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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Media Reaction Commences: What Is It About Amanda Knox…

Posted by Peter Quennell





Media can be a fickle friend. Big bucks may now be dictating a U-turn. One early indicator?

We should be happy for her, the innocent victim of this terrible miscarriage of justice.

Yet there is something disquieting about Amanda Knox, something that slightly chills the blood. Those piercing blue eyes, as cold as the steel of the knife that slit Meredith Kercher’s throat, have hardly flinched during her court appearances.

Not since Lindy-the dingo-did-it-Chamberlain was cleared of murdering her baby has a woman so divided public opinion.

Amanda’s prison diaries reveal an astonishing calmness and self-belief. While most 20-year-old girls falsely accused of a vile sex murder would be in pieces, she was planning her 21st birthday party, right down to the guest list.

There is hardly a mention of the brutal murder of her friend in the bedroom next to her. It’s all about Amanda.

Even The Independent’s Peter Popham is pouring cold water on the parade. Helping to find “the real killers” may be a way to help stem this tide.

Posted on 10/04/11 at 09:22 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxThe officially involvedAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+News media & moviesMedia news
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Monday, October 03, 2011

Twentieth Appeal Session: The TV Media Assembled At Front Entrance Of The Court Today

Posted by Peter Quennell





Posted on 10/03/11 at 09:20 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, September 30, 2011

“Million Dollar Campaign” To Try To Influence The Jury Is Being Widely Reported To A Startled Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell





It looks like a perfect storm is flaring up in Italy for the hapless Knox PR campaign. Just about every media outlet in Italy seems to be running a variation of this report.

Next Monday will see delivered the verdict against the girl in prison since 2007 on charges of murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. The decision was confirmed today by a judge of the court in Perugia.

Meanwhile there transpires shocking news: The Amanda Knox clan has spent a million dollars to change her image and influence the jury.  This is one of the allegations made by the prosecutor during the summations of the appeal of Amanda Knox.

“Have you ever seen a defendant who takes on a large public relations firm?” asked the prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, which the people on the benches behind the lawyers deny. “Behind her was a communication campaign for a million dollars.”

The much touted executive jet waiting at the airport to whisk her home gets considerable mention in a very negative way, as does the fact that a freed Knox stands to make many millions.

Also much mentioned is that a freed Amanda Knox might never come back to Italy for the final appeal before the Supreme Court of Cassation which is due next year.  Cassation is the ONLY body in the Italian justice system that can finally declare whether Knox is guilty or innocent. The Hellman court, like the Massei court, can only in effect make recommendations.

Also reported is that Michelle Moore of the Knox entourage may well be charged for her bizarre verbal lunge at Mr Mignini during a break at court. The file on that case is being sent to Florence, where cases involving court officers in Perugia are handled, for a decision to be made.

And also reported is that Steve Moore, who seems to us to have the mother of all tin ears, is still ranting on about those clumsy Italians. Steve Moore so far as we know speaks no Italian and is now on his first trip to Italy in the context of this case. He has still not listed the evidence he claims he has reviewed (which of course is all in Italian) or released his real resume.

With the meme now increasingly hostile to the campaign, we’d be surprised if there is not more to come. 

Posted on 09/30/11 at 07:22 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxes Knox & team20 No-PR hoaxHoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamNews media & moviesMedia newsThe wider contextsN America context
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Friday, September 23, 2011

An Overview Of What The Italian Media Are Saying In Advance Of The Final Appeal Sessions

Posted by Peter Quennell





As usual, Meredith and her family and the prosecution are being given much more space than in the USA and UK.

Italian media and the Italian public are generally cognizant of the fact that no final verdict for this level of crime can be issued except by the Supreme Court. In effect what Judge Hellman’s court will issue is a provisional finding, and Sollecito and Knox may not know their final verdict and sentence for a year and a half.

That is, if the Supreme Court does not bounce the case back to the lower courts for reconsideration of some aspect as quite often happens - that happened in the case of defense witness Mario Alessi’s wife though her final sentence was not greatly affected.

In that event a final outcome could take even longer. 

Libero News reports (as we of course knew) that the prosecution will be seeking a more severe sentence and looking to exclude the mitigating circumstances that Judge Massei allowed.

Il Secolo reports the same thing, with no quotes from the defense teams. Prosecutors Giancarlo Costagliola, Giuliano Mignini, and Manuela Comodi will all present parts of the prosecution argument. Ms Comodi will rebutt the independent experts’ report on some of the DNA.

Il Secolo also mentions that that the court has accepted that Guede has confirmed Knox’s and Sollecito’s presence at the house. Unclear where this comes from but usually it is impossible to be sure what was weighted heavily until the sentencing report comes out. No evidence is rejected in the Italian system; it is all carefully weighted instead. .

And many media sites are reporting in Italian a statement by Meredith’s mother. Here from Comments is a translation by our Italian poster ncountryside.

My daughter Meredith was killed while she was in the safest place: in her bedroom. Who killed her knew her well, but her confidence had been betrayed. For me it is inconceivable that should have happened.

My daughter was killed in her home. Not in a park, not in a street. Her body was not found in a garden.

