CARR WRECK: The case of the alleged racial slur!


Part 4—O’Donnell could hear it quite clearly: Incredibly enough, David Carr got one thing right in Monday’s “Media Equation” column.

In an otherwise grossly misleading piece, Carr made an accurate statement about TV “news” operations.

“What is it with television news and corrections?” the Potemkin-based New York Times columnist asked. “When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads.”

Do most parts of the journalism world generally self-correct? Sorry—that claim is absurd on its face. But TV “news” program almost never self-correct, except for the bogus, pseudo-corrections of which Rachel Maddow is making an art form.

TV news programs don't self-correct. To draw from the topic Carr was discussing, MSNBC has routinely failed to correct its mistakes in its coverage of the killing of Trayvon Martin—and those mistakes have been legion.

The channel has also been very selective in what it allows its viewers to hear. Consider the claim that Zimmerman uttered a racial slur in his call to the Sanford police on the night Martin died.

MSNBC loved this claim; it neatly fit the thrilling race novel the station’s employees were selling. With apologies, did Zimmerman utter a word which rhymes with “goons” during his phone call that evening? Anyone with an ounce of sense would have known, right from the start that this was a very shaky claim—that it was very, very, very hard to hear any such statement.

It was extremely hard to hear what Zimmerman said—except on MSNBC! All the way back on March 20, one of the channel’s leading clowns encouraged its viewers to believe that Zimmerman uttered this slur.

Lawrence O’Donnell was speaking with Jasmine Rand, one of the Martin family's lawyers. As they spoke, O’Donnell said he heard the racial slur “easily;” attorney Rand then said the same thing. In all the instances which follow, we will present the transcripts exactly as MSNBC does:
O’DONNELL (3/20/12): I want us all, and the audience especially, to listen to this new portion of the 911 tape that was revealed today. Most people have heard the rest of this tape. But I want to give the audience a heads up, it gets profane. George Zimmerman uses the f-word very clearly. There is absolutely no dispute about that.

He says “f-ing” and it’s the word after that. And the network has kind of bleeped out the word “f-ing.” And so it’s a little bit hard to hear the flow into the next word. But the next word is the big word that’s at issue here.

This is the part of the transcript where the dispatcher is going to say to him, OK, what entrance is it that he’s heading towards? Zimmerman says the back entrance. Then there’s a pause. Then there’s f-ing and there’s a word. And he’s calling, he’s calling Trayvon this word.

RAND: Okay.

O’DONNELL: And I want everyone to listen to it, everyone in the audience. We’ll play it more than once. I want everyone to make their own judgment about what they’re hearing. Let’s listen to that tape now.

DISPATCHER: OK, which entrance is that that he is heading towards?
DISPATCHE: Are you following him?
DISPATCHER: OK, we don’t need you to do that.

O’DONNELL: All right. I just want to let the audience hear it one more time. I’ve listened to it a few times. The first time I heard it, I recognized that, the second word easily. I want to let the audience hear it one more time and then we’ll talk about it.

[Plays audiotape again]

O’DONNELL: Jasmine Rand, what do you hear him saying?

RAND: I hear him saying “f-ing coons.”
O’Donnell and Rand could hear the slur; O’Donnell could hear it "easily." O’Donnell then asked Congresswoman Corrine Brown what she heard.

“I didn’t hear what he said,” Brown said, to her vast credit.

Brown couldn't hear what Zimmerman said—and she didn't lie about it! But at this point, O’Donnell drove home his claim about the slur, even as he semi-acknowledged that some folk were saying that they heard something different. In our view, the statement by Attorney Rand brings in the eternal note of sadness:
O’DONNELL: Attorney Rand, I heard what you heard. And I heard it repeatedly. I’ve played it repeatedly. There are people saying when they hear this word, they hear the word "punks." I know people are saying that with honesty. I think, to some extent, it depends on what computer you’re listening to it on.

But let’s get to your interpretation of it legally. Those two words, the F-ing and then saying the word that you attributed to George Zimmerman, it seems to me constitutes obvious evidence of hateful intent. This is a racial slur that you're hearing him say minutes, seconds possibly before he shoots a black teenager to death for having done absolutely nothing.

