandurra, who works for Antigone, a nonprofit group focused on the rights of detainees.

The Bollate prison was at the vanguard of experimentation even before opening the restaurant. Under the director, Massimo Parisi, the prison offers an array of programs. Companies have work programs on prison grounds. Volunteers teach theater and painting. Carpentry skills are taught in workshops equipped with power drills and saws. Inmates maintain a stable of horses in the prison yard.

There is also an initiative involving a carefully vetted group of 200 inmates who are allowed to leave each day for jobs with an outside firm. Inmates travel without supervision on public transportation; they must check in upon arrival at work, and at other points during the day.

Mr. Parisi said only one inmate had failed to return at the appointed time, and he showed up a few days later.

The Times reporter follows this with what has to be a global first - a topnotch restaurant run by inmates right inside one jail.





Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Prominent US Legal Commentator On The Evidence Points That Simply Won’t Go Away

Posted by Peter Quennell




Now a second prominent TV analyst joins CNN’s Nancy Grace.

Wendy Murphy is controversial, but then, aren’t they all? Like Nancy Grace she is a former prosecutor. This syndicated report is already being carried on 150 media websites.

The evidence still points to Amanda Knox

What’s more galling: Amanda Knox making out with her co-defendant boyfriend hours after Meredith Kercher was stabbed to death, or Amanda Knox crying tears of self-pleasure after being acquitted of murder despite overwhelming evidence of her guilt?

The most horrifying part of this story is the way it proves our collective stupidity. If a guilty criminal spends enough money on public relations, we can be convinced that up is down and a murderer is a national hero….

Here’s a small sample of what Amanda’s obKNOXious cheerleaders don’t want you to know:

Wendy Murphy then summarises four of the evidence points that wont go away. Pesky stuff. Mr Sollecito? Ms Knox?

It seems that lawyers are increasingly not taking kindly to the usurping of the law by P-R.

*******

Added Wednesday afternoon. Wendy Murphy’s article was the subject of a concerted attacked with the usual faux facts on many websites. She came back fighting with this long comment.

Please refrain from posting false information. There is ABUNDANT evidence against Knox and Sollecito.

Guede’s involvement in the murder cannot be questioned. Nor is it in doubt that there were multiple offenders. Guede’s race is irrelevant. That Amanda Knox falsely accused an innocent black man is highly relevant and speaks to her consciounsness of guilt, and her character, as much as her racism. One news report revealed that she once photographed herself in a white supremecist context (claiming it was a joke).

She claimed to make the initial false accusation against an innocent black man (Patrick Lumumba) under stress from police questioning, but when given a chance to clarify her accusation at a later date, she reaffirmed her false claim against him. The man sat in prison for two weeks because of Amanda’s false accusation. She was convicted of lying about police treating her unfairly. One of her lawyers at the first trial told the New York Times her trial was fair.

ONLY THE BRA CLASP WAS ALLEGEDLY ‘CONTAMINATED’ - NOT THE KNIFE

The defense argued that the DNA on a metal bra clasp, which had been severed from the victim’s bra, could have been contaminated when it was moved on the floor, six weeks after the murder, or in the forensic laboratory in Rome. The judge at the trial of Rudy Guede acknowledged that the DNA sample on the clasp was considered small, but described the claim of contamination at the laboratory as making ‘no sense’, since there was no material from which such contamination could have come, and so ‘the risk would have been the LOSS of traces found there, not the risk of somehow discovering new traces’.

FROM CNN

The defense has said the knife found at Sollecito’s apartment doesn’t match Kercher’s wounds or an imprint of a knife left on a bedsheet at Kercher’s apartment. They have also said the DNA sample is too small to be conclusive. They also raised speculation that the DNA found on the bra clasp could have been contaminated.

THE DNA EVIDENCE WAS ONLY A SMALL PIECE OF THE MOUNTAIN OF EVIDENCE AGAINST AMANDA KNOX

‘Why do you need to review the forensic evidence when this conviction is based on much more than the knife and the bra clasp?’ Prosecutor Manuela Comodi argued before the court began deliberating.
She then reminded the court that Knox and Sollecito don’t have an alibi for the night of the killing, adding that there was ‘ample’ evidence of a staged break-in.

FROM ITALIAINFORMAZIONI.COM
..
Kercher’s body was found with her throat cut on November 2, 2007, in the house she shared with Knox in the central Italian city. A knife with a 6-inch blade was later found at Sollecito’s house, bearing traces of Kercher’s DNA on the blade and Knox’s on the handle. The defence teams of both Knox and Sollecito, who pleaded innocent at the weekend, have cast doubt on the DNA findings, saying the samples were too small to prove their provenance. THEY DID NOT CLAIM THE SAMPLES ON THE KNIVES WERE CONTAMINATED. THE DEFENSE ONLY CLAIMED THAT KERCHER’S DNA ON THE BLADE WAS TOO SMALL TO BE A MATCH - BUT EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE THAT - IT IS SIGNIFICANT THAT KERCHER OULD NOT BE RULED OUT!

