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Sun Jun 16, 2019, 01:37 PM

How Amanda Knox's Trial Was the Dawn of the Fake News Era

Amanda Knox heads to Italy this weekend to “face her fears” where much of the population still think she’s guilty of murdering her roommate 12 years ago. Like Steve Bannon, Knox is another American export Italians can’t seem to keep out.

But the visit is a good time to remember how the online phenomenon of Amanda Knox was a portent of the Age of Trump, with its elevation and celebration of unreason, as the digital age linked and energized what most charitably could be called “suspicious minds.”

In 2007, Twitter was just coming online, with 5,000 Tweets per day. Facebook was still in its data-harvesting infancy, with less than 100 million users. But the Amanda Knox story tapped into something previously inchoate, a vein of irrationality, rage, misogyny, pettiness and paranoia that — as the world has since come to understand — has bubbled along in the human species, unshared and unspoken, until it was enabled and amplified by the World Wide Web.

On the night after Halloween 2007, British student Meredith Kercher was murdered in her home in the Italian hill town Perugia, during what was most likely a burglary gone wrong, a tragedy I investigated for the 2012 book The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Italian Trial of Amanda Knox. Knox, Kercher’s oddball American hippie roommate, immediately attracted the authorities’ attention, for being on the crime scene when they arrived and acting in ways they found inappropriate, like making out with her boyfriend and doing yoga stretches. Local police, racing to solve the case as students fled the university town, made a mess of the crime scene and committed forensic blunders in the lab, among other mistakes. The local magistrate, afflicted with indigenous superstitions, proclaimed the murder a Satanic rite, setting off a global media feeding frenzy — and something else that, in hindsight, was just the beginning.

The Amanda Knox phenomenon marked the first time a bizarre cult of credulity emerged online, with tens of thousands of people energetically subscribing to the most heinous possible scenario, while refusing to accept more reasonable alternatives. A now-familiar scenario played out: Vicious social media swarms led by trolls using online pseudonyms. Accusations of fake news hurled at reputable outlets, while demonstrably fake news was published regularly. There was doxxing. Lawmen attacked as shills. Journalists accused of “being on the payroll.” A theory in which everyone is connected by money or in the case of the Magistrate’s version of the case, by deviant secret cults with midnight membership lists who meet by the light of the moon.



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Reply How Amanda Knox's Trial Was the Dawn of the Fake News Era (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Jun 16 OP
maxsolomon Jun 16 #1
Dr. Strange Jun 16 #3
MaryMagdaline Jun 16 #2
StarfishSaver Jun 16 #4
pnwmom Jun 16 #5
MaryMagdaline Jun 16 #6

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 01:46 PM

1. How many DUers did I battle about Knox during her trials?

It felt like infinity.

The credulity for the Italian Prosecutors absurd theories ran high here, and those posters never gave an inch. She was a monster, a devil, a drug addict, a whore, her family were trying to bribe their way out of her guilt, etc. Many of those posters came here from England, where the delusions ran even higher thanks to ceaseless tabloid slander.

It's likely that many of those deluded souls remain so. Knox is very brave to return to Italy. I wouldn't suggest she go to England, either.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 03:14 PM

3. But that happened with the Duke Lacrosse case too.

Nifong spread fake news, and a lot of people on the left (and here at DU) bought into it because it fit the narrative. So I think this fake news syndrome predates the Knox case.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 03:12 PM

2. I originally believed she was guilty. Once the DNA proved a third person was the killer

I changed my mind and realized I had been duped.

For the second time in my life I realized how false confessions are obtained. I never believed in false confessions before this case. I saw a documentary on the prosecutor, and a male journalist who had been arrested by the prosecutor in another case, said the prosecutor nearly broke him down and nearly caused him to confess to something he didn’t do. He was a strong person who felt the Italian prosecutor capable of causing anyone, including Amanda Knox, to break.

That story, and the Central Park Five, have caused me to lose faith in prosecutors. I just don’t know when I’ve been duped.

In each case, without DNA, I would still believe these prosecutors. I’m horrified that there must be thousands of wrongfully convicted people.

Kudos to the Italians for finally getting it right. It was a national embarrassment, but they owned up to it.

I’ll never forgive Alan Dershowitz for saying she should be extradited back to Italy, as if actual innocence is to be ignored.

Like Amanda Knox, I was blindsided by Italian anti-Americanism. Would never go to Italy 🇮🇹 if I were Amanda. Many people still hate her.

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Response to MaryMagdaline (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 03:17 PM

4. Did she ever give a confession?

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Response to StarfishSaver (Reply #4)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 03:51 PM

5. No. They often called it that.

Last edited Sun Jun 16, 2019, 09:00 PM - Edit history (2)

During an overnight interrogation they kept telling her that they knew her employer, Lumumba was there with her. She finally doubted her recall so much she said maybe she remembered that she'd been in the house, and hearing Lumumba and Kercher in the other room.

So her "confession" was her coerced placing of herself in the same house at the time of the murder -- but not to being involved in the murder itself.

A few hours later, after getting some sleep, she called for someone to come and take a new statement, and in it she retracted the previous statement, saying she didn't believe it was true.

Still, the police arrested Lumumba anyway, and kept him in jail for weeks, because they were sure it was a black guy because they'd found a hair that look like it came from a black person. (And the real killer , Rudy Guede, did match the hair, the DNA, the fingerprints, and dozens of other pieces of evidence in the murder room and on and in Kercher's body.)

But, unwilling to admit they were wrong, the prosecutor also charged Amanda with making a false accusation against Lumumba, even though they had coerced her into it, and even though she retracted it a few hours later.

ON EDIT: In January 2019 the European Court of Human Rights ruled on her behalf, saying that, during her 50 hours of interrogation, she had been wrongly denied an attorney and a translator (the person "translating" was a police officer.) (She spoke very rudimentary Italian at that point.)

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 08:39 PM

6. Yes. This summary is correct.

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