WHO NEEDS JOURNALISM: MSNBC broadcasts a new, clearer tape!

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012

Epilogue—And then, the new tape disappears: Normally, we don’t watch Martin Bashir’s daily MSNBC program, which airs at 3 PM Eastern.

If you’ve ever watched Bashir’s show, you probably understand why.

Yesterday, though, by happenstance, we watched the start of this program. As Bashir began the hour, he boasted that he had “an extended and newly released surveillance video” which showed “new angles, never seen before, of George Zimmerman being brought into the Sanford police station.”

Video of Zimmerman’s arrival had surfaced the night before, on Wednesday night. And it’s true—as Bashir’s “extended and newly released” video rolled, it did show “new angles, never seen before,” of Zimmerman’s entry.

Most strikingly, this new video showed close-ups of the back of Zimmerman’s head—footage which hadn’t been shown Wednesday night. Rather clearly, these close-ups seemed to show a fairly substantial goose-egg style lump on the back of Zimmerman’s head, with a fairly clear abrasion at its crown.

You too can watch this “extended and newly released surveillance video,” with its “new angles, never seen before.” To do so, just click here. The new close-ups are shown four times, starting at 2:45.

As you watch these close-up shots, you will hear Bashir and his guest, Joy-Ann Reid, as they keep stating the party line: There is no sign of injury to Zimmerman on these tapes! In fairness to Reid, and this is important: Reid wasn’t present in the studio. We would assume that she wasn’t able to see this new videotape.

Why did Bashir say the things he did? Go ahead! You explain!

Does the evidence on this tape mean that Zimmerman shouldn’t be charged with a crime? Not necessarily, no—it does not. But that involves a legal judgment, and we discuss the journalism here. In the journalistic context, these new angles seem to provide the best video evidence of the state of Zimmerman’s alleged injuries when he arrived at the police station that night.

(For the record, Bashir says that four hours had elapsed since the time of the shooting, the latest apparent mistake.)

Do you want to assess the state of Zimmerman's possible injuries? If so, these close-ups provide the best video evidence—much better evidence than the video which aired the night before. If you want to assess the rather obvious lump on Zimmerman’s head, this seems to be where you should look.

Despite that fact, Bashir kept insisting that there was nothing to look at on the new videotape, thus keeping the company line intact. And how odd:

By last night, the “extended and newly released surveillance video” seemed to have disappeared! This tape’s “new angles, never seen before,” had sunk beneath the waves. We saw those close-ups broadcast nowhere last night, although it’s plain, as you can see, that MSNBC does possess this new tape.

MSNBC had the new tape. Last evening, they chose not to air it. (Update/correction: The close-up was briefly shown on last night's Hardball. See below.)

Why didn’t MSNBC broadcast that tape last night? Based on this horrible channel’s 15-year performance, it’s not likely you’ll ever hear.

In this morning’s New York Times, Paul Krugman discusses the way he felt as he reviewed the Supreme Court’s performance this week. This is what he had to say about the work put on display by “several of the conservative justices,” including Justice Scalia:
KRUGMAN (3/30/12): As I said, we don’t know how this will go. But it’s hard not to feel a sense of foreboding—and to worry that the nation’s already badly damaged faith in the Supreme Court’s ability to stand above politics is about to take another severe hit.
“It’s hard not to feel a sense of foreboding,” Krugman says. He seems to refer to the posisble outcome of the current case. But he might also be describing the way legal norms and practices seem to be making way for a reign of pure tribal politics.

We share Krugman’s reaction—although the outcome of this case remains unknown. But in the past two weeks, we have felt that seem sense of foreboding as we’ve watched the astonishing work presented by MSNBC. If anything, we think the breakdown at this cable channel is more clear than that at the Court.

Is the Court making way for rule by the tribe? So are the people who pose as journalists on this horrible channel.

“Who needs journalism,” these droogs seem to say. “We’ll give you a pure tribal story.”

Update/correction: On last night's Hardball, the close-up view was cited at one point by reporter Ron Allen, with the close-up briefly shown. To watch that segment, click here.

Chris Matthews' analysis: "Oh."


  1. "But he might also be describing the way legal norms and practices seem to be making way for a reign of pure tribal politics."

    That presumes that Krugman, and you, know the law and the applicability of the constitution better than the justices of the Supreme Court do. I am impressed, and have to wonder why they are on the Supreme Court and not the two of you.

  2. It's beginning to feel like some sort of paranoid fantasy. In order to attack Zimmerman's story, MSNBC withholds a tape that more clearly shows bruising on the back of his head. ABC News uses a strategically placed chyron (graphic) to cover up the laceration on the back of his head.

    Are we living in the Twilight Zone?

    1. Since we're all experts here, I'd like to note that I think "laceration" is somewhat of a carefully-chosen stretch. The injury looks more like a graze, the kind you get when you fall and maybe hit your head on something on the way down. That can be pretty bloody, but I accept that Zimmerman had the wound attended to by professionals. It's interesting that the one visible wound does not look to be in the right place for somebody whose head was being banged on the pavement.

