Part 2—The Times reports height and weight: Balconies rarely fall off the sides of major American buildings.
Presumably, that reflects the competence of those in the building trades—and the attention and care they devote to their craft. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/2/12.)
But balcony failure has been widespread as the mainstream press corps has tried to discuss the killing of Trayvon Martin. Consider a set of facts which appeared in yesterday’s New York Times.
On the front page of yesterday’s Times, a team of reporters presented a sprawling report on the events surrounding Martin’s death. The piece ran almost 5000 words. Inside the paper, the report was accompanied by a large, detailed graphic.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the style of this report, comparing its novelistic elements with its failure to perform some basic journalistic functions. For today, let’s consider one brief passage in this lengthy report.
You might call it the tale of the tape! In one part of its report, the Times discusses the way the fatal altercation between Martin and George Zimmerman may have started.
Dan Barry is listed as lead reporter. At one point, he reported the relative size of the two combatants:
BARRY (4/2/12): However [the altercation] started, witnesses described to the 911 dispatcher what resulted: the neighborhood watch coordinator, 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, and the visitor, 6-foot-1 and 150, wrestling on the ground.Presumably, none of the people who called 911 rattled off anyone’s height and weight. But there you see the tale of the tape as the Times has now reported it. Martin was four inches taller than Zimmerman; Zimmerman outweighed Martin by 20 pounds.
Or so the Times is now reporting. On March 26, Charles Blow reported that Martin was “nearly six feet three inches tall but only 140 pounds.” He seemed to base his statement on talks with Martin’s mother.
The data in yesterday’s news report contradict a widely-proffered portrait of this fatal encounter. If the Times’ current account is basically accurate, you might describe this earlier account from MSNBC’s Ed Schultz as a bit of balcony failure:
SCHULTZ (3/19/12): Neighbors said Zimmerman was fixated on crime and focused on young black males. Zimmerman’s father says race was not an issue.In earlier accounts of this tragic encounter, this general tale of the tape was common. It was used to advance a portrait in which a much larger man preyed on a much smaller person.
George Zimmerman was 28 years old and weighed 250 pounds. Trayvon Martin was 17 and weighed 140 pounds. He has no criminal record whatsoever.
Trayvon Martin's mother says she thinks her son was the one who felt threatened.
By the end of last week, it was fairly clear that these early reports were quite possibly wrong—but the balcony failure continued. One example: Last Friday, Salon published this report by Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
Right at the start of her piece, Jones-Brown again advanced the portrait of the much larger man and the much smaller child. Long after it became clear that this portrait might be bogus, the folks at Salon kept sending it out, building bathos and endangering those in the street:
JONES-BROWN (3/30/12): I am both a former prosecutor and the mother of a 15-year-old son. When my son was little, like most moms, I told him to beware of strangers; that even in a nice neighborhood, like ours, a pedophile might drive through looking for a child victim. I told him to watch out for strangers, even in nice neighborhoods, because once he was inside the trunk of a car, I might not be able to help him.“Based on the photos?” Good God! If construction companies assembled data that way, balconies would crash down into the street every day of the week.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old and, based on the photos, not very big—like my son.
Based on media accounts and the reports of the 911 calls, he was walking through a nice, but unfamiliar neighborhood, talking on his cellphone when a strange adult male began to follow him in a SUV. At one point, he thought he had lost him, but the male reappeared following him again. This time the man, who was nearly twice his size (in body mass), got out of the vehicle, approached him, and had a gun.
Can we talk? Several parts of that account seem to go beyond the facts of this case as they are currently known. But by last Friday, it had become fairly clear that George Zimmerman probably wasn’t “nearly twice [Martin’s] size in body mass.”
But so what? Salon published this account all the same, right at the start of a major article about this very important topic. Almost surely, this is a case of balcony failure—a type of failure which defines the work of the mainstream “press corps” over the past twenty years.
Why in the world would a professor of criminal law publish something like that? (“Based on the photos!” Good lord!) More to our current point, why would a major news org like Salon publish such work, long after it became clear that the portrait it advanced was quite possibly wrong?
Why did Salon conduct business that way? We don’t know, but contractors who clown around in such ways may find themselves sued, or in jail.
Readers may think that the tale of the tape is a trivial matter. But Jones-Brown led her piece with this portrait for an obvious reason, just as Schultz (and others) had done before her. If the New York Times is right, this involves another set of bungled facts—another set of the bogus facts which were used to build novelized tales.
All around the landscape of the press corps’ attempts to discuss this case, such balcony failure can be observed. Over the past many years, your “press corps” has been overwhelmed by even the simplest facts in a wide array of cases. Again and again, journalistic skills barely seem to exist when the people of our "press corps" attempt to conduct their work.
Does this tale of the tape really matter? Does it matter if Zimmerman weighs 170 pounds, as opposed to the previous 250?
It only matters if the truth matters. Such facts were treated as highly relevant when they were used to construct a tale in which a very small person was overpowered by a behemoth.
Salon was still pushing that story last Friday. Did we hear a balcony fail?
Tomorrow: The form of that New York Times report—and also, what Piers Morgan said
Concerning Zimmerman’s weight loss: Early on, people like Schultz built a novelized tale around Zimmerman’s large “body mass.”
If the New York Times is right, the man lost 80 pounds in a couple of weeks. But uh-oh! How does the New York Times know that Zimmerman weighs 170 pounds?
Yesterday, in 5000 words, the newspaper didn’t say!
Was that good journalistic practice? More on that question tomorrow—plus, what Piers Morgan said.
Bob, since you have been too busy parsing MSNBC and the New York Times for everything they haven't said absolutely correctly by standards you apply only to them, let me tell you that the 250-pound Zimmerman claim comes from his arrest records a few years back, which was the best and only source.ReplyDelete
And since you are oblivious to all reporting except the New York Times and MSNBC, allow me to inform you that the slimmed down Zimmerman story has been widely reported for at least for 10 days.
I have read this NYT piece, and found it to be one of the best jobs of reporting on a case that the noise machine is attempting to make far more complicated than it really is.
In other words, it is EXACTLY what you have been clamoring the press to do since the old Bob Somerby started this blog.
