The pundit corps’ favorite fake fact: It’s now the norm in our broken culture:
Dishonest elites invent fake facts about every high-profile topic. Everyone ends up reciting these facts, even though they are bogus.
Here are the three most basic facts about the killing of Trayvon Martin. If you can memorize these statements, you too can be a big pundit:
George Zimmerman was told to stay in his car.If you can memorize those remarks, you too can be a major pundit! Sadly, though, the first of those statements is false.
Trayvon Martin was armed with nothing but Skittles and iced tea.
Martin was an innocent child who did nothing wrong.
We thought it might be worth laying out the basis for that assessment. For our first example, consider the way the New York Times described the events in question in its mammoth report about this matter in April 2012.
The report ran 4852 words. The byline named eleven reporters, including Dan Barry:
BARRY (4/2/12): ''Hey, we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood,'' Mr. Zimmerman said to start the conversation with the dispatcher. ''And there's a real suspicious guy.''According to the Times’ account, Zimmerman exited the car; his car’s beep-beep helped make that clear. When the dispatcher could hear the wind in Zimmerman’s cellphone, he asked him if he was following Martin.
This guy seemed to be up to no good; like he was on drugs or something; in a gray hoodie. Asked to describe him further, he said, ''He looks black.''
''Now he's just staring at me,'' he said.
Mr. Zimmerman told the dispatcher that this ''suspicious guy'' was in his late teens, with something in his hands. He asked how long it would be before an officer arrived, because ''These assholes, they always get away.''
Mr. Zimmerman's father said that what largely aroused his son's suspicion was how this person was walking close to the town houses, and not on the sidewalk or in the street. Perhaps someone up to no good—or, perhaps, someone disoriented in a maze of identical structures, ducking the rain and looking for the house he had left less than an hour before.
Around the same time, Trayvon told the girlfriend he was talking to by cellphone that somebody was watching him, according to Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Trayvon's family. The lawyer said that the girl, whose name has not been released, said she told Trayvon to run—and that Trayvon responded by saying: ''I'm going to walk fast.''
Mr. Zimmerman told the dispatcher that the hooded figure was now running. He jumped out of his car to follow him, the beep-beep of his car, as recorded on the 911 call, announcing the instant that he moved beyond his understood mandate as neighborhood watch coordinator.
The wind could be heard whooshing through Mr. Zimmerman's cellphone as he tried to keep the visitor in view. Also heard is a garbled epithet that some have interpreted to be a racial slur, though his father insisted that his son would never say anything like that.
Dispatcher: ''Are you following him?''
Mr. Zimmerman: ''Yeah.''
Dispatcher: ''O.K., we don't need you to do that.”
Mr. Zimmerman: ''O.K.''
He and the dispatcher arranged for Mr. Zimmerman to meet a police officer near the mailboxes at the development's clubhouse, and the call ended with a ''thank you'' and a ''you're welcome."
Two weeks earlier, Mother Jones had described the events the same way. For that account, click here.
For Jacob Sullum’s account at Reason, click this.
The Associated Press first reported the sequence on April 12, 2012: “A dispatcher told Zimmerman he didn't need to follow Martin after Zimmerman got out of his truck and started pursuing the teen.”
Is it possible that these people all got it wrong? Everything is possible! But here’s a question with an obvious answer:
Why didn’t prosecutors constantly say, during Zimmerman’s trial, that he was told to stay in his car?
Because he wasn’t told to stay in his car! The exchange in question came later, as he was trying to follow Martin on foot.
By now, of course, the bogus fact is about to be carved on Mount Rushmore. This is the way your culture has worked for several decades now.
Everyone in the professional “press corps” acts as if this makes perfect sense. Name the scribe who has said a word about this astonishing practice.
The culture of fake fact is strong. All your heroes accept it.
Tomorrow: Judy Woodruff, potted plant