  3. It's somewhat unreal going to blogs I generally respect and not seeing any reference to this. How is that you (Bob Somerby) know about this closeup shot and nobody else seems to have any glimmer of its existence in the leftwing blogosphere?

  4. I think Krugman is correct about Tribalism on the Supreme Court, but he's wrong to attribute it simply to the conservatives. After all, everyone takes it for granted that the four liberal justices will vote to uphold ObamaCare.

    Furthermore, Krugman is being disingenuous when he pretends that tribalism is the only basis for finding ObamaCare unconstitutional. In the the moderately liberal New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen acknowledges a big constitutional problem with the law. Rosen seems to believe that ObamaCare might be overturned, not because of tribalism, but because the governemnt didn't use the argument he recommends.

    See http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/102203/supreme-court-obamacare-verrilli

    1. David in Cal:

      As the Rosen piece itself notes, the Supreme Court in in possession of written briefs which make the very argument he cites.

      The Court is never limited to the arguments made at oral argument. In fact, oral argument is extremely limited and most lawyers believe that oral argument only makes a difference in 5% of cases.

      All the justices are aware of the argument Rosen references and they are entitled to consider it whether or not the Government advanced it specifically in oral argument or even in its brief.

      Also, the fact that the four liberal justices will probably vote to uphold the law doesn't tell you anything about tribalism.

      Let me put it this way: If George Bush had successfully privatized social security as he proposed, and someone had challenged that law saying that it was forcing people to purchase investment products, the Supreme Court would have voted to uphold the law 8-1 (Thomas in dissent). And no one would have said a thing about it.

    2. And as David criticizes Krugman for implying that only tribalism would explain the court holding the law unconstitutional, he seems to think that tribalism is only reason such a decision would not be unanimous.

    3. Krugman isn't saying that "tribalism is the only basis for finding ObamaCare unconstitutional."

      He argues that Scalia, judging by his absurd broccoli analogies and other statements, doesn't understand how the economics of health care works. If true, that means he's basing his decision on preconceived notions rather than on a correct assessment of the law and its effects.

      Basically, he's already made his mind up, precedent and facts be damned. That is tribalism. Having strong opinions or guiding principles is not the same thing as tribalism.

      By the way, judging also by Scalia's comments about not wanting to read the ACA because it's too long, it's clear that he doesn't care to know how the law works, either.

    4. Speaking of tribalism, I count the use of the pejorative term "Obamacare" four times in David's rant.

    5. You're behind the times, Anonymous. The Dems no longer consider the term "Obamacare" to be a pejorative.

      A funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court and during the three days the court heard oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act. Democrats embraced the "Obamacare" name the law's foes had used as an epithet for two years to deride the law.


  5. If anyone questions whether the Supremes put politics above legality, I urge them to read Bush v. Gore. It is not long, and you don't have to be a lawyer to understand it. The scales will fall from your eyes.

    1. To see an even clearer example of politics above law, read the rulings of the Florida Supreme Court. First they threw out Florida's recount law, although there was nothing wrong with that law. When the recount they ordered still left Bush in the lead, they threw out their own decision of a few days earlier to order a new and different re-count, which Bush again won.

    2. Nice try, David, but he is talking about the U.S. Supreme Court.

      In Bush v. Gore the "strict constructionists" twisted themselves in knots trying to explain how their ruling only affects this particular case in claiming their jurisdiction over a state-run election, and the Florida court's demand for a recount.

      Finally, your memory is failing. There WAS no Florida recount. The decision in Bush v. Gore effectively short-circuited the manual ballot-by-ballot recount that was underway, but never completed. Remember the famous "hanging chads"?

    3. It's true that Bush v. Gore short-ciruited a recount in Florida. However, as I recall, there had already been at least two partial recounts on specific bases.

    4. The first "recount" was a county by county check of all the recorded numbers to make certain they all added up properly.

      The second recount --- the one requested by Gore and permitted under Florida law, was an examination of all the punch-card "no-vote" ballots in Miami-Dade to see if, again under clear standards set my Florida law, if "voter intent" could be determined, (i.e., the famous hanging chads).

      In its utterly convoluted ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court applied "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment to say that Florida can't run its own elections if it gives "hanging chad" no-votes a second chance without similarly and individually examining EVERY ballot from every precinct in every county --- a painstakingly impossible task that was NEVER required by Florida law.

    5. David:

      You have no idea what you are talking about. Your post doesn't even make sense on its own terms and it is riddled with factual inaccuracies. Imagine how I, a lawyer with fairly limited statistical knowledge, would sound to you if lectured you about the finer points of actuarial procedures. That's what you sound like.

  6. "Rather clearly, these close-ups seemed to show a fairly substantial goose-egg style lump on the back of Zimmerman’s head, with a fairly clear abrasion at its crown."

    Hey, Bob? Square that with Zimmerman's attorney's original statement that there was a gash on the back of Zimmerman's head that would have gotten stitched up had he been taken to an emergency room right away. Regardless of how "clearly" you see this abrasion, do you even see a Band-Aid on it? Apparently, he received some sort of first aid by paramedics at the scene.