RAND: Well, I mean, I think as you said, the racial overtones to me, they couldn’t be ignored to begin with. And certainly, you know, after I went back and analyzed what I heard, too— I didn’t hear it the first time. But I certainly went back and listened to it several times now. And that’s what I hear.
So sad, and so revealing of the way these processes work. Rand couldn’t hear the slur the first time—so she went back and tried it again! Meanwhile, O’Donnell left little doubt with his viewers as to what they should think about this. He had been able to hear the slur easily, repeatedly. If others couldn’t hear the word, it must be their computers!

Can we talk? Lynch mobs have always behaved this way—and people do die in the process. One week after O’Donnell started stirring us rubes, Spike Lee—a decent, intelligent person—did something exceptionally foolish. He tweeted out the supposed address of Zimmerman’s parents; the people who lived at this (mistaken) address were thereby forced to move into a hotel. Can we talk? Horrible people like Lawrence O’Donnell were doing their best to get other folk killed. And others would swear they could hear the slur before this disgraceful cable “news” channel was done with this horrible episode.

(In standard fashion, MSNBC didn’t burden its viewers with knowledge of what Lee had done. CNN, Fox, even NBC News reported Lee’s amazingly bad decision. According to the Nexis archives, MSNBC never did.)

O’Donnell could “easily” hear the slur. But he and Rand would not be the last to prime this channel’s viewers in this highly inflammatory manner. On March 23, Chris Matthews invited black conservative-turned-pseudo-liberal Michelle Bernard to spread this claim a bit further. He too pimped the corporate line, as he has done for many years, through various corporate regimes:
BERNARD (3/23/12): I have listened to the enhanced version of the tape. ... I’m going to say it. I don’t think we should hide it. The American public needs to know. If you listen to that tape, he says "F-ing coon" under his breath. That is a racial slur.


BERNARD: It is unmistakable. It is undenial—if you listen, undeniable, if you listen to the unenhanced version. That in and of itself makes it a hate crime. That’s why the Justice Department is involved. It’s why the FBI is going to have to investigate this case.


BERNARD: You can hear it very clearly on the tape. The police ask him, Are you following this person? And he says yes. They say, We don’t need you to do this. He keeps doing it. Then you add in what sounds like him saying “F-ing coon."

MATTHEWS: No, I heard it. And it’s not just “sounds like.” Anybody watching this show, if they were sitting in my office a few minutes ago, listening—

BERNARD: Would have heard it.

MATTHEWS: —would have heard it. It’s— Let’s do it again. It’s the "F-ing" word followed by a word we all recognize, unfortunately, as racially evil, really. Go ahead.

BERNARD: It is evil!...You have motive, and it’s clearly based on racial bias.
On this appalling channel, viewers were repeatedly primed to believe that Zimmerman uttered that slur.

On March 28, Big Ed Schultz booked a liberal hero to advance the company line. Avert your gaze as Alan Grayson makes a series of grievous misstatements:
SCHULTZ (3/28/12): Breaking news in the Trayvon Martin case tonight! ABC News has obtained video of George Zimmerman being brought into the police department on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

I am joined by Alan Grayson, former Florida congressman, who is from the Orlando area. Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. You have, you have been at these rallies for Trayvon all week, and have been paying close attention to the case. What are your impressions of this police house videotape that was obtained tonight?

GRAYSON: Well, I think it blows apart the Zimmerman argument that he was acting out of fear rather than out of hatred. But I’ll tell you, I sometimes wonder why people think that’s some kind of good defense. I don’t believe it in his case. I think if you call someone "f-ing coon," then you`re animated by nothing but hatred.

But still he seems to be operating under the illusion that if he simply says that he feared, then somehow that excuses the death of a young boy. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t. The boy is dead. If you do the crime, you’re going to have to do the time.

SCHULTZ: Do you believe that this videotape is inconsistent with the police report?

GRAYSON: Yes, I’ve read the police report. I saw the tape. And I think there is an inconsistency.

SCHULTZ: And what would you be thinking right now if you were representing the Martin family in this case?

GRAYSON: I think that it proves their point. This is someone who— Zimmerman should under no circumstances be allowed to have a gun. It should have been taken from him a long time ago. And he should have been arrested a long time ago. He should have been tried. And it looks to me like he’ll be convicted.
Good God. They should have taken Zimmerman’s gun! And of course, Zimmerman uttered that slur! (Grayson also implied that the videotape debunked the claim of injuries.)