I had talked with her the day before the murder. She was happy. She promised me that she would be back to celebrate my birthday. She had bought the chocolate that she wanted to give me.

During these four years I have never stopped thinking about her. And it is as if I always had her near me.

She loved Italy, She was fascinated by Perugia.

I do not care about the names of those convicted, I do not care whether they are called Rudy, Amanda and Raffaele. For me it’s just that my daughter was killed by someone who at first instance was found guilty and convicted.

In that trial there was much strong evidence, I am wondering what is happening to it now. They tell me that some may no longer be valid but they are two items, what of all the others? What has changed from the first trial?

I accepted the ruling of the Court of Assizes, and I accept what will be decided by the Court of Appeal and all the others will have to do like me without any distinction.

I want justice done for my daughter.


Posted on 09/23/11 at 12:56 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Book Explains The Unfruitful Emergence Of More And More Conspiracy Theories

Posted by Peter Quennell


Conspiracy theorists have dismally failed to come up with a plausible alternative theory of how Meredith died.

However, they do keep trying. So do the proponents of literally hundreds of other conspiracy theories, constituting vast amounts of effort probably better spent elsewhere - conspiracy theorists very rarely achieve very much, or do well economically, or rise to the top jobs.

The articles here and here look with skepticism on the 9/11 conspiracy theories which on the tenth anniversary of the twin towers coming down have been pushed hard by the various factions.

Now a new book “The Believing Brain” explains the mental makeup that disposes people to so eagerly believe the worst of our fellow man or our governments: One review in the Wall Street Journal..

In Mr. Shermer’s view, the brain is a belief engine, predisposed to see patterns where none exist and to attribute them to knowing agents rather than to chance—the better to make sense of the world. Then, having formed a belief, each of us tends to seek out evidence that confirms it, thus reinforcing the belief.

This is why, on the foundation of some tiny flaw in the evidence—the supposed lack of roof holes to admit poison-gas cans in one of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers for Holocaust deniers, the expectant faces on the grassy knoll for JFK plotters, the melting point of steel for 9/11 truthers—we go on to build a great edifice of mistaken conviction….

Mr. Shermer offers a handy guide for those who are confused. Conspiracy theories are usually bunk when they are too complex, require too many people to be involved, ratchet up from small events to grand effects, assign portentous meanings to innocuous events, express strong suspicion of either governments or companies, attribute too much power to individuals or generate no further evidence as time goes by.

The increasingly shrill posts appearing daily on the website Ground Report seem to mark pretty high against that list. Could the Evil Mignini have engineered even this?

Oops. Another conspiracy theory in play.

Posted on 09/14/11 at 11:05 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesMedia newsThe psychologyKnox-Mellas teamSollecito teamMore hoaxers
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Conspicuous By Their Absence Now: Legal Commentators For Sollecito And Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


There is a marked sharp contrast now between how various reporters without legal backgrounds and various real lawyers are seeing the state of play in the appeal.

The post below shows how flavor-of-the-month reporters like Nick Pisa are still reporting happy talk from Knox and her entourage, while, within their professional constraints, we see more and more lawyers realisng Sollecito and Knox really are cooked.

Half a dozen of the main posters on TJMK who are lawyers (they identify themselves as such when they post) have explained how tough is the real case. Various Italian lawyers continue to offer us insights and tips from Perugia and Rome.  And we continue to see maybe half a dozen lawyers a week getting in touch by email or signing up, a trend that shows no sign of fading out.

In contrast all of the lawyers and legal commentators who were once suggesting the process in Perugia had taken a wrong turn have gone quiet, and no new legal voices for Solllecito and Knox are speaking up. The CNN legal shows devote almost no air time to the appeal, and Geraldo Rivera, Dan Abrams, John Q Kelly, Lis Wiehl and others have wound down their commentaries to brief equivocations or nothing at all. 

Ted Simon who is believed to be still on the Mellas-Knox payroll seems be operating only from very deep cover. Knox’s own lawyers pass on the (to us sad) happy talk from Capanne while themselves sounding very cautious and down.

And the former lawyer and political commentator Ann Coulter who does us the peculiar favor of including us in her definition of right wing is starkly declaring that the increasingly small number of increasingly shrill non-lawyers for Sollecito and Knox really should get a life.

By now, the only people who believe Knox and Sollecito are the usual criminal apologists and their friends in the American media.

Serial smearer and evidence incompetent Steve Moore as one of the usual criminal apologists?! That has to hurt.


Monday, September 05, 2011

In Good Italian Meredith’s Family Remind Italy Of Who Is The Real Victim Here

Posted by Peter Quennell

Stephanie Kercher writes an open letter (two of Meredith’s family are conversant in Italian, and Meredith had been fluent on arrival in Perugia) to Judge Hellman.

She questions the very strange slant of the DNA report in which Greg Hampikian seems to have had a suspect role.

The letter is very widely quoted from in the Italian media which has been highly sympathetic to Meredith and generally left cold by the antics of Knox, Sollecito, and their entourages.

