CHILDHOOD’S END: Are ditto-heads born or made!

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012

Epilogue—Piers Morgan v. Cronkite and Brinkley: Are ditto-heads born? Or are they made?

Surely, it’s a bit of both. We’re all inclined to pick and choose (and invent) our facts, supporting the tales we prefer. Until we train ourselves not to do this, it’s something we all tend to do.

That said, we ditto-heads get a lot of help on the road to perdition these days. Here was Catherine Crier, declaiming on last night's Ed Show and pushing a narrative forward:
SCHULTZ (4/12/12): The second-degree murder, is it going to be hard to get a conviction with this law on the books, from what you know on about the case?

CRIER: Well, it’s going to be interesting, because I certainly think that the special prosecutor has made a gutsy call. She could have gone for manslaughter. We all would have accepted it. But I think she was satisfied reviewing the evidence that not only did Neighborhood Watch say you don’t carry a gun; the 911 operator said, “Stay in your car.” There were only about five minutes from the time he ended that call until Trayvon Martin was dead on the ground.
Is that actually true? Did the 911 operator tell Zimmerman to stay in his car? Yesterday, special prosecutor Angela Corey presented an affidavit giving her official account of this matter. This is the sequence Corey described in this official document:
COREY AFFIDAVIT (4/12/12): Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. When the police dispatcher realized Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.
In Corey’s sequence, Zimmerman was already “out of his vehicle,” following on foot, when the dispatcher made his remark. But so what?

The story works better the other way, with Zimmerman told to remain in his car! Last night, we ditto-heads got to hear that story again. Crier repeated this much-preferred tale—and Big Eddie just let it go.

(For the record, Zimmerman says he began to return to his car when the dispatcher instructed him not to follow. We don’t know if that is true. We don't know if Corey's qaccount is right.)

People! In part, this is where ditto-heads come from! Yesterday morning, citizens got to read the more pleasing account in a New York Times editorial (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/12/12). Twelve hours later, watching Big Eddie, they heard this account once again. But so it has gone all through the past month as major “journalists” have advanced a stunning assortment of bogus facts about the Trayvon Martin case. (We're not even discussing their "logic.")

They claim they care about this case. But they don’t seem to care enough to honor us with real facts.

We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a case where so many bogus elemenary facts were invented and advanced so widely. And Crier isn’t some hapless shlub Big Eddie dragged in from the street.

Who the heck is Catherine Crier? Incredibly, she comes from the very top of the guild which serves as a successor to your country’s former press corps:
WIKIPEDIA: Crier began her TV career at CNN in 1989, where she co-anchored the programs Inside Politics ‘92 and The World Today. In 1992, ABC News hired her as a correspondent for ABC World News Tonight and the newsmagazine 20/20. After spending three and a half years with ABC News, Fox News Channel hired her to anchor The Crier Report, a live, nightly talk show. In 2000, Crier joined Court TV as host of Crier Today, a daily show concerning legal news, and in 2001, launched a new show, Catherine Crier Live. Catherine Crier Live ran for six years until it was cancelled on April 27, 2007. In 2004, she covered horse racing for ESPN/ABC Sports, which lasted one year.
Let’s guess she managed to keep her facts straight when she was calling horse races! But Crier sat at the top of modern “broadcast news” for almost twenty years.

Last night, she rattled off an account of the facts which seems to be baldly inaccurate. But this is the norm among the guild which replaced the American press corps.

Just a guess: In part, Crier was on the air all those years because she was quite telegenic. Another guess: In part, Andrew Rosenthal is running the Times editorial page because he’s the son of a former Times honcho.

But this kind of performance is now the norm among the successors to our press corps. Bogus facts have been all around as this upper-class guild has pretended to cover the killing of Trayvon Martin.

In large part, this is where ditto-heads come from! Based on yesterday’s affidavit, let’s review the status of a few former facts—factual claims which were widely advanced in the past four weeks:

Concerning that alleged racial slur: In this official court document, Corey says that Zimmerman used the term “fucking punks” as he was pursuing Martin. For weeks, we liberals were assured, on our liberal “news programs,” that trusted pundits could hear him using a racial slur at that point.

Is Corey right in that assessment? We have no way of knowing. But it might be worth reviewing the way this assessment first came to light—or failed to.

On Thursday, April 5, CNN began reporting that Tom Owen of Owen Forensic Services had analyzed the 911 tape. He had concluded that the word in question was actually “punks.” CNN reported this in regular rotation for two straight days, on April 5 and 6.

On MSNBC, you were sheltered from such unwelcome ideas. According to Nexis, the claim that the word was actually “punks” was mentioned just once on The One True Liberal Channel, on April 5. (This refers to broadcasts from 5 PM on. MSNBC doesn’t provide transcripts for daytime shows.)

In this one fleeting reference, Al Sharpton quickly explained that the word “punks” was problematic too—and viewers weren’t told where this new claim had come from. “Now, someone comes out and say no, he didn’t use a racial word, he used the term punks,” Sharpton said.

MSNBC has repeatedly failed to broadcast news that interferes with its preferred story. In this way, liberals get turned into ditto-heads. On cable, this pattern was pioneered, then perfected, by Fox.

