SOCIETY DOWN: It’s time for Ben Jealous (and Crowley) to go!


Interlude—CNN fails to perform: Geoffrey Canada is a very bright person.

Yesterday, we mentioned a comment he made on CNN about the Zimmerman verdict. “In my world, everybody saw this as open and shut,” he said, referring to the case against Zimmerman.

That was a rather strange comment. Plainly, the legal case against George Zimmerman was never open-and-shut. If Canada was right, why did so many people think otherwise?

Last night, we saw part of the answer. We watched CNN’s State of the Union program from last Sunday, the morning after the verdict.

Candy Crowley hosted the program and refused to perform basic journalism. Even by the low standards of cable, her performance was egregious.

To review the full transcript, click this.

Crowley spoke with a string of guests. With great frequency, these guests offered the simplified version of the killing of Trayvon Martin which has come to dominate many cable discussions.

Early on, she spoke with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA). Below, you see his repeated account of what happened in Sanford that night:
FATTAH (7/14/13): If you take race out of this, what you have is a young person who died going to buy candy, who was innocent, was not involved in any criminal activity, and a person who officials had asked not to follow him took a gun and killed him. And now, that person will get his gun back. George Zimmerman will get that gun back.

He will be out, and I think the notion that the jury is saying to him that if he did the same thing again today, or tomorrow, or next week, or someone else did it, that there would be no punishment is not a great signal to send.

CROWLEY: So, you think the signal is that this was an injustice. You think there should have been a guilty verdict? Is that what you're saying to me?

FATTAH: I think that there's an innocent boy dead. A person was asked not to follow him and he took a gun and killed him. And yes, I think that there should be been a punishment for that and moreover, the fact this this gentleman will have his gun back, or others like him could go out and do the same thing tomorrow with a belief that our criminal justice system has now said that that's perfectly fine.

That that set of facts are fine. That if someone tells you not to follow a kid, that you follow him, that you get out of your car and you shoot him and you kill him, that that's OK.
Three times, Fattah offered this account of what happened in Sanford that night:

A young, innocent person went to buy candy. A person was asked not to follow him and he took a gun and killed him.

If Canada’s friends have heard that account, the case would of course seem to be open and shut. This is the obvious problem:

Fattah omitted the facts which made it clear, all along, that this case wouldn’t be open and shut. If Fattah has been offering that account to his constituents, those people have been misled.

Fattah was hardly the only guest who offered this bowdlerized account of what happened that night. Later, Crowley brought out her “legal panel,” with Tom Mesereau saying this:
MESEREAU: First of all, the case absolutely should have been prosecuted. You have an innocent 17-year-old doing exactly what he had every right to do who was gunned down as a teenager. I mean, come on. The case should have been brought and in many other jurisdictions and many other juries would have convicted Zimmerman in my opinion. I agree he had outstanding defense attorneys, Mark O'Mara and Don West did a terrific job. You also had very, very good prosecutors who were very passionate and dedicated to what they did but this case could have gone the other way somewhere else. The facts were there. This man took a gun. He wasn't a police officer. He decided to follow someone when he was advised not to. He set the stage for an altercation and then he shot this young boy dead who was doing nothing wrong.
This was Mesereau’s account of what happened:

An innocent 17-year-old who was doing nothing wrong was gunned down, shot dead.

That certainly sounds like it's open and shut! Illinois governor Pat Quinn added a familiar element:
QUINN: I agree with Trayvon Martin's father that his heart is broken. My heart is broken. And our faith is not broken, as Mr. Martin said. It's important that we really look at this stand your ground law. I don't think that's a good law. We don't have it in Illinois, and we don't want it. And I think also the idea of individuals with guns that are concealed that are told by the police not to do something, violating that police order, there's something really wrong when that happens. And I think lots and lots of people across our country feel that way.
Quinn’s heart didn’t seem to be broken. He was soon clowning about the greatness of the Blackhawks and the Bulls and predicting his own re-election. But he added a basic point to the account Crowley’s viewers received:

Zimmerman was violating a police order when he shot Martin.

If Canada’s friends kept hearing this account of the facts, they might naturally assume that the case was open and shut. Unfortunately, Fattah, Mesereau and Quinn were all misleading those people.

Crowley’s viewers were repeatedly told that Martin was doing nothing wrong at the time he was shot. But uh-oh! During the trial, the jury was told by the defense that Martin was banging Zimmerman’s head on concrete moments before he was shot. And the best-positioned eyewitness testified that Martin was beating Zimmerman MMA-style shortly before he was shot.

Now, we reach the incredible part. In the full hour of Crowley’s program, that claim and that testimony were never mentioned! The injuries sustained by Zimmerman were never mentioned either.

The injuries and the testimony meant that this case wasn't open and shut. But these basic elements of the case went AWOL from Crowley's show.

At the very start of the program, Crowley referred to Zimmerman’s “claim that he shot Martin in self-defense early last year.” But as her guests kept offering simplified accounts of what happened in Sanford that night, Crowley never asked them to reconcile their accounts with what is known about Zimmerman’s injuries or with the eyewitness testimony.

Those are the facts and the evidence which kept this case from being open and shut. On Crowley’s hour-long program, they simply didn’t exist.

On Crowley’s part, this represented a refusal to perform the basic tasks of her profession. When her guests gave highly simplistic accounts of the facts, she cast herself in the role of potted plant.

How absurd was Crowley’s overall performance? She opened one segment with videotape of James Davis, an angry Sanford activist. In this exchange, we see two basic elements of an ongoing media gong-show:
DAVIS (videotape): And we got a jury from this county, and ironically, the jury that they chose was a jury that didn't include any blacks at all, but I understand that that jury may have some Hispanics on it.

