THE STORY BEGINS: Alvarez hears a second shot!

TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013

Part 2—Truly heinous conduct: Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida on Sunday evening, February 26.

The Orlando Sentinel is the local big-city daily. Except for a brief crime report on February 28, the Sentinel began to cover the case on March 9.

In that initial news report, the Sentinel reported that Tracy Martin had called for George Zimmerman’s arrest at a news conference in Orlando. Later in her report, Rene Stutzman described the state of the investigation and noted some points of agreement:
STUTZMAN (3/9/12): Police are still investigating, trying to determine whether Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter, according to department records. They have interviewed Zimmerman several times and had him re-enact what happened, said Sanford police Chief Bill Lee Jr.

Detectives should complete their investigation next week at the latest, he said, and will let the State Attorney's Office decide whether to file criminal charges.


Both sides agree that Trayvon and Zimmerman scuffled before the shooting, and there is evidence to corroborate Zimmerman's self-defense claims, the chief said.

When police arrived, an officer overheard Zimmerman say, “‘I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me,’” according to an incident report released Thursday. It also noted that the back of Zimmerman's shirt was wet and had grass clippings on it, as if he had been on his back on the ground.

On one recorded 911 call, the police chief said, "you can hear the struggle and the gunshot."
That was the start of the local coverage. The police chief seemed to say that you could hear one gunshot.

On March 17, the story went national in the New York Times with a news report by Lizette Alvarez. The report was larded with factual errors, only one of which was ever formally corrected.

That said, the first five paragraphs of the report were about as egregious as crime reporting can get.

What follows is truly egregious reporting. Included is an egregious factual error—an egregious error the New York Times never corrected or explained.

So-called journalism departments should preserve this text in amber. It should be studied as a leading example of what was once called yellow journalism:
ALVAREZ (3/17/12): Nearly three weeks after an unarmed teenager was killed in a small city north of Orlando, stirring an outcry, a few indisputable facts remain: the teenager, who was black, was carrying nothing but a bag of Skittles, some money and a can of iced tea when he was shot. The neighborhood crime watch volunteer who got out of his car and shot him is white and Hispanic. He has not been arrested and is claiming self-defense.

Beyond that, however, little is clear about the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17.

As criticism of the police investigation mounts, so too do the calls for swift action in a case with heavy racial overtones. Protests grow larger each week, and lawyers for the family are now asking the Department of Justice to intervene. The case also brings into sharp focus Florida's self-defense laws, which give people who feel threatened greater latitude in defending themselves than most states.

The police in of Sanford, where the shooting took place, are not revealing details of the investigation. Late Friday night, after weeks of pressure, the police played the 911 calls in the case for the family and gave copies to the news media. On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.

''It is so clear that this was a 17-year-old boy pleading for his life, and someone shot him in cold blood,'' said Natalie Jackson, one of the Martin family lawyers.
Right in her opening paragraph, Alvarez seemed to frame the killing as a racial matter. (Not all killings are.) She opened with the (irrelevant) fact that Martin had a bag of Skittles at the time of the incident.

Rather plainly, she took her frameworks from the narrative being offered by the lawyers the Martin family had retained. That also seems to be where she got her factual howlers.

Before she was done with this news report, Alvarez would present a string of factual errors. She continued to adopt the narrative framework which came from the Martin lawyers.

But good lord! In the passages we have highlighted, Alvarez made a truly heinous factual error—an error for which the New York Times never issued a correction. She then quoted Natalie Jackson, one of the lawyers, making a truly heinous claim—a claim which stirred a great deal of anger around the country, or so the Orlando Sentinel reported three days later.

What was Alvarez’s factual error? In the passage which follows, she reports that two gunshots are heard on the 911 recording. She also starts laying the groundwork for a heinous claim:

“On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.”

In that passage, Alvarez says, in her own voice, that two shots can be heard on the tapes. She states this as a fact.

Unfortunately, that factual statement was wrong. This raises an obvious question:

Only one shot was fired that night. Within a matter of days, any dispute about this matter had ended.