Concerning the expertise of our alleged audio experts: Is Corey right about the word “punks?” We have no way of knowing.

But in the past few weeks, we rubes were told that various experts had listened to that part of the tape. These “experts” reached all sorts of conclusions about what Zimmerman said.

One of these “experts” actually said that he couldn’t make out what Zimmerman said. (Good for him, we lustily cried.) But other “experts” said they could make out the word in question, thanks to their brilliant enhancement techniques. According to these various experts, Zimmerman said “fucking cold,” “fucking goons,” “fucking coons” or “fucking punks.”

How reliable are these “experts?” We don’t recall seeing any broadcaster state the obvious: Most of these “experts” had to be wrong! To this day, it may be that they all these “experts” were wrong. Yes, that could include Owen.

Who was yelling for help on the tape: In her affidavit, Corey says Martin can be heard yelling for help on the tape. Somewhat surprisingly, she sources this claim to Martin’s mother, who has “reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin’s voice.”

Last night, legal experts noted the relative weakness of that identification. After all, George Zimmerman’s brother has reviewed the tapes; he says the voice is that of his brother. We have no idea why Corey cited Martin’s mother as the source for her judgment. For the record, Tom Owen told the Orlando Sentinel in late March that he had ruled out Zimmerman as the source of the cries, based on enhancement techniques.

Was Owen right about that? We have no idea. But you guessed it! MSNBC widely cited this earlier judgment by Owen, a judgment which fit their preferred story-line. Increasingly, MSNBC now functions like Fox News. You are allowed to hear the facts which support your preferred tribal story. You’re also allowed to hear lots of “facts” which aren’t actually true.

This is where ditto-heads come from. We have our own ditto-heads now!

Tribal war makes strange bedfellows: Is Angela Corey right in her judgments about this case? We have no idea; she included very little evidence in yesterday’s affidavit.

But it was odd to see Al Sharpton praising Corey so highly on Wednesday night. Corey may be perfectly right in her assessment of this case (or not). But how do we fiery liberals feel about the judgment she showed in the following case?

On Tuesday, Lizette Alvarez profiled Corey for the New York Times:
ALVAREZ (4/10/12): Many point to the contentious case of Cristian Fernandez as an example of overzealousness and a lapse in judgment. Cristian is charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 death of his 2-year-old half-brother, David. He was 12 at the time but is being tried as an adult. The boy is accused of slamming David's head into a bookcase while he was baby-sitting. If convicted, Cristian would serve life in prison without parole.

But Cristian's short life has been marred by astonishing hardship. His mother was 12 when she gave birth to him, and he spent time in foster care and was abused repeatedly by his step-father, his lawyers have said. His mother also failed to take the unconscious David to the hospital for eight hours after the incident. She pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.

The case, like Mr. Martin's, stirred outrage on social media and in the local community. ''Where is your compassion?'' was a common reaction, said Michael Hallett, chairman of the University of North Florida's criminology department, who recently published a study of Ms. Corey's record.
The fiery liberals at MSNBC have had nothing to say about the fate of that 12-year-old child. Warning! Don’t confuse this case with the previous case of Lionel Tate, who was also tried for murder in Florida for an act he committed as a 12-year-old child, while pretending to be a pro wrestler.

Who prosecuted that 12-year-old child? Tate was prosecuted and convicted by Ken Padowitz, who now serves as Al Sharpton’s trusted sidekick on cable TV.

Would these fiery Florida prosecutors have prosecuted 12-year-old white children? On MSNBC, no one is asking! But then, you’re being sold a TV show in which a pre-judgment has been rendered. Padowitz is part of the entertainment. Never mind the kind of judgment he may have shown in the past!

One final point: In that same profile, Alvarez explained how Corey was assigned to the Zimmerman case:
ALVAREZ: Ms. Corey was named special prosecutor in the Martin case after Norman Wolfinger, the state attorney for Seminole County, stepped aside on March 22 after coming under intense criticism for moving too slowly. The state's attorney general, Pam Bondi, who advised Gov. Rick Scott to choose Ms. Corey, said she considers her to be a role model and mentor.
Corey’s judgments about this case may be perfectly accurate. That said, everyone knows how awful Scott is—and Bondi got famous on Fox, where she was cast in a standard role. On Fox, she served as one of cable TV’s young blonde former prosecutors, in whose mind every suspect is loudly assumed to be guilty.

We liberals used to complain about people like these! Now, they’re our trusted helpmates; they're widely praised because our tribe wants a conviction. But then, we have a new hit TV show, a TV show we very much like. These are the peculiar bedfellows in whose judgment we now place our trust.

Last night, Catherine Crier was at it again, enabled by Big Eddie. The previous night, Piers Morgan had continued his own profoundly embarrassing efforts concerning this case.

This is how ditto-heads get born. And they now get born in our tribe.

There was a time when people like these would not have been running “news” programs. Morgan is a former Murdoch hack. This is Wikipedia’s account of how he rose in this country:
WIKIPEDIA: Morgan branched into television mainly as a presenter, but has become best known as a judge or contestant in reality television programmes. In the UK, he was a judge on Britain's Got Talent. Morgan is best known in the United States as a judge on the show America's Got Talent, and as the winner of The Celebrity Apprentice. On 17 January 2011, he began hosting Piers Morgan Tonight for CNN in the timeslot occupied by Larry King Live before the retirement of host Larry King.