But of course, the new Bob Somerby tells us that nothing in the New York Times is to believed, because Charles Blow once wrote that Zimmerman weighed 259, and this piece new says he weighs a mere 170.
Which, as I noted before, is like saying, "Don't believe any reports about Pearl Harbor because the first reports were 1,000 Japanese planes, and now they are saying it was only 361."
The fact that you seek to discredit the New York Times and everything it does on the basis that they got Zimmerman's weight wrong initially tells me more about the aliens who have captured the old Bob Somerby and replaced him with a imitation from a pod than it does about the New York Times.
You are a madman, Anonymous.Delete
"The fact that [Somerby] seeks to discredit the New York Times and everything it does" is nowhere in evidence, despite your nonsense assertions.
To the contrary, the point here is obvious, as Somerby asks:
"Does this tale of the tape really matter? Does it matter if Zimmerman weighs 170 pounds, as opposed to the previous 250?
It only matters if the truth matters. Such facts were treated as highly relevant when they were used to construct a tale in which a very small person was overpowered by a behemoth. "
Such "facts" as the ones you defend as "the best and only source" for Zimmermans's weight were apparently false facts. And they were indeed bruited widely and loudly throughout the popular press. The false facts "mattered" immensely across the media landscape, not merely at the NYT.
In your fantasy world, Anonymous, Bob Somerby "tells us that nothing in the New York Times is to believed, because Charles Blow once wrote that Zimmerman weighed 259, and this piece new says he weighs a mere 170." But this is your own hallucination.
Only a malicious fool could pretend Somerby's piece here is an attempt to "discredit the New York Times and everything it does." That you think you've proved it with this tripe of yours certainly tells us more about your reading comprehension than it does about Somerby's valuable work.
Except, Swan, that you and Somerby have the reason that the size became relevant exactly opposite of what happened.Delete
Size mattered because it was ZIMMERMAN -- the "behemoth" -- who claimed he was overpowered by MARTIN -- the "very small person" -- and had to shoot Martin in order to defend his own life.
I swear, not too long from now, the people who have so much invested in believing Zimmerman's story will soon turn Zimmerman into a 98-pound weakling and Martin into the second coming of Muhammad Ali.
Now here's the part that really bugs me about Zimmerman's story.
In the 911 call, he tells the dispatcher that the kid is starting to run away. So he gets out of his truck with a gun to chase him, which is clear on the 911 tape, as well as the dispatcher explicitly telling him not to do that.
The next thing we know for a fact is that there was some kind of confrontation that prompted more 911 calls, as well as cries for help, and Martin is shot dead.
In between, we have Zimmerman's story, and only his story, that he had lost sight of the kid and was calmly returning to his truck when the kid who had been running away suddenly reappears from behind Zimmerman to beat the holy hell out of him.
So why did the kid take off running (Zimmerman's own words) then come back for a fight instead of going home when he had the chance?
Doesn't add up to me.
But then again, Zimmerman must be telling the truth. After all, he weighs 170 instead of 250.
Zimmerman tells the dispatcher 4 or 5 times that he didn't know where Martin went. Asked for his home address, he tells the dispatcher the house number and then stops and says "I don't want to say it out loud. I don't know where he's at."Delete
Martin probably sized him up during this time and decided to challenge someone so much smaller in stature.
"Martin probably sized him up during this time and decided to challenge someone so much smaller in stature."Delete
Based on what?
And since we are now in Fantasyland and free to dream up any scenario we want, how about this one? Martin tried to hide as best he could. After hanging up on the dispatcher, Zimmerman caught sight of the kid, cornered him, some kind of fight ensued.
Then we get back to what we do know. Trayvon Martin is dead from a gunshot wound from Zimmerman's weapon at the hands of Zimmerman.
Shorter Anonymous: Unrelated cr@p, therefore everyone else is a Zimmerman apologist.Delete
Q E D
We also know that self defense is legal.Delete
Self-defense is legal. But chasing a kid down the street with a loaded gun, then claiming the kid fought back is hardly self-defense.Delete
The Times begins, "Once again, a river of protest raged through Sanford this weekend to demand justice in the name of an unarmed black teenager shot dead. It gathered strength in front of the historic Crooms Academy..."ReplyDelete
The Times presents the protest as a natural event that just somehow occurred. They say it "gathered strength", just as a hurricane may gather strength when it moves over warm water.
The Times doesn't mention that these protests were promoted and encouraged by race hustlers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, by false and hateful comments made by black Congressional Democratics, and by blatant mis-reporting by much of the media.
Because convincing the masses to jump on the Sharpton Jackson bandwagon requires promoting invented facts about relative sizes of the two men, doctoring audio to prove racist motives, inflaming racial tension by claiming a slur was uttered that no 28 year old has used in 50 years, imagining and declaring conclusions about poor quality video even with knowledge of witnesses, records, and possibly photos.Delete
There isn't and never was any reason not to believe Zimmerman's account.
Oh, except I kinda find it proposterous to think that a guy getting his head pounded into the sidewalk by a 160-pound kid sitting on top of him could calmly reach for his gun, unholster it, and fire it into the kids chest without getting any blood on himself from either his wound's or the decesased.Delete
But you go ahead and believe what you want.
Including the reach that no 28-year-old anywhere would ever say "coon" and that term hasn't been used in 50 years.
Hey, maybe Joe Oliver was right and Zimmerman said "goon" meaning it only as a "term of endearment" against a kid he chased down the street with a loaded gun.
Who says he didn't get any blood on him? Who said he 'calmly' reached for his gun? In fact the most logical scenario is that Trayvon noticed Zimmerman's gun during the struggle and attempted to forcibly take it from him and Zimmerman, realizing the stakes had been raised considerably, fired off a shot in panic. This would explain why the next round wasn't chambered -- because something was blocking it, i.e. Trayvon grabbing the barrel.Delete
Also he said 'punks'. Check the tape again. Not to mention the absurdity of flinging an antiquated racial slur in the middle of a rather calm and unheated 911 call. I guess the guy just wanted everyone to know how big of a fogey racist he was!
Under your "scenario" (boy, isn't it fun to dream these things up?) there goes your "self-defense" claim. Zimmerman can be glad you're not his attorney, because you just put a needle in his arm.Delete
And yeah, after Zimmerman "shot in panic" striking Martin fatally in the chest, Martin grabbed the gun.
