The Sollecito Trial For “Honor Bound” #6: Examining Gumbel’s Role In Biasing The Book

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Andrew Gumbel seen in a shrill 2014 CNN report, perhaps the least balanced so far 

1. Bringing The News Up To Date

On 5 March the Florence court will replace the prosecution’s translation of the target claims in the book with its own translation.

And Sollecito and Gumbel will probably be ordered to stand public trial then.

Both the prosecution and the guiding magistrate have as usual in Italy played immensely fair in this case. Each gave Sollecito and Gumbel numerous opportunities over more than a year to try to explain and justify certain target passages in a way that gets them off the hook. In further fairness the hearings have all been closed.

What leaked out after the last hearing in Florence a couple of weeks ago suggested that Sollecito has yet to come up with any justification at all. He was said to look dazed and depressed.

Gumbel was not in court. But his lawyer apparently claimed that Gumbel was merely a sort of well-meaning sheep: Sollecito’s ghost writer, nothing more, who faithfully took down only what he heard from his client.

This has apparently not gone down at all well in the Sollecito camp.

The Sollecito family and legal team has long hinted rather publicly that Gumbel did a number on them, an end-run. Francesco Sollecito and the family and Sollecito’s lawyers Giula Bongiorno and Luca Maori had all claimed within several weeks of the book coming out that numerous passages in the book were malicious and untrue. Sollecito himself denied that he put them in.

The Sollecito family and legal team have also hinted ever since that Gumbel and some American Knox cronies with self-serving agendas (suggested on pro-Knox websites to have been Steve and Michele Moore, Frank Sforza, Bruce Fischer, maybe some more) had recklessly put dangerous unfounded claims in the final draft of the book.

Those claims (now the main subjects of the Florence trial) were seemingly never put into Italian and run carefully by them. No proper due diligence was done, and as a result they have been left holding the can. And all this under the cold eyes of the Supreme Court, which must rule in six weeks whether Sollecito makes things up. 

2. Smart Rules For Ghost Writers To Avoid Trouble

This is hardly the first time a ghost writer and their client have fallen out. It is a touchy trouble-prone profession not governed by formalised training or an established code of ethics, where getting sued or not getting paid is quite a frequent thing.

Some of those who do it full-time and have had their share of trouble and want no more of it and want to alert others have posted their own suggested groundrules online.

For example, both client and ghost writer are well served by spending a few days checking out each other. Then they make a contract where literally everything needs to be spelled out.

Ghost writers need to take extreme care with clients in legal trouble who might drag them in or who they might drag in further. They need to be clear whether they are to research on their own, and to whom they are permitted to talk.

They need to know whether their name will be on the cover or anywhere inside the book. They need to know whether they have a licence from the client to do related TV and print articles, especially if those pay a separate fee, and what they are allowed to say.

They need to try to capture honestly the client’s voice and not turn them into someone they are not. They need to know what facts to put in and to be clear what facts are consciously left out. They need to do due diligence on the drafts with the agent and publisher and lawyers, and if allowed check out dynamite claims with “the other side”.

And if any accusations of crimes are to be made they REALLY need to check those legal hot potatoes with the client and the lawyers and the publishers, line by line. 

Gumbel seems to have ignored pretty well all of these groundrules, and dug Sollecito in much deeper.

Knox’s ghost writer Linda Kulman (more experienced than Gumbel at this and with no axe to grind) seems to have followed some but not all of these guidelines. Her name is only in the Knox book once, in a short thankyou note by Knox at the back, and she remained low-key and made no separate statements.

Nevertheless, Linda Kulman had the Sollecito book as a (then) largely unchallenged model. She included in the book a number of false accusation of crimes and malicious ridicules of others, none of them properly checked out, which will have Knox in court for sure before too long. (Oggi is already in court for repeating some of her claims.)

Linda Kulman also included an entire chapter about Knox’s “interrogation” where every detail is made up. She included a lengthy claim that Mignini did an illegal interrogation of Knox, when in fact he wasn’t even there. And she left out numerous key facts, such as that Knox was having sex with a major drug dealer almost to the day of her arrest, and most of the evidence.

Linda Kulman certainly dd not capture Knox’s real voice or mode of behavior, which are notoriously brash and possibly the root cause of Meredith’s murder.

3. Flashing Warning Lights In Italy In 2012

If the Sollecito family and team did not know all of the above, it would seem to be Sharlene Martin’s fiduciary duty as book agent for Sollecito to make sure both they and any ghost writer they hired did know.

