The New York Post wrote Oct. 7 that Amanda Knox’s half-sisters were babysat by news producers during court, citing an unnamed “industry source.”
According to The New York Post, that ABC News producer Nikki Battiste, “was dubbed ‘the baby sitter’ by rival networks for ‘coddling’ the girls, taking them shopping and to cafes” and both CBS and NBC producers reportedly “offered their help to the family.”
The claims of babysitting and hotel room stays are of interest because the networks all have recently commented on checkbook journalism — when news outlets exchange money or in-kind gifts in exchange for actual or anticipated coverage, interviews.
In July 2011, ABC News announced it would only pay licensing fees as an exception to the rule, for rare circumstances. In past years, ABC News reportedly had paid licensing fees to Casey Anthony and her family; the Chilean miners; Jaycee Dugard, the woman behind the fake story that she gave Botox injections to her 8-year-old daughter; and one of the women who had an online relationship with former Rep. Anthony Weiner. NBC News also reportedly paid the Chilean miners, David Goldman, and others.
According to the Post, NBC denied babysitting or getting Knox family members hotel rooms. CBS stated “At no time did any member of Amanda Knox’s family occupy CBS News hotel rooms in Perugia,” and ABC declined comment.
Knox’s father, Curt Knox, however, claimed that all three networks allowed the children to “stay in” hotel rooms.” Curt Knox denied that the networks’ staff babysat. According to Knox, ABC News’ Battiste offered “to let the girls stay in her hotel room during court sessions,” CBS producer Sabina Castelfranco let the girls stay in her room, and NBC’s Stephanie Siegel made “offers” to let the girls stay.
The Daily Mail reported that ABC News spokesperson Jeffrey Scneider called the article “full of lies.” The Associated Press reported that Schneider “said the network didn’t have a problem with Battiste’s actions.” Further, “NBC spokeswoman Lauren Kapp denied that such an offer was made, The Associated Press reported.
Knox rejected that the producers took the daughters “shopping and to cafes,” but explained that producers did accompany the family on their own shopping.
TV Newser reported that a CBS News spokesperson issued a statement:
“CBS News did not grant permission to any member of Amanda Knox’s family to use our hotel room in Perugia. Producer Sabina Castelfranco was asked if her room was available. Castelfranco declined the request and checked out of the hotel.”