This post is not about the Knox case – it’s about journalism and more widely, the new disillusionment we have with supposed neutrals in the once noble profession – the free press.
I’ll certainly start with Knox though. There was a CNN interview with Dr. Mignini, the chief investigator in the case and let’s be fair – they’re not there to give Mignini a holiday. Therefore the defence points are going to be parrotted by the CNN journo and of course, he’ll go in for the kill, just as Paxman or Dimbleby might.
05’24 CNN: She had an interpreter during the whole time?
05’26’’ Mignini: Yes.
05’29’’ CNN: She says no.
05’32’’ Mignini: Look the interpreter was there, when I heard her there was the interpreter. The interpreter Anna Donnino, who is an interpreter for the police; she was hired by the police.
Just like I believe that there was [before], I do not have the minutes now, but yet now this is a fact, it is undisputed that there was an interpreter.
06’02’’ CNN: Amanda Knox says she was interrogated for 14 hours…
06’11’’ Mignini: No, look, absolutely not.
I have no issue with that. It was lie after lie after lie but it at least allowed Mignini to state his case. What began to be apparent though was that the journo wasn’t taking anything Mignini said on board. Most good journos, in an interview, put some probing questions and then build on the responses, inserting new material from time to time.
It was a long interview and it became clear that far from playing devil’s advocate, the journo actually believed the things he was putting and then it got worse. Later, after it all, I read some of the comments and one stated it clearly: “This was a hatchet job.”
That man, a man who didn’t speak good English, had agreed to come on and face questions, obviously they’d be probing and would put what Americans wanted to know. But what was this?
0’28’’ CNN: you certainly made no secret about intimidating Preston and Mario Spezi
0’49’’ Mignini: Well, I do not understand what intimidation. So, well look. For starters, this proceeding near Florence has nothing to do with this issue. So this is a non-issue. So, as for Mario Spezi, and I’ll come to Preston later, Mario Spezi was subjected to an investigation that …
I shan’t go into his answer further here [see the series] because this is not a Knox post – it’s about CNN. Preston, by the way, is deep in the Knox camp and that made me think – what is this guy, this CNN journo, doing defending this Preston? I mean, where is the initial: “Explain what happened in the Preston case”?
Then came the ones which really appalled me:
07’37’’ CNN: I interviewed Preston and, according to him, this is not true.
14’16’’ CNN: it sounds very similar to what Amanda Knox described.
This journo was trying to draw a parallel between what happened in the Preston case with what happened in the Knox case and the intent was to character assassinate Mignini. All of them were playing for the same team. Then came:
25’39’’ CNN: Dr. Mignini, do you like a good conspiracy theory?
WTF! What sort of effing question is that? Not only does this show that he hadn’t taken on board anything which had been explained but he was treating Mignini like a buffoon. The defence does that, the Knoxers do it and one can understand why. A CNN journo though must show at least some respect for his international guest.
18’16’’ CNN: Don’t you have even the slightest doubt that perhaps you accused two people who maybe are innocent?
Oh my goodness. A priori, assumed to be the truth and where did that come from? Whether you believe one way or the other, this is not how a guest should be interviewed.
A year and a bit ago, David Cameron put his foot down about prisoners’ votes, directly confronting the ECHR in doing so. It was one of the rare occasions when he was representing the feelings of the people as a whole. I watched an interview with – I can’t remember – Neil or Marr – and John Hirst, the Jailhouse Lawyer.
Now I don’t agree with all John says and certainly not with many things he did but the man had gone to the ECHR, he had won a victory with this extension of the EU [he'd hotly dispute that it is an extension] and he was entitled to at least put his case. He was not allowed to do that in any way.
From the very beginning, it was an assault, a hatchet job. Every time he tried to speak, to put his case, he was cut off and he knew it would be so. His smile told it all. No one in that audience wanted to debate that issue. Look, I don’t agree with him on it but he sure as hell was entitled to a hearing.
There is one politician I have little time for – like you, thousands actually – called William Jefferson Clinton. I saw an interview with him by Fox on Sunday and it was exactly the same – an utter hatchet job, with no interest whatever in letting Clinton put his points. An interview is not, as many bloggers like to think, a case of “demolishing” or scoring points in a PMQ way – it’s the ancient fora transferred to the present day – it’s where the interviewee at least gets a fair hearing, not a Ceauşescu kangaroo court.
Saw an interview with Geert Wilders on – what was it – Hard Talk or whatever it’s called. Appalling. Absolute hatchet job with no interest in letting the man put his points.
Heard an interview in which the Albion Alliance’s David Phipps came on about halfway, after some longwinded, incompetent pollie from Bristol – forgotten her name. Quite apart from her drivel going on for so long, it was clear no one in that studio was interested in what David had to say and though he wasn’t given short shrift, he certainly wasn’t given a fair hearing. Ditto DK [and was it Marr?], ditto Guedo and so on.
The standard of debate has slumped, ethics and groundrules seem to mean no more and people are doing things – and thinking they’re quite OK – which would have had you thrown out of your debating society even two decades ago. In fact, in my current Knox series, though obviously I argue the case itself, it must come over that that is not my main beef. My main beef is the shoddy tactics and lazy debating of the other side. Looking at my background, it’s only logical that I would feel that way.
I’m quite sure many of the old school would also feel aggrieved and disheartened for what now passes for debate.