CROWLEY: That was community activist, James Davis, responding to the verdict. CNN's Alina Machado is in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Sanford, Florida getting reaction. So, Alina, what reaction have you gotten?
If Davis was acting in good faith, he had paid so little attention to the trial that he didn’t even know the composition of the jury.

Incredibly, Crowley let his statement go. Instead of correcting his bogus, somewhat race-baiting statement, she threw to correspondent Alina Machado, who prefigured Canada’s later statement:

“People here seem to be in shock,” Machado said. We were out here right after the not guilty verdict came down and people were walking around. There was a very small group that had gathered near a house where there had been a verdict watch party in this community and that small group was primarily shocked. They were walking around kind of with a dazed look on their face. There were some people who were very angry.”

Why were those people shocked by the verdict? Could it be because they’ve been played—because they’ve persistently been misinformed about the full range of facts and evidence in this case? This case was never open and shut, unless you listened to the childish accounts offered by people like Mesereau and Fattah, with “journalists” like Crowley refusing to do their jobs.

This case was never open and shut, except within the lines of a tightly constricted version of what happened. If we want to be honest about it, it isn’t clear that Trayvon Martin was “doing exactly what he had every right to do” at the time he was shot.

But average people were told that, again and again, by roving bands of demagogues. People like Crowley and Anderson Cooper allowed them to do it. In the process, they were refusing to do their jobs.

Crowley’s first guest this day was Benjamin Jealous, head of the NAACP. Jealous may be well-intentioned and thoroughly decent, but he sometimes gets things wrong.

The last time we looked in on Jealous, he was pummeling Shirley Sherrod after Tom Vilsack fired her. On Crowley’s program, he worried about what young people will think about this case and the verdict:
JEALOUS: And we should listen for our young people and search with them when they ask, “How is it that young Trayvon Martin could be killed by George Zimmerman and George Zimmerman gets no time when Michael Vick got two and a half ears for killing dogs?” When a domestic violence victim in northern Florida shot warning shots in the air over the head of her attacker and got 20 years.


JEALOUS: And it's important that we take the feelings of our young people very seriously, and we help them sort through this.
Yes, he actually said that.

Newsflash: This country is full of good, decent kids of every race and ethnicity. This country is full of good, decent black kids.

We see them in Baltimore every day. We think they're sensational.

All kids face hurdles on the way to becoming adults. Our nation’s brutal history gives black kids an extra set of hurdles.

Jealous may be the world’s nicest person. We will assume that he’s well-intentioned. But one of the problems these young people face involves the leadership of people like Jealous. These leaders simply won’t give them the full range of facts about what happened in Sanford that night, or about why the jury may have ruled as it did.

Why did Zimmerman get no time when Vick got two years for killing dogs! Let us guess that very few kids are asking that question without being prompted by Jealous!

There is an answer to that question, but it wasn’t permitted on Crowley’s program. People who love and respect black kids would ask Jealous and Crowley and so many others to move aside, go home, step down.

Crowley’s full rebuttal: Again and again, Crowley’s guests gave grossly simplified accounts of what happened in Sanford that night. Below, the highlighted passage represents Crowley’s lone attempt at rebuttal:

CROWLEY: So, you think the signal is that this was an injustice. You think there should have been a guilty verdict? Is that what you're saying to me?
FATTAH: I think that there's an innocent boy dead. A person was asked not to follow him and he took a gun and killed him. And yes, I think that there should be been a punishment for that and more over, the fact this this gentleman will have his gun back or others like him could go out and do the same thing tomorrow with a belief that our criminal justice system has now said that that's perfectly fine.

That that set of facts are fine. That if someone tells you not to follow a kid, that you follow him, that you get out of your car and you shoot him and you kill him, that that's OK.

CROWLEY: But the following was not a crime, obviously, and the killing, at least according to the jury was not. But Congressman Grijalva, help us here. Do you think that the U.S. justice system continues to be a racial divide that whites get a far better deal in the justice system than African-Americans?
In the entire hour, that highlighted statement represents Crowley’s lone attempt to challenge the Simplified Story which is being peddled to average people and even to children.

Following Martin was not a crime, the helpless non-journalist said. Because she refuses to do her job, it's time for this person to go.


  1. It is reasonable to say Zimmerman could have avoided the encounter, though, so people starting the clock prior to Zimmerman's account of the altercation (where his legal defense begins) could have the better LOGICAL argument, although of course none of this matters in terms of the legal standard for self defense:

    "Chris Serino sent a capias request to the state's attorney recommending charges of negligent manslaughter against Zimmerman, though Serino maintains he did not believe they had the evidence to support those charges and that manslaughter was only included in the capias in order for the prosecutor's office to continue with their own investigation.

    The capias states, "the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman, if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and waited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialog in an effort to dispel each party's concern".

    1. Serino later said he was pressured by blacks in the department

    2. He was pressured by "blacks in the department" to file a sworn statement that was dishonest or inaccurate?

      Are you sure you wanna go there?

  2. "This country is full of good, decent black kids". How white of you.
    But black kids, if you are followed by a stranger and end up dead, tough nookies.
    I will believe whatever your killer says occurred. After all, what your killer says is plausible. Who knows if it's true? But it's plausible. We do know that no other explanation of events is available. After all you are dead.
    How condescendingly, mightily white of you Bob.

    1. "end up dead." How mightily dishonest of you.

