The Very Appropriate Casting Of Doug Preston As The Fredo Corleone Wannabe
Posted by Kermit
Preston as Fredo
In the image above, from the first Godfather movie, Michael’s brother Fredo watches his father Don Corleone get into a Mafioso tussle.
Fredo, after fumbling, juggling, and dropping his revolver without firing a single shot, proves himself useless and incapable of achieving the basic objective of taking care of his kindred souls.
In the same manner, as Douglas Preston fumbles about protecting the interests of his “Family” (and taking care of his own income), he shows the public that the sci-fi writer can’t load his own pen with Truth - or even Believable Lies.
Whenever I see an article published by the sci-fi thriller novelist and pro-Amanda Knox “point-of-view journalist” (his own words) concerning either the murder of Meredith Kercher or the Monster of Florence case, I can’t avoid being reminded of “Fredo” the bumbling brother who lets his family down.
Whoever set Douglas Preston up for his histrionic defense of Amanda Knox, or his attacks against the personal and professional integrity of Deputy Prosecutor General Giuliano Mignini, or his defense of his hapless friend Mario Spezi’s curious “investigative” techniques in uncovering “dirt” on the decades old “Monster of Florence” case should have found a much better soldado than Preston.
Preston’s histrionic pamphlet
Douglas Preston has recently posted an article on The Slate website, promoting a pamphlet that in the end he had to self-publish through Kindle since no one else would publish it (he had told me at the end of last year in an unsolicited email that he was hoping The New Yorker or The Atlantic would print it as an article).
I seriously thought of writing this TJMK post as a self-published Kindle article that could be downloaded for 99 cents, but I refrained from doing so for two reasons:
- 1) I wanted it to get more exposure than Preston’s nickel-and-diming effort has
2) I will never want to earn any blood money off the backs of crime victims, even if it’s only the grand total of 99 cents from the Kindle copy my mother buys
Preston’s The Slate article and Pamphlet are basically an attempt to undermine the PMF and TJMK websites which have taken a pro-victim posture in the online discussion concerning the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007.
As such he stumbles and fumbles with the Truth in promoting his “Family” causes, with as much dexterity and morality as the low-grade Mafioso “Fredo” from The Godfather, unable to load his writer’s gun properly, in a comic show of futility.
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #1: Tell Favorable, Out-of-Date news from the Past
Novelist Preston starts telling his unconvincing twisted half-truths before he even finishes the title and subtitle of The Slate promotional article:
Burn Her at the Stake - Amanda Knox was acquitted of murder. Why do so many people still hate her so much? (Source: The Slate)
That title has as much truth as Preston writing another self-promotional article today announcing to the world “I turned 21 years old” … it may be true that years ago in the past he was 21 years old, but that is hardly a current truth for readers.
While it may be the case that accused murderer Amanda Knox was acquitted of that charge in 2011, it is now an old truth, after the Supreme Court of Italy in March chastised the appeals verdict of Judge Hellman (now forcibly retired from the judiciary) and annulled that acquittal, putting her status back to the conclusion of her initial murder trial.
(Later in the article Preston makes a brief mention that she will be retried, barely associated with the headline message he sends to the world in the title to his article. Knox’s current situation is the polar opposite of being acquitted; rather, she is still fully charged with murdering Meredith.)
Preston, the public wants you to start broadcasting the truth, the current, real truth, in messages that are for once free of highly misleading insinuations.
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #2: Use Weak Statistics To Support Insinuations
Preston does a number of Google searches and becomes shocked, shocked that he gets hundreds of thousands of hits with combinations like “Amanda Knox” and “pervert”, or “Amanda Knox” and “slut”.
Preston knows full well, as do the readers of The Slate (and the handful of persons who have read the long version of The Slate article, paying 99 cents for the 10 minute read), that you always get hundreds of thousands or millions of Google hits for just about any Google search, however shocking the search terms may be.
Preston says “The extreme viciousness of the anti-Amanda commentariage is startling”.
Here are two public figures: Knox on the left has been in the news for 6 years … she would probably be a forgotten figure, just another semi-anonymous American abroad with problems if it hadn’t been thanks to the expensive corporate PR campaign that her own family has waged. That PR campaign has propelled the number of overall appearances of her name, and has pushed Internet commenters of all types to opine on her.
