Can someone spoon-feed BS to the media and sucker them into believing it? Well, watch this TV newscast from California after the recent crash of a Korean airliner in San Francisco, and tell me what you think…
Something similar happened in the Zimmerman case. The family of the deceased, understandably filled with grief and anger that their unarmed son had been shot to death by a man never arrested for it, hired Attorney Benjamin Crump. Crump in turn brought in a high-powered public relations firm associated with left wing political causes, as reported by the Washington Post: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-04-12/lifestyle/35450681_1_trayvon-martin-story-george-zimmerman-unarmed-teenager .
The story fed to the press would outrage anyone…and, predictably, it outraged everyone. The family provided a picture of Trayvon at age 12 or 13, which the media ran with the ugliest picture of Zimmerman they could find. The meme of a huge armed adult “stalking” a “helpless child” was born fully grown, to a Godzilla-like size. It loomed over America unopposed. The investigating officers and the State’s Attorney’s Office knew that the evidence showed something else: Zimmerman attacked by Martin, who towered over him, beat him to the ground, clearly smacked his head into the concrete, and might have even gone for his gun. But cops and good lawyers don’t try their cases in the press, and no voice rose loud enough with the facts to drown out the roar of the fantasy.
We can only imagine Zimmerman’s own emotional turmoil at that time. Like many Americans in their twenties, he was not yet fixed on a career and far from his peak earning years: the cost of hiring attorneys must have been terribly intimidating. He did not stay in touch with his original attorney, Craig Sonner – who, I thought, had an excellent grasp of the case and would have done very well for him – and Sonner and his co-counsel had nothing to work with. By the time Zimmerman had retained Mark O’Mara, the false perception had become a national reality. While O’Mara did an excellent job of trying to get the truth to the public, it was too late: his voice was simply drowned out by the media’s “all Trayvon, all the time” crusade against his client.
The egregious editing of the dispatch tape by one major network, and the false report by another claiming that Zimmerman’s clearly visible, well-documented head injuries were non-existent, will be taught as warnings in journalism school for evermore. I expect that legal settlements by those networks in the suits brought by Zimmerman will be huge.
One function of the grand jury is to reassure the public that a case has been investigated and the evidence evaluated. The State’s Attorney of jurisdiction, Norm Wolfinger, had a reputation for being both tough and fair, and had already scheduled this matter to go before the grand jury in the next session, when he stepped away from the case, apparently at the request of Governor Rick Scott, who appointed Angela Corey as special prosecutor. It was necessary to show an outraged public that their anger had found receptive ears.
When Ms. Corey announced that she would bypass the grand jury, it was clear to any criminal justice professional that she was going to indict him on her own, via an offer of information. There is generally one reason why a chief prosecutor will take a case away from a grand jury: the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t think a grand jury that has heard the evidence will deliver one.
At this point, the die was cast. The show trial was inevitable, and America had experienced a triumph of propaganda that would have been worthy of Joseph Goebbels or Josef Stalin. Even today, after the opportunity to watch three weeks of intensive trial broadcast live minute by minute which brought much of the truth to light, a majority of Americans seem to be ignorant of the facts and still convinced that a self-appointed vigilante racially profiled a black child and murdered him. Never mind that the facts in evidence clearly showed otherwise.
When that TV station in California realized they had been pranked on the “Sum Ting Wong” broadcast, they admitted it and apologized. The mass media, sadly, has not done the same in the Zimmerman matter.