    You might also want to ask yourself if the "abrasion" you so clearly is old or fresh before you jump to the conclusion that it corroborates Zimmerman's story of having his head pounded into a sidewalk repeatedly.

    You might also want to feel the back of your own head. Feel that lump there? We all have one, and like Adam's Apples, they are

    1. That part got cut off, so I will rewrite.

      Everyone has that little bump on the back of their heads, and like Adam's Apples, they are more prominent in some people than in others.

      So if you are going to criticize those who say whatever is there on the back of Zimmerman's head doesn't really corroborate his story, it's equally implausible to suggest that if you look really hard and really close, it does back up his story.

    2. Go back and check the Hardball update Bob posted and you will get your lacerations. Then you can shift to whatever other reasons you think there is no way Zimmerman acted in self defense because Trayvon Martin was black.

    3. I actually find the update both ironic and hilarious:

      "By last night, the “extended and newly released surveillance video” seemed to have disappeared! This tape’s “new angles, never seen before,” had sunk beneath the waves. We saw those close-ups broadcast nowhere last night, although it’s plain, as you can see, that MSNBC does possess this new tape.

      "MSNBC had the new tape. Last evening, they chose not to air it. (Update/correction: The close-up was briefly shown on last night's Hardball. See below.)"

      Hmmmm, Somerby's initial "reporting" was absolutely, categorically, 100 percent WRONG!

      I guess that means, according to the new Somerby rules, that we can never trust him on anything again.

  7. Why are we still guessing about Zimmerman's alleged head wound? Zimmerman spokesmen say he received first aid treatment in the police car. An actual reporter would get in touch with whoever provided the initial treatment on Zimmerman's head and ask that person what its condition was.

    1. In his blog, Julian Sanchez raises the excellent point that police certainly took photos of Zimmerman and every wound he had.

      And as I noted in today's other thread, if you look at the close-up that MSNBC showed, it is one of three versions of Zimmerman Head Wound Close-Ups floating around the Web, all of them bearing little resemblance to the others, and none of them showing the wounds shown in the other photos.

  8. After reading bloggers and commentators insisting that surveillance video had conclusively proven that Zimmerman was lying about his head wound because they could see none, it's fun watching bloggers and commentators working overtime to ignore or dismiss surveillance video clearly showing an injury that's obviously there.

    I remember Tawana Brawley, the Clinton scandals, Wen Ho Lee, Duke lacrosse, etc. These were all cases where the left or the right absolutely knew for certain that somebody was guilty of a horrible crime and that anyone who disagreed was either a racist or an America-hating dupe of the "Clinton spin machine." In each case they turned out to be spectacularly wrong.

    As someone who has had the privilege of having his nose busted on two separate occasions, I can assure you that it's quite possible to have your septum rearranged without exterior bruising.

    It is, at this point, every bit as possible that Treyvon Martin attacked Zimmerman as it is that Zimmerman was the sole aggressor. Folks should try and check their prejudices at the door and wait for the new investigators to do their work.

    And, incidentally, I find it hugely ironic that people who are pissing and moaning about white racism keep relying on negative stereotypes of whites as racist to buttress their particular, dearly-held conclusions.

    Apparently, racism is OK as long as you're going after whites, exactly as was with Duke lacrosse. And you all remember how that turned out.

    The great prejudice of liberals is that they're always the ones fighting prejudice. The idea that they can be bigots too is utterly alien to them.

    They stand an excellent chance of getting lucky this time but we can certainly look forward to more colossal screw-ups in the future in view of their failure to learn from past mistakes.

    1. As one of those liberals who attempt to fight prejudice, I agree with everything you say here.

      I find it depressing that so much heat rises from so little light. Maybe it's a personality defect on my part - an anti-tribal gene that makes me particularly resistant to clubs and closed societies - but I have learned, through bitter experience, not to make preliminary judgements based on little information.

      All those here - left or right - who are arguing with such vehemence about "facts" not yet in evidence (facts that seem to be shifting and morphing according to political predispositions); I'd suggest that you're jumping the gun (so to speak). It reveals that are, all too often, creatures of extraordinary presumption, driven more by passion than reason.

      A nation of Nancy Graces. Shameful, if not a tad pathetic.

    2. Never forget that Orwell, whom everyone respects but apparently no one actually listen to, made it plain that both sides are just as likely to be guilty of group think. But it's always the other guys who are being Orwellian and intellectually dishonest.

      Good going, sherrlock. We need more like you.

    3. Sherrlock, it's extremely refreshing reading comments like these. I find it disturbing that so many "liberals" are actually defending MSNBC on this.

    4. Heironymous and Sherrlock, I see the right-wing echo chamber has worked its magic. Ignore all that you do know which is undisputed, and focus solely on George Zimmerman's account putting that on the same "Gee, we just don't know" plane.

      And you think you are not doing "groupthink" here? You think you've weighed the facts -- not the suspect's story, not witness accounts which might vary in detail -- and reached the conclusion that there is just no way to know what happened that night? Hey, let's take that all the way to the ridiculous extreme. How do we know that Trayvon Martin is really dead? After all, we've only got his parents' word on that. And Al Sharpton. And since Al Sharpton involved himself in the Tawna Brawley case a couple of decades ago, we know he can never tell the truth.

