WHO NEEDS JOURNALISM: The team of O’Donnell, Capehart and Blow!


Part 3—Triumverate straight outta Kafka: We’ll admit it. The analysts were disappointed by Kevin Drum’s take on the “controversy” surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin.

This is the heart of Drum’s reaction. Glumly, the analysts said he’d taken the easy way out:
DRUM (3/27/12): Has there been any public controversy in recent memory as disheartening as the Trayvon Martin case? I don't mean the killing of Martin itself, though. That's certainly disheartening, but it's hardly unique. I mean the political reaction to it.

A week ago, the worst I could say about right-wing reaction to the Martin case was that conservatives were studiously ignoring it. But that was a week ago. Since then, conservatives have entered the arena with a vengeance.
We agree with the highlighted sentiment. We think the treatment of the Martin killing has been deeply disheartening.

But in these highly tribal times, it’s easy to seize on the other tribe’s conduct. In his post, Drum focused on “right-wing reaction” alone—and he went wherever he had to go to find it. More specifically, he linked to Dave Weigel, who was complaining about the conduct of “the Twitter aggregator (yes, we've come to that point) Twitchy.”

“Yes, we've come to that point,” Weigel wrote, mocking himself for tracking Twitchy—and failing to explain why he’d done so. In our view, Weigel seems to be completing his journey from right to left, peddling silly shit as he goes. But the analysts moped as they saw Drum take a pass on his own liberal tribe’s behavior.

Has the treatment of the Martin case been disheartening? It certainly has—but you don’t have to chase after Twitchy to illustrate that point. In the liberal world, the bad conduct has been right there on TV, conducted by high-profile players.

Do liberals and progressives still need actual journalism? Or do we live for tribal pleasures alone? Judged by journalistic norms, the conduct on MSNBC has been very bad—and this conduct has been performed by very well-known players.

Consider the conduct of prime-time harlequin Lawrence O’Donnell, whose interviews in the past two nights have defined a terrible breakdown in progressive intellectual norms.

Last Wednesday evening, O’Donnell defined his role in the Martin matter. He fashioned himself a “prosecutor” in this case, he told the liberal world (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/27/12).

Over the past two nights, O’Donnell has shown the liberal world what that means, and it hasn’t been pretty—or smart. Let’s start with some truly ridiculous conduct from Monday evening’s program.

O’Donnell interviewed Rene Stutzman, a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel. At 7:36 that evening, the Sentinel had posted a new report by Stutzman. In her report, Stutzman describes what George Zimmerman told the Sanford police about the events which preceded Martin’s death.

(Stutzman’s report has been updated several times. As far as we know, the original form of the report no longer exists on-line. To read the report as it now exists, click here.)

Was Zimmerman’s account to the Sanford police truthful and accurate? We have no way of knowing. But his account is an obvious part of this story. By normal journalistic standards, it would have been helpful for O’Donnell to use his interview with Stutzman as a chance to gain some clarity about what Zimmerman has said.

Instead, O’Donnell staged one his famous rants. Incessantly, he talked over Stutzman, just as Bill O’Reilly had done in an exchange with a liberal policy expert two hours before on Fox. O’Donnell claimed that certain parts of Stutzman’s report failed to establish the fact that she was reporting Zimmerman’s account of what happened. He said she seemed to be making statements as if they represented her own knowledge.

It may even by that this claim was true in some way or other, although Stutzman’s report was larded with attributions by the times we checked it on-line, three hours after O’Donell’s initial attack.

Were there shortcomings with Stutzman’s report? It’s always possible, though isn’t obvious from anything O’Donnell said Monday night. In the end, it’s impossible to know, because O’Donnell—a prosecutor straight outta Hell—incessantly interrupted and talked over Stutzman, refusing to let her speak. In her third attempt to defend her work, Stutzman finally chose to just keep talking as O’Donnell shouted her down. The reporter managed to say this much before she surrendered again:
STUTZMAN (3/27/12): Mr. O’Donnell, I think you’re misrepresenting the story as it’s published. In the second or third paragraph, Mr. O’Donnell, it says “the police account.”
In a perfect example of O'Donnell's method, Stutzman's statement does not appear in the MSNBC transcript. Where she spooke, you only see this: "(CROSSTALK)"

To watch this full segment, click this.

Three hours later, Stutzman’s report was full of attributions. No one could fail to understand that she was reporting Zimmerman’s account of what occurred, as related to her by “law-enforcement authorities,” not her own personal knowledge.

Was her original report lacking in some way? It’s certainly possible, although we have no idea. But one thing was abundantly clear Monday night—O’Donnell’s conduct was inexcusable, a break with all journalistic tradition. It was the work of a very stupid man, a surrender to Kafkaesque values.

