Content Analysis: The Reporting Of Amanda Knox in the Case of Meredith Kercher’s Murder

On 1st November 2007, British exchange student Meredith Kercher was murdered in her shared apartment in Perugia, Italy. The case received worldwide press coverage, particularly in England and Italy, and has been of high media interest on an international magnitude for over four years. However, since the release of suspect Amanda Knox on 3rd October 2011 the media’s shift in the spotlight has left Kercher’s family to believe that, ‘Meredith has been hugely forgotten’ (Kington 2011). So why did this change of focus from the media happen? And how and when did it first come into place?

Meredith Kercher, 21, moved to Perugia in 2007 to undergo a year exchange program for her final year of studies at Leeds University. On the night after Halloween in 2007, Kercher was found raped and with her throat slit in the house she shared with American student Amanda Knox, then aged 20, and two Italian women. Five days later, Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were arrested, along with a third man, Ivory Coast migrant Rudy Guede, a few weeks later. Knox and Sollecito were eventually sentenced to Kercher’s murder on 5th December 2008 for 26 and 25 years, respectively, but were freed from their conviction three years later due to a lack of physical evidence linking them to the murder. Guede, who was given a 30 year sentence, remains convicted.

When the story of Kercher’s murder first broke, a large influence was on the way Knox acted, notably before she was arrested, whilst she was being questioned and whilst she was in prison giving evidence. In the early stages of reporting, there was one image, a still from an Italian television program (Joyce 2011), that was largely used by the media, which was of Knox and Sollecito kissing outside of the house where Kercher’s body still lay. Head of Perugia’s murder squad, Monica Napoleoni, told reporters that, ‘Knox and Sollecito would make faces, kiss each other, while there was the body of a friend in those conditions’ (Leslie 2011). This is when the Italian police first started to suspect that Knox was involved in the murder, with family and friends of Kercher commenting that her behaviour was ‘emotionless’, ‘strange’ and ‘upsetting’ (Hale 2009).

This is when a pattern began to emerge in the reporting of Kercher’s murder, as the change of focus onto ‘Foxy Knoxy’ first started to come into play. Stories around the case started focusing more and more on Knox’s personality and behaviour, heavily emphasising her ‘wild, raunchy past’ (Malone 2007). The media, especially in the Italian newspapers, proclaimed it was, ‘The Amanda Show’ (Dempsey 2011: 256), a term that was generated when the pre-trail hearings began in Perugia on 19th September 2008. Reporting then started to become more sensationalised through tabloid newspapers around the world using offences such as ‘diabolical, sex-obsessed she-devil’ (Collins 2011) in their headlines, and as Julian Joyce commented on BBC News, ‘A picture began to be painted of a “party girl” who abused drink and drugs and had an active sex life’ (Joyce 2011).

This representation of Knox is exactly why her character started to receive the attention of the press. In an article for the LA Times, Nina Burleigh (2011a) commented that:
‘After a few weeks in Perugia, I saw that there was something very wrong with the narrative of the murder that the authorities and the media were presenting. There was almost no material evidence linking Knox or her boyfriend to the murder… It became clear that it wasn’t facts but Knox — her femaleness, her Americaness, her beauty — that was driving the case.’

Furthermore, Nick Squires reported that Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, the Italian judge who overturned Knox’s conviction, commented that, ‘Amanda Knox was unfairly demonised for her behaviour following Meredith Kercher’s murder, which included doing cartwheels in a police station and buying racy underwear’ (Squires 2011b). The focus on these slight acts of normality encouraged many to believe that Knox had no emotional reaction towards the death of her friend, which is why a lot of reporting turned to focus on her other behaviour as well. The insinuation began that if a girl enjoys casual sex whilst smoking marijuana, surely she has it in her to commit a murder as well.

Sollecito’s defence lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, highlighted the feeling of many of those close to Knox by commenting that she too felt that Amanda had been unfairly represented in the media, whilst Bongiorno believed that, ‘In fact she was a normal young woman who was in love with her Italian boyfriend’ (Squires 2011a). But the reporting became a form of entertainment, focusing away from the murder she supposedly committed to focusing on events such as going out to buy lingerie in between questioning. As Carole Cadwalladr comments, ‘Details of Knox’s life were dissected with a mixture of titillation and prurience’ (Cadwalladr 2011). Mark Lawson even compared it to the courtroom broadcasts of OJ Simpson’s murder trial in 1995 as it ‘had the elements that trial TV most enjoys – youth, sex and wealth’ (Lawson 2011).

What’s more, if the media weren’t reporting about new information or the revelation of some other scorned detail, they were commenting on other mediums that were. Roy Greenslade (2011) commented on The Guardian that, ‘She [Knox] has been both demonised and celebrified in the coverage that followed her arrest and conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher, and that, ‘Whether the stories and comments were positive or negative, they helped to make her famous.’ Nina Burleigh (2011b) went on to describe her as ‘the “star” of the horrid murder theory’, but whilst it’s easy to say that reporting on Kercher’s murder did have a large focus on Knox, it’s not as straightforward to see when or why this change in media focus came into place.

