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"As I recall, she was quite excited..."
August 11, 2010 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Actresses Mia Farrow and Carol White have cast doubt on supermodel Naomi Campbell's version of a story involving midnight mystery men, a sack of blood diamonds, and ex-Liberian president Charles Taylor.

Campbell claims she turned the "dirty-looking stones" over to Jeremy Ratcliffe, to be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

Here's a picture of Farrow, Mandela, Campbell, and Taylor all at dinner together, back in the day.

(Farrow previously on MeFi)
posted by hermitosis (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
a sack mayonnaise jar of blood diamonds

Fixed, because the bizarre (sur)reality of the accusation is much more dramatic.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:16 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the oddest story. It's like Mad Libs gone horribly wrong.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:17 AM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


When I saw Mia Farrow testifying, speaking in that stagey, hesitant, halting voice, the same voice she's used in most of her roles over the past 40-odd years, all I could think of was "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
posted by blucevalo at 8:21 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read this story a few days ago and looked up some info about it. The Special Court of Sierra Leone which is prosecuting Taylor for war crimes is twittering about the case. Here's a really good resource about the trial in general (including Q&A with Taylor's defense attorney). I thought about posting this here as well, but part of me is sad that it takes fucking Naomi Campbell to get people to realize this trial is going on. Her's is a small part in the overall charges against Taylor. The other charges include things like murder, rape, and the conscription of child soldiers (pdf).
posted by bluefly at 8:24 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the oddest story. It's like Mad Libs gone horribly wrong.

Is it? Maybe I'm just weird, but I totally don't get the fuss. I have no idea why this is such a huge story.

International coalition of activists and celebrities visit Liberia. Okay. Crazed leader of Liberia gives diamonds to famous model as a gift. Okay. Diamonds have been illegally/immorally mined. Okay.

I mean, I get that it's newsworthy. I just don't get why people are freaking out about it. I guess it's because of the intersection of the name Naomi Campbell with the sexy topic War Crimes, but is there something else I'm missing?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


After they try Charles Taylor for war crimes, maybe they can try him for those ugly Converse sneakers.
posted by dr_dank at 8:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sierra Leoneans expressed regret on Wednesday at the spotlight that has been trained on their bloody past by the courtroom appearances of model Naomi Campbell at a war crimes trial last week... “The world should stop talking about Charles Taylor,” said labourer Abu Sesay. “The case of Naomi Campbell means nothing to me and my family.”

The story I linked to here has some good quotes, but almost no context - it doesn't say what people in Sierra Leone would prefer to talk about. But Charles Taylor, Naomi Campbell and Mia Farrow, what a troika.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:29 AM on August 11, 2010


And to piggyback off of bluefly, I also see the trial itself as a huge story and wish more attention would be focused there. But all of the stories are about Naomi Campbell or Mia Farrow, as though the fact that these two women testifying at a war crimes trial is the craziest thing anybody has ever heard of. That's the part I don't get. Oh, media, you confound me.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:30 AM on August 11, 2010


Thanks, bluefly. My post was definitely more influenced by the utter weirdness of the direction things have taken (in the trial and in the media), so I'm glad to have your links here to flesh things out a bit more.

As for Naomi... I think the most entertaining TV show ever would be one in which the host travels back in time to when celebrities were 23, and reads their future wikipedia pages to them.
posted by hermitosis at 8:32 AM on August 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


War crimes trial of former Liberian president may rest on events surrounding 1997 photograph taken at party in South Africa

Agatha Christie? Is that you?
posted by DU at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


In her response to these points, Ms. Farrow said, “I didn’t see the diamond or diamonds, I can only tell you what Naomi Campbell said.”
. . .
“Do you stand by your recollection that what you heard Naomi Campbell say was that this was a huge size diamond?” Mr. Anyah asked Ms. Farrow.

“That is what I recall. The other persons saw the diamonds…I can only recall what Ms. Campbell said,” Ms. Farrow responded.


So you don't know any facts at all? All you know is that you recall a present witness saying something to you about a vaguely relevant fact of which you had no actual knowledge, then or now? Why should anyone possibly care? (Sometimes, non-lawyers ask why we have hearsay rules in the US courts. This is why.)
posted by The Bellman at 8:48 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ugh, once again an important story is eclipsed by minimaly consequential celebrity participants. Forget child torture - Look it's Naomi Campbell and Mia Farrow!
posted by gallois at 8:50 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


So you don't know any facts at all? All you know is that you recall a present witness saying something to you about a vaguely relevant fact of which you had no actual knowledge, then or now?

Mia Farrow's testimony provides evidence that Naomi Campbell is neither lying retroactively nor misremembering that the event took place on that night.

Whether this is relevant is up to the defense to object to, I would imagine.
posted by DU at 8:56 AM on August 11, 2010


> Forget child torture - Look it's Naomi Campbell and Mia Farrow!

This is American news media for the past 30 years in a nutshell.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


But it's not just American news. BBC was flipping their shit for two days straight when Naomi Campbell testified.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:58 AM on August 11, 2010


Most if not all diamonds are "blood" diamonds in one way or another. Give it up.

