Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knox PR Campaign: Have The Dishonest Talking Points Now Become A Trap?

Posted by The Machine

[David Marriott of a Seattle public relations firms]

Marriott’s dishonest campaign

David Marriott apparently manages (see sample press release) the message and media relations for the campaign to enhance Amanda Knox.

The main thrust of the PR campaign seems to be that there’s no evidence against Knox, or the evidence is tainted, they are holding the wrong person (or already have the right person), and there’s no need to have a trial…  but those rascally Italians just won’t let her go.

Marriott’s nasty campaign already seems to have most of Italy backed off (the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito legal teams both included), and to have lost most of its traction in the UK and New York.

Many good PR gurus think it is very sleazy. Even in Seattle, there are now those who speak out against it.

Not exactly what we’d call a big win.

True, people accused of a cruel and depraved murder do not normally have a PR campaign making their case. Normally they have a lawyer out front - preferably a very good lawyer, who can contend with evidence as it comes out, and appear on the talk-shows and news to explain what really happened.

And true, the PR campaign was launched almost instantly after Knox had already come out with suggestive actions and statements which seem to implicate her in the crime which do not want to go away.

So the campaign was maybe handicapped right from the start.

But still, public relations guys we know are scratching their heads over this one.

Ten obvious public relations lies

Why run a campaign which, time and time again, has taken loud positions not 5 degrees away from probable truth - but a full 180 degrees away? And therefore very hard to quietly back away from?

Each of these ten false claims and mantras below - still not put to rest, although last week was not a good week for them - have been incessantly propagated, some for nearly one year. 

Each of them now seems to be an albatross around the necks of the Seattle defendant and her team. The danger now is that, as the media find ONE false claim fake, they will start to question all of them, and feel that they have been lied to.

Again, not exactly what we’d call a winning stance.

False claim 1: Amanda was beaten or “smacked around” by the police during her questioning

Amanda herself may have started this false claim when explaining to family why she incriminated herself. Although Mr Knox wasn’t present when Amanda was questioned by the police, he has frequently repeated this claim when interviewed by the media.


Amanda gave two very different accounts of where she was, who she was with, and what she was doing on the night of the murder. She also accused an innocent man of Meredith’s murder.

This is highly incriminating and poses a real problem for Amanda’s defense and family and supporters. 

However Amanda’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda had not actually been beaten or “smacked around” at Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial last October: “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”

Mr Knox has not acknowledged the admission of his daughter’s counsel or apologised for accusing the Italian police of brutality. The false claim continue to mislead people, with posters on Internet website still maintaining that Amanda’s confession was beaten out of her. 

False claim 2: Amanda was interrogated for 9 hours/14 hours/all night

Jon Follain in The Times quoted the parents in an interview proclaiming: “On November 6, five days after Meredith’s murder, Knox was interrogated by police for nine hours until she signed a statement at 5.45am.” 

Juju Chang claimed it was “an all night interrogation” on ABC News. Jan Goodwin stated in her article in Marie Claire magazine that:“After her arrest, Amanda was detained by the police and interrogated for 14 hours.”

Mr Knox repeated the claim that Amanda’s interrogation last all night, and that it lasted 14 hours, on a recent Seattle TV station King5 interview.

Lexie Krell wrote in The UW Daily on 16 January 2009 that: “The Italian Supreme Court has already thrown out Knox’s original statement on the basis that she was denied a lawyer during her initial 14-hour interrogation.”


We know that Amanda was on the phone with one of her Italian flatmates at around 10.40pm, asking if the living arrangement could continue in spite of Meredith’s death. The police questioning had not begun then.

And according to the Italian Supreme Court, Amanda’s questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. So Amanda was questioned for only approximately 3 hours and then she was held as a suspect.

There never was an all-night interrogation, and it certainly was nowhere remotely near 14 hours in length. 

It seems there may be a simple and straightforward explanation why Amanda suddenly admitted that she was the cottage when Meredith was murdered and implicated Lumumba:

She was informed that Raffaele Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi that she was with him all the night of the murder.