To do this, I have undergone a content analysis to see how the case was reported in more substantial detail on five news websites – BBC News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Reuters UK edition and the Italian publication La Repubblica. I chose these websites to obtain a variety of reporting in the UK, with the BBC News and The Guardian appealing to a large but differential audience, The Daily Mail to give a tabloid example, Reuters’ international reporting to give a wider coverage of the case, and La Repubblica to see how the case was reported in the country the crime was committed as well.

On each of these websites, I went to the main news page and searched ‘Meredith Kercher’ in the search box. I made sure that the reporting began on the day of the murder, 1st November 2007, and ran up until the day I was doing this content analysis, 15th December 2011. First, I counted the number of reports on each website, excluding profile pages, weekly summaries, timelines and any other posts that were not relevant to the reporting of the case, and then I counted the number of posts that included Amanda Knox’s name in the headline alone, which I believed was the best way to tell if a story had more of a focus on her than Kercher. Turning this figure into a percentage, I also made notes of when Knox’s name first appeared in the reports so I could get the most out of how these news websites differentiated in their reporting. Here are my results:

My results show that, on average, the papers focused on Knox (by using her name in the headline) 47% of the time. However, these results do not convey when she first started getting more media attention, so I went on to form some additional evidence:

Unfortunately, these results didn’t show any consistency either, and it’s still hard to determine the ‘when’ part of my essay question. To better demonstrate this, I then made the graph below to show the percentage of stories during each month of the trail that included Knox’s in the headline, using the same methods as before with the BBC News as my source:

This graph successfully shows that, towards the end of the reporting, nearly all of the stories were focused on Knox. In the first few months of reporting, Knox was included in 0% of the headlines and by the end of reporting it was always between 60%-100%. So, it seems, Knox did become the focus of the stories reported on Kercher’s death. Whilst we have discussed reasons as to why Knox received a lot of the media focus at the start of reporting, it’s still hard to determine why there was this increase in focus at the end of her sentence. Furthermore, did this focus relate to her subsequent release?

Aside from a public intrigue into the character of Knox, the primary reason for the interest in her character, the second influence was the PR campaign set up by Knox’s family to help clear their daughter’s name. The media had had their fun, but Knox’s family wanted to redress the imbalance of reporting, as they maintained that Knox was unfairly portrayed as manipulative and sex-obsessed on the basis of her good looks and eccentric behaviour throughout her time in jail.

The family hired a PR company as soon as she was arrested in 2007, as friends and supporters of Knox began to set up their own websites to protest her innocence. Knox’s father told The Seattle Times that, ‘We will take this as far as we have to take this because she’s walking out of there totally free of anything related to this’ (Joyce 2011). But whilst this campaign could have easily played a part in Knox’s release, it is also the reason why Kercher’s family began to fear for their daughter’s memory, as a lawyer for the Kerchers told Reuters that, ‘Kercher has been forgotten in the “fog” of a tireless media and public relations campaign to free the American student convicted of killing her’ (Babington 2011).

[UPDATE: Since writing this essay I have had a lot of feedback from American residents, most of who have a great understanding of the case – see comments below – and I have been informed that the family’s PR campaign is very different and separate to the grassroots efforts of the individuals who set up websites and blogs and their own campaigns to free Amanda and bring the case’s deficiencies into the public attention, and this needs to be taken into consideration.]

Hours before Knox was freed in 2011, Kercher’s family, who had kept a predominantly low profile throughout the case, held a press conference out of their concern that all of the focus on Knox had overshadowed Kercher’s death, and that the ‘media hype was in danger of overwhelming the facts in the case’ (Kofman 2011). Kercher’s brother, Lyle, said that the family didn’t want to speak publicly at this point, but that they felt compelled to do so because of Knox’s ‘PR machine’ (Kofman 2011). They wanted to put out the message that the real victim needs remembering, as they managed to ‘temporarily outshine “The Amanda Show”’ (Dempsey 2011: 257).

Back in 2009, Barbara Ellen was already asking, ‘Now that American Amanda “Foxy Knoxy” Knox has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to 26 years, will we finally drag our attention over to Meredith Kercher?’ (Ellen 2009). But it never did. On the other hand, Daniel Sandford commented on the BBC News that, ‘Meredith Kercher, the British student who was murdered, is at the heart of the proceedings. But her vivacious personality and the need to be certain who ended her life are sometimes drowned out by the clamour to free Amanda Knox’ (Sandford 2011).

Overall, my research methods, there were are few problems as it’s impossible to know where the websites included all of the relevant reporting on the case or not, so I could only work with what was available. Generally, though, I think my study was a fair analysis that gave a wide variety of examples of reporting. The graph that I created, as well, really demonstrated what I wanted to express through my research, which in the end efficiently supported my results.

In relation to my findings, there were two reasons as to why Amanda Knox took dominance in the case of Meredith Kercher’s murder. The first was the media’s interest in her character and personality and, secondly, there was the use of the family’s PR campaign used by the Knox family to free their daughter. As Ellen (2009) continues, ‘There seems to be a market out there, a hunger, for this kind of thing. A predilection, as someone said to me, for favouring Bonnie over Clyde.’ But this focus on the suspect rather than the victim isn’t out of favouritism; the genuine reason is because it’s hard to relate to the victim of a murder case when their situation will ultimately remain the same. New evidence and information is always being released about the suspects, which is why Knox at the end of the reporting was the main focus. Knox was giving evidence, Knox was being prosecutes, and it was Knox that was in the end proven innocence. It was only too obvious that the shift in media focus would turn to the suspect as it had no other way to go. But that’s not to say that the real victim has been forgotten either.