Why then did Alvarez report that two shots are heard on the 911 tapes? As she made that erroneous statement, she painted a truly heinous picture of the events which transpired that night. No names were used, but the implication was obvious:

According to Alvarez, Zimmerman had fired one shot, which had missed. After Martin’s voice is heard “begging and pleading,” Zimmerman fired the second shot, “and the pleading stopped.”

Alvarez then quoted Jackson, completing a truly heinous portrait. ''It is so clear that this was a 17-year-old boy pleading for his life, and someone shot him in cold blood,” Jackson said in a deeply heinous act.

Three days later, the Sentinel reported the wave of anger which swept the country because of this lurid portrait. We return to our previous question:

In fact, there was only one gunshot that night. Why did Alvarez say, in her own voice, that two shots could be heard on the 911 recordings? Be sure to note an important fact:

According to Alvarez’s report, she herself hadn’t actually heard the 911 tapes which the police had played “for the family.” On what basis did Alvarez say that two shots are “heard” on those tapes?

Presumably, the answer comes from the Orlando Sentinel, a much more professional newspaper than the perpetually runaway Times. On that same March 17, the Sentinel also reported that police had played those tapes for the Martin family.

One difference! At the Orlando paper, two reporters and their editor produced a basically competent news report. According to the Nexis archive, this is what Rene Stutzman and Bianca Prieto wrote at the start of a front-page report (for links, see below):
STUTZMAN (3/17/12): The family of Trayvon Martin spent hours Friday night with police, listening to the eight 911 calls made the night the 17-year-old was shot and killed by a neighborhood crime-watch volunteer in Sanford.

"What you hear on that tape is shocking. It's riveting," Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon's family, said after the group emerged from the meeting with police late Friday.

Police had previously refused to release the calls. The shooter, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, has not been arrested and is not charged with a crime. He claimed the Feb. 26 shooting was in self-defense.

Natalie Jackson, another attorney, said Zimmerman fired a warning shot, then a kill shot.

"You hear a shot, a clear shot, then you hear a 17-year-old boy begging for his life," Jackson said. "Then you hear a second shot."

It was the first time that anyone said two shots were fired that night.

"The last seconds of his life were in absolute fear," Crump said of the 911 calls.
Before we’re done, we’ll question Stutzman’s judgment on one basic point. But her reporting makes Alvarez look like the yellow journalist, and apparent shill, she served as that day.

Were two gunshots heard on the tapes? Let’s compare Goofus to Gallant:

Were two gunshots heard on the tapes? Alvarez states that as a fact, in her own voice. Stutzman sources that statement directly to Jackson.

(In an insufficient warning to readers, Stutzman also notes that no one else had ever said there were two gunshots that night.)

Let’s compare combs! In the Orlando paper, a lurid claim was directly attributed, in full, to the heinous Jackson. (In that lurid claim, a warning shot is followed by a murderous “kill shot” as a “boy” begs for his life.)

In the lofty and brilliant New York Times, Alvarez simply accepted that lurid story as accurate! She repeated chunks of Jackson’s (inaccurate) tale in her own gullible voice.

As we’ve noted, the rest of Alvarez’s report was larded with factual errors. A few of those errors still form the basis for the way the events of that night are conventionally described.

But the first five paragraphs of that report are truly heinous journalism. And as time passed, things got worse at the Times.

Three days later, the pitiful little Orlando Sentinel corrected the record about those alleged gunshots, as we will show you tomorrow. They asked attorneys Jackson and Crump why they had made their false statements.

(For the only time in recorded history, the pair “were not available for comment.”)

The Sentinel corrected the record about the number of gunshots. To this day, the perpetually heinous New York Times has never made that correction.

If you read that Times report today, you still will find no correction appended concerning the number of gunshots. But then, this sort of willful misconduct is hardly new for the Times.

The whole era of “Whitewater” pseudo-scandals began with lurid, uncorrected groaners on the front page of the Times. The subsequent wars against Candidate Gore were largely invented and fueled by the Times—by Frank Rich, by Maureen Dowd, by Seelye and Bruni and a cast of supporters.