Hillary Clinton on the right has been in the news for 3 decades or so, as reflected in the proportionally higher number of Google hits on her name. In spite of not being accused of sexual assault and murder, she still receives a relatively high number of sexual/sexist descriptors.
Knox is not in the news because she has worked on public health reform, or because she has been a Secretary of State, or because she lived in the White House with her husband. Knox is accused of sexual assault and murder. She is also a convicted felon, having served 3 years in an Italian prison (no further appeals) for falsely accusing her boss of murdering Meredith, in Knox’s presence.
Knox outdoes Hillary in percentage of hits for “bitch” and “slut”, but Hillary betters her for “pervert”. Who cares? In Internet, any public person can get Google hits for just about any descriptor, especially if you are accused of a sexual crime.
Let’s extend our test a moment, and do an additional Google search: “Douglas Preston” “slut” –“Knox” . By eliminating references to “Knox” we eliminate any testing contamination from Amanda’s Perugia murder charges and the ensuing online discussion and reporting. Preston shouldn’t be surprised to learn that compared to Amanda Knox’s 380,000 “slut” hits, Preston has 73,400 of his own “slut” hits. Not bad. Of course, all of these results require analysis, which is exactly what Preston doesn’t provide in his pamphlet.
Here’s one of Preston’s “slut” Google returns, his own sci-fi novel texts:
“The town slut. She was in this cell just last month, wasn’t she, on a drunk and disorderly. Like mother, like daughter. Guess the apple never falls far from the tree. Or in your case, the shit never falls far from the asshole … the murderer might be local. Maybe a devil worshiper. You fit the bill, with that fucked-up purple hair and black eye makeup. Is that what you do at night? Go out and do mumbo-jumbo? … Bitch,’ Brad muttered … ‘no man would ever want to screw you, you freak.’” … (Poor tormented Preston; that’s from his book Still Life with Crows that he curiously dedicated to Mario Spezi.)
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #3: Tell Contrasting Stories About Personal Suffering at the Hands of An Abusive Prosecutor
In an interview in The Atlantic in 2006, well before Meredith’s murder, Douglas Preston was asked about Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini:
Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”
Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”
At that point in time, the Bad Guy for Spezi and Preston had been and still was Police super-inspector Michele Giuttari. But that didn’t seem to sell. They needed something to spice up their tales about the Monster of Florence, which weren’t achieving whatever objective they may have set themselves. The breakthrough for Preston and Spezi came with Meredith’s murder. Preston today with his Pamphlet admits to being recruited early on by the pro-Amanda Knox movement just after Meredith’s murder:
“A few days after Amanda Knox was arrested for murder, I got a call from a man named Tom Wright … a well-known filmmaker … (who) knew her family … (he) begged (Spezi and me) for help …. I felt like I had to become involved.” (Source: Preston’s Pamphlet on Kindle)
[Image above: Thomas Wright’s “famous” screenplay skills seem to rival only Preston’s writing skills that we’ve seen.]
Preston has never admitted this early recruitment contact before. In his Afterword to the English-language version of their tale The Monster of Florence, Preston writes about a different call that he got just after Meredith’s murder:
“A few days after the crime, I got a call from Niccolò Capponi … ‘My dear Douglas … I bet you a bottle of ’97 Chianti Classico that before the week is out someone will connect this poor girl’s murder with Monster of Florence’”.
Capponi, whose relation with Spezi and Preston deserves its own tome, couldn’t have been more astute. The Friends of Amanda movement didn’t need anyone other than Douglas Preston to crow out to the world that Mignini wasn’t actually a benign, “sincere”, “honest” and “incorruptible judge” (Preston’s own prior words up until then). Instead, Preston rewrote his own storyboard and retroactively turned the Mignini of early 2006 into one really nasty guy:
“The police then picked me up on the streets of Florence and hauled me in before Mignini, where he interrogated me for hours, with no attorney or interpreter present. He demanded I confess to a string of crimes, including being an accessory to murder, and when I refused, he indicted me for perjury and obstruction of justice and suggested I leave the country.” (Source: Preston’s Pamphlet, on Kindle)
Preston has changed his tune about how his Perugian questioning in 2006 was arranged. In his earlier book from five years ago he described a different ambience that pleasant day on his way to Perugia, with a notable absence of jackboots “hauling him in”, originally stating that it was actually a family-outing:
…. “The next day I drove to Perugia with Christine and our two children, passing the shores of Lake Trasimeno on the way. Perugia, a beautiful and ancient city, occupies an irregular rocky hill in the upper Tiber valley ... Christine planned to sightsee with the kids and have lunch while I was interrogated”. (Source: Preston and Spezi, The Monster of Florence)
Driving down to Perugia with your wife and family contrasts with being “hauled in” after being picked up in the streets of Florence, yet Preston, it seems, adapts the truth and insinuations to the required needs and circumstances.