    2. Martin ended up dead.

    3. The state of Florida used all of its resources to try and convict the person who killed Martin. The threw the book at him including trying to get him convicted on child abuse charges.

      They presented their case, the judge instructed the jury on the law, and the jury was unable to find Mr. Zimmerman guilty of a crime based on the evidence presented. They had reasonable doubt. Nobody can say with certainty what happened (not even, I'd suggest, Zimmerman). No one is relying on what Zimmerman said. They are relying on the evidence, and lack of it, presented in court.

      It's a awful terrible tragedy. The law is incapable of correcting or addressing every tragedy.

      This is not the first time - or sadly will it be the last - where a jury is unable to find criminal culpability because of the lack of evidence. There are lots of people walking around who committed murder but were not convicted because there simply wasn't enough evidence.

    4. SMG, What child abuse charges?

  3. And then, given the facts of the case ( Zimmerman didn't surprise an intruder in his home; it wasn't some other situation where there's an obvious, verifiable threat) the concern would be that all one needs is a "reasonable belief" to shoot and kill another and then claim self defense, leaving the shooter as the single living person who knows what happened.

    That's a problem.

    1. Sorry, but it's not just the "reasonable belief" of the killer or shooter. He (or she) can't make that decision and then everyone must accept it.

      A jury, among others (like the police, the state et cetera) will consider the situation, look at the evidence, and make that determination themselves. The shooter/killer can't make it by himself and then we accept it.

      How is this different than what the law has been regarding self defense for dozens if not hundreds of years? If there are no witnesses and little evidence otherwise, a person will not go to jail.

      I'd suggest that if Mr. Zimmerman were also black that we wouldn't even be discussing this. We'd understand that a terrible tragedy took place and that nobody knows what happened.

    2. No it's not a problem. Self defense laws have existed for centuries and with clear ethical and moral foundations. The talk over changing them now is insane and confused.

    3. SMGalbraith

      Though I wonder how it would have gone down if Zimmerman were black and Martin were white. Maybe still a big stir but with the left and right reversed?

  4. or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialog in an effort to dispel each party's concern".

    I find this part persuasive (I don't believe Zimmerman when he claims that Martin attacked him completely unprovoked) because it really does away with the notion that Martin became this killing machine minutes after encountering Zimmerman, just...because.

    The officer believes Zimmerman would have been safe in speaking to Martin. "Engage in dialogue".

    1. Anonymous,

      1) Nobody forced the jury to believe Zimmerman

      2) Perhaps the jury didn't believe Zimmerman in several points, but disbelieved the terrible witnesses that the prosecution brought in, including that autopsy doctor who didn't even remember the autopsy; or Rachel "I-can-t read" Jeantel.

      3) Zimmerman didn't testify. He only had limited participation after answering questions to the prosecution.

    2. There was so much independent evidence Zimmerman was all but irrelevant

    3. You don't understand how Martin could have attacked Zimmerman if he did nothing to provoke him. The contents of Martin's cell phone talk about him punching a school bus driver and he brags about knowing how to drop someone with a single punch. Zimmerman says he was sucker punched (punched and knocked to the ground without warning). Martin's interest in fighting techniques and his conversation with Jeantel (as reported by her) suggest he may have worked himself up to attack Zimmerman after the first encounter (where he sized him up and glared at him), then perhaps attacked him to try out some of the fighting techniques he had been interested in, as evidenced by conversations with friends. It is not unheard of for young men to go out and beat up individuals for no reason, as entertainment or to let off steam or to feel powerful, etc. We don't know why Martin attacked Zimmerman -- one suggestion is that he assumed Zimmerman was gay and trying to pick him up. Nevertheless it is possible to imagine scenarios and explanations that make some sense. That means that logically we do not need to assume Zimmerman MUST have done something to provoke Martin, since there is no possible reason Martin might have attacked him otherwise.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. A. Perez,

      Rachel Jeantel can not read cursive. She did read through typed transcripts while on the witness stand and discuss points of contention therein.

      Jeantel had signed a letter transcribed by a friend which partially summarized her phone conversations with Trayvon Martin on the evening he died, a letter which she gave to Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton when they met having intended for the it to be medium of communication between the two of them so that Jeantel could avoid discussing these matters with Fulton in a face to face meeting. The defense asked Jeantel why that letter did not include some of the information she was testifying to in court but she could not review it without the letter being read to her because she could not read the original's hand written cursive lettering.

    6. Jeantel admits she lies under oath so one should take whatever she says with a grain of salt unless it is corroborated with owr evidence like phone records

    7. Anonymous @ 6:07P

      That's quite some talent for fiction you've got there. Do you have an agent?

      Can I try? I don't have your flair for the imaginative, but suppose when the two come face to face, Martin says "What's your problem?"

      And Zimmerman replies, "Get away from me. You gotta run." And reaches into his pocket for his cell phone.

      Martin hears "I gotta gun."

      See how easy that was? Now, is that what happened? I don't know because I made it all up.

      Just like you did with your just-so story.

    8. Except the statement you attribute to Zimmerman (You gotta run.) doesn't make any sense. If you are going to suggest an alternative, it needs to sound somewhat plausible. Yours doesn't.

  5. Every day I went to the Orlando Sentinel to read their summary of what legal experts said, I read that the prosecution did an awful job and that the defense did very well. But when I went to partisan websites such as the Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos, members of those communities didn't seem to have read or listened to any legal experts. They simply agreed that Zimmerman was guilty without a doubt and that he was racist. The same thing is happening regarding the Oscar Pistorius case. The Internet swears he is soooo guilty, but legal experts say the prosecution has very little chance.