      As for "defending MSNBC on this," Greg, I'm doing no such thing. Instead, I am calling Bob Somerby on his hypocrisy for lambasting practically everyone on that network for doing what he once demanded of the "mainstream" press -- not taking stories at face value and challenging "bullroar".

      The worst example of this was his post on O'Donnell, calling him "Kafkaesque" for the crime of actually challenging Joe Oliver (who seems to have disappeared into the mist since then) on how well he actually knows the person he was going on various networks, vouching for Zimmerman's character. As it turns out, even Oliver objected to the term "close friend."

      And sherrlock, once again when a post starts out with "as a liberal . . ." it is easy to predict what will follow.

      "As a liberal," are you the least bit concerned that a black kid can't want down the street without some white/Hispanic guy with a gun shooting him?

      "As a liberal," are you the least big concerned about the character assassination underway about the dead kid, who is now unable to speak for himself? Or "as a liberal" do you want to go back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when a rape victim's sexual past -- true or not -- was open game for the defense?

      The next time you are tempted to gloss your credentials with "as a liberal," remember this: Your words speak louder than your claims about yourself.

    5. Zimmerman's wounds, screams, 911 call, and witness accounts alone give us a pretty good idea of what happened. Interviews with paramedics at the scene, forensics, autopsies will fill in the blanks to support Zimmerman's self defense claim.

    6. "As a liberal," are you the least bit concerned that a black kid can't want down the street without some white/Hispanic guy with a gun shooting him?"

      Any American should be concerned about the odd notion that if someone tackles and beats you because they were offended by your verbal question, which is a response to their verbal question, they are within their rights and you may not defend yourself.

      That is your position.

    7. Damn. I just spent 20 minutes responding at length to the anonymi above and the post vaporized.

      Therefore a quick precis:

      I *am* a liberal in every sense - supporter of Scandinavian-style socialism, universal health care, favoring immediate action on global warming, higher taxes, legalization of drugs, defunding of military and racist prisons, an avowed atheist - you name it, I'm there.

      Columnists/commentators/journalists I follow and respect include Moyers, Greenwald and Amy Goodman.

      What I will *not* participate in is the mob. I won't jump one way or the other based on the "facts" presented by pundits and faux journalists. It appalls me when I see the pitchforks raised and crowds baying for blood.

      If you actually have sources of accurate information that I don't know about, please let me know. Any responsible account I've read or heard contains more questions than answers. ANYONE who feels they know the answers is rushing to judgement.

      I will *not* be herded along by pundit shepherds.

      The tragedy is that yet another black man was killed by an armed assaillent - it is tragic on more levels than I can begin to fathom - but more than that, I cannot say.

      Did Zimmerman shoot Martin in cold blood and lie about it later? I don't know. Did Martin attack Zimmerman and beat him severely? I don't know.

      It seems the majority of you have quite definitive answers on these issues. I quite simply don't believe you know what you think you do. At this point, it's all Rashomon to me.

    8. >>It is, at this point, every bit as possible that Treyvon Martin attacked Zimmerman as it is that Zimmerman was the sole aggressor.<<

      No it is not. Not plausible. Not even close.
      We have a pretty good idea of everything that had transpired up to within a minute or 2 of the killing. There is nothing to suggest that suddenly, contrary to all his actions up to that point, Martin suddenly turns into an aggressive attacker and the big bad-ass with his 9mm chasing the kid for no reason and contrary to clear directive from the dispatcher suddenly turns into the innocent victim. Bullshit.

      This is fast approaching theater of the absurd.

  9. We've been Sharptoned again. Count on it.

  10. Left-wing media keeps making this a white/black thing. Even tho the guy looks more like his mothers bloodlines and is hispanic. That racist tv channel BET even labeled the guy white and didn't even talk about his hispanic backgrounds at all. Sick of this country, most of the racists in this country are not white people but black people causing problems.

  11. Spike Lee, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton all trying to start riots when they don't even know what really happened because they weren't there. I hope all 3 of them rot in hell, and they all should be arrested for race-baiting.

    1. Likewise, Joe Oliver doesn't know what happened because he wasn't there. Zimmerman's lawyer doesn't know what happened because he wasn't there. Zimmerman's daddy doesn't know what happened because he wasn't there.

      The only two people who were there were Zimmerman and the deceased Trayvon Martin. So let's take Zimmerman's word for it since he is the only live person left, and ignore all the other, UNDISPUTED evidence.

      After all, how can a jury of 12 possibly determine the truth? They weren't there.

  12. Ah, another Internet tough guy.

  13. Yeah like I'm afraid of 50 year old men are graying.

  14. The irony is that the young man who Zimmerman killed is better able to use the "stand your ground" law. An armed jerk, Zimmerman, goes after Martin, who is carrying not a gun, but Skittles. He follows Martin against police demand on the 911 call, and confronts the young man, Martin. Martin decides to stand his ground. Zimmerman and Martin may well have had a tussle. Zimmerman shoots Martin.