Guede says he was in the bathroom of the house when he heard Knox and Kercher argue about money [Meredith had several hundred dollars in her room - that went missing - which was likely the motive that sparked the fight] before Kercher screamed and he found her in a pool of blood

FROM THE DAILY BEAST

Forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni, who testified as a prosecution witness last spring, wrote too low in English on initial results, assumed to mean that the samples of Kerchers DNA on the alleged murder weapon were only partial strands that needed amplification. [THERE WAS NO DISPUTE THAT AMANDA KNOX’S DNA ON THE HANDLE WAS A LARGE ENOUGH SAMPLE SIZE TO BE MATCHED TO AMANDA KNOX. NOR WAS THERE A DISPUTE THAT THE BLADE HAD BEEN SCRUBBED CLEAN WITH BLEACH AND AN ABRASIVE SUBSTANCE]. Writing too low suggests the expert was copying a reading directly from the machine, while she was continuing to test the sample. The implication, according to the defense, is that Stefanoni then had to amplify the tiny sample found on the blade beyond the protocol to find a match to Kerchers DNA. AMPLIFICATION IS NOT FORENSICALLY INAPPROPRIATE AND IS DONE ALL THE TIME.

FROM ARTICLESBASE.COM

Knox and Sollecito were interviewed several times by the police on the day the murder was discovered and the following two days. On 5 November 2007, Knox voluntarily accompanied Sollecito to the police station where he gave a statement, in the course of which he said that he DID NOT KNOW FOR SURE that Knox was with him on the night of the murder. The police then decided to question Knox and began the interview at 23.00 that evening. Knox was interviewed twice during the night of 56 November, firstly by the judicial police and then, later, in the presence of a prosecutor. During these interviews, Knox made statements implicating Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a bar-restaurant named Le Chic, at which she occasionally worked. She said that she had accompanied Lumumba to Kercher’s house and had been in the kitchen and heard screams while Lumumba committed the murder.

Knox was formally arrested later on the morning of 6 November. Some time afterwards she made a written note to the police, explaining that she was confused when she made the earlier statements [IMPLICATING HERSELF], saying ‘I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion’. However, she still seemed to incriminate Lumumba, saying: ‘I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick [Lumumba], but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.’ She went on to say ‘I see Patrick as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.’

Lumumba was arrested on 6 November 2007 as a result of Knox’s statements. He was detained for two weeks until the arrest of Guede. Initially doubts about his alibi were reported in the press, but ultimately he was completely exonerated.

Knox’s DNA was found on two of the knives kept in Sollecito’s kitchen drawer for cooking, and a small amount of Kercher’s DNA was found on one of the two. At trial, the defence countered that Knox’s DNA would normally be on the knife because she used knives for cooking at Sollecito’s apartment. The defence also challenged the Kercher DNA sample as being too small to be reliable. Knox and Sollecito’s defence teams also asserted that this knife was not the lethal weapon because it did not match two of the three wounds and tested negative for blood. However, a forensic evidence expert for the prosecution testified that it was compatible with one of the wounds on Kercher’s neck, but that two other wounds might have been inflicted by a different weapon;

Mixed samples of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood were found in the apartment, including in the bathroom sink and in Filomena Romanelli’s room. The defence argued that Knox’s DNA should be expected to be present there in the ordinary course of her use of the apartment and bathroom as a resident of the cottage - BUT KNOX HERSELF MADE STATEMENTS TO POLICE CONCEDING THERE WAS NO REASON FOR HER DNA TO BE MIXED WITH THE VICTIM’S BLOOD IN SO MANY LOCATIONS IN THE APARTMENT. KNOX HAD LIVED THERE FOR ONLY A FEW SHORT WEEKS BEFORE THE MURDER.

*******.

AN IMPORTANT PIECE FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES ABOUT PRO-KNOX POLITICAL INFLUENCE/POSSIBLE CORRUPTION

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016448492_knox09m.html


Monday, October 10, 2011

Media Starting To Take A Closer Look At The Knox PR Shills With Nina Burleigh Exhibit One

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





Click on the image above for the report on the PR role of Nina Burleigh by the New York Times’s Kate Zernike.

In the news media’s frenzy surrounding an Italian court’s decision last week to free Amanda Knox, the American exchange student convicted of killing her roommate in Perugia, the journalist Nina Burleigh was a near-constant television presence. Her face looped in and out of shows like “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “Anderson Cooper 360.” She made appearances on NPR, the BBC and MSNBC.

With her emphatic defense of Ms. Knox (criticizing the “appalling” treatment of her by the Italian courts and news media, insisting “the evidence didn’t exist,” that the “jury rubber-stamped a conviction”), Ms. Burleigh seemed at times to move from journalist to advocate, treading what she knew, as a longtime reporter and author, was a dangerous line.

Nina Burleigh has certainly had a busy, busy week - playing advocate for Amanda Knox, plugging Burleigh’s own book on the case, and helping CBS sell the first of many (many more than anyone wants to see) pre-packaged Knox pieces that dutifully toe the Marriott Party line.

Those looking for facts are advised to watch major league baseball on Sunday night.

Burleigh found herself facing a dilemma before she penned the first paragraph of her book: Team Marriott, firmly in place by then, would only allow access to advocacy journalists. So Burleigh took that path, a disastrous one for everything but television exposure and perhaps book sales.

