Saturday, April 11, 2009

CBS Reporter’s Bizarre Claims About Prosecutor And Reporters

Posted by Skeptical Bystander

Peter Van Sant of CBS is the slightly confused-looking reporter in the images above and below.

In promoting his “48 Hours” report tonight, which by all accounts seems intent on equaling CBS’s record for worst report on the case, Mr Van Sant has come out with an interview which is an absolute classic for how not to do such things.

First, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about one of the prosecutors in the case. 

As for the accusation that Kercher was killed over a sex game, Van Sant cites an Italian blogger for putting that notion into the prosecutor’s mind. Van Sant said the blogger claims that she speaks to a dead priest who tells her what happened at crime scenes.

The blogger told the main prosecutor in the Knox trial, Giuliano Minnini (sic), that this was a satanic sex game and that’s how the theory started, Van Sant said.

Sliming of a prosecutor in this fashion has already been strongly protested against by Amanda Knox’s own defense team.

And the prosecutor in question, one of two (real name: Mignini), many weeks ago made clear that he had NOT listened to the Rome blogger (had locked her up in fact), is NOT especially pushing any particular theory of motive for the crime, is NOT especially central to the continued momentum of the trial - and has actually started a lawsuit against PRECISELY this kind of libel!

Second, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about the reporting of the case.

Among the many (actually rather neutral and non-inflammatory) journalists on the case that Mr Van Sant seems intent on sliming is of course Andrea Vogt of the Seattle PI. He all but refers to her by name and it seems rather obvious who he had in mind.

Ms Vogt is the reporter from the Pacific Northwest who is based in Bologna, Italy and who has been covering this case for the Seattle PI for over a year. Many observers have been impressed with her thorough, objective and factual reporting, particularly since the trial phase began.

Anyone who has been following the case knows how non-objective and pro-defense much of the reporting has been in the US, and how much fluffy air time has actually been arranged by the family-hired PR firm Marriott and company.

So the particular focus of Mr Van Sant’s criticism is really surprising. After claiming that Italy has the most irresponsible tabloid press on the planet and that local Seattle papers like the Times and the PI can’t afford to send reporters to Italy to cover the story, he explained that they hire “stringers”. Apparently these stringers simply translate articles from the Italian tabloids into English and, via the local newspaper circuit which publishes them, they get recycled and become legitimate news.

Mr Van Sant actually uses the terms “filtered” or “laundered”, as if he were talking about Mafia money being invested in life insurance policies.

The Seattle PI has enough problems without having to deal with this irresponsible and possibly defamatory remark. And Andrea Vogt, who to our knowledge is the only “stringer” working on this case who is filing stories for the PI, has been providing some of the best coverage of this case to US readers.

There are many good reasons for this: Ms Vogt is fluent in Italian and lives in Italy for much of the year; and she is a talented writer and an intelligent reporter. But most important, she has been making the trek from Bologna to Perugia and back, and spending Fridays and Saturdays in the courtroom for hours on end.

She recently wrote a piece on the mood in Seattle for Panorama, an Italian publication. For that article, she interviewed people in Seattle—including friends of Amanda Knox.

I would imagine that as soon as each daylong court session ends, she sits down - like the other serious reporters covering this case - and tries to turn out a fair and accurate report of the day’s event under very tight deadlines. Her reporting for the PI has been excellent and fair.

It is not only unfair, it is also dishonest to imply that Andrea Vogt is translating Italian tabloids and trying to pass it off as original reporting. If this interview with Mr Van Sant is any indication, then CBS viewers tonight may be in for an evening of fiction.

In which case, I think I’ll watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or “The Sound of Music” instead. Closer to reality than is CBS….

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No wonder that we are hearing that CBS is very nervous about the broadcast!

No wonder. Mr Van Sant seems to have set CBS and himself up very nicely for a fall.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/11/09 at 09:34 PM | #

I just read the online article plugging the CBS show, which summarizes Van Sant’s libelous (in my opinion) comments. Here the net of stringers who “rewrite” tabloid garbage is widened to include “people” who write for American newspapers. Perhaps all of the professional journalists writing for US publications need to band together to address this malicious charge:

“[Van Sant] blames the negative view of her [Knox] on the stories that are published, particularly in newspapers. He said people who write for American newspapers in Italy rewrite the Italian tabloid stories and then they get published in the U.S.”

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 04/12/09 at 12:07 AM | #

Also, you would think they could at least spell people’s names correctly. Minnini?

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 04/12/09 at 12:39 AM | #

Here’s a couple of different bio pages for Peter Van Sant:

CBS News 48 Hours 1

CBS News 48 Hours 2

He’s a native of Seattle, has been a journalist for at least 35 years, (25 with CBS) and should know better.


Posted by Tara on 04/12/09 at 12:49 AM | #

Nah, it’s believable he’s from Seattle.

Posted by bucketoftea on 04/12/09 at 03:47 PM | #

Spellbinding b.s.  I don’t know how these guys can live with themselves. Shame on CBS for reporting such misleading lies.

Posted by Professor Snape on 04/13/09 at 09:02 AM | #

I guess it’s all about ratings - news is part of the “entertainment” package. The story “foreigner killed in brutal slaying” doesn’t sell as well as “innocent American framed by nasty foreigners”.

Is CBS one of those trashy cable channels?

