It’s a good thing the mainstream media has amnesia. I just caught CNN doing their “analysis” of Knox, and according to their feature Knox was treated harshly in the press. It’s because of the media – so her story goes – that Knox ended up in an Italian prison.
Which media? The Italian media? The American media? The British media? All media?
Let’s do a memory check on this idea that the media were biased.
It was Knox’s father Curt who hired spin doctor David Marriott, of Gogerty Marriot Public relations Inc, just 9 days after Knox’s arrest. Following Knox’s “exoneration”, her father called this move – to hire a PR expert – the “smartest move he ever did…”
It doesn’t take a genius to see that PR [which is positive press paid for and organized to a particular end] actually did Amanda Knox a great service. Over time it exerted more and more pressure on Italy, then leverage. Even President Trump saw Knox come onto his radar in 2011, and he couldn’t resist tweeting his support.
Knox ultimately sold the story of how she didn’t murder her roommate, Meredith Kercher, for a record sum. In 2012 the Telegraph reported on the book deal being worth $4 million. Her boyfriend and co-accused, Raffaele Sollecito made an estimated $1 million from television appearances and got his own book deal as well.
So if the press was so negative and incriminating, if Amanda Knox was made into a villain and a victim, how come Amanda Knox today is free, employed, in love and living happily ever after?
Of course one area where the media and social media has been less than friendly to Knox – or Sollecito – has been over their jabs and jokes, in pretty bad taste, in terms of the real victim in this case.
Ironically, minutes and hours after the murder, this was exactly the accusation made against Knox by other witnesses at the police station, and the police themselves. It all seemed like a joke to them, and at one point, Knox seemed to be doing cartwheels and gymnastics in the hallways while waiting to be interrogated, much as Jodi Arias once had…
Although the McCanns have washed their hands in public of the Netflix documentary that’s all about them, their struggles, and the search for their daughter, they do feature prominently in every episode.
That’s odd because the eight-part docuseries does the McCanns [and their version of events] many favours, not to mention the timing of it. The timing of the docuseries – from a PR perspective – is perfect.
So maybe we should mention the timing and one other thing – the money and potential fortunes – that’s ebbing and potentially flowing around the McCanns and the McCann case as of right now.
In terms of timing, the European Court of Human rights is about to rule, about to pronounce a verdict now, at the end of an eight-year legal slugmatch between the McCanns and their arch nemsis. The Portuguese detective that initially led the investigation features prominently in the Netflix documentary, although much of what he says is juxtaposed with others casting doubt or disputing his version of events.
Goncalo Amaral did the unthinkable in this story – he had the temerity to suspect both parents of complicity in covering up whatever happened to the doctors’ daughter.
Amaral was fired in October 2007 just five months into the investigation, and only one month after the McCanns were named official suspects in a highly controversial shift. This also caused the media coverage to change dramatically in tone from sympathetic to suspicious.
In any event, the timing of the Netflix docuseries coming out now is interesting, if nothing else.
The docuseries does a brilliant job of besmirching Amaral’s reputation as a possibly corrupt cop and potentially compromised individual.
If the series was as unbiased as it purports to be, it would have also investigatedJulian Peribanez, the former Metodo 3 investigator hired by the McCanns with the same meticulous thoroughness. It seems a little tricksy to have the McCanns’ detective narrate large fractions of the documentary where he openly criticises, accuses and undermines his opposition in the case.
In many of the slick true crime documentaries, the devil is in the details, not in terms of factors or evidence, but how the audience is influenced. Amaral is invariably interviewed in the same dour, claustrophobic setting.
The McCann’s PR person who also does plenty of narrating here, is shown in a lofty office which conveys a sense of professionalism and authority. Peribanez, Amaral’s counterpart , also appears in a professional setting, and then occasionally he is depicted “on the job” as it were, the crack detective in a fancy car basically role-playing the Spanish version of Magnum P.I.
Along with his boss, Francisco Marco and other Metodo 3 staff, he got into big trouble inearly2013. He and a number of other Metodo 3 staff were revealed to have been behind the illegal recording of conversations between high-level Spanish politicians in a Barcelona restaurant. Peribanez was discovered to have been involved and arrested. However, unlike his boss Marco, Peribanez rapidly admitted his guilt, confessed all to the police, and may have ended up assisting the police with their enquiries.
In 2014, it was announced that he had become a ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ by publishing, jointly with the former head of Metodo 3 in Madrid, Antonia Tamarit, a book blowing the lid on corruption in Portugal but also, more specifically, the cess-pit of dark, nefarious and illegal activities carried out by Metodo 3. By this time, many of the top Metodo 3 staff had been arrested or imprisoned over the illegal recording of conversations at a Barcelona restaurant, and Metodo 3 had gone into liquidation.
So, in a classic case of ‘thieves falling out’, Peribanez and Tamarit decided to wrote a ‘tell-all’ book exposing the corrupt and criminal activities they had themselves been engaged in…
That’s more than the budget – almost twice the budget – of the entire search for Madeleine McCann by the authorities over the span of twelve years, the most expensive missing person’s search in history.
