CARR WRECK: MSNBC’s “aggressive” coverage!


Part 3—Carr averts his gaze: What sorts of lessons can we learn from the killing of Trayvon Martin?

Even without fully knowing the facts, we can perhaps agree on these points:

If you go to Target at 7 PM, you might think twice about bringing a gun. If you see someone you think is suspicious and you call the police, you might think twice about attempting to follow this person yourself.

Here’s a third lesson we might learn from this incident: Police departments play very key roles in our communities. If you listen to the six or seven 911 calls which were made on the night of the killing, you hear deeply concerned ear-witness citizens being assured that the police were on the way to the scene.

You can hear these people's sense of relief when they see, or when they are told, that police have arrived on the scene.

People rely on the work of police. For that reason, police departments should be held to professional standards. But then too, police departments shouldn’t be recklessly slandered, even if it helps corporate entities and their overpaid hirelings build their cable ratings.

With that in mind, let’s consider the way MSNBC has reported on the work of the Sanford police. This is part of this channel’s “aggressive coverage of the incident,” as described by David Carr, the New York Times’ train wreck of a media columnist.

Has MSNBC presented “aggressive” coverage of this tragic, important event? Or might some other term apply? With respect to the work of the Sanford police, MSNBC personnel and guests have made these charges:

For weeks, MSNBC viewers were told that the Sanford police let George Zimmerman “walk away with his gun” on the night of the shooting. By now, it seems quite clear that this inflammatory charge was false.

For weeks, MSNBC viewers were told that the Sanford police didn’t collect Zimmerman’s clothing for forensic analysis. No one is making this claim any more—and the Orlando Sentinel has reported that this claim was false.

Did Sanford police take crime scene photos, including photos of Zimmerman’s possible injuries? For weeks, viewers were told that this didn’t occur. No one is making this claim any more. We’ll guess that this claim was false.

At Salon, MSNBC contributor Joan Walsh told us rubes that the Sanford police didn’t even take Zimmerman down to the station. By now, everyone knows this ludicrous statement was false—though Walsh’s piece at Salon still bears no correction.

These points barely scratch the surface of the disgrace this channel has authored. At MSNBC, viewers heard weeks of false, inflammatory charges about the work of the Sanford police. These claims were part of a thrilling crime novel, in which the cracker-laden Sanford police didn’t care if the son of a former Virginia magistrate shot a black teen-ager.

Nothing would stop this channel’s hacks from extending their thrilling crime novel. At one point, the channel began reporting that the lead investigator at the scene, Chris Serino, had wanted to charge Zimmerman with a crime on the night of the shooting. This created an obvious logical problem: If the lead investigator viewed the matter this way, why would he have led a bogus investigation?

This contradiction would have occurred to a distracted six-year-old child. But it didn’t occur to the corporate hacks who pimp their manifest bullshit on The One True Liberal Channel. These circus performers simply continued extending their novel, offering all manner of “evidence” to support their exciting narrative.

Logic plays no role in such novels. When the case was handed to Angela Corey, Florida’s craziest prosecutor, it took her a full three weeks to file a criminal charge against Zimmerman. But on MSNBC, the novelists continue to rail against the fact that the Sanford police didn’t charge Zimmerman with a crime on the very first night. By the way: Who made that initial decision? What role was played by the Sanford police? We still have no clear idea about that—in party because we watch this channel, a channel which has made no effort to sort out this obvious question.

On Monday night, Charles Blow finally jumped the land shark in the attempt to craft this novel. Speaking with the dim-witted Lawrence O’Donnell, Blow lodged two new complaints against the Sanford police: They wiped their feet on a mat when they took Zimmerman down to the station! And someone leaned against a wall! (No, we really aren't making this up. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/24/12.)

We don’t understand those claims either. But Blow actually lodged them—and O’Donnell thanked him for his service, telling him that he had presented “a perfect summary of where we stand.”

This is part of this disgraceful channel’s coverage of the Sanford police. Concerning their coverage of Zimmerman himself, consider a recent development:

Last Friday, ABC News released a photograph taken at the scene of the shooting. It shows the back of Zimmerman’s head, which was awash in blood. (To see the photo, click here.)

How much does this photo tell us about Zimmerman’s apparent injuries? We have no idea.

It’s commonly said that head wounds bleed a great deal. Not being medical experts ourselves, we can’t assess the medical meaning of this photo. But the photograph makes one thing clear; Zimmerman did seem to sustain some sort of injury to the back of his head that night.

Unless you’re watching Sharpton or O’Donnell on MSNBC. In that case, this new photograph doesn’t exist!

Sad, ain’t it? For weeks, viewers of these cable “news” programs were told that Zimmerman may not have sustained any injuries at all. Below, we see Sharpton speaking with Lawyer Crump, one night before the original, grainy videotape from the Sanford police station was released.

(For the record, Crump is not an invention of Charles Dickens, although his name, his words and his demeanor may sometimes convey that impression.)

Warning! Many of Sharpton’s factual claims in this passage seem to be false. But you can see the thrust of his claims regarding Zimmerman’s alleged injuries:
SHARPTON (3/28/12): Let me ask you this, something that doesn’t make sense to me. We’re told that the Zimmerman side of the story was that he was beaten, his head was being crashed by Trayvon and that his nose was broken.

Wouldn’t you think if the state prosecutor was there that night that they would have made him go to the hospital to document that he had a broken nose and these bruises? Isn’t it strange that if the prosecutor was there, the police chief was there, chief investigator was there, that they didn’t make this young man go to the hospital and document his wounds, or document his injuries?

And also, if he had those amounts of injuries, how clear-headed was he to give a statement that would convince them that it was all self-defense and that he, in fact, had done no wrong? I mean, a lot of this just does not add up to me.