On Fox, O’Reilly was behaving the very same way that nighty, shouting down a liberal policy expert who dared to disagree with him about Obama’s health law (Caroline Frederickson, president of the American Constitution Society). O’Donnell was aping the conduct of Fox, as he increasingly does.

Last night, Last Word was worse. In this case, O'Donnell assembled a trio of prosecutors to work over Joe Oliver, an acquaintance of Zimmerman who has been speaking on his behalf on various news programs.

Is Oliver worth interviewing at all? That isn’t entirely clear. But O’Donnell’s half hour with this character witness was a journalistic disaster, a tribunal straight outta Kafka. Joining O’Donnell, fellow prosecutors Capehart and Blow took turns working over the witness, creating one of the strangest interview sessions we’ve ever seen on TV.

How peculiar was last night’s session? If you choose to click here and watch the several segments, go ahead—just count the ways.

One moronic example:

Completely bizarre non-questioning questioning was directed at Oliver concerning some past place of work. We learned that Oliver once worked with Zimmerman. But we weren’t told where they worked, or what they did, or why this was deemed to be relevant.

We’ll take a guess, but it’s only a guess: It may be that O’Donnell struck some sort of deal with Oliver in which such questions would be off-limits. But as this very dumb cable host strutted and peacocked his hour on the stage, his viewers were never told the terms of any such deal. They were simply handed the very odd questioning which almost always occurs when our new Guignolian star shows off his courtroom chops.

Judged by journalistic standards, Blow and Capehart behaved like fools in support of O'Donnell. But then, consider something Capehart had said a few hours earlier, appearing on Politics Nation with Al Sharpton.

Capehart knows which side he’s on. But judged by journalistic standards, is he even minimally competent?

At one point, the following exchange occurred. For now, we’ll focus on the highlighted statements. As they watched this exchange, the analysts writhed for the world:
SHARPTON (3/27/12): It seems to me, Jonathan, after reading your article, if they are now saying, even one saying that Trayvon was reaching for the gun, another saying he was banging this guy’s head on the ground and there was blood, then why didn’t they keep Zimmerman’s clothes? It would seem to me that would be the first thing you would do is keep all the evidence because there would have had to have been blood on Zimmerman's clothes.

CAPEHART: Right. Exactly. You have a dead person lying on the ground. You have the shooter, who admits that he shot him. You have him in custody, in handcuffs, in the back of a car. You bring him to the police station. At no point are any tests done—not gun powder, not DNA testing, no photographs. Nothing of George Zimmerman’s clothes are done. And on the flip side, we know that a toxicology test was done on Trayvon Martin. But was one done on George Zimmerman? These are questions we don’t know.

SHARPTON: And I want to—and the thing that I would add to that is, if one was done on the deceased, on the victim, then why wasn’t one done on the shooter? And who decided that?

CAPEHART: Exactly. Exactly.
Capehart and Sharpton have focused on the Martin story for the past two weeks. Last night, they were still asking about the toxicology tests. They wondered why Martin was tested, but Zimmerman wasn’t.

They showed no sign of knowing why this might have occurred. This struck us as sad and strange.

If you’re even minimally competent, you’ve reviewed Stutzman’s March 23 news report, in which she addressed this very question. Writing in the Sentinel, Stutzman discussed five of “the most prominent misunderstandings” surrounding the Martin case. This was her third example:
STUTZMAN (3/23/12): The cops tested Trayvon for drugs but not Zimmerman.

True, according to authorities. Trayvon underwent an autopsy, the same as in every other suspicious death in Florida, and as part of that, was tested for drugs. Zimmerman was not tested because he was not arrested.
According to Stutzman’s report, Sanford police were following standard statewide practice in their testing of Martin. “Zimmerman was not tested because he was not arrested,” she wrote, suggesting, without directly saying so, that this is standard procedure too.

Is Stutzman’s reporting accurate? We have no idea, but we have an excuse—we watch MSNBC! By now, it’s utterly silly to keep pretending that no one has any idea why Martin, but not Zimmerman, would have been tested, if that’s what actually happened.

Sharpton and Capehart both represent very prominent news organizations; presumably, either man could get his phone calls answered. It would be very easy for Capehart to make a few calls concerning this basic point.

Sorry. Last night, Capehart was still expressing puzzlement about this very basic matter, while suggesting that something was very wrong with what the police had done. He showed no sign of knowing what Stutzman reported four days before. He didn’t report any way in which he himself has actually tried to get his question answered.

Capehart was playing a tribal role. But where had the journalist gone?