CNN carries one of the few English-language reports. Generally a good one though it omits that Rudy Guede accused Knox and Sollecito to their faces in appeal court.

No English version was issued to our knowledge, and this is our main poster Tiziano’s translation, from TGCom.

In the last week we have been anxiously awaiting and in great agitation at the opinions being spread around about the original DNA tests.  It is extremely difficult to understand how the evidence which had been acquired with care and presented at the first grade trial as valid can now risk becoming irrelevant.

How can a quantity of DNA evidence be considered of little importance when the same experts do not give precise answers on the quantity which ought to be taken into consideration?

Furthermore, it should be remembered that both the parties, the prosecution and the defence, engaged their own respective teams of scientific experts in the first level trial, in addition to the consultants of the Scientific [Police] in Rome.

The [representatives of the] defence seem to be focussed on and to base themselves heavily on these two pieces of DNA evidence, but we want to remember for a moment who this case is about: my sister, a daughter brutally taken away from us almost four years ago and still not a day goes by when we can find a little peace or to put an end to all this.

All those who read this document or who are following this case, please remember our beautiful Meredith.  Her blood mixed with other samples spread around the bathroom, along the corridor and in Filomena’s room, and also so many other bloody prints.  Remember too all the other evidence which has been presented up till today in this trial, 10,000 pages of evidence.

We still have confidence in the Perugia police and all our trust in all those people from the court and the investigations.

We ask that Appeal Court weigh up every single piece of evidence, scientific and circumstantial, together with every witness heard and that [the court] do this independently of every other source of information and [independently] of the media.

In the midst of all the frenzy created by the media, Meredith has been forgotten, she is no longer with us, yet everything that should be for her and [done] in order to understand what really happened that tragic night. 

We have not forgotten her, and we will continue our struggle in order that justice be done with the continuing support of our lawyer Francesco Maresca and of his colleagues, the Police, the Public Prosecutor, the prosecution and all those taking part in this in Italy and also all those who in all the world still think of us and of Mez.

We would like to have the possibilty of working with Universty of Perugia on a project which would offer an annual place to a student in memory of Meredith.  Meredith loved Italy and its people and wanted to immerse herself in Italian culture.  We are well aware of the impact that all this has had on the city and we think that this is an appropriate way to commemorate Meredith in the beautiful place for which she left us to come and study.

Please do not let it be that Meredith died in vain, her courage and her strength continue to struggle and we shall look for justice so that she may rest in peace.  She did not stop struggling that November 1st, and we shall not stop now.

Stephy Kercher

 

Posted on 09/05/11 at 09:12 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Respected Journalist Carl Bernstein Criticizes “Murdochism” For Debasing News Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell

Carl Bernstein was one of the two intrepid Washington Post reporters who helped to bring down President Nixon over the illegalities of Watergate.

He is being seen daily on American TV now and (as above) on British TV decrying the reporting methods and culture which are now being exposed in London, and the manufacture of false news and sensationalism which have left audiences falsely angered and concentrating on all the wrong things.

And which are now resulting in a large popular backlash, and the fleeing of advertisers from the Murdoch newspapers.

On the whole, the UK Murdoch media vehicles reported fairly on Meredith’s case (Sky News, London Times, London Sunday Times, The Sun) but the New York Post stirred things up (see here and here) as did especially Geraldo Rivera on his talk show on Fox TV News.

And the aggressive sensationalist culture did spread far and wide.  The much milder competitor to the New York Post, the New York Daily News, has this to say::

The question now is whether the scandal will bring down the most successful propaganda fount in the world, Fox News, or if it will simply continue to sell factoids as “fair and balanced” fact.

This is much more serious than merely hurling mud at a target who has long helped Republicans by slinging loads of mud. The basic problem is, as Carl Bernstein points out in Newsweek, Murdoch became terribly influential with a simple way of doing things:

Just reduce every issue to a child’s level of perception with sensational headlines leading only to black and white, bad and good. In the practices of his mammoth News Corp., Murdoch always sent ethics and fact flying out the window in favor of profits. .

The New York Times has posted a good history of how and why Rupert Murdoch evolved his media culture in Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel here.

As of today, it looks like Rupert Murdoch and possibly his two sons and daughter may all have to stand down in face of anger from News Corps’ nine independent directors on its board of sixteen. News Corps stock value has been hemorrhaging half a billion a day for two weeks.

The directors may also pull the plug on more newspapers and maybe make News Corp exclusively an entertainment company - and get out of faux news.

Posted on 07/18/11 at 10:18 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Casey Anthony Verdict Not Guilty Despite Three Years Of One-Sided Media Presuming Guilt

Posted by Peter Quennell





One thing that LA Times headline above means is that media bias against the defendant made not one whit of difference.

The seriously ailing CNN network’s Headline News channel (legal anchors Nancy Grace and Jane Velez Mitchell) have very stridently promoted the notion that Casey Anthony probably killed her toddler Caylee almost nightly for three years, to drive up their viewership ratings.

It had zero effect on the Florida jury. Now Headline News looks like a toothless tiger, and one prone to dangerous mistakes.