CRUMP: And you’re right, Reverend Sharpton. It doesn’t add up. And it’s one of those things that you would think if he was as injured as they claimed in this second police report, because you remember in the first police report, they didn`t put any of that in there. And–

SHARPTON: There were no injuries mentioned in the first police report, am I correct?

CRUMP: None whatsoever, Reverend Sharpton.
None whatsoever! In such conversations, Sharpton’s viewers were encouraged to think that there may have been no injuries at all—that the Sanford police may have invented the claim of injuries after the fact.

That was a very serious charge. It was also profoundly irresponsible, like so much of the unfolding conduct on this gruesome “news” channel.

The very day after that discussion, grainy videotape surfaced from the Sanford police station. Anyone with an ounce of sense could have seen that this grainy tape provided a very poor view of any possible injuries. But Sharpton was crafting a brilliant crime novel; he and his hand-picked guests began encouraging viewers to think that the grainy videotape contradicted the claim of injuries. As of April 2, Sharpton was saying this:
SHARPTON (4/2/12): Welcome back to Politics Nation.

George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense is central to his version of events, but the more we learn, the more shaky that claim becomes. His supporters say George was in the fight for his life that night. His father says, quote, "It’s my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete." His brother said, quote, "George was out of breath. He was barely conscious. His last thing he remembers doing was moving his head from the concrete to the grass.”

The video in the police station did not show those injuries.
Last Friday, a photograph from ABC News did show some sort of injury to the back of Zimmerman’s head. What was Sharpton’s reaction?

Simple! To the day, Sharpton’s viewers haven’t been shown the new photograph. Last Friday, the photograph was briefly shown on Hardball and The Ed Show, but Journalist Sharpton took a pass on the new photo, despite spending his program's first thirty minutes on the Martin killing. Sharpton’s viewers have never been asked to look at that new photo.

O’Donnell hasn’t shown the photograph either. In his case, let’s consider his inane conduct regarding George Zimmerman’s nose.

Did Zimmerman sustain a broken nose? Like O’Donnell, we don’t know. But Lawrence O’Donnell has been very busy constructing a novel about these events. On April 5, this dumbest of humans, speaking with Blow, shared his thoughts about the work of Zimmerman’s original lawyers.

Zimmerman’s lawyers had been unclear about the status of any medical records. Showcasing his world-class dumbness, O’Donnell made it clear that he deeply doubted the claim of a broken nose.

Blow pretended to be a medical expert, which he plainly isn’t. O'Donnell also spoke with Natalie Jackson, one of the Martin's family's lawyers:
O’DONNELL (4/5/12): Charles Blow, my feeling has been if they could say, “We will produce medical records of him visiting an emergency room that night or the next day or any doctor within 24 hours of this event concerning a broken nose,” they would say they had the records. If they weren’t really thrilled with how good those records were, they might not show them to us. But they’d say they had them if they had them.

BLOW: Right. That is the crucial point here. Is there a broken nose? And if George Zimmerman’s head was being smashed into the pavement, is there some evidence of a concussion?

And those things can be proven, and if he actually did receive medical care. What we know now is that the second ambulance was canceled because the person who was attending to George Zimmerman did not believe that he had sufficient enough injuries to warrant even an ambulance. [Note: To judge from the actual dispatch, the second ambulance was canceled when it became clear that there was only one gunshot victim.]

And what we also know is that we see George Zimmerman 35 minutes after the fact. We see him not even reaching for the nose, not trying to—a broken bone is excruciating. There are a zillion nerve endings in the face. You would be in excruciating pain.

We know that that is not what we see on the tape. We know that the one witness that was interviewed on CNN, on Anderson Cooper's show, said that the person, George Zimmerman, sprang up after the shooting, did not appear hurt. He never says that he reaches for his head. He never says that the person is holding their nose, none of that.

So what we know flies right in the face of the idea that someone has a broken bone in the face...

O’DONNELL: Natalie Jackson, two things, what would you take as proof that George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose that night? Or even reasonable evidence tending toward proof? Don’t even go to the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

And then, secondly, in the representation of George Zimmerman at this stage, can you think of any conceivable defense reason why they wouldn't answer that simple question on CNN last night of do you have any records? He wasn’t asking them that they produce it and put it on the table on the show last night. But just answer the question, “Do you have any medical records of how this broken nose was treated?”

I cannot think of a single reason why a defense lawyer for Zimmerman wouldn't want to say now, if they had them, “Yes, we do have records of that. We will produce them in the right forum at the right time.”
After a preamble, Jackson said this: “So when we talk about a broken nose and we talk about those things, that is for the defense to present in court so that the evidence can be evaluated by a jury. Now do I personally believe that they have that record? I do not.”

The New York Times should be deeply embarrassed by Dr. Blow’s obvious quackery. Eventually, though, Journalist O’Donnell showcased his fairness of mind:
O’DONNELL: Yeah, Charles, I mean, listen, it would slow me down on this broken nose thing if they would just say, “We have medical records that will satisfy everyone that he was treated for that broken nose as a result of this incident.” The fact that they are not, the fact that they refuse every time they’re asked the question about—I asked the empty chair the question when he walked out.

BLOW: I thought I heard him answer.

O’DONNELL: Do you have medical records of this? And the empty chair didn’t answer either. It’s the same thing. You get them on the show or not. It doesn’t matter.
O’Donnell referred to an incident in which one of Zimmerman’s original lawyers canceled a scheduled appearance on his program. But on this evening's program, viewers were strongly encouraged to doubt the claim of a broken nose—though O’Donnell said he would change his mind if the lawyers would only say that they did have medical records.

Uh-oh! Last Friday, in Zimmerman’s bail hearing, his new lawyer, Mark O’Mara, clearly said that he does have medical records of a broken nose. How did O’Donnell react?

