Wednesday, May 08, 2013

"Amanda Knox: The Unanswered Questions": Chris Cuomo grills her relentlessly on CNN interview

On Tuesday, May 7, 2003, CNN aired a sensational interview of Amanda Knox by Chris Cuomo, who himself is an attorney. It was titled “Amanda Knox: the Unanswered Questions” and ran for 90 minutes, starting at 10:30 PM EDT. It had originally been scheduled for 10 PM and was pushed back for Anderson Cooper to cover the Cleveland situation (of women who had been kidnapped escaping). That means that DVR’s recording from Cable could miss part of the interview.

Fortunately, the real beginning of the interview coincided with the ending of FX’s broadcast of “Soul Surfer” (Movies, May 7).
The only video I could find on CNN now is here and it did not offer embed code.

However CNN has (up to this point) place three embeddable segments on YouTube.

Knox, recall, was convicted (along with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito) for participating in the murder of Meredith Kercher in early November, 2007. She was apparently coerced into confession, but the only physical evidence that stood on careful scrutiny implicated only Rudy Guede.  Her conviction was overturned in 2011, but Italian courts have ordered a retrial, which she might not need to attend but could face extradition if convicted again. Italian law doesn’t recognize the same standard of double jeopardy as US law.   
Cuomo’s questioning was much more detailed hit much harder than did that of Diane Sawyer with a similar interview on ABC April 30.  Cuomo now reports for both ABC and CNN (both Disney).  It’s relevant that Cuomo is himself an attorney, and spoke of "fact patterns" in the interview. Although politically and socially liberal in his views (he comes from the New York political family, as explained on Wikipedia), he hit very hard on questions of what appear to the public to be possible flaws in Knox’s integrity.  Cuomo said “Don’t hold back, this is your chance.”
Knox’s immediate answer referred to the lack of actual physical evidence that she (and her boyfriend) had anything to do with the crime, and with unreasonable expectations of how she should behave once she even discovered suspicious circumstances, and how she should have behaved later with police. 
Cuomo challenged her, saying she seemed flat and unemotional. 
Then, Cuomo asked Knox early why she pauses so often in talking.  Amanda said that she likes to express herself in writing, and is not normally a good speaker.  She says different people process stressful facts differently and that all of this in the range of what is acceptable character and mental health. 
Cuomo grilled her on how her behavior “looked.”  (He opines, "One thing Knox is guilty of is acting in ways that people would see as strange.")  For example, she was nonchalant when she found blood in her flat that night, and later she was seen kissing her new boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.   Knox admitted she had been viewed as a “femme fatale”, but she did not grasp at first that her behavior would attract suspicion.  Cuomo did probe about into the police theory of sex games, and Knox denied them.  “I was not strapping on leather.”  Knox says that the tabloid media exploited rumors.  These stories fed political pressure on  to police, who already felt  urgent need to get a conviction. Still, why wasn’t the one conviction of Guede based on solid DNA evidence enough for the police?  Why did the police need to make an example of an American young woman who seemed privileged?   (There’s a side story about the particular “perverted” prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, not explored much here.)

Cuomo seemed to think that she really could be extradited, especially after a second conviction on re-trial, and that double jeopardy arguments might not work.  He challenged her as to whether there was any possibility that eyewitnesses could say that she was “there” after all (I’m reminded of the Coen Brothers and :The Man Who Wasn’t There” (2001)).  He also challenged her that any DNA evidence could surface and whether the Italian police could have substantive physical evidence that she doesn’t know about.  She said, flatly,”No!”
Earlier, however, Cuomo challenged her with questions like, “Why don’t you just say you didn’t do it.  Why do you say, you can’t prove it?”

Later, he asked her about why the family of Merdeith Kercher doesn't believe her, and why she doesn't respond. "You know who reaches out? Someone who has nothing to hide."
The media tends to jump on evasive answers (or lack of answers) when more direct answers are feasible (remember how Jerry Sandusky had answered interview questions, and CNN jumped all over him).

Cuomo asked her about the scrapes on her knuckles., and she said she is taking self-defense classes. 
She did describe the horrible four years in prison.  She said that when anything goes wrong, everyone gets blamed.  She said she couldn’t defend herself the way other women did.

Amanda Knox seems to process things in an intellectual way, cognitively somewhat like the way I do. She doesn’t seem as spontaneous as other people.  This doesn’t seem to be a gender thing.  It’s a basic personality trait that seems independent of everything else, even sexual orientation.   I suppose if I were heterosexual and forty years younger, I would be a good partner.  I will probably read her “Waiting to Be Heard” later.  She says she wrote her book to show what kind of person she is.  Her family made big financial and personal sacrifices for her, and the family needs the $4 million advance for the book. 
I can remember, back in 1962, a psychiatrist saying to me, after my own college expulsion, "You have little grasp of the things you say and do."  Correction: I had little appreciation for how things look to other people in their own cultural mindset, regardless of objective truth.  
We can always ask, why do bad things happen to good people?  (“Why me?”)  It’s a bit trite sometimes.  I have my own theory of karma, that if we don’t step up when we have to, we wind up sharing the payments for other people’s personal wrongdoing. 

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