For their part, the Sollecito team should have done their own due diligence in Italy, and perhaps looked around for an experienced ghost writer in Italy who could converse with all of them and show them in Italian what would be in the book. And in particular known about and been respectful of this which was in our first post.

On 3 October 2011 Judge Hellmann told RS and AK they were free to go, despite the fact that no legal process for murder and some other crimes is considered final in Italy until no party pursues any further appeals or the Supreme Court signs off. Most still accused of serious crimes (as in the UK and US) remain locked up. Hellmann, pathetically trying to justify this fiasco ever since, was firmly edged out and still the target of a possible charge.

Other flashing warnings should have made Sollecito’s family and legal team and book writers very wary. They included the immediate strong warning of a tough prosecution appeal to the Supreme Court. They also included the pending calunnia trials of Knox and her parents, the pending trial of the Sollecitos for attempting to use politics to subvert justice, the pending trials of Spezi, Aviello, and Sforza, and so on. 

A major flashing warning was right there in Italian law. Trials are meant to be conducted in the courtroom and attempts to poison public opinion are illegal. They can be illegal in the US and UK too but, for historical reasons to do with the mafias and crooked politicians, Italian laws in this area are among the world’s toughest. So mid-process, normally no books are ever published


4. Warning Lights About A Hasty Gumbel Contract

Many of the problems in the book are associated with a strident anti-Italy tone.  Well over half the false claims taken apart in this May 2014 post are FACTUALLY wrong in areas where Sollecito has no known knowledge or point of view.

For example, it was claimed that the Italian justice institutions are both very unpopular and corrupt. Neither is true, and almost no Italians believe that.

Sharlene Martin was first mentioned as Sollecito’s agent in the NY Times on 5 December 2011 when Sollecito had been swanning around the US west coast in an apparent attempt to, well, get her back in the sack. He was in a weak mode.

On 10 January 2012 Francesco Sollecito was reported in the Journal of Umbria as saying this about the purpose of the book 

“I have not done the math [the lawyers etc costs]. For good luck. I will do it after the ruling of the Supreme Court. It will be painful because the figure of one million euro of which one speaks is not far from reality.” This was stated to the weekly Today, on newsstands tomorrow, by Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele.
According to [Francesco] Sollecito, in case of confirmation of absolution, then there will be 250-300,000 euro compensation provided for the unjust detention of his son, this money will be enough only to pay the fees of the 12 consultants “that we had to appoint to succeed to refute the allegations.”

In the interview with the weekly, Francesco Sollecito denies that Raffaele has a girlfriend, as reported after the publishing of photos while kissing a girl: “Annie, the girl who appears with him in photos on Facebook is just a friend, in fact a sorta of cousin… “The priorities of my son right now are otherise.” What? “Raffaele has signed a contract with the American literary manager Sharlene Martin for a book, it is a definite undertaking “.

Apparently at this point Sharlene Martin had not been to Italy or spoken face-to-face with Francesco or the legal team. Whether she had briefed herself on the warning lights described above so that she could properly warn the US team of writer, editors, publishers and publicists is not known. 

5. Gumbel’s Shrill Record Of Sliming Italy

On 12 February 2012 Andrew Gumbel is reported in the NY Times as having got the co-writer job. During that period due diligence (if any) on his background would have been done, seemingly mainly by Sharlene Martin (if any) as a complaint of Sollecito’s team is that they could not look him over before he came on board.

Andrew Gumbel is not a lawyer, and in fact our own lawyers have repeatedly found silly his pretentious and inaccurate legal claims. Nor as far as we know does he have a track record as a ghost writer. His main claim to the job seems to have been based on his having been based in Italy with the UK Independent for nearly five years in the 1990s.

The 1990s were a pretty good time in Italy.

There was okay growth and jobs availability, record tourism, relative political calm before Berlusconi grabbed political and media power, many successful farms and firms, and a really push against the mafias - for which many brave judges and prosecutors had died.  The Italian food and wine were great, the cars and luxury goods were great, and Italy was home to about half of the finest medieval art in the world.

We checked it out: foreign reporters in Italy at the time did a fair and balanced job reflecting all of this. With seemingly only one notorious exception: the British reporter Andrew Gumbel for the UK Independent.

Apparently Gumbel could find almost nothing to like about Italy. In 5 years almost nothing to write a positive report on.

Brits relying only on his shrill reporting in the Independent may have thought Italy to be a very corrupt, lawless, politically and economically dysfunctional place, with nothing about it to like and no reason to visit. If they were bigoted, this could have made them more-so. Nasty stuff, and for foreign reporters in any country anywhere very unusual.

