26 April 2013

Karma Kami Matteoli on

Who would have thought, that even before 2DayFM got into the London inquest for suicide Jacintha Saldanha, that the dramatic arc would be repeated? (rhetorical, answer – nobody).
The entire (well-fed) world came down like a ton of bricks onto Mel Greig and her colleague after they did something they had done without drama more than once before, when they did it to a person who unknown to them of course,  just happened to be chronically depressed.
When the FBI asked for members of the public to come forward if they recognised the men who might be the Boston Marathon terrorists, Kami Mattioli thought one resembled Sunil from her school class of 13 years ago. The sometimes UNsociable Network Of The Usual Suspects gave this an instant virtual explosion almost as harmful as the actual one.

                                                       "and then hit Reddit"

Now only her 6000 Followers can post comments to her Twitter and she is no doubt bracing herself for the virtual/ethernet lynch mob, after she tried to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, as with 2DayFM and Nurse Saldanha, this involved a chronically depressed person.

He has now been found dead, but was aware before this, that he had been mistakenly suspected, and had emailed various friends to set them straight. I would risk serious money betting that Ms Mattioli has never heard of the 2DayFM phone prank, or of Nurse Saldanha.
The student, Sunil Tripathi was a Brown University philosophy major nearing graduation and ‘was last seen on March 16 on a surveillance camera after leaving his apartment at 1:33 a.m., and his family has been frantically searching for him for a month. There is no evidence tying Tripathi to the bombings.’ ‘6 feet 2 inches tall. Tripathi left his apartment without his wallet and cell phone. ABC News reported that he was "possibly depressed and left home without any of his belongings."’ A Facebook page dedicated to finding Tripathi was taken down by his family late Thursday night after suspicions about his involvement in the Boston bombing were posted on Reddit. The Facebook page was flooded with comments that were quickly deleted before the page was taken down.'

Alexis C Madrigal lays out the sequence of events on The Atlantic magazines website, but this was written pre-suicide and could disappear if the legalities that follow a death require it. Even this (pre-suicide) April 19th Buzzfeed report by Andrew Kaczynski might disappear, and it is good so please read it while you can.
It is ridiculous of me to even dwell on all this when elsewhere there is massive repression, starvation, corruption, and mass deaths of various kinds every day, but nobody would argue with my opinion of those things. There are many suspicious things to discuss with regard to The Saldanha Inquest, and the similarity of this situation required addressing.
Sunil had taken leave with permission from his philosophy course and had gone bush. His emotional state was apparently known to be fragile. If it had not been, he would have returned and probably been propelled with Kami into their 15 minutes of fame and laughed the whole thing off while raising money for the injured victims of the real bombers.
But he was fragile and now he is dead and it is not her fault, just as the death of Jacintha is not the fault of Mel Greig.
The Tripathi parents will probably not have the confluence of a Keith Vaz, MP, and a posh hospital to propel them into legal action and claims, as with Nurse Saldanha, but the tabloid public have been flung fresh sustenance in Ms Mattioli. Poor girl. What happens next will affect any future assistance the FBI might get from The Public.


  1. a correction already. I had thought the emailing "it is not me" guy was Sunil, but it is this guy: The Washington Post:
    'Instead, the Backpack Brothers showed the dark side of an audacious effort to crowdsource a murder investigation. By day’s end, the two men had been barraged on Facebook. Sought by the media. Featured on the front page of the New York Post.
    And then cleared.
    “It’s not me. I am not the person,” said Salah Barhoum, a Moroccan-born high school sophomore in Revere, Mass. He was the “brother” in the blue jacket. After learning he was under suspicion late Wednesday, Barhoum said he went to the police.

    1. and now his father is dealing with the dishonour: The Washington Post reports and it is not like the New York Post at all.

  2. What a dreadful story. All this social networking stuff loses me, but Joe Average can press a button and send misinformation instantly to 6,000 people?! She should have gone to the police, obviously [says I with the insight of hindsight] but a dreadful mistake nonetheless.

  3. Trial by media strikes me as obscene. And the penalties are simply too great. I hadn't been aware of this story until your post and am now very sad about it. So hard on Sunil (impossibly hard), and his family. I am still wondering how much I blame the woman who mistakenly identified him. Yes, anyone can make a mistake - but why oh why go public. Aaaargh.

  4. the Kami chick did actually telephone the police. then she made the error of mentioning this on Twitter or FcBook and then other people Ran With It. Before she shut down her remarks, she did say she regretted it all. What we have to know from it, is never say anything online that you couldn't bear to see in a headline with your photo attached.
    I had a big family drama myself from a poorly thought-out blog comment, found by the person I mentioned. Several years back and still not mended. So learn from others mistakes dear readers.

  5. You scooped Media Watch with this well-researched, well thought out piece, AOD!

  6. Thanks LL but I missed mediawatch. The difference between the MelGreig outcome and the Kami Mattioli outcome, is the difference between the UK Press and the US.
    Also, Kami is no fool: now I know she writes a major sport column and is a law graduate majoring in social justice.
    The UK case now gets even more suspicious with the inquest pushed even further back to September, their statement saying "due to paperwork". And we still don't know the name of The Second Nurse, even though everyone in the hospital must, and even more intriguing is that no tabloid hack has bought it from them yet. or hacked their mobiles.

    1. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

      I have just made a very belated connection in relation to the 2DayFM matter. Having had reason to refer back to an old post on 'No Place for Sheep', I have realized that the weekend upon which nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found dead, and its attendant tweetstorm, was the same weekend (7,8,9 December 2012) over which the GuardianUK had committed to conducting its poll for 'Person of the Year 2012', a poll win grudgingly awarded in the end to Bradley Manning.

      Did the reported events surrounding the 'Royal Prank' and its aftermath serve as a distraction or overshadowing of the Guardian's planned poll for 'Person of the Year'? In hindsight, I think we could say yes.

      The thing was, it appears as if The Guardian may have tried to skew its own poll against Manning. See this rather tedious post to 'No Place for Sheep':

      What I now find troubling, with the farcicality that has been revealed surrounding the commencement of the Manning Court Martial, is any prospect that the death of nurse Saldanha may have been procured so as to provide a basis for the media, and social media, frenzy that we saw.

      Recent disclosures as to PRISM and such like programs would indicate the accessibility of private background information sufficient to enable an extra-judicial killing to be made to look consistent with a suicide, was there seen, in certain quarters, to be some expediency in doing so.

      The completion of the inquest has been pushed back and back and back.

      It is all a worry.