Burleigh jumped on board late, does not speak Italian, attended only a handful of trial sessions, and even got the birthdate of the victim, Meredith Kercher, wrong. Worse, she used the Knox’s friendly translator as her interpreter! That trail is a loop that leads to a predictable place.

For authors claiming to be journalists, this excellent NY Times piece should serve as a warning: Advocacy is not journalism. It leads to conflict of interest and turns journalists into shills. And this is bad for all of us.

This book should be on the bedside table of anyone who aspires to be a journalist.



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not For The First Time Has Zombie-Like Behavior Afflicted American Crime Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Comedy Channel’s Jon Stewart commenting on the media’s role in the Duke Lacrosse framing case 12 April 2007]


The headline yesterday on the NY Times’s Perugia reporting: “Appeal Trial Of Amanda Knox Opens In Italy”.

You can see the image in one of yesterday’s posts. Believe it or not the paper version of the NY Times today includes the exact same headline.  We have been getting the NY Times delivered for over 20 years and swear by most of the reporting.

For some reason its crime reporting really sucks.

The Times’s poor crime reporting is a direct cause of my knowing about Meredith. I was following another gladiator battle between one solitary blog and a lot of ranting media, the NY Times included, over accusations of group rape by the male lacrosse team at Duke University.

Nearly a year after it was obvious that the woman and the prosecutor were framing the team, the NY Times STILL took the position that there was strong cause - that they were really guilty. The trial would simply rubber-stamp this.

Other media followed the NY Times’s lead in this, as they often do in the US. See above. This caused untold havoc in the lives of the boys and untold millions in legal fees and the boys will have a cloud over them for life. 

Commenters on that blog (Durham in Wonderland) said maybe the same thing was going on here - maybe in Meredith’s case there was a media rush to judgment that Knox and Sollecito were being framed.

The NY Times has never ever published a kind word about Meredith or her family or supported the Italian authorities in their unenviable task.  The only examples of reports that we point to of the NY Times are truly mischievous and contemptible. Take a look at these for example.

How The New York Times Caused Unneccesary And Unhelpful Anger In Italy

The Second Misleading New York Times Comment On The Case

Had the NY Times said the case is in order as it should have done 18 months ago the wild pro-Knox ride of the rest of the American media would have been cut off at the ankles. The NY Times allowed the mishievous floodgates to open.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Today’s New York Times Headline: Why Much Of US Main Media Is Disbelieved And Ignored Now

Posted by Peter Quennell


But (1) this is an appeal, not a trial, and (2) the first session was back in November 2010. It stands uncorrected still. But (as Fly By Night observes in a comment) this weird correction appears down below.



Friday, April 02, 2010

How The Strongarm Public Relations Resulted in Most Of The Media Getting It Wrong

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the full excerpt from Barbie Nadeau’s new book.

This is surely one of the worst cases of misreporting and malicious bias in all of media history. It’d be very nice (though don’t hold your breath!) if journalism schools and media owners examined the firestorm to stop it ever happening again.

Consider just the US hall of shame.

And please remember: this is the SAME media that turned a blind eye to the Micheli sentencing report on Guede, and appears to be trying hard to do the same (not one of them is translating it) to the Massei sentencing report on Knox and Sollecito.

Here is Barbie Nadeau describing how the sharp-elbowed Knox/Marriott public relations bombardment warped Americans’ take on the case.

Coverage of the crime began to diverge on the two sides of the Atlantic. From the vantage point of Perugia, it seemed as though the Knox family’s American supporters were simply choosing to ignore the facts that were coming to light in Italy….

The American press hung back, at first, objective and somewhat disbelieving that such a wholesome-seeming girl could have any connection to such a sordid foreign crime, and then, as the family stepped up its defense, increasingly divided between two camps that would become simply the innocentisti””those who believed she was blameless””and the colpevolisti, those who did not. In Perugia, these labels governed access…

Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage. Within months, the family decided to speak on the record primarily to the American TV networks, often in exchange for airfare and hotel bills. Most of the print press was shut out. And the TV producers learned to be very cautious about being seen with people like me, lest the Knox family should cut them off.

But as interest in the case grew, an odd assortment of American talking heads attached their reputations to Amanda’s innocence. An aggressive support group called Friends of Amanda formed in Seattle, headed by Anne Bremner, a media-savvy criminal lawyer who had cut her teeth as a tough prosecutor in Seattle’s King County Court…

Very quickly, [PR manager David] Marriott lost control of the situation. As he spoon-fed the Knox-approved message to American outlets that couldn’t afford to send correspondents to Italy, those of us on the ground in Perugia began passing his contradictory e-mails around as entertainment during the long days in the court.

[We reporters in Rome] began what would be a two-year battle against the Seattle message machine, incurring personal attacks and outright threats.

.

We rather like the Daily Beast book, for its splash of cold water on the media, and for its highly accurate accounting of the court proceedings and of the voluminous evidence the judges also describe in their report.

We also believe that although Meredith’s family did not participate, Barbie Nadeau has strong compassion for them, and a sense of real loss over Meredith.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Best-Informed Global Audience Is Now Becoming Strongly Pro-Meredith

Posted by Peter Quennell

Mainstream media really should take note of this.