If we add the cost of the documentary to the cost of the search we’re in the region of £32 million spent on “the disappearance and search for Madeleine McCann.”
That’s a shitload of money based on a rather glaring assumption, that Madeleine McCann is alive and went missing to begin with.
Kandohla notes in her puff piece that the Netflix series was “commissioned in 2017” and conflates the commissioning of the series with “the explosion of the true crime genre.” In other words she’s suggesting the Netflix documentary was commissioned to make a mint out of the true crime genre, but she neglects to provide specifics on who commissioned it.
By mentioning the two documentaries in the same sentence, she also effectively compares The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann to Making A Murderer – the latter not necessarily a paragon of true crime documentary investigation in terms of accuracy or neutrality either.
Does anyone seriously think the filmmakers are going to make a profit on a budget of £20 fucking million for a documentary? The answer to that probably depends on who the filmmakers [and backers] are.
In Steven Avery’s case, all the Making A Murderer documentaries ultimately bore fruit, didn’t they? In February 2019 it was announced Avery had “won” the right to an appeal. You could say that, but you could also argue his PR had triumphed eventually. It’s not the first time that’s happened either. The Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries also led to the release of the three men accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis [the West Memphis Three].
So we see in 2017, the same year the legal tide turned against the McCanns, the 8-part documentary was commissioned. It was a major PR coup for them if the commissioning of the documentary with an enormous budget which just happened to support their own “pedophile abduction” theory to a “T”, happened coincidentally. But was it? Was this pure happenstance?
While Amaral’s libel damages as they stand now [£29 000] are fiddlesticks, barely a tenth of what the McCanns sued him for, it’s possible if the McCanns lose their final appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, the floodgates will open, clearing the way not only for Amaral to launch countersuits but potentially also many new media that the McCanns have sued for the years for defamation. Even if this doesn’t happen, a verdict that goes against them at this stage could swim the pendulum of public and media sentiment against them.
Interestingly in the Guardian article cited above the McCann’s refer to how much “the landscape has changed” in the eight years since they lodged their lawsuit against Amaral. Well, no landscape has changed more fundamentally than the media landscape, particularly with the advent of social media and more recently, streaming services like Netflix.
It’s clear Netflix has made available a documentary that is likely to influence people’s opinions on the McCanns, one way or the other. Does Netflix hold any responsibility in this regard? Should they? Should they be held to account for the veracity of the investigative content they provide to their subscribers especially as regard high-profile true crime?
In the past, Netflix has been beholden to the consumers of its product.
It remains to be seen whether true crime audiences will be aggravated or impressed, or simply too entertained to care about veracity or bias of the £20 fucking million documentary that the McCanns didn’t participate in [well, they appear in every episode], haven’t seen [apparently] and don’t support [ahem…].
If the the European Court rules against the McCanns, despite the influence or lack of the costly docuseries, will Amaral institute a colossal damages claim against them for systematic character assassination?
Whether he does or doesn’t, and whether the ruling goes for or against them, the McCanns are in an unusual position for the first time in many years. Instead of hope they have something to fear, and perhaps this time there is real reason to fear.
The title of the third episode refers to the infamous “Pact of Silence”. It’s an allegation that the McCanns and their friends [the Tapas 7] who they dined with on the night of May 3th, 2007 when Madeleine McCann disappeared weren’t being completely forthcoming to the cops, or the media.
On June 30th, two months after the incident, it took a Portuguese journalist to raise this allegation for the first time in a 3000-word article published in Sol. Since it was written in Portuguese, that’s where the idea was planted first – in Portugal.
June 30, 2007 by Felícia Cabrita and Margarida Davim
Madeleine’s parents and the friends with whom they spent their holidays in Praia da Luz are suspects in the inquiry.There are contradictory versions about the night of the kidnapping, and an assumed pact of silence in the group.
Four long months later, the British press seemed to finally cotton onto this “rumour” and meekly questioned the McCanns about it. Their response, ironically through a PR “spokesman” was to “categorically deny” any secrecy.
Alleged discrepancies in the friends’ versions of events, as well as their refusal to comment on what happened that night, sparked frenzied speculation in Portugal, with reports claiming they agreed to keep quiet to protect the McCanns who remain official suspects in the case.
News that the Portuguese police wanted to re-interviewsome of those on holiday with the McCanns was seen by the Portuguese media as further confirmation of this theory.
But the seven friends – Russell O’Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne’s mother Dianne Webster – have made a public statement to insist they had nothing to hide.
“We wish to state that there is categorically no ‘pact of silence’ or indeed anything secretive between us – just the desire to assist the search for Madeleine,” they said in a joint statement, released by the McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell.
“From day one, the police in Portugal told us not to discuss our statements. “It is incredibly frustrating for us that the fact we have done as we were asked to by the Portuguese police is still being looked upon as suspicious.“Everything we have done, and continue to do, has been to help with the search for Madeleine and to end this nightmare for Gerry and Kate.”
