Thursday, October 03, 2013

How Did The Knox-Mellases Engineer Their PR And Legal Shortfall? David Marriott Analysed

Posted by Media Watcher

David Marriott in Kermit’s Powerpoint Real Railroad to Hell with paid sleuth Paul Ciolino

‘In 2011, David Marriott was a proud and happy man. 

His client, Amanda Knox, was home, and he was basking in the media attention for having successfully engineered, many people thought, a full and outright acquittal.  So he started to give interviews,  bragging on about his prowess in creating a narrative about someone he’d never met, and imagining himself as a character on the silver screen.

But as with so many stories, the declaration of victory was premature, and in this case, already bittersweet. 

The bittersweet came with the Appellate Decision that overturned the conviction for murder while declaring Marriott’s client a liar, guilty of Calunnia for falsely fingering an innocent man.  The case was clearly more complicated than many casual observers, seduced by PR spin, realized.

Observing Marriott’s chest beating from two years ago is now a little like watching someone take a victory lap in a World Series game after just the fourth inning.

The Premature Nature of his victory lap would start to become apparent only months later with the Prosecution’s strongly argued appeal.  It would become much more clear to a broader set of people with the Supreme Court decision that embraced the arguments of the Prosecutor, while setting aside the Appellate Court verdict except for the conviction for Calunnia, which was affirmed.

Meanwhile, his client had moved forward with a book deal.  In delivering the book, she would make many claims that could easily be disproven, and would further strengthen the prosecution’s hand.

In years to come, it’s likely someone will study the Marriott intervention in this case with the kind of fascination people often have for “experts” who got it utterly, completely wrong. 

All along, the “Amanda as victim” narrative was in many ways, the worst story for Amanda’s advocates to embrace.  The Italian Justice system doesn’t view her as a victim.  They view her as someone who was originally seen as a witness, and who became a defendant only after she implicated herself and the evidence started to accumulate. 

In telling the story of Amanda’s supposed innocence, the PR spinsters and her own stateside attorney, Ted Simon, completely overreached.  How many people saw Simon say time after time in media interviews, “There is NO evidence.”

Meanwhile the PR strategy fired up people who WERE paying attention and who saw how badly the media narrative differed from the realities of the case.  As an example, much as the defense and spinsters tried to say the “crime scene” consisted of only the room where Meredith’s body was found, advocates for the victim’s family knew the crime scene also consisted of all of the areas where evidence of the crime was covered up.  They also knew, as the prosecution did, how many pieces of evidence, including cell phone records and DNA evidence, directly implicated Amanda Knox.

In many ways, this site, and the contributions people made to providing English translations of ongoing testimony and all of the official court documents, happened because of hubris on the part of people who thought that telling a story that was so at odds with the essential truth of the case would ultimately win Amanda Knox’s freedom.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that the reason so many English speakers, including media, can now read the trial record and court documents for themselves is because a flawed PR strategy fired up a group of people who were willing to dive in, find out what was actually happening, and share what they were finding with the rest of the world.

So David Marriott, thank you.  It’s likely that by the time this case is complete (and there’s still a long way to go), you will have served an important role in helping people who care about justice to understand why Amanda Knox now stands convicted of Calunnia, and why she ultimately is being held to account for the murder of Meredith Kercher. 

And hopefully, the tale of your involvement and overreach will serve as a reminder to other defendants in other cases that engineering blatantly false and misleading media coverage about a criminal case is not likely to be a winning strategy.

[Below; Curt Knox and Chris Mellas paid for and guided their toxic PR manager David Marriott]


When we talk “engineering”, do we look at the tight knit Seattle coterie of media and Democratic Party hacks that run the city? With the PR agency for defense industry giant (and major Seattle employer Boeing) acting as quarterback?

Who hired Candace Dempsey, brought in Anne Bremner, Tom Wright and now retired King County judge Michael Heavey on board? In that very tight knit Seattle community, these players all seem to have known each other.

With their political organization, one can see how they roped in Washington senator Maria Cantwell and various congresspersons. When you shine the light of full disclosure on their activities, some truly malodorous actions come up.

