The New York Times Finally Visits The Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


[Above: the New York Times reporter Rachel Donadio]

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

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

Not that the Times always gets it right, however. It made an enormous mess of the Clinton Whitewater affair, where at the end of the day there was no crime.

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

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

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

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

Not a bad start though. Okay, Rachel, now to do some real digging?! There is much more to the story than this.

Comments below transferred from our Truthwatch area

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skep, that is an excellent and very tantalising point to follow up on.

Do you have others? Well, I know you do. Probably dozens.

We need that list! A permanent running list of such areas for the media to follow up on is often appreciated - by the reporters themselves.

On my own website, there is quite a to-and-fro process with the reporters around here.

I try to make a point of quoting with due praise certain reporters, and I have had some grateful emails and made some useful friends as a result.

Blogs are already at critical mass in terms of their news-shaping abilities.

Posted by Fast Pete on 09/30/08 at 12:24 PM | #

This report is old news from the New York Times reporter.

It’s the initial attack strategy of the Knox team from day one of this case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple of points about Joe Tacopina:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, Tacopina has made statements at various times to the effect that he is acting as an informal advisor to the Knox family, or has allowed such statements to be made about him by Barbie Nadau of Newsweek. In fact, members of the Knox/Mellas family have stated that he is not advising the family in any capacity. If he is not, then the credibility of the article suffers.
Tacopina at one point claimed to have attended a hearing on behalf of Knox (the April 19 hearing), but this was a closed hearing and sources on the ground in Perugia have noted for the record that Tacopina was nowhere near the courthouse on that day. In fact, he had flown to Italy in a failed bid to put together a consortium of buyers for an Italian football club.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Most chicks don’t know what they want

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

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

Here is the precise quotations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted by vfrnrvvk on 11/28/08 at 03:03 AM | #


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