MSNBC never let up on its treatment of that alleged racial slur. On April 2, Bernard was back on Hardball, preaching to guest host Michael Smerconish with back-up from E. Michael Collins:
SMERCONISH (4/2/12): Michelle, I’ve been saying that I need to know two things. I need to know who’s crying for help at the end of that 911 call. I also want to know, was a racial epithet said by Zimmerman under his breath at a time when he appears to be, by audio, in pursuit of Trayvon Martin. You know what I’m referring to.

BERNARD: I absolutely know what you’re referring to. I have listened to that tape over and over and over again. If you listen to it closely, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, beyond a shadow of a doubt—

COLLINS: There’s no doubt.

BERNARD: —that under his breath, that George Zimmerman called Trayvon Martin an "F-ing coon." If you listen to it closely, there's no doubt about it whatsoever.
There was no doubt, two guests exclaimed. Smerconish offered no rebuttal or challenge.

On April 3, one of Al Sharpton’s “legal experts” simply stated, as a fact, that Zimmerman uttered “an aside, f-ing coons. That would be dramatic evidence of what his state of mind was and what his attitude was towards Trayvon Martin, not as a human being, but as a black, an unnamed black.” Neither Sharpton nor any of his other “experts” challenged this factual claim. On April 5, Sharpton noted that an audio expert had now said that Zimmerman really said “punks.” But he quickly warned his viewers against placing faith in such “experts.”

On April 4, the most irresponsible hack of them all was at it again on his program. As always, he spoke with Charles Blow:
O’DONNELL (4/4/12): I would say there’s a jury credibility issue moment in there where the police—the dispatcher says to him, are you following him? Yes. We don’t need you to do that. Zimmerman`s response is "OK," which anyone on the other end of the phone believes, OK, I’m not going to do that.

He then goes on to do it. There’s also upcoming in the 911 call this racial slur. Let’s just play that very quickly.

DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
DISPATCHER: OK, we don`t need you to do that.
DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
DISPATCHER: OK, we don`t need you to do that.

O’DONNELL: Everyone—not everyone. A lot of people listening to that think they hear a racial slur.
Aside from the ugly performance concerning the slur, O’Donnell said that Zimmerman continued following Martin after the dispatcher spoke. This factual claim has not been demonstrated—and Zimmerman says it’s wrong.

Can we talk? Anyone with an ounce of sense would have understood, right from the start, that it was very, very hard to hear what Zimmerman said at the point on the tape where a racial slur was alleged. On Hardball, this produced the clownish moment when Matthews and Bernard actually thought the tape had been cut off because they couldn’t hear the alleged racial slur—the racial slur they had “undeniably” heard just moments before. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/24/12. Prepare to squirm and burn.) On O’Donnell’s program, this produced the sad but instructive moment where Attorney Rand said she couldn’t hear the slur the first time—so she went back and tried again, getting it right this time.

It also produced the grown-up moment when Rep. Brown, speaking the truth, said she couldn’t hear what Zimmerman said. But the rest of this lynch mob simply pretended, as such mobs have always done all through our benighted history.

By now, you may know the rest. This case was given to Angela Corey, who is perhaps the most aggressive prosecutor in the state of Florida. On April 12, she released her formal criminal charges against Zimmerman—and she said that he hadn’t uttered a slur, that he had actually used the work "punks." On MSNBC, O’Donnell, Sharpton, Schultz and guest host Smerconish made fleeting statements to this effect, with Sharpton suggesting that “fucking punks” was almost as bad.

This is what was said by the most degraded hack of them all. This was Lawrence O’Donnell’s full attempt at a correction/ clarification/ retraction/ explanation. He spoke with his trusted companion:
O’DONNELL (4/12/12): I want to now dig into this affidavit today, because it’s short, but it is I think very revealing of the prosecutor’s case. It begins by saying Zimmerman observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal.

So she has gone into his state of mind about what he was thinking there. She said, during the recorded call, Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins.

She determines, the prosecutor has determined that one of the things he said on that 911 audio tape, after saying “these people”—you know the word I can’t say on TV, they always get away with this stuff. And then he also said, these “f-ing punks.”

Charles Blow, the prosecutor seems to have determined that it’s the word “punks” as opposed to the specific racial slur word many of us have thought we have heard on that tape.

BLOW: Right. So that is one of the only kind of points of clarification that you get in this very short affidavit. In fact, you know, I’m not a lawyer. I do not know. I am just a reader of this.
After weeks of running his lynch mob around, that was O’Donnell’s full discussion of what this bulldog prosecutor said she had determined.