Truly a pity, that their (till now) secret back room dealings should have denied justice for the very dignified Kercher family till now.

Posted by Ergon on 10/03/13 at 03:50 AM | #


The giant wheel has many spokes. It turns slowly but surely. It is going to complete one full turn soon.

The pity is that the Seattle wheel and the Bari wheel are out of sync of each other. Some of the questions you have raised perhaps we shall never know the answers but the wheel at Bari is certainly darker and sinister. Perhaps there are far more players that we can ever think of. Most work silently and remotely.

I am truely sorry that you forgot Sfarzo (or whatever may be his real name) and his trial, as and when it comes up, is going to throw up a real stink!

The metamorphosis of the mafia!

Posted by chami on 10/03/13 at 04:05 AM | #


This case is not partisan and it demeans everyone to cast it in a partisan light.  There are no Democrats or Republicans here; there are only people who care about justice for Meredith’s family.

If you want to rave about party politics, please choose another venue.

This is a murder case.  It’s not something that should be evaluated from a partisan perspective.

Posted by Media Watcher on 10/03/13 at 07:12 AM | #

Very insightful on the fizzled public relations. We have some good PR people read and occasionally email and at least one has said Marriott acts pretty unethically. Others say as you do that he was wrong to take a 180 degree opposite hard line, as from that there was no easy backing down. Media people in NYC who have encountered him think he is out of his depth on this one. He allowed for two acts but did not envisage three and had and has no effective game plan. .

Knox-Mellas attempts to capture ANY politician of any hue unwaveringly have faltered, let alone the capturing of any machine if there is one. I know the readership and politically it is absolutely full spectrum. I have always liked that. What election mileage is there in being anti-Italy? I dont see it.

There is no anti-Perugia sentiment. The city official who backed off on the naming of Perugia Park in Seattle against popular sentiment was edged out, and now there is a Perugia Park. There was some minor anti-Seattle sentiment in Perugia, but that went away, and they sent good TV crews several times, who reported very impartially (and included fish throwing)(dont ask).

And while Senator Cantwell did lend some support for a brief while, that was constituent service rather than machine politics. It was pretty easy for us to neutralize. It seems merely that her name was used to promote the fizzled congressional panel and she had no intention of attending. There’s nothing murky about Seattle, an exciting creative pretty city, that I can see ever “caused” Knox or the PR.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/03/13 at 07:43 AM | #

Hi Pete,

The links for Understanding Micheli #1 and #2 and Italians Have for a Long Time Known How Depraved and Cruel the Final Struggle Was do not work. They just bring you back to the most current article on the front page. This is a shame, as I think Micheli in some respects got closer to the truth than Massei and it is very helpful to see his take on various points of evidence and witnesses.


Posted by beans on 10/03/13 at 08:45 AM | #

When it comes down to it PR is organised, industrial-scale lying. It’s one thing to massage the public image of a company or brand but quite another to resort to PR dark arts in the hope of swaying the course of justice. Why the hell do we allow it?

I hope others find this as interesting as I did: It’s by Gregory Bateson, taken from “From Versailles to Cybernetics” (Lecture, April 21, 1966, to the “Two Worlds Symposium” at Sacramento State College.)

“Most of you probably hardly know how the Treaty of Versailles came into being. The story is very simple. World War I dragged on and on; the Germans were rather obviously losing. At this point, George Creel, a public relations man—and I want you not to forget that this man was a granddaddy of modern public relations—had an idea: the idea was that maybe the Germans would surrender if we offered them soft armistice terms. He therefore drew up a set of soft terms, according to which there would be no punitive measures. These terms were drawn up in fourteen points. These Fourteen Points he passed on to President Wilson. If you are going to deceive somebody, you had better get an honest man to carry the message. President Wilson was an almost pathologically honest man and a humanitarian. He elaborated the points in a number of speeches: there were to be “no annexations, no contributions, no punitive damages ...” and so on. And the Germans surrendered.