Throughout 2006, Morgan appeared as a judge on the American television show America's Got Talent alongside Brandy Norwood and David Hasselhoff on NBC. Morgan was chosen by Simon Cowell as a replacement for himself because of the conditions of his American Idol contract. Morgan appeared as a celebrity contestant on Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in 2007, to raise money for Comic Relief. During filming, he and Alastair Campbell reduced fellow contestant Trinny Woodall to tears when they tried to sabotage her team's event, and were involved in a brawl with her. Upon his team losing, Morgan was selected by Sir Alan Sugar as the contestant to be fired.

Also in 2007, he appeared as a judge for the second season of America's Got Talent and also appeared as a judge on the British version of the show, Britain's Got Talent on ITV1, alongside Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. He also presented You Can't Fire Me, I'm Famous on BBC One. In January 2008, Morgan fronted a three-part documentary about Sandbanks for ITV1 entitled Piers Morgan on Sandbanks.

Morgan was the winner of the U.S. celebrity version of The Apprentice, in 2008. The most memorable feature of the programme was the rowdy disagreements he had with fellow contestant Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. This was resolved in Morgan's favour on 6 March, after her team was defeated by Morgan's in the biggest margin of victory in Apprentice history. Morgan ended up the overall winner, being named Celebrity Apprentice on 27 March, ahead of fellow finalist, American country music star, Trace Adkins (whom he surprised by kissing him on the cheek just moments after an on-air spat with Stallworth) and having raised substantially more cash than all the other contestants combined.
His wife's last name is "Shalloe!" Tonight, you see this fellow on CNN, embarrassing himself as he tries to discuss the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Shield the eyes of the children! Crier’s lack of journalistic skill is evident every time she appears. Big Eddie was a right-wing hack until 2000, when he flipped, becoming a hack for our side. (Sometimes, his work is informative.)

At one time, these people would not have been given major news forums. We would have been forced to get our news about this case from Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley and their correspondents.

Plainly, their work wasn’t perfect. Nor did they live to create ditto-heads (thus building market share), the way the way their successors do.


  1. As to the exact words Zimmerman spoke, here's a 14 or so second clip where you can decide:

    The indictment did correctly point out there is the word "These" before the other 2 words which I had not noticed. But I think the fact they noted "these" suggests they also know the last of the 3 words spoken was not "punks", but understated for strategic reasons.

    1. it sounds like "it's fuckin cold" and nothing like these fuckin punks or these fuckin coons.

    2. You really think that? I did miss the "These" until I saw it on the transcript, but there is just no "oh" sound there at all in the 3rd word... Maybe my Toshiba has some fantastic sound system built in, but not one some very savvy and unbiased people listening at different times and different tapes heard "it's" or anything but a "K" or "C" sound with "oo" as in "ooze" in the 3rd word.

    3. Hearing that audio again, I must say I didn't much hear "these" (though I can see how they get that). It very definitely sounds like "fucking punks" to me, though I wouldn't bet the farm on it, because it's simply not clear enough. To my ear, it sounds nothing like "coons."

  2. I went to the "incomparable archives" to find Bob Somerby's first mention of Cristian Fernandez or Lionel Tate, for whom his heart now bleeds.

    Want to guess when it was?

    Moral of this exercise: Bob Somerby cares about Cristian Fernandez, Lionel Tate and Trayvon Martin the same -- useful clubs to beat his perceived "villains" with. And nothing more than that.

    Interesting, however, how he quotes the never-to-be-trusted New York Times when it serves his purpose.

    1. Not to stress your brain but Angela Corey has not been a national figure discussed widely in the media until this case, so there would be no reason for Bob to discuss her.

    2. So the only reason he cares about Cristian Fernandez and Lionel Tate is because they are convenient clubs with which to be the now "national figure" Angela Corey with?

      Thanks for backing up my point.

    3. If he knew about Christian Fernandez and Lionel Tate before, we don't know if he cared but I assume so.

      The only thing we know is that he is now discussing it because it is relevant to the conduct of the national media, the focus of this blog.

      Are you retarded?

    4. Pattern and practice, counselor.

      The only reason Somerby is discussing the Trayvon Martin case at all is because it's a handy club to beat MSNBC and the New York Times in particular.

      And the only reason he brings up Cristian Fernandez and Lionel Tate now is to beat Angela Corey and play the race card.

    5. MSNBC (and to a lesser degree the NYT) has screwed the pooch massively in reporting this case, I don't dispute that, but nevertheless Bob Somerby shouldn't discuss it.

      I have spoken.

  3. "At one time, these people would not have been given major news forums. We would have been forced to get our news about this case from Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley and their correspondents."

    Yeah, at one time broadcast "news" consisted of a half-hour during dinner and and a recap before bed and there were only 3 networks providing it. If you were lucky and lived in a major metropolitan area like New York City you also had a couple of local channels competing with the networks. There were lots of newspapers around also.

    It wasn't until the Iran hostage crisis in the 70s that a network put a news show, Nightline, on late at night. At the time it was considered a gamble

    Now we have the nets, cable, internet and talk radio and a 24/7 news cycle.