Unlinkable references:

Candace Dempsey, 2010. Murder in Italy. 1st Edition. Berkley.

51 thoughts on “Content Analysis: The Reporting Of Amanda Knox in the Case of Meredith Kercher’s Murder

Add yours

  1. I find this work interesting but I would like to share with you a couple thoughts I have as a long time student of the case:

    1. The idea that the coverage was influenced by the family’s hiring a public relations firm seems to have some currency in the UK but is viewed as rather silly in the US. The Marriott firm is a very small (app. 12 employee) firm based in Seattle and its ability to influence the national media here is close to zero. The firm’s basic responsibility was to help the family choose which interviews to grant from hundreds if not thousands of requests. It helped family members to develop a message and to stay on it. But the firm had nothing to do with the large volunteer effort that emerged on Ms. Knox’s behalf nor did it set up any web sites. What did influence coverage immensely was the work of two highly respected, prize-winning U.S. journalists: Tim Eagan of the New York Times and Peter Van Sant of CBS. Egan’s thunderous denunciations of the proceedings in Perugia had an incalculable influence here. And Van Sant used two segments of the 48 Hours program to demolish the so called evidence in the case. The work of Egan and Van Sant helped change the tone of coverage in this country.

    2. On the issue of Knox’s “behavior” it is apparent that the press heard only what it wanted to hear and disregarded the rest. If you look at the entire clip of her and Raffaele kissing in slow motion, you get a very different impression. He initiates the chaste encounter (he has since said she was distraught and he was trying to comfort her), and when she turns away from him she looks hollow eyed and stricken. Abundant evidence was offered at trial that Knox was devastated by Meredith Kercher’s death. She wasn’t sleeping or eating and she was crying constantly. But for some reason the press chose to ignore all this and focus only on the testimony of the most hostile witnesses.

    1. Hey, thank you for your comment. Point 1 was very interesting, it was hard to gain perspectives from other countries so thanks for informing of that. As for point 2. I very much agree that the press saw what they wanted to see and that in reality it wasn’t so much the case. Obviously I had to stay objective in my essay though so I didn’t want to highlight that. Thank you again.

  2. You mention that the Kerchers “kept a predominantly low profile “ during the case. For the most part this is true but there was certainly an effort made to influence the public. I do not wish to criticize the Kerchers in anyway but I do feel that the Kerchers have opened the door for discussion by the public statements they have made.

    The Kerchers have been praised throughout the course of the trial for their silence and respect for the Italian legal process, but the truth is they have been far from silent. John Kercher is a tabloid writer that has consistently written articles that have been purposefully timed to have an influence on the appeal trial.

    The first article was well placed right in between the November 24 appeal start date and the Dec 11 hearing where Amanda gave an emotional statement to the court, during which the Kercher’s attorney, Francesco Maresca, walked out while Amanda was speaking.

    Dec 2, 2010: “Its utterly despicable that the girl jailed for killing my daughter has become a celebrity”

    The second article was released on December 18, the day Judge Hellmann granted the Independent DNA review.

    Dec 18, 2010: “We will never forget our murdered daughter Meredith Kercher”

    The third article came the day after the March 12 court date where bus drivers gave testimony discrediting the prosecution’s star witness Antonio Curatolo.

    Mar 13, 2011: “Rescuing Meredith from the ‘Foxy Knoxy’ frenzy”

    The fourth article was printed on the original date the DNA report was suppose to be reviewed. As it turned out, the independent experts requested additional time so this article missed the mark.

    May 21, 2011: “My View”

    Just before the appeal was to resume after the summer recess the Kercher family would once again speak out. This time it was Meredith’s sister, Stephanie Kercher, that opened up for the first time in an open letter to Francesco Maresca which was in turn leaked to the press. In the letter Stephanie asks Maresca “Please don’t let Meredith’s death be in vain.” She also asked that the focus be put on her sister rather than the evidence:

    “The defence seem to be focusing on these DNA aspects but we want, for a moment to remember who this case is about: My sister, a daughter brutally taken away four years ago, and a day does not pass when we do not think about her and can bring this to an end”

    I do not know if the Kerchers have been influenced by their attorney, Francesco Maresca, or if their feelings are uninfluenced heartfelt emotions, but either way, their feelings should have had absolutely no influence on the appeal. Stephanie’s emotional pleas to remember Meredith instead of focusing on facts were a clear sign that Justice must be blind. Emotion cannot be allowed to dictate the outcome of a trial. Steve Moore explains this far better than I ever could:

    “Justice is blind for a reason. Only in the penalty phases can the pain and grief of the family be taken into account. A trial is not about retribution. A trial is about the finding of facts. Emotion is corrosive to facts. Mixing emotion with fact degrades fact, not emotion. If emotions are allowed to influence fact in a trial, all is lost. And this is the reason that the involvement of victims’ families are always against their own best interests.”

    Shortly after Amanda and Raffaele were declared innocent, Stephanie Kercher spoke out asking that Meredith remain the focus. She requested that people use a picture of her sister Meredith as their profile picture on social media sites to help balance the news coverage so that Meredith would not be forgotten.

