Ok so. The trial of the century came to an end last night. The.trial.of.the.century.
Don’t believe me? Well all the news channels were zoned in with live blanket coverage, national broadsheets such as the Guardian were running a live blog of courtroom events all day and the hacks all had their fingers poised over the ‘submit’ button in the hope that they would be the first to report the news as it unfolded.
What was the trial of the century then? Have they finally brought Union Carbide to account for the atrocity that was Bhopal? Blair and Bush being brought to account for instigating Iraqi war crimes in the Hague?
No such luck. It seems that the trial of the century pertains to a tragedy on a much smaller scale. The circus in question was in the town of Perugia and it had everything from clowns to acrobats to lots more fucking clowns. A clown for every citizen of the small town.
That Meredith Kercher’s murder in Perugia is tragic is indisputable. Whether it deserves the sheer avalanche of attention it has attracted is highly questionable. In fact the only reasons that the British press & media, in their typically sickening intensity, are latching, limpet like, to this tragic event are:
1. The victim was British
2. The victim was seen as attractive.
3. One of the suspects is seen as attractive.
Let’s face it. Every day people are murdered. If those three boxes hadn’t been ticked Meredith Kercher or, more importantly Amanda Knox, would have languished buried in 4-year-old chip paper and the fickle press with its even more fickle public would be none the wiser. Imagine how many tragic deaths we’ve scanned over on our morning commute and paid little or no attention to? Then imagine how many more deaths go barely reported in the press. Average looking victims with average looking people arrested for killing them. No sexual intrigue. No Foxy Knoxy. No reason to camp out in Perugia for 4 years covering every aspect from arrest to acquittal.
Even worse is the way the press have evolved their views with the story over time. Once upon a time Meredith Kercher was an innocent young girl exploited and murdered in some sex game-gone-wrong by “Foxy Knoxy” and some blokes who the press rarely mention (how often do we see the names of Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito in relation to Amanda Knox’s).
For the press it was open and shut and there was a campaign of demonisation launched that was so single-minded that I was surprised that Amanda Knox didn’t turn out to be some satanic monster who drank human blood and dined on roast children. See that picture of Amanda laughing with a Vickers Gun? That was in the Mail that was. Among everyone else who had decided that “Foxy Knoxy” was an evil cold-blooded killer.
But 4 years later how the tide has turned. As Amanda Knox received her acquittal and wept, she did so with the backing of most of the british media. Many of whom in a display of collective amnesia had completely forgotten condemning her in the first place. Some even castigated the use of the “Foxy Knoxy” term as a slur on such a good girl
See this picture – it was published in the Mail in this article which is both jaw droppingly fawning and sickeningly hypocritical. Not just because the Mail were one of the papers that seemed to assume and pursue Knox as the guilty party 4 years ago, but, even last night, they were so taken with her guilt that they inadvertently published the stock story that they had prepared in case she was found guilty. A story that is even more profoundly wrong because it actually attributes SCENES and QUOTES to the speculated outcome that NEVER HAPPENED.
The mail weren’t the only offenders, although they were the worst. The Guardian, Sun among other were all so eager to press the button on “innocent or guilty” that they got in a fluster when the judge said she was guilty of the lesser charge of slander and made the wrong choice.The broadcasters were in a safer spot on that front… although the appalling translator for the BBC made a real meal out of delivering the verdict as hesitantly as anyone could. Maybe he didn’t want to get it wrong. Or maybe they just blew so much money on flying our reporters, producers, camera crews and”expert” analysts that they forgot to put something in the budget for the important bit that viewers might care about – the verdict, in English.
In the aftermath the tragedy has descended so far into farce that I’m surprised the news haven’t appointed some sort of jester to appear pulling faces and waving a stick every time the words “Foxy Knoxy” are mentioned. The Mail led with the uber cynical “Weeping Foxy is Freed To Make a Fortune” The Star Led with “Foxy Knoxy Walks Free” – in a day where there was actually some blessed fucking relief from X-Factor on the Red Top Front pages. Then Matthew Wright went and put his stupid mouth in his foot like he did years ago with the John Lesley thing by announcing that a topic for debate on his godawful show would be “Foxy Knoxy Would Ya” – a title so insensitively staged that I’m beginning to think that the man is a professional TV troll. (More on that here)
The problem with this is that the media’s sudden obsesson with Knox’s innocence is the same as their obsession with her guilt. Or their obsession generally with her. Kercher’s family rightfully noted that this case had long ago stopped being about Meredith Kercher. In fact the media focus on Knox has consumed everything else. The fact that the appeal rested on two pieces of contaminated evidence, which the defence used to undermine some 10,000 pages of other evidence and 11 eyewitness accounts is irrelevant. It was all about Amanda Knox looking innocent in court. Just as it was all about her when they found a picture of her pretending to shoot a machine gun 4 years ago. The press perceive Knox in binary terms. Evil-doer or wronged angel. The fact that the prosecutors want to appeal the appeal shows there to still be a weight of evidence against her.
After all, if Knox is truly innocent then surely the conviction of Randy Guede must come into question. Although the fact that he’s not a pretty english-speaking girl with a cheeky “sobriquet” may mean that he gets quite a lot less attention. Especially since he’s black as well.