That said, the journalistic picture may have gotten worse in this morning’s Orlando Sentinel. Last night, Capehart and Sharpton continued to say that the Sanford police didn’t collect George Zimmerman’s clothing (see transcript above). Last week, this claim was routine on MSNBC, paired with the claim that the Sanford police let Zimmerman walk away with his gun.

On March 23, Stutzman reported that the Sanford police did take Zimmerman’s gun on the evening Martin was killed. This morning, in another “rumor”-debunking report, she says the claim about Zimmerman’s clothing isn’t accurate either:
STUTZMAN (3/28/12): Sanford police failed to collect key evidence in the case: the clothing of George Zimmerman, the gunman who killed Trayvon.

Not true, police said. They took his clothing as well as Trayvon's and packaged it for crime-lab analysis. A spokeswoman for Special Prosecutor Angela Corey would not disclose Tuesday where the clothing is now, but she wrote in an email that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement "is assisting with the processing of physical evidence.”
Liberal viewers of MSNBC have routinely been told that Sanford police didn’t collect Zimmerman’s gun or his clothing. If Stutzman’s reporting is accurate, both these claims were false. (For the record, Sharpton no longer seems to be saying that Zimmerman “walked away with his gun.”)

Last night, O’Donnell and his pair of Guignols played the journalistic fools, just as O’Donnell himself had done the night before. Just as this very loud fellow had promised, he had cast himself as a prosecutor, walking away from the journalist’s role. But this was a prosecutor straight outta Hell.

In real courtrooms, a prosecutor is balanced by a defense attorney—and a judge is sitting on the bench, poised to make fools like O’Donnell stop their ridiculous conduct. But Dorchester’s loudest favorite son doesn’t people his courtroom that way. He peoples his courtroom with the triumvirate of O’Donnell, Capehart and Blow—with folk who seem determined to further the tribal narrative, thus pleasing us liberal rubes.

Do liberals need journalistic values? Do we need the service of journalists—of people who will pursue the actual facts of a case, applying reasonable measures of fairness and logic? Or is it all tribal all the time now? Is it all about creating stories which pleases the dullest mind?

That strategy might be good for business. Is that the strategy this cable channel has now selected?

When it comes to the killing of Trayvon Martin, you really don’t have to go to Twitchy to find people behaving badly. Prominent people are behaving quite badly all over the One True Liberal Channel, as that channel increasingly chooses to pattern itself after Fox.

Tomorrow: What Maddow once said about Fox

Quick review: Three basic questions:

Did Sanford police take Zimmerman’s gun? Did Sanford police take Zimmerman’s clothing? Should Zimmerman have been tested?

Capehart, a journalist, still doesn’t seem to have any idea. One final question:

Why not?


  1. Bob, how many times over the years have you criticized journalists for typing one one side of a story like a stenographer and failing to ask tough questions?

    That is exactly what Stutzman did with the "police account" of the events of Feb. 26, even to the point of typing it up without attribution, as if it were fact.

    And that is what O'Donnell called her on.

    How many times in the past have you blasted the press for not vetting people who appear coast to coast in support of a particular storyline to see if they are who they say they are.

    That is exactly what O'Donnell, et al, did FOR THE FIRST TIME with Joe Oliver, Zimmerman's convenient black friend who could attest that Zimmerman was not a racist.

    Turns out Oliver knows Zimmerman tangientally, if at all, and he even objected to being called a "close friend."

    Turns out that Oliver hasn't seen Zimmerman since before Feb. 26, and spoke with him by phone just once -- just as the media-trained Oliver was being trotted out nationally as some sort of character witness.

    I've been a reader of this blog since 1999, but this last post is the straw that broke this camel's back.

    Your obsession with MSNBC has reached the point where you can't even see the good, hard-nosed journalism you've been demanding for more than a decade because it was done by a member of a "tribe" you don't like.

    Adios, Bob. If I want to read right-wing "tribal" bias, there's plenty of other blogs. It just pains me too much to read what you've become.

    1. Is reporting what George Zimmerman said to the police "stenography?" No, it isn't, it's basic reporting, i.e. balance. As Bob noted, the Orlando Sentinel article states clearly that is what they are reporting. Maybe that wasn't totally clear in the original report, since it has been changed, but as Bob noted O'Donnell didn't give the reporter from the Sentinel a chance to explain her report, he just filibustered her. That's very unprofessional, and very similar to what Bill O'Reilly does on Fox News.

    2. I don't want to scare you, hardindr, but I agree with you on this.

    3. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      "Bob noted O'Donnell didn't give the reporter from the Sentinel a chance to explain her report, he just filibustered her."

      Mr. Somerby is lying.

      If you saw the show, the reporter cleary says "I don't know what to say" when given time to answer.

      There are various versions with different timestamps of the article.