By the way, Mr. Preston, what murder did Prosecutor Mignini accuse you of being an accessory to? You keep repeating it, and we’re still waiting to hear. What murder?
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #4: Use illogical deduction and dodgy Internet sources for your facts
Preston makes some amazing logic relationships in his pseudo-scholarly study of pro-victim Internet voices. When describing a book that the pro-Knox forces seem to find against their interests, Preston says:
“While the book included no footnotes or bibliography, it appears to have used information sourced from anonymous bloggers — identifiable as such because it was incorrect.” (Source: Preston’s 99 cent pamphlet)
I don’t think that the reasonable public out there requires any analysis of this fatally flawed “if-then” logic. Preston-Fredo needs to go back to school, either to grade school to do basic maths, or to the Daisy Hill School of Influencing People and Spreading Convincing Propaganda.
This is an important lesson for Preston, who often relies on the daisy-chaining, circular, internal feeding of “facts” amongst pro-Knox promoters. Preston himself, like a post-modern journalistic alchemist, turns wishful opinion into “fact”, using as raw material the opinion posts of “Friends of Amanda” anonymous bloggers who use various identities.
Let’s take a look at three of the most active and factually flawed pro-Knox bloggers who people like Preston have helped turn into Knox-Urban-Legends, dragging along their pro-Knox fictions.
The photo below comes from a FOA-Fest last summer on Vashon Island where Amanda could thank all her limited number of close supporters for their help in springing her from prison. On the left is Bruce Fisher, or Bruce Fischer (depending on the day). One of his most hilarious affirmations which he vehemently defended until it was impossible to continue to do so, was that a box of Dixan detergent that he spotted in a photo of Sollecito’s sink would explain why Sollecito’s cutlery may have smelled of bleach … except that Dixan is clothes washing detergent!
The hilariousness of Fisher/Fischer’s Internet postings can also take on sinister results when passed on to the hands of either an inexperienced or ethically challenged journalist or a “point-of-view” journalist. Preston refers to a post by Fischer as if it were fact when he publishes in his 99 cent Kindle pamphlet that a prominent pro-victim blogger “had a restraining order placed against him” for a non-existent harassment of a ballet dancer.
Why doesn’t Preston also say that the web-site where this post was placed by Fisher/Fischer quickly removed it when it received the corresponding complaint? Why didn’t Preston ask Fisher for any proof of the “restraining order”? Why didn’t he cross check his facts/falsehoods?
Why should a best-selling sci-fi novelist stoop so low? Money? Anger? Envy?
Another of Preston’s anonymous or multi-alias bloggers whom he has quoted or protected is Francesco (“Frank”) Sfarzo / Sforca / Sforza. Take your pick of the last name as he has used them all in public documents.
“Frank’s” supposed beating at the hands of a squad of goon cops beholden to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was curiously covered by the Committee to Protect Journalists in prominent website posts and a public letter to the President of Italy, with no effort whatsoever to investigate the claims or speak with the local Italian authorities.
CPJ’s reputation remains tarnished as they refuse to this day to recognize their massive screw up. Shame on Joel Simon, director of the CPJ! Is there no governance in that organization?
Should a financial contributor to CPJ such as Preston also be permitted to be a figure in the anti-Italian judicial lobbying that CPJ has consciously or unconsciously ended up participating in?
Preston’s role in this laughable attempt to frame Mignini is only made all the more tragic by the fact that “Frank’s” arrest in Italy (which Mignini had nothing to do with) was related to a complaint of domestic violence.
He left Italy, and – staying at Amanda’s family home in Seattle for a couple of months, then travelling to Canada, Hawaii, then back to a shared residence in Seattle - racked up an impressive set of arrests and police interviews related to further domestic violence complaints during his travels.