False claim 3: Knox’s confession to being at the murder scene was thrown out.

This was the spoken confession at the end of the claimed 14 hours which Knox claimed she finally came out with only because she was knocked about.


True in the narrow sense. But one of Amanda’s statements in which she admits to being at the cottage on the night of the murder was not “tossed” out by the Italian Supreme Court. 

Her letter to the police is almost identical in content to the statements that were not admitted as evidence. This incriminating letter was admitted as evidence last Friday.

False claim 4: Meredith wasn’t sexually assaulted.

Jan Goodwin claimed in Marie Claire: “There is also no indication that Meredith was subjected to sexual violence”¦”

In his unprecedented letter to Italy’s justice minister, Judge Michael Heavey stated that it was not true that: “Sexual violence was perpetrated against the victim”

Jonathan Martin claimed in The Seattle Times. “An autopsy found no evidence Kercher had been raped or had sexual contact with anyone except Guede.”


Rudy Guede was found guilty of sexually assaulting Meredith on 30 October 2008. Sexually assaulting. And Judge Micheli in commiting Knox and Sollecito to trial graphically describes how the physical evidence points to a kind of gang rape. 

The claim that Meredith wasn’t sexually assaulted is not only untrue, it’s deeply offensive to Meredith and her poor family. By claiming that there was no sexual assault, the likes of Judge Heavey and Jan Goodwin are insinuating that Meredith consented to sexual activity with Rudy Guede.

False claim 5: The double DNA knife has been essentially ruled out.

The DNA on the blade could belong to half of the population of Italy or there is only a 1% per cent chance that the DNA on the blade belongs to Meredith.


Forensic expert Patrizia Stefanoni has consistently maintained that Meredith’s DNA IS on the blade and Amanda’s DNA is on the handle of the knife found at Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment. 

This result was confirmed as accurate and reliable by Dr Renato Biondo, who is head of the DNA Unit at Polizia Scientifica, Rome.

Patrizia Stefanoni and Dr Renato Biondo are highly respected, independent forensic experts with impeccable credentials.

False claim 6: The crime scene was totally compromised by the police or analysts

Many of Amanda Knox’s supporters who seem to have no relevant qualifications or expertise in forensic science have claimed that the crime scene was compromised or violated. One vocal supporter analysed a police break-in downstairs on TV and offered it as proof that the crime scene upstairs had been compromised.


This claim has been vigorously refuted by the forensic police. They claim that they have followed international protocols throughout. They recorded the investigation as it happened, changed tweezers when they needed to, and duly informed the defence of every finding.

Independent forensic expert Renato Biondo stated: “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

False claim 7: The European press gave Amanda Knox the nickname Foxy Knoxy.

This is a part of the larger “UK and Italian tabloids have crucified her” meme for which actual evidence online is very hard to find..


European newspapers, including the quality newspapers, have occasionally called Amanda by the nickname she herself called herself by on her MySpace page.

False claim 8: Amanda has never ever before been in trouble

Paul Ciolino has stated: “I was stunned that this was why he suspected Amanda and her boyfriend were involved in the crime,” he says. “These two kids, never in trouble, classic middle-class college students “” it’s ludicrous that they were implicated.”


Amanda Knox was charged for hosting a party that got seriously out of hand, with students high on drink and drugs, and throwing rocks into the road forcing cars to swerve.

The students then threw rocks at the windows of neighbours who had called the police.

The situation was so bad that police reinforcements had to be called. Amanda was fined $269 (£135) at the Municipal Court after the incident - Crime No: 071830624.

Incidentally, anyone who has recently tried to gain access to the police report has been denied access. It seems strange that a police report into a “routine” incident has seemingly now been hidden from the public.

False claim 9: Amanda hasn’t lied or if she has, she has only lied once

Amanda’s mother claimed in a recent interview with Linda Byron on Seatlle TV’s King5 (6 January) that Amanda has maintained she told the same story for over a year when she was asked whether Amanda had lied. She had previously stated that Amanda had only lied once.