    With the gaping maw of the 24/7 news cycle to feed and fierce competition to be first, rather than correct, we're living in a totally different environment than just a generation or so ago.

    Its not difficult to draw the conclusion the talent pool hasn't expanded to meet the needs of this environment either.

    Mr. Somerby is correct that many that are given prominent voices today wouldn't have been heard of in the day of Walter and David and Chet.

    We can argue forever about whether this new environment compares favorably or not to the good old days.

    What seems to be true is, that like other areas, the responsibility of sorting things out, doing research etc. has shifted from the gatekeepers to the consumers of news.

    1. Real, I think the responsibility of sorting things out has always been on the consumers. Walter, David and Chet were human beings as well, and certainly subject to the same errors, misstatements, and mistakes of all humans.

      I'd also like to note that sometimes we view the past through a distorting prism of nostalgia, imagining things were much better than they really were.

      There is no question, for example, that Edward R. Murrow was an absolute giant. Yet he also did his fair share of fawning interviews with celebrities to get ratings.

      As far as the "talent pool hasn't expanded," I disagree there as well.

      Go to Youtube and watch the groundbreaking, "Harvest of Shame." Now compare that to PBS' "Frontline" which is on every week. TV news documentaries have come a long way, baby.

      Finally, I will bring up what Goldie Taylor said, quoting Andrew Breitbart on the night Breitbart died as she, Toure and the hated Lawrence O'Donnell paid tribute to him: "We need more voices, not fewer."

      Amen. And that's the reason the Founding Fathers set up the First Amendment the way they did.

    2. Yes, the more voices the better but its up to the consumer not the gatekeepers to sort the voices out.

      In some ways the situation is comparable to the situation at the birth of this country when it seemed everybody had a press and an opinion. Some historians refer to that period as the "golden" age of the press.

      Lets not forget in those days Alexander Hamilton was referred to in the press as a "Scottish bastard" by his political opponents. That's just one example and a mild one to illustrate what was going on then.

      "Go to Youtube and watch the groundbreaking, "Harvest of Shame."

      I think the more valid point is to watch cable news and see "experts" have less knowledge of events than you or I might.

    3. I agree totally, and that is why I (and probably you) and most of America really don't take it all that seriously, judging from the abysmal ratings these shows get. And that includes Fox News, the purported cable news "giant."

      By the way, I think it is also noteworthy that the "liberal media misleading the public" myth was born in the era of Walter, David and Chet.

    4. What's happened during the last couple of generations in broadcast news in particular (but in print journalism as well) is the colonization of political coverage by political operatives. Tim Russert (long-time aid to Sen. Moynihan), Chris Matthews (former speechwriter), Joe Scarborough, George Stephanopulos, Michael Gerson, among many others, were all political professionals before they got broadcast and commentary gigs. Most of them weren't reporters for very long, if at all; they trained to be advocates first, not skeptics. This isn't anything new, really; but the trend accelerated with the rise of cable, and to our detriment as news "consumers". Political journalism was a lot more detailed and less predictable when you could count on some natural cynics and trained skeptics being around to question authority and make the politician uncomfortable.

    5. Yeah, the bounce back and fourth between politics and journalism is troubling. Equally troubling is the bounce from journalism to corporate PR. And that has gone on since the beginning of time.

      Journalism is generally a crappy paying profession with an extremely high rate of attrition. (I'm going to guess that most people here would be shocked to learn what local TV news reporters make -- generally, it ain't much).

      It's not a field that generally attracts the best and the brightest.

    6. The Real AnonymousApril 13, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      The revolving door between politics and "journalism" is as disturbing as the revolving door between politics and lobbying though almost no one seems concerned about the former and only a few about the latter.

    7. Yeah, isn't it amazing how many Congresspeople "retire" to high-paying lobbying gigs?

    8. TRA,
      Your point is valid, but in the days of Walter and David and Chet we had major daily newspapers that made good income presenting the news.
      They did a good job of it, and people that wanted to be informed read these papers.

      Those newspapers are either long gone or FUBAR now, which is The Daily Howler's 'raison d'être'.

      The loss of these newspapers is a financial, not a societal cause.
      No amount of criticism is going to reverse that trend and reinstate the glory days of the metropolitan dailies.

    9. Well, for those who thing back to the good ol' days when metropolitan dailies could be trusted to tell the news objectively and without error, I have three words:


    10. "They did a good job of it, and people that wanted to be informed read these papers."

      "Well, for those who thing back to the good ol' days when metropolitan dailies could be trusted to tell the news objectively and without error, I have three words:""DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN"


    11. Calm down gravy. I wasn't responding to you. You do realize that not everything is about you, don't you?

    12. No, it's all about me.

    13. The "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN" argument doesn't work on any level.

      All major newspapers of that era had alternate front pages set up for major events, that one just jumped the gun, to its eternal embarrassment.

    14. The moral of the story is that there was never a time since the First Amendment was written when all the media got everything 100 percent correct, and quite often made eternally embarrassing errors.

      But somehow, the republic survived.

  4. "At one time, these people would not have been given major news forums. We would have been forced to get our news about this case from Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley and their correspondents."