Crackers, please! He hasn’t shared this fact his viewers! They haven’t been asked to look at that photo—and they haven’t been told that O’Mara seems to have taken The O’Donnell Challenge concerning the alleged broken nose.

To media reporter David Carr, this is all part of the “aggressive” coverage that has been staged by MSNBC. Questions:

Why would an actual media reporter describe this disgraceful behavior that way? Why wouldn’t such a journalist leap at the chance to challenge this ridiculous conduct? Why would he do what Carr did instead in Monday’s column? Why would he single out just one of the roughly three million mistakes by NBC News and its cable affiliates, pretending to watch-dog NBC hard about this troubling error?

Tomorrow, we’ll return to these basic questions. But O’Donnell and Sharpton have been “disgraceful,” not “aggressive,” in their coverage of this killing.

The rest of the “press corps” averts its gaze from this blindingly obvious fact. But this has long been the game within the guild we still describe as a “press corps.”

Tomorrow: An endless charade


  1. Sorry for the OT, but Granholm had Michelle Rhee on her program last night, thereby removing The War Room from my watching schedule.

    Back on topic, it does disturb me that these hacks are lying for our supposed benefit. As Mr. Somerby says, they are no better than Fox News.

  2. Why would an actual media reporter describe this disgraceful behavior that way? Why wouldn’t such a journalist leap at the chance to challenge this ridiculous conduct?

    Maybe the answer is that in today's post-modern world facts don't matter. If one ignores the matter of truth and falsehood, then "aggressive" is an appropriate description of MSNBC's coverage

    1. "Post modernism" from the guy who claims global warming is a hoax. This meets my daily RDA of humor.

  3. "Angela Corey, Florida’s craziest prosecutor,"

    "For the record, Crump is not an invention of Charles Dickens, although his name, his words and his demeanor may sometimes convey that impression."


    It is now official! Bob Somerby has morphed into that which he claims to hate most -- Maureen Dowd, who wouldn't have written those two phrases about people she utterly despises any differently.

  4. "Mark O’Mara, clearly said that he does have medical records of a broken nose."

    Well then! I guess if that's what the defense lawyer said, it must be true.

    Still . . . with a busted nose and terrible, horrible gashes on the back of his head from having it pounded into a concrete sidewalk, Zimmerman STILL didn't require so much as a Band-Aid, let alone hospital treatment.

    1. It cannot be a discussion if you claim that everything your opponent says must be a lie. To claim that someone is lying, you must have some proof.

      Elsewhere in comments I've been seeing people say that the photo of Zimmerman's head is faked. You don't get to claim that a photo is faked without evidence.

      Otherwise we are in an "Is so" "Is not" "Is so" kind of argument and that is just a waste of time.

      So, I don't see what you guys get out of jumping in and contradicting everything anyone says about Zimmerman's side of things, without providing any new information whatsoever, but it doesn't change anything about this case and it certainly isn't convincing anyone of anything.

      AND it is totally irrelevant to any point Somersby was trying to make about media coverage of this case. So -- go away.

    2. Pay attention. Was Zimmerman taken to a hospital or police HQ that night? Did his wounds, treated at the scene by paramedics, require even a Band-Aid?

      This is very much evidence that the Zimmerman camp might have been exaggerating just a wee little bit with their claims that he was being beaten to death and had to shoot to kill.

      And THAT is no exaggeration. Go listen to what his brother told Piers Morgan.

      And the relevance to Somerby's attempted "point" is that he has been parsing every single word said on MSNBC and the New York Times for week while casting that in the light most favorable to Zimmerman (well, gee, it mighta, coulda, maybe happened that way!) just to advance his own narrative about how awful MSNBC and the New York Times are, without really giving a damn about either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman.

    3. Since you are not interested in media issues and only interested in making sure that Zimmerman gets his, you do not belong here. I don't give a damn about Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman either. Incidents like that are not even, strictly speaking, news. They are crime statistics. I DO care about whether the news I read in the media is being slanted and to what end. So you are in the wrong blog to be discussing what you want to discuss. Your comments disrupt conversation and you are now behaving like a troll. Go away.

    4. This is very much evidence that the Zimmerman camp might have been exaggerating just a wee little bit with their claims that he was being beaten to death and had to shoot to kill.

      Zimmerman's injuries and his wails for help would lead any reasonable person to conclude he feared imminent serious physical injury and could not escape, justifying deadly force. The fact that he had a gun and feared passing out would lead a reasonable person to conclude he feared death.

      Whether he was being beaten to death or not is a red herring. A reasonable belief of imminent serious injury is the only requirement.

    5. Well, thank you thread nanny, but I will choose to post whether you can handle it or not, and apparently you can't.

      But perhaps here is why you should care. We are in such a gun-crazy culture that a kid just walking home from a trip to a convenience store can be gunned down, and a large segment of the population seem to think the shooter did nothing wrong. In fact, they will argue that the kid deserved it.

      If that doesn't raise deep issues in your mind, then go ahead and pretend that the worst problems this nation is facing is Lawrence O'Donnell and Charles Blow.

    6. Exactly. Whatever your take on all this, it's absolutely insane that a person with Zimmerman's all-too-human frailties was wandering around at night with a gun as some kind of amateur beat cop.

    7. It's insane for someone all-too human to have a gun?

      OK, maybe, but you're off the beat of the case. It's not a debate about gun laws (here anyway, although that's not to say one isn't needed, somewhere).

  5. Amazing to see this play out in such predictable ways. Human bias dictates our response - hence, the demonization of Martin and Zimmerman, depending on particular biases.

    For yet more of that behavior, watch this comment section.

    1. You might have a point if most people who now believe Zimmerman did not initially believe the early propaganda put out by race hustlers and the rubes who love them, who now scramble to ignore facts. We should have known better after Tawana Brawley and Duke lacrosse.