Was that a sufficient correction/ clarification/ explanation? Should people like Matthews, Bernard and O’Donnell explain their previous conduct?

The coverage by this disgraceful channel has included tons of factual errors, errors which have gone uncorrected. But should these horrible people have explained their jihad about that alleged racial slur, in a case where it was always clear that it was very, very, very hard to hear what Zimmerman said?

In a case where people were warning, right from the start, that he hadn’t uttered that word?

You’ll have to judge that one for yourself. But in the mind of David Carr, this disgraceful, month-long performance constitutes “aggressive coverage” by MSNBC! That was all this hackworthy creature could say in Monday’s pretense at a column.

But then, Carr was writing a piece of Potemkin press criticism, of a familiar type.

In fact, mainstream journalists almost never challenge the work of their colleagues, even when their colleagues have engaged in disgraceful misconduct. Instead, they offer work like Carr’s, in which a pseudo-journalist pretended to fly-speck the work of NBC News.

Crackers, you can bet the house! Carr will never discuss this channel’s actual conduct. But then too, neither will Howard Kurtz, mayor of Potemkin Village, U.S.A.

Kurtz is our best-known “media reporter”—and he’s actually very smart. Question: Why has he failed to discuss the conduct displayed by this disgraceful channel? Also this:

Why has he failed to discuss the work of Fox News down through all these years?

Coming: A familiar type of “press criticism”


  1. "But the rest of this lynch mob simply pretended,"

    It's what they do. Not one of these clowns would have behaved any differently if they ended up in Zimmerman's predicament.

    They might not end up in it because they might not possess do-gooder hero zeal combined with the frustration of frequent break-ins and declining property values (in lily white CC? darlings!), but a call to 911 and attempt to find an address do not justify a physical attack, and do not eliminate one's right to self-defense.

    The "liberal" establishment apologizes for the likes of Angela Corey and gins up lynch mobs targeting secondary victims of tragic and complex incidents. "Racism" is what turns them on at the moment. They jerk off to the pleasurable feelings of mob rage fueled by MSNBC, careful to preserve the fantasy by suppressing any boner killing facts like photos of Zimmerman's injuries.

    1. Can we stick to the facts here? He didn't call 911. He called the dispatch number.

  2. Zimmerman=Ted Nugent. Needs a gun to make him feel tough enough to deal with his fears. The only difference is Zimmerman obviously isn't too scared to use his on the unarmed.


  3. Am I to understand that Somerby is still beating what the despised Lawrence O'Donnell said FIVE WEEKS AGO???

    1. Me, too, you have a problem with the truth. This isn't going to die, bud.

      Wow, some people on here have a problem with the truth. The truth is this news company has crossed the line, and that should bother everyone in America.

      They need to go..

    2. The MSM is the propaganda arm of corporations. To criticize their actions is akin to hating capitalism.


  4. Speaking of inventing our own facts, here is Bob Somerby from yesterday, writing about the latest photo of Zimmerman from ABC News:

    "It shows the back of Zimmerman’s head, which was awash in blood."

    "Awash in blood"? Really? The blood doesn't even reach his neck. I've bled worse from a paper cut on my index finger.

    Now I suppose it could be counted as hyperbole, an exaggeration for effect, but of course, Somerby jumps all over anyone else who does that.

    Check that. Anyone else who works for MSNBC or the New York Times, apparently the only media he seems to follow.

  5. Must've been one hell of a paper cut. Or did you mean that hyperbolically as well?

    1. Yeah, sure. Can Zimmerman eat solid food yet? When will his stitches be removed?

    2. Oh yeah! Well, you photoshopped your papercut!

  6. Bob, you need help. Seriously, bud, you need to write about something else for awhile. You're becoming the thing you say you don't like, the person who is obsessed with one or two things to the exclusion of all else. I used to faithfully read everything you wrote, now when I see you're writing about Trayvon Martin I know I can skip it because your argument is "MSNBC bad, lazy" and "NY Times bad, lazy", and not much else. I think we've figured it out by now. How about talking more about the presidential campaign, and less about this topic?

    1. That would be nice, but then again, his presidential campaign focus seems to be limited to Gail Collins and the dog.

    2. Bob writes about the liberal media. The liberal media has been 24/7 TrayVon for the past month. When they start talking about something else, I'm sure he'll write about that.

    3. Actually, since the charges were filed, the time spent on the Trayvon Martin case has dropped dramatically, even on MSNBC.