    Back before news shows were profit centers.

    1. Don't kid yourself. News shows made lots of money for their networks and stations back in the day, and Walter and David became quite wealthy men.


  5. By now I'm confident Bob Somerby doesn't read the comments.

    For the benefit of anyone joining us for the first time, I repeat that Zimmerman made a non-emergency police call. Anyone can verify this by listening to the tapes, and comparing how the police dispatcher answers the phone with how the actual 911 dispatchers do it.

    1. Since even Martin's parent's lawyers are referrring to 911 tapes as in "we had to sue to get the 911 tapes" this may be a distinction without a difference.

    2. So how do emergency dispatchers in Sanford, Seminole County, Fla., answer there phones? Every single time.

      I don't know, nomatter_nevermind.

    3. nomatter_nevermindApril 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      Seven 911 tapes from the Trayvon Martin shooting have been released. Seven out of seven answer the phone the same way. If you listen, you will know.

    4. OK, so what do I know now and what does it mean?

  6. Last night, legal experts noted the relative weakness of that identification.

    Relative to what? (Sorry, I missed last night's legal experts.)

    I think some of the other family members also say the voice is Trayvon Martin's, but I don't know why their testimony would be stronger than the mother's.

    1. Martin's mother's identification is meaningless. Zimmerman's family members also identify the voice as Zimmerman's.

    2. The mother's identification is sufficient for a probable cause statement.

      Now please read the final paragraph of the statement which rather routinely states: "The facts mentioned in this Affidavit are not a complete recitation of all the pertinent facts and evidence in this case but are only presented for a determination of Probable Cause for Second Degree Murder."

    3. nomatter_nevermindApril 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Orlando Sentinel, March 17:

      'Serino said Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin, listened to all of the 911 calls in the case before the entire family convened at City Hall to listen Friday night. When asked if the voice on one, a male calling for help was his son, told Serino no.

      'Police lied Friday, Crump said, when they said Tracy Martin said the voice crying for help was not his son. What Tracy Martin told police, Crump said, was that "he couldn't tell, that it was too distorted."

      'The audio has since been cleaned up, and now Tracy Martin has no doubt but that the voice is his son, Crump said.'

    4. George Zimmerman's brother said there is no question in his mind or members of his family that it is George Zimmerman screaming. There was never any doubt.

    5. nomatter_nevermindApril 13, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      A9:42 is right. An assertion in a probable cause affidavit just needs a single credible piece of evidence. It doesn't matter what evidence exists to dispute the assertion.

    6. And the defense will certainly bring all that up upon cross examination, IF Tracy Martin is asked on direct examination to identify the voice on the tape.

      But don't jump to the conclusion that all Corey has to identify Trayvon's voice is his parents.

    7. nomatter_nevermindApril 14, 2012 at 1:23 AM

      I think I should explain my 10:10, as a reader is likely to be puzzled over what the point is.

      I hastily misread A9:26 as saying that members of the Martin family conceded the voice was Zimmerman's. I thought this was a reference to the Sanford police claiming that Tracy Martin had not recognized Trayvon's voice on the tape. I posted the Sentinel excerpt to clarify the two sides of that story.

      I apologize for the error, and the confusion.

  7. Would these fiery Florida prosecutors have prosecuted 12-year-old white children?

    You can be certain this extremely important point never occurred to the Trayvon race pimps tuning in to MSNBC, nor does it concern them now.

    1. Well, Bob. Looks like you have a whole new fan club. Enjoy your new friends.

    2. Geez! Bob wouldn't be playing the "race card" would he?

      After all that lecturing from him about how quick the "tribe" was to do so?

    3. I don't see that as playing the race card as much as asking a question that mimics the question the race pimps have asked about the Martin story, who now love Angela Corey because she put forth a pile of crap as "probable cause."

  8. The probable cause affidavit does not purport to be a fair recitation of the evidence. For example, it doesn't even mention Zimmerman's claim of self-defense, or other witnesses who purportedly supported this claim. In fact, it doesn't cite any evidence at all pertaining to what actually happened after Zimmerman confronted Martin, other than a "struggle ensured" and that Martin's mother claimed she could ID her son's cries on the tape. Unless there's something else that they're not disclosing, this is not much of a case for murder.

    1. Nor does it have to be.

      Again: "The facts mentioned in this Affidavit are not a complete recitation of all the pertinent facts and evidence in this case but are only presented for a determination of Probable Cause for Second Degree Murder."

  9. This might explain why evidence helpful to Zimmerman is missing from the affidavit. But you'd think if there was anything helpful to the State's case, it would be in there. When you take away Zimmerman's and the eyewitness accounts, there doesn't appear to be much of anything establishing what happened during the confrontation. The entire basis for the murder prosecution, according to the affidavit, is (a) a vague claim that Zimmerman was "profiling" Martin based on what he said in the 911 call (there is no allegation that this "profiling" was based on his race) and (b) the mother's ID of Martin's cries. I find it troublesome that this was deemed enough to charge and try Zimmerman for murder.

    1. Oops . . . I meant that as reply to the comment attached to my original post.

    2. Ryan, try to understand what the affidavit is. It is not the complete case. It is only the barest of outlines to satisfy a judge that there is reason to charge Zimmerman -- or any defendant.