The Times has long been a heinous newspaper. Why won’t your favorite stars say so? Why is misconduct of this type perpetually deemed OK?

Tomorrow: The Sentinel corrects the record. Goofus gazes away.

The Sentinel told it two different ways: According to the Nexis archive, the Sentinel told the story two ways on March 17, 2012.

We have cited the Stutzman/Prieto report which appeared in the paper’s early editions. In that same day’s later editions, a revised report directly stated that two shots could be heard on the tapes, just as Alvarez did.

We could offer a horrible speculation as to why the Sentinel flipped on this matter, making its report less accurate in the process. Our speculation would involve the perpetual desire of regional editors to get in line with the mighty and brilliant Times.

Whatever! For a reprint of the Sentinel’s early report, click this. To review the later, erroneous version, just click here.

One basic matter of judgment: Should Stutzman have reported Jackson’s claims in the way she did in that initial report?

Ideally, she should have been more careful. She should have included many more warnings about the fact that Jackson’s (false) report about the number of gunshots couldn’t be corroborated or confirmed.

In fairness, all of Jackson’s lurid claims were directly attributed to their source. Beyond that, Stutzman even included a bit of a warning—no one had ever said a word about two gunshots before.

Still, Jackson was alleging an act of cold-blooded murder, culminating in a “kill shot” as a boy begged for his life. According to the Sentinel’s March 20 report, people all over the country became enraged after reading Jackson’s account.

Those people had been baldly misled by the latest fake fact. The Sentinel pushed back against Jackson's conduct. As always, the Times did not.


  1. Devastating account and analysis. Simply devastating. The shameful New York Times reporting is hard to believe but there we have it.

    1. b-b-but Bob is an old crank obsessed with meaningless details and Al Gore...or something...

    2. "b-b-but ..."

      Sarcasm, the last weapon of the defeated mind.


    3. Actually, claiming you won when you really lost is the "last" weapon.

      You're doing it perfectly, Fudge.

    4. Anonymous 9:40 - nail on head. The kind of analysis Somerby did here (and many times before) is so unassailable, meticulous, thorough, careful, clear, devastating, airtight, etc. -- it's something I've never seen done as well anywhere else. My only wish is that he would aim his powers more often at the seemingly larger amount of bullshit that constantly flows from the Right/GOP.

    5. Oh no, I apparently spoke too soon. Anonymous 3:06 p.m. below apparently caught a mistake of Somerby's. He (or she) writes:

      Sorry Bob, but you missed one. You write that Alvarez did not hear the tape, but her own report says this "the police played the 911 calls in the case for the family and gave copies to the news media."

      "Copies to the news media"

      So Alvarez very well may have listened to the tape and decided that she, too, heard the same thing that Natalie Jackson said she did.

  2. Replies
    1. You got any Instaputz links you want to share with us too?

  3. That the New York Times never corrected this reporting is beyond shameful. This is the worst sort of "yellow journalism." A false report, never ever corrected.

  4. The Times has got rid of Nate Silver, because, according to Sullivan, he doesn't fit the culture of the paper. Lucky him. It means he still has integrity.

    Apparently, the old guard reporters didn't care for his style either.

    Grey Lady down!

  5. I urge everyone to tweet to @Sulliview and ask the NYT's omnibudsman why these corrections never happened, even in her own recent column praising the NYT's for its Martin trial coverage.

  6. This isn't the ridiculous Fox News or MSNBC. This is NY Times, the most prestigious paper in the country.

    None of us believe anything we see on Fox or MSNBC but when we have to use the same disbelief with major news organizations on an important story like this then we, as a nation, are in big trouble.

    I'm not going to give my civics 101 speech but self government cannot work without a critical, fair, accurate press. It just can't.

  7. "She opened with the (irrelevant) fact that Martin had a bag of Skittles at the time of the incident."

