Editorial in the Las Cruces Sun-News entitled, "GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, MEDIA BIAS, AND THE FACTS"

August 1, 2013

Digging for the truth is a lost art for our media today. Instead, most reporting is the result of ideology and emotion rather than reasoned conclusions based on facts. The George Zimmerman trial was a good example of this. Despite open court proceedings and evidence to the contrary, Zimmerman has been marked as a racist who was on a hunting trip for black men the night he killed Trayvon Martin. But, do the facts support this conclusion?

Let’s start with a story about Zimmerman. One year prior to Trayvon’s tragic death, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Zimmerman protested the unfair treatment of a homeless black man named Sherman Ware. George demanded the arrest of the alleged perpetrator who mistreated Mr. Ware. However, no arrest was not made until after Zimmerman went to Sanford black churches, handed out flyers, and pressed for action. Does this sound like the racist murderer the media depicted him as?

Fast forward to the media coverage immediately following Trayvon’s death. Were there any stories to validate claims of a racist Zimmerman? No. Instead, the media did all it could to stoke the flames of racial divide. For example, Trayvon was often portrayed as a sweet 12 year old, vice the fully grown young man he had become. Did CNN ever portray Zimmerman as a lovable 12 year old? Additionally, the infamous 911 call made by Zimmerman was edited by NBC to make it sound like George went out of his way to report Trayvon as “black”. When, in fact, it was the 911 operator who inquired about Trayvon’s race. By the way, would a racist on the hunt for a black man call 911 before the kill?

Last, but not least, CNN and others reported Zimmerman as “white Hispanic”. Although his mother and father are Hispanic and white respectively, George self-identified as Hispanic. Shamefully, however, in a sample of 190 news pieces covering the event, the media referred to George as simply “Hispanic” only 3% of the time, according to News Busters. Meanwhile, Trayvon was consistently described as an “unarmed black teenager” (incidentally, was it possible for Zimmerman to know Trayvon was unarmed?).

There’s only one explanation for the media to irresponsibly create a never-before-used racial label of “white Hispanic” for George: to inject race. And President Obama added to the misinformation when he said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon”. By the way, would news organizations ever refer to President Obama as a “white Black”?

Apart from this shameful media-biased race baiting, however, are the facts of the case that validate Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal. Let’s start with the context. Sanford police detailed eight burglary reports in Zimmerman’s neighborhood in the 14 months prior to Martin’s death. Young black men were identified in the only burglaries involving witnesses. This context gives George a plausible rationale for concern in his neighborhood, especially after seeing Trayvon “wondering around like he is on drugs” (the toxicology report found marijuana in Trayvon’s system at the time of his death).

In other words, whether you agree or disagree with the perfectly lawful activities of a neighborhood block-watch captain, the context supports George’s testimony that he found Trayvon suspicious.

Now, many claim this was racism on Zimmerman’s part because he “profiled” Trayvon; but making a rational decision based on circumstances can be completely void of a racist intent. My next article will take a closer look at so-called “racial profiling”.

Next, we need to examine the confrontation between George and Trayvon. According to the testimony of a martial arts expert, the short and pudgy Zimmerman had zero chance against the 6’2” virile young frame of Martin. So George’s testimony seems plausible that Trayvon started the confrontation while George was retrieving an address for the 911 operator.

After this, according to the prosecution’s eye-witness account, Trayvon was found on top of George beating his head into the concrete “MMA style”. Furthermore, police records validate this testimony with photos of Zimmerman’s fractured nose, two black eyes, multiple lacerations on the back of his head, and damp grass stains on the back of his clothes. Meanwhile, Trayvon suffered only knuckle abrasions consistent with hitting someone.

This type of beating also supports Zimmerman’s claim that he feared for his life; and, that it was his voice on the 911 audio screaming for “help”. The rest is tragic, but a plausible claim by George of self-defense with no way of retreat.

Lastly, consider the FBI questioned over 30 acquaintances of George, and found zero evidence of racism involved in the case. But if you still want to believe racism was George’s intent, besides the FBI and all the interviewees, you also have to conclude all six jurors who found Zimmerman innocent were racists as well.

Ironically, the only one who could be accused of racism that night is Trayvon himself. According to the testimony of his girlfriend Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon told her over the phone that he was be followed by a “creepy ass cracker”. Zimmerman may well be guilty of over-zealousness for the safety of his neighborhood; but the facts support self-defense, not racism.

Neal Hooks