Sure. Or are you saying that Martin grabbed the gun and pointed it at his own chest before Zimmerman "fired in panic"?
It bolsters his self-defense claim. Not only that, but Zimmerman's brother offered the same explanation in a recent interview.Delete
Why does it bolster his self-defense claim? That's fucking obvious. Imagine that you're on the ground and an athletic man more about five inches taller than you is crouched over you, pummeling your head repeatedly into the hard concrete sidewalk. Things are looking bad. And then he notices your weapon sticking out of your pocket. And then he attempts to grab it -- knowing that he'll likely shoot you once he does. You tell me what you'd do in that scenario. It seems pretty clear that Zimmerman's choice was a tragic one, but one necessitated by a kill-or-be-killed situation -- a situation which, if the witnesses and testimony of Zimmerman and the police officers on duty are to be believed, was not initiated by Zimmerman.
I don't know why you put 'scenario' in quote marks. Of course in a case which is surrounded by uncertainty and (possibly deliberate) misinformation there's going to be speculation as to the exact narrative of events. What facts we do know -- facts which a tendentious media has tried to either quash or distort -- tends to support the idea that there was a dangerous struggle of some kind which provoked a self-defense reaction from Zimmerman.
You seem logically challenged, by the way. Why would you bizarrely assume that Trayvon grabbed the gun after he was shot, or that he pointed the gun at himself, rather than assume that Trayvon was grabbing the gun during the struggle and Zimmerman shot him in an attempt to regain control of the situation?
And finally, there's now evidence that Zimmerman did not say 'coons' -- he said 'cold', because it was cold and rainy that night in Florida. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/04/05/CNN-Coon-Cold-Zimmerman
I take it back -- perhaps you're not logically challenged, you just don't know a single thing about guns. If Trayvon had been blocking the barrel, it wouldn't have prevented Zimmerman from firing the weapon, but it would have jammed the chamber and prevented another bullet from being loaded into it.Delete
Which is, by the way, exactly the state of the weapon as it was found and confiscated by police -- fully loaded, but with an empty chamber despite the one bullet being fired.Delete
I don't know how much of this is true, but a letter from the Zimmerman family to the NAACP recounts George Zimmerman's efforts last year to help rouse the black community after a black homeless man was beaten.ReplyDelete
You will recall the incident of the beating of the black homeless man Sherman Ware on December 4, 2010 by the son of a Sanford police officer. The beating sparked outrage in the community but there were very few that stepped up to do anything about it. I would presume the inaction was because of the fact that he was homeless not because he was black. Do you know the individual who stepped up when no one else in the black community would? Do you know who spent tireless hours putting flyers on the cars of persons parked in the churches of the black community? Do you know who waited for the church-goers to get out of church so that he could hand them flyers in an attempt to organize the black community against this horrible miscarriage of justice? Do you know who helped organize the City Hall meeting on January 8, 2011 at Sanford City Hall?? That person was GEORGE ZIMMERMAN.
Pretty soon the family will be petitioning the Vatican to canonize him.Delete
Oh, by all means let's take this relative's uncorroborated account of the role Zimmerman played in the Sherman Ware case as the Gospel truth.Delete
You know what I did? I actually spent some time on the Internet looking up the media reports of the Ware incident as they happened in real time.
Again, I want to stress "uncorroborated."
In none of these reports, not a single one, does the name of George Zimmerman, who did all this tireless work to organize the black community, ever come up.
No what I also discovered? Can't figure out what the Jan. 8 town hall meeting accomplished, since the cop's kid, Justin Collison, was charged five days earlier, and the acting police chief resigned before that.
Again, I stress "uncorroborated." This doesn't mean that Zimmerman didn't do all the things claimed. But I'm going to require a bit more evidence that a relative's letter to the NAACP more than a full year later to believe it.
We don’t know, but contractors who clown around in such ways may find themselves sued, or in jail.ReplyDelete
NBC is investigating itself for engineering a lie that would inflame the lynch mob. ABC has reversed itself on its "no bruises or blood" declaration.
Outlets that should know better have latched on to the voice analysis "expert" report, laughable to anyone except a host on the One True Channel or the gullible rubes who love to watch it.
We still haven't seen the tip of the iceberg.
Now, had the voice analysis reached the conclusion that the cries were Zimmerman's, would you still be putting "expert" in quote marks and calling that conclusion laughable?Delete
I myself don't really care if every word of Zimmerman's story is the Gospel truth, and he certainly would have no cause to lie or even exaggerate, would he?
The fact remains that the confrontation with the guy with the gun and the kid walking down the street began when the guy with the gun started chasing him down the street and ended with the kid dead.
We even have the author of the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law saying Zimmerman's defense doesn't apply to the law he wrote.
You know why? Because the ground they were standing on was Martin's to defend.
But I also strongly suspect that, taking Zimmerman's story at face value, had Martin beaten him into either unconsciousness or even death, Martin would be facing charges today, even though he was being chased down the street by a guy with a loaded gun.
Now, had the voice analysis reached the conclusion that the cries were Zimmerman's, would you still be putting "expert" in quote marks and calling that conclusion laughable?Delete
I believe he DID reach that conclusion. If, as he told CNN, 60% would give him "confidence" that the scream matched the voice, 48% would not mean "not a match." This revision occurred two days after the original report in which the same "expert" said he could say he would expect a 90% or higher result.
This information is worthless but that doesn't stop people who should know better from reporting it as news (much less without context).
Then there is this from the "expert's" own website
The examiner can only work with speech samples which are the same as the text of the unknown recording. Under the best of circumstances the suspects will repeat, several times, the text of the recording of the unknown speaker and these words will be recorded in a similar manner to the recording of the unknown speaker. For example, if the recording of the unknown speaker was a bomb threat made to a recorded telephone line then each of the suspects would repeat the threat, word for word, to a recorded telephone line. This will provide the examiner with not only the same speech sounds for comparison but also with valuable information about the way each speech sound completes the transition to the next sound.
There are those times when a voice sample must be obtained without the knowledge of the suspect. It is possible to make an identification from a surreptitious recording but the amount of speech necessary to do the comparison is usually much greater. If the suspect is being engaged in conversation for the purpose of obtaining a voice sample, the conversation must be manipulated in such a way so as to have the suspect repeat as many of the words and phrases found in the text of the unknown recording as possible.