    That's what Zimmerman's lawyer and father want us to believe. The alleged fact that Martin said "I'm going to kill you" is not really good enough for Zimmerman who had the gun while the one who supposedly said that was armed with again Skittles.

    The way in which too many others besides Bob Somerby are twisting themselves to justify Zimmerman killing a young black man is what liberals are finding so disgusting. Just put this the other way, with the young black man doing what Zimmerman did and Zimmerman what Zimmerman says Martin did. How would this discourse be unfolding?

    Bob, you are in danger of joining cranks, and your error as to MSNBC "burying" the tape, when it did not, is evidence of your trying to hold a position of "fairness" when there is strong reason here to believe that our nation's racist discourse is already unfair, and already questioning the integrity of the young black man in a way it would not had Zimmerman been followed by a young black man who was armed.

    1. No, Bob didn't make an error about MSNBC burying the tape.

      It's true that one reporter on-site in Florida mentioned it on Hardball for approx five seconds, eliciting an "oh" from the normally talkative host.

      Then it vanished for all time, as the merry gang of amateur prosecutors led by Al Sharpton, Big Ed, and Lawrence O'Donnell carried on literally for two hours as if it didn't exist.

      Sorry, but Zimmerman has a large goose egg and abrasion on top of his head, clearly visible from, yes, a different angle on the police video MSNBC sleuths have been pronouncing about for two days. That small part of his story appears to be true.

      And we can be confident everybody at MSNBC knows it.

      Nor has Bob emitted one syllable to "justify" Zimmerman's actions.

      He's simply made the rather unexceptional point that we can't be certain exactly what they were based upon the evidence at hand. The nation's racist discourse has little to do with the facts in this case.

    2. If everybody at MSNBC knows about the obvious cuts on Zimmerman's head we all saw at Bob's link, why have they continued to put forth the story that the videos show no injury? And why are many here thrilled about such behavior?

    3. Are they saying "no injury" at all? Or are they saying, "no injury consistent with the story of a life and death struggle that would justify the use of lethal force, and especially no injury consistent with a claim of having your head slammed repeatedly against a concrete sidewalk, and no evidence of a broken nose, such as blood on the shirt"?

      In other words, are you hearing what's being said, or are you building a strawman to argue with?

    4. The standard is whether a person reasonably believed death OR serious injury was imminent. Stand your ground includes "or to prevent imminent commission of a forcible felony." The injuries we've seen more than support that such a belief would be reasonable.

    5. The author of the bill disagrees with you, counselor.

  15. "The nation's racist discourse has little to do with the facts in this case."

    It is simply stunning to make such a statement.

    And yes, Bob is justifying Zimmerman. He first refused to admit the guy clearly on the tape CNN cleaned up said "fucking coons"--some Anon. commenter claimed Zimmerman was saying "fucking punks" when there is no freakin' way to hear punks when you listen to the cleaned up version. None. Now, he's harping on MSNBC not playing up enough--as opposed to not at all--the tape that shows some injury to Zimmerman's top of his head as if that is a big story compared to the nonsense about Zimmerman having a broken nose, when he did not.

    At some point Bob needs to separate himself from the racist cranks who are doing far more contorting than Sharpton or Maddow...

  16. "And yes, Bob is justifying Zimmerman"

    Because Zimmerman is very likely justified in his use of lethal force to defend himself. He did not say "coons" on the call. You were rube-run on that one.

    1. A classic example of certainty where there is none.

      Both of you, Anon 8:46 and Mitchell J., are wrong. That is what I am certain of.

      I've heard the "cleaned up" version of the audio recording. It is not definitive. No one can assert with certainty that Zimmerman said "coons" or not.

      In this case, I *am* the closest thing to an expert round these parts. I spent more than ten years of my life as a producer for NPR Playhouse, recording and editing audio for quite literally many thousands of hours.

      I simply could not hear with any definitive clarity what both of you claim to have heard. So, given that I know more and have more experience in sound recording and editing than either of you will ever have, how is it you both so bloody certain of what you heard?

      (if you don't believe my CV, please google Globe Radio Repertory, and visit the Internet Archives, where I've uploaded most of my work.)

    2. I invite all Bob Somerby readers and Bob himself to listen to the Anderson Cooper clip on CNN and tell me how No Shit Sherrlock can possibly be right about what he thinks he doesn't hear:


      It's "fucking coons" as clear as day.

    3. I hear punks or possibly "cold." So will the expert analysts who know how to separate CNN suggestions from their own observations.

    4. And Anon 8:46 is no less certain he didn't hear it.

      My point is not that I am right. Have you intentionally misunderstood me, Mitchell, and only respond to what you *believe* I wrote? Or did you just assume I wrote what I did not?

      I'll say it again. Neither you *nor* Anon (who claimed with equal certainty that Zimmerman did *not* say "coon") are correct in your certainty.

      I do not assert my certainty as to the words that were spoken by Zimmerman. I cannot do so because, as an expert in this particular field, I could not be certain about the word "coon".