[Image above: Preston’s pet blogger “Frank” is not at all a victim of violence, but rather to the contrary, has an arrest warrant out to face charges for instigating it]
Amongst “Frank’s” contribution to the “point-of-view” journalism supporting Amanda Knox has been his visit to Piazza Grimana, the square near the cottage crime-scene, where “Frank” took a photo that supposedly demonstrated that Knox and Sollecito could not have monitored the entrance to the cottage from there on the night of the crime, since you can’t see the cottage gate according to “Frank”.
Any person who goes to Piazza Grimana in Perugia knows perfectly well that if you step just a couple of metres to the left, you have a perfect view of the cottage gate, barely hidden in “Frank’s” photo behind the corner of the house on the right.
Yet another case of the danger of Preston using pro-Knox bloggers and friends as sources of unreliable information is that of the G-Man, ex-FBI agent and ex-college security guy, Steve Moore.
In the sake of honesty, of the three pro-Knox bloggers referred to in this post (we could go on forever about the menagerie of Knox Internet personalities), Moore is the least anonymous, although it should be said that his “G-Man” aura he promotes is perhaps self-deprecating humour (think of an adult guy using a nickname like “GI Joe”).
G-Man has developed an elaborate tale of how he became interested in the case and began to study detailed documentation and images to come to the forensic conclusion in his living room that the Italian investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder was flawed and that Amanda Knox was innocent. (Moore’s experience before he left the FBI as far as I’m aware is escorting suspects to court, sniper training, and flying helicopters … I don’t believe he has worked as a forensic specialist.)
Like in the case of Bruce Fisher/Fischer, there are semi-comical aspects to G-Man’s appearances on the Internet supporting Amanda Knox. This happens when you get someone who is not a forensics specialist looking at photos and making conclusions:
Unfortunately, Steve Moore was analyzing an image that was not “Amanda and Meredith’s sink”! This example of errors in G-Man’s contributions to FOA finding Amanda innocent is far from being the only one.
In Preston’s Pamphlet, he presents the anecdote of a pro-victim Internet commenter who made what Preston claims is a “threatening” comment concerning the quality of G-Man Steve Moore’s daughter’s song lyrics. In the light of honesty and telling all the truth, Preston should have stated that after Mom and Dad Moore, the next most prolific pro-Knox poster of the Moore family is their daughter, who has made posts on both pro-Knox and pro-victim sites, on Twitter and on Facebook, including posts with coarse language.
She seems to be an adult, but if she isn’t, then Mom and Dad Moore should start acting like better parents, being aware of their offspring’s internet activity, putting a filter on their home router and telling her to not make posts on sites that deal with a sexual assault and murder case. Nor should they allow their daughter to leave her own pages open for comments and or to post videos about the murder. And if their daughter is an adult, then Preston shouldn’t insinuate to his few readers otherwise.
By the way, the “threatening” post was a return of a phrase used by a pro-Knox poster that “Steve Moore plays for keeps” after a playful criticism of the quality of lyrics written by Miss Moore.
This is a lesson to Douglas Preston: any journalist, even that special lobbyist category of “point-of-view journalist” such as himself, is only as credible as his sources.
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #5: Claim That You Have Already Made Any Needed Explanations
Preston says in his Slate article: “Like a fool I waded into the (Internet) fray, defending Amanda and myself. I attacked my attackers and countered their criticisms.”
(Why does Preston have to “defend” Amanda? I thought he was now presenting himself as a journalist. Oh, I forgot, he wrote that he now considers himself a “point-of-view journalist” – his terminology - which sounds a lot like “lobbyist”.)
Actually, Preston has never countered any serious criticism. I ask readers to take a fast look at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ comment page concerning the CPJ’s fiasco accusing Prosecutor Mignini of directing a vicious, violent attack on “Frank” the blogger by a squad of rogue police beholden to the prosecutor.
Preston went wacko when he saw the Internet world laughing out loud at the CPJ’s allegations, and when he saw that the Internet provided different proofs to show that the now fugitive blogger was at best making up his story, or had other persons close to the action making it up for him.
Take a look at Preston’s emotional replies to CPJ readers’ comments.
[Image above: on the left we see CPJ’s director Joel Simon, who accused Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini of sending a police squad to beat up “Frank” the blogger (second from left). “Frank” is a family friend of the Knox-Mellas families, taking care of much of their logistics in Perugia, setting up photo shoots, etc. “Frank” stayed at the Mellas home (Chris Mellas, second from right) for a couple of months during his arrest-ridden trip out of Italy, when his domestic violence trial started up there. On the right, Preston, the glue that links “Frank” to the CPJ.]