The worst exemplar recordings with which an examiner must work are those of random speech. It is necessary to obtain a large sample of speech to improve the chances of obtaining a sufficient amount of comparable speech.
But I also strongly suspect that, taking Zimmerman's story at face value, had Martin beaten him into either unconsciousness or even death, Martin would be facing charges today, even though he was being chased down the street by a guy with a loaded gun.Delete
That could be true and reversing the races, could be less likely to be true.
But if you reversed the races and it was Martin in Zimmerman's position (taking Zimmerman's story at face value), injured, after calling 911, screaming for help, I don't think he would have been charged.
Once again, the right-wing blogosphere is busy spinning, and its minions are getting dizzy.Delete
Tom Owen has been absolutely consistent in what he has said from the beginning.
He has said that you ordinarily need a 60 percent match on ordinary voice sample comparisions to reach a positive conclusion that the two voices were the same.
He said in this case, he had two high quality samples, good enough to expect a 90 percent match.
Since the comparison revealed a 48 percent match, even below the normal 60 percent standard, he could conclude with scientific certainty that the voice heard sreaming for help and the voice on Zimmerman's 911 calls did not come from the same person.
Of course, the science behind that is all bogus, and it's Tom Owen who is lying and not George Zimmerman.
In fact, everyone seems to be lying EXCEPT George Zimmerman.
"Two high quality samples". Thanks for the chuckle.Delete
Unsurprisingly you also ignored Owen's own alleged standards for samples, which say his test was invalid.
Unless, of course, he concluded that both voices matched Zimmerman. Then Owen's motives and the science behind it would be beyond reproach.Delete
And for the record once again, I don't really care whether the voices were Zimmerman's or Martin's.
If Martin turned on a guy who was chasing him and beat him until he screamed for help, good for him.
That is "self-defense," which of course, can't be applied to anyone in this case but to the guy who did the shooting and against the guy who is dead.
And that claim that Martin was beating him like a rented mule is supported only by Zimmerman's story. Too bad the dead kid can't speak for himself, isn't it?
"If Martin turned on a guy who was chasing him and beat him until he screamed for help, good for him."Delete
This indicates that you are not concerned with the facts or the law. It's just good guys and bad guys, and you know which is which.
Unless, of course, he concluded that both voices matched Zimmerman. Then Owen's motives and the science behind it would be beyond reproach.Delete
Anyone who claimed to view that report as meaningful regardless of the conclusion would be too stupid to be permitted to function in society without a keeper.
That is "self-defense," which of course, can't be applied to anyone in this case but to the guy who did the shooting and against the guy who is dead.
Who said it can't be applied to both men at different points during the incident? Martin might have had a legitimate stand your ground defense, and Zimmerman has a legitimate self defense defense. Do you doubt this can be true?
When one guy is armed and chased the other guy who is not down the street, and the guy who is armed shoots the guy who is not, yes, I very much doubt that Zimmerman has a stand your ground defense.Delete
The examiner can only work with speech samples which are the same as the text of the unknown recording.ReplyDelete
For example, if the recording of the unknown speaker was a bomb threat made to a recorded telephone line then each of the suspects would repeat the threat, word for word, to a recorded telephone line.
The idiot who asserted there was no match either didn't bother to tell his original interviewer that he wrote on his website that "we can only work" with similar text and not screams vs spoken voices, or the interviewer decided to omit the information, since it would clue the rubes in to the fact that this "analysis" was worthless.
Somerby's focus here is spot on. Inconsistent reports of Zimmerman's weight are the gravest journalist failure we have on hand.ReplyDelete
Questions as to how and why American gun laws get written and who writes them, how George Zimmerman legally obtained *his* gun, the huge number of gun homicides in the U.S. (compared, for example, to Canada, where gun ownership is also quite common), the source and funding basis for "stand your ground" initiatives, the peculiar American obsession with crime and supposed evil-doers, who must be punished -- all of this has been covered comprehensively by the American media.
The real journalistic failing here is conflicting accounts of the size of the shooter relative to the victim.
So Kudos to Bob, for getting it right, once again.
Exactly. And don't forget it that it was also Bob Somerby and only Bob Somerby who exposed the conflicting reports on the vital issue of those troubling 911 calls from Zimmerman, how many and when.Delete
Forget the dead kid who was walking down the street. The most serious issue facing America today is Zimmerman's true weight.
It's called exposing shoddy "journalism". And that's a good thing. Factual accuracy is not too much to ask, especially of our millionaire elite press.Delete
That's your opinion. My opinion is that it's called "focusing on trivia and ignoring the big issues."Delete
We should be having a discussion about "Stand Your Ground" laws, and the push by ALEC and the NRA to spread them state by state, coast to coast.
We should be having a discussion about racial profiling, certainly giving young black males the right to walk down the street without being suspected of a crime.
We should be having a discussion about vigilantism, perhaps reaching some common ground you can't grab a gun and chase a kid down the street because you fear that the cops you just called won't get there in time.
Instead, we are talking about how the NYT really doesn't know Zimmerman's weight, and how that is somehow rending the fabric of democracy.
This is a site for media criticism.Delete
I wish there were more discussion about the longest running war in the history of our nation. But not here.
Condensed Anonymous idiocy:ReplyDelete
Detailing the wrongdoings of much of the media in rushing to the judgement that Zimmerman's a murderer is really a distraction from the main point, which is that we should rush to judgement that Zimmerman's a murderer.
If there's any sure to guide to spotting the trolls, it's the language -- unless, of course, anyone who disagrees with Swan is an "idiot" by definition.Delete
I may be wrong (Bob is full of surprises these days), but I would guess Swan is the kind of ally he would prefer to live without.
For the record, I'd like to turn the tables on Swan and ask him to provide any evidence here that anybody has called Zimmerman a "murderer."Delete
That is a very specific charge, fella.
I think that at most, people are wondering, while looking at all the undisputed evidence, why Zimmerman wasn't charged with anything so that a jury could sort out his guilt or innocence.