Posted by bobc on 04/13/09 at 03:36 PM | #

Disgraceful unnecessary use of images of Meredith.
Van Sant interviews Ciolino.(!)
Repeat of the absurdly misrepresented “sound experiment”
I couldn’t watch any more.
Does anyone else think she sounded like a little kid lying her head off on the audio of her statement to the judge?(MO)

Just appalling on so many levels

Posted by bucketoftea on 04/13/09 at 05:53 PM | #

bucketoftea wrote:
“Does anyone else think she sounded like a little kid lying her head off on the audio of her statement to the judge?(MO)”

YES! Especially the last two sentences where she suddenly lost the crying and quivering voice.  It was like she was acting or something.  Oh, that’s right…she CAN act as she starred in the prison movie!

I’d also like to clarify that not all of us here in Seattle are lacking honesty and integrity! 😉

Posted by Tara on 04/13/09 at 11:03 PM | #

She certainly is a woman of marked contrasts…from lingerie shopping and wild sex after the murder to gross lies about Patrick and her own activities and whereabouts to “all you need is love” and big flirty smiles at the trial to the contrite, confused, and unconvincing persona she adopted for her taped statement.  I found the statement to be convincing only on the issue of her being perhaps sociopathic.

Posted by Sierra1049 on 04/13/09 at 11:19 PM | #

Seattle’s cool, Tara. I only meant he was ‘representin’ lol.

Posted by bucketoftea on 04/14/09 at 02:50 AM | #

I, too, am appalled by their photo and video footage of the murder of Meredith.  I found it interesting day after day I see Knox smirking and smiling but alas! CBS is able to produce some expressionless images.  Maybe during these few somber seconds the camera went “click!” Amanda was trying really hard not to fart or something.
I think Edda is getting a good return on those acting lessons she invested all of her casino money in.

All apologies from Seattle for the curse of the cruel and shameless Peter Van Sant .  BOOO on you Mr. Van Can’t-report-er-accurately. 

Peter Van Can’t sure doesn’t belong on my side of the tracks – he can go ride the FOAK train to hell with the rest of their mob as far as I am concerned.

All in all is all we are

Posted by Professor Snape on 04/14/09 at 09:06 AM | #

reposted here for tara:

“All in all is all we are”

Posted by Professor Snape on 04/14 at 02:06 AM |


Hi Snape,

Just heard that song. Its “All Apologies”. RIP Kurt Cobain from Aberdeen, WA.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/14/09 at 11:29 PM | #


I like your style.

AK looks oh so relaxed and calm, leaning casually on the furniture in the court, nodding her greetings to her ‘paparazzi’ as she sashays in, feeling oh so important.

And oh yes Tara, she does sound like she is lying her head off. I know instantly when somebody close to me is lying..the tone of voice, the hesitation, the pick of words….HOW CAN HER FAMILY NOT SEE THE TRUTH????????? Because they know…they know the truth. They all have Meredith’s blood on their hands.

Damn em all to hell

Posted by Tammy on 04/14/09 at 11:49 PM | #

When all is said and done, there are only eight people whose opinions count.  They are all Italian, certainly think highly of their civilization and history, and hold in high regard their justice system and the dedicated people, like Mignini, who make it happen.

These are off-weeks for testimony and real evidence so let the sideshows have their day in the sun.  Meanwhile, enjoy the spectacle.  I hope the Kercher family is not too put off by it all but justice for Mez will eventually be served.  Hopefully the final outcome will be sweeter for the false hope offered by FOAK and the ratings-driven media. 

The lone-wolf scenario is DOA.  No amount of wailing and gnashing-of-teeth, no matter how strident, will keep this trial from reaching a just conclusion.  IN FACT, since the jurors are able to read the newspapers and follow the Internet, the current furor may very well be helping galvanize them into rendering their verdict on the media as well.

As so often happens, what politicians in a country say, and what the media publish, is for local consumption only.  Foreign leaders criticize the US every day not to change US policy, but only to improve their own standings in the eyes of their constituents. 

Bottom line, if the pro-FOAK media proves to be correct, they will be heroes and grow their subscriber base.  If they are wrong, well, you know these Italians…

Posted by Arnold_Layne on 04/15/09 at 01:16 AM | #

[copied here for Nicki]

Hi Arnold,

So far, I haven’t seen any report of the scandalous 48 Hours show on this side, and this indifference speaks volumes to me… In the collective imagination, the FOA PR machine has done a great job in representing America at its lowest: arrogant, xenophobic and unreasonable.

Evidently the Italians have got past indignation and are bored of being lectured about the serious flaws of their judicial system and their third-world-country incompetence level. They’ve got more important thing to worry about, like the recent earthquake and the economic crisis to name a few. So, let the Perugia trial take its course, and the guilty be sentenced to the maximum penalty. This is what the general feeling is on this side of the ocean.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/15/09 at 04:51 AM | #

I just listened to the extended interview again. The (in my opinion) libelous segment about stringers rewriting Italian tabloid articles that are then published in the Seattle Times and the PI and as a result “laundered” has been removed! I listened twice, just to be sure.
I wonder who complained? The Times? The PI? Reporter Andrea Vogt? All three?

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 04/16/09 at 04:56 AM | #

“I wonder who complained? The Times? The PI? Reporter Andrea Vogt? All three?”

Well, you complained for sure, Skep. You did a superb job of explaining things, and CBS would have been really foolish to let Peter Van Sant’s comments stand.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/16/09 at 05:55 AM | #
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