We, British and Americans specially the British—continued of course to blockade Germany because we didn’t want them to get uppity before the Treaty was signed. So, for another year, they continued to starve Clemenceau, “the tiger,” who wanted to crush Germany; Lloyd George, who felt it would be politically expedient to get a lot of reparations out of Germany, and some revenge; and Wilson, who had to be bamboozled along. Whenever Wilson would wonder about those Fourteen Points of his, they took him out into the war cemeteries and made him feel ashamed of not being angry with the Germans. Who was the other? Orlando was the other, an Italian.

This was one of the great sell-outs in the history of our civilization. A most extraordinary event which led fairly directly and inevitably into World War II. It also led (and this is perhaps more interesting than the fact of its leading to World War II) to the total demoralization of German politics. If you promise your boy something, and renege on him, framing the whole thing on a high ethical plane, you will probably find that not only is he very angry with you, but that this moral attitudes deteriorate as long as he feels the unfair whiplash of what you are doing to him. It’s not only that World War II was the appropriate response of a nation which had been treated in this particular way; what is more important is the fact that the demoralization of that nation was expectable from this sort of treatment. From the demoralization of Germany, we, too, became demoralized. This is why I say that the Treaty of Versailles was an attitudinal turning point.

I imagine that we have another couple of generations of aftereffects from that particular sell-out to work through. We are, in fact, like members of the house of Atreus in Greek tragedy. First there was Thyestes’ adultery, then Atreus’ killing of Thyestes’ three children, whom he served to Thyestes at a peace-making feast. Then the murder of Atreus’ son, Agamemnon, by Thyestes’ son, Aegistheus; and finally the murder of Aegistheus and Clytemnestra by Orestes. It goes on and on. The tragedy of oscillating and self-propagating distrust, hate, and destruction down the generations.”

...What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Posted by Odysseus on 10/03/13 at 01:05 PM | #

Very good illustration, Odysseus, thank you.
Anyone who has unfortunately experienced being at the end of a deliberate deception will know how this feels. Betrayal no less, it hurts to the quick.
We used to say a ‘man of honour’ was a ‘man of his word’.
(Or woman, obviously). If our word becomes unreliable, or worse, what hope do we have…for enlightened, peaceful, or just co-operative existence?

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/03/13 at 01:33 PM | #

Hi beans

Tip is appreciated on links not working. Thats on links in some main post or comment? Can you email or post here where they are?

That problem arose when we upgraded the software and the code for the links now is slightly shorter.

The search function will always work and is very good. Same with the subject links in the right column.  These are all the posts on the Micheli Report:

This is the post on the cruel final struggle.

I might point out that not only was the blow by blow 15-minute struggle not fully reported even in Italy; the recreation video was never publicly shown too.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/03/13 at 02:29 PM | #


Yes, you are clearly aware of all this! Bateson makes just your point about betrayal and hurt - “If we trust and find that that which we have trusted was untrustworthy; or if we distrust, and find that that which we distrusted was in fact trust-worthy, we feel bad . The pain that human beings and all other mammals can suffer from this type of error is extreme”.

The whole(?)lecture is here

Posted by Odysseus on 10/03/13 at 02:36 PM | #

@ Media Watcher i just received email from family in australia who told me that a programme called Amanda Knox The Untold Story 48hrs was aired and they had to turn the show off.

It says Dr Mignini and the Italian Police had the wrong man arrested and they had to release him after two weeks.

Absolutely no mention of the Big Lie Amanda told to throw off the investigation.

The PR campaign must have gone into overdrive as the Appeal proceeds.

Posted by Mason2. on 10/03/13 at 03:05 PM | #

Hi Mason2

That was a CBS 48 Hours report first aired some months ago and might have been marketed by CBS. Search the site here for the 48 Hours posts and you will find a lot.

The CBS 48 Hours unit seems to have realised their angle was wrong though they were incredibly invested in it (Peter Van Sant is from Seattle).

Machine and I are in touch with several there and have given them some tips.