      Don't try to turn this into anything more than the prosecution is required to present at this very early stage.

    3. I'll admit there could be other evidence of Zimmerman's guilt out there that the prosecution has chosen not to reveal, and that has somehow not surfaced in the month-long furor over this case. Color me skeptical, though.

    4. "Could be"? Ryan, do you still not know what an affidavit of probable cause is?

  10. But you'd think if there was anything helpful to the State's case, it would be in there.

    That's not correct.

    In a case with lots of prosecution evidence, such as the O.J. Simpson case, only a fraction of that evidence would be mentioned in the probable cause affidavit.

    1. It really doesn't take a law degree from Harvard to understand the difference between establishing "probable cause" and proving a case to a jury "beyond reasonable doubt."

      So we are back to Occam's razor as we evaluate three competing theories:

      1. Angela Corey and her team of prosecutors know what they are doing.

      2. They all just fell off a turnip truck and can't write a decent probable cause statement.

      3. They are all part of a nefarious and carefully calculated plot to deliberately write an insufficient probable cause statement to spring Zimmerman.

    2. I suppose #1 could be sub-divided:

      1a. They wrote an inadequate probable cause statement to pressure Zimmerman into a plea deal for manslaughter.

      1b. They wrote an inadequate probable cause statement for political reasons, in order to placate various groups.

      1c. They wrote an inadequate probable cause statement, because they didn't need a better one. A judge won't reduce the charges.

      A relative of #2 is that Angela Corey and her team of prosecutors sincerely believe the Martin family's verison and disbelieve Zimmerman's version, despite the circumstantial evidence supporting Zimmerman's version.

    3. 4. Corey and her team are responding to a media storm and playing, with others, a massive game of CYA.

    4. Still, occam's razor.

      1. Angela Corey and her team of prosecutors know what they are doing.

      Now that can't possibly be true because there are far more complicated scenarios to paint.

    5. Sorry, David. The evidence supporting Zimmerman's version isn't circumstantial. It's anecdotal. And the anecdote is all Zimmerman.

    6. Actually, it's stronger than circumstantial, according to what I've read, anyhow. Supposedly there is at least one witnesss who will testify that Martin was on top of Zimmerman. Zimmerman's head wounds support his story that Martin was banging his head on the sidewalk. Supposedly the original police report indicated damage to Zimmerman's nose, I think.

      Also, the recorded 911 call indicates that Zimmerman was out of his vehicle when the dispatcher told him he didn't need to follow Martin. That call indicates that Martin ran away during the call. Apparently, the sound of the Zimmerman's footsteps show that he didn't run after Martin after the dispatcher suggested he not do that. Furthermore, given Martin's better physical condition, it's questionable whether Zimmerman could have caught him even if he tried.

      Now, there's also evidence supporting the Martin family's view, such as Trevor's mother identifying the screams for help as having been made by Trevor. I don't know whether Zimmerman's version is the truth. I'm just saying there's a fair amount of evidence in that direction. And, neither version might be the whole truth.

      Note also, that even if Zimmerman's story is true, that doesn't necessarily justify his shooting and killing Martin. It seems to me that once he had the gun in his hand, he had options other than shooting Zimmerman in the heart. Based on what I've read, a manslaughter verdict would seem reasonable, even if Zimmerman is telling the truth.

    7. nomatter_nevermindApril 15, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      Zimmerman did not make a 911 call. He made a non-emergency police call. You can verify that by listening to the tapes, comparing how the police dispatcher answers the phone with how the actual 911 dispatchers do it.

      There is much evidence to show that Martin was the first to use deadly force. This is what matters legally. All the other things fussed over in the media are shiny objects.

      The prosecution seems to have no evidence that is relevant to disputing Zimmerman's claim of justifiable use of deadly force. I believe the prosecution literally has no case.

    8. David, it seems that "everything you've read" were all based on Zimmerman's story, and some rather bizarre rhetorical gymnasitics to make it both relevant and true.

      Corey may only have to show that Zimmerman left his car with a loaded gun to prove the element that Zimmerman initiated whatever confrontation may or may not have occurred between them, and has no claim to "Stand Your Ground" self-defense immunity.

      Now I know that Somerby has instructed his readers not to believe anything they read about this case, but there has been some excellent reporting about a "Stand Your Ground" defense. I suggest you inform yourself about it.

    9. nomatter_nevermindApril 15, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      I have no doubt that Corey and her prosecutors know what they are doing. They are prosecuting a case that politically needs to be prosecuted, although legally there is no case. How they handle that will be interesting to watch.

    10. nomatter_nevermindApril 15, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      SYG is irrelevant, except for the procedural protections associated with the 2005 legislation. There is constant confusion between this legislation, nicknamed SYG for one of its provisions, and the SYG principle.

      The prosecution has no case against a standard defense of justifiable use of deadly force, which has been prevailing law in the U.S. since at least the Nineteenth Century.

      Anyone who doesn't realize that there is strong evidence on Zimmerman's side, is only paying attention to media outlets that ignore the evidence.

    11. "Corey may only have to show that Zimmerman left his car with a loaded gun to prove the element that Zimmerman initiated whatever confrontation may or may not have occurred between them, and has no claim to "Stand Your Ground" self-defense immunity."