    1. People at Daily Kos and at Kevin Drum's site don't seem to be very familiar with the actual testimony presented during the trial, based on their statements in comments.

  6. Pistorious?

    1. Anonymous, do you think Oscar Pistorius will be declared guilty of the charges against him?

    2. I have no idea. From the reports I have read Pistorius says he heard sounds in his bathroom and believed it was a burglar. There had been recent burglaries in his community. He shot through the bathroom door. When he opened the door he found his girlfriend mortally wounded.
      Pistorius says.
      Is his version of events plausible? Yes.
      Is that what really happened? I have no idea.
      Is what he said true? I have no idea.
      He is the only living witness.
      Will he testify and subject himself to cross-examination? I have no idea.
      If he does testify will the jury believe him? I have no idea.
      So far we have his version of events. To put it another way: Pistorius says...
      Maybe his lawyers could ask for a change of venue. Florida perhaps?

  7. Thanks for you meticulousness and your courage, Mr. Somerby.

    1. It is amazing, the comments he gets though, isn't it!

      Instead of recognizing that YES, the press has been ans continues to misinform and deceive its viewers, a hughe number of commenters simply ignore that and think that the point is to try to judge the merits of the case itself, or pretend that Somerby is mainly involved in doing so.

      Then there are the sad few like "Greg" who appear to regard any attempt by a little blog to address the CONTINUING deception by huge media organs as a problem as bad as the deception itself.

      You could almost weep.

  8. Pillsbury dough mama's boy who messed with the wrong kid. He was getting an old fashioned a$$ whupping when he pulled a gun. A real sissy punk move. The weak minded animal that Zimmerman was/is took the thug way out. He pulled a gun. Determined to kill some, especially any black kid. Zimmerman was getting his a$$ kicked in a fight he started.

    He should be on death row. He's a cowardly murderer!

    1. And this my friends is the bizarro world we are living in...

    2. He is a murderer.

    3. Anonymous, how ironic that the race-card-playing liberals I know often argued that the injuries were not bad at all; yet your version is that he got "an old fashion ass whooping."

      Make up your minds!

    4. Anonymous, are a fool. From a street perspective, where you seem to troll...the answer to your vicious and ugly comments would be....exactly WHO messed with the wrong person? Who walked away...and who got carried away.

      But that is the ugly, simplistic, vicious world you live view it that it way.

      You are a crude are a stereotype come to life. And you are a friggin racist.

  9. I agree with the verdict and the conclusions here about the hapless Candy. I do think, in assessing Zimmerman's actions it is fair to bear in mind the instructions he got from the Neighborhood Watch, which were no doubt much in keeping with those every retail worker gets when advised how to deal with a shoplifter. To observe, report, but not confront. In other words, however you interpret "we don't need you to do that", he HAD been told not to follow Martin.

    1. But, it may have been Martin who did the confronting. The evidence doesn't show Zimmerman did the confronting anyway.

      "The instructions he got from Neighborhood Watch" "no doubt."

      "No doubt" here meaning you have no idea, of course.

      In other words: Shut up, you know-nothing imbecile!

  10. So CNN overlooked Martin's vicious attack on Zimmerman. So did our President. So did Amy Davidson of the New Yorker.

    These people aren't even trying to justify Martin's attack. They're simply proceeding as if it had never occurred.

    They're sticking to the original narrative of an innocent, blameless Trayvon, even though a ton of evidence at the trial shows that this narrative was wrong. I won't be surprised if the history of this tragedy leaves out Martin's attack and blames the event on Zimmerman's supposed racism.

    1. D in C;

      You are as guilty as those who describe what happened as Zimmerman gunning down an innocent kid armed with a package of Skittles. Like in most cases, we don't know for sure what happened. The State lost the case because it was a weak case. There was evidence that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman and beating him and that Zimmerman had some injuries. But you show a lack a objectiviity by characterizing it as Martin's "vicious attack." Maybe it was a vicious attack, but you don't "know" that unless your are psychic. Other than Zimmerman's word (and he didn't even testify at trial, so I don't get references to his "testimony") we don't know how the fight started. Non-lawyers don't seem to understand that most of the time the truth is ambiguous and not fully or even partly known. That Zimmerman was found not guilty means he wasn't proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, not that he was "innocent." It seems to me that the insanity in this country about the sacred right to carry guns is shown by this case, this probably wouldn't have happened if Z wasn't armed, he'd have been more cautious, but that wasn't an issue at the trial. What it comes down to it was a weak case, and no surprise the State lost.

  11. You keep saying there was a ton of evidence at the trial
    that Martin attacked Zimmerman. And to play Somerby for a moment, the host of this blog lets you get away with it with nary a peep.

    There was no evidence beyond the testimony of Zimmerman
    that Martin attacked anyone. There is evidence a confrontation occurred. There is evidence based on what little people saw and heard of it, Martin may have been gaining the upper hand in whatever happened. At least p until the moment Zimmerman pulled out his loaded weapon and killed an unarmed person he had followed for the sole reason that he looked and acted suspicious.

    The verdict was due in large part to the fact that Zimmerman claimed he was in fear of his life with no alternative but to use the laoded gun he was carrying concealed on his person and the state could no, beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, prove he intended to kill Martin or acted recklessly in doing so. That veerdict aquited Zimmerman. It did not, as you repeatedly try to prove, indicate wrongdoing of any sort on Martin's part.