    The truth is Meredith Kercher has not been forgotten. In fact her name has remained in the news for the past 4 years for very unfortunate reasons. If the murder investigation had been handled properly, her killer, Rudy Guede, would have been in custody very early on and the world may have never heard of Meredith Kercher, because there would have been no lurid details to entice the press. If Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had not been wrongfully accused, and the sex game gone wrong fantasy had never been told by the authorities, Meredith’s case would have sadly been just one of the many other unfortunate murders that have occurred in the world. The authorities involved with this case are responsible for the attention that Amanda Knox has received. Wrongful convictions create additional victims. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are victims. Both lost 1427 days of their lives, their ordeals are separate from senseless act of violence that took Meredith’s life and should not be compared to what Meredith went through.

    1. Thanks for your response too. Again this highlights the problem with my article that it was hard for me to get this American perspective so thank you for informing me and other Brits that may read this.

      1. Hi there, as you likely heard, this case is now over for Knox & Sollecito. Yes!! But it is not over for Meredith’s family. As I try to still try to understand what went wrong, I find myself angry at what people told this poor family and the things they knowingly did to them. These “people” (the Prosecution) literally used them for their own selfish gain (to win a BS case) to save face.

        The wrong accusations and the horrific character assassination. was done by a prosecution willing to do anything-successfully burning Amanda into a witch to a Tabloid hungry world. As x FBI John Douglas said, once someone gets a wrong perception of someone, it can be all but impossible to fix it. The family truly believes this wrong perception. They think it was/is all propaganda when people fought back. They think we’re paid shills. It’s heart breaking to me. So, part of me is still passionate about this case because of it.

        Also, John Kercher Sr. is/was a freelance writer. I can totally visualize the sympathizing of fellow coworkers truly wanting to help them find their culprit, and writing on their behalf. I would have had I been in their place. The son also is involved in media. He works at BBC. It’s a large company, but there HAD to be some sort of sympathy there. I was looking at your comparisons and the BBC was up there. :/ All this to say that they were already very familiar with media. And their PR firm was their very own attorney, Francesco Maresca. He has guided every little thing they have said and NOT said in the media. Media needs some serious accountability.

        Unfortunately, so much of the media was unknowingly reporting stuff from the Prosecution, while thinking they were truly helping in this tragedy. Instead, they made it much worse.

        I did not realize how much people would rather “hate” and find it entirely much more fun, evenwhen something entirely different (called “truth”) is all but sitting on their faces.

        Thanks for your blog on this.

    2. Very well said Bruce! Thank you for pointing this out. I am sure I was aware of this at some level but the chronology helps.

      Excellent analysis on your part too Charlie!

  3. Thanks for this very interesting and thoughtful study. I became involved in the Knox/Sollecito campaign after the first verdict (which I found unbelievable) and I have subsequently become interested in the phenomena of internet hate campaigns and how they get started and why they continue. This case is probably the most argued over of this century so far and the existence of the internet has enabled this to happen. I wrote a Groundreport article about the schaudenfreude and confirmation bias that fed the phenomena.

    The ability of the prosecutor keep Knox and Sollecito in prison for four years meant that they were prevented from defending themselves in public while he was leaking and briefing to the press with the lurid fantasies and smears that shaped the case, many of which were never used in court because they could not be substantiated. As we now know, even the ‘evidence’ that the prosecution did present was risible.

    Poor Meredith’s memory could not compete. The trial focused on Knox and the world’s media followed. If the local police and prosecutor had done their jobs properly, they would never have charged Knox and Sollecito and would have realised that the murder was committed by the one man whose DNA was on the victim’s body and all around her room – Rudy Guede. The fact that we are still talking about Knox, Sollecito and Meredith Kercher is because the prosecutor’s incompetence and malice has dragged this case on for so long. A horrible, tragic but sadly all too common type of murder was made into something it was not.

    By the way, my niece studied at Falmouth and she thoroughly enjoyed her time there.

  4. Hi Charlie,
    You wrote, “But whilst this campaign could have easily played a part in Knox’s release…” I think it is important to distinguish the PR firm from the grass-roots efforts to free Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito. The Marriott firm was hired to managed requests from the press, IIUC. The grass-roots effort included bloggers and others who commented on the case. The grass-roots effort included attempts to highlight deficiencies in the forensic evidence of the case. Beyond helping to bring these problems to people’s attention, I don’t see how either a PR firm or the grass-roots effort could have an influence on the outcome of the case.

    1. Okay thank you for your comment, I will add a little comment onto my essay, as this isn’t something I have researched myself, but as I have said in other comments it was harder for me to get this perspective being in the UK, so again, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  5. Thank for your foray into understanding the media handling of the case. It is a huge subject and there is enough different ways to approach it for several PhD Theses and or articles and not easy to do… Several people I know were collecting media reporting intensively and for some especially in the weeks after the conviction to try and come to some overall understanding of the degrees of accuracy and sensationalism in different parts of the media and over time. The scale of the task was just too large for each to really do an exhaustive study of it all. Some collected all (or as much as they could) of the video reports… just a commentary on editorial photo choice and how that was used to slant or flavor reports would be an entire topic… how different media used video clips… what clips were show repeatedly would be one as well… what phases became viral and the history of their origin and spread is another… The way each segment of the media depending on their market and their viewer/readers expectations and biases adapted the story and even changed it.