    2. "Race hustlers"-- OK, now we know where you're coming from.

  6. Indeed, Somerby's writing on MSNBC and the Martin case has taken on a Dowd/Collins like obsession, and the ever present David in Cal only helps beg the obvious question "How's Fox News handling the story?" Or, if one is to really get technical, "if ABC doctored the anti-Zimmerman photos, why should I believe their pro Zimmerman photo?"
    Or, as a responsable person interested in the case concluded long ago, "why don't we leave it to the Courts until some really verifiable information might emerge?"
    And, listening to Bill Maher (who recently got a stray lash or two with a wet noodle at "The Daily Howler") who easily outdid O'Donnel and Sharpton in the irresponsibility dept, repeating all of the misinformation and predicting riots if Zimmerman is not conficted, we can only marvel at The Howler's ability to hand out passes to old pals.
    BUT MOSTLY, we must remember that MSNBC's star Rachel Maddow, during the run of the Martin Case, put out a book. It is a very serious book, on a hugely important issue of our times. A matter which the reporting off has rarely been touched on by "The Daily Howler." Because of her star power, tens of thousands of people have bought the book, and some may even read it.

    It might have been interesting for The Daily Howler to say something about the book. But Gail Collins and Lawrence O'Donnell, I guess, are just too important.

    1. How many people do you imagine you are going to convince to read Rachel's book by trolling an unrelated website and disrupting the comments section?

      Most of us read this blog because we are interested in Bob Somersby's opinions and his reactions to daily press. As an educator, I am especially interested in his comments on education. If we wanted to follow Rachel Maddow's career, we would be elsewhere.

      Attacking Bob Somersby for various reasons isn't going to get anyone to read Rachel's book. How big is your commission on it, anyway?

    2. "If we wanted to follow Rachel Maddow's career, we would be elsewhere."

      Really? Well until she wrote her book, Somerby seemed to be quite obsessed with Maddow's career. Then she hit the best-seller list and suddenly disappeared from these parts.

      So I take it that since you are such an avid reader of Bob Somerby, you must be deeply interested in the careers of Lawrence O'Donnell, Charles Blow, Maureen Dowd, Kathleen Parker, Gail Collins, etc., etc., etc.?

      Because he sure does spend a lot of time on their careers.

    3. THANK YOU, Anon. And I have never met Rachel Maddow, do not derive a dime from her book; and thought She was fair game for the Howler when She did wrong. But now that She may have done right, wither Howler?

    4. Greg, this is a media watchdog type of blog, not a blog that praises people for doing their jobs. Rachel Maddow becomes a topic when she does her job poorly. I assume you meant "whither" not "wither," but the Rachel fan club is at a different URL.

    5. ...and Greg-you probably meant "raises" not "begs" the question They're not the same

    6. If people want a review of her book, this is a pretty good one:

      Sums up Maddow's politics: I'm totally pro-Empire!*

      *But I may whisper a complaint every now and then, like when gays aren't allowed to take part in the killing. That's how you know I'm a liberal.

  7. How about this? Instead of arguing the paucity of facts in this matter, which are probably best to left to venues with rules of evidence and discovery privileges (such as, for example, the court system), we simply agree to agree that the American press is for the most part incompetent, that corporate-owned media is particularly irresponsible and/or intentionally biased (whether out of a drive for ratings or corporate self-interest is highly consequential, but something Somerby never raises here), that even if (for example) Rachel Madow were a leftist (or, in Bill O'Reilly's mind, a commie) she would not be allowed to bring left-wing guests and analysis to the program and would still have to repeat stupid smirking jokes, and that while we all have our manias (show-dogs; pro-basketball; porn; C++, Serbo-Croatian cinema, etc.) Bob's peculiar mania is finding fault, from the right, with self-described liberal media personalities who nobody elected, who speak for no one but themselves or their corporations and who may not even be liberal.

    This blinkered and singularly unrewarding pursuit must have its attractions, even if they're lost of everyone but right-wingers. The only decent thing to do at this point is leave the place to Bob's remaining fans -- the guys with the handles, who Hypo admires so much.

    1. Here's the problem with your analysis. The right has a vested interest in criticizing the left, so it does make a wide variety of criticisms. However, the right is not the sole provence of critical thinking. When someone applies critical thinking to the left, independent of what is being said on Fox News or in right-wing blogs, that criticism doesn't automatically make the person expressing it right-wing as well. In other words, being critical of the left doesn't make one a member of the right, or mean that someone is "coming from the right." If you were a long time reader of this blog you would know that Bob Somersby does not "come from the right." On the other hand, there used to be a longstanding tradition of self-criticism on the left. It is now gone (and good riddance) but has been replaced by a view that anyone who criticizes the left is helping the enemy. This means that those on the left become weaker because there cannot be any feedback or improvement of what comes from the left. Bob wants the left to be worthy of his allegiance and not an embarrassment to those who support it. A lot of us feel that way. He also wants us to not confuse the left with a bunch of millionaire pundits whose main interests are their own, and who can and do attack the targets identified for them by those who pay their salaries.

      Bob Somerby's comments are not lost on everyone but right-wingers. He is widely read by most left bloggers. He didn't have a comments section until fairly recently and I am finding it interesting trying to guess where this bunch of persistent critics is coming from and what is motivating them (and you). It certainly isn't any shared interest in the topics of this blog.

    2. I really don't care where Somberby is coming from, right or left.

      My concern is that this once original blog has become indistinguishable from dozens of other right-wing amateurs blogging from their mother's basements and saying the same things over and over and over and over again day after day after day about that horrible, "liberal" press.