    It isn't irrelevant, if you don't believe George Zimmerman's account. Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal. At least one juror relied on that to contribute to the necessary state of mind he had at the time of the altercation; she referred to his fear of crime in his neighborhood. Martin wasn't casing the joint. Zimmerman was wrong. Martin was returning from a snack run. Zimmerman then has to rely on "teen gone wild" to explain his account of an unprovoked attack. The self defense claim would have been a lot easier to swallow if Zimmerman HAD interrupted or come upon a crime. He didn't.
    It would be a completely different case if Martin HAD been engaged in something suspicious or unlawful.

    1. Having Skittles means you *can't* have been doing anything suspicious?

      Having some candies on your person tells us about your state of mind?

      I know your state of mind, 11:57: You are insane.

    2. "I know your state of mind, 11:57: You are insane."

      Anything that tends to exonerate Martin on the charge of an unprovoked attack on Zimmerman is deemed "irrelevant".

      The NYTimes isn't a court room. They don't follow the rules of evidence. Zimmerman's defenders rely on the legal standard, because IT'S NARROW. Obviously.
      Is the FACT that the snack tends to show that Martin was not in a murderous rage 10 minutes prior to Zimmerman's story of a "sucker punch" relevant? Sure it is. They're under no obligation to report only those facts that are most favorable to the defense.
      I don't have to give George Zimmerman credibility as a presumption. Really. I don't. I tend to go the other way, in fact, for two good reasons. There is no Martin "story" and Zimmerman is self-interested, and NONE of the physical evidence excludes Zimmerman as the aggressor.

    3. Returning from a snack run? We didn't hear much about it but there was a 40 minute period between when Martin left the store and the beginning of Zimmerman's call when he sees him entering the neighborhood through a shortcut.

    4. Martin's carrying Skittles gives us absolutely no indication about his mindset or actions at the RELEVANT time. (Presumably Martin was not in a "murderous rage," as you say, when he was BUYING the Skittles, but having bought the Skittles is he any less likely to initiate violence later? No he is not, and thus the Skittles are IRRELEVANT).

    5. Is it also "irrelevant" that Martin was talking on a cell phone to a friend at the very instant when Zimmerman, quivering like the dumbfuck he is, called the non-emergency number to report that he was acting suspiciously? During the entire multiple times Zimmerman was interviewed by the police he never once mentioned that little tidbit? BTW, the police didn't consider the Skittles irrelevant as they focused on that fact several times when questioning Zimmerman.

    6. Having Skittles on your person "tends to exonerate" you.

      Oh, the things you can learn on the internets!!!!!

    7. It is a FACT that being in possession of candies tends to show you are not "in a murderous rage" (whatever *that* is -- apparently, something you *must* be in before anyone can fear you will harm them. Attention all actual criminals: Carry candy!!)

      Oh, the things you learn from folks on the internets!

    8. Apparently you jackasses know more than the detectives about the relevance of the kid carrying a pack Skittles he just bought. It doesn't prove anything all by itself, jackasses. Obviously it's just one piece of the mosaic to help us understand the full picture of what happened that night. Jackasses. People understand on a gut level what it means. Jackasses.

      Serino: Trayvon Benjamin Martin. He was born in 1995, February the 5th. He was 17 years old. An athlete, um, probably somewhere, somebody who was gonna be in avionautics, um, a kid with a future. A kid with folks that care. In his possession we found a, uh, can of, uh, iced tea and a bag of Skittles. And about $40 in cash. Not a goon.

      Serino: OK. So you’d understand where this is going from because this, right here, this 17-year-old boy would be one of those kids who would have been a success story. Um, and I wanna know, like I said, everybody wants to know, you know, what set him off. He’s not on PCP, he’s not on anything. He’s on Skittles.

    9. He wasn't on Skittles because the package was unopened. Why did Serino ignore the cell phone? How did he know what the kids interests were when his first contact with him was as a corpse? Clearly Serino is stating what someone else told him about Martin -- who? How does having $40 in cash and some snacks make you "not a goon"?