      First of all, as nomatter_nevermind points out, Zimmerman's case is self defense, not SYG, although you'd never know it from the ignorant coverage provided by many media outlets including the New York Times editorial page.

      Second, I don't see how mere possession of a gun can be sufficient proof of having initiated a fight. Z claims that M made an provoked attack on him and Z was in fear of his life. If Z can prove, that, he has a pretty good claim of self-defense.

      Note that the word "confrontation" is vague. Prosecuter Corey used the word "confronted" in her inadequate Affidavit of Probable Cause. If Z merely asked M why he was in the neighborhood, that's a kind of confrontation, but it wouldn't justify M in knocking Z down and repeatedly banging his head on the sidewalk.

    12. nomatter_nevermindApril 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      Corey may only have to show that Zimmerman left his car with a loaded gun to prove the element that Zimmerman initiated whatever confrontation may or may not have occurred . . .

      This is gun-phobic wishful thinking.

    13. If, if, if, David. Once again presuming things that you know nothing about, such as the number of witnesses, what they told the cops and whatever other evidence they developed you have no idea about.

      Do NOT make the completely silly mistake that nomatter_nevermind makes (along with a host of other Zimmerman apologists) that the entire prosecution case has to be presented in the probable cause statement.

      And nonmatter_nevermind? Please stop demonstrating your utter ignorance of both "Stand Your Ground" and standard self-defense. The SYG movement, now stopped dead in its tracks, began as a way to remove the necessary element in standard self-defense that the person under the original attack still had to take a positive and definite action to avoid the confrontation that resulted in the use of deadly force.

      The problem with amateur attorneys reaching broad conclusions about how the law applies to specific cases is that you have no idea of the case law history behind it.

      And your analysis of both "Stand Your Ground" and "standard self-defense" displays how little you really know. Alexander Pope was right. "A little learning is a dangerous thing." It fools the less intelligent and the incurious into thinking they know far more than they do.

      Now as far as "gun-phobic wishful thinking" I would think the gun nuts would be praying that Corey prevails on Zimmerman's "Stand Your Ground" defense -- which is the only defense he really has.

      Otherwise, you are going to see these laws repealed so fast it will make your head swim. Even the author of the Florida statute said he never imagined that "Stand Your Ground" could be applied to this particular situation.

    14. Yes, Anon. I don't even play a lawyer on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz (a liberal) said on TV, “everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense. Everything.”
      “It’s so thin it won’t make it pass the judge on a second degree murder charge…It’s not only thin, it’s irresponsible.”

      Dershowitz could be wrong, of course. We'll see what the Judge does.

    15. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 2:04 PM


      Otherwise, you are going to see these laws repealed so fast it will make your head swim.

      I've seen some poll data that suggest that people in general, and swing voters in particular, aren't buying the media narrative in the Trayvon Martin case. I think SYG will be just fine.

      I think those laws could possibly do with some tweaking, in the light of experience with how they have worked. We could have a reasoned discussion about that. But liberals, especially MSNBC hosts, have made it a culture war issue.

    16. Now how are we going to have a reasoned discussion if you so easily dismiss people who oppose "Stand Your Ground" in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting as misled by MSNBC into believing it is a mere "cultural war issue" -- whatever that means.

      Would one of those misled MSNBC sheep be New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg?

  11. Before Crier went on TV, she was a Texas State judge. She should be held to higher standards than other talking heads.

  12. Leaving all other issues aside, the bit about Zimmerman "pursuing" Martin seems not to square with either the "Stand Your Ground" or the "self-defense" scenario.

    If Martin was running away, all Zimmerman needed to do in order to be safe was not pursue him; literally, to stand his ground.

    1. I agree. If the fight happened because Z ran after M, caught him, and attacked him, then SYG doesn't protect Z, nor does Z have a self-defense claim. If this is the case, then 2nd degree murder may be right charge.

      OTOH, if M first ran away, but then doubled back, confronted Z, unprovokedly knocked Z down, and started banging Z's head on the sidewalk, then Z may well have a valid self-defense claim. In this scenario, Z wouldn't need SYG, because he was already on the ground with M on top of him. He wouldn't have had the option of fleeing.

      Which of these scenarios to believe is going to be crucial.

    2. Scenario No. 2 raises a big problem for Zimmerman. When did he draw his gun?

      If it is before the (alleged) fight, then why would Martin run away, then double back and fight a man holding a gun?

      If it is during the fight, then how did Zimmerman unholster his weapon from his waistband with a guy straddling him and pounding his head on the sidewalk?

      I guarantee you that the cops asked this question of Zimmerman the night they took him in. That is the story he is stuck with.

    3. If M's hands were holding Z's head and banging it, then Z's hands were probably free. Z's right hand could have been down his side. He might have been able to reach his waist, where the gun was holstered.

      What I find more difficult for Z to explain is why he shot M in the heart, once he had the gun in his hand. It ought to have been easier to shoot M in the leg.

      If Z was straddling M, then a shot to the heart would have been at an upward angle. OTOH if it was intentional murder, the shot more likely would have gone straight into the heart. I've seen no reports about the angle at which the bullet entered M's heart. I think this will be important evidence.