      For example, last night, the hated Ed Schultz had segments on the student loan interest battle, the Wisconsin recall, the Postal Service crisis, Mitt Romney's potential VPs, the right-wing freakout over Obama's appearance on Jimmy Fallon, and Sean Hannity telling how wonderful beans and rice are for poor people to eat.

      Nothing about Trayvon Martin.

      The despised Rachel Maddow did segments on Romney and his problems with the Latino vote and his ever changing stand on immigration, the problems veterans returning from combat are having in getting mental health care, a "obit" of sorts on the Newt Gingrich campaign, the student loan crisis including an interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan --- and nothing on Trayvon Martin.

      Lawrence O'Donnell had a segment on an Inauguration Day meeting of Republican leadership to oppose everything Obama proposed, the Obama appearance on O'Fallon, and interview with Bob Kerrey, and a poignant interview with Rodney King which was the only segment all night long that touched on the Trayvon Martin case.

    4. The Martin case warrants the coverage here because we can witness the lying and lynch-mobbing before our eyes in real time.

      The only reason for the complaints is that Bob is revealing the inconvenient truth to many who so badly wanted a neat and clean lynching with no bothersome complexity.

  7. Berto -- According to Reuters, Zimmerman got a gun to deal with a dangerous dog, at the recommendation of a policeman. He was raised in a mixed household that included black children.

    The entire article is worth reading. It contains lots of actual reporting, rather than just follow some chosen narrative.

    1. Zimmerman takes recommendations of the police? Since when?

    2. David, once again, do you even bother to read the stuff you link to?

      If so, then did you catch this?

      "Don't use pepper spray," he [the unnamed polic officer] told the Zimmermans, ACCORDING TO A FRIEND [emphasis added]. "It'll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter second for the dog to jump you," he said. "Get a gun."

      So I guess if a friend of Zimmerman said it, three years later, it must be true.

    3. This part was very interesting. Apparently our crazed racist stalker wasn't too eager to follow people he suspected of committing the crimes in his neighborhood (and in this case his suspicions were accurate).

      On February 2, 2012, Zimmerman placed a call to Sanford police after spotting a young black man he recognized peering into the windows of a neighbor's empty home, according to several friends and neighbors.

      "I don't know what he's doing. I don't want to approach him, personally," Zimmerman said in the call, which was recorded. The dispatcher advised him that a patrol car was on the way. By the time police arrived, according to the dispatch report, the suspect had fled.

  8. David in Cal,
    The media should be looking into where that dangerous dog was on that night.
    I know it's been a few weeks, but have you been able to answer the question posed to you yet: What actions by Martin made him look suspicious to Zimmerman?


    1. The Reuters article says that there had been several break-ins in the complex, allegedly by young black males. So maybe it was racial profiling, or at least maybe it was Martin's race that made him look suspicious to Zimmerman.

  9. The more commenters complain about Mr. Somerby, the more Mr. Somerby's thesis about "tribal" thinking is proven correct. I agree that he seems obsessed about MSNBC's coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting, but that seems to be him MO -- he gets obsessed by certain topics, such as the press's conduct during the 2000 presidential race, for example. That's his prerogative.

    What I'm taking away from his posts is that MSNBC has turned itself into a mirror image of Fox News -- it has similar fact-challenged narratives being pushed by propagandistic hosts who attempt to manipulate public opinion, except MSNBC and Fox happen to come at things from different viewpoints.

    I think that Mr. Somerby wants us to consider whether that's a good thing, and specifically whether it's possible to have a working democracy if the public is ill-informed. His further point is that if it's okay with you that whichever side your on "wins" the day's debates by any means necessary, it's hard to complain when the other side prevails using the same nefarious tactics.

    1. Really? You needed Bob Somerby to tell you that MSNBC has become a mirror image of Fox? Tell me which post of his finally opened your eyes since this has been going on for about nine years now since the debut of Keith Olbermann's "Countdown".

  10. Again, at this point, since Bob Somerby's whole mission in life seems to be proving that the liberal media is as evil or worse than the right, we must ask "how the hell is Fox News doing on the story?" They have a much greater audience than MSNBC, so I assume The Daily Howler is bent on keeping them honest as well. They must be doing a really good job.

    1. Do we really need to ask how Fox News is doing on the story? There are many well-known sites (Think Progress, Media Matters, etc.) covering Fox News' ongoing propaganda campaigns. That information is readily available. Not so readily available is coverage of "liberal" media's distortions and misstatements.