    1. Sorry, David, the above coment was in reply to you. And sorry also for the for the typos. It's late.


    2. "Martin may have been gaining the upper hand"

      The evidence (and the eyewitness testimony) is that Martin was the ONLY one doing any punching, and the ONLY one smacking someone's head on the pavement.

      "Martin may have been gaining the upper hand!!" -- You, sir are a bullshit artist, but a piss-poor fingerpainter of a bullshit artist, to be sure!

  12. This blog is infested with Trayvon Truthers.

  13. rick, let's look at the evidence that M viciously attacked Z.

    1. Z's voluntary and basically consistent testimony.
    2. Z's relief when (falsely) told there was a video.
    3. Z's injured head
    4. Z's injured face
    5. Rachel Jeantel's comment on TV that she thinks M threw the first punch
    6. Info on M's telephone showing that he enjoys violence
    7. Testimony of Good, the strongest witness
    8. Injures to M's fists
    9. No injuries to Z's fists
    10. No injuries to M consistent with Z beating him.
    11. Experienced chief investigator Serrino believed Z.
    12. More evidence that Z, rather than M, was screaming for help

    And, almost no evidence for any other narrative. The prosecution never introduced a scenario of what they claimed happened. All they did was to show there was some doubt in the defense version. That's why they had no case.

    An invitation to you rick and to AC/MA: give us your version of what you think happened and explain how it comports with the evidence.

    1. Have to agree with you, D in C.

      I started out a big TM supporter, but then heard the rest of the story. Zimmerman should not have been there, but TM clearly took the confrontation to another level.

      That this was the case is so apparent that I've lost a tremendous amount of confidence in Digby, DKos and the bunch. I think Bob's right-- it's a tribal thing that's just as bad as what you see every day on the Right.

      The same thing happened btw during the first election against Hillary Clinton-- facts and good sense flew out the window.

    2. DAinCA,

      Almost no evidence for any other narrative. Thanks for confirming that what you've got is narrative.

      1. Z never gave took the stand, so we don't have any of his testimony. What we have is his version of events as taped by the police, but he's an interested party, a very interested party.

      2. Z's relief. Not evidence, just a guess on your part.

      3, 4. Z's injuries. Evidence of an attack, possibly legal.

      5. Rachel Jeantel. Hearsay

      6. M enjoys violence. You can tell this from his phone? Let's ask him. Oh, wait.

      7. Good. The guy who changed his story to say that he didn't see any blows?

      8, 9, 10. Injuries. Doesn't tell us who was justified in inflicting them.

      11. Serrino's belief. Exactly.

      12. Screaming. We'd have to know who was screaming and why. One witness can't tell us; one witness didn't.

      The crucial legal question is what happened immediately after the two stood face to face. Did one, both, or neither provoke the fight? If Martin provoked the fight, then Zimmerman had the legal right to use lethal force once he reasonably thought his life or safety were in danger. If Zimmerman provoked the fight, then he didn't have that right.

      Your invitation to others to give their narrative is pointless. It's all narrative.

    3. 4 minutes. You forgot that. And you forgot to apply likelihoods regarding whose screams and other matters. And you forgot to assemble the evidence in your mind in a manner that enables you to keep your status as "sane." You're pretty much in "invisible unicorns hit Zimmerman on the head as he beat down on Trayvon" territory.

    4. If Martin provoked the fight, then Zimmerman had the legal right to use lethal force once he reasonably thought his life or safety were in danger. If Zimmerman provoked the fight, then he didn't have that right.

      Wrong. Zimmerman would still have the right depending on reasonable belief of imminent injury or death regardless of who started the fight if he had no means of safe escape.

    5. Zimmerman told his story before he knew there was not video and before he knew Martin was dead. Open and shut self defense.

    6. Anonymous @ 4:43P

      You are confused about Florida law. Zimmerman never lost the right to defend himself in a fight, but if it happened that he provoked the fight, then he lost the right to use lethal force to do so. Unless he fled or surrendered in good faith and still found himself under attack. I don't think that Zimmerman has claimed that he tried to escape or that he cried "Uncle!" and even then Martin continued to attack. He says they struggled, and when he became afraid for his life, he shot Martin.

    7. Anonymous @ 5:09P,

      Zimmerman told a story, but he's an interested party in this case, very interested. If you find his story consistent or believable because he didn't know there was no video, then apparently that would go your judgment of his credibility as a witness. But Zimmerman never took the stand and the defense never argued self-defense. They argued an open-and-shut case of reasonable doubt.

    8. You're wrong. If Zimmerman had no means of safe escape and the reasonable fears were present, he was permitted to use lethal force.

    9. D in C, I don't know how it happened, and you don't either. It could have been that Z threw the first punch, or that Martin was walking away from Z and Z pushed him and started the fight, there are a lot of possibilities. All your "evidence" would justify you if you were on the jury (should never happen though you being biased) to find Z not guilty, but doesn't "prove" that Martin "viciously attacked" Z. I don't have a problem with the jury verdict, but you'd make a better case if you prefaced your opinion by saying "there's a good chance" or "it is entirely possible" instead of listing a bunch of points that don't add up establish that Martin attacked Z, viciously or otherwise.

    10. I'm pretty sure defense argued self defense throughout and in their closing

    11. Anonymous @ 6:11P,

      Sorry, but I've read the Florida statutes. I suggest you do the same. An aggressor gives up the right to use lethal force in self-defense unless he flees or surrenders in good faith while remaining under attack. In other words, the aggressor must abandon his participation in the fight before he regains the legal right to use lethal force in self-defense. Someone who's not the aggressor holds the right to use lethal force in self-defense and has no legal duty to flee.