    4. "If," "probably" "might."

      And I'll bet they have a medical examiner's report with every possible detail about the fatal wound included.

  13. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Shooting Martin in the leg wouldn't necessarily have ended the fight, particularly if Martin was on one of a number of drugs. It would have seriously pissed Martin off. And there would be no guarantee Zimmerman would get a second shot.

    Zimmerman did the right thing.

    1. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      Another problem with shooting for the leg is greater danger of injuring a bystander. The leg is a smaller target and a more mobile one. There's also more chance of the bullet going clean through.

    2. Fella, stop with all the idiotic "if" "maybes" and "mights."

      George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Period.

      And now we got "if Martin was on drugs." Can you possibly come up with more ways to slander a dead kid? Think hard. I'm sure you got other "if," "might" and "maybe" lies to tell about him rattling around tha pea brain.

    3. "Zimmerman did the right thing."

      Even taking Zimmerman's story in the light most favorable to Zimmerman, I am having a tough time finding anything at all he did "right." Including calling the cops on a kid walking down the street, which is perhaps the least wrong thing he did.

      From that point on, everything Zimmerman did -- according to his own story -- was a perfect recipe for the tragedy that ensued, a tragedy that Zimmerman could have easily avoided by letting the cops do their job.

    4. nomatter_nevermindApril 17, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      Who knows how many of Martin's potential future victims Zimmerman saved?

  14. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    We already know that Zimmerman suspected Martin was on drugs.

    I think we can now be confident Martin wasn't using any illegal drugs that night. The prosecutors have the toxicology reports, and the affidavit says Martin 'was not committing a crime.'

    1. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      OTOH the affidavit contains three known falsehoods.

      It says the police dispatcher told Zimmerman to 'wait for the officer', although the tape shows the dispatcher never said anything about Zimmerman waiting.

      It falsely says the dispatcher 'instructed' Zimmerman not to follow Martin.

      It says that Martin 'attempted to run home' and 'was trying to return to his home'. Efforts to construct timelines of the incident have shown that Martin had plenty of time to reach his home before Zimmerman completed his police call.

    2. This raises a point I haven't seen discussed: Z claims that he was returning to his vehicle when M attacked him. The Affadavit says Martin was heading home, when Z attacked him.

      Did the shooting take place in beteen Z's vehicle and where he finished making the call? OTOH did the confrontation take place between M's home and the place where Z finished his conversation with the dispatcher?

    3. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      The affidavit says Zimmerman 'confronted' Martin, not that he attacked. It takes no position on how things got physical.

    4. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      As I understand the story attributed to Zimmerman (in somewhat conflicting versions), Zimmerman didn't immediately head west to return to his vehicle. He had decided to meet with the police on the eastern leg of Retreat View Circle, so he went east on the sidewalk to RVC, to get the number of the nearest house. That was 2821 Retreat View Circle. Ironically this would be the first house at which a police car would arrive, although not directed by Zimmerman.

      After getting the address, Zimmerman returned westward on the same 'cut-through' sidewalk. It was about at the T where this sidewalk crosses the N/S sidewalk that runs between the back yards that Zimmerman says Martin ambushed him.

      This spot is also on one logical path from Zimmerman's vehicle to Martin's home, although not the shortest one. The shortest one would be south on Twin Trees Lane, then cut between the second and third houses (counting from the N). From there a jog right would bring Martin to the back door of his house on Retreat View Circle.

      Even if Martin took the slightly longer route, he had time to go home and drop off the skittles before going to meet Zimmerman and Fate.

    5. nomatter_nevermindApril 16, 2012 at 7:27 PM

      I don't think it is known exactly where Zimmerman finished his conversation with the dispatcher. I'm guessing it was near the western (Twin Trees Lane) end of the E/W sidewalk.

    6. Oh, I think they got a pretty good idea from the timeline of the call, the location of Zimmerman's truck, and the location of Martin's body.

    7. nomatter_nevermindApril 17, 2012 at 9:56 AM


      I've seen a few timelines on a few blogs, but I haven't found any of them satisfactory. I'm still working on my own.

      From the work I've done so far, I don't think Zimmerman's location at the end of the police call is as tightly constrained as you seem to be suggesting.

    8. And I am sure that the police, prosecutors and defense team are waiting with bated breath for the results of your research.

    9. I'm sure the prosecutors have done the work. That may get Corey in trouble. Lying on a probable cause affidavit was one of charges brought against Nifong.

  15. " . . . that Zimmerman says Martin ambushed him."

    When did Zimmerman, or anyone telling Zimmerman's story, ever say that Martin ambushed him?

  16. Def 2 of "ambush" is "an act or instance of attacking unexpectedly from a concealed position."

    My understanding is that, according to Z's story, after M had run away and Z was on his way back to his vehicle, M suddenly appeared, asked Z if he had a problem, then hit him on the nose and knocked him down. Since Martin appeared unexpectedly, it sound like he was concealed from Z, according to Z's story.

    1. Only in the mind of David in Cal is it possible to hit someone in the nose with your fist from a concealed position,

  17. nomatter_nevermindApril 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Only 94 comments. I thought this thread would break 100.