      It is not a matter of whether I could "possibly be right". I can't begin to address with certainty *what* Zimmerman said. It may well have been "coon" - it's quite possible that it was. Or not. But neither view can be stated with the absolute certainty that you and Anon bring to it.

      Really? You don't find this just a little ridiculous? Two true believers from opposite sides, utterly sure of themselves?

    5. I don't believe Anon "coon" is sure of himself, or that he applied any reason to his conclusion, such as that nobody who is 28 says "coon" anymore.

    6. I just listened. I would say it sounded like "coons", but I'm not 100 percent certain--maybe 90 percent. I can't think offhand what other word it could be, which is why I'm fairly sure, but not certain it is racist.

      On the injury, I think Bob is right and I'll repeat what I said upthread (I'm the 8:26 AM March 30 anonymous up there)--it's amazing going to lefty blogs I normally respect and reading people state with absolute certainty that Zimmerman wasn't injured at all.

      If I had to guess I'd guess that a thorough investigation would show Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter and he might very well be a racist, but the certainty people have on both sides is, as Sherlock and others say, driven by ideology.

    7. Anon 1:51:

      If I had to guess, I'd agree with your guesses.

      In the world I live in, 17 year old black males are often challenged/feared by cops and would-be cops. I can't begin to imagine the wear and tear that would take on someone's sense of self.

      If I had to guess, I'd guess that an aggrieved 17 year old might well attack a self-appointed guardian of a gated community who challenged him. And the would-be cop, carrying a gun, might well shoot the 17 year old.

      If I had to guess, as you guessed, Anon, Zimmerman will be held responsible for the confrontation because he started it. If he had not challenged Trayvon, had not carried a gun, nothing would have happened.

      Those are *my* guesses - and if actual evidence arrives that shows them wrong - then I will adjust them accordingly.

      But all the other stuff - the disregard for truth, the obvious lies, the choosing up of sides - that goes beyond guesswork. It's just the tribes doing their war dances and counting coup. sigh.

    8. "because he started it" is COMPLETELY meaningless legally if the "starting" means following someone at a distance, losing them, then being confronted and subsequently physically attacked by them.

      It doesn't matter that nothing would have happened if he had not carried the gun. That is probably true, but that should be taken up with the NRA, not a person who offended someone (who might have had the entirety of American history justifying that resentment) and ended up having to use lethal force to defend himself from them.

    9. And of course, as I stated above, I'm only guessing.

      I have no actual information that would pass muster. Unlike most here, I completely admit to my biases and prejudices. I admit to guessing.

      I am also, as I've stated repeatedly, uncertain about the "facts" as they have not yet been established.

      Anyone who claims certainty, as so many here do, are manifestly overstepping the boundaries of available knowledge.

    10. I don't mind withholding overall judgment. That is appropriate. What I do mind is the nonsense that we should deny what we see and what we hear. What we see is Zimmerman's story about his broken nose does not look very good at this point, and is probably a lie. What we hear are the words "fucking coons" and if there's something else he said, it isn't "fucking punks" and anything else I've heard anyone try to say does not make sense. Yes, a 28 year old would not, perhaps outside the South, use the word "coons." But who knows who this fellow Zimmerman's been hanging with?

      It's again nonsense to deny what we see and what we hear. Tribalism is when people suspend their own senses beyond suspending judgment in order to discredit what is also obvious in our society: When someone who is not black is carrying a gun and acting aggressively toward an unarmed young black man, woe until that young black man who stands his ground. Better to let the non-black guy win the battle than to lose one's life. That is the tribalism of a particular region in America. To call out "liberals" for recognizing that history that continues to this day, albeit in lesser frequency, is a dodge.

    11. I would agree that it *would* be nonsense to deny what we see and what we hear - if any of us had actually seen and heard anything. You seem to believe that these shreds of evidence and shifting sands are enough to pass judgement. I would contend that you are watching videos and listening to endless blather. Frankly, that's not the same as seeing and hearing anything.

      And furthermore, you suggest that anyone unwilling to join you is guilty of a "dodge". And that somehow, because I refuse to hoist my pitchfork, I am a "liberal" rather than a liberal.

      What insider information do you have that leads you to more than conjecture?

      Interestingly, if you glance three posts up, you might find me indulging in conjecture, while admitting that it is nothing BUT conjecture.

    12. Sherrlock,

      You are now in retreat. So let's finish:

      1. The audio clearly sounds like "fucking coons" than anything else you can possibly say.

      2. The video shows nearly as clearly that Zimmerman did not have a broken nose.

      Yes, as I say, we can suspend the ultimate judgment of whether Zimmerman committed murder, negligent homicide or acted in pure self-defense. But right now, until we see more evidence, Zimmerman looks pretty much like a jerk who has racist tendencies who was looking for trouble against an unarmed young black 17 year old. We can again suspend ultimate judgment, but don't try to sell us about not hearing and seeing what we have so far heard and seen.