Amanda has given multiple alibis and told different stories repeatedly. Amanda herself apologised to Judge Paolo Micheli for lying about Diya Lumumba’s role in the murder. Amanda’s conflicting statements to the police seem to indicate that she lied to them several times. 

False claim 10: The prosecutors have been widely leaking information to the media

Amanda’s family and supporters have frequently made this claim. The biological parents claimed in their interview with Linda Byron on King5 that the international media frenzy had been fed by leaks by the prosecutors. 

Deanna Knox claimed on the Today Show that Amanda is the victim of an anti-American bias: “It’s because she’s an American,” she told Matt Lauer. “They don’t really like her there because she’s a pretty girl and they see her as some target that they can get to, because she’s from a different country.”


In Italy Prosecutor Mignini is widely known for not leaking. Many of the so-called leaks were information put out in the course of the many hearings. The evidence in this case has in fact long been like an iceberg - all but a tiny fraction of it has remained out of sight, as the startling revelations last Friday and Saturday went to show.

Media sources have mentioned that many of the leaks have in fact come from defence sources. Fellow TJMK poster Skeptical Bystander was offered access to Amanda’s diary, not by the prosecutors, the police or prison guards, but by somebody close to Amanda herself.

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And whither “the evil Mignini”? That crazed meme had both of the defense teams scattering to separate themselves.

Knox’s team berated the sliming of Mignini. And Sollecito’s team had Sollecito cutting loose from Knox at the trial last Friday.

How exactly did THAT better Amanda Knox’s prospects?

Early-on, the PR campaign came on gangbusters, in a rather nasty kind of way, with behind-the-scenes threats that extended even to us.

Then it tried to swing over toward sanctifying Amanda Knox, and we witnessed the stuffed toys and t-shirts and happy-face websites with young kids as the fronts. 

But only a couple of weeks ago there was the meltdown at Salty’s Seafood, where Mignini was being demonized on a whole new plane of evil.

Get a grip, guys, this is really embarrassing. Either that - or give your fees back. You sure ain’t earning them

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/11/09 at 08:52 PM | #

Thank you TM. A clear, accurate and effective post. A must-read for everybody who wants to learn the truth about this investigation, as opposed to the mystifying Seattle PR propaganda. A truly fine job.

Posted by Nicki on 02/12/09 at 02:42 AM | #

I agree with Nicki, thia is quite brilliant Machine. This callous campaign is now a “dead man standing” if ever I saw one. Someone should knock it on the head and put it out of its misery. Not for the first time I am thinking, poor Amanda, her own people are wrecking her one shot at a good defense.

Posted by Anne on 02/12/09 at 03:56 AM | #

One of the primary reasons for the existence of True Justice For Meredith Kercher was the witting or unwitting (we think witting) efforts of this campaign to erase Meredith from the American consciousness as the victim, and to replace her with Amanda Knox as the victim.

There have been dozens of examples of Meredith’s name not mentioned or barely mentioned in American press stories and TV remarks. And the biological parents of Knox have still not reached out to the Kerchers in their grief. The reasons offered for this sound ever more strained and callous.

Is this all considered to be good public relations? We frankly doubt it.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/12/09 at 04:20 AM | #

re: the above comment, in the UK, the media seem to present Amanda’s parents as loyal parents standing by their daughter but I did think that they were rather cold in an interview I read. They do not seem to offer sympathy or condolences to Meredith’s family voluntarily and when the journalist asked if they had anything to say that way, there was a silence and then Edda just said that she would not like to be Meredith’s parents hearing about Meredith’s drinking and sexual habits in court. I mean??? That was not too generous. Made it sound like Meredith drank, had sex and she obviously wasn’t really moving outside of her own experiences with her daughter.

Posted by bluebird002 on 02/12/09 at 10:14 AM | #

Yes Bluebird002, that sickening comment about Meredith who had NO history of unchaste or wild behavior is really quite notorious.

And Edda Mellas said that in response to an invitation to JUST FOR ONCE say something decent and honorable to the Kerchers.