      Which is not to suggest that Zimmerman was the aggressor.

    12. Anonymous @ 7:55P,

      I'm pretty sure the only witnesses the defense put on testified that the screams on the 911 tape were Zimmerman's. For the defense to argue self-defense they would have held the burden of production, which would almost surely meant putting Zimmerman on the stand to testify that he reasonably feared for his life.

      What the defense did was to raise reasonable doubt that the killing was unlawful, i.e., to question the prosecution's case that it couldn't have been justified via self-defense.

    13. Zimmerman had the right to use lethal force at the time he did. He met the only two requirements, no means of escape and reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or death. The aggressor statute reiterates this as exception to any other requirement. You are wrong.

    14. That's true when it comes to self defense.

      But justifiable homicide - which the jury was instructed to consider but apparently didn't - allows a person to use deadly force

      782.02 Justifiable use of deadly force.—The use of deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.

    15. Chapter 776
      View Entire Chapter
      776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
      (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
      (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
      (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
      (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

    16. Anonymous @ 4:41,

      I assume you're responding to me. It's not so much that I forgot to apply "likelihoods," as much as I realize that "likelihoods" is another word for narrative. I can think of a number of ways to "assemble the evidence," in other words to "tell a pleasing tale" that accords with a sans mens. Apparently you, yourself forgot something, namely to read my comments for comprehension. Nowhere to I deny established facts, e.g., that Martin beat Zimmerman. And nowhere do I claim that the narratives I propose are the necessary truth.

    17. Naturally the law permits a person to save his own life regardless of whether he aggressed at any point. Trayvon did not have the right to administer the death penalty over a feeling of offense, and would not have had that right even if GZ pushed him first which if course he did not

    18. Anonymous on 9:10P,

      I should have reviewed the statute. I think I stand corrected on the law.

      Did Zimmerman exhaust every reasonable means to escape? I don't recall that he ever claimed that he did, mostly because he claimed not to have provoked the fight, so he had duty to retreat. Was he telling the truth?

      I don't know.

    19. I think the screams are the most reliable evidence he could not retreat and would have liked to.

    20. DeadRat you are evidently impervious to reason.

      Let's review some evidence, shall we?

      First here's some of Jentel's testimony.

      "2:45 p.m. ET: Jeantel says she told Martin to start running but he said he was close to his dad's fiance's home. Then Martin told her he was going to start running 'from the back.'"

      Then we have Jeantel on the Piers Morgan show saying that she and Trayvon was a gay rapist.

      And finally there's this map. You'll notice the purple square which denotes the site of the place where Martin's dad was staying and the red square where he was shot. Now if Zimmerman was hunting Martin down how is it that the site of the killing was so far away from TM's Dad's place in GZ's direction--you know, since Martin had told Jeantel that "he was close to his dad's fiance's home"?

      Also, again keep in mind that Zimmerman was on the phone talking to the police sounding not at all like he was physically chasing a high school football player who, we are told, was running for his life.

      Here's what I think happened: Martin had no problem getting away from Zimmerman but was making the situation sound more dramatic than it was to impress Jeantel. However, when Martin was told by Jeantel that GZ was probably a gay rapist Martin, who, if he really feared for his life, could have gone inside, locked the door and been completely safe, decided that GZ was a fag who could be taught a lesson, went back, jumped Zimmerman who was then obliged to shoot him.

      In other words MARTIN DIED A QUEER BASHER.

      Now please lay out your positive case showing how you know Zimmerman tracked and killed Martin.

    21. When the police dispatcher told GZ, "We don't need you to do that," it was GZ's responsibility to stop following Trayvon. Why did GZ continue to follow Trayvon? GZ had a gun.

    22. HB,

      When you say that I am impervious to reason what you really mean is that I'm not buying your narrative.

      Let's review some evidence, shall we?

      First here's all of Jeantel's testimony: it's hearsay. She wasn't there, so her testimony pretty much doesn't tell us anything at all, let alone the legally crucial thing: who started the fight just after Z and M stood face to face. We can especially discount anything she says on the Piers Morgan show, unless that's now a legal venue in Florida.

      Now, let's review my comments for what's not in them, namely a claim that Zimmerman was hunting down Martin. Look, you don't have to pay close attention to what I write. Heck, you don't have to pay any attention at all. But if you're going to respond to my comments, would it hurt you to read them first? I'm the guy who objects to the other narrative that Zimmerman was "stalking" Martin. There's no evidence for that. There's evidence that Zimmerman followed Martin, but that's not illegal. When the dispatcher made her suggestion to stop following, Zimmerman claimed to the police that he did, and when he turned back to his vehicle, Martin confronted him, which isn't illegal either. Is that true? I don't know. Zimmerman has a very strong interest in this version, but there's no evidence that contradicts him.

      Now, let's review what you think happened. 1) Martin got away, 2) Martin tried to impress Jeantel, 3) Martin went inside, 4) Martin decided that GZ was a fag, 5) Martin decided to teach the fag a lesson, 6) Martin went back outside, 7) Martin jumped Zimmerman, 8) Zimmerman had to shoot Martin. Have I got that right?

      Now this is a completely plausible story, with 8, count 'em, 8 pieces of pure conjecture, some of which require communing with the dead for confirmation.

      You invite me to lay out my own "positive" case, as though you had laid out a positive case for your own narrative. You haven't, and I won't. I don't know that Zimmerman tracked Martin. At some point in the night, Zimmerman followed Martin. At some later point, he killed him. Between those points lie some unknowns. My objection is to people like you crafting a narrative that fills those in those unknowns, and then pretending they have the truth.