    There was a fascinating and in many ways entirely predictable evolution in the handling of the story that was far too often divorced from facts, was selective and driven by almost entertainment and attention grabbing rather than good journalism. But of course that was entirely predictable too.

    By the way, I spent part of a summer in my Childhood up the coast from Falmouth… in Fowey… a treasured memory. Love that area.

  6. You have done a commendable job, Charlie. I am afraid that the simple fact that Meredith is dead, and nothing can change that. Amanda and Raffaele are alive but were falsely imprisoned, which means that there really was only one continuing story to report.

    Unfortunately, as outlined by Steve Moore, the Kercher family were sucked into the judicial proceedings quite inappropriately. This was by virtue of at least three things, in addition to the clear bias of journalist John Kercher, Meredith’s father, who bought the prosecution story throughout. First, their lawyer, Francesco Maresca is very close to the Public Prosecutor, and has been one of the most vocal and articulate of those insisting on Amanda’s guilt. Second, Italian courts allow the civil case to run alongside the criminal case, which inevitably means emotional contamination of the criminal case, which should be about facts and only facts. It should not be obscured by feelings for the dead girl or her family, or by the family lawyer(s) siding with the prosecution. Third, once the first trial found the couple guilty the Kercher family were awarded by the Court massive sums of money (more than 10 million Euros as I recall) against the families of Knox and Sollecito. Therefore, whether they like it or not, they then had a financial interest in their conviction being upheld.

    I live in retirement near Perugia, and woke up at the end of the first trial to this massive miscarriage of justice, driven by a prosecution that targeted two innocent youngsters. These two young lovers had not behaved in a way to remotely suggest their involvement in Meredith’s tragic death, nor was there any evidence to link them. Errors, lies and innuendo, but no evidence. Much indicates that Rudy Guede, a disturbed young man with a violent criminal recent past, almost certainly acted alone. The extent of criminal negligence on the part of many well paid members of the legal profession is illustrated no better than obstruction and refusal of requests for DNA analysis on semen stains on the cushion on which the dead girls body lay. This includes, extraordinarily, the Kercher family’s lawyers Maresca and Perna. It is not even fair to Guede, who on occasions has spoken of another man being involved. Guede, incidentally, had not actually raped Meredith, though he had sexually assaulted her.

    Let us hope that out of this extremely costly polizio-judicial mess the right lessons are learned. These include the need for police and Public Prosecutors to be subject to proper scrutiny by the authorities and the public they are supposed to serve. In Perugia they were essentially unaccountable. Once convicted there was absolutely nothing inevitable about the release of these two innocent young people; believe me, it required a great deal of pressure and hard work from many people inside and outwith the press and the Law, and was probably only successful because of the spotlight focused for so long on one beautiful and totally innocent young American woman. And with the release of Amanda her friend from the clutches of a Monster, it is to be hoped that Meredith’s memory can at last be laid to rest. A proper memorial would be for Italy and indeed the whole world to learn the right lessons, because I have no doubt that many other innocent Italians have been targeted and convicted by the same system. And many other polizio-judicial systems elsewhere in the ‘civilised’ world are at least as bad as this one.

      1. The prosecutor being a criminal helped this case .As it was a face saving prosecution to boot.

  7. Charlie, thank you for a very thoughtful blog. The highjacking of the story by the international tabloid media is a story within a story. I too was influenced by Timothy Egan’s blogs in the NYTimes and became involved to the extent of writing several articles/blogs, including one published in the Christian Science Monitor under the heading: “Never Mind the Italian Witch Hunt, Amanda Knox is Innocent.”(Sept., 2010). I continue to be baffled by how such a travesty occurred and how the reporting was so flawed. Like all prosecutorial witch hunts, the press took the prosecutor’s theories at face value, failed to do any independent investigation, and only much later, too late in my opinion, did the skeptics come forward. Good job, keep at it.

  8. This is a very well-written analysis. You should consider expanding it to book length. Although fully a dozen books have been written about this case, none have made the effects of media on the arrest, trial, initial conviction, and exoneration on appeal as their focal point. As you imply, this may be the most important aspect of the case. What we have here is a burglary gone awry, which someone for some purpose tried to turn into a European equivalent of the Manson murders. While I agree with Quentin Zoerhof that the part played by Gogerty Marriott, Inc. is overblown especially in the European media which was out of control in their libel against the defendant, I think you have the bones here of a work that could prove useful far beyond the scope of this single case. A free press should not be an irresponsible press.

  9. You completely ignored Meredith’s father’s influence in the British tabloids which probably had a lot more influence than Amanda’s PR. Meredith was a good girl, if she had lived in the fast lane the tabloids would have fed off of her looks and sex life too. I am sorry for the Kercher’s but they would be very naive to think the papers would be using front page space to praise her virtuous life.

    1. Please don’t say I completely ignored a fact. I was very limited with a word count and a deadline and I researched in to the matter as much as I could. But yes your points are quite true and I have hinted to them or said similar comments in my essay, but I wasn’t able to be as biased as that. As for the influence Meredith’s father had on the British tabloids I was not aware of this, but feel free to leave a comment explaining this more if you wish to better correct my lacking information.

