Hometown boy Timothy Egan writes about Amanda Knox for NY Times

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.

Tags: , ,

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

12 Responses to “Hometown boy Timothy Egan writes about Amanda Knox for NY Times”

  1. Ron Richardson Says:

    The column by Tim Egan reminds me of the instructions I have received when I was serving on jury duty. One should not speculate or form opinions or judgements until all of the evidence and testimony has been heard. I have heard that this trial will last well into the fall. There is obviously much yet to be heard. The White Center blog is a reminder that folks who are far removed form a trial that is only part way toward completion should suspend judgement and keep an open mind. Anyone who gets called to jury duty should taker advantage of the opportunity. The experience is a great lesson in our judicial system, warts and all.

  2. Larry from Michigan Says:

    I don’t know much about Timothy Egan, but if he is a good and respected journalist, I feel sorry for him, because he has just thrown it all away. An atrocious and one-sided piece of journalism. A lawyer for Knox who wrote this piece as a brief would be disbarred for it.

  3. Amanda took the stand today

  4. Way to love yourself ricardo.

  5. Thanks seven, and I do. I wouldn’t normally trumpet my own piece but it is Pulitzer material compared to Tim Egan’s apologia.

  6. Egan’s response today to the comments on the Innocents Abroad article are quite clear and fact based. Here’s the link. I am certainly confused as to what I believe about this case other than the fact that the British tabloids have been appalling and unscrupulous in their articles about Amanda. I’m sure she is no angel, but they have certainly torn her to bits without
    solid background/evidence.


  7. Teresa, I am going to respond to your points in the main body of my post.

  8. Thanks for a balanced commentary on a sad and frustrating case.

    It’s frustrating to see how people (including Tim Egan, a writer I respect very much but don’t understand in this instance) will passionately project and then fight for a nonfactual interpretation of this case. It’s so Karl Rovian, except in Egan’s case at least I’m sure it’s sincere.

    The case is so simple, in terms of evidence. Morally and emotionally it’s baffling and tragic, but in terms of the evidence it should be clear to all by now:

    1. Rudy Guede participated in Meredith Kercher’s murder. We all agree on this, right?
    2. Rudy Guede did not act alone. We know this because…
    3. The forensic evidence proves that Meredith lay where she died for some hours, until blood dried. Then she was moved.
    4. Got that? She was moved, some hours after she died. Focus on this fact. It’s the most important one in this case.
    5. Rudy could not have been the one who moved her body, because he spent the rest of that night being seen in public places–a disco, then a bar.
    6. So who was in the house that night, moving Meredith’s body? A footprint in Meredith’s blood matches Raffaele Sollecito’s bare foot, and not any other defendant’s. The footprint isn’t just the same general size as Raffaele’s, it matches its shape. Other footprint traces found with Luminol–which detects blood–match Amanda’s footprint. A woman’s shoeprint, of a shoe Amanda’s size, was found in Meredith’s blood under Meredith’s body in the position where it was found by police. So at the very least, Rudy Guede had accomplices, a man and a woman, with feet very much the size and shape of Amanda’s and Raffaele’s.
    7. Amanda’s DNA was mixed with Meredith’s blood found in the bathroom and in a third housemate’s room–the room where a break-in was faked. Could this DNA have come from the surfaces of the floor and bathroom fixtures–after all, this was Amanda’s house? Well, the experts in this trial say no. And it does seem odd that Amanda’s DNA would be somehow more abundant on her roommate Filomena’s floor than Filomena’s–which after all did not appear in Meredith’s blood found there. Only Amanda’s DNA was found in Meredith’s blood.
    8. We know the break-in was faked because there was still so much jagged glass in the window frame that no one could have climbed through it without pushing some of that glass out of the way, or cutting themselves, or both. There’s a picture of this windowframe online at the Perugia Murder File website, included in a PowerPoint presentation by a poster known as “Kermit.”
    9. Also the window was inaccessible from the ground outside. And the window was broken after the room was tossed, as shown by the fact that the glass was found on top of all the roommate’s belongings strewn around (not stolen, though).

    OK. So how can anyone explain all of these inarguable facts? Tell me how else to understand them. As far as I can tell, this is the core of the prosecution’s case, and everything else–cartwheels and thongs and so on–is secondary at best, irrelevant at worst.