    23. gcwall,

      Zimmerman had no legal duty to heed the police dispatcher.

      There is no evidence that Zimmerman failed to heed the dispatcher. In fact, he claims he did.

      Zimmerman had a gun. Finally, you voice a fact. What legal implications do think follow from that fact?

    24. Anonymous @ 9:28,

      The law goes farther than permitting a person to save his own life regardless of whether he was the aggressor. The law permit self-defense against attack. But the law also forbids lethal force in certain circumstances.

      Neither Martin nor Zimmerman had the right to use lethal force because they took offense. Each one had the right to use lethal force if he wasn't the aggressor in the fight, and he felt reasonable fear for his life or of severe injury.

      How do you know that GZ didn't push TM first? How do you know that during the fight that ensued, Martin didn't reasonably feel his life was in danger? After all, GZ had a gun.

    25. Jeantel's testimony is hearsay? SHE'S YOUR STAR WITNESS REPEATING HER OWN WORDS! By exactly what standard is that supposed to be "hearsay"? Jesus!

      My God, Dude. YOU'RE IMPEACHING YOUR STAR WITNESS! Don't you have any brains at all?

      You are so opposed to evidence that you are denying what is supposed to be your own evidence!

      And, gewall, please provide solid evidence that GZ continued to stalk TM after he agreed not to follow him.

      What twits!

    26. HB,

      When Jeantel testifies as to what Martin told her he saw, that's hearsay. It's only evidence for what Martin said and how he said it. It's not evidence for the sights that Martin reported.

      What makes you think Jeantel is my witness? Sorry, MY STAR WITNESS. Would it be so hard to actually read my comments before you respond? What part of Jeantel's testimony do think I rely on?

    27. You say there is a ton of evidence Martin "viciously attacked" Zimmerman to rebut my comment that all you have is Zimmerman's statements to investigators.
      You provide a long list, but beyond Zimmerman's statements, none of those are evidence that Martin attacked Zimmerman. They may be evidence that Zimmerman was taking a beating after the confrontation started. They may be evidence that Martin
      have a propensity for fighting before the confrontation. They may be evidence Zimmerman had best stick to riding around in his truck and calling in real or imagined suspicious characters because in a real fight he cannot land a punch.

      Unfortunately, none of your long list of points, which could be used to raise a credible case of self defense, proves who attacked who, which was my point.

      You, in fact, are as guilty as some of the liberal media criticized correctly by Somerby in these posts for stating as fact things which are not. And that was the basis of my criticism.


    28. Deadrat,

      First off hearsay is inadmissible in court. Apparently the judge, prosecution and defense attorneys, and all the paid legal experts on all the cable news networks, unlike you, don't know the law. How do explain this amazing situation?

      Second of all Jeantel was REPEATING HER OWN WORDS on Piers Morgan. How in holy f*** can you call that hearsay? SHE'S REPEATING WHAT ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HER OWN WORDS. You want an example of hearsay? I'll give you one. "George Zimmerman left his vehicle after the police told him not to." That's hearsay because everybody keeps saying but no one claims to have said it and there are no witnesses.

      If Jeantel is the star witness of the prosecution then she's effectively your star witness too. If you claim that the star witness can't be relied on then you have nothing except your own stupid prejudice for a case. You can't prove that Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin after being told not to, you can't prove that he was the aggressor, you can't prove anything because you don't have any evidence. You keep accusing others of buying into a "narrative" but you don't have squat. Nada. Nothing. Air. Not a leg to stand on.

      To understand DeadRat, I think everyone ought to have a look at this.

      He's the one on the left.

    29. HB,

      First off, hearsay is admissible in court. Apparently, in your eagerness to show what a ridiculously bad person I am, you didn't bother to understand the law. Hearsay is always admissible as evidence of what the witness heard, including the demeanor of the speaker. In general, hearsay is not admissible as evidence of the truth of what the speaker heard. There are numerous exceptions.

      It's called hearsay, because the witness repeats what she heard. But she wasn't there, so she can't verify from first-hand knowledge what she heard.

      The statement "George Zimmerman left his vehicle after the police told him not to." isn't hearsay. It's conjecture. And we have evidence that it's false conjecture because the only person Zimmerman talked to wasn't a cop, she was a police dispatcher, and we have a tape of her on which she doesn't mention getting out of a car.

      The statement "George Zimmerman told me he left his vehicle after the police told him not to." would be hearsay. Of course, nobody's reported such a thing.

      Stop trying to borrow cleverness from Monty Python. And after you've done that you can stop attributing to me arguments that other people make. In particular,

      1. I can't prove that Z followed M after being told not to because nobody can. There's no evidence that anyone told him not to do that. Z was perfectly within his rights to follow someone in a public place.

      2. I can't prove that Z was the aggressor because nobody can. There's no reliable evidence that tells us who the aggressor was, if there was one.

      3. There are some things I can "prove," because there is good evidence for those things. Zimmerman followed Martin, Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin, Zimmerman and Martin came face to face and shortly thereafter they got into a fight, Zimmerman shot Martin. That's not narrative. Both the defense and the prosecution would stipulate to these things.

      But we don't know some things that are critical to know in making a judgment of criminal responsibility. I don't know these things. The only person who might is Zimmerman.

      Would it help if I wrote in all caps? OK.


      "Cause that's not hearsay. You can go re-read my comments. Is it too difficult for you to get that much straight?

      To understand HB, I think everyone ought to have a look at this

      About a minute an half in. He's the one on the right.