      Here is one of the things that bothers me -- why did Trayvon leave a 12 year old at home that he was supposed to be babysitting? Why was he gone 40 minutes it didn't require that long to go to the store and back? Why is he lingering for 4 minutes instead of going back home, when he thinks someone suspicious is following him? Why does he hang around with kids like Jeantel if he is someone with promise, someone going to be in "avionautics"? Why was that stuff on his cell phone? It doesn't support this characterization of him, obviously supplied by the "folks who care" via his attorney. Is it the place of the police to parrot to others what attorneys tell them or should the police independently verify that stuff? Is every kid who is killed in tragic circumstances automatically an honor student and star athlete (probably somewhere)? I think that cheapens the memory of such kids because it substitutes a fiction for who they were as real people.

    10. Hey Anonymous asshole. You sure have a lot of questions for Trayvon Martin. Unfortunately he's dead and not able to satisfy your burning curiosity of every last detail of his remaining moments alive.

      Since your so focused on timing and time and how come this and how come that, why don't you ask Zimmerman how come it took him over 120 seconds to walk 30 feet back to his car and then he never actually got back in his car.

      Serino: When do you start walking back to your car? Time here. You’re going towards Retreat View, right?
      Zimmerman: Yeah.
      Serino: OK.
      (plays tape 2:28 to 2:41)
      Serino: OK, where you at now?
      Zimmerman: I think on Retreat View Circle.
      Serino: OK. Is that 2:41? OK.
      (plays tape 2:41 to 2:47)
      Serino: OK, you’re walking back to your car?
      Zimmerman: Yes, sir,
      (plays tape 2:48 to 4:03 )
      Zimmerman: I’m thumping the damn flashlight as I was walking through.
      (call ends)
      Singleton: How long is that?
      Serino: It’s 84 seconds. From the point where you were walking back to your car from Retreat View to Twin Tree basically.
      Singleton: It’s what, about 30 feet.
      Serino: That’s a minute and…20 seconds. Did you stop at the “T”?
      Zimmerman: No, I walked through. I stopped on Retreat View Circle.
      Serino: That’s where you were standing?
      Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
      Serino: OK. But you didn’t get back into your car?
      Zimmerman: No, sir.
      Serino: Why not?
      Zimmerman: I was…
      Serino: You’re in the rain, you’re getting wet, you’re on the phone.
      Zimmerman: Because I was waiting, I, the, I had light there…

      (see, he had the flashlight that wasn't working, so he didn't need to get out of the rain and wait for the police)

      Serino: So…
      Zimmerman: Where I was at and I was trying to hit my flashlight. I didn’t want to walk back through without light.
      Serino: OK, a minute and 20 seconds.
      Zimmerman: Yes, sir.
      Serino: OK, you’re in the rain, getting wet. You’ve wrote this guy off basically, you’re gonna meet the police. OK, you see where the obstacle is here?
      Zimmerman: Yes, sir.

    11. It's called adversarial questioning, dodo.

      It means a cop is doing his job.

      It proves nothing, zero, nada, zilch, bupkis, a big fat goose egg about the "relevance" of Skittles.

      They don't have any relevance. None. The Skittles are exactly worthless in telling a judge or jury anything about anyone's character or motivations.

      EVIL people like candy too

      (If you have two brain cells to rub together, you understand that, and you further understand that it doesn't imply Martin was EVIL either.)

    12. Yeah, adversarial questioning. And it didn't take much to get little Georgie Porgie all tangled up in his lies.

    13. There's really no evidence of "lies" in what you quoted, you know. If there had been that would've been pretty damning at trial, but it wasn't, so it wasn't.

      What makes you use the epithet "Georgie Porgie," anyway? Do you suppose it cute? Instead, you come off as a whiny crybaby.

      Yes, things didn't go your way. Get over it.

      One thing's clear as a bell, though: You'd have not been able to do anything to aid this hopeless prosecution, despite your endless blather.

    14. Wow, that's the first time I've seen that transcript. I had suspected Z was lying before based on a careful comparison of his reenactment video on the one hand, and on the other hand, his call to the police, the layout of the area, where M's body was lying, and the timeline on Wiki; not to mention the way he doesn't seem overly sure of what he's going to say next in the reenactment video -- like he's trying to figure out what's in his best interest to say instead of just being honest. And I had always wondered about the apparent two minutes between the time his call ends and the time the fight seems to have begun. This transcript just adds to my suspicion that he's hiding something. It may not be any big deal -- he may have just hung around looking for M and feels that that might make him seem irresponsible -- but he's definitely trying to hide something.