I for one really don't want to call a society civilized in which one person can chase another down the street with a gun, wind up shooting him, then walk off with impunity if he can concoct a good self-defense story against the dead guy, contrary to the evidence that is known and in the absence of evidence to support his story.
Unfortunately for the Anonymous version of reality, there is evidence to support Zimmerman's story.Delete
Does that mean his version of events is true? I don't know and neither do you.
But Anonymous knows, of course, and it rankles him that Somerby wastes his time detailing the false "facts" that once were ever so important but have since become irrelevant, old news.
Guess that means your mouth once again wrote checks that your brain can't cash, to use an old Internet cliche.Delete
Can't find where anybody called Zimmerman a murderer? Thought so.
Additional information on the voice expert and his likely motives for feeding this garbage to the pressReplyDelete
Uh huh. So Tom Owen MIGHT (and that's all this blog states) be staking his entire reputation, as well as the future of this new software, on a conclusion that he is really uncertain about just to insert himself into the most public issue of the moment merely for publicity's sake.Delete
Worse. He's too stupid to be uncertain about his conclusion, and too dishonest to inform the original interviewer that he already set out the standards for samples on his website, and had no such samples for this case.Delete
Well, excuse me if I put just a wee bit more credence in Tom Owen's opinion than I do in the sudden experts in voice analysis that have sprung up all over the right-wing blogosphere in the wake of a conclusion that didn't go their way.Delete
Is a "wee bit" equal to 48%?Delete
I'm reposting this comment I made as a response to anonymous vitriol in yesterday's comments section:ReplyDelete
Perhaps this is the moment to go meta. Pull back just a bit and explore motivations.
I read the DH to check my own biases. As a liberal/progressive who's easily angered by the inequities seemingly inherent and inescapable in the U.S., I find myself, quite ready to scream and shout - having spent a fair amount of my time last fall supporting and participating in Occupy Seattle, those impulses came to the fore quite often.
Where I find Somerby immensely helpful, is not in his recounting the sins of the right, which infuriate me and which I know all too well, but the trespasses of the left, which I'm fairly easily hoodwinked by, given my predisposition.
In short, I'm pretty credulous. Which makes me all the more furious when I'm deceived and manipulated from "the left" (whether it's Collins, MSNBC, or Michael Moore). Voices that I should be able to trust deceive me and I can't help but feel outrage.
Now, I've been reading Bob for years, and just started commenting here recently, but I've been repeatedly amazed at the level of vituperation in the discourse.
The fury expressed here when Bob does exactly what he set out to do, regardless of whose feathers are ruffled (and again, I don't need to be reminded of the calumnies and atrocities of the right - I KNOW them all too well), is beyond belief.
What's more, the bitterness of the invective, which all too often ends in one of two ways - either questioning the liberal cred/intelligence of your correspondent; or declaring victory and hightailing it - is really quite demoralizing.
In short, if you "liberals" here are so insecure that sharp critiques OF the left BY the left are seen as betrayal, I'm quite sincerely lost for words.
Perhaps you should begin by ignoring Bob, whose critiques you've come to detest, and go where you can join the lefty chorus.
Michael Moore? Why on earth do you gratituously throw him into this stewpot? The fact that he is one of those right-wing boogeymen has nothing do to with it, I suppose?Delete
And fella, if you are credulous when it comes to sources on the left and don't have brains enough to short wheat from chaff, then that's nobody's fault but your own.
And if you thing Somerby is some prophet of truth that you need to think straight, well then God help you.
Let me help you out here, dear boy. Nobody has a monopoly on truth, and certainly not Bob Somerby.
Try using that organ between your ears and think for yourself without depending on Somerby or anyone else to tell you what to think.
By the way, you might also want to resist the temptation to project what "you 'liberals'" think and feel.Delete
Sounds to me that you might be feeling a bit insecure yourself by the sharp critiques of your hero, Bob Somerby, who helps you do your thinking.
Heavens to Betsy that anyone hold Somerby to the same standards he demands of others.
Wow. You hit the trifecta, anonymous.Delete
The usual vitriol, accompanied by willful misrepresentation.
Anon attacks my liberal cred - if Michael Moore is held up as less than truthful, it's because I'm a right winger.
Anon attacks my intelligence - if I confess my liberal bias, I'm an idiot.
Futhermore, Anon puts words in my mouth - I take my marching orders from Bob Somerby; at least, that I can't think for myself.
Hey, all you anonymi, have the courage of your convictions? Or do you always post without attribution.
My name is Jean Sherrard. I live in Seattle. I work as a teacher, writer, photographer, and professional actor. My opinions are my own and I stand behind them.
Any of you anonymes wish to respond, please roll down your tinted windows and identify yourselves in kind. I like to know just who I'm debating.
I did no such thing. I asked why you threw Michael Moore into this stewpot. You've got no good answer.Delete
And if repeating your claim that you are "credulous" and need Bob Somerby to tell you when the left isn't completely 100 percent accurate, is an "attack on your intelligence," well that also speaks for itself.
Oh, you accuse me of of putting words in your mouth then put words in mine --- that I claimed you take "marching orders" from Somerby.
No, I didn't say that, did I? Instead, I really really questioned why you seem to think you can't arrive at conclusions absent Somerby's input, and challenged you to hold him to the same standards that he demands of others.
Too much for you?
Incidentally, I don't care if you are "sherrlock" or "Jean Sherrard, Seattle, writer, photographer and PROFESSIONAL (no less) actor." Your posts are no more or less intelligent under whatever handle you want to claim.
Oh, and since we are now interested in credentials and names, I am Fritz Surphermacher, PhD, astrophysicist, economist, attorney, doctor and former welterweight champion of Bermuda.
Isn't the Internet fun? We get to claim to be whoever we want, true or not.
Again, work real hard on that habit of yours to be "credulous." Try to learn as much as you can from all perspectives. You'll find that sometimes the "right" is right, the "left" is right, but most times, the truth falls somewhere in between.
And when it dawns on you that that you may have to do the heavy lifting yourself and apply your own brain, you might come to the conclusions that the prophets you have chosen to do your thinking for you are really no smarter than you are.
I appreciate the concerns, Sherlock.Delete
As a fellow movement liberal, I must say that this little piece is very well written and thought out.
Thanks so much.