The denial from the group, known together with the McCanns as the Tapas Nine, came as a source confirmed 39-year-old Mr McCann will return to his work as a consultant cardiologist this Thursday, just a few days before the six-month anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance….Mrs McCann, also 39, has said she will not return to work as a part-time GP.
But the mindfuckery of the Netflix documentary is to dedicate the first half-hour of episode three to ridiculing, undermining and criticizing the Portuguese police. Let’s be clear: for half an hour prior to introducing the “Pact of silence” as a concept, the Portuguese police are taken through the washer, accused of being fat, lazy, drunk and incompetent.
Once that narrative is in place then the connivance moves on to dealing with their accusations of the McCanns and well, since we know where they’re coming from…treat them with contempt, right?
One of the primary narrators of episode two is the other PR spokesperson for the McCann’s, Justine McGuinness. This is her.
If you’re wondering how or why the McCann case became a media sensation, this is who was behind the PR, at least in the beginning, before ex-BBC reporter Clarence Mitchell took over. And Mitchell took over shortly after the McCanns were named official suspects by the Portuguese. A week after the McCanns were named official suspects in the investigation, McGuinness resigned as their PR representative.
On 12 May 2008 McGuinness was questioned by the Portuguese police on the nature of her relationship with the McCanns. McGuinness said at the time that it was purely professional, and that she worked for them for only 89 days, and hadn’t known them previously.
When asked by the media why she was quitting, McGuinness stated that:
…one reason Ms McGuinness has given to journalists for her departure is that the McCanns have been ordered to remain silent because of the changing nature of the investigation and she feels she cannot help them further…But it is now thought that the McCanns are looking for a different kind of PR advice after they became suspects in the inquiry into their daughter’s disappearance and media coverage has become more negative.
In the interview below, where McGuinness is asked in early September 2007 why Kate McCann is being questioned by the cops, the reporter repeatedly tries to get a straight answer to the question on whether the cops consider Kate as primarily responsible, and Gerry as a sort of secondary figure.
The McCanns were asked asked directly by their suspicious behavior by Sabine Mueller, a German radio reporter on June 6th, 2007. This was during another PR “roadshow”, this time in Berlin. Kate McCann’s response was to refer to the popular vote. That according to her most people believe and support them. That’s how innocence works though, isn’t it? As long as most people believe you, you’re innocent. She then referred to her behaviour as a parent, specifically how often “we were checking on them” on the night in question, to rationalise her/their behaviour.
Yet technically Kate herself never checked on the children prior to something happening to Madeleine on May 3rd, an aspect which she curiously doesn’t seem to express any guilt or remorse over.
Afterwards Miss Mueller, 35, who has worked for German Radio for 14 years, said her question was justified. “I was aware it was a difficult question but I felt it was a question that needed to be asked. I don’t suspect the McCanns of being involved. I know it has been seen as a hard question but I do not think it was improper. If they had walked out I would have been sorry. They are putting themselves out there a lot and if they keep staging press conferences they have to expect uncomfortable questions. I was doing my job as a journalist.”
The McCanns also responded to wider criticism of their campaign to raise awareness of Madeleine’s disappearance. They said they were not on a “tour” and reiterated that the sole motivation of their trips to four European countries in the past week was to get Madeleine back. Mr McCann said the alternative was to lock themselves away and wait in despair.
The McCann family is launching a wristband to raise cash and awareness for the missing girl. It will carry the international Crimestoppers number and the “Look” logo designed for the family’s campaign. The family is speaking to a supermarket chain about distributing the bands, for which people will be asked to make a minimum £1 donation.
The notion that Kate is more culpable is interesting. As mentioned above, when it was her turn to check on the children, she didn’t, Matt Oldfield supposedly did.
During the first of dozens of press conferences, Gerry did all of the talking in front of the apartment. Look at Kate’s face and body language.
The DOUBT series explores in-depth the events leading up to Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3rd, and provides a unique scenario for the route of the abduction, as well as the destination. Available at Amazon.co.uk at this link.
It’s starting to feel like the Rzuceks and the DA versus the Watts family and… [no defense attorney]. Expect plenty more fireworks after this statement portraying the legal battle as a fight to protect Shan’ann’s reputation.
In POST TRUTH, the 100th True Crime Rocket Science [TCRS] title, the world’s most prolific true crime author Nick van der Leek demonstrates how much we still don’t know in the Watts case. In the final chapter of the SILVER FOX trilogy the author provides a sly twist in a tale that has spanned 12 TCRS books to date. The result may shock or leave you with even more questions.
SILVER FOX III available now in paperback!
“If you are at all curious about what really happened in the Watts case, then buy this book, buy every one he has written and you will get as close as humanly possible to understanding the killer and his victims.”- Kathleen Hewtson. Purchase the very highly rated and reviewed SILVER TRILOGY – POST TRUTH COMING SOON.
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“Book 4 in the K9 series is a must read for those who enjoy well researched and detailed crime narratives. The author does a remarkable job of bringing to life the cold dark horror that is Chris Watts throughout the narrative but especially on the morning in the aftermath of the murders. Chris’s actions are connected by Nick van der Leek’s eloquent use of a timeline to reveal a motive.”