Competing for headline prominence with the stories about the killing of the American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki have been stories about another American citizen, this one far more enamoring to the news media and the American public: Ms. Amanda Knox. For several days running, news channels have been focusing on Knox; and if a viewer failed to inquire more deeply into these accounts, he or she might be forgiven for concluding that this American-born student in Italy was being considered by the Vatican for beatification.
The reality is far different than the media portrayals. Knox was convicted in December 2009 of the brutal 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British-born exchange student who at the time of her murder was Knox’s roommate. In the nearly two years since her conviction, Knox’s family has mounted a public relations campaign to portray her as a mere innocent living abroad, brutally victimized by a foreign judicial system that got absolutely everything wrong.
An Italian tribunal is scheduled to render a decision today on whether to affirm Knox’s 26-year sentence or reverse or modify the earlier decision.
The facts of the gruesome murder are hardly the stuff of family entertainment. The evidence presented during the trial depicted Knox, Kercher, Knox’s Italian boyfriend (Raffaele Sollecito) and another man (Rudy Guede) as engaging in a drug-laced sex party. During the orgy-gone-wrong, Kercher’s throat was slashed by Knox as the two men held her down. All three defendants were convicted and received lengthy prison sentences, ranging from 25 to 30 years (Guede’s sentence was subsequently reduced).
Largely forgotten in the current, massive PR blitz surrounding Knox are the circumstances surrounding the murder. Amanda Knox has replaced Meredith Kercher as the victim in the sordid story.
Not only has Knox been portrayed as something approaching Little Miss Muffett, but — from the tenor of the cable television reporting focusing on her — as someone on the same plane as Mother Teresa. Recent accounts present hardly a word reminding viewers that Knox actually was convicted of a brutal murder. The unquestioned premise appears to be that every person involved in the case — from the police investigators to the Italian judges — screwed up and got nothing right, and that Knox was negligently if not maliciously railroaded.
At the end of the day, of course, none of us here know what actually happened in that Perugia apartment on November 1, 2007. However, can’t we at least be adult enough and sufficiently objective to not buy into the notion that neither the evidence nor the conviction matters, and that the entire nation of Italy conspired against an innocent American girl? Can’t the American media retain at least a facade of objectivity?
The endgame for this beatification project is not sainthood for Amanda Knox, but lucre — obtained through movie, book and magazine deals. And Meredith Kercher will still lie stone cold dead.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.