The jury studied the evidence and made up its own mind (in 11 hours) and so that is that. Mainstream media is outraged but looking puny. Here is a scathing comment from the defense lawyers saying they got it seriously wrong.

Anthony’s defense attorney, Jose Baez, said this verdict proves, “You cannot convict someone until they’ve had their day in court.”

A second defense attorney for Anthony, Cheney Mason, blasted the media in a statement, saying, “I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in media assassination for three years, bias, and prejudice, and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how to be.”

The few early media reports about “Foxy Knox” are like a candle to the blowtorch of this seeming never-ending pro-guilt commentary.

The usual couple of examples waved around are from the UK. In fact Italy saw next to no anti-Knox commentary, and one of the ways Italy looks rather fine in the Knox case is their media have been so restrained.

Read the Massei Report 10 times and you will be lucky to find one sentence that suggests “The media made us declare her guilty”.  It just didn’t happen. The jury studied the evidence and made up its own mind (in a few hours) and so that is that.

In contrast to the Casey Anthony trial, the full spectrum of evidence in the Knox-Sollecito trial is very strong and even redundant, violence obviously was done (no signs of violence were found on Caylee Anthony) and there are no other likely scenarios or perps.

Okay, media guys. For starters, report the facts from Perugia correctly. And do some translation - or read ours. Surely that cannot hurt more than this.

Posted on 07/05/11 at 07:54 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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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


And as Fly By Night observes in a comment this correction appears down the bottom.


Posted on 06/27/11 at 06:20 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Europe Human Rights Especially Privacy Trumping Web Defamers And Damaging Journalism

Posted by Peter Quennell





The legal lie of the land seems to be increasingly in favor of those in Italy and the UK and even the US being serially defamed by “Bruce Fisher” and others on the cynical pro-Knox bandwagon.

The European Community’s Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights (image above) are both situated in Strasbourg in north-east France. The ECHR was established in 1998 by the Council of Europe, not the EC, and it has 47 member governments including Russia.

It receives its basic guidance from the European Convention on Human Rights.  Article 10 on freedom of expression and human rights reads as follows:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Note the real strength of that second paragraph. While free speech is generally favored, it will not be protected if it is unfairly damaging to individuals or anarchic to the functions of courts and the governments. 

With the pervasive spread of the internet, and the huge potential now for damage to be done globally, the ECHR generally mirrors national courts ruling in favor of those individuals who had been defamed and damaged by unfounded claims by journalists and internet posters.

Many member governments now have firmer human rights legislation either in place or in the pipeline, and the right to personal privacy and protection on matters that do not affect the public good is invariably a strong part of that new legislation.

Here is Julius Melnitzer of Canada’s National Post explaining, in the context of one case in which the ECHR did rule against a national court, that this is not the main trend being observed (emphasis added).

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that British reporters and journalists need not contact the subjects of potentially defamatory stories before publication to protect people’s privacy.

But the decision isn’t likely to quell the potential for litigation against individuals and businesses arising from online publication of statements that negatively impact reputations.

That’s partly because the law of defamation and the law of privacy are quietly blending, all to the advantage of victims, particularly celebrities, who have been defamed or have had their privacy invaded….

“There’s clearly an increasing overlap between the law of defamation and the law of privacy,” says Michael Smith, who practices defamation law at the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. “Individual social media users should be concerned, but employers face even greater risk because each time an employee posts a negative comment online while at work, or from a work asset such as a laptop or smartphone, the employer is exposed to liability.”...

It’s not just negative comments, but unduly intrusive ones, that can attract liability. While the mere fact that something is true and not malicious may prove a defence to defamation, victims can base their case on an invasion of privacy so long as there is no public interest in reporting the subject matter of their claim.

It’s not that Canada has seen a host of such social media-related suits. “But Canadians spend more time online than any other nationality, which means it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing these types of cases,” Mr. Smith says. “People are thinking less about they’re writing, and they’re firing off knee-jerk reaction missives without a sober second thought.”

As well, high-profile cases like the one involving Mr. Mosley and the extensive publicity afforded rocker Courtney Love’s recent payment of US$430,000 to settle a suit over defamatory remarks she made on Twitter means that awareness of victims’ rights will grow.

“And that’s when we’re likely to see an influx of defamation cases related to social media,” Mr. Smith says.  Many, of course, will be small cases, of the mom and pop variety. But the upside on liability is huge.

“As the courts have noted, defamation or breach of privacy on the Internet can amount to permanent, worldwide damage to reputation,” Mr. Smith says.

Smart move of Knox’s and Sollecito’s parents to be far more restrained now in their public comments these days, especially as all of them will face their own day in court. Perhaps those driving the Knox bandwagon should do likewise.

Maybe first stop inventing approximately 100% of their “facts” and scrub their internet postings clean.

Posted on 05/31/11 at 10:45 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Open Letter To Joel Simon Of CPJ: Not Even One Anti-Mignini Accusation Withstands Careful Testing

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

More on your potentially libelous open letter, sent unchecked to 21 world leaders, and your first attempt at a response.

As previously with Open Letter #1 of April 26, this will have to occupy several posts, because the evidence against your unsubstantiated or misleading accusations against Umbrian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is so voluminous. 