I just love it when two "movement liberals" buy all the lies the right-wing is selling.Delete
I wish I loved it when someone sees this world of beautiful colors in black and white.Delete
I just googled you, Fritz.ReplyDelete
Like Michael Moore, you are an occasionally liar.
Where did Michael Moore lie? One example that angered me no end - in his rather remarkable film about healthcare, most of which is unassailable in its facts, he showed us a close up of a Cuban hospital, modern and comfortable in ways American hospitals could only hope for. As it turned out, that hospital was for party members only.
The average Cuban could not hope for such quality.
What infuriated me about that? Perhaps you can't comprehend why it pisses me off so.
For the tribal minded: if you intentionally exaggerate or lie about ONE thing in an otherwise truthful document, it puts everything you've said under scrutiny.
Why do that? Why give the right ammunition?
You may notice in every one of my posts that I refuse to engage in ad hominem attacks. You, "Fritz" are a liar, even if in jest. And if you continue to attack without attribution, you are also a coward.
Ah, yes. The classic tactic. Let's ignore everything about "Sicko" and concentrate on that troubling Cuban hospital. Since it was for "party members only," according to whatever source told you that (and I don't care if it is), forget that Moore took a boat load of 911 first-responders to it so they could get health care denied to them in the U.S. because they were not supposed to be on duty on 9/11, and just showed up on their own (and apparently at their own peril) to help.Delete
Let's forget the guy who died of cancer because his health insurance deemed the operation his doctor recommended as "experimental" and not eligible for coverage.
Let's forget the congressional testimony of the former health insurance middle manager who said her job was evaluated based on the number of claims she denied.
Let's forget his examination of the national health care systems in Canada, Great Britain and France.
All that is a lie because the Cuban hospital was for "party members only." Whatever that means.
But you just can't seem to answer my original question: What on earth does Michael Moore have to do with Trayvon Martin, and why are you throwing that right-wing boogeyman, and now one of his films, into this stewpot? It proves what?
Right. The classic tactic: ignore the truth, focus on the lie.Delete
Please reread what I wrote below as you seem to be responding to someone else entirely.
"Where did Michael Moore lie? One example that angered me no end - in his rather remarkable film about healthcare, most of which is unassailable in its facts, he showed us a close up of a Cuban hospital, modern and comfortable in ways American hospitals could only hope for. As it turned out, that hospital was for party members only."
In my own words, "most of [Moore's film on healthcare] is unassailable."
Do you know the meaning of the word "unassailable"?
By the way, are you the liar "Fritz", still engaged in anonymous drive-by shooting, or is this yet another anonyme.
Again, a person claiming to find "Sicko" "unassailable in its facts" then gets all bent out of shape about the Cuban hospital scene? Which lasted what? All of five minutes if that?Delete
Sherrlock, give it up. You can't even argue with yourself and win.
And for a person who never resorts to the ad hominem, why are you so hung up about finding out my identity? Can't you argue with what I say?
FYI, I always post "anonymously" when I can instead of making up a phony handle because I want my words to stand or fall on their own merit, without me having to gloss them with phony credentials that really don't mean squat to the price of soybeans in China. Like "professional actor" or "movement liberal."
Sounds to me that since you can't argue against my words, you want to argue against the person and are just dying to find out who I am.
But gee, you'd never do that, would you?
"For the tribal minded: if you intentionally exaggerate or lie about ONE thing in an otherwise truthful document, it puts everything you've said under scrutiny.Delete
Why do that? Why give the right ammunition?"
Asked and answered. Repeatedly.
I think the problem with you, Fritz, is that you live in a left-wing echo box. You actually have never had to face down conservatives who use that five minutes of lying to discredit EVERYTHING ELSE. If you don't understand this very basic principle of human discourse, then I'm not surprised you keep your windows rolled up.
And, as I've demonstrated here repeatedly over the last couple of days, I have no hesitation in arguing with anyone, anonymous or otherwise.
I frankly don't care who you are. I have a little theory, born out by countless psychological studies, that finds anonymity often allows for public behavior that, if attached to an actual human, would be seen as somewhat monstrous.
Many here evince that behavior on a daily basis and when I see it repeatedly I'm guessing it's time to shine a light into the shadows. Seriously, it's not like you live in China and your every post is monitored for quite literal political correctness.
For all you anonymi, post away of course. I'm only asking for minimum civility - the kind of civility you would extend if your identity was known. If you find that request objectionable, go to hell.
"I'm only asking for minimum civility - the kind of civility you would extend if your identity was known."Delete
This is rich. You have called me a liar repeatedly, made projections about my life in a left-wing echo chamber, then call for civility.
Typical Somerby tribe member. Demand of others that which you are completely unwilling to demand of yourself.
In case you don't know what that's called, "hypocrisy" springs to mind.
Are you Fritz?Delete
Is Michael Moore's 5 minutes of exaggeration not a problem when it provides ammunition for the right to discredit the rest of 'Sicko'? If you don't believe that's a major flaw, you've never had to argue the point with a conservative.
Finally, a quote from your very first response:
"...if you are credulous when it comes to sources on the left and don't have brains enough to short wheat from chaff, then that's nobody's fault but your own."
Yeah, hypocrisy indeed.
Nice work Sherrlock.Delete
I get it even if anonymous doesn't. "Sicko" was, overall, a great piece of work by Michael Moore but Moore does have a habit of seeding his documentaries with needless distortions that give opponents plausible grounds to challenge his integrity. Most people do not have the time to wade through all the facts and operate on the common-sensical principal of "If you bullshit me on stuff I do (or think I do) know about, I'm not going to believe you on stuff I don't know about."
And the whole trip to the Cuban hospital for 911 workers was set up as the crowning irony of the film while at the same time serving as propaganda for the Castro regime. That's just awful PR.
The fact that the sequence was only five minutes long is irrelevant.
The New York Times is regarded as our nation's paper of record. When they screw up the facts, as they regrettably so often do, it's extremely important, especially when they do so in a way that seems to confirm the right-wing stereotype of it as a left-wing propaganda rag.