    15. Oh no, I apparently spoke too soon. Anonymous 3:06 p.m. below apparently caught a mistake of Somerby's. He (or she) writes:

      Sorry Bob, but you missed one. You write that Alvarez did not hear the tape, but her own report says this "the police played the 911 calls in the case for the family and gave copies to the news media."

      "Copies to the news media"

      So Alvarez very well may have listened to the tape and decided that she, too, heard the same thing that Natalie Jackson said she did.

    16. Too bad it didn't add to Serino's suspicion. He thought Zimmerman told the truth and no offense, but he has much more experience than you.

    17. "There's really no evidence of "lies"

      You must be joking. His interview is littered with lies. In this one he's twisting around trying to explain why he didn't innocently return to his car when they told him not to follow.

      Just one example:

      Serino: OK, at the point where he said, are you following him, and he said, we don’t need you to do that, what went through your mind?
      Zimmerman: He’s right.
      Serino: So you shoulda stopped and went back to your vehicle.
      Zimmerman: I still wanted to give him an address.

      Zimmerman claims he's still looking for an address. Why? Who is this "him" that Zimmerman is referring to? He just told the dispatcher he wanted the police to call him on his cell phone when they arrived, which he knew was only minutes away. So why the fuck is he looking for an address? He just moments earlier told the dispatcher he didn't want to give them an address. He's twisting in the tangled web of lies he's been telling.

    18. "Too bad it didn't add to Serino's suspicion. He thought Zimmerman told the truth and no offense, but he has much more experience than you."

      Then how come he recommended manslaughter charges be filed after initially thinking 2nd degree murder?

      *****SANFORD – After Chris Serino, the Sanford police detective who led the investigation into the Trayvon Martin shooting death, wrote the most important police report in the case, he revised it at least four times.

      And he made at least one huge change: He initially said George Zimmerman should be charged with second-degree murder, then changed course and recommended a charge of manslaughter, according to a prosecutor and new list of evidence.

      Serino made all those revisions to the report summarizing his findings during one five-hour stretch on March 13, according to a newly released evidence list.

      In the first two drafts, according to Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda, Serino wrote that he had probable cause to recommend a second-degree-murder charge. Then, over the next hour, he changed the report twice more and in his final version wrote that the evidence supported the lesser charge.

      One of Serino's supervisors, Sanford police Capt. Bob O'Connor, said in a July 3 interview that everyone in Serino's chain of command agreed with the investigator's conclusion. Serino's direct supervisor, then-Sgt. Randy Smith, also signed the final version.

  8. The witness Jenna Lauer said on her 911 call that there were two shots. There is a noise on the tape, not a shot as now know, but a noise that she called a second shot.

    A misunderstanding; not a heinous act of journalistic fiction.

    Please cease the reading of these mucky tea leaves.

  9. Actually Anon, the Skittles are irrelvant.

    First of all, there is no evidence of profiling other than that Zimmerman described Martin as a "suspicious guy" who looked like he was on drugs. Now you and I have no idea what Martin was actually doing at the time and if it could be reasonably described as suspicious behavior, so in the absence of that knowledge we have no way of knowing if Zimmerman was "profiling." Z only mentioned the hoodie and Martin's possibly being black after the dispatcher asked him for a description. Z never referred to T as a criminal,and the closest Z comes to accusing T is a frustrated, off-hand "they always get away."

    Second of all, in establishing Z's state of mind it is irrelevant if Martin is carrying Skittles or, for that matter, a bag of weed. Is it possible that a person acting in perfectly good faith could misinterpret innocent actions as being suspicious? Yes it is. Is it possible that a person carrying a bag of Skittles might be engaged in suspicious activities? Yes that is possible too.

    We don't know if Martin was "casing the joint" or not. I am in no way suggesting he was, but it's not something you can state with absolute certainty and if you are a defender of civil rights and due process it is irrelevant; if you don't think Martin attacked Z first then Martin deserved due process even if he had just finished robbing a house.