The smarter, better-educated, better-informed, more pro-active, more influential, and more successful component of the global audience for any one issue is widely recognized now as shifting over here to the internet.

And the global audience for Meredith’s sad case case is clearly swinging now to being very strongly pro-Meredith - one that is becoming stronger and more passionate day-by-day as the deliberate fog blows away.

Meredith didn’t win her final battle against a depraved pack of knife-wielders in her own home. But she sure is winning the hearts and minds of the world in a big way. 


Chart 1 above shows that TJMK is already in THE TOP 10 PERCENT of all 6-plus million websites in the world - a feat almost unheard of for a non-commercial website that refuses all income, and that is run on a shoestring by its posters as a tribute to Meredith as a much loved, admired and lamented victim of a very cruel crime. 
 

Chart 2 above shows that the Perugia Murder File forum is pretty well neck-and-neck with TJMK - a predecessor version of the PMF began soon after Meredith was so cruelly murdered, and the commenters there have sustained their efforts and their deep respect, longing and sadness for Meredith through some very dark days.


Chart 3 above shows that the relatively new and specialized Miss Represented website is remarkably close in its readership to TJMK and the PMF - the M-R site is run by a professional psychologist who is deeply insightful into violent crimes, including crimes against young women, and who has posted on TJMK about the backlash to the Knox campaign in Italy.   


Chart 4 shows that the Perugia Shock blog is way at the back - it now has only about 1/8 of the attractiveness of TJMK although it is twice as old - and its ugly trademark attitudes of being sarcastic toward the police and prosecution, uncaring toward Meredith, and often seriously vicious toward those who would like to see justice for Meredith, remain real losers.

The several other pro-defendant websites are even further back again and fading.

Rest in peace, Meredith. So very many now wish that they had known you. And our commiserations, as always, to your amazing and so-deprived family.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Second Misleading New York Times Comment On The Case

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



No prizes for guessing that this is Italy’s wonderful Venice.

1. Seattle-ite Egan Gets It Bady Wrong, Again

Timothy Egan of the New York Times came back with a follow-up justification to his first post.

The cat was out of the bag at that point, of course, and the first post was being widely ridiculed as untrue and unfair both in the US and in Italy.

Egan’s second post makes me wonder if he actually even read the comments under his first post before firing off his second round. It also makes me wonder if Egan has any idea of how badly his “contribution” was received in Italy, let alone why.

Frankly, I was surprised that a “Pulitzer prize winning” journalist would make these basic mistakes and write such a shockingly bad article to boot.

I posted this NY Times comment on that second post addressed at his first piece, lamenting the number of basic factual mistakes he made, though without enumerating all of them.

From memory, there are at least five major errors in Egan’s blog entry still not corrected

1. Egan claims that no translator was present for the Nov 5 questioning. This is false. Granted, Edda Mellas and others have made this false claim on the record, repeatedly, even after the Italian police formally challenged it. (Note to Egan: check the CNN world news website once in awhile.) Finally, Edda and others had to change their tune in light of the undisputed facts, but they did so by shifting the claim from no interpreter to no “professional” interpreter. This too turns out to be false. How can Egan continue to claim that no interpreter was present when at three were called upon by the prosecution to testify under oath as witnesses to the session of questioning where Egan wants us to believe there were no interpreters? Incidentally, they—like all of the other relevant witnesses—have stated under oath the Knox was not physically abused or maltreated. Conversely and as a reminder, Knox is not testifying under oath.

2. Egan also claims that there is forensic evidence against Guede only, and not the other two suspects. This, as everyone else except official FOA spokespeople know, is false. For anyone who is interested in knowing what it is, this non-profit website would be a good place to start. It is too bad that Mr. Egan did not do more than just consult the new afterword to Doug Preston’s Monster of Florence book. In fact, Egan’s blog entry serves as a friendly review in a way.

3. Egan stated that a 6-person jury, with two judges among them, would decide the fate of Knox and Sollecito. Ii shows Egan’s sweeping and sweepingly ignorant indictment of the Italian criminal justice system. In fact, the correct numbers are 6 lay jurors and 2 judges, for a total of 8 individuals - and thereafter two automatic appeals. Does this make a difference? Only insofar as it is definitely better to demonstrate a grasp of the basics of the system one seeks to criticize. Instead of quoting Rachel Donadio, who was in fact talking about Italy’s Prime Minister, Egan would have been better off trying Wikipedia or, better still, a comparative law website. There are tons of them out there.

4. Egan states that Amanda Knox only suggested that Patrick Lumumba maybe killed Meredith Kercher. In fact, Knox did far more than that. She firmly accused him of killing her roommate, twice orally, and then three times in writing. The written statements were not coerced, and testimony from half a dozen other people (again, under oath) refutes Knox’s claim that her oral accusation was coerced. An investigation is underway, ordered by one of the two prosecutors. In fact, Knox admitted on the stand that her third written statement was not made because she was hit - it was a “gift” to the police who supposedly tortured her, whatever that means!

5. Egan failed to point out that two prosecutors are working side by side on this case. If Mignini has to step down because of the verdict in a pending matter, the case will go forward in the able hands of Manuela Comodi who is handling more than half the testimony. I hear she is clean as a whistle: not so much as a slap on the wrist during her career. Instead of just repeating what Doug Preston writes, Egan could have told us in more detail about the charge pending against Prosecutor Mignini.