    3. I think Bob has acquired the same affliction as Glenn Greenwald. They have a very particular lens through which they want to view news and media, and they are absolutely intolerant of any other lens, and they have taken up the crusade that when you adopt any other way of seeing than theirs you actively abet evil. Over time it's gotten to be severe verging on absolute, like Rorschach in _Watchmen_.

    4. @Anon 9:49 writes:

      "Bob wants the left to be worthy of his allegiance and not an embarrassment to those who support it. A lot of us feel that way."

      I'd say that what Bob wants of the left is far from clear, and the "left" may do better than seek to be worthy of Mr. Somerby. We're talking, after all, about a guy who regards Bill Clinton and Al Gore as epitomes of progressive politics. Most leftists were/are appalled by the Clinton/Gore years.

      Meanwhile, regarding corporate-hired media personalities as "the left" (as you, at least, do) is insulting and preposterous on so many fronts, one doesn't know where to begin, and raises obvious questions about your own truthfulness.

    5. "Indistinguishable from dozens of other right-wing amateurs blogging from their mother's basements"

      And you want to be taken seriously??

    6. I would say "The Daily Howler" is afflicted with the same leftist self hatred that has done so much damage to our "tribe" over the years. It is never enough to say that we have been wrong or point out factual errors. We must be "just as bad" or the same as the right, and the only one permitted to go after the other side in robust terms are the highly ethical, which boils down to pretty much him.
      And, during the worst of the Clinton/Gore years, there was simply more to write about. Yet, when he is in fact checking mode, the Daily Howler can still be a useful resource.

    7. There are many many left-leaning venues where you can see right-wing media taken to task for their various offenses against rationality and reality. There are few such where you find that same critical analysis aimed at those who purport to speak for the left. The Daily Howler serves an invaluable role in at least attempting to keep ourselves intellectually honest. How many times has Media Matters posted about Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, or Lawrence O'Donnell when they make outlandish mistakes?

      Is it "self-hatred" to be outraged when "our" people lie, misinform, and gossip the same way "their" people do? Or is it a voice in the wilderness raging against the race to the bottom in our political discourse?

      Beyond all that, this is Bob's blog. He can talk about whatever he thinks is important to talk about. He's not here to write about what you want him to write about, he's not our employee and we aren't paying him to be our spokesman. You critics need to keep that in mind when criticizing him.

    8. @Rob

      This is indeed Bob's blog, but on that basis, one could argue that MSNBC isn't obliged to satisfy Somerby standards, and Rush Limbaugh is entitled to say whatever he wants on *his* show, etc.

      Discourse either has meaning and value, or it doesn't. If there's no right of criticism, what the hell is Somerby doing? Is his defense that, unlike, Maddow or O'Donnell or Blow, he's insignificant and is therefore immune?

    9. Bob Somerby and Glenn Greenwald might have their "pet peeves", to put it mildly, but they're about the only two people on the web that I know are telling me what they really believe and care about. I value that highly.

    10. Greg, good joke about "leftist self hatred." If there's anything that defines the left, it's their smug assumption of moral, spiritual and intellectual superiority to those awful wing-nuts.

    11. MSNBC is not "obliged to satisfy Somerby standards," and Rush Limbaugh is indeed entitled to say whatever he wants on his show. If MSNBC satisfied "Somerby standards," I'm sure Bob wouldn't be writing about them.

      Of course there's a right of criticism. But when the criticism is literally concern trolling (Anon@09:53), or whining about how Bob's spending so much time repeatedly harping on one subject while ignoring my preferred subject X (Greg@09:01), that's not legitimate criticism IMO. Claims that "Somerby's writing on MSNBC and the Martin case has taken on a Dowd/Collins like obsession" and lamenting the futility of "[t]his blinkered and singularly unrewarding pursuit" of better "liberal" punditry are laughable. And insulting, really. I once criticized Bob for endlessly writing about Campaign 2000, until I realized that no one else was writing about it or pointing out how it led us to where we are today. Being reminded of past failures and their consequences is valuable.

    12. Speaking of Gail Collins, she was on Letterman a few days ago to plug her new book (a suitably thin-looking bio of 30-day President William Henry Harrison), and wouldn't you know it, the subject of Romney's roof-strapped dog came up!

      I got some mordant chuckles out of that. :)

  8. To the day, Sharpton’s viewers haven’t been shown the new photograph

    Unfortunately, Sharpton's viewers know the photograph exist and have seen the photograph. Sharpton's viewers loved repeating the claim that there were "no injuries" when the blurry video was released. Now, Sharpton's viewers are happy Sharpton is not showing the photograph, because they want any viewers who have not seen it to continue NOT seeing it and forming their opinions in ignorance, while they insanely deny to themselves the photo exists to maintain their own ignorance.

    Sharpton's viewers hope for more ignorance, not less, because it makes Sharpton's viewers feel good to invent a story that enables them to behave as if they are outraged civil rights heroes. Like Zimmerman, they dream of consequences to their perceived bogeymen at their hands, and these fantasies lead them to abandon all reason and behave like a lynch mob.

    MSNBC's defenders are as disgraceful and deranged as its hosts.

    1. No injuries consistent with the life-or-death struggle that Zimmerman apparently described, and on which his claim of self-defense apparently rests.

      How hard is that to understand?

    2. The injuries are entirely consistent with establishing a reasonable fear of imminent serious injury (the only requirement), and given that Zimmerman knew he had a gun and could be knocked out, reasonable fear of imminent death.

      In fact, NO injuries are required to create that reasonable fear, but they are helpful as clear evidence it "reasonably" existed.

      If you would not defend yourself in the same way after wailing for help to no avail, you'd be an idiot and possibly a dead one.

    3. It's really appalling to me how some people are so cavalier about the taking of a human life. Just because mr. George "Charles Bronson" Zimmerman is getting his ass kicked by a 17 year old, his first instinct should not be to blow the kid away. What the Christ is wrong with you people?