    2. Madeleine, I recommend that you read the transcripts of the first instance trial, especially the testimony of Giacomo Silenzi. We all prefer to remember those who have passed fondly, but not to the extent that we evade reality. Meredith was a normal young 21st century woman. She was by no means a nun.

  10. Charlie:

    Welcome to the Amanda Knox saga. This is an interesting article. We all wish you the best of luck with your career plans.

    In this case the British media really did come up short. It was a perfect storm of predatory journalism, third rate police work (or worse), and a judicial system in a small Italian town that lacked the integrity that is taken for granted in the other Western democracies.

    I see that some of the major grass-roots supporters of Amanda and Raffaele are already here. Their commentary is respectful and of substance. I recommend you read Nigel Scott’s groundbreaking article on Internet hate. It got 1557 comments. Compare this to another article by former FBI agent Steve Moore on the same site about the Jerry Sandusky Scandal with only nine. Both cases were about defendants who have been tried and convicted in the public’s mind prior to trial. In Sandusky’s case it was fair; in Amanda’s it was a sham. The global interest in the Kercher murder is profound.

    http://www.groundreport.com/Opinion/Internet-hatred-the-new-pastime-of-the-mob/2942445

    You might take a look at Wikipedia’s controversial coverage of the case. In 2012 many people get their information from Google searches. In almost all cases the Wikipedia entry comes up first. The Murder of Meredith Kercher is one of the most troubled and controversial in the online encyclopedia’s history.

    Wikipedia articles are supposed to be written from a neutral point of view and based on what reliable sources have said about a subject. Under their system, anyone can edit an article. In the case of the Meredith Kercher article, the topic had been taken over by European editors convinced of Ms. Knox’s guilt. Because some of these people had achieved administrator status they were able to expel all those who felt that Ms. Knox might be innocent. The result was an article that seriously misrepresented the story over a nearly two year period.

    It turns out that one of the administrators who had been so intent on removing Knox supporters has been writing for one of the hate sites dedicated to the case, http://www.TrueJustice.org. He posts as Gwaendar of TJMK; On Wikipedia he uses a different username. In one example he writes:

    “The smearing of the prosecutor, or the portrayal of Guede as a lone wolf when the judicial truth established by the Italian courts makes him one among three participants are both violations of the BLP policy.”

    So much for neutrality. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion but the idea is that Wikipedia shouldn’t let those with controversial opinions use administrative powers to remove everyone that disagrees with them. Anyone who seeks to deny or diminish the extent of the problem on the Kercher topic has simply not taken a close enough look at the subject.

    Here is a choice line from the December 2010 version of the article:

    “Guede had no criminal record at the time of the murder.”

    Say what? In fact Guede had been involved in all sorts of incidents that the Italian police knew about but did not act upon. His criminal record formed a major part of arguments by attorneys for Knox and Sollecito that Guede had committed the murder alone. In one incident he was robbing a guy’s house in the middle of the night. When confronted by the man who lived there, he brandished a knife during his escape. He’s threatening somebody with a knife inside their own home. And there were other crimes. Many people believe that better police action against him might have saved Meredith kercher’s life.

    The Wikipedia entry at this moment is actually not that bad. In March of 2011, I had authored an open letter to WIkipeida founder Jimbo Wales asking him to take a close look at the subject. He accepted the challenge and made extraordinary statements fully confirming the criticism.

    Shortly after the verdict, a prolific Wikipedia editor called SlimVirgin came in and re-wrote the article from top to bottom. SlimVirgin was no stranger to other controversial topics but in this case she was a more powerful administrator than those who had taken control of the article. These agenda driven administrators would have blocked her in a second if they could have, but all they could do was watch as their trash was replaced with an entirely re-written entry.

    So anyway, the times they are a changing. The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito broke new ground in many ways.

  11. I have to agree with Joseph Bishop’s comments about our media here coming up short over this whole saga and it being a perfect storm of predatory journalism. Another example would be their treatment of another Amanda – Amanda ‘Milly’ Dowler – by hacking into her voicemail after her death at the hands of Levi Bellfield, at least the paper responsible – The News of The World – paid the ultimate price for that predatory act of journalism. Personally I find it shameful and embarassing, as a Brit, that our media still seems to be more interested in Amanda Knox than their US counterparts, the Daily Mail in particular still seems to love using the “Foxy Knoxy” nickname in articles about her – for no real reason except to grab reader’s attention.

    A great article Charlie, and one of the few unexplored aspects of the Amanda Knox saga. Patrick King is right above, it could make a superb book and a valuable one since the effects of TV, print but especially Internet media on modern lives and attitudes to events like Meredith Kercher’s murder has not really been explored yet. It needs to be. Many celebrities, the Royal Family included, would surely agree.

  12. Hi there, fascinating article. I want to point out (as you went back and added attention of this fact in your article) in no way, shape or form was Amanda kept in the media due to a PR Firm. That’s the big joke, and it’s what people who are pro guilt can’t possibly believe (at least the nutty ones over here in the US). They all want (and have ) to believe that there is this group and that we are all being paid. This is not true and your article is great but it’s truly incorrect as far as the PR Firm being the #2 reason that Meredith “was forgotten”.
    Also, I guess I would like to add that these people, the grass roots effort (that I have been a part of and Steve Moore also has been a part of) have dearly remembered this. This tragic loss WAS the reason we even got interested. We all pretty much thought Amanda and Rafaelle were guilty at first…I promise you this.
    So, I wish that this perception would change, it’s just wrong.
    Thanks for listening,
    Michelle

  13. Hi Charlie:

    I read your article with great interest. I so much agree that a book on your particular perspective would be compelling.