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above:  Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists is stepping into the same slippery terrain of unsubstantiated accusations against Mr. Mignini as Friends of Amanda activists such as Judge Michael Heavey have done in the past, and which Amanda Knox’s lawyers have had to disassociate themselves from. Is this just a procedural slip-up by Mr. Simon which he will quickly seek to correct, or is he consciously introducing himself and his organisation as a proxy player in a potential attempt to pervert the course of justice?]

As a public notice, your own open letter definitely has a potential impact on his reputation and career in the professional realm, and on his good name and honour as a person. No demonstrative proof was offered for those accusations. My own skepticism concerning the soundness of your accusatory text was underlined by what seemed to be the only and entire basis for this splashy letter, an aggressive international PR campaign fraught with risk for the CPJ’s reputation:

  • Sfarzo told CPJ …
  • Preston told CPJ … 
  • Cottonwood told CPJ … 
  • Editor Ken Robinson said …

There was no apparent fact-finding, no contrasting of opinion, no double checking, no collecting of documents.  Not even evidence of the slightest, minimal effort to contact the subject of these grave accusations, Mr. Mignini (not even a “he didn’t reply to our email” or a “we tried to call his office at midnight but no one answered”).

This is shameful coming from a journalistic organisation, in an industry where every professional worth his salt checks a source before publishing to avoid credibility and legal problems further along.

My letter raised a number of questions about how and why your open letter to the world was prepared, and I made a number of requests or suggestions in order to understand better the basis for the accusations against Mignini.

Some of the red flags which result from my questions are:

  • Did the CPJ simply accept the accusation of certain persons against Mr. Mignini without even minimal, Google-based fact checking? 

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Having realized that basic fact checking was not carried out, has the CPJ proceeded to do so?

    -> If not, then Red Flag

  • Does the tipster who set you on this issue also stand to gain something by painting Mr. Mignini in a certain light?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Is the tipster or one of the subjects of the letter a financial backer of your organisation?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Could one or more of the subjects that the CPJ sought to protect in its missive be less a journalist seeking to report news freely, and more an element of a lobby group in an open criminal case?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Do you know that the principal subject who you sought to “protect” in your Letter to the World is actually a screen name, used by the blogger?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Having realized (thanks to our first reply to you here on TJMK) that you were seeking to protect a screen name, did you proceed to identify the real-life person behind the screen name, and check what provoked a police visit to his home and what he is actually charged with, and if said charges can be in any way linked to Mr. Mignini, who closed his investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher almost three years ago? 

    -> If not, then Red Flag

  • Upon realizing that your accusations are neither substantiated nor relevant, is it possible that the CPJ could be used as a party to pervert the course of justice in two open criminal cases? 

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Have you included as justification for action in your letter to the world the supposed threat to persons who aren’t journalists or reporters?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • As a result of the CPJ Letter to 21 World Leaders, could the until now untarnished reputation of the Organization to Protect Journalists be put into question, favouring the abuse perpetrated against journalists by those in power around the world who actually do threaten the work of journalists?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

With the acknowledgement that just one of these red flags (any one of them) is raised, the CPJ should have taken a step back and thought through how and why it ended up issuing its Letter to the World of 19-04-2011, identified internal control issues and external damage caused (both to the organisation’s reputation and to third parties), and taken steps to correct the cause of the red flag and ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future.

There is negative impact that has already occurred to the Committee to Protect Journalists. However, it will continue to grow as more as more journalists, public agencies and the public in general become aware of and concerned about what is fast becoming the CPJ’s Abusive Accusations Against the Perugian Prosecutor Affair.

Instead of stepping back and reflecting on how to resolve this problem elegantly, only two days after publishing our first reply to you the CPJ posted a note, not on its front page but revealingly hidden away on the institutional blog page on its site.

Frankly, I was astounded that the CPJ seemed to sweep the questions I raised in my first letter under the CPJ’s own carpet by stating that “we stand by” the first Letter to 21 World Leaders on 19-04-2011.

Instead of trying to de-construct what it has created, the CPJ seems to be making the monster grow.

I should say that we – the international followers of progress in the case concerning the murder of the English student Meredith Kercher in Perugia on 1 November 2007 - recognize and are thankful that at least the CPJ did give the reply to our letter, and that comments have been open on that page. We do thank you for that.

However, to some extent, both your reply and some of the comments posted on the CPJ site actually increase our concern surrounding the CPJ’s recent actions and the obvious lack of due diligence applied in the preparation and sending of your Letter to the World. Had it occurred because of a procedural slip up, the normal reaction of an organisation such as yours would be to suspend the Letter to the World and perform detailed (or even basic) fact checking.

But you haven’t.



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above: CPJ coordinator Nina Ognianova takes the heat on behalf of Joel Simon, admitting that the Letter to 21 World leaders was only written on the basis of accusatory statements offered or requested of “victims” of Mignini, with no fact checking whatsoever.]

The CPJ reply to our letter states: “CPJ has received a number of emails in reaction to our April 19 letter … which details cases of harassment”.

What details? Your April 19 letter didn’t detail anything.