Anonymous reminds me of all the people who attacked skeptics of the Duke lacrosse charges as bigoted, closed-minded jerks while ignoring reasonable questions about Crystal Mangum's story. There are serious legitimate questions about the scenario being presented by the left regarding Zimmerman, especially in view of all the things we were assured were true that turned out to be wrong. It's still quite possible that Zimmerman was the sole aggressive jerk but maybe not.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have trouble handling ambiguity and respond by lashing out at people who threaten their certainty. There's tons of them on both the left and the right.
We have a word for them. They are called kooks.
Now, let us all admit that we don't really know what happened and let the federal investigators do their job before we decide that we know what reality is here and viciously attack those who are skeptical.
Beautifully said, Hiero.Delete
I find it odd and somewhat incongruous to find myself debating liberals with a fervor I usually reserve for my conservative friends. As I've said repeatedly, its frustrating and a bit bewildering to see how, for many here, belief trumps reality at every turn.
"Is Michael Moore's 5 minutes of exaggeration not a problem when it provides ammunition for the right to discredit the rest of 'Sicko'?"Delete
It's ONLY a problem to those who believe right-wing lies, and were inclined to disbelieve Moore any way.
Like "self-proclaimed" liberals.
Go read your own post. You called the facts in the movie "unassailable" in one breath, then you said you were "ENRAGED" (emphasis added) when you found out that the Cubans took the 9/11 responders who were denied health coverage in the U.S.A. to the best hospital they had.
It's called talking out of both sides of your mouth.
And you are surprised that "liberals" would dare question that kind of duplicity?
Good God almighty, what an ego you have. Or is it "tribalism"? Is there some rule that says that once a person claims to be a "movement liberal" all further discussion ends?
"It's ONLY a problem to those who believe right-wing lies, and were inclined to disbelieve Moore any way."Delete
You take my breath away, Anonymous. These words could only be written by someone who lives in a bubble.
We've reached yet another impasse.
I think that truth matters for a variety of reasons outlined above. You don't.
Your position is quite popular and has been held by partisans and believers and tribes throughout human history.
It is also astonishingly short-sighted.
(btw, you lie. I never claimed to be a movement liberal. But, of course, in your world, lies don't matter)
Food for thought: If a balcony falls deep in the weeds (which, let's face it, is where Bob has gone in this post), does it make a sound?ReplyDelete
Apparently, yes-- it makes a Howler.
One of the most tragic things about this sordid affair is the guesswork done by our professionals who have obscured what might have happened. Because the initial picture of the younger orotund Zimmerman many needlessly extrapolated what he might have weighed. It was the same extrapolation with Martin.ReplyDelete
Based on my participation in sports and weighing males, I would have guessed that Zimmerman weighs close to 200 pounds he is not skinny which a weight of 170 would have made him. Martin is skinny and the weight of 150 seems accurate.
The only way to know for sure is to have weighed them both. I am sure that Martin’s autopsy weight is available less his blood loss. We do not know if they weighed Zimmerman at the police station or the hospital.
In a fight, all other things being equal I would rather have fought a skinny 17 teen year old versus a 28-year-old man. At 28, a male is at his athletic peak in terms of muscle strength, endurance and experience. A skinny 17 year old is easily overpowered. Zimmerman’s reduced stature makes him a better fighter with greater speed and power.
A weight of 170 on a 5' 9 man would not make him "skinny" but he would look about the size Zimmerman looks in the video. It could make a 6' + man confident.Delete
It "could". Anything is possible. That's why we have to look at what we know and go from there, and stop wandering off in Fantasyland about what "could" have happened between a kid who was running away, and a guy with a loaded gun who was chasing him.Delete
You are obtuse. I have played sports at a high level and I coach boys who wrestle and play football. They wrestle in certain weight classes. I purchase and fit their uniforms and tell them to cut weight. By looking at them, I can tell you what they weigh within five pounds. My boys who are thinner than Zimmerman is in the waist and mid section area and with about the same chest size weighs about 170 and are three inches shorter.Delete
Frankly, if you would rather fight someone 5 feet 9 170 pounds opposed to someone 6+ feet 150 pounds tells me that you would get your ass beat quite often.
Anyway, you deliberately missed my point. I said you could not make a conclusion unless you weighed them both.
This article claims, but does not fully prove, that aReplyDelete
horrendous racial attack resulted from the demonization of George Zimmerman.
Two Black Teens from Sanford FL Fueled By Hate from Al Sharpton and Spike Lee Brutally Beat a White Man with a Hammer – Man Remains On Life Support
Al Sharpton, in the past, has gotten people upset enough to commit mayhem and murder. He may well have done so again.
P.S. Does anyone think our President will make a public statement of sympathy for the 50-year old white victim?
No. What's more, if Zimmerman walks he won't say or do anything to challenge the NRA or existing gun laws. He was eager to play his part in inflaming racial tensions about a case he knew nothing about, seeing a political opportunity.Delete
What, exactly, makes that a "racial" attack? Is any crime committed by blacks against someone of another race now a "horrendous racial attack?"
Maybe it's this line from the article posted on a clearly conservatively-biased website:
"Authorities blame Jessie Jackson, Luis Farrakhan and Barack Obama for purposely increasing racial tensions in America in the wake of the fake racial case with Trayvon Martin self defense killing."
Setting aside for the moment this author's absurd mind-reading and assumption that the Martin case was, in fact, "self-defense," would you care to explain how "authorities" could conceivably blame those specific individuals for this?
For that matter, why anyone would believe that an actual law enforcement group would publicly make such a blatantly inflammatory claim? If you think this was anything more than a random carjacking, I don't know what to tell you.
David, just a clue. Your source might not be the sharpest tool in the shed if he doesn't even know how to spell "Jesse" and "Louis." You know, those aren't hard names to get right.Delete
And the right-wing blogosphere all atwitter (pun intended) over Farrakhan inserting himself into this case by sending three -- count 'em -- three Tweets.
Wow. That Farrakhan guy sure knows how to incite a riot.
Wow. I just spend a few minutes looking up Julius Bender and Yahaziel Israel, the two black kids arrested for beating the guy with a hammer.Delete
This story was widely reported in the Sanford-Orlando media, and not a single credible news source even tried to link this case to Trayvon Martin.
Only the right-wing blogosphere makes the quantum leap to that conclusion. And you know the real sad thing about that? The cops haven't released the ID of the victim, so they don't even know if the victim is black, white, red or brown.