2.  Enabled By Heavey, Bremner and Ciolino

Allegedly, some individuals—like Paul Ciolino, whom Egan quotes in his rebuttal (?) entry—speak of a “pattern” of misconduct, but I have been unable to find any other example of possible “abuse of office” except for the one related to the Monster of Florence case.

Wouldn’t it be great if an investigative journalist of Pulitzer prize caliber were to take the time to find out what the facts are in the longstanding feud between Mignini and Spezi, Doug Preston’s friend and associate? That would really add substance to this fake debate.

Paul Ciolino’s paid work for 48 Hours on this very case has been laughably poor. Forgive me for not taking the time to count the ways.

In a Seattle fundraiser for Knox he stated that legal experts in the US and Italy believe Mignini is “mentally unstable”.

What this really boils down to is the following: one quote in Italian by an Italian judge that was taken out of context (that’s the Italian legal expert (singular)), and statements made by two people from the Seattle legal community, Anne Bremner and Judge Michael Heavey, who have never set foot in an Italian courtroom but who happen to be members of FOA (Friends of Amanda).

Heavey, a neighbor of Knox’s, actually wrote a letter to the authorities in Italy asking for a change of venue. That letter ““ which incidentally was written on Heavey’s official Superior Court Judge letterhead—was so full of errors, and was so embarrassing to Knox’s own defense team, that Heavey is said to have written a second letter in apology.

The first letter, after being prominently displayed on Anne Bremner’s website, was then quietly removed. As if it had never existed. Never apologize, never explain, as Flaubert said. Where is that letter of apology? Why is it not displayed on Bremner’s website? Was it too written on official letterhead? As a King County taxpayer, I’d sure like to know.

Where are those Pulitzer Prize winning journalists when you need them?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How The New York Times Caused Unneccesary And Unhelpful Anger In Italy

Posted by Miss Represented



[click for larger image]

Another beautiful view of Italy. This one is of Portofino.

How could THE NEW YORK TIMES of all papers enable the ridiculing of this civilized and humane country for its handling of the case?

The Times may deny it because Timothy Egan’s rancid piece was “just” a blog. But ask any good lawyer - all content is ultimately the Times’s. They presumably have rules, and if they don’t have them, then they should.

Let’s look in depth at the content of Egan’s piece, which a huge audience in Italy has now read and found wanting. 

Aside from the very suggestive title “An Innocent Abroad” what becomes immediately apparent is not only the lack of objectivity (surely an essential tool for any self respecting journalist), but also the lack of any in depth discussion about the actual basis of the prosecution’s case.

A case that has been presented in detail twice a week for nearly half a year now.

Instead of discussing the factors leading to the arrest and trial of the defendants, Egan brings up the old, clichéd and unsubstantiated “mad fanatical prosecutor” charge as a reason for the trial. He muses thus:

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.

My, my, feeling ethnocentric today aren’t we? Egan continues to bandy the “this would never happen in America” claim and appoints himself judge, jury and excuser, in order to make the assertion that he alone knows what the outcome of this trial would be in good old USA.

Egan is clearly suggesting to his readers that the conviction of Amanda Knox would be tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. Can anyone say objective reporting? Nope? I really didn’t think so.

Egan fails to mention that both Knox and Sollecito had many court hearings prior to the trial, and were afforded many legal advantages and some excellent legal representation.

If even one of the judges who presided over the initial hearings had decided there was insufficient evidence to hold or charge them, they would have been released. Every single judge that heard the evidence suggesting their involvement in the murder denied their release - some in very sharp terms.

It’s hardly as if they were at a disadvantage or even in the position to be railroaded. Knox and Sollecito actually incriminated themselves long before the police even got a sniff of Rudy Guede by way of their repeated lying.

Egan also fails to mention neither Knox nor Sollecito have a firm alibi that holds up for the night of the murder. Rather telling.

It seems Egan has opted to pass on the option of providing his readers with an interesting and objective piece, in favor of bandying the PR agenda surrounding the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their possible role in the murder.

The victim here is of course an afterthought. Egan briefly gushes about Meredith being “high-spirited” before comparing how “high-spirited” (what?!) both girls were. Then he essentially explains that we should forget about Meredith, and focus on poor old Amanda whom this case obviously revolves around:

But it is also about Amanda Knox, an equally high-spirited student whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution ““ “the railroad job from hell,” as one outside expert hired by CBS News concluded.

Knox’s life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution? Most unfortunate. How inconvenient. Meredith of course now has no life to be interrupted.

Egan forgets to mention that the “outside expert” here is Paul Ciolino, a P-I for hire, whose objectivity and expertise have on several occasions been called into question. His several public forays into the case (Perugia for CBS and Salty’s for FOA) were disasters. 

The following statement is again pretty misleading:

Knox may not feel the same way. She spent nearly a year in jail without being charged. This, despite the fact that the only physical evidence found on the murder victim’s body was from someone else ““ a drifter with a drug problem named Rudy Guede.

Knox and Sollecito spent a year in jail whilst the police built a case, as they are legally entitled to do, while the accumulating evidence was gradually becoming massive.