      MSNBC is touted as the liberal answer to Fox, the place where "the reality-based community" can get good information. Rachel Maddow is hailed as a Rhodes Scholar; surely she can be counted on to report things accurately? To comment thoughtfully, to make well-reasoned arguments supported by verifiable evidence? The New York Times and the Washington Post are our nation's two most reputable newspapers, surely they put finding and accurately reporting the truth above petty superficial trivia? If these pillars of liberal society, these guardians of our political discourse fail, and fail continuously and embarrassingly, are we supposed to just let it go?

      No. Fox is doing a tremendously poor job, but everyone (on the left) knows it and no one expects any different. But MSNBC isn't doing any better, and they deserve to be called out for that until they quit doing it. If they won't, then they need to be looked at with as much skepticism as we look at Fox.

    2. There is also no shortage of blogs, critics, columnists, pundits, would-be authors wailing about "liberal media bias" and using the New York Times in particular as the whipping boy.

      And that's been going on for decades.

      Glad to see Somerby is continuing in the grand tradition of Spiro Agnew.

    3. @Rob

      "MSNBC is touted as the liberal answer to Fox, "

      Really, Rob? And who is doing that touting? Liberals? Ring-wingers hostile to liberals? You? I have never heard anyone making such claims, except from the right.

      And it's your view that Comcast and General Electric are in the business of promoting liberal ideology? You'll need to explain how exactly two very reactionary corporations arrived at liberalism.

      And because Rachel Maddow is "hailed as a Rhodes Scholar" (again, hailed by whom?) that means "liberals" have to answer for her?

      And in who's fevered imagination are WaPO and NYT "pillars of liberal society? Most folks on the left regard them as corporate stooges. Have you ever looked into the economic prescriptions promoted at WaPO? Or the NYT's support for aggressive war?

      Bro, you need to get a better on the nation's media.

    4. What is this "liberal media" you speak of? Mother Jones Magazine?


  11. I watched O'Donnell's show the night he played the tape and I heard the word. Before anyone on the show said anything about what they heard I heard "coon" and I remember thinking that it was odd that this young guy was using such an old racial epithet. I definitely heard "coon". I agree with Michelle Bernard.

  12. The consequences of manufacturing racism and spreading false information in a case like this, in a country like this with our horrendous racial history, are foreseeable, predictable and tragic. That's why this story is important. If nobody else dies as a result of this shameful irresponsibility I'll be surprised. Thank you Bob for addressing it.

  13. The fact is, it is possible for a person with a zealous hero complex to set events in motion that lead to him legitimately killing someone in self-defense who was not initially committing any offense.

    Wrap your heads around it because it's the law and it is defensible, a reality that is distorted and lost on more than a few rubes when an irrelevant racial dimension is introduced by a lynch mob.

    1. If one believes Z's story, M had made an unprovoked attack on Z and was banging his head against the sidewalk. If that's true, then I don't think it's relevant that M was not initially committing any offense. If you did what M allegedly did, and the person you attacked had a gun, wouldn't you expect that your victim might shoot you?

      Anon, you say Z had a zealous hero complex. According to the Reuters article I linked to, he really was a kind of neighborhood hero, helping to protect people against break-ins and robberies that had become common.

    2. I don't know if you can rightly call the attack "unprovoked" even if Zimmerman is telling the truth. He actually was following, or shadowing, or whatever you want to call it, a suspicious person, who turned out to be Martin. I would certainly find it threatening to have someone following me.

    3. Especially if I were in an environment strange to me.

    4. Yes I would indeed expect a person with a gun to use it if attacked in the way Zimmerman appears to have been attacked. And yes, what Martin might have been doing or not doing earlier is not relevant in that moment.

      Zimmerman's interest in reporting people he found suspicious could reflect the recent events in his neighborhood and a reasonable, human response to them by a frustrated homeowner but his level of vigilance seems unusual. Even if it is, an unusual level of interest and vigilance is not criminal and does not justify a physical attack.

    5. It may not justify a physical attack, but the attack is not unprovoked.

    6. Just like a person attacking someone runs the risk that the person may be armed, following a person runs the risk that the person being followed may take it as a threat and attack. There's more than one bad decision involved in this tragedy.