As I said, I didn't see conclusive evidence that the attack was in retaliation for the shooting of Martin. OTOH feelings are running so strong in the area, including credible threats of violence, so that the Zimmerman family has gone into hiding. When Spike Lee tried to post Zimmerman's address but got it wrong, the couple whose address he posted felt threatened enough so that they went into hiding. IMHO it seems plausible that the felons may have been motivated, at least in part, by the poisonous atmosphere.Delete
BKT suggests that this may have been a random carjacking. That theory ignores the fact that these two black men tried to beat the white victim to death with a hammer. I hope BKT doesn't believe that black men routinely beat random victims to death for no reason.
Anon 4:26 PM points out that the possible relation to Zimmerman/Martin was pointed out by the right wing, but not by the mainstream media. That indicates a problem with the mainstream media IMHO. They sometimes bend so far over to avoid being racist that they wind up censoring their news coverage. E.g., after a witness had described the attackers, some local newspapers chose not to report their race.
"That theory ignores the fact that these two black men tried to beat the white victim to death with a hammer."Delete
David, how do you know the victim is white? His identity and race have never been disclosed.
As for "some local newspapers . . . chose not to report their (suspects) race" utterly, utterly false. Every newspaper and TV station in the area reported the description of the suspects including their race, and every newspaper and TV station in the area published their mugshots.
Which is why the rightwing blogosphere went bezerk(er). They saw pictures of two young black suspects, read the dateline "Sanford, Fla." then jumped from A on the English alphabet to the final point on the Russian alphabet in concluding, beyond question, that this crime had nothing to do with the stolen car, and everything to do with Trayvon Martin.
And for what purpose? To drag into the discussion their own boogeymen -- Jessie (sic) Jackson, Al Sharpton and Luis (sic) Farrakhan, and to show just how awful people must be for exercising THEIR First Amendment rights and protesting for a full investigation in the Trayvon Martin case. They can't be doing in peacefully, can they? After all, just look at them and look who is leading them.
This is yet another case of right-wingers spreading any lie they want, and people like you swallowing it whole.
And that, sir, is why the "american discourse" has been hard to conduct, and why Somerby was once worthwhile, but now reduced to saying that unless the "other side" (which he defines as only the NYT and MSNBC) answers with absolute precision and perfection, the right-wing lies get to stand.
I for one am sick of it. And you, sir, disgust me. If you want to peddle right-wing lies here, go right ahead. But don't expect not to be called what you are --- a disgusting, racist liar with absolutely no regard for truth.
David is still mind-reading, just like the author of the article he referenced. This incident was a burglary and carjacking, albeit an extremely violent one. Nothing more about it can be stated with any certainty-- not the motivation of the attackers, not the race of the victim, and certainly not anything regarding my beliefs as to what black men "routinely" do or don't do.ReplyDelete
That sort of belief appears to be something that exists only in the fevered brain of the author of the article on the "Divided States" website, and those who would give any credence to his racist screeds. So, thanks for the valuable contribution to this discussion, David.
You're not following David's impeccable logic: Since black people don't go around beating white people with hammers, this has to be connected to the Trayvon Martin case.Delete
There can be no other possible explanation. Even if we don't know the race of the victim.
I can't help but wonder how seriously David would take a "news" article from a blatantly liberal website, if I were to link to one-- especially one that contained similar assumptions, logical failures and bombastic rhetoric to the one he shared.Delete
I also wonder why, after I asked a number of direct, pertinent questions of him in my first post, he responded only to a throwaway sentence at the end of my comment. But I only wonder rhetorically, since it's pretty obvious why.
BKT, I thought your questions were rhetorical, but you want answers, so here goes:Delete
"What, exactly, makes that a "racial" attack?"
I answered this question in my prior posts, although BKT may not agree with my answer.
"Is any crime committed by blacks against someone of another race now a "horrendous racial attack?""
This is clearly rhetorical. However, imagine that the races were reversed. Suppose two white men had yanked a random black man from his car and tried to beat him to death with a hammer. I think we'd all give strong consideration the likelihood that the attack was racial.
"would you care to explain how "authorities" could conceivably blame those specific individuals for this?
For that matter, why anyone would believe that an actual law enforcement group would publicly make such a blatantly inflammatory claim?"
First of all, the report, albeit from a clearly conservative source, said that authorities did make such a claim. Furthermore AFAIK, no other source rufuted that claim (although one wouldn't expect other sources to address this claim if it's not true.)
BKT says that blaming Sharpton and Jackson is inflammatory. Maybe it is. OTOH these two race hustlers are the one who have been inflaming the community. They deserve all the blame they get IMHO.
BTW Anon 6:21 misunderstood my point when s/he says "every newspaper and TV station in the area published their mugshots." My point was that before these suspects had been captured, when all the police had released a witness description, some of the media included weight, height and sex, but didn't include race.
Who's been inflammatory here, David? You labeled something a "horrendous racial attack" when you didn't even know the race of the victim, called the alleged attackers "felons" when you have no idea whether they had ever been convicted of ANY crime, and repeatedly insinuated that they beat someone to death, when the victim is still alive. Why should anyone accept anything you type here after that disgraceful performance?Delete
I asked what "exactly" makes this a racial crime. You responded with "feelings are running so strong in the area" and "it seems plausible that the felons may have been motivated, at least in part, by the poisonous atmosphere." That's some pretty weak tea, David. Would that stand up to scrutiny by you, had it been written by anyone else?
Of course, you essentially answered my second question (which you nonetheless deemed rhetorical) with yes, any crime committed by blacks against people of another race should be viewed as a racial crime. That does confirm my suspicions of your own biases, however.
And even better, despite having long read this blog which criticizes the mainstream media for poor journalism and pushing unsupported narratives instead of news, you accept at face value the word of a website that operates with an obvious ideological agenda simply because no other source has refuted their spurious claim, which you, yourself, admit is unlikely another organization would even bother to debunk. It takes some serious cognitive dissonance to do that and then call someone else a hustler.
Besides, I said that to claim the authorities blamed Jackson, Farrakhan and Obama for the crime without any support for the clam was inflammatory. You tried to redefine my position-- nice argumentative technique.