ABC News Producer Offered Hotel Room to Amanda Knox's Sisters
NEW YORK -- The courtship of Amanda Knox's family by American television networks eager to win an exclusive interview with her extended to providing temporary accommodations for two of her younger sisters.
Knox's father, Curt Knox, said Friday that an ABC producer let his daughters Ashley, 16, and Delaney, 13, stay in her room while court was in session. He said a CBS producer did, too, and an NBC producer offered to.
Amanda Knox, 24, returned to the United States on Tuesday after an Italian court overturned her murder conviction in the death of her roommate. The former exchange student from Seattle had been in custody since 2007.
Networks are competing for an interview with her, even before it's clear if she'll even tell her story in that venue. There has been increased attention lately on how networks get these interviews, with ABC declaring this summer it would no longer pay interview subjects to license photos or videos, seen as a dodge of the common journalistic practice of not paying people to tell their stories.
Producers might be able to help the Knoxes see if they could find care for their teenage daughters, but offering something with a specific monetary value — their hotel rooms — isn't a good idea, said Kelly McBride, senior faculty member for ethics at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank.
Even without a specific expectation of something in return, "it is unfair to the source because they are in a position of vulnerability," McBride said.
Curt Knox said that although ABC producer Nikki Battiste permitted his children to use her room, she was doing her job and did not babysit the teenagers. He said Battiste wasn't in the room with them.
ABC News spokeswoman Jeffrey Schneider said the network didn't have a problem with Battiste's actions.
Knox said that CBS producer Sabina Castelfranco also permitted the children to use her room. But CBS spokeswoman Sonya McNair denied this, saying Castelfranco turned down the request when asked and checked out of the small hotel. McNair said it was unclear whether the room was made available to the children after Castelfranco checked out.
Knox said NBC producer Stephanie Siegel offered her room but it wasn't used. NBC spokeswoman Lauren Kapp denied that such an offer was made.
Battiste and Siegel also accompanied Knox's wife and the two girls on a shopping trip near the Italian courtroom but didn't buy anything for the family, he said.
It's unclear whether any efforts by networks to ingratiate themselves with Knox will make any difference.
"The kind gesture to allow my younger daughters, who couldn't get into the courtroom due to age, will not have any influence as to which network, if any, that Amanda may choose to go with in the future," he said.