I don't understand this story at all either. The big celebrity in this case should be Pat Robertson.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:03 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I await a response to Mia from Woody Allen.
posted by Postroad at 9:04 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


DU: I was going to add to my little screed that it's not even relevant to impeach Campbell since (a) Campbell's veracity isn't directly at issue in the case and (b) Farrow has now way to determine or express Campbell's state of mind at the time she made the original statement -- so it's nowhere near the best evidence either of the underlying fact or of the truth of Campbell's statement under oath of even of Campbell's tendency (if any) to lie under oath. But I decided not to try to build an evidence treatise out of what is, essentially, a People Magazine spread.
posted by The Bellman at 9:06 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


But it's not just American news. BBC was flipping their shit for two days straight when Naomi Campbell testified.

I think the prosecution may have (erringly) overestimated their hand here. From The Guardian:

"... sceptics had to concede that Campbell's 90 minutes on the stand was pertinent to the case against Taylor in terms of trying to establish a link between him and "blood diamonds", even if it does not incriminate him.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:06 AM on August 11, 2010


"or even" not "of even". Three-minute edit window, where art thou?
posted by The Bellman at 9:07 AM on August 11, 2010


bluefly, I hear you, one can't escape "Naomi's Blood Diamonds" in the press here. And that's how I first heard about it, as she walked out on an interview a month or so ago because the reporter asked her about the diamond and she had stipulated she didn't want to talk about it. So I hear about this trial because Naomi walked out on an interview, and this is thrown all over the press as yet-another-Naomi-huff thing. wth?
posted by dabitch at 9:08 AM on August 11, 2010


bluefly, I hear you, one can't escape "Naomi's Blood Diamonds" in the press here.

Actually, yes you can. The only place I've been hearing about this story is..*drumroll*...MeFi.

Kill your television (station).
posted by DU at 9:10 AM on August 11, 2010




Except that it wasn't in Liberia, but South Africa. With Nelson Mandela playing host in a fundraiser for his Childrens' Fund. And that the diamonds given to Campbell may be one of the few tangible links between Charles Taylor, president of Liberia, and horrible human rights abuses. And there's still the open question of what Taylor, a less-than-salubrious character at best, was doing in Mandela's surroundings.

If you don't read the news, it's normal that you wonder what the fuss is about. But that's not blasé, that's ignorant.

posted by Skeptic at 9:11 AM on August 11, 2010


The issue is not that Naomi Campbell is misremembering or lying, the issue is whether she knew that the diamonds were from Taylor.

She says that it was a little pouch, and that she didn't know who they were from, and she seems to imply that she would not have accepted them if she had known.

The other witnesses are saying she knew full well that Taylor was the gift giver, that it was an exorbitant amount, and that she was terribly excited about it before and after receiving them.

This has nothing to do with the propriety of the exchange, I gather it is to establish that Taylor was using diamonds mined - or stolen if you prefer - during battle to finance his war.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:13 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, yes you can. The only place I've been hearing about this story is..*drumroll*...MeFi.

Kill your television (station).


It's been covered heavily enough on NPR that I'm sick of hearing about naomi campbell's involvement in anything. It is also in newspapers. I wish you would refrain from posting shit like that when you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by shmegegge at 9:19 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is American news media for the past 30 years in a nutshell.

And British, and Australian, and Canadian, and .....
posted by blucevalo at 9:20 AM on August 11, 2010


I wish you would refrain from posting shit like that when you don't know what you're talking about.

Why would I not know where I've been hearing about Naomi Campbell?

Or do you mean my "assumption" that it was TV? By "kill your television" I mean "your corporate media outlets" (and don't bother claiming that NPR is not corporate).
posted by DU at 9:24 AM on August 11, 2010


Or do you mean my "assumption" that it was TV? By "kill your television" I mean "your corporate media outlets" (and don't bother claiming that NPR is not corporate).

no, I mean, the next time someone says they can't escape a news story and you want to claim that you've only seen it on mefi, just accept that you don't know what "corporate media outlets" are reporting and move on.
posted by shmegegge at 9:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a nightmare for the jurors: having to decide whether Naomi Campbell or Mia Farrow is more credible.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:32 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


just accept that you don't know what "corporate media outlets" are reporting

Why do I need to "accept" the point I'm making?
posted by DU at 9:32 AM on August 11, 2010


This is probably wildly naive, but might certain people in the news media be using the Naomi Campbell testimony as an opportunity to actually talk about the Taylor trial, that otherwise it isn't enough of a story - don't ask me why - to grab the public's attention?
posted by n'muakolo at 9:33 AM on August 11, 2010


Yes, DU, I shall stop reading (rather watching) my local newspapers at once. Of course. So simple. But then I'd miss out on the important stuff like my town now has an iPhone map of public restrooms.
posted by dabitch at 9:34 AM on August 11, 2010


n'muakolo I think you're on to something there. It is as if they needed "a sellable angle", and Naomi is it.
posted by dabitch at 9:35 AM on August 11, 2010


Why do I need to "accept" the point I'm making?

look, this is a derail and I didn't intend for it be one so if you'd like, let's talk over memail. I'd rather not keep contributing to a derail I didn't mean to start.
posted by shmegegge at 9:36 AM on August 11, 2010


Henry C. Mabuse has got it.