    4. Having the opinion that it is *possible* Zimmerman feared for his life = "cavalier about the taking of a human life."

      And you want to be taken seriously?

    5. No injuries consistent with the life-or-death struggle that Zimmerman apparently described, and on which his claim of self-defense apparently rests.

      How hard is that to understand?

      Obviously, as hard as it is for you to understand that "injuries consistent with the life-or-death struggle" is not the standard -- reasonable fear is the standard.

      You're entitled to your own opinion, but you aren't entitled to your own facts. And standards in the law/elements of self defense are FACTS.

    6. There has to be some objective criteria to support a "reasonable fear". Do you know what the title of the applicable section of the Statute says? The very first words are HOME PROTECTION.

      Being a pussy carrying a loaded weapon and then getting your ass kicked by a kid armed with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea does not reach that threshold. Having someone punch you in the nose does not give you liberty to shoot them dead in the chest. How often do people in the prime of life die from getting punched in the nose? Was Martin "in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering"? Did Zimmerman have "reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred"?

      776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—

      (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

      (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
      (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

    7. I feel threatened by Dick Cheney.


    8. Unfortunately, there are some more subsections under 776.013:

      (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    9. So sadly, no; it's entirely likely that Zimmerman walks if it's proved he was injured and bleeding when brought in and that Martin at least reasonably could have caused the injury. It's 776.013(3) that's applicable here, not 776.013(1).

    10. Anonymous 02:14PM, you have misread the statute. The section you quote, 776.013, says that a person does not have to show reasonable fear of a home invader. Such fear is presumed under law. In the Martin homicide, both shooter and victim were in a public street, so 776.013 is inapplicable. There are only three requirements for invoking SYG: 1) you must not be committing a crime, 2) you must be somewhere you're allowed to occupy, and 3) you must be in reasonable fear for your life.

      You're right that Zimmerman will have the burden of production, i.e., he must supply evidence to back up his claim. But that could just be his testimony. There is no "objective" standard for judging this. In fact, the standard is subjective -- a fear that a reasonable person would have in the circumstances. But the burden of proof will not shift, and the state will still have to prove every element of the crime, including the falsity of Zimmerman's claims, beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Absent "objective" testimony like medical records of video of the incident, the jury will be the judge of Zimmerman's credibility if he testifies, just as they are for all witnesses.

    11. Sorbital, I have not misread the statute and I do understand that there are additional sections. The point was that the primary objective for the statute was Home Protection. That is under subsection (1).

      Now, let's look at subsection (2).

      (2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
      (a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person;

      Did Martin have a right to be where he was?

      Now looking at (3),

      (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

      Zimmerman has to prove that it was "necessary" to use "deadly force" over and above meeting "force with force". Assuming Zimmerman did get into a physical encounter with Martin, Zimmerman also was fully aware that the arrival of police was immiment. "Necessary". That means he had not other option.

      All I'm saying is that it is shocking to me how some people are so eager to give Zimmerman the freedom to shoot DEAD a human being all because he got punched in the nose or had his head scratched? We can't as a civilized society live like that. He got into a physical fight. The kid didn't have a knife or any other weapon.

    12. That means he had not other option.

      Reasonable people who scream for help to no avail, who are having their heads beaten on the sidewalk, and who know they have a gun in their waistband which will likely be used if they lose control of it or pass out, reasonably believe they have no other option.

      Zimmerman did not have to prove it was "necessary to use deadly force over and above meeting force with force" to prove that he reasonably believed it was necessary.

      And if he was already in the process of having a forcible felony committed against himself (broken nose), reasonable fear is irrelevant because the standard is already cleared.

      You would behave the same way and it would be unfortunate if rube runners, race hustlers, and hyperventilating political partisans vilified you for it.

    13. " to prove that he reasonably believed it was necessary.

      Yes, I agree. But finish the full sentence.

      " do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

      Death or great bodily harm. Scratch on head and broken nose? Close enough, eh?

      >>and who know they have a gun in their waistband which will likely be used if they lose control of it or pass out,..

      This is hilarious. It's like the guy who kills his parents and then asks for mercy because he's an orphan. Zimmerman is the one who brought the gun. So now the very fact that he get's into a physical confrontation with an unarmed youth while carrying a loaded weapon gives him an excuse to use the weapon out of fear that the weapon will be turned on himself. That's beautiful.

      You know, there is a certain finality to deciding to shoot at point blank range a human being. It's the last resort, not the first.

    14. Anonymous now at 04:14PM,

      The point of the statute before it was amended in 2005 may have been home protection. The NRA pushed an ALEC-written change to the law,
      the point of which was to remove the duty to retreat *anywhere* If you don't understand that, you don't understand Chapter 776. You're still
      talking about dwellings, which is completely irrelevant to the Martin homicide.

      Did Martin have a right to be where he was? Of course. So did Zimmerman. It was a public place. Why do you think this is worthy of comment?

      You're simply wrong that Zimmerman has to prove that it was "necessary" to use "deadly force." When he becomes a defendant, he has no obligation
      to prove anything. When it comes to claiming the shield of SYG, Zimmerman has only the obligation to provide evidence that he was in reasonable
      fear for his life. The state carries the burden to show beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn't. This is a particularly heavy burden when a defendant has killed the only rebuttal witness during the homicide. Note that the standard isn't "meeting 'force with force'"; (by which I assume you mean commensurate force); "necessary force"; or "no other option." The standard is reasonable fear of death or maiming. It's true that Martin was unarmed, but the law can protect the killer even when he is mistaken.

      I think we can assume that Zimmerman and Martin got into a physical confrontation. If Zimmerman assaulted Martin, or if he provoked the violence,
      then he can't use SYG. But we don't know what happened in the last minutes of Martin's life.