The CPJ reply to our letter states: “CPJ takes no position as to the alleged guilt or innocence of either of the defendants in the Kercher case”

This comment has nothing to do with either your original letter or our response, and I don’t know why you have included it in your reply. We all assume a priori that the CPJ has no position on the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher. What we are concerned about is that CPJ does not provide any detail or checking to its grave accusations against Mr. Mignini.

The CPJ reply to our letter states: “Those in positions of power must understand that scrutiny and criticism, including the harshest of kind, comes with the office.” 

We could not agree more with that no-brainer. What is missing in the framework of your open letter to world leaders about Mr. Mignini is what must be said in the next breath, the missing second half of that equation, which is that in addition, the Press (from individual reporters to the sectorial press associations which represent them such as yours) must act in a responsible manner, striving to publish and communicate truthful facts which have been thoroughly contrasted. To not achieve that level of responsibility means a drift towards the Press publishing news and “facts” à la Janet Cooke and Jimmy’s World.



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above:  Let’s hope that the CPJ can help avoid a 21st century Jimmy’s World. Does the CPJ have an Ombudsman service when regular channels of complaints provide no adequate reply?]

In my opinion (and that of many persons who have written me, and I’m sure many persons who have written you), that is exactly how the Committee to Protect Journalists is appearing.

When you say that in spite of the extremely serious issues that we raise about your document accusing Mignini “We stand by it”, you are really saying two things:

1) you continue to support the highly doubtful veracity of the unsupported accusations against Mignini

2) you are not planning to do any further checking of the facts, as effortless as that may be. (Instead of “further” checking of the facts, it’s really a question of “initial, basic” checking of the facts)

If that is what you stand by, then the overall reputation of CPJ is called into question, and those who truly should respond for the abuse of real journalists in tough situations around the world know that they can ignore your calls of support for personal freedom and freedom of press, calling into question the integrity of your organisation.



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above: World leaders on all continents who are directly responsible for the abuse of journalists and the free press in general, or who are in a position to improve the conditions of journalists have their life made easier when organizations such as the CPJ are seen as frail or lacking in the very principles that they promote.]

I can understand that from the CPJ’s point of view, you are in a tight position. Your reputation is at stake. You have published a high-profile letter containing grave accusations, which as it actually gets examined beyond the words of the accusers starts to unravel very quickly and evaporate, and by no means justifies a letter of alert to world leaders.

At the same time, the most visible of the persons who supposedly has suffered at the hands of Mignini is on the list of the CPJ’s significant financial benefactors. “Preston … suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006 – and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment – told CPJ ….”

And Douglas Preston is now going his own way promoting and “improving” your letter and claiming that you have carried out an “independent investigation”, when that seems to not be the case. Preston has said in the last few days:

“the Committee to Protect Journalists … has made public the results of their own, independent investigation into the actions of Mignini and the police, prosecutors, and judges in Perugia, Italy.

Their conclusions are shocking. The report details what appears to be an organized campaign to harass, intimidate, and physically threaten Italian and American journalists covering the case. CPJ discovered that in at least on case police in Perugia assaulted a journalist who had criticized Mignini, trumped up charges against him, and then tried to get him certified “insane”—all with Mignini’s knowledge and cooperation.

The CPJ investigation also detailed how Perugian authorities extended their harassment campaign into the United States, threatening American journalists, writers, and newspapers with criminal charges in a gross attempt to extend Italian criminal laws on to American soil and interfere with the freedoms we enjoy in our own country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists was so concerned with their findings that yesterday they sent a strong letter of protest to the President of the Italian Republic, asking for action to end this abuse and calling on him to take steps to protect journalists in Perugia.  The letter reads like a horror novel.”

(Source: Doug Preston promoting something he calls The Monster of Perugia)

Mr. Simon, I have highlighted certain expressions of Preston in bold. Is it of your opinion that this financial backer of the CPJ is using expressions and style that actually reflect the content of the CPJ letter which you signed, and how you prepared that letter? If not, what do you think explains the gap?

Could it be the close proximity of the genesis of the 19-04-2011 letter to Preston himself, to him promoting “my nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, written with Italian journalist Mario Spezi, and currently being made into a movie” that Preston claims will star George Clooney?



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above: In the name of transparency, it would be appropriate for the CPJ to reveal the financial contributions that Douglas Preston has made to the organisation, as well as to detail the communications and attached documents that Preston has exchanged with the CPJ with regard to the Letter to the World of 19-04-2011. This is what honest Governance is all about.]

I have received a number of emails in the last few days, as I’m sure you have too, and the message people are telling me is that something has gone amiss with the CPJ letter to 21 World Leaders about a local Italian prosecutor in the hills of Umbria.

Let me help you out.

I want CPJ to work. I am not looking for it to be humiliated, as it is a very needed organisation which has done great work. However, respect must not just be earned but it must be maintained. In the case of the CPJ letter of 19-04-2011, I honestly believe that something went wrong in the internal control procedures of the CPJ. Those should be relatively easy to review, revise and use in the future to improve the quality of your activity.