On the web pages of CPJ, we see that not only does Preston not reply to the contradictions and lies that the Internet world points out in his words and actions, but he also puts conditions on doing so.
The best “countering” of criticism that Preston provides online is pretty pathetic. He says that the demonstrated errors in his and the CPJ’s texts “are distortions, falsehoods, and crackpot opinion presented as settled fact.” Period. No explanations of why he says one thing in one place and something completely different in another. No transparency concerning his documented relationship with the CPJ. No honesty concerning the real, sad domestic violence case that “Frank” has had before him, brought on by his own family in Italy (in addition to his U.S.A. problems).
We’re still waiting for any real clarifications of Preston’s serious problems with the truth, the whole truth, the current truth and nothing but the truth.
I personally don’t need to see more verbiage from Preston, but I would have thought that he would be concerned about the public’s view of his credibility. It will probably help future “True Story” book sales if he were to clear up the confusion he causes about both the Monster of Florence case and aspects of the investigation and trials related to the murder of Meredith Kercher.
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #6: Write Any Incorrect Gibberish That Doesn’t Get Error-Checked If You Think that Unknowledgeable People Will Swallow Your Errors
Preston once crowed concerning the quality of his texts:
Before publication, it was minutely vetted by no less than five attorneys in two languages in Italy, the U.K., and the United States. Since publication, it has been read by millions of people in many European languages. In all that time, and with all the millions who have read the book, not one significant error of fact came to light. Mario Spezi and I stand by every single assertion of fact in that book today just as strongly as we did when it was first published three years ago.” (Source: Preston on CPJ)
I once suggested to Preston that he ask his five error-checking lawyers for his money back, after the multiple mistakes and falsehoods of The Monster of Florence came to light and it became apparent that it should be reclassified to “Fiction”.
It seems that both Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox used the same error-checking lawyers in their memoirs, and that once again Preston and Spezi have employed them for their underwhelming, unknown tome in German Der Engel Mit Den Eisaugen (The Angel With Icy Eyes). No other market seems to have wanted to hear more from the Dynamic Duo of murder “point-of-view journalism”. As you can expect, their book about the murder of Meredith Kercher is not about the victim, but about the star, from their point of view, Amanda Knox.
[Image above: Preston and Spezi are sure bets for winning The Novelists’ Error Marathon, especially given the finish line they’ve set for themselves. (By the way, I will state the obvious here, that this satirical image is the only photo that has been “photoshopped” in this TJMK post)]
In the Forward to their limited market book, Preston kicks off the marathon, asserting first of all that Perugia is surrounded by … the hills of Tuscany (“In der schoenen alten Stadt Perugia, umgeben von del Huegeln der Toskana”). Where’s a smiley when you need one? To all readers of this post, I ask you that we keep the secret, and let Preston and Spezi figure out by themselves what’s wrong with their statement. I guess the Duo were in a hurry to get the book to market.
Slightly further down the same first page, Preston falsely asserts that the Prosecutor Office (“Staatanwaltschaft”), understood to be Mignini, called a triumphant press conference where “case closed” was victoriously declared to the microphones of the Press.
Of course, neither Mignini nor any other prosecutor held such a press conference, nor was he present at any other press conferences at that time. My only explanation for this error by Preston is that he is so obsessed to assign just any supposed bad behavior to Mignini that he sees visions of the prosecutor doing wrong and turns those visions into “True Story” words.
The problem with that explanation of “visions” is that it is how Amanda Knox justified her false accusation against Patrick Lumumba for murdering Meredith, and that false accusation got her three years in the Capanne Prison Spa.
Just another 4 lines below that, Preston claims that within those immediate days after the arrests, Prosecutor Mignini put forward a scenario of Satanic sexual rites for describing the human dynamics on the night of the crime (“das eine amerikanische Studentin namens Amanda Knox mit zwei anderen Personen in den Mord verwickelt sei, den die Staatsanwalt als eine Art sexuelles-satanisches Ritual unter Drogeneinfluss bezeichnete”).
Again, Preston got confused. Or, maybe he wrote exactly what he was wanting to write, even if it was wrong.
