mercredi 15 février 2012

Meredith Kercher's family launches appeal against acquittal on first appeal of Knox and Sollecito

Many found the "out of the blue" report at the end of last week a little odd, both for its timing and its content. In terms of content, it focused on the "silent auction" to be held amongst publishers for the right to shape and package Amanda Knox's memoirs. There were a number of basically anonymous quotes, attributed to unnamed publishers taking part in the silent bidding and a few opting out. Among those taking part, all were eager to act as if they had won the bid and were already involved in the first phase of marketing: "charming girl", "almost scholarly", "quoted Shakespeare" and blah blah blah.

In the dissenting corner, one said something like "well, it isn't as if she has been unambiguously found innocent".

You can say that again! There was no mention of the fact that the prosecution was getting ready to file its appeal of the frankly absurd and wholly illogical Hellmann decision, which set both Knox and her rather hapless ex-boyfriend free. And not just the prosecution. It is significant that the family of the murder victim, Meredith Kercher, have also launched an appeal of the verdict. It is long past time to stop acting as if they don't exist and/or as if they are merely confused.

There is a gaping divide in opinion that spans the Atlantic Ocean. And this should come as no surprise. The PR firm hired by the Knox and Mellas families just days after Amanda Knox was taken into custody has been tireless. Expensive but tireless. It has fed a load of bull to an extremely lazy, uninquiring and xenophobic US mainstream media, only too happy to read talking points prepared in advance and give sympathetic interviews with family members as they cry on cue. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure the emotion was as real as it gets for television. But things soon got murky, as these same media types began vying for the exclusive interview with the product they had helped to create. Anyway. That's old news by now.

Across the pond, and extending into Italy (which for much of the US media is part of the third world, apparently), the news feed is a bit different and the "innocent abroad" meme is not playing so well. Accordingly, the news that an appeal was duly filed comes as no surprise. In Seattle, it is "breaking news". And it is presented with the prepared reaction on the part of the family. No mention is made of the fact that it is not just the prosecution but also the family of the victim. But that's par for the course by now. We are only told that this is harassment, pure and simple. After all, that nice gentleman Mr. Hellmann said that those two kids look like decent people and their families seem very supportive, so they have to be acquitted. For those who are interested in complexity rather than fructose, click on the link to Andrea Vogt's article on the most recent developments for The Week.

I suspect the hope in launching the silent auction at this time, before the judicial process in Italy has played out, is to get as big an advance as possible so that the PR and other bills can be paid off. Talk is of seven figures. That's a good start. But then the hard part comes. No mention of who the "co-author" will be. Nor of the exact terms of the promotional participation expected from the "author". Amanda Knox has not spoken to the press since she was released. Contrast her situation with that of the two hikers held in Iran under horrendous conditions for an extended period, told they had been abandoned by their family and country. They were blindfolded much of the time and had nothing to listen to but the sounds of fellow inmates being tortured. They were finally released and, as soon as they touched down in the US, they sat down with reporters and held a two-hour press conference. Then they got on with their lives. They don't have a huge PR bill to pay. I guess that's the difference.