      And please, let's not play the Slate.com contrarian game where you use phrases like "...I refuse to hoist my pitchfork..." as if that's what is going on when folks like me are trying to remind our fellow Americans about how they would be reacting to the evidence if Zimmerman was as black as Trayvon Martin and Martin was white or even half-white/half Latino. The pitchforks tend to hoisted by those who are racist, not those commenting on racism from a sociological standpoint.

      Your move, Sherrlock. I think I'm done here making my point.

      And Bob, if you're reading, you're pretty disappointing here...

    13. Damn. It happened again. I spent twenty minutes responding to Mitchell and posted. The post appeared, then upon refresh vanished. Has this happened to anyone else recently? It's beginning to piss me off.

      Another quick version of my response, point by point.

      First, Mitchell, you mistake retreat for impasse.

      You rely upon flimsy evidence to come to judgement, evidence I wouldn't hang my coat on, much less a conviction for murder.

      What's more, there will be no end to this impasse, not even when the evidence presented is irrefutable. And that's because you are a believer in this matter and I'm an agnostic. You refuse to acknowledge your biases. I acknowledge mine freely (see my guesses above).

      Your certainty about "fucking coons" is case in point. Even here, when pressed, those listening to the recording were ambiguous at best. And while Zimmerman may well have said "fucking coons", again as an audio engineer of long standing, I would swear in any docket that I could not be sure.

      As for your ridiculous assertions about pitchforks and mob mentality being used more by one tribe than another, that's either naive or meretricious. Reread Cannetti on mobs. Humans of all types respond to certain stimuli in certain ways when they assemble in crowds. It's banal but true.

      When Spike Lee tweeted and the old couple were inundated with threats, having to move from their home, was this not classic pitchfork/mob behavior? Why do you choose to ignore it?

      There is an impasse. You are arguing the case with flimsy evidence, evidence you've acquired from fleeting encounters with fuzzy video and sound, presented by pundits with a twist. I'm skeptical of anyone who appeals to my biases and presses me to join the tribe.

  17. Where are we when ABC lies and we have to rely on Breitbart for the truth?


  18. I think the most important point Bob made is the one he made regarding Obama's comments. The fact is, people are just refusing to treat this with seriousness. A boy is dead, and a whole lot of people are using his death to push an agenda. It's a sad state of affairs.

  19. Isn't it far more relevant to size up Zimmerman's condition in the tape ( make what you will of his owwie) in terms of the story he told about the beating Martin had given him. Neither cranks like David in Ca or our own Howler seem much interested in that. Sadly, MSNBC seems the real issue here to our Howler.

  20. And it watching the link, you can see The Daily Howler is simply incorrect. The TV Journos are saying there are no signs of injuries in the manner of the claims of Zimmerman's defenders have claimed. Broken nose? It does look like he has a smack on the back of the head. VERY sloppy and biased work from "The Daily Howler."

    1. Yes, Greg, it is far more relevant to size up Zimmerman's condition in terms of the story he told about the beating Martin had given him for those people investigating and judging the shooting. It's relevant to the special investigator and perhaps later to the prosecutor, the Grand Jury and the petit jury.

      But, it's not my job to decide on guilt or innocence. Nor is it Bob's job, your job, Al Sharpton's job, or the media's job.

      If we do try to judge guilt or innocence, we're apt to get it wrong. We don't have all the facts. Also, as Bob has shown, many of the media reports have been inaccurate, due to either to carelessness or to twisting their reports to fit a pre-selected narrative.

    2. Dadgum, that First Amendment, David. It just lets people say and write anything they want.

  21. "The TV Journos are saying there are no signs of injuries in the manner of the claims of Zimmerman's defenders have claimed."

    Those injuries in Bob's updated link look worse than I thought from the police report alone.

    Journos, TV and otherwise, are not hedging their assertions as you claim: "Surveillance Video Shows No Blood or Bruises on Zimmerman"

    1. Could that be because the surveillance vidoe shows no blood or bruises on Zimmerman?

      And FYI, "Bob's updated link" is one of three versions that I have seen on the Internet, each showing different wounds of different sizes in different places.

      And you know what? NONE of them is covered by so much as a Band-Aid. Kinda blows the defense attorney's claim of a gash that needed stitches kinda out of the water, even if you take what you see in the best light for Zimmerman.

    2. If there is a trial and paramedics testify that they saw and treated the same wounds on Bob's link you'll say they are part of a conspiracy.

      But let's not lose sight of the fact that no wounds at all are necessary for a strong self defense claim. Only a reasonable belief on Zimmerman's part that there could be a wound ("serious injury") or NO wound but a possibility of being knocked unconscious and murdered.

    3. If, if, if, if, . . . The siren song of Zimmerman.

      And you are quite correct, no evidence at all is required for a "claim." But when the accused can't support his own fantastic story (which still seems to grow even more fantastic with each person telling it), and when in fact the evidence not only fails to support it (which is all it has to do), but flat out contradicts it, then your client is in a world of hurt, counselor.

      Which is why defense attorneys strongly advise their clients and every one around him to keep their mouths shut.

