Five years ago, on February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot to death in Sanford, Florida. In its brief acknowledgment of the anniversary, the Star described the incident as “an altercation” and threw the known sequence of events into doubt by saying George Zimmerman “said he acted in self-defense” (italics added) To its credit, the Star piece, lifted from the Associated Press, did concede that Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder.
In its remembrance, CNN went much further, perpetuating many of the outright falsehoods its reporters and those from virtually every other major media spun at the time. The CNN piece by Darran Simon deserves parsing for its utter disregard for the truth.
“Martin, 17, was carrying iced tea and candy as he walked from a convenience store to the home of his father’s fiancee in Sanford, Florida.”
No, Martin was carrying Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail and Skittles, a combination that would get the user two-thirds of the way to a home-brewed intoxicant Martin and pals called “fire ass lean.” All that was missing was the Robitussin.
“A scuffle broke out, but there were no direct witnesses.”
Well, yes there was a direct witness. Within minutes of the shooting, Witness #6, Jon Good, told the Sanford PD there was a “black man in a black hoodie on top of either a white guy . . . or an Hispanic guy in a red sweater on the ground yelling out help.” He added that the man on top was “throwing down blows on the guy MMA [mixed martial arts] style.” The police knew there was no case against Zimmerman immediately. Good, a thirtyish college graduate who worked in finance, spoke to the local news the day after the shooting and testified at the trial. CNN had no reason not to know, then or now.
“Critics said Zimmerman was unjustified in confronting the unarmed teenager, particularly since Zimmerman disregarded a police dispatcher’s advice to stop following Martin.”
No, Zimmerman stopped following Martin the moment the dispatcher asked him not to. “Are you following him?” the dispatcher asked. “Yeah,” said Zimmerman.” Said the dispatcher, “We don’t need you to do that.” Responded Zimmerman, “Okay.” CNN, like most other media, edited out the “okay.”
“Alright, sir, what is your name?” the dispatcher asked immediately after the above exchange. “George,” said Zimmerman, adding, “He ran.” Martin had run away. Pudgy and nearly half-a-foot shorter, Zimmerman had no way of catching him. Martin, an aspiring MMA artist, circled back and cold-cocked the unsuspecting Zimmerman, but not before describing him to his phone friend as a “creepy ass-cracka,” slang for a homosexual. This was arguably a hate crime.
In 2012 the media turned Zimmerman, an Hispanic Obama supporter and civil rights activist, into a white supremacist. CNN insisted that one indecipherable word on the dispatch tape was “coons,” a word Zimmerman probably did even know in a racial context. NBC edited out key words in the dispatch tape to give the impression Zimmerman was tracking Zimmerman because he was black and wearing a hoodie. ABC tried to give the impression that Zimmerman’s head wounds were superficial by pretending a copy of copy of a tape was an original. Just about all the major media showed photos of a pre-teen Martin and passed them off as current, a clear violation of journalistic ethics. And many in the media referred to the jury as “all-white,” although one of the six women jurors, a Puerto Rican of African descent, was clearly not.
Perhaps most egregiously, NBC’s Lisa Bloom wrote a book on the case, Suspicion Nation, in which she failed to mention that Zimmerman was Hispanic or that he actively intervened in a civil rights case a year earlier. She tried to make the case that it was Martin heard screaming for help on a 911 tape when it was obviously Zimmerman. And most incredibly, she purposely and fully omitted the testimony of Jon Good, the most critical testimony at the trial and before.
In conspiring to create a whirlwind of fake news, the major media seemed perfectly willing to send an innocent man to prison for the rest of his life.
“After Zimmerman was acquitted, three activists — Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors — created the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in protest.”
This much is true. The movement headed next to Ferguson, Missouri, where, with the media’s full-throated support, it conspired to ruin the life of Officer Darren Wilson. Again, the weapon of choice was fake news. “Hands up, don’t shoot,” remember? Five years on, despite the fact that de-policing in the wake of BLM protests has swelled the numbers of black lives lost, the media show not a sign of repentance.