There were repeated judicial hearings on the evidence, any of which could have released them.

The second statement, about Guede, is technically true, but Egan fails to go into any depth concerning the considerable other forensic evidence - something even the most banal reporter on the case has managed to do.

Equally telling is this:

After being questioned all night without an attorney or a professional translator, Knox said some things in response to a series of hypothetical questions. This was initially trumpeted as a contradiction, or worst ““ a confession. A higher court later threw out the most damning statements.

Egan at least fails to trumpet once again the accusation that Knox was hit by police, an accusation that has angered much of Italy (see several posts below) and got her into hot water with the Italian authorities.

Amanda was not questioned all night by Mignini, and she freely offered the police Patrick Lumumba’s name. She even made up details about how they had met and when they went to the cottage together.

Egan also attempts to gloss over the significance of the false confession with what is perhaps my favorite euphemism in the whole post:

Knox raised the possibility that a bar owner with an airtight alibi could have been involved.”

You don’t “raise the possibility” that someone was involved in a murder. You either accuse them or you don’t.

If the subject weren’t so serious and the potential for real harm and misinforming the public so great, it could almost be funny. In fact Knox accused Lumumba flat-out, in great detail, and later confirmed it in writing when certainly not under duress.

And Knox was certainly not questioned for 14 hours, it was four or five hours at most, between midnight and sunrise. She was offered refreshments, and she willingly signed a statement.

A lawyer was not present and therefore this statement cannot be used against her. But Egan forgets to mention a handwritten note Knox gave to police detailing her “confession” explaining how she would “stand by” her accusation of Patrick (that she knew was false) which, unlike her first statement, has not been thrown out of court and will be used as evidence in the slander case against her.

Egan further mentions (on details of Amanda’s sex life being leaked):

The Brits, in particular, had a field day. Locked from her house in the first days after it became a crime scene, Knox went to a store one day with Sollecito to buy emergency underwear. The British tabs bannered this as a g-string celebration of remorseless killers.

Emergency underwear that consists of a g-string and a camisole top? Hardly “emergency underwear” would you perhaps agree? Add this to the spectacular scene Amanda and Raffaele made in the Bubbly lingerie store, and it seems the British tabloids were perhaps not far from the truth.

The British papers were certainly not the only papers to have published details about Amanda’s sex life (which in the grand scheme of things is not important). But the press were always going to try and find out this sort of information about her because it’s what all of the press do.

Egan, as a journalist himself, should know this, and attempting to portray Amanda as a sweet and innocent ray of sunshine by criticising those who uncover evidence that she is in fact the opposite is a blatant attempt at shooting the messenger.

Some of you may be asking what the point of Egan’s article is? After all, it sheds no new light at all on the ongoing trial or the evidence that has come out over the last few months.

Well, hidden in Egan’s article is what seems a badly disguised advert for Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s book “The Monster of Florence” and as these little “promos” often are, the result seems a transparent endorsement written in extremely poor taste.

Has anyone noticed that whenever any criticism of the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito surfaces, the same name usually pops up? Often introduced by the synoptic tagline “the prominent best-selling American author” Douglas Preston?  I seriously rather doubt that Douglas Preston could give a fig about Amanda Knox.

Indeed, the only linking factor between Preston and Amanda Knox’s “plight” is the presence of Giuliano Mignini. Preston seems to harbor a grudge and to be using his “experience” of being questioned by Mignini to peddle his book.

Whilst people like Douglas Preston keep bleating on about the “backward” Italian justice system, the Italians have actually presented a very solid case. If people like Timothy Egan now choose to cover it irresponsibly and unethically, sadly, it’s up to them.

But there’s no reason at all for the New York Times to provide him with a vehicle.

Egan explains how “˜haunted’ he is by an observation made by a former Times colleague in Rome:

In Italy, the general assumption is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. Trials ““ in the press and in the courts ““ are more often about defending personal honor than establishing facts, which are easily manipulated.

I too am haunted by this statement.

Haunted by the fact that Egan has apparently based his entire article and his understanding of the complex and very fair Italian legal system on the opinion and hearsay of one other journalist.

And one who was absurdly in the wrong, as any observer with a brain can see.


Monday, June 15, 2009

It Seems Italy’s Anger Only Grows: Read La Nazione’s Editorial Today

Posted by Nicki



[above: Lake Como north of Milan, click for a larger image]

Posting again from Milan. This looks like becoming an international incident. Perhaps the US State Department should step in.

Timothy Egan, a Seattle journalist, wrote an offensive and largely fact-free blog about the innocence of Amanda Knox on the New York Times website last Wednesday.

This blog by Egan was widely quoted in Italian television and print-media reports and dozens of Italian blogs are now acidly commenting.

We are sure the New York Times will be reporting on what they have provoked. Today La Nazione has this editorial.

Timothy Egan is a former journalist, currently accredited as an authoritative New York Times editorialist, a self-proclaimed “Honorary Italian Citizen” to the point of sending his children to school in our country - how kind of him - a true hero.