    4. I also imagine that these same paramedics will be testifying as to why, in their professional opinion, these horrible wounds on the back of his head required no dressing whatsoever, including even a Band-Aid.

    5. Zimmerman does not have to prove he sustained horrible wounds or prove anything his father said was true, though I believe it is.

    6. Hey, you get to "believe" anything you want, with or without evidence. Just don't be a hypocrite and accuse others of doing the same thing.

  22. It's more than astonishing that "liberals" here have taken the position that in the presence of strong evidence supporting his story but in the absence of evidence proving his story beyond a reasonable doubt, George Zimmerman should be arrested. Astonishing.

    1. Yep, up is down, left is right, and wrong is now right.

      You know you got to be living in some real bizarro word to think there is no evidence to charge this guy with (despite the 911 calls, the gun, and his admission -- how flimsy) and that his story of how he was so thoroughly getting his ass kicked has in any way been corroborated.

    2. If he was knocked to the ground and beaten that was enough for self defense if he reasonably feared imminent injury

    3. If, if, if, if.

      And "if" Zimmerman is lying through his teeth?

    4. And the witnesses who saw the struggle on the ground while screaming was occurring at the same time? And the dead man face down shot in the chest? And the recorded call in which Zimmerman stated 4 or 5 times that he had lost track of Martin? There aren't many if's remaining here, and those that are debated aren't central to the case.

    5. Well to me, Zimmerman's claim that he "lost track" (your words) of Martin, sort of indicates to me that he was "tracking" Martin. With a loaded gun.

      That's exculpatory? On what planet?

  23. CBS News incorrectly claims that evidence contradicts Zimmerman:

    The Florida funeral director who handled the burial of Trayvon Martin says there were no signs of a scuffle on the dead teen, contradicting the story of the man who claimed he killed Martin during a violent scuffle. Martin died of a gunshot, the only apparent injury says the funeral director.

    Zimmerman never claimed that he had harmed Martin (other than shooting him). Zimmerman's story was that Martin broke his nose, knocked him down, and was bashing his head on the sidewalk.

    The real controversy has been over Zimmerman's medical condition. CBS News ought interview the person who gave Zimmerman first aid IMHO.

  24. "Zimmerman never claimed that he had harmed Martin (other than shooting him)."

    That's because Zimmerman doesn't give a damn about Martin, even (other than shooting him).

    I might argue, in classic Somerby style, with one word: "contradicting." Instead, I might have written (looking at this, like Somerby does, with perfet 20/20 hindsight) "doesn't support the story . . ."

    In the life-or-death struggle Zimmerman described, wouldn't Martin at least have some marks on his hands from hitting him repeatedly? The kind of marks that the funeral director specifically said he looks for in order to cover up when he prepares a body for a funeral?

    Or are you saying the kid hit him once and Zimmerman shot him. Certainly not exculpatory even if it were true.

    And of course, that would be about the 403rd version of Zimmerman's story I've heard since this whole thing began. Keeps getting better and better every day as new "details" are added in each telling.

  25. Yes, Anonymous, we've heard a bunch of different versions. However, AFAIK that's because the media keep changing their story, not because Zimmerman changed his.

    1. Didn't say his side changed it. I said new details keep being added day by day and the story keeps getting better and better with each telling.

      We had Zimmerman telling the cops he had his head banged against a sidewalk several times and his nose broke, we have his daddy saying Trayvon directly threatened to kill him, and now we have his brother saying Trayvon went for Zimmerman's gun.

      Before it's over, Zimmerman will be holding off an entire gang of Crips, managing to shoot only one before they all ran off before the cops got there.

  26. Zimmerman is not required to prove anything at all, but if he is tried he need not prove any injury at all to have a legitimate claim of self defense.

    The prosecution will have no evidence that could convince beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not defend himself that night. It is highly doubtful the prosecution would aggressively accuse the police of cover ups or other mischief.

    Zimmerman is presumed to have been forced to defend himself and nothing has come out that would convince a nonbiased person beyond a reasonable doubt that this is not exactly what happened.

    1. Think for a moment of what you are saying. Under your theory, anybody can simply walk up to and kill anybody they want, then claim they were in a fight for their lives and had to.

    2. It isn't a simple claim with no evidence. Witnesses, injuries, forensics, and logic have already told the story here.

      The prosecution will have the burden of proving that George Zimmerman did not act in self defense. The undisputed evidence of Trayvon Martin shot in the chest and landing on the ground with his hands under him after several witnesses saw a struggle on the ground tells 98% of the story. Zimmerman's head wounds and screams tell the rest.

    3. The undisputed evidence on the 911 calls, and the undisputed evidence that Trayvon Martin was doing nothing wrong, posing no threat to anyone or anything when Zimmerman chose to follow him tells a much different story.

      But ignore all that.

      Do you really think this case is the first homicide case ever in which the suspect claimed self-defense?

    4. It doesn't matter to the claim of self defense if Martin was doing nothing wrong when Zimmerman first spotted him, if he later did something wrong. It makes the shooting a "tragedy" but it does not make it illegal.

  27. MSNBC concedes injury to back of Zimmerman's head apparent on police video.


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