Let’s not leave Mario Spezi out of the Novelists’ Error Marathon. Spezi tries to keep up with Preston in the home stretch, in Chapter 1: when emphasizing how isolated he feels that Perugia is from the outside world, he describes Umbria as “the only Italian region that does not border with the sea”. Spezi must have had a football scholarship at school, because it seems that he forgot about Lombardia, Piemonte, Val d’Aosta and Trentino & South Tirol. These regions account for about a quarter of Italy’s population and include large cities such as Milan and Turin.
We’ve barely started looking at their Icy Eyes book, but we’ll leave a more exhaustive review for the future.
Maybe Preston and Spezi hope that the few German readers of the book (who may have received their copies as free review copies) won’t know or care. It’s possible that they won’t even finish the book.
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #7: Apply Your Own Words to Others in Order to Distract from the Central Issue
Preston claims in The Slate article about pro-victim Internet posters: “Almost all the nasty comments about (Knox) follow a pattern. Even though she did nothing to them, they are all demanding her punishment.”
Personally, I don’t “demand Knox’s punishment”. Preston and the rest of FOA know that by now. What the pro-victim Internet posters want is for the Italian Justice system to be left to do its job, without any outside interference by a corporate, multimillion dollar public relations campaign, or – if we get to the point where Italy asks for Knox’s extradition – non-juridical or non-treaty political interventions to interrupt this normal administrative procedure.
Of course, those persons who are found guilty of sexually attacking and murdering Meredith should get the punishment that the Italian legal system foresees in such cases.
The pro-Knox camp has been outraged that Rudy Guede may be released from prison as early as 2014, insinuating that he has struck a deal to frame Knox. Any honest and informed opiner on this case would know that Rudy has only followed the well established legal and penitentiary procedures in Italy that apply to all convicts, and had Knox followed the fasttrack trial as he did, she also could have been looking at early freedom.
If the pro-Knox camp is so outraged that Guede may get free in 2014, I would suggest that they lobby that sentence reduction procedures be changed so that murder convicts serve their whole prison sentence. Somehow, I don’t think that the pro-Knox camp will undertake such lobbying.
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #8: Don’t be transparent or precise
Preston describes in his Pamphlet how in 2000 he moved to Italy with his family and soon after became fascinated with the Monster of Florence serial killings case and teamed up with journalist Mario Spezi to investigate the case and write a book.
“Giuliano Mignini did not like our investigation”, he states as the start of a series of supposed abuses they suffered at the hands of the prosecutor.
Maybe Preston should state that after moving to Italy in 2000, he didn’t meet Spezi until 2001, and up until 2004, over the course of three years, it seems he drank a lot of coffee with Spezi, drove to a couple of the decades old Monster crime sites in the country roads around Florence, spoke to the mother of one of the victims, kept a scrap book of what the real, active reporters on the case were doing … and not much more.
Only after almost four years following his arrival in Italy, does it seem that Preston’s active “investigation” suddenly started and kicked into high gear in January of 2004 when Spezi’s friend Francesco Calamandrei, the pharmacist of San Casciano, was drawn into the Monster of Florence investigation. Spezi woke up on the Monster case, did an interview with Calamandrei, and got it published in La Nazione within 24 hours on 23 January 2013. Without mentioning that he was a friend of Calamandrei.
It should be noted that the prosecutor who ordered this “wake-up call” for Spezi wasn’t Prosecutor Mignini from Perugia, but rather Prosecutor Paolo Canessa from Florence, the central prosecutor for the Monster of Florence case.
Preston’s rewriting of history and intertwining fiction and half-truths related to the Monster of Florence case and fiction and half-truths related to Meredith Kercher’s murder in Perugia has brought him time and time again to present Mignini as the key figure in the Monster of Florence case:
Mignini theorised that this satanic cult consisted of powerful people – noblemen, pharmacists, journalists and freemasons – who ordered the Monster killings because they needed female body parts to use as the blasphemous wafer in their black masses. Putting himself in charge of the investigation, Mignini became so obsessed that he crossed the line of legality, wiretapping journalists and conducting illegal investigations of newspapers. (Source: The Guardian)
(It should be said that Preston really should clean up his old message, and tell readers that any and all abuse of office accusations against Mignini were thrown out: he has neither been found, nor now even been accused of any wrongdoing in relation to the Monster of Florence case - quite the opposite, the rogue Florentine prosecutor who initiated the cancelled proceedings against Mignini may have some questions to answer).
