Note: This is my weekly syndicated column and I have also cross-posted it on my professional blog. I usually delay posting my columns, but I think this is important. I take being a journalist seriously and I am deeply and personally offended by this kind of media misconduct.
Well the the Zimmerman trial is over, and the war has begun.
People are lining up on opposite sides of the question of whether a murderer got away, or Zimmerman never should have been charged to begin with.
I have my own opinion but nobody’s going to change their minds and I’m not even going to try.
I’d just like to point out that whatever your opinion is, the conduct of the national media throughout this whole tragic affair has been disgraceful.
Whether you think there was a miscarriage of justice in the verdict or it was legal oppression to even bring the charges, there’s lots of blame to go around.
President Obama weighed in on a strictly local issue with his statement that if he had a son he’d look like Trayvon Martin.
Did the president, an attorney with a degree from Harvard Law, stop for one minute to consider he was doing what’s called “peeing in the jury pool”?
After the president of the United States has given an opinion on a trial that has not even gotten underway I’d think the defense would have grounds for a change of venue to Outer Mongolia!
Worse, it’s been revealed Eric Holder’s Justice Department sent people down to Florida to assist in organizing demonstrations and force the resignation of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.
The Reverend Al Sharpton was of course on hand throughout. Sharpton is a prominent media figure with his own radio talk show, “Keepin’ It Real,” and a regular on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.
He has also incited two riots in his career. In one a Jewish Yeshiva student was stabbed to death by a mob shouting “Kill the Jews,” (Crown Heights, 1991). In another seven people died of smoke inhalation after a protester set fire to a shopping mall (Freddies Fashion Mart, 1995). Class act networks.
ABC rushed to judgment after examining a police surveillance video and concluded “Trayvon Martin Video Shows No Blood or Bruises on George Zimmerman.”
In fact Zimmerman had two black eyes, a broken nose, and a cut right across the back of his head consistent with it being slammed against a curb. ABC says the video was blurry. Or maybe it was blurred.
CNN examined the audio of the 911 call and announced Zimmerman had used a racial epithet.
Wrong. Turned out no such thing and CNN had to grudgingly retract.
NBC went one better and creatively edited the transcript of the tape to make it look like Zimmerman was a racist.
They’ve just apologized, called it “a mistake” and promised cross their heart they’ll never do it again.
And of course there is that newly coined term “white Hispanic” they came up with after they found out Zimmerman wasn’t white after all.
Has anyone considered that the media coverage pretty much guaranteed grounds for appeal if Zimmerman had been convicted?
Has anyone who thinks Zimmerman is guilty of a lesser charge such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, wondered if the media circus motivated the prosecution (now facing possible misconduct charges) to go for murder two rather than something they might actually have gotten a conviction on?
Has anyone begun to suspect the networks are practically salivating over the prospects of some nice juicy riots to cover?
Those of us who toil at local papers sometimes have our noses rubbed in the fact that local journalism is often done very well while national journalism is often done very poorly.
Yeah, that could be sour grapes, but the fact is we live here. Our communities are small enough for us to get to know in depth. This gives us an advantage over national media, whose experience with the issues they cover is often superficial.
And because we live here we know we and our children would suffer the consequences if we ginned up hatred and divisions among our community just to sell papers. The talking heads of big media suffers no such consequences, they go home to their gated communities and security protected high-rises and look for the next big score.