    7. But there is only one dead body.

      John, this is something I've been saying to the Zimmerman apologists for quite some time. They tend to look at this incident only from Zimmerman's perspective and come up with all sorts of reasons for the guy to get out of his vehicle with a loaded gun and follow the kid.

      When you also look at it from Trayvon Martin's perspective, you also might come to the conclusion that there was more than one guy who feared for his safety if not his life.

      So the question to me becomes upon whose ground was each of them standing?

    8. But if you look at it from both people's perspective, you have a complicated tragedy that doesn't advance anyone's political agenda. And where's the fun in that?

    9. Agreed with Anon @ 7:24 AM. From Martin's perspective, there's a guy he doesn't know who pops up, follows him, confronts him, and starts asking hostile questions. Martin doesn't know who the hell this guy is, and I've never read any account that suggested that Zimmerman identified himself. Then at some point it becomes evident that Zimmerman has a gun. In Martin's mind, isn't he the one who's randomly being made the victim of a crime? Isn't he just fighting back against a stranger who just won't go away?

      Of course, I have a hard time picturing the Sanford authorities, after a confrontation that _Martin_ survived and in which _Zimmerman_ perished, saying, "Meh, Stand Your Ground probably applies here, not a lot we can do about this poor shmoe."

  14. MSNBC is off my play list but Bob, maybe you should listen for yourself. I found the tape words to be clear myself. Here's a repeating isolation of the critical seconds on the tape:

  15. I did the homework, I ripped the half second whisper and slowed it down. It's a long "oh". If anything he said "fucking cone" perhaps because he tripped over a traffic cone.

    Or, it was raining, one dude wearing a hoodie, had his hands in his pants, and it was windy (audibly), and it was also "fucking cold."

    Anyway, all this griping about media bias deserves a reality check from Orwell that goes especially to you gun maniacs who creed now is that working yourself into high pitched hysteria over someone who looks black, YES HE'S A BLACK MALE UP TO NO GOOD is the most rational argument:

    "I have little direct evidence about the atrocities in the Spanish civil
    war. I know that some were committed by the Republicans, and far more
    (they are still continuing) by the Fascists. But what impressed me then,
    and has impressed me ever since, is that atrocities are believed in or
    disbelieved in solely on grounds of political predilection. Everyone
    believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his
    own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence."
    (Looking back on the Spanish Civil War - page 2)

    "At this moment, a man presumably carrying a
    message to an officer, jumped out of the trench and ran along the top of
    the parapet in full view. He was half-dressed and was holding up his
    trousers with both hands as he ran. I refrained from shooting at him. It
    is true that I am a poor shot and unlikely to hit a running man at a
    hundred yards, and also that I was thinking chiefly about getting back to
    our trench while the Fascists had their attention fixed on the
    aeroplanes. Still, I did not shoot partly because of that detail about
    the trousers. I had come here to shoot at 'Fascists'; but a man who is
    holding up his trousers isn't a 'Fascist', he is visibly a
    fellow-creature, similar to yourself, and you don't feel like shooting at
    him. "

    (ibid , page 2)

  16. John, this is something I've been saying to the Zimmerman apologists for quite some time. They tend to look at this incident only from Zimmerman's perspective and come up with all sorts of reasons for the guy to get out of his vehicle with a loaded gun and follow the kid.

    That's not exactly true. Most Zimmerman defenders think that in retrospect it's too bad he didn't stay in his vehicle. Many of us think if Martin had attacked Zimmerman and run away or even killed him, he might have had a weaker but legitimate SYG claim.

    The fact that it's "too bad" Zimmerman didn't stay in his vehicle doesn't mean he committed a crime when he followed Martin, whether the reason was to see where Martin was going or to find an address for the police. The fact that Martin might put forth a successful self-defense claim if he prevailed in the physical altercation doesn't mean Zimmerman did not have a self-defense claim.

    The Zimmerman attackers were and are quick to vilify and unleash a lynch mob on someone whose worst "crime" that night was likely limited to exercising imperfect but not indefensible judgment when he decided to leave his vehicle.

    1. Zimmerman likely did not commit any crime that night, and the most unjustified act on his part was leaving his vehicle. Shooting Martin in self-defense is not a crime.

    2. Then you surely agree that had Z followed a "suspicious looking" woman, went after her, had sex with her, then reported she attacked him so he had to shoot her "in fear of his life", then what Z says just has to be true. After all, who is there to dispute it?

      There seems to be a new "crazy" infecting the perceptions of some people where killers always tell the truth.