    If Martin did in fact attack Z first as Z described, why say Zimmerman had to 'rely' on a 'teen gone wild' theory? You act as if a 17 year old engaging in violence is so far-fetched. Martin may have been scared, or indignant. I can easily see how Z's actions might provoke violence in an innnocent person or someonewho is"up to no good". That is tragic but not a crime.

    The self-defense claim has nothing to do with Martin's being caught in the act of a crime. The self-defense claim has everything to do with whether or not Martin attacked Z first and if Z reasonably feared for his life or grave bodily harm. The only reason the skittles are relevant is for all the wrong reasons, because imbeciles tend to think along simplistic lines like "kids carrying skittles would never initiate violence."

    You are right it WOULD be a completely different case if it had been demonstrated with certainty that Martin had been engaged in something suspicious or unlawful. If Martin had been found with stolen property, or if a toxicology report had shown Martin was high on weed at the time, the case would lean heavily against Martin. Presumably this is a BAD thing because it would not change anything about who attacked whom first. This is why ifyou are at all interested in jurisprudence you should consider the Skittles irrelevant.

    1. Stop being logical. It confuses the idiots.

    2. Sorry, but we've already established that you can't be "casing a joint" if you have Skittles on your person.

    3. The article says he was carrying nothing but a package of skittles, some money and an iced tea when he was shot. What about the cell phone?

    4. Iced tea, your honor.

      Goes to the character of the deceased.


  10. Sorry Bob, but you missed one. You write that Alvarez did not hear the tape, but her own report says this "the police played the 911 calls in the case for the family and gave copies to the news media."

    "Copies to the news media"

    So Alvarez very well may have listened to the tape and decided that she, too, heard the same thing that Natalie Jackson said she did.

    Many people were perhaps hearing what they wanted to hear, and others seem to have been on a crusade to get justice for what they felt was a murdered child.

    Like the one neighbor who ran to the press and put herself forward as a "witness" because the screaming stopped after the gunshot so she just "knew" it was the "little boy." As if somebody getting pummelled and screaming for help is gonna keep screaming for help after they shoot the person who had been pounding on them. But she was a "witness" and for some reason the police were after "just the facts, ma'am" instead of taking her as a credible witness.

    1. This doesn't explain the similarity of the wording.

  11. Skittles.

    People understand them on a gut level.

    You can't make it up!

    (Unless you're "mm") (Hey, wait, that's a candy too. Sorry M&M, you must be of good character, sweetie that you are!)

  12. Mr. Somerby, if you are going to criticize the press for adopting a narrative then fitting all that follows into the narrative you have to stop doing it yourself.

    Today you have included this piece along with an attack on a Times editorial suggesting you,and you alone, are prescinet enough to see the end of civilization because of the failures of our intellectual elite revealed by the flaws of the NYT.

    Here is the key to you creating, then following the narrative:

    Three days later, the Sentinel reported the wave of anger which swept the country because of this lurid portrait. We return to our previous question:

    You don't link to the Sentinel report you mention, and say you will cove it tomorrow. But your clear implication is the Alvarez NYT article 3/17/12 caused the national wave of anger. By the time of the report you allude to in the NYT, the wave of anger was already sweeping the country. The Sentinel's own report you link the same day as the Times article has the Stanford police chief decrying the media circus. It reporst the Congresswoman and the Mayor of Sanford plan to meet with Attorney General Holder. A separate article in the Sentinel that same day notes a petition about the case had already garnered a quarter of a million signatures online.

    Your narrative has it that the egregiously bad NYT is the cause of bad things. I would suggest its bad reporting contributed to the outrage, but did not cause it. An unarmed teen being shot while walking home,
    and the perception that the local police were not treating it as the crime many thought it clearly was caused the outrage. The release of the 911 tapes, including Zimmerman's statement that "the assholes always get away," caused it to explode nationally.

    1. People didn't learn [many incorrect] things about the case because of reporting, yeah, right.

      It was Spidey-sense or something, huh?