The world is once again buzzing with talk of the American exchange student Amanda Knox, who was held in an Italian prison for four years on charges of murdering her English roommate, 22-year-old Meredith Kercher. The trial first caused an international media frenzy back when the murder took place in 2007. But was it the murder case that caused the media to explode, or was it the sensational "journalism" that caused the investigation to take such a damnable turn?
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If you haven't seen it yet, check out the trailer for Amanda Knox right now:
The Netflix documentary Amanda Knox, directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, portrays Knox in a relatively neutral light, preferring instead to focus on her testimony and the particulars of the botched police investigation that let her and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, remain incarcerated for four years. Two figures emerge as the real antagonists in the story — and neither of them are Rudy Guede, the only man who was convicted for Kercher's murder in the end. The first is Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor who accused Knox and Sollecito of murdering Kercher and then led the subsequent investigation. And the other is Nick Pisa, the Daily Mail journalist that proudly took responsibility for being the first to rush any and all "Foxy Knoxy"-related headlines to the press.
The Sherlock Holmes Wannabe
Public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini admits that the first moment he began to suspect Amanda Knox of the murder was when he witnessed her and Raffaele kissing outside the crime scene:
"They were comforting each other with an affection inappropriate to the moment."
This, in and of itself, should never really have been considered as adequate evidence against the girl, since there is no "appropriate" response to grief or shock. Nevertheless, it was, and the entire investigation took off based on an opinion, rather than a fact.
Later, Mignini waxes nostalgic about his love of detective movies and Sherlock Holmes, particularly Holmes's ability to find clues in "seemingly insignificant" events. But then, he proceeded to invent clues where none necessarily existed. For instance, implying that the covering of Kercher's body with a blanket meant that it had to have been a female murderer, or that the only reason for the broken window would have been to deflect suspicion away from a guilty party that lived in the house.
Viewers were outraged and appalled at his behavior:
Knox said it best herself when she said:
"There is no trace of me in the room where Meredith was murdered. And there's no reliable trace of Raffaele in the room where Meredith was murdered. But you're trying to find the answer in my eyes, when the answer is right over there. You're looking at me. Why? These are my eyes. They're not objective evidence."
If it had not have been for Mignini's fervent desire to concoct circumstantial evidence based on his biased character analysis of the accused, then Amanda would never have been the primary suspect in the first place. Mignini made snap judgments based on Knox and her personal life, and allowed those judgments to be used as evidence to convict her and Sollecito not once, but twice. But does the bulk of the blame for Knox and Sollecito's ordeal truly belong with the prosecutor, or is there a bigger criminal in this case?
The Sensational Journalist
While Mignini might have championed the charges against Knox and Sollecito, there was another guilty party that could be blamed for turning a trial into a witch hunt. Nick Pisa, who worked as a journalist for the Daily Mail for the duration of the Amanda Knox trials, boasted that he was often the first to bring "Foxy Knoxy" headlines to the press. When many of his facts turned out to be fiction, he laughed off the idea that he should accept responsibility for whipping the public into a frenzy via his outlandish claims:
"But, hey, what are supposed to do, you know? We are journalists and we are reporting what we are being told. It's not as if I can say, 'Right, hold on a minute. I just wanna double check that myself in some other way.'"
Knox sympathizers agreed that Pisa's persistent pushing of a slut-shaming narrative was utterly deplorable:
Even Giuliano Mignini himself took a dig at the media in the documentary, saying that he felt pressure to deliver a quick verdict thanks to the international attention that the case received. Pisa and the throngs of other journalists that played into the misogynistic, over-sexualization of the story all bear a certain amount of responsibility for what Knox and Sollecito had to endure.
So Who's The Real Bad Guy In 'Amanda Knox'?
It's important to remember that while Pisa might have bragged about being the first to serve up the story of "Foxy Knoxy," he was hardly the only one — and there's no way he could have been the first every time. It took a whole slew of unscrupulous journalists to spin Knox's case into what it eventually became. Perhaps he was the only one vain enough to agree to do the documentary, or perhaps the filmmakers only wanted one figurehead with which to demonize the media.
The same goes for Mignini. While his Sherlock Holmes antics might have been ridiculous, and his misogyny was undeniable, he wasn't a detective or a policeman. He was a prosecutor, responsible for representing Meredith Kercher's case in court. It was his job to mount a case against against someone, in order to close the murder case once and for all.
Is either one of these men really more responsible than the other? There were plenty of police officers that led cruel interrogations, forensic analysts that contaminated evidence, jury members that were too easily swayed, and countless journalists and media consumers that bought into Nick Pisa's witch-hunt narrative. Even Raffaele Sollecito made a false accusation against Knox, while Knox herself accused Patrick Lumumba.
Maybe the real antagonist here is simply the natural, human desire to find someone to blame.