I found it a little fascinating to see Campbell, who previously denied any receipt of diamonds, telling the court under oath that getting the diamonds was no big deal as she gets lots of unsolicited presents, and that she was underwhelmed by the "little dirty rocks."

It was also interesting seeing Farrow say Campbell was, in fact, very excited about getting a "huge" diamond, then backtrack later on whether Campbell mentioned size. Apparently that sort of exaggeration, even in sworn testimony, is no big deal for Farrow.

The real story here is the deeply evil Charles Campbell and how he funded his crimes in Liberia, but Campbell's willingness to lie about this case, duck testimony, then provide information that was at best half true, is somehow mesmerizing. My overall impression of her is that although well equipped with stunning beauty and a significant temper, she doesn't seem to have much of a conscience.
posted by bearwife at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2010


Or do you mean my "assumption" that it was TV? By "kill your television" I mean "your corporate media outlets" (and don't bother claiming that NPR is not corporate).

Where should I get my news?

Anyway, I first read about this on the BBC's website, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out the significance of Campell's testimony vs Farrow's and why either was important for the case. Whoever is writing these articles for them is doing a piss poor job, IMO.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:53 AM on August 11, 2010


I also see the trial itself as a huge story and wish more attention would be focused there. But all of the stories are about Naomi Campbell or Mia Farrow, as though the fact that these two women testifying at a war crimes trial is the craziest thing anybody has ever heard of.
and
Ugh, once again an important story is eclipsed by minimaly consequential celebrity participants.

as sad a fact as it is, without the involvement of campbell & farrow, many people wouldn't read this story at all. so at least their presence might actually bring the essence of the story to even a few people who never would have known or cared. there is value in that.
posted by msconduct at 9:56 AM on August 11, 2010


which, apparently, is what n'muakolo was saying.
posted by msconduct at 9:57 AM on August 11, 2010


People who are complaining about the celebrity angle being overreported -- drawing eyes and reporters to certain issues is actually the entire point of celebrities getting involved in political or humanitarian or ecological work to begin with. By attaching their name to a cause, they can get attention and funding diverted to it. Obviously it backfires all the time, and obviously the fact that this is even necessary shows how diseased our media is and how fucked up our priorities are -- but if you suddenly found yourself famous and then realized that your name alone makes the difference between whether thousands of people eat or not, or whether an animal went extinct or not, what would you do?
posted by hermitosis at 10:09 AM on August 11, 2010


People who are complaining about the celebrity angle being overreported

Yes, of course, like Clooney in Africa or Penn in Haiti (although I guess the difference is they are trying to help rather than just being part of the issue itself). I apologize if my comment seemed churlish. That's why I tried to use this celebrity moment to add some information about the entire issue.

Seriously, The Trial of Charles Taylor that I linked to above is a really interesting site. It's part of the Open Society Justice Initiative from the Soros Foundation. The writer running it is a lawyer from Sierra Leone who is monitoring the trial for the OSJI, and who has in the past worked for the Special Court as well. It's also run in partnership with the War Crimes Studies Center at UC Berkeley, which also has some good information about the case.
posted by bluefly at 10:26 AM on August 11, 2010


as sad a fact as it is, without the involvement of campbell & farrow, many people wouldn't read this story at all

yep. Just because the whole "OMGCELEBRITY TRAINWRECK CATFIGHT!!!!" sensationalist media trumpeting offends your sensibilities, doesn't mean that this isn't a fairly important "teachable moment" to be played out in public. If some Joe and/or Jane Average Midwesterner Type finally gets the message from this that Blood Diamonds Are Evil, and maybe, just maybe, there's enough of a fuss raised about it in the media, then there might be enough pressure placed on the corporate cartels to begin to address the central issues (child / slave labour, etc...).

... or not. I don't get my hopes up about these things, because Evil Corporation is Evil. I don't buy diamonds myself, so, whatever.

Just, kindly don't poke your head out under your holier-than-thou hipster elitist anti-media rock just to be judgemental about what the rest of us should or shouldn't be watching and/or reading. Kindly trust that your average MeFite is an intelligent enough critical thinking adult to articulately parse this stuff on our own, kthxbai.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:34 AM on August 11, 2010


sounds like you and msconduct are on the same page.
posted by dabitch at 10:38 AM on August 11, 2010


I lost interest in this story when I realized that this Carole White was not, in fact, Big Rosie Greenbaum on Laverne and Shirley.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:47 AM on August 11, 2010


Is anyone else really hoping for Mia and Naomi to land their own "The Simple Life" reality show? Or end up on the lam and chained together in a remake of Black Mama, White Mama?

Because I think that is exactly where this is heading.
posted by hermitosis at 12:20 PM on August 11, 2010


On the cover of New York Magazine this week: "Naomi Campbell: Where to Begin?"
posted by hermitosis at 12:39 PM on August 18, 2010


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