I’d say the only network over which Marriott etc seem to have an ongoing hold is CNN. {Piers Morgan is known to believe in guilt but was dissuaded from a whole program just on that).

All the cable news networks are struggling for viewers; CNN seemed about to disappear but has pulled back up to somewhere below 1/2 a million viewers. Wall to wall crime and court on CNN HLN helps.

CBS 48 Hours and NBC Dateline will pull in at least 10 times that.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/03/13 at 04:00 PM | #

The PR machine has appeared to be very successful, if one believes that it resulted in the release from prison of AK & RS. However, I don’t believe the PR machine had anything to do with it. However, it did draw the public’s attention away from the actual maneuver of getting the appeal judge/s to throw the fight. The misdirect was very clever. Someone other than the PR machine orchestrated this. Even when the current appeal rights the wrongs of the past, AK & RS will remain free from prison, I predict. They’ll find a way. One hopes that their demons haunt them every night - but I suspect that they don’t really give a damn.

Posted by Terence on 10/03/13 at 04:13 PM | #

@chami, not to worry, I’ve been covering Frank Sfarzo in depth and will be writing a major piece before his trial opens in Florence November 06.

Yes, the Bari wheel and the Seattle wheel are not in sync at times, but I do not believe that Raffaele will ever throw Amanda under the bus. He would only implicate himself. I also doubt he’ll return to Italy voluntarily, since he can be arrested as soon as he steps on Italian soil, as a flight risk, and for the slanders in his book.
As for Sfarzo (real name Francesco Sforza-on his passport but he carries other false ID) he has been unlocatable and that is why his trial in Perugia has been put on hold. Why would he then show up in Florence? Still, he has retained a lawyer so we shall see, but his pattern has all along been, to disappear. So, before he gets to sing, first he must be caught 😊

At least, the interlocking wheels are now being exposed.

Posted by Ergon on 10/03/13 at 04:27 PM | #

Hi Terence

Its the endgame that matters. The third act. The PR has failed abysmally at that. And please dont take any bets on the perps staying on the lam all their lives! They dont have the funds or political & legal high ground.

The PR effort certainly knew that the fix on the change of judges from Chiari to Hellmann was in, because even before the 2011 appeal was begun we were receiving hectoring anonymous emails probably from Mellas and Fischer saying it would go their way.

That uber-confidence persisted right through into 2012 and through the filing of the Galati Report and even somewhat into 2013 and the Cassation outcome.

Frank Sforza (Perugia Shock) was the epitome of this triumphalism, and where is her now? Oh yes. Broke and jobless and facing prison terms in Italy and the US.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/03/13 at 04:35 PM | #

Hi Ergon

Good points on Frank. Florence wont punt his trial down the road though if he doesnt show, as Perugia and Seattle tended to do. They will have a trial anyway on his many false accusations of crimes and serial mis-stating of the evidence.

What officialdom really wants is for him to appear, and then turn. Throw the other rats under the bus. Unlike his other cases where, even if he had showed, he might have got off with a slap on the wrist, this one otherwise promises a jail term.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/03/13 at 05:00 PM | #

Hi Pete.

I thought ABC was the most pro-Knox. It has the fawning female fan club whereas CNN has Cuomo who did give a fairly tough interview e.g. (‘strapping on leather’) .......?

Posted by thundering on 10/03/13 at 05:03 PM | #

Hi, Pete

I do think Sforza is key to all this. The more we turned up evidence of collusion with Seattle, the payments received (tens of thousands of dollars by our estimation) his Penguin contract and relationship with Dempsey, one thing we know about him is this: Frank does not do anything unless he’s paid. So his many posts on Perugia Shock (which were edited by his American supporters) slandering PM Mignini and Italian officialdom, were all paid for by the PR campaign.

Digging further, he does seem to have Mafia connections, having worked as an assistant director on the movie “Quite Flows The Don” the Rupert Everett movie which kept running into difficulty and needed suitcases of cash coming in from Naples to get completed-still a flop.

He also is connected with Mario Spezi, had dreams of a career like his, looks like the end result is the same with pending legal troubles.