Below are the headers for most or all of Andrew Gumbel’s shrill reports from Italy.

Fair and balanced? The right guy for a delicate project with his client in a delicate legal bind? You decide.  We have highlighted in yellow all the reports with a negative bias, maybe true, maybe not. Of the total of 62 reports only 4 seem to us neutral or nice. Were the Sollecitos or their Italian lawyers or HarperCollins made aware by Gumbel or Sharlene Martin of Gumbel’s emotional negative bias?

    1. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Government + History (25)
  • A sick economy shakes out the fake invalids. (growing economic problems in Italy make corruption less acceptable)
  • Bickering while Venice sinks.
  • Can Italy survive Dini’s fall? (prime minister Lamberto Dini)
  • Chirac consigns Italy to Europe’s second division. (French president Jacques Chirac)
  • Corruption on an Olympian scale.(Rome, Italy, seeks to host Olympic Games)
  • Facing up to Italy’s crisis. (Italy’s economic problems)
  • Glitz takes a back seat on road to Rome. (Romano Prodi begins electoral campaign in Italy) (Interview)
  • How the kidnap and rape of Dario Fo’s wife was ordered by Italy’s right-wing rulers.
  • Illegal migrants reach EU havens via Italy.
  • Italy waits for the gravy train to be derailed. (problems facing Italian railway system)
  • Italy ready for mission impossible: intervention in Albania could bring instability to Rome.
  • Italy heads back into a political void.
  • Italy struggles to shake off the legacy of Mussolini.
  • Italy’s Olive Tree fails to bear fruit.
  • Italy’s rich city prays for fall of nation state. (citizens of Bologna, Italy, strongly in favour of European Union)
  • New wave of state corruption stuns the Italians.
  • Past demons threaten Italy’s bid for change. (Italy fails to move towards a SEcond Republic)
  • Prodi’s dilemma: let the left win or surrender Italy’s drive towards Emu. (Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi)
  • Rome’s magic circle. (deterioration of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy)
  • Scholars in a spin over Churchill link to the death of Mussolini. (claims that Mussolini was shot by British secret services)
  • Shouting could drown out Italian democracy. (serious political clashes damage reputation of Italian parliament)
  • So, were there offers he should have refused? (trial of Giulio Andreotti)
  • The Nazi and the protection racket. (controversy over trial of former Nazi Erich Priebke in Italy)
  • Venice’s grand opera descends to farce. (dispute hampers rebuilding of La Fenice opera house)
  • Why Italy cannot bring war criminals to justice.
  • 2. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Scenery, Art, Music, Fashion, Culture (2)
  • Il Papa brings on Dylan for a taste of the devil’s rhythms. (Bob Dylan to perform for Pope)
  • Inside the Assisi basilica, a sight to make saints weep. (challenges involved in restoration of art treasures from Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy)
  • 3. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Economy + Business (8)
  • A nation that brings its style to the track. (many changes to Italian rail network)
  • All is not bene among the united colours. (problems facing Benetton)
  • Berlusconi consolidates his rule over the Italian air waves. (former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi)
  • Ciao Gianni, but now what? (Gianni Agnelli resigns as chairman of Fiat)
  • Climax of Italy’s TV war. (referendum on whether Silvio Berlusconi should sell his television channels)
  • Italy’s new crop stifled in the shadow of a paradise lost.(problems affecting the Italian motion picture industry)
  • Murdoch pursues Italian television. (News Corp seeks stake in Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire).
  • The dark world behind Versace’s life of glamour. (murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace)
  • 4. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Justice, Crime, Corruption,  Mafias (24)
  • Accidental death of an anarchist comes back to scandalise Italy. (three men convicted of murder of police commissioner Luigi Calabresi in 1972)
  • A fashion label that really is to die for .... (murder of fashion designer Maurizio Gucci may have been instigated by his former wife)(Column)
  • After the suicide, a wall of silence. (new type of Mafia activity in Sicily)
  • Amnesty offers Italy chance to forget its years of terror. (Italian government pardons six people involved in Red Brigades terrorist group in 1970s)
  • Andreotti to face trial on Mob links. (former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti to stand trial for consorting with the Mafia)
  • Another black mark against Italy’s judges. (Italy’s anti-corruption magistrates lose their credibility)
  • Arrest us, but we’ll be back next week. (three Italians with Aids use legal loophole to rob banks)
  • Backlash threatens to silence informers. (controversy in Italy over Mafia informers)
  • Bloody end of a fashionable affair. (murder of Maurizio Gucci)
  • Fake invalids at heart of Italy’s postal scandal. (postal service employs many invalids, but some are fakes)
  • Fear and loathing in the Alto Adige. (serial killer murders six people in Merano, Italy)
  • Godfather’ village baffled by murders. (Sicilian town of Corleone)
  • God’s Banker: ‘He was given Mafia money and he made poor use of it.’ (investigation into death of Italian banker Roberto Calvi in 1982 may soon be concluded)
  • Gucci: hell for leather. (Patrizia Gucci convicted for contract killing of former husband Maurizio Gucci)
  • How Cosa Nostra’s cunning outfoxed the Italian state. (Mafia’s criminal network still operating in Italy)
  • How Italy failed to trap its Monster. (failure to bring serial killer in Florence, Italy, to justice)
  • Italy’s men of violence throw off the state’s chains. (revival of the Mafia in Italy)(includes details of murder of magistrate Giovanni Falcone)
  • Mafia trawls Venice’s dark lagoon. (organised crime in Venice, Italy)
  • Mysteries unravel as mafiosi spill secrets. (Italian gangsters make confessions)
  • One woman’s dangerous and lonely battle to break the Cosa Nostra. (challenges facing Maria Maniscalco, mayor of San Giuseppe Jato, Italy)
  • Rome turns a blind eye to Mafia’s killing spree.
  • Secret of why the Mafia has never shot a soul. (code of silence about Mafia in Sicily)
  • Street wars in Italy’s wild south. (high crime levels in Naples, Italy)
  • Who killed Pasolini? (new film about the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  • 5. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Physical Disasters (3)
  • After the deluge (eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy will create chaos)
  • Assisi in mourning as quake shatters Basilica of St Francis.
  • Umbria shows the civilised way to cope with calamity. (effects of series of earthquakes in Italy)