      Unless you believe O'Donnell was lying through his teeth, the earliest of them, not scrubbed, referred to Zimmerman's statement as fact and didn't attribute the statements to him.

      Even Mr. Somerby admits to not seeing the article in question until 3 hours after the show, long after it had been scrubbed.

      Let's use common sense here: do police dept sources leak to reporters who are not sympathetic to them?

      How naive are we going to get here?

    4. I watched the TV segment for myself, and O'Donnell is rude and aggressive. He cuts off and talks over the reporter at multiple times, and eventually she just gives up. It show a real lack of professionalism on O'Donnell's part.

      Hieronymus Braintree, stranger things have happened...

  2. Two more "basic questions", Bob:

    1. Was Trayvon Martin doing anything wrong on Feb. 26?

    2. Is Trayvon Martin dead?

    1. He only did something wrong if he physically attacked someone and it was not a reasonable response to words spoken by that person.

      If the words were "I'm going to shoot you" it would be, provided the person was not retreating.

      If the words were "what are you doing around here" it would not.

    2. If, if, if, if . . .

      Got any more "ifs" to make up?

      Bottom line -- the kid was walking down the street and wound up dead. You can dream up all the "ifs" you want to dream up to think you can distract attention from the core, basic and undisputed truth, but people simply aren't that stupid.

    3. The answer to question 1 must be no. He had Skittles in his pocket!

      (This has been overlooked as the most widely reported fact in this case. Another "telling" piece of information.)

    4. Your question was "What was Trayvon Martin doing wrong?"

      We don't know if he did anything wrong that night. It depends on which account of the story is accurate.

    5. Skittles are well-known to be chemical WMDs. In the hands of a black kid in a hoodie, who knows what mayhem might have resulted?

    6. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      The bottom line is the lead investigator doesn't believe Zimmerman.

    7. If he bounced some guy's head off the asphalt then yes, he may possibly have done something wrong.

  3. "a journalistic disaster, a tribunal straight outta Kafka"

    It was gruesome. There might be a small segment of liberal rubes who would be pleasured by that spectacle, but I have to believe the vast majority thought this trio came off as certifiably insane.

    1. Yeah, how dare that somebody finally ask Oliver how well he actually knew Zimmerman? Who do they think they are? Journalists?

    2. As I said, the spectacle would be pleasurable to some.

    3. And how dare they not follow the Marquis de Somerby rules for proper, polite debate --- rules that Bob seems to apply to only MSNBC in his newfound obsession, now that he's been told how boring and predictable those endless string of posts about Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd were.

    4. "only MSNBC"

      This post, the one you're replying to, talks about how Fox was doing the same thing that very evening.

    5. Uh huh. A couple of references in a very long-winded rant about O'Donnell claiming he is just like O'Reilly and MSNBC is just like Fox is really taking on Fox.

    6. Do you know what the word "only" means?

    7. Yet you'll be happy when he takes on Matthews, Dowd, Collins, O'Donnell when they decide to despise the next Democrat.

    8. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      Personally, I doubt Mr. Somerby has ever read Kafka but it sounds good, right?

      Blow and Caphart aren't reporters. Blow writes Op-eds for the NYT and Capehart writes editorials for WAPO.

      They're opinion writers.

      You can disagree with their opinions but don't criticize them for not being objective since that's exactly what they're paid not to be.

      Mr. Somerby ought to know better, too.

    9. Right, and Rush is only an "entertainer". Weak conduct nonetheless.

  4. The Collins and Dowd criticisms are proportional to the offenses. Somerby is the best at what he does and you haven't been reading this blog long if you think "being told" that some are tired of a certain theme affects continued coverage when the offenses demand it. If you can't tolerate criticism of Democrats and a lack of vitriol for Republicans you should stick to MSNBC and the New York Times.

    1. Sorry if I offended your master. Keep on lowing. Bob will throw you plenty of feed.

    2. And MSNBC will keep you supplied with all the soma you need to take the edge off the facts.

    3. I think Bob's pointing out, in a sometimes laboured way, that on cable TV we're being "informed" by a bunch of bullies, liars, misogynists and con artists who have no moral compass whatsoever. I couldn't agree more.

    4. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 7:31 PM

      "Somerby is the best at what he does ...."

      Yes, he is very good at finding false equivalencies.

      For instance, Twitchy (Malkin's latest site) posted a picture and claimed it was Martin.

      It wasn't.

      They apologized after poisoning the dialogue.

      Imagine, a site two weeks old and already apologizing. That's right up Mr. Somerby's alley, right?

      Nope. Forget about it.

      He'd rather take off after O'Donnell, Capehart and Blow for asking legitimate questions of someone who claims "If George hadn't shot Treyvon, Treyvon would have shot George."

      Oh really?