Again, Preston’s own words belie his transformation of Prosecutor Mignini. Remember that before Meredith’s murder, Preston’s Bad Guy with satanic theories wasn’t Mignini, but Police Inspector Michele Giuttari.
You can imagine that had Mignini not been the prosecutor of Meredith’s murder case, but Giuttari had been involved in the police investigation into Meredith’s murder, that Preston and Spezi could have saved their whole effort in demonizing Mignini, because they were already halfway there with Giuttari.
Why did Spezi and Preston suddenly get on the case and start sculpting their Monster of Florence tale in early 2004 following Calamandrei getting caught up in the police investigation? I would love to know.
Why did they apply a pre-existing Monster of Florence theory developed by English fiction writer Magdalen Nabb many years before?
Nabb was referred to as “Ethel”, a Belgian writer, in the Italian version of Spezi and Preston’s tale, while Nabb was still alive. Preston simply eliminated Nabb completely by the time they translated and published the tale in English, after Nabb’s death. In an eerie and weird manner, some of the years-old Nabb-Spezi, Master-Apprentice conversations in the Italian version of MoF seem to be transformed into current Spezi-Preston Master-Apprentice conversations in the English version of their “True Story” tale, almost as if they took on her personality.
I guess they weren’t too worried about presenting as their own, current “investigation”, ideas and theories (correct or not) that had been floating around for a decade and developed by other – now unacknowledged - much better writers.
[Image above: In Preston’s and Spezi’s English language book The Monster of Perugia they morphed English author Magdalen Nabb’s Carabinieri contacts, as well as Nabb’s theories and conversations concerning the MoF into their own, with neither direct nor indirect recognition of Nabb’s existence, nor her work done nearly 10 years earlier. Maybe they felt that since she had passed away, the world wouldn’t notice their intellectual theft.]
Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #9: Use corporate media as a means to legitimize false claims
The CPJ’s false and unverified accusation against Mignini for supposedly sending a goon squad to beat up the Perugian blogger is exactly the sort of feed that the Friends of Amanda and the Gogerty&Marriott corporate PR campaigns needed. These groups repeated the invented injustice wherever they could within the ongoing campaign.
That’s where we find a link between the PR campaign and the “mainstream” American media and showmen. If you Google “Doug Longhini” and go to the CBS News site associated with him, you’re not quite sure at first glance if he’s an ethical traditional journalist, a “point-of-view” journalist, a CBS producer, or an external businessman. What is clear is that it seems that most of whatever it is that he does at CBS is dedicated to Amanda Knox and, in second place, in general the crime in Perugia.
However, when you start reading some of his articles or news reports, like the one below, you realize that he’s not a traditional journalist who checks his facts and tries to get all angles on a news story.
I used to be impressed with the effort that went into the 48 Hours type of investigative programs. Not any more. Describing “Frank” Sforca/Sforza/Sfarzo as an “independent journalist” when this pro-Knox blogger acted as the logistics manager for the Knox-Mellas clan in Perugia, including organizing photo shoots for the daughters, stayed with the Knox-Mellas family a couple of months in Seattle, and was the beneficiary of ongoing funding from pro-Knox circles even after he was a no-show for his latest court session last December in Seattle, is stretching the definition of “independent”.
This Longhini article almost reads as if Douglas Preston had written it … I would have hoped that Longhini might have made some reference to his sources for his description of “Frank” being handcuffed and beaten, or that Longhini would have looked into the true reports of “Frank” being arrested, not on orders of Mignini, but simply because he bit a police officer who was responding to a domestic violence complaint.
Doug Preston is no stranger to Longhini’s CBS 48 Hours pro-Knox shows, having appeared together with another shared acquaintance, a certain Paul Ciolino. Paul’s role in the Knox CBS shows was supposed to be the implacable investigator who knows the truth that the Italian authorities want to hide.
However, Ciolino’s on-screen antics for many viewers are in detriment to the argument he tries to make.
For example, what serious television detective in the world, not speaking the local language, would go calling at the door of unsuspecting murder witnesses at nighttime, vehemently exhorting them to reply to questions? Paul did:
Where does this leave the state of modern megamedia journalism in America? It has been transformed into entertainment, into a vaudeville show. The confirmation comes in Paul Ciolino’s own self-advertising:
The only thing missing is Liza Minnelli singing “Cabaret” in her black stockings.