6. Conclusion And Next Posts

This list was checked out with half a dozen posters resident in Italy at the time. All of their reactions were to the effect that, in lying by omission, Gumbel did not play fair with Italy back then. A trivial mind. One which should have been fought off with a stick.

The next posts seek to identify what Gumbel and the Knox misrepresenters (said to be primarily the Moores, Sforza and Fischer) were responsible for putting in the Sollecito book, and to describe Andrew Gumbel’s vigorous public media campaign. Whether authorized or not authorized, he made around 20 shrill damaging interventions.




Comments

Amanda Knox engaged?

It’s confirmed, here, by Seattle Times Jonathan Martin: http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2025678122_jonathanmartincolumnamandaknox12xml.html

and tweeted here: https://twitter.com/SeaTimesOpinion/status/565679954785214464

“(No date has been set, according to my source.)

Her husband-to-be wrote her while she was in prison, and now he has signed up to be stalked by paparazzi, British tabloids and Internet trolls. It must be love. ”

Posted by Ergon on 02/11/15 at 09:31 PM | #

Honeymoon in Italy no doubt

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/11/15 at 10:50 PM | #

Looks like a ‘placed’ story, like James Terrano and Greta Menagaldo.

Posted by Ergon on 02/11/15 at 11:47 PM | #

Enter Jonathan Martin, Times editorial columnist. Demonstrating the depth of investigation and critical thinking that we in Seattle have come to expect from the Seattle Times, he states:

“None of these theories holds up. It is a highly circumstantial case, with DNA evidence so thin that Knox probably wouldn’t have even been charged in the United States. The prosecution’s shifting theories reflect the fact that Knox had no motive. She might be America’s most famous wrongfully convicted person”

Oh really? Any newspaper scribbler can throw out an opinion about how juries and the courts would deal with Amanda Knox, but how about providing some examples in place of all those empty words?

I say, a Seattle, or King County, court, judge and jury would have charged, convicted, imprisoned Knox, and probably on a heck of a lot less evidence than is fully documented in Italy.

Consider the case study of Alan Smith of Bothell Washington (just across on the NE side of Seattle)  In February 2013, Smith beat, stabbed and drowned his wife in her home.  The evidence? No DNA, a cleaned up crime scene…no finger prints, no cell phone records….....so what did they have?  Some circumstantial evidence and one witness who said Smith confessed to the murder.

The Verdict:  GUILTY

Smith will be sentenced on Feb 23, 2015

http://www.bothell-reporter.com/news/290832631.html

Posted by Mark on 02/12/15 at 01:01 AM | #

“fyi, Amanda is guilty of murder, as she’s been convicted in a recognized court.” (Jonathan Martin).