  5. By the way, who is playing whom for rubes?

    Somerby seems mighty quick to support the new "Zimmerman is the victim" line, and mighty quick to denounce anyone who dares question it.

    1. Only if "Zimmerman might be one of two victims" means the same thing as "Zimmerman is the victim." In some worlds it does.

    2. Fella, there is no way on God's green earth that Zimmerman can be morphed into a "victim" or even "one of two victims" in this case.

      And the efforts to do so are unravelling under even mild scrutiny.

      But hey, if Somerby says so, then it must be true? Guess that's easier than thinking for yourself.

    3. An act of self-defense that ends in one person justly killing another person who, but for a momentary violent impulse, would not deserve to die, creates two victims.

    4. I thought it was blue, but, is believing eyewitness' statements not thinking for oneself? Screaming for help is usually thought to be the actions of a victim. Who are you thinking for?

      Look, you might be right about what happened out there that night, but such certainty is obviously misplaced.

    5. Correct, screaming for help is usually thought to be the actions of a victim. Something that will be an important fact if not the most important fact in this case.

    6. Hey, first anon. Here's an idea, why don't you tell us where Somerby was supporting the "Zimmerman is a victim" line.

    7. Somerby's complaint here is one he's made countless times: Reporters seem to have no use or interest in actual facts and thus are being paid boatloads of cash for not doing what is theoretically their job.

      Because of America's regrettable history of racist violence against blacks, people, especially those of a liberal stripe, are hugely anxious to be seen as being on the side of the angels. Unfortunately, this often leads to a rush to judgment. If, Zimmerman was attacked as he and reportedly at least one witness has been said to have claimed, that would mean Zimmerman's claim of self defense is arguably valid. If that did not happen then Zimmerman and Sanford law enforcement have some serious explaining to do.

      Nobody here knows what really happened. I don't know and you don't know either. Since federal law enforcement is now on the case, I suggest everyone cool down and wait for things to shake out.

    8. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      "Nobody here knows what really happened."

      We do know the lead investigator didn't believe Zimmerman and wanted to arrest him.

    9. Maybe the lead investigator didn't and maybe the lead investigator did. Maybe the lead investigator had good reason to regard Zimmerman as a murderer or maybe the lead investigator didn't. It's entirely possible that he or she wasn't sure but smelled political trouble if they didn't go ahead. A lot of things are possible.

      Maybe Zimmerman is the violent stereotype of a white racist he's being cracked up to be. Maybe he isn't. Martin was an adolescent male and adolescent males of all races are notorious for exercising rotten judgment, especially when trying to prove to themselves just how awesomely manly they are.

      You seem to have made up your mind, The Real Anonymous. I'm reminded of Dominique Strauss-Khan, the Hofstra rape case, Duke lacrosse and the Tawana Brawley hoax. Everyone on the liberal/left was so sure they knew what really happened and each case blew up in their faces and cost our side credibility. It would really be a lot better if we could put the wing nuts in the position of being the ones who let their passions irresponsibly get ahead of the known facts instead of sharing the honors.

      Have patience. If Zimmerman is as guilty as you say the facts should prove you right.

  6. Kenny Irby, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute and an expert on visual journalism and diversity in media, said Tuesday that it is important for images used in media reports to be consistent with the subject — a story about a 17-year-old should feature a photo of the teen at that age, he said.

    1. Yep. Lest they get the impression that this was a pretty normal kid. Can't have that, can we?

    2. The ends justify the means. Rinse, and repeat.

    3. Trayvon Martin didn't have a problem with his image given that he selected it for his Twitter account. Why does MSNBC?

    4. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 7:35 PM

      ...and this means Zimmerman is telling the truth?

  7. Yes, Bob's examples demonstrate poor reporting, but something worse is going on. There's a concerted effort to provoke racial violence by certain parties, including Al Sharpton, the New Black Panthers (whoever they are), and, sadly, Spike Lee.

    Sharpton has a history of helping to provoke race riots, riots that led to 1 murder in Crown Heights and 7 murders at Freddies Fashion Mart. The New Black Panthers have offered a $10,000 bounty for, essentially, the murder of Zimmerman. Lee posted, incorrectly, Zimmerman's address, leading to an elderly couple living in fear.

    IMHO, by misreporting this tragedy as if it were open-and-shut, MSNBC is contributing to the dangerous race hatred being promulgated by these hate-mongers.

    1. Bob G in Jersey CityMarch 28, 2012 at 10:01 PM

      You're either lying or willfully ignorant about the murders At Freddie's Fashion Mart. Either way, your shameless mining of right-wing blogs for Troll fodder has now reached saturation levels. Let's blame the very pre-mature death of Trayvon Martin on Charlton Heston and call it even!