Back in America, Preston’s friend Ciolino smears the good name of Signora Nara Capezzali, the elderly lady who he tried to interview under the cloak of darkness (if he really needed to interview her, couldn’t he have arranged to meet her through prior arrangement, during the daytime?):
After describing Prosecutor Mignini as a “convicted felon”, Paul Ciolino speaks of Signora Capezzali at the 1h42’47” mark of a Seattle University pro-Knox forum on 4 April 2011: “The crazy woman (Capezzali) who had ... I don’t think she ... did she ever testify? They never did bring her in because she is crazy.” (Source: Seattle University FOA panel video.) Ciolino’s speech was notable if only for the almost complete absence of any truths.
In fact, yes, Signora Capezzali did testify in court in Knox’s and Sollecito’s murder trial, two years earlier in March 2009 (Source ABC News ). It’s not necessary to add that in spite of Ciolino’s vaudeville show affirmations, witness Signora Capezzali is not crazy.
My Concluding Suggestions
1. To Joel Simon, the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists:
Rather than doing false posts that are never retracted or corrected about benign regional Italian prosecutors in Italy, the CPJ should realize that there is a much, much greater, real and true threat to journalists and journalism due to the transformation of the profession in America into a concentration of commercial enterprises with links to lobbying groups, who use vaudeville-style “entertainers” to wake up murder witnesses in the dark of night and then publicly call them “crazy”.
Mr. Simon, really, it’s time for you to implement some governance in your organization. Here are some common sense suggestions that I humbly submit:
- 1) Don’t allow your financial benefactors to be part of the cases that you take special interest in, except with independent review of your analysis and claims.
2) If you’re a journalism organization, follow basic journalistic ethics by checking your facts and contrasting allegations, especially when you are making claims that seriously affect the reputations of persons.
3) When you realize that you have made a terrible mistake and have falsely accused someone of sending a goon squad to beat up someone else, then be man enough to admit it and correct your false accusation. Start now and apologise to Prosecutor Mignini for the slanderous gift you made to Amanda Knox PR campaign.
4) Take some time as a collective representative organization, to consider and reconsider whom you represent and why … are self-described “point-of-view journalists” (lobbyists) part of the body of professionals you wish to represent? Will they cause you a conflict of professional or moral interest at any point? Do you want these people giving money to your organization?
2. To Douglas Preston, an amateur crime fighter obviously out of his league.
My impression from what we’ve seen is that your attempts at playing in the big lobbying leagues have all ended up with pie in your face, or a “kick-me, I’m stupid” yellow Post-It on your back:
- 1) As we have seen in this post, ethical, traditional journalism gives way in your recent The Slate post and Kindle 99 cent pamphlet, to obvious and ineffective pro-Knox lobbying. In my opinion, the propagandistic shots you’ve fired have neither been convincing nor contain real, true facts unfettered from insinuation and half-truths and falsehoods.I
2) In prior TJMK posts, we’ve seen how you have told two completely different beginnings to your Monster of Florence tale, complete with quoting different persons at different times in different places. You have ended the story with a confusion of errors and falsehoods. See my posts on this here and here.
3) It seems you’re famous in Italian judiciary circles for having lost control of your sphincter in your questioning in Perugia years ago. Is that one of the reasons you’re so mad at Prosecutor Mignini and say just about anything about him, regardless if the message to your readers is true?
4) Like Fredo, you were always the last member of the gang to find out what was going on. Your supposed “5 year” investigation with Spezi into the Monster of Florence seems more like a rehash of old theories developed by others, done in a short period of time by Spezi only from 2004 onward (notwithstanding your scrapbook of other reporters’ work), who would inform you at the last minute of his larvae studies, his TV appearances, or of his “A-Team” investigative squad comprising an ex-con and an ex-cop, who you realized existed only when their months of work had finished.
Fumbling Fredo’s handlers in The Godfather realized the terrible damage he was doing to the Corleone Family’s interests. Is Preston damaging the true, long-term interests of Amanda Knox?
What about his other interests, in the Monster of Florence case … is he truly aware of all of the interests in that case, beyond his own – repeatedly voiced – hope of seeing George Clooney play Preston?
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