All reported on PMF.Net with photos. Since this is now well known by the Ministry of Justice, hopefully the trial in Florence will come up with more details. We shall see.

Posted by Ergon on 10/03/13 at 06:17 PM | #

The links to Micheli all work from Search—but if you search only “Micheli” there are three-and-a-half pages of results and if you don’t know the titles of the posts you are seeking it is somewhat daunting.


Posted by beans on 10/03/13 at 07:04 PM | #

Hi Beans

Very true. The links in the right column are best. We have a summary page and a vital docs page in the works.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/03/13 at 08:57 PM | #


We need not look so far in the past.

This is a very sanitized version of what happened. The unvarnished story will take another 50 years to come out in the open.

If you kill one fellow, you are hanged. If you kill 5 million, you get Nobel Peace Prize!

Posted by chami on 10/03/13 at 09:15 PM | #

Hi Chami

True enough, the corruption is all around on the international level. As another single example:  the Iraq War and weapons of mass deception, sorry I meant destruction.

I suppose Bateson would say it’s all fallout from the attitudinal change and demoralisation from 1919. Prior to that deception was expected in war, but not at the peace table. As a result trust is absent and anything goes at any time, including deceiving one’s own people.

I like your “If you kill one fellow, you are hanged. If you kill 5 million, you get Nobel Peace Prize!” I would only make one change in the light of AK: replace “hanged” with “invited on nationwide TV shows for lame questioning”.

Still, I feel quite positive about the direction this new hearing is taking.

Posted by Odysseus on 10/03/13 at 10:24 PM | #

Hello everyone. quick question here. Does Berlusconi’s demise have any bearing upon the trial?
Since it was put forward that he could have run interferance in Perugia. Am I correct here or what?

On another note I see that Ground Report is totally silent upon the trial. At least those idiots have shut up. However no doubt they will be screaming some drivel sooner rather than later.

Keep up this essential work on the behalf of Meredith and her brave family.

sorry about the poor quality here but I’m writing this in the local coffee house on a screen that should be in braile it’s so small.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 10/03/13 at 10:30 PM | #

Hi Odysseus and Chami

Take a look at the mass international betrayal (which you both commented on) in this thread which still 100 years later still reverberates on:

My perspective of governments from within the UN (best place in the world to see into them from because of a high degree of trust) was that corruption and dictatorships and wars and individual crime were somewhat winding down.

But at the same time mega-problems (growth, population, environment) are starting to engulf, and neither democracy with is 2-4 year horizons and warring parties, nor the kind of people being promoted to political leadership, are up to managing what needs to be done next.

I put HUGE blame on the fact that growth is proving an increasing flop, even now in India and China and for a long time in the northernmost countries. This is easily fixable but it needs a lot of people to get out from under the thrall of economists who dont have the answers right.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/04/13 at 02:20 AM | #

Hi Grahame

First, how the 2011 appeal was fixed is quite out in the open in Italy because ex-judge Chiari spoke out. Trials for Hellmann/Zanetti and the DNA consultants C&V are in the cards.

Second, the Berlusconi people had every incentive to bring Italian justice down a peg. Where this has lagged in the past 18 months the mafia fronts have moved in. Most obvious back then was Rocco Girlanda’s campaign to try to get the prosecution impeached, but he never had success in parliament with this and both the President and the Minister of Justice brushed him off.

One thing Berlusconi DID contribute was a very sour economy which has led to increased irritation with public institutions, though justice still rides pretty high.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/04/13 at 02:20 AM | #

I have two questions.

Is it true that Judge Heavey said,on Fox that the new trial is a farce?

The second question is if it is possible that the new judge wants to verify the job of the so called “independent” expert?


Posted by Matteo_65 on 10/04/13 at 12:32 PM | #


“ needs a lot of people to get out from under the thrall of economists”. Ain’t that the truth.

We seem stuck in the anal stage of development: I put it down to poor potty training!

Posted by Odysseus on 10/04/13 at 12:56 PM | #
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