      "Some people" didn't give Zimmerman the freedom to kill Martin. Under certain circumstances, the law gives Zimmerman (and anyone else in Florida)
      that freedom. Before we indulge in righteous shock about the killing or despair about the uncivilized state of our society, I think our first obligation is to understand the law and how it applies in tragic circumstances like this. I'm sorry to be blunt, but your comments make it clear that you haven't reached that understanding.

    15. Anonymous at 06:47PM, Thank God you know what happened in the last minutes of Martin's life, including what was going through Zimmerman's mind. I trust you've called the special prosecutor, who will surely be grateful for your help. Note, however, that SYG would also have applied to Martin, who was the only person involved that we know should have been in reasonable fear for his life. We'll never know whether he was, of course, but if so, Zimmerman didn't have a "felony committed against himself," broken nose or no.

    16. Sorbital, you are so wrong about the SYG hearing. At that hearing, the defendant does have the burden of proving to a judge that the "reasonable fear" standard is so compelling that there is no issue to bring before a jury, thus the case is over.

      And no, "reasonable fear" is not simply the fact that the defendant can tell a good story. There has to be some evidence to support it, weighed against all other evidence, including and especially Zimmerman's initial detailed account of everything that happened that night that was given to the cops that night.

      In other words, the judge has to determine if the defendant's story is true. Not just a "reasonable" chance of it being true, as if "well it could have happened that way" -- that would be up to a jury to decide. But whether it is true and that there is really no cause under the SYG law to bring this to a jury.

      It cuts both ways. An SYG hearing has risks for the defense in that it has to lay all its cards on the table in advance of a trial, with the burden of proof reversed. All the prosecution has to do is to produce just enough evidence to a judge to convince him that the issue should be left up to a jury to decide.

      This is where amateur lawyers, googling up the statute on the Internet and thinking they have all the evidence available through media accounts, go wrong.

      You don't know how an SYG hearing has played out in the state of Florida, and there are undoubtedly cases where its been granted and also denied.

      I have no idea whether O'Mara will even seek one in this case. Maybe its his best shot for an acquittal, or maybe he wants to hold his cards close to his chest for trial. I don't know, and I doubt anyone else does either.

      We'll see how it plays out in court, which is where this case now belongs.

    17. Anonymous at 6:18A, you're right to point out that the defendant has the burden of proof at the SYG hearing. I don't know where you got the idea that the standard is "compelling" evidence so as to preclude issues for the jury. The standard is preponderance of the evidence, i.e., whether there's more evidence for than against.

      In any case, I was talking about the trial, where the defendant may claim SYG, even if that claim failed at the preliminary hearing. The burden at trial does not shift from the state and that burden is BARD, a heavy burden when the defendant has killed the only rebuttal witness.

      Now, maybe there's evidence in the Martin homicide of which we are unaware, or maybe Zimmerman's story has changed enough that the jury refuses to find him credible. As you say, we'll have to see how it plays out in court.

    18. "This is where amateur lawyers, googling up the statute on the Internet and thinking they have all the evidence available through media accounts, go wrong."

      Kind of like those anonymous amateur lawyers who first claim that the statute doesn't apply because it only covers home protection, then morph to it doesn't apply because it was originally intended to only apply to home protection, and wind up with well it doesn't apply because there's no way Zimmerman could have been in fear for his life while getting his ass kicked.

      I'm not defending Zimmerman, nor is Bob. But we are supposed to be a nation of laws, and this law rightly or wrongly at least notionally lets Zimmerman off the hook. No, we don't have all the facts, and that's part of Bob's point. People are running around pre-convicting Zimmerman when we don't know all the facts, and if we did know all the facts this law might say he gets to walk. Even an amateur lawyer can see that.

    19. Death or great bodily harm. Scratch on head and broken nose? Close enough, eh?

      "Or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." A broken nose is usually considered aggravated battery, so if that forcible felony had already been committed, combined with having one's head beaten against the sidewalk, Zimmerman more than cleared the requirement for reasonable fear of great bodily harm or imminent forcible felony.

    20. Anonymous at 3:28P, nope. Wrong again. I haven't checked the other 50 jurisdictions, but in Florida breaking someone's nose is misdemeanor battery. According to 784.045, felony battery requires knowingly inflicting "great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement."

      The answer to the "Close enough, eh?" comment is that the SYG does not require that you actually suffer great bodily harm or that in retrospect that you were actually in danger of great bodily harm. The law requires that you had a reasonable fear of such. In fact, the law can protect you when you're tragically mistaken.

  9. nomatter_nevermindApril 25, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Again Bob Somerby quite properly corrects an inaccurate statement about George Zimmerman's '911 call'. He fails to correct the inaccurate assumption that it was a 911 call. In fact it was a non-emergency police call.

    In the bail hearing that Somerby cites, the prosecution's investigator correctly identifies the call as a non-emergency call. When the defense attorney calls it a 911 call, the investigator corrects him.

    There are two ways to verify that the call is a non-emergency call.

    One is to listen to the dispatcher answer the phone, and compare with how the actual 911 dispatchers do so.

    The other is the call logs. In the heading for each report, after 'Call Source:', you see either '911' or 'TEL'. 'TEL' indicates a non-emergency call.

  10. Somerby's right: the coverage by MSNBC has been appalling. I can't argue with that.

    Somerby's right: Carr's calling it "agressive" amount to a whitewash of MSNBC's terrible, slanted coverage. Can't really argue with that either.

    But because Somerby draws attention to the matter, he is a right-winger.

    Because he discusses it, Somerby must think the MSNBC coverage is the worst problem this nation is facing, my standard for any statement he makes.

    Somerby is awful. QED.

  11. Students tend not to believe it, but nearly all their professors really do evaluate their papers and exam essays on the basis of argumentation, not the specific position the student has chosen to argue for or against.