    I was in Tuscany when the murder occurred. We flew home to the US through the Milan airport a couple of days after Amanda and Raffaele were arrested. I picked up a British paper in an airport kiosk and was mesmerized. Amanda was totally assassinated in this tabloid while Raffaele was hardly discussed. The outpouring of tabloid bile seemed to proliferate from there. When I got home, I followed the case over the ensuing months and later picked up the first book written which was “Angel Face” by Barbie Nadeau. The title alone is provocative and exemplifies the type of over-the-top, lurid rhetoric employed by most tabloid writers relative to Amanda.

    “Foxy Knoxy” is a fictional character created first by the prosecutor, Mignini, then enhanced by tabloid hacks such as Nadeau, and then further expanded upon by the “guilters” who have posted their crazy stories all over the net for several years. Amanda Knox seems to me to be an attractive, healthy, intelligent, hard working young woman who is basically serious minded and quite conventional…in short, the ultimate girl next door and the opposite of the portrait painted by the media of this gorgeously sexy, seductive she-devil who could entice two men (one she didn’t know and one she’d only known for a week) to kill for her. This is so bizarre and so far from the truth that it should strain anyone’s credulity, yet that’s the image that many people have accepted and embraced.

    It’s also sad but true that some of the major networks and some of the most respected newscasters simply picked up the stories from the tabloids and reported them without doing any research or analysis. You have, therefore, a whole legion of people/groups who (1) find the idea of a lone rapist/murderer to be much too banal, and (2) have become way too invested in the fictional Amanda caricature they have helped to create to give it up easily. I truly believe this is where Meredith became simply an accessory to their version of the story…and this also applies to Raffaele and Rudy Guede. The fact that many are still holding on to their “Amanda fiction” even when common sense, evidence (or lack of it) and the Court of Appeals have proven otherwise exemplifies Nigel Scott’s take on this kind of malice as mentioned by Mr.Bishop above. One can only hope that common sense will prevail one of these years.

    Sincerely,

    Joan

  14. I have always wondered if Rudy Guede was really drawn to that house
    because he was infatuated with Amanda Knox…He knew that most of the
    girls living in Europe would go home for the holiday…You may rememeber
    that he asked several times about Knox and if she might be interested in him.
    His male friends from the basement of the home encouraged him saying
    Amanda would probably be interested in him…I suspect Rudy was really
    after Amanda that night..

  15. Rudy Guede was an opportunistic burglar. He was looking for money and easy to sell items. He had a track record of doing this. He was an acquaintance of the men downstairs, one of whom was Meredith’s boyfriend. He may have known that the two Italian flatmates were planning to be away for the holiday. He may also have known that Amanda worked at Patrick’s bar and thought she would most likely be there or with her new boyfriend. He might have suspected that Meredith would be out so the flat would be empty. He was right, but he didn’t count on Meredith coming home early (at 9.00pm) so she surprised him in the middle of his crime and we know the rest. There is no reason to suppose that he intended to do anything more than steal. The murder was probably a mistake – a fatal one for Meredith and a costly one for him and innocent Amanda and Raffaele,

  16. This scenario was presented in Rolling Stone magazine, issue 1134/1135, June 24th 2011:

    “There are many theories, but the most persuasive scenario goes as follows:

    Guede stakes out the cottage after dark. He breaks into the girl’s apartment and makes himself comfortable. He swigs orange juice from a carton he finds in the refrigerator – he had a spicy kebab for dinner – and then uses the bathroom. While he’s on the can, Kercher enters the apartment, locking the door behind her. Guede is trapped. He can’t exit through the window without alerting Kercher,and he can’t use the front door, because you need a key to open the lock from the inside (Kercher’s keys would be stolen, along with cash, credit cards and phones). Guede rises from the toilet without flushing, so as not to make a noise. He walks to Kercher’s bedroom. Perhaps he tries to explain himself – “Sorry, the door was open, I let myself in, I’m a friend of Giacomo’s downstairs” – or perhaps she starts screaming before he can speak. He grabs her by the mouth (there were bruises on Kercher’s face) and threatens her with the knife. He assaults her and, realizing that Kercher can identify him, he panics and kills her. The missing scene.”

    This sounds plausible to me, and it explains the faeces in the toilet. Why Filomena’s shutters were in the closed/barely open position is not explained though, unless Guede had closed them after he got in to disguise the broken window, or the wind had blown them shut – unlikely I think, given the way they were designed, one would close while the other was pushed open.

  17. Just seeing that you were kind enough to respond to a comment from a looong time ago but just wanted to thank you very much. You seem like a guy with integrity. I hope you continue writing. 🙂 ~michelle moore

  18. Amanda Knox is guilty. You have been fooled by the lies and slander of the PR campaign. Read the court report and get the real facts.

