Seattle resident and New York Times correspondent, Timothy Egan weighs in on the Amanda Knox case with a long opinion piece in today’s New York Times. I wish I could say that this was the break of objective reporting that we were looking for, but such is not the case. Egan is not an attorney nor does he regularly write on criminal or judicial matters. His area is politics, and at that, mostly regional politics. His piece sheds no new light on the case, revealing the time-worn themes trotted out by the competing Knox camps: those who claim she is innocent and those who claim she is guilty. But what is of note is that Egan throws all journalistic objectivity aside (whatever that actually means) and weighs in with “an innocent abroad” crowd. Fittingly that is the title of his piece. Accordingly, he pulls no punches and calls this a “railroad job.” As with so much American reporting we get lots of smoke but no light.
His bias is evident when discussing Amanda Knox’s initial alibi, which was that the bar owner, for whom she worked, had committed the murder, while Knox was in the apartment. To wit, Egan:
Still, Knox’s statements were troubling. She and Sollecito gave different versions of what they had done the night of the killing, their memories clouded no doubt because they’d been smoking hashish. And Knox raised the possibility that a bar owner with an airtight alibi could have been involved.
Knox did not “raise the possibility” that the bar owner might be involved she gave a long narrative blaming him with an array of sordid and lengthy details. Not exactly a problem in translation. For those who want a more balanced piece you can read my take, “The Curious Case of Amanda Knox.”
This is unfortunate, as I very much like Timothy Egan’s writing. In fact, his subjectivity is often the best part of his pieces. Unfortunately, in this case, he is no better than the Seattle reporters who are rooting for the hometown girl. Tis a shame.
UPDATE: Timothy Egan responds to his critics.
I read Egan’s response to his critics regarding his opinion piece on Amanda Knox, “An Innocent Abroad.” There is some measure of contrition in his response, as with his use of “innocent abroad.” But, overall, Egan does little to give substance to his very clearly biased opinion piece in which he rails against the prosecutor and calls the case a “railroad job.” He says he took a month to review the evidence, but there is very little in his piece that could be called factual.
1. Egan’s account of the conviction of Rudy Guede is, to put it mildly, incomplete and inaccurate. He draws a straw man, implying that the “anti-Knox” crowd is completely discounting his guilt. That is sheer nonsense. Guede is clearly guilty, the only question is whether he acted alone and on that score the forensic evidence points to more than one actor. Guede was caught almost immediately, and in one of Knox’s permutations of her alibis, she claimed that she let him in and that she was in the next room while he raped and killed her — hearing her screams as well. If so, why didn’t Knox call the police herself? She has since ditched that story. The only thing Egan falls back on is police duress. But Knox changed her alibis over a period of time and it took three weeks before her first victim, Lumumba the bar owner, was cleared. She never volunteered that her story was false until his alibi panned out.
2. Egan claims that Knox had no motive. This was not a vendetta, robbery or revenge killing. It was a crime of passion. As I explained when it comes to sex a little motive goes a long way. It is not the prosecution’s case that Knox planned to murder Kercher. The theory of the case fits the case, a sex game gone awry. This explains the brutality of the murder and incompetence in disposing of evidence.
3. Egan spends a lot of time impugning the Italians and the British as having prejudged this case. My reading leads me to the exact opposite conclusion, it is the American media that has prejudged this matter in favor of the American girl. I sourced much of my material to Der Speigel and the BBC, hardly tabloids, as Egan pronounces the foreign press.
As my original post made clear, I am not prejudging this matter, I certainly have no stake in it. Although, by all accounts, I should be in the Knox camp, being as we are part of the same community. Egan is a very able writer, but he is no legal analyst ala Jeffrey Rosen or Kurt Eichenwald. I think that Egan is simply out of his element and out of his league, on this matter and his shoddy work clearly indicates as such.