It seems Jonathan has changed his tune:

http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2025678122_jonathanmartincolumnamandaknox12xml.html

Posted by The Machine on 02/12/15 at 03:38 AM | #

Miriam emails on how Italy really was in the 1990s:

**********

No euro, therefore no European bank telling us what to do. Jobs were easier to find for our young people, less mass illegal immigration, therefore less crime, people were more optimistic about the future. Italians were still trusting of goverment and the justice system was not so geared toward the perps. More important Italians were still quick to laugh.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/12/15 at 06:17 AM | #

Thanks Ergon etc etc. Not altogether surprising. Comments on the Seattle Times story are sarcastic.

We’re waiting for some informed takes on the Seattle Times coverage. It has been slanted for sure with many stories from Knox sources but also a few tilting the other way.

It leaves a lot out, such as the evidence.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/12/15 at 10:39 AM | #

Our next post in the RS book-trial series, probably the last for now, will show just how heavily Gumbel was invested in RS’s innocence - and in taking Italy down a peg.

Before and after the book came out he made around 20 strident media interventions.  We called him on the last one - perhaps why it was the last one.

In effect Gumbel threw Sollecito to the wolves at the last hearing (“moi???”) which down the road could incur a lawsuit.

Much smarter would have been for Gumbel to wake up to the hard facts, and instead throw the Moores and Sforza and Fischer to the wolves (and Dempsey and Burleigh whose books he channeled).

He may still do that. The court punishment may not be high if he is found guilty (prison is unlikely) but the civil liabilities would be considerable.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/12/15 at 10:48 AM | #

Please do a search for “Gumbel” on the two PMF forums. There are hundreds of quotes and takes on him in posts there.

As so often before a fall, in 2012-2014 Gumbel was stridently arrogant and condescending. Gumbel went way beyond what Sollecito had ever claimed.

The book (Honor Bound, ha ha) wrecked his legal strategy (now sorta back on track) of prodding Knox toward the fire.

The problem now is that Cassation has a perfect example at the worst time of Sollecito’s serial lies - for a defense of which Sollecito is frozen into silence.

Gee, thanks, Gumbel…

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/12/15 at 11:18 AM | #

Omigosh. Yahoo headlines under “Trending Today” says Amanda Knox is engaged to Colin Sutherland confirmed by People magazine, and that she has known him since middle school?

But that they didn’t start dating until after she broke up with James Terrano. I am speechless. Just another PR bomb probably, one more manipulation. I cannot imagine the dismay of Sutherland’s family. This is just unbelievable.

Posted by Hopeful on 02/12/15 at 05:46 PM | #

Hopeful:  great thought, seems to me to make perfect PR sense, an engagement right before the final judgement, to present a situation of normalcy and hype the sympathy factor.

I’m wondering how they will attempt to play this out?  I would be surprised at a quick wedding before March 25, but they might get some invitations out before then for a later date.

Also what about a pregnancy announcement? That would really grab the headlines and raise the pitiful me bar.

Posted by Mark on 02/12/15 at 06:55 PM | #

MEREDITH KERCHER WIKI ANNOUNCEMENT

The wiki would like to announce receipt of a huge trove of original documents, testimonies and reports from the case file. The editors have been doing yeoperson smile work to collate, translate and prepare for Wiki and SEO optimization.

The wiki is undergoing a major reconstruction now to make it more accessible for journalists and the general public. Our aim to provide all the available documents, not just those selectively released by tainted sources. When completed, it will be the most complete archive relating to this trial and the Murder of Meredith Kercher.

For now, have a look at this link for the New File Library; please disseminate widely http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/File_library:_Main_Page and check regularly for updates.

It’s a skeleton right now but if you click on the links there’s a trove of new stuff especially relating to prison intercepts and 2008 investigations.

Much, much more to come.

Posted by Ergon on 02/12/15 at 08:48 PM | #

Thanks Ergon

What a legal minefield for “them” all this amazing new material contributes to. Transcripts we posted recently contained proofs that surprised even us.

With this and the Gumbel case in Italy and the Brian Williams case in the US (next post) and the publication of a book by Michele Giuttari in Italy showing up Doug Preston for the lying coward that he is…

Memo to Preston and Heavey and Fischer and Moore: seems a good time to dump Knox and shut up.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/13/15 at 09:18 AM | #


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Or to next entry The Sollecito Trial For “Honor Bound” #7:  Why It Also Threatens Amanda Knox

Or to previous entry Sollecito On Italian TV: Seems RS And AK Selling Out One Another Is Gravitating To A Whole New Plane