Sustained by this pandering premise, the day before his compatriot Amanda Knox’s first deposition, on trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Egan elaborated a sober editorial with a “balanced”  title “An Innocent Abroad” where Egan doesn’t show the slightest doubt when having to choose between national pride and his shaggy fondness for Italy and its democratic principles, let alone judicial.

Amanda is innocent, a victim of an obsessed, powerful and hotshot Italian prosecutor. She is been persecuted and ruined by “vulture journalism and a careless prosecution”.

If this is the balanced approach of someone who is not risking 30 years in jail and has retirement money stacked aside, it is no surprise that Amanda, a student supported by her family, and with a very uncertain future, is holding on to her defense line, and even claiming that she was beaten at the Questura

Leaving aside details of the trial development, in this event there are all the cultural contradictions of an unresolved national tendency to self-harm, which authorizes many foreign observers to look at Italy still wearing the blinkers of mafia, pizza and mandolin.

Shall we try for once to get rid of the oh-so-lovely parodies by Sordi and Villaggio [see explanation at bottom] and declare that we can’t take it anymore?

Prosecutor Mignini did well to decide not to react to the provocations. And the Police Union did even better in reacting, to announce legal action against Miss Knox.

Yesterday Florence woke up with the terrible nightmare of an eighteen year old student, another American, who during the night had reported having been raped next to Piazza della Signoria, furthermore right under the eyes of the city police.

The red alarm only lasted for a few hours. In the end the girl, after recovering from the last effects of the amounts of alcohol she had ingested, fell apart and retracted everything.

Far from wanting to indulge in stupid generalizations, as Egan in his furious attack against Italy does, the story of the young drunk Americans caught urinating in the Nettuno Fountain, right in Piazza della Signoria, has become an example of unbearable lack of respect.

If we really must accept lectures from the Americans, at least they should be lectures in civilization, and not in imported Wild West culture. Differently, we too may use a very, very sober title, in order to stress our reply to Egan’s patriotic reflections:

“An Indecent Abroad”

A.Sordi and P Villaggio are famous comedians known for satirizing Italy’s country’s social mores in pungent black comedies, farcical tales and grim drama in post-war cinema through the 80’s.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The New York Times Finally Visits The Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


[Above: the New York Times reporter Rachel Donadio]

Finally, after nearly a year, the Times comes out with a piece on the Meredith case that is more than two paragraphs long - and there have only been two of those.

The New York Times has an enormous influence on the preoccupations of the rest of the American media. The standard of Its reporting is usually pretty fine. If the Times picks up a story and runs with it, the thundering hordes in the TV and print media are usually not far behind.

Not that the Times always gets it right, however. It made a huge mess of the Clinton Whitewater affair, where after years of innuendo an independent counsel found that there was no crime.

However that opened the way to the Ken Starr investigation of the Monica Lewinsky affair where again… there was no crime.

And it bet seriously wrong on the recent Duke University spurious-rape-claim case, in which it sided with an out-of-control prosecutor, now fired, disbarred, and having his tail sued off.

Parts of Rachel Donadio’s story echo the familiar complaint from the Knox PR that the investigation was compromised and somehow Amanda Knox is not getting a fair deal.

As in the unresolved case of Madeleine McCann, the 3-year-old British girl who disappeared in Portugal during a family vacation last year, the investigation has drawn accusations of incompetence. “I’m not impressed,” said Joseph Tacopina, an American lawyer who was paid by ABC News to examine the case. He said Italian authorities had violated the crime scene. “They trampled all over that place,” he said. “That makes forensic evidence unreliable”...

“They’re brutalizing her in the press,” Curt Knox, Amanda’s father, said in an emotional interview here last week. He said his daughter had cooperated with the police and never expected to be implicated. “She is 100 percent innocent,” he said. Mr. Knox, an executive at Macy’s, and Amanda’s mother, Edda Mellas, a Seattle schoolteacher, have taken turns living in Italy to visit their daughter in prison.

Wow. Knox cooperated? The Times is already channeling the PR?  There is much more to the case than this.

Comments below transferred from our former Truthwatch page

Actually, I thought Rachel did a pretty good job all things considered.

There is one fact worth checking””did Knox or did she not have an interpreter during questioning? The family has said yes and no and yes and no and for part of the time and maybe”¦ It’s pretty hard to keep track when they don’t.

The police have said yes, she did, and this affirmation was picked up by both CNN and the BBC.

Also, Rachel describes the Knox interview from which she took her sound bite as “emotional.” I think this has been the case (perhaps understandably) for all of the family’s public appearances and throughout its media campaign, and I think this constant emotional charge is part of the problem.

I’m not saying their emotion is not genuine, but it stands in stark contrast to the Kercher family’s disciplined silence. It must be so hard for them to remain silent, and yet they have managed to do so.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 09/30/08 at 11:58 AM | #

This report is actually old news from the New York Times reporter. It’s the initial attack strategy of the Knox team from day one of this case.

“They’re brutalizing her in the press” are they Curt?

Perhaps “they” have seen what Knox HERSELF has published on the internet for all to see.

The SELF NAMED “Foxy Knoxy”, the stories of abuse and drugging and rape of a young woman she wrote by her own hand,the image of Knox laughing crazily as she wields a machine gun at the camera titled “the nazi inside”.

Casual chit chat on her myspace page about her housemate complaining that she “can’t get laid”.