    In fact, if anything, I tend to respond too generously to students who take on what they know to be a very different position from my own. And I think I may be more demanding of those who take positions they have reason to believe I share.

    Bob Somerby strikes me as a teacher with the same inclinations, but. It's as if he's lost track of who his students are, what his own positions may be. Of some big picture. Too much anger. The anger is what makes him sound "right-wing" (which otherwise I don't think he is, in any useful sense of the term).

  12. Why are people blindly accepting the narrative that Trayvon was eating skittles and skipping innocently home from the convienience store? Wasnt he suspended from school for posessing questionable items? (i.e. Items that would aid in a burglary.) I have no proof of that and its only heresay, but that seems good enough for the folks at MSNBC.

    1. Anonymous at 4:11A, there may be evidence of which we are unaware that shows that Martin was up to no good. But we have a pretty good timeline from cell phone calls and Zimmerman's own testimony, and it seems unlikely that he had time to do much mischief. What do you think Martin might have been doing that allowed Zimmerman to legally shoot him?

      News reports say that Martin was suspended three times, once for tardiness, once for having an empty baggie that could have held marijuana, and once for defacing a locker. A guard at the school claimed to have found women's jewelry and a screwdriver (which he said was a "burglary tool") in Martin's backpack when he was investigating the last incident.

    2. See! You made my point! Using Al Sharpton's mode of reasoning I can say Trayvon was a thief, drug dealer, and transient who obviously was casing houses while using a trip to the convienience store as cover. The bag from the store was going to be used to carry items he stole.

      Do I really believe that? No. But its a narrative as plausable as Al Sharpton's "Zimmerman is a racist who shot a black kid for walking through his neighborhood" story.

      Bottom line... 1) Trayvon should have stayed his course and nothing would have happened. Especially if he was doing no wrong. Is it upsetting when you feel like people are watching you? Yes. I used to get followed by security when my family visited my grandparents' gated retirement community. Never thougbt once to confront them and when they confronted me, even as a teenager I knew to politely tell them where I was going.

      2) Zimmerman may or may not have needed to shoot. Its a tragedy through and through. Should he have had a gun? Don't know, but under the law he is allowed to carry one and use it to defend himself.
      3) None of know all the details of what happened. So we all need to shut the f___ up, and let court do its job.

    3. "Never thougbt once to confront them and when they confronted me, even as a teenager I knew to politely tell them where I was going."

      Never question authority. Always cooperate with the police. Always do what you're told. Stay out of trouble. Go along to get along. That's the American way.

      Have you thought about *why* you never thought once to confront the security people following you? Could it have been because all your young life it was drummed into you to be submissive and fearful of authorities? I respect Trayvon Martin for having the courage to confront someone who was following him around when he wasn't doing anything wrong (if that was indeed the case). If he attacked Zimmerman physically it was a mistake, but one that's understandable coming from a teenager and certainly not something that should have cost him his life.

      "None of know all the details of what happened. So we all need to shut the f___ up, and let court do its job."

      From your lips to O'Donnell's ears...

  13. When all is said and done, I believe Al Sharpton will end up looking like the fool that he is.

    1. I hope you're right, Anon. I hope Sharpton gets his just desserts.

      IMHO Al Sharpton encourages dangerous race hatred. His efforts have led to racial violence in the past, and they are doing so today:

      2 charged in Oak Park beating motivated by Trayvon Martin killing, official says

    2. David in Cal, IMHO Al Sharpton still needs to answer for his disgraceful role in the Tawana Brawley case, but I don't recall his ever inciting a riot. Could you detail a couple of incidents in which Sharpton's "efforts" have led to racial violence? I followed your link and found a news story that doesn't mention Sharpton. It's about two people who claim that the Martin shooting inspired them to rob somebody.

      When I write IMHO, the "H," stands for "humble," if only ironically. What does it stand for when you write it?

    3. Look up Freddie's Fashion Mart, where 7 or 8 people died and Yankel Rosenblum, where one was murdered in a race riot.

      sorbtial, you said my link is about two people who said the Martin shooting inspired them to rob somebody. It wasn't just robbery. They said they beat the victim because of the the Trevor Martin case.

      You are correct that it's my deduction that Al Sharpton's efforts to engender race hatred played a role in this beating and robbery. I can't prove whether they would have commited this crime without Sharpton's ugly efforts.

    4. "I can't prove whether they would have commited this crime without Sharpton's ugly efforts."

      But that doesn't stop you from making the accusation all the same.

      Admirable honesty.

    5. David in Cal, one day I hope to be as sure about anything as you seem to be about everything. I'll say at the outset that I'm no fan of Al Sharpton, but I require evidence to conclude that Sharpton is responsible for racial violence.

      Let's take your Oak Park example. Two thugs beat and rob a man and say they were incensed about the Martin killing. Not only do they not mention Sharpton, they're thugs: what are the chances they're just trying to justify a robbery and have no idea who Sharpton is?

      The killer at Freddy's has been described as deranged. He killed himself at the scene. Sharpton had called the owner of Freddy's a "white interloper" for the attempted eviction of a black commercial tenant. Are you claiming that Sharpton's opinion is code to encourage arson, murder, and suicide?

      Rosenblum was killed during the opening hours of the Crown Heights riot on 8/19/91. Sharpton's widely-disparaged comments came at the funeral of Gavin Cato eight days later. (Cato's death was the precipitating event for the riot; he was run over by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew.)

      I prefer that my deductions proceed from facts. YMMV.

  14. Sharpton should burn in hell for his role in the Tawana Brawley case.

    Yet Sharpton should be lavished with all the riches of God's heaven for being the only "TV personalty" who rightfully decried the way voting rights were stripped away from minorities in the Florida Presidential election of 2000.


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