  8. In her report, Stutzman describes what George Zimmerman told the Sanford police about the events which preceded Martin’s death.

    No, Bob, she describes what the Sanford police told her Zimmerman's account was that night, unless you think she actually interviewd Zimmerman, which I highly doubt. Those are two different things. I would think, as a person who demands exactitude from everyone else in the world, that you would also demand it from yourself. Unless she has a certified copy of the actual witness statement by Zimmerman from the police report she doesn't know for sure that this is what Zimmerman actually said, or what the police actually did. Remember, police have been known to lie and exaggerate from time to time, just as the media has.

  9. Another bit of MSNBC mischief by means of Dowdification:

    MSNBC and NBC News reported Zimmerman as saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good...he looks black,” That truncation makes it sound as if Zimmerman thought Martin was up to no good because he was black. However, the subject of race was brought up by the dispatcher, not by Zimmerman. The full version was:

    ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he's up to no good, [begin ellipsis] or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

    911 DISPATCHER: Okay, is this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic? [end ellipsis]

    ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

    I double-checked back to the MSNBC article, and they seem to have fixed the problem. The article now reads:

    “This guy looks like he’s up to no good,” Zimmerman said in a 911 call. Asked by a dispatcher if he was white, Hispanic or black, he replied, "He looks black."

  10. Here's the hated arch-conservative Jon Stewart also finding Larry O'Donnell's prosecution a tad un-serious, given the gravity of events:


    "MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Interviews a Chair"

  11. O'Donnell said this. Sharpton said that. Stutzman said the other.
    Trayvon Martin is still dead.
    I recognize that that is the least important aspect of the incident to you all (including Somerby).
    But Trayvon Martin is still dead.

    1. >>I recognize that that is the least important aspect of the incident to you all (including Somerby).

      This must be hyperbole. Do you write something that is untrue, and insulting, because Trayvon Martin is still dead?

      I truly do not understand your point, are you saying, an eye for an eye?

    2. He doesn't believe in the principle of self defense.

    3. If self defense is getting out of your truck with a loaded gun to confront a kid walking down the street, then no, I don't believe in the principle of self-defense.

    4. Can't wait 'til we're all blind.

    5. King can you imagine Somerby and his own herd of cattle following Pearl Harbor?

      "The first reports from MSNBC said there were at least 500 Japanese planes, when actually there were only 360. So who knows the truth? Pearl Harbor might not have been attacked at all. Let's be sure to check out the Japanese side of the story."

    6. Maybe if, if, if, the Japanese acted in self-defense.

    7. In case of any misunderstanding; An eye for an eye.
      Hunt them down.

    8. Would Trayvon Martin want this? How sure are you? Ironically, the more he would have wanted anyone to act aggressively in his name, the less likely that he was just an innocent victim. Kind of a Catch-22, huh?

    9. Since Trayvon wouldn't want this he would probably want to be dead.

    10. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      "the more he would have wanted anyone to act aggressively in his name, the less likely that he was just an innocent victim."

      This might be the most singularly stupid thing I've ever read in my life.

      What has Somerby wrought?

      If Martin weren't violent he wouldn't want justice...

      What kind of stuid shit is this?

    11. You don't think it is a second tragedy when the mob kills the guilty?

  12. In all, police have records of 46 calls from Zimmerman since 2004, both to 911 and a nonemergency number, sometimes for reasons as mundane as reporting a pothole blocking a road, as he did in 2005.

    Cannaday said he did not believe that the number of calls Zimmerman made to police was itself concerning.

    "I would not consider it excessive," Cannaday said. "That's typically what we encourage, is if anyone in the community sees something out of the ordinary, concerning, or suspicious, we would want for them to call."

    Officers eventually identified the person who burglarized Bertalan's home as a neighbor. He was arrested but released because, as Bertalan understood it, he was a minor. Both he and the other man were black, according to the police report.


    1. By all means, let's concentrate on those troubling 911 calls, and how all over the map people on cable TV were about them.

      That's the real issue here!

      Trayvon Martin? Who's he?

  13. I used to think that Margaret Carlson was a serious columnist. However, she seems to have contracted a case of Dowditis. In this column, she builds a case by reporting as facts many things that are unknown and many others that are definitely incorrect.

  14. Now the real fun starts. The video of Zimmerman in police custody. ABC news has a report online saying "no blood or bruises" and Marcia Clark screamed to Anderson Cooper there are "no injuries".

    You can SEE he has a pretty good size wound on the back of his head and it's most evident at the end of the video when he walks across the room.

    You can also see he weighs nowhere near the 250 that has been repeated in the media and here (in the comments).