Caught on CCTV as happy as Larry just hours (so soon after, that they are both still wearing the same clothes they were photographed wearing at the murder scene) after the murder buying sexy underwear and proclaiming loudly for all the store to hear that she’s going to give Sollecito wild sex when they get home.

I could go on for ever, do some research Rachel and produce a balanced and true report.

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 09/30/08 at 01:08 PM | #

A couple of points about Joe Tacopina:

Firstly, does he have an expertise in forensic science that gives him the authority to speak so knowledgeably about the crime scene being “violated” and “trampled on”?

Secondly, I think it’s worth pointing out that Joe Tacopina is a consultant for the Knox family and therefore not quite the objective investigator with no vested in the case who was hired to carry out an impartial examination of the case by ABC News.

Thirdly, despite being a self-confessed expert in forensic science, he doesn’t actually explain how the crime scene was violated or trampled on. He should give specific examples to support his point of view, otherwise he just sounds like a layman (which exactly what he is) making uninformed comments. The crime scene covered quite a large area: Meredith’s bedroom, the corridor outside, two bathrooms, Filomena’s bedroom etc. Is Joe Tacopina suggesting all these rooms were “violated”?

Finally, Joe Tacopina uses very emotive words like “violated” and “trampled on” to rather glibly dismiss the police investigation. He relies on rhetoric and not on actual facts to make his claims, which along with his professional relationship with the Knox family, raises serious questions about his credibility.

Posted by The Machine on 09/30/08 at 03:41 PM | #

I agree that citing Joe Tacopina was a mistake. It surprises me that a reporter from the NY Times would bother to interview and then quote such an incorrigible showboater. After all, he’s a semi-regular fixture in the NY Post, a tabloid!

In fact, Tacopina has made statements at various times to the effect that he is acting as an informal advisor to the Knox family, or has allowed such statements to be made about him by Barbie Nadau of Newsweek. In fact, members of the Knox/Mellas family have stated that he is not advising the family in any capacity. If he is not, then the credibility of the article suffers.

Tacopina at one point claimed to have attended a hearing on behalf of Knox (the April 19 hearing), but this was a closed hearing and sources on the ground in Perugia have noted for the record that Tacopina was nowhere near the courthouse on that day. In fact, he had flown to Italy in a failed bid to put together a consortium of buyers for an Italian football club.

Moreover, although Tacopina has an office in Rome he is not a member of the Italian bar and thus is not licensed to practice law there. Nor is he an expert on the Italian legal system or this case. He is just a guy who is always looking for the limelight, always ready with a sound bite. Surely the NY Times””my favorite newspaper in the world along with Le Monde””can do better.

Finally, I agree with TM above about Tacopina’s use of inflammatory rhetoric to describe the work of the Italian police. He also makes unsubstantiated claims about this investigation. I hope that either the national police guild or the national association of magistrates sues his ass for repeatedly making such irresponsible statements. He stands among those people who think that, because justice is supposedly blind, they can pull the wool over our eyes.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 09/30/08 at 04:54 PM | #

Quote by Amanda Knox: Most chicks don’t know what they want”

Posted by Deathfish2000 on 10/01/08 at 05:05 AM | #

“They’re brutalizing her in the press,” Curt Knox, Amanda’s father, said in an emotional interview here last week.

Amanda hasn’t been brutalized in the press or anywhere else for that matter. I think it’s quite telling that Curt Knox and Joe Tacopina resort to hyperbole when proclaiming Amanda’s innocence. They are seeking to appeal to people emotions by attempting to whip up hysteria rather than logically arguing their point of view and using facts to support their opinions. Curt Knox’s use of the word “brutalized” is particularly inappropriate when you consider that Meredith was sexually assaulted and murdered.

Curt Knox does not know that Amanda is 100% innocent. If Amanda is innocent, why did she lie repeatedly to the police?

Posted by The Machine on 10/01/08 at 03:29 PM | #

  Most chicks don’t know what they want

Can anyone give us the precise quotation? Deathfish made me very curious about the context but Google doesn’t return anything under that wording.

Posted by Fast Pete on 10/01/08 at 05:33 PM | #

Here is the precise quotations:

“A thing you have to know about chicks is that they don’t know what they want,”

I tried to find Amanda’s short story, Baby Brother, from which the quotation is taken on the Internet, but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared. Amanda’s mirrored MySpace page and blog also seem to have vanished into thin air.

Posted by The Machine on 10/01/08 at 05:47 PM | #

Thanks Machine. I am pretty sure I have the Baby Brother short story. I’ll check tonight.

Posted by Fast Pete on 10/01/08 at 05:51 PM | #

Here you go. Baby Brother by Amanda Knox Scroll down - it is about half-way down, and there is another literary piece right after it.

How does it shape up as literature, by the way? I have not yet read a literary critique. I think a Knox or a Mellas said it was a class assignment? What grade did it attract?

We have a save of that web page for future reference, by the way, if the link mysteriously goes dead. You know, for possible future reviews in our respected Literary area….

Rachel, when you come by again, this would seem to be a significant exhibit in any in-depth discussion of brutalization.

Posted by Fast Pete on 10/01/08 at 06:00 PM | #