We are not clear how many times that remark was ever made. Anyone?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/12/09 at 02:22 PM | #

edda mellas’ projection of her own position with respect to her own daugher’s drinking and sexual habits is telling. she, like her daughter: (apple/tree)’s all about her, and how she feels. she should take a good look in the mirror and take responsibility for how she’s raised her daughter. my guess, amanda’s the victim, but she also feels she is.

Posted by mojo on 02/12/09 at 04:03 PM | #

Thanks TM for the excellent analysis.

Interesting fact:  I heard directly from a UW faculty member that although Knox’s incident in Seattle occurred several blocks from campus, the event was reported as reaching “RIOT LIKE STATUS”.  The neighbors did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.

The fact that Knox “got away lightly” with it in her mind probably brings her great inner delight.  She probably thinks a “simple murder gone wrong” is on a par, and she can simply explain it away.  The smiling / humming / groovin’ to her own tune in court shows her lack of consideration for how serious this situation is.

I think the tight muzzle on Knox’s acquaintances here in Seattle will break free as the trial progresses, when those quiet folk realize they’ve been duped by the PR firm.  They’ll sing from the rooftops about Amanda’s “questionable” like qualities and stunts she pulled while living in Seattle.

I think it’s the only way they’ll be able to “feel better” about what they’ve done by being silent.  One question.  Why doesn’t she have any HIGH SCHOOL friends? Co-workers at various jobs? Friends in Perugia?  Where are they in all of this?  I’ve only seen “friends from the UW” talk kindly about her!

Just some thoughts.


Posted by Tara on 02/12/09 at 06:49 PM | #

This is a really interesting piece, and it’s prompted me to go back through the files and double-check whether some of the things I think of as facts might in fact be misconceptions.

One misconception I’d had was that Amanda Knox’s defense team had, back in April 2008, asked for her written memoir to be thrown out (as contravening Article 63 of the Penal Code) but that the Supreme Court had ruled against this and allowed it to stand as evidence.

I checked back through Frank Shock’s analysis, and I was surprised to find I was wrong. According to Frank (and he’s pretty good on this type of thing), Ghirga never even asked for the memoir to be ruled out in the first place. Here’s what happened at the Supreme Court regarding Amanda’s testimony, according to Frank.

1. The 0145 testimony. Ghirga argued that it should be ruled out because Knox had no lawyer at that point. The Court ruled that she was heard as a witness, and that therefore Knox’s statement was valid as a witness statement that can be used against anyone except herself.

2. The 0545 testimony. Again, Ghirga asked for this to be dismissed, for similar reasons. The Court agreed, since Knox’s status had changed in the meantime from witness to suspect.

3. The written testimony which Amanda handed into police that evening. Although the Court ruled this in (presumably for the sake of clarity, to distinguish it from the other two statements), Ghirga had never even attempted to call it into question in the first place.

It might be to strong to call it a myth, but it’s certainly something I’ve been misremembering down the last few months. Not only was the written testimonial ruled in (the one that goes, After dinner I noticed there was blood on Raffaele’s hand, but I was under the impression that it was blood from the fish…) but its status was never in doubt for a moment. Her own defense team never questioned it.

Posted by FinnMacCool on 02/12/09 at 08:47 PM | #

Adding to what FinnMacCool provided above, I think that one reason for the confusion is that there are three and not two items to be considered. Two are oral testimony (the statements at 1:45 and 5:45) and one is a written document. So in fact, of the three items, two are in and one is out. It’s just that whatever was said leading up to the halt in questioning at 1:45 is not admissible against Amanda Knox.

Confusion has also come from statements made here and there by family and friends. For example, Curt Knox said in an interview on one of the three major traditional networks in the US, on the day the trial started, that the “false confession” had been ruled inadmissible because it was “coerced,” which is not true. No judicial ruling has referred to coercion.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 02/12/09 at 09:41 PM | #

Thanks for this piece TM & Pete.  It’s good to have a piece which puts the myths to bed once & for all.

Posted by daisysteiner on 02/13/09 at 12:21 PM | #

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