Not because he was found not guilty, but rather that there was a trial at all. It’s not all that complicated as the article is trying to say it is.
Column: Media got Zimmerman story wrong from start
The role of the media cannot be ignored in the Zimmerman case.
Life is packed with nuances and subtleties and shades of gray.
But the news media are often uncomfortable in such murky terrain. They prefer straightforward narratives, with good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. Those tales are much easier for readers and viewers to relate to.
Which brings us to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.
The story of their tragic confrontation on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, was framed early on. Zimmerman, then 28, was the neighborhood watch captain/”wannabe cop” who racially profiled and ultimately killed Trayvon, an unarmed, hoodie-clad black teenager out on the streets of the gated community Retreat at Twin Lakes simply because he wanted some Skittles.
The storyline quickly took root, amplified by the nearly ubiquitous images of the two: a sweet-looking photo of a several-years-younger Trayvon released by his family, and a mug shot of Zimmerman from a previous arrest in which he looks puffy and downcast. The contrasting images powerfully reinforced the images of the menacing bully and the innocent victim.
Some of the media’s major mistakes stemmed from stories that fit neatly into that widely accepted narrative. NBC News edited Zimmerman’s comments during a phone call to inaccurately suggest that he volunteered that Trayvon seemed suspicious because he was black. In fact, Zimmerman was responding to a question when he mentioned the teenager’s race. The network apologized for the error.
Similarly, ABC News broadcast a story reporting that a police surveillance video showed no evidence that Zimmerman suffered abrasions or bled during the confrontation with Trayvon. Shortly thereafter, it “clarified” the situation, reporting that an enhanced version of the video showed Zimmerman with “an injury to the back of his head.”
When it emerged that Zimmerman’s mother was Peruvian, some news outlets took to referring to him with the rarely used phrase “white Hispanic,” which is kind of like calling President Obama “white black.”
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, was brutal in his post-acquittal comments about the press’ treatment of his client. Hard to blame him.