    There will be facts coming from paramedics who treated him, and maybe photos. When that happens it will be more than interesting to consider these comments by ABC and Marcia Clark and MSNBC who are obviously "blinded" by their hate and the prospect of convicting Mr. Zimmerman in the media.

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 9:17 PM

      What will be interesting is why the lead investigator didn't believe Zimmerman and wanted to arrest him until being prohibited by the highest levels of the state government.

      Fortunately those forbidding the arrest have stepped aside and the the lead investigator believes justice will prevail.

    2. The state attorney isn't the highest level of state government. The state attorney did not believe there was enough evidence to convict Zimmerman and did not want to waste taxpayer dollars trying him. Believe it or not, this happens hundreds of times a day when there is flimsy or absent evidence to charge or convict someone. Thank god or we would all be broke.

    3. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 9:40 PM

      That's not what the state attorney said at all.

      You're lying.

      The fact is the state attorney general has stepped aside.

    4. The Real AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      "Believe it or not, this happens hundreds of times a day"

      Lying again.

      Provide a few example of someone being shot dead, the lead investigator wanting to press charges, being denied by a state attorney (a high level of state government) who later steps aside so justice can be done.

      Go ahead.... provide a few examples or shut up.

  15. A state attorney isn't "a high level of state government" it is the same thing as a district attorney. It happens hundreds of times a day that the state attorney exercises discretion as to which cases will be prosecuted. Weak cases are not prosecuted unless there is political pressure.

    1. You must not be aware THE florida state attorney was present at the Sanford police dept the night Zimmerman killed Martin. He's the one who made the decision to not arrest Zimmerman and he's the one who consequently stepped aside.

      THE florida state attorney is indeed a high level of state government whether you realize it or not. He's not a DA.

      Once again, don't just say this happens hundreds of times a day, show it or shut up.

  16. There are numerous state attorneys in Florida. They are not called "DA" they are called SA. There isn't a "THE Florida state attorney."

    If law enforcement does not make an arrest the state attorney can also review the information and decide to file criminal charges. The state attorney decided not to file charges in this case. Under political pressure the attorney general asked the state attorney to step aside and replaced him with another state attorney from another area.

    Hundreds of cases, hundreds of decisions not to prosecute based on lack of evidence of a crime. Here is another shooting of a teenager that resulted in no arrest and a state attorney will decide not to prosecute http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/police-say-tampa-store-owner-shoots-kills-teenage-robber/1222000

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      I'm failing to see where the lead investigator was over ruled by the state attorney in the case you provided.

      You claim this happens "hundreds of times" a day.

  17. Replies
    1. Quaker in a BasementMarch 29, 2012 at 2:59 AM

      Zimmerman Sr. is going to look pretty foolish if those alleged threats weren't mentioned in his son's statement to police on the night of the shooting.

      The police surveillance video aired by ABC is already making Zimmerman Sr's claim of a broken nose look suspect.

    2. In case anybody cares, I've had my nose broken. Twice. I've also have it hit by badly-played baseballs. In both cases I bled through my nostrals but there was no bruising, so after a few minutes any casual observer would probably not have noticed a problem other than I was starting to bear an uncanny resemblance to Huntz Hall.

    3. I've also had my nose broken. The pain, from the instant it happened, is indescribable and only got worse in the hours that followed.

      And yes, I bled profusely all over my shirt and pants. And the ground and the floor and everything else around me.

      "Any casual observer" might have been unable to diagnose a broken nose on the spot, but they could certainly tell I was in a world of hurt.

      Now go look at the cop surveillance video of Zimmerman being taken in for questioning.

    4. I broke my nose twice (football and fight) and it was not that bad pain wise compared to a sprained wrist or ankle. Once a doctor fixed it, the nose did not look bad, so it is not that way for everyone. Trayvon Martin's father on Piers Morgan last night stated that if you break your nose you can't stop the bleeding which was not true in my case either. People are different in how they are look or deal with pain and injuries.

  18. i don't know when you wrote this post mr. somerby, but the official police report of the incident has been online since late afternoon, 3-27-20012. as well, there is now a video, released by NBC (i believe) of mr. zimmerman being brought into the sanford police station for additional questioning.

    if you compare the official police report, all the claims made by mr. zimmerman, his "attorney", his "friend" and his "father" with the video, they don't square. granted, it's possible mr.zimmerman is a miraculously fast healer, and/or the police stopped at a dry cleaner's on the way to their HQ, and had mr. zimmerman properly cleaned & pressed, prior to the video. these things are possible. unlikely but possible.

    or, more likely, both mr. zimmerman, the police, his "attorney", and his "friend" are lying through their teeth, with regards to the actual events of that night. were i a speculating man, that would be my speculation.

    you admit you didn't read stutzman's original, unedited report, which you further admit could have given o'donnell legitimate grounds for acting as he did. you admit this, but go on to castigate him anyway. why might that be?

    further, you seem completely unaware of facts which have emerged at least 24 hours prior to this post, facts which seem to, in some measure, provide solid support for o'donnell's skepticism. granted, he acted like an ass, but his questions may well have had a legitimate basis in fact. you admit as much yourself.

    i will give you his interviewing an empty chair as cheap theatre, designed to do nothing but make the "tribe" happy. jon stewart skewered him for that.

