In the usual tabloid narrative an accusation is taken as proof of guilt. Amanda Knox, in contrast, was deemed the innocent victim of a rogue prosecutor. New York Times blogger Timothy Egan described her trial as "a railroad job from hell". Donald Trump called on Americans to boycott Italy and its goods to protest the gross miscarriage of justice. HLN harpies Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace gave the Italian justice system the Duke lacrosse treatment.
The only voice that broke away from the media pack was Barbie Latza Nadeau. Unlike most of those weighing in the case, she was a reporter who lived in Italy and actually attended the trial. Her book, Angel Face, gives Americans their first detailed and balanced look at the story.
Nadeau demolishes the the idea that the Italian authorities had no evidence against Knox and Sollecito. The case against the two young students was at least as strong as the one which put Scott Peterson on California's death row. Like the Peterson trial, the paucity of physical evidence was offset by a wealth of circumstantial evidence and the string of lies told by the accused.
The book is fair to Amanda Knox, deeply sympathetic to her parents, and honest about the mistakes made by investigators, prosecutors, and defense lawyers.
Nadeau is rightly critical of the American media, especially television. Their coverage of the Knox case was distorted and incomplete. In part, this was due to penny-pinching and laziness:
Times blogger Timothy Egan was one of those who fell into this trap.
TV news was further compromised by the need to get the Knox family on camera. The competition for "the big get" shaped and twisted the coverage:
Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage.... Most of the print press was shut out. And the TV producers learned to be very cautious about being seen with people like me, lest the Knox family should cut tem off.
Marriott tried desperately to control the message by meting out access according to which networks painted Amanda in the best light. To a large extent he was successful.
Most U.S. papers covered the trial from afar, and it was much simpler to quote the family and pipe information from Marriott [the Knox family PR adviser] than to wade through volumes of Italian court documents.