    The defense doesn’t talk about this chain of evidence, their strategy seems to be to distract from it by any means available. That tells me that they can’t refute it. They can’t show that the footprints aren’t Raffaele’s and Amanda’s. They can’t show that Meredith’s body was never moved. They can’t show that Rudy Guede was a lone attacker. But friends and supporters of Amanda and her family, some of them apparently meaning well, can spin and misrepresent and generally obscure the simplicity of the factual evidence.

    I can’t blame Amanda’s family for not wanting to connect the dots and see a painful picture. I also can’t blame them for fighting to defend her against a lynching in the press. But for crying out loud, a murder was committed and whoever did it should be accountable.

    Very sad case.

  9. Carol B, very well said. And kudos to Ricardo for publishing a balanced analysis of Timothy Egan’s pieces. I’m with the let the justice system do it’s job & examine the facts crowd (vs. a pro or anti-Amanda). But Egan’s piece was a biased and irrational one. The Italian system isn’t supposed to hold her? And that link to his daughter’s piece about how the arrest of Amanda Knox made it harder to be an exchange student from Seattle was a disrespectful, disgusting piece of trash. I hope Meredith Kercher’s family didn’t have to read that tripe. Yeah, so inconvenient for Meredith’s death to interfere with Sophie Egan’s year abroad. What self indulgent, narcissistic drivel.

  10. Wendy Roberts Says:

    bravo! it is refreshing to read your article, nice to see a story with some balanced reporting and true spirit. Stay with it!!

  11. That day was a really bad day for Amanda…it was the day she’d been sacked (demoted anyway)…and she may have gone home and eventually ended up having…the initial fight with the flatmate who has brazenly taken her cushy job and will now be going there most nights….I think that they could have been already arguing, before it really erupted, causing at this stage, nothing more than a physical fight between Amanda and Meredith in the bathroom (it’s where the mixed blood/DNA is),
    Rudy (possibly Amanda’s guest) may have been the reason for Amanda initially getting blamed for his toilet mess…in what was by now becoming a really Huge row…
    I think that maybe when his rather liberal approach to toilet training was pointed out to him by a heated Meredith, he may have really erupted into an already escalating situation…(like a titan). Maybe Rudy jumped into the fight (moving towards the bedroom now) and attacked Meredith as the argument, already begun with the other dramas really worsened ….badly…
    frightening the other two…
    who knew they couldn’t stop him…
    (maybe they just saw the knife…their fairly lacklustre sort of denials, if that’s what they are, would tend more towards observing the beginning of a dangerously violent fight)…and ran out…to return later….(and then find out what’s happened and realise her DNA and stuff is everywhere because of the first fight)…..

    One of those nights when someone you didn’t really know that well turned out to be crazy, in your home…..and now you’re scared shitless

    Then again, I’ve seen a carpark video of what I’m sure? is him…going there alone…(I think it’s him…but you’re never sure are you ?)

    Something that’s weird is that so much importance is placed on their having at times conflicting stories of that night…
    If I was guilty…the first thing I’d do is organise a joint alibi…
    It gives the appearance of an unaware him providing her with what he thought was a fairly innocent cover story (without having given it too much serious thought….but I’d still say he believed in her)

    What if the truck-driver story was true ? (his mobile records place him in the area—according to the internet anyway…what fascinates the police is….he definitely knows about the arrival of the tow truck)
    Although it’s strange and fanciful…this type of garbled encounter with the weird chucking dates and a phone at them, then stopping to chat to Rudy stuff is…in all truth…just like a night that could lead to a murder….
    things like that do happen…I’ve seen stuff like that …there’s all sorts of people in this world
    Meredith may have seen and heard what was going on in the road and really exploded with rage at the three of them afterwards….on an already heated night…. the trademark Rudy deposit looks more like a before leaving thing….

    I’d say they saw the start of Rudy doing it and that the footsteps the old lady heard on the iron steps were them running away in fear …
    ….but Rudy alone killed her…I have no doubt

  12. Oct. 1 is the date for the new trial. New Judge and new
    jury. Let’s hope & pray the same verdict is reached, as Amanda
    is cleary guilty (for a “refresher” of the most relevant
    facts surrounding the case, see Carol B’s email).
    This emotive outpouring on Amanda’s behalf is too much
    in light of the facts that clearly incrimidate her (see
    Friends Of Amanda on the web). Is it her face? Would the support be the same if her face was somewhat, shall we say,
    “gnarled”? Seattle Prep and Univ. of Washington–yeah, good
    schools, but smart folks murder, too. Her time in the Perugia jail is too cushy..she’s taking a UW correspondence course, working in the commissary, ….for God’s sake!
    She deserves lethal injection!