  19. Gloria, I, like many, have read the court reports which very clearly are inconsistent, not evidence driven and at best illogical. I strongly recommend a good read of the Massei report; whilst at first read it presents a semi plausible explanation for Knox and Sollecito being accused and guilty, it doesn’t take a genius to see no evidence whatsoever sustain the story. For a start, according to the court report, no trace of Knox or Sollecito (aside of the infamous tiny bra clasp) was ever found in Kercher’s room. That on its own makes it realistically impossible for them to have been involved. That is unless either they have found a way to selectively cleanup miscroscopic evidence (never heard of!) or the police really badly botched up the crime scene… Sad for the Kercher family whom by now will probably never know the truth – although it as to be said it was quite likely a simple case of burglary gone very wrong – and sad for Knox and Sollecito who have spent 4 years in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.
    Charlie, thank you for a nice paper!

  20. Exactly how does criticism amount to ‘hate’ and why is it so objectionable to launch a defence of someone whose interests have been all but ignored in the welter of publicity – much of it deceitful – intended to whip up unreasoning support for Knox [who was quite happy to condemn an innocent man to prison, a lie she served time for let’s not forget]? You haven’t examined the facts. If you had you’d see there is far more to this than meets the eye and that not all of it concerns Knox or Kercher. Politics is involved too. As to the slimy way you imply dirty tricks on the part of the TrueJustice website I’m afraid that won’t wash either. The statement, “The smearing of the prosecutor, or the portrayal of Guede as a lone wolf when the judicial truth established by the Italian courts makes him one among three participants are both violations of the BLP policy” is factual. There is nothing wrong with it. He was smeared and the findings attributed the attack to several parties, not just Guede. Again criticism is not ‘hate’ and such childish hysteria really has to stop if we are to retain any hope of serving justice.

    1. Oh dear, this is so sad. Two innocent people were framed by Perugian police and prosecutors, starting in 2007 and some people are so blinded by confirmation bias that they are unable to see the case for what it is. The nightmare of the Italian system and ‘saving face’ has now gone all the way to the Supreme Court. It may now take many more years to resolve and it will probably take the European Court of Human Rights to do so. Meanwhile Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito – two of the most decent and generous people you could ever wish to meet, remain mired in a nightmare and Meredith Kercher’s family do not have closure. As others have said, there is no evidence against Amanda and Raffaele and there never will be. It is not possible to selectively remove your own DNA from a crime scene, yet nothing of Raffaele or Amanda was found in the room where Meredith was killed. The evidence all points to Rudy Guede as a lone burglar – he had broken in to other properties in exactly the same way shortly before he murdered Meredith. There are hate sites that ignore facts, repeat lies and disproved ‘evidence’ and focus on hatred for Amanda and Raffaele in the pretence that this somehow honours Meredith’s memory. They are a bunch of very sad individuals.

      1. Two innocent people were framed and persecuted by the police and prosecutors since 2007???? Are you serious??? This would be a pretty big conspiracy involving a lot of learned professionals including forensic scientists, and many witnesses etc who swore under oath in a court of law. Maybe the simple reality is not that everyone else is lying but that Amanda Knox is lying.

        While the American media keeps repeating that there is no evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, there is a mountain of evidence. The greatest miscarriage of justice would be if these two go free. The evidence does not point to Rudy Guede as the lone burglar and there is DNA and other evidence against all three perpetrators. The break in was staged which is why the broken glass was found on top of the clothes instead of underneath them; the body was moved hours after the murder; the bra was cut off the body hours after the murder; Sollecito’s DNA was on the bra clasp; mulitiple knives were used in the murder; there was an attempt to clean up blood afterwards; there were mixed DNA samples with Amanda Knox’s blood and Meredith Kercher’s blood. One of the murder weapons was found with Amanda Knox’s DNA and Meredith Kercher’s blood. (The likelihood of contamination is next to impossible for this knife as it was collected from Sollecito’s apartment and Meredith had never been there. And no, the forensic scientists did not wear the same gloves that they did at murder scene. Also, all other DNA evidence pertaining to this case had been tested 6 weeks earlier, so contamination in the lab was not possible.)

        Amanda Knox framed an innocent man. There was no marathon interrogation and she was not hit by a police. This is just another of the many many ridiculous lies of the powerful Knox PR campaign. Also, she and Sollecito changed their alibis over and over again. Why do innocent people need to keep changing alibis according to new evidence that comes to light?

        I know Americans always try to protect their own, but that a strong PR campaign and misinformation can force an acquittal makes a scary statement about American society. Anyone who thinks Amanda Knox is innocent should read the actual court testimony instead of redacted texts and poorly researched, erroneous articles published on the internet. If you actually read the transcripts of the court testimony, you will have a completely different view of the case. I also thought she was innocent…until I did a little real research and didn’t rely on news articles.

        If justice is served, she will be found guilty and extradited to Italy. As Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said, “Italian prosecutors might very well extradite Knox. And, if retried, she likely will be found guilty — because the evidence supporting a conviction is pretty strong.”

  21. I am wondering if you’ve continued to observe this case. I would love to know how the coverage has continued.
    Recently, there has been some known corruption in the media world. Things proven untrue by Amanda Knox herself (talk of her pointing the finger at Raffaele) are ending up in Italian Newspapers. The articles originally came from a Ground Report article that was taken down, put back up and finally taken back down for good once Amanda Knox piped in. Regardless, it’s been picked up all over. This is wrong. It’s serious.
    I’d love to know your thoughts these days if you’re still interested in the case. Thanks, Michelle

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