However, in addition to correcting its internal procedures with regard to the future, a wrong committed must be righted. Journalism is not about sweeping things under the carpet.

As regards the latter, it is the CPJ who should decide the action it will take. I suppose that writing a new open letter copied to 21 world leaders, admitting that the CPJ got bamboozled (which is honestly what I think happened), is expecting too much.

However, why don’t you contact Mr. Mignini’s office and give him fair time to respond on your webpage? That would be just, fair and elegant, especially after the lack of elegance shown in your world letter.

Are you even aware if he knows about the supposed incident of 28-09-2010 suffered by the Perugia blogger? My bet is that he learned about it on 19-04-2011 upon reading your letter about what a bad guy he is, and that whatever reason that the police may have gone to the home of a guy who uses the screen-name “Frank Sfarzo” (real name Sforza) has more to do with that blogger’s real-life persona than his blog posts related to the Meredith Kercher case.

Did you even know that “Frank Sfarzo” is only a screen-name?  Please, please tell me that you didn’t first learn that fact only once the critical emails started to arrive after your 19-04-2011 post.

If so, that would be a serious pie-in-your-face: a letter to the world to protect a screen name against totally unsubstantiated accusations of physical abuse by police, which even if they occurred show no dotted line to a prosecutor whom some unrevealed OPJ tipster has decided to denounce (although we all have a pretty good idea of who that tipster is).

Let me help out by working to set things straight, and shed some contrasting and revealing light on the grave accusations poured on Mignini in the CPJ’s letter.

Thanks to Google, we are able to contrast the accusers’ words against .... their own words, photos and deeds as documented on Internet. These are mostly made available by themselves in their own posts and comments.

It is truly shocking that the CPJ didn’t exert the minimal effort which I present below in the Annex to this letter, and which allowed me to get a completely different understanding of how shallow the recent attack is against Mignini. To be honest, the CPJ should have seen the bamboozle coming a mile away.

If the CPJ won’t do a basic, minimal, obvious, fast, easy, needed-to-avoid-a-libel-accusation, beginner journalist’s exercise of checking the facts in a high-profile accusation with international repercussions, then I will.

Let’s do a fast “Balance” of facts as we are able to gather them. I’ve set up a Balance Sheet which we’ll use to perform some checking and tests on some of the accusations which appear in the CPJ letter. I would have performed these tests and included them in my first letter a week ago, however, I was hoping that the CPJ would have spent literally, just a few minutes to do the checking.

Here’s the format of our Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations. We’ll fill it out as we go along.



[Click above for a larger image]

Given the length of the indicative results that we have obtained, today we will post this letter, and shortly we will post the Annex with our findings with the complete Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations.

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or if I may be of assistance as you become more familiarized with the complex forces which are out to turn Mr. Mignini into an evil, rogue prosecutor.

However, what’s good for some people’s business is not good for yours.

I hope that with this second TJMK letter the CPJ will finally realize the delicate, weak state of your 19-04-2011 letter and will take the appropriate measures. 

In your own words to the 21 World Leaders, “thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.”

Sincerely,

Kermit

A Main Poster on TJMK (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))


Copied to:
His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic
Angelino Alfano, Ministro della Giustizia
José Manuel Barroso, Presidente della Commissione Europea
Herman Van Rompuy, Presidente del Consiglio Europeo
Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Alto Rappresentante dell’EU per gli
Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza
Viviane Reding, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per Giustizia, Diritti
Fondamentali e Cittadinanza
Neelie Kroes, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per la Digital Agenda
Jerzy Buzek, Presidente del Parlamento Europeo
Heidi Hautala, Presidenza del Sottocomitato sui Diritti Umani del Parlamento Europeo
Jean-Marie Cavada, Presidenza dell’Intergruppo per i Media del Parlamento Europeo
Thomas Hammarberg, Commissario del Consiglio d’Europa per i Diritti Umani
Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso l’EU
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Philip H. Gordon, U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
John Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democratic Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambasciatore Italiano presso gli Stati Uniti
David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Italy


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Explaining Why CNN Is So Desperate For A Hit And Quaint Niceties Like “Truth” Be Damned

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Jeffrey Bewkes, the head of CNN’s owner Time Warner, with the actress Hayden Panetierre]


A top-rated night-time show on the American TV frontrunner network CBS will pull in over 10 million viewers.

Fast-tanking CNN is lucky if it pulls in over FIVE PERCENT of that audience on any average day. A typical audience is just over 1/2 a million. Here is the story from last September.

Jonathan Klein, president of CNN’s US network, leaves his post today after a sudden announcement that he has been replaced by Ken Jautz, the head of CNN’s downmarket but more popular sister channel HLN.

Klein’s departure comes after a disastrous year for CNN, as its daily ratings slumped by 36% to an average of 640,000 weekday viewers, putting it in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC among cable news channels.

Fox News averages 2.4m viewers while MSNBC has nearly 850,000. HLN averages around 550,000 on weekdays.

The American stock market knows of this CNN fiasco, and it values all three accordingly. You can see this in the 3-year chart just below - the period shown is about half that.