    1. The lead investigator and lead prosecutor thought Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito were guilty too, and that did not end too well for Perugia or Mignini.

      Why is it too much to ask for people to wait to hear all the evidence? So many people want to rush to condemn Mr. Zimmerman and/or the Sanford police, when we don't yet know all the facts. This latest videotape leaked by ABC is not time stamped, so we don't know if the circumstances are valid to even attempt to make accurate judgments on the extent of Mr. Zimmerman's injuries.

      Be skeptical of all parties: Martin's lawyers, Zimmerman's lawyers, the Sanford police, the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, the F.B.I, and the U.S. Justice Department.

      However, most of all do not trust the media. Utilize them as a resource, but do your own research. Double check any source that proves to be unreliable even once. I would estimate 25% of what the media has reported as facts, at this moment, will eventually be found false or highly misleading.

      As he thrashes around on his set, bellowing his personal sound and fury, boorish behavior like Mr. O’Donnell’s converts no one to his fiery pseudo liberalism, other than lemmings too tired or lazy to do their own critical thinking anymore. Even if he stumbles across a few seemingly important points: it is ultimately impotent.

      Apropos of O’Donnell’s' kangaroo court mash-up of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine, any Three Stooges short, the three witches from Macbeth, and Joe Oliver lit up like he was playing Othello and Iago simultaneously, this is an apt description of O'Donnell's performance:

      ... a walking shadow, a poor player

      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

      And then is heard no more. It is a tale

      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

      Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

    2. "Why is it too much to ask for people to wait to hear all the evidence?"

      Oh sorry. Should I wait for your permission before I am able to render an opinion about a kid walking down the street who wound up dead?

      Let me tell you how it works in the real world. Especially in homicide cases, "all the evidence" is never in. If you wait for "all the evidence" to answer every possible question you'll wait forever.

      In this case, there is a whole lot that we do know -- and have known since the the time this story went national -- absolute hard facts that aren't in dispute, regardless of what might have been said on cable TV, and certainly enough to render an opinion, however much that offends you.

      We got a guy who calls in a "suspicious" kid walking down the sidewalk, who leaves his truck to confront the kid against the instructions of the 911 dispatchr, and moments later, the kid is dead.

      Against that, we have a cock-and-bull story by the accused of a life-and-death struggle -- his only slim hope of a defense -- that seems to be unraveling daily as Zimmerman's lawyer, "friend" and now his papa add more detail to it to make it even "better" every time a new piece of evidence is introduced to the public (and well known by the cops from the first day) knocks it down.

      That's the whole game here. Ask a question. When it gets answered, ask another question. When that question is shown to be preposterous, ask another one.

      This is why the legal standard in criminal cases is "beyond REASONABLE doubt."

  19. Quaker in a BasementMarch 29, 2012 at 3:04 AM

    OK, let us stipulate that whatever it is that is practiced on cable "news" channels (and especially on shows that feature a celebrity anchor), it can be labeled "journalism" only by fantasists, pots that are cracked, and the gullible.

  20. Bah, Jonathan Capehart is a pretty-boy journalist who doesn't have much going on in his head other than if he's making a decent "I'm listening" face. You'd think someone like that wouldn't come up through print journalism, but then again he works for the Washington Post. They think George Will is a serious thinker because he wears bow-ties, for cryin' out loud.

    And I always thought O'Donnell was a dick, so this isn't any surprise. I was more surprised when I first saw him on TV that anyone considered him liberal, since he was arguing for tax breaks for the wealthy at the time.

    These are always the sorts of problems journalists run into when they get neck deep in individual cases. The worst is when their blustering proves false, but even if it doesn't, it creates more heat than light as everyone tries to take a side. As digby pointed out this week, effin' Nancy Grace sounds reasonable in all this.

    I've been seeing clips online all week of people who barely knew Zimmerman being interviewed, people who definitely weren't there that afternoon (and Nancy Grace actually pointed that out, although she still had the guy on her show for some reason).

    Anyway, I don't think it's all that bad to point out bad conduct in the press. MSNBC always sounded pretty right-wing to me whenever I've watched it, so none of this is particularly surprising. Maybe people can find non-corporate media to consume and things would change for the better?