  • The red curve below is for the US stock market average (the Dow Jones Index and you can see that it GAINED about 10 percent.
  • The green curve below is for Viacom Corp, which is the owner of CBS, and you can see that it GAINED about 50 percent.
  • The blue curve below is for Time Warner, the owner of CNN, and you can see that it LOST about 30 per cent in the same period.

We have no beef with CNN overall. But to try to boost its viewer ratings and stockmarket price with appalling reports on the back of the very sad death of Meredith? That seems to us to be in very sick territory.

Ironically CBS’s owner, Viacom, has seen its impressive recent gains since the CBS network STOPPED airing biased and misleading reports on the case and reacquired some integrity

The Meredith Effect?


Posted on 05/08/11 at 09:08 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, May 06, 2011

Drew Griffin Report This Sunday At 8:00 Seems Intent On Sustaining CNN’s Persistent Extreme Bias

Posted by Peter Quennell





CNN and CNN International have aired more biased reporting and inaccurate commentary on Meredith’s case than all other US networks - combined.

At bottom here is a video of a typically biased CNN panel.

Jingoism, defamation and xenophobia remain pervasive throughout, though the videos for the worst of the worst - an entire CNN panel baying for Italian blood - have been mysteriously disappeared.

Larry King, Elliott Spitzer, Nancy Grace, Jane Velez Mitchell, Jeffrey Toobin, and so on and on, have all helped to seriously mislead CNN viewers about the real evidence, and about the very strong case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The Micheli Report and the Massei Report and the recent very hardline Supreme Court ruling on Rudy Guede stating that three people did it - all of those reports comprehensive, meticulous, and very damning - don’t even seem to have simply been MENTIONED yet on CNN.

CNN never seems to have had a competent legal reporter actually present in the courtroom. There is a very conspicuous lack on CNN of any Italian interviewees or legal analysts. CNN has seemingly never ever presented an accurate description of how cautious the Italian justice system really is, or how many hoops Italian prosecutors have to jump through.

No mention ever on CNN that the US State Department and Rome Embassy observed the trial and found absolutely nothing wrong. No mention ever on CNN that not one human rights and prisoners rights organization such as Amnesty International has ever shown interest in this case.

Here are about three dozen CNN headlines taken from CNN’s own website. Do you notice any suggestive pattern?

  • Amanda Knox’s family speaks out
  • Amanda Knox’s parents say their daughter is no killer
  • Knox innocent, parents say
  • Murder case brings ‘Foxy Knoxy’ infamy in Italy
  • Knox scared but insists on innocence, Italian lawmaker says
  • Sollecito: Amanda Knox ‘incapable of killing’
  • Knox aunt: Italians supportive
  • Is Amanda being railroaded?
  • Amanda Knox tells Italian jury she’s not an ‘assassin’
  • Lawyer: Vague theories and bias, but no evidence in Knox murder trial
  • U.S. student testifies Italian police pressured her
  • Amanda Knox’s parents hope acquittal is near in murder case
  • Disputed evidence in spotlight as Amanda Knox trial nears end
  • Amanda Knox lawyer makes emotional plea for acquittal
  • Amanda Knox sobs as guilty verdict read
  • Knox’s parents react to conviction
  • Knox’s parents blame media
  • Knox’s parents: ‘huge mistake’
  • Amanda Knox: Court has made ‘huge mistake’
  • Knox jury, prosecutor decried
  • Knox ‘ready to fight on,’ parents say
  • Knox family, friends react
  • Amanda Knox’s aunt says hearing verdict was ‘gut-wrenching’
  • Knox verdict leaves many questions unanswered
  • Judge allows appeal in Amanda Knox case [actually it’s automatic]
  • Jailed mobster claims he can prove Amanda Knox is innocent
  • Knox’s mother reacts to libel case
  • Knox’s mom: This feels personal
  • Toobin: Knox libel charge ‘very strange’

Notice any bias in that list? You think CNN took the same position on the convicted brutal murderer Scott Peterson now on Death Row for whom there was actually much LESS evidence?

This sunday at 8:00 US east coast time, on CNN and CNN International, the aimiable and lightweight CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin (image at top) will seemingly present an hour more of the same.

CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reveals new details that cast doubts upon controversial blood, knife, DNA, and other evidence presented in Knox’s original trial….

Griffin also has a rare television interview with the chief prosecutor in the case, Giuliano Mignini, and reveals a pattern of prosecutorial behavior that raises questions about the original conviction.

He debriefs viewers on Knox’s now-disputed confession – obtained after days of unrelenting questioning, and according to Knox, even physical abuse by police interrogators.

Pattern of prosecutorial misbehavior? Really? A confession obtained after days of unrelenting questioning? Really? Which days precisely? And exactly what confession was that?

No mention at all that both Amanda Knox and her parents Curt and Edda now face separate calunnia trials in Perugia for serious wrong charges that were pretty well exactly like these. 

Drew Griffin’s normal beat is aimiable, lightweight political muckraking. He apparently has not previously reported on crime or on court cases, or for that matter on Italy.

No matter. He simply gets told to follow the CNN party line - and like a robot, he does so.

Posted on 05/06/11 at 11:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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