  14. Bob,

    I greatly admire your efforts, but they are clearly falling on the ears of the deaf and dumb, or the dishonest.

  15. This is about as compelling as David's ironclad case that Obama personally targeted The Tea Party throught the IRS. What a racist creep.

    1. Once someone decides that Trayvon is an angel, anyone who disagrees must be a racist. I'm a racist...all six jurors are racists...the alternate juror is a racist...Bob Somerby is a racist...Jerelyn Merritt is a racist...Jimmy Carter is a racist...Larry Elder is a racist...Charles Barkley is a racist...

      BTW here's the latest news on the IRS scandal:

      The chief counsel’s office for the Internal Revenue Service, headed by a political appointee of President Obama, helped develop the agency’s problematic guidelines for reviewing “tea party” cases, according to a top IRS attorney.

    2. Actually, it turns out that the IRS was investigating all sorts of political groups to see if they were legitimate or fly-by-night tax dodges. Liberal included.

    3. Anon, the original excuse was that this scandal was confined to an office in Cincinnati. We now know that the scandal has reached a senior Obama appointee.

      The new excuse is that liberal groups were treated the same as the Tea Party. However, the sworn testimony of retired IRS tax law specialist Carter Hull was that Tea Party groups got unique treatment.

      Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review.

      Mr. Hull backed up what he'd told House investigators. He described what was, essentially, a big, lengthy runaround in the Washington office in which no one was clear as to their reasons but everything was delayed. The multitiered scrutiny of the targeted groups was, he said, "unusual."

    4. DAinCA,

      There's no scandal. The teahadists in the House cooked up some yarn about tax exempt applications being unfairly delayed because teahadist money-laundering organizations got extra scrutiny over their political activities. And the delays turned about to be true. When it was revealed that the extra scrutiny wasn't confined to teahadists, the whole scandal thing fell apart.

      And, as I never tire of explaining, the delays meant nothing. Because 503(c)4 associations get to operate as tax-exempt on their own say-so, the delays had no effect on any organization's political activity.

      Except in the alternate universe where your uninformed opinion dictates what happens. In the real world, not so much.

    5. deadrat -- If there's no scandal, why did Lois Lerner apologize? And, why did she refuse to testify? And, how do you refute the sworn testimony quoted above?

    6. DAinCA, The IRS may have been asking inappropriate questions of everybody who applied for 503(c)4 status. If that's the case, then I suppose an apology is in order. The "scandal" is supposedly about IRS partisans who violated the rights of teahadists to launder money to influence political campaigns. So, to recap the state of play as the "scandal" disappears

      1) Teahadists were not singled out.

      2) None of the delays could have any effect on political activity because of the nature of the regulations that govern 503(c)4.


    7. There were about 1200 501(c)4s prior to the Supreme Court decision. Following the decision there were 3600 501(c)4s. The sudden change in the number of organizations seeking tax and reporting exemptions would have made any reasonable IRS agent question the validity of all those applications and if the organizations kept political advocacy out of them.

    8. deadrat: ...could have...

      gcwall: ...would have..

      Your coulda, woulda arguments are just theory. A better approach is to check with the Tea Party organizations affected and see what actually happened. From what I've read on other sites, the IRS action DID HAVE a significant impact.

      BTW I read a post the other day claiming that the organization investigating the IRS actions hadn't ever contacted the organizations whose applications were held up. If true, then the investigations aren't terribly thorough.

    9. DAinCA,

      I suppose I ought to listen to you when you say something is theory. You're the King of Theory.

      "From what you've read." That ought to be rich. What right-wing and white supremacist web sites did you read this time?

      But, hey, you read a post the other day. Well, say no more. Who could argue with iron-clad evidence like that? The IRS has determined that some of its questions to applicants were inappropriate and violated agency guidelines. The investigators have the applications and the suspect questions. So tell me what more will contacting the organizations get them.

      Let me rephrase my statement to make it clear that it's not "theory." 501(c)4 organizations do not need registration with the IRS to operate as 501(c)4 organizations. They file as tax exempt with or without registration. Remember that these are primarily money spending organizations, not money-making organizations, so likely few of them had net income to report in any case. Contributions to their activities are not tax deductible. Registration provides a safe harbor from accusations that their primary function is political rather than community service. In these respects, they differ from charities (501(c)3) and PACs (527).

      So here's the takeaway: no delay in registration presented any actual legal or administrative impediment to the electioneering these organizations intended to do with either the money they raised independently or with the money they were laundering from like-minded PACs. If the teahadists running these scams didn't understand the rules, that's on them, not the IRS.

      Clear now?

  16. Thank you for the great job you're doing documenting media dishonesty/shoddiness on this case. Just sent you a link to a column on the Martin case that mentions your site.

    1. Cathy Young! I'm your biggest not-really-scary fan!

      Can I have some of your toenail clippings? Oops.

  17. Bob,

    Really, really important work you are doing. How preciously important you are as a resource.

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  19. Following a person is not a crime, but it can get that follower's behind kicked.

    Did the unarmed person who was followed, deserve to be killed by the person who followed him, because he was kicking the butt of the follower?

    I guess that depends if one thinks there exists a "right," for a stranger to follow another person at night and the stranger should have no expectation of consequences for following that person.

    What if the follower had an expectation of consequences, but was reassured that the gun he carried would end a confrontation in his favor.

    It was a case for manslaughter, rather than "not guilty." It is a case in which violent stupidity met youthful brashness, that resulted in the youth's death.

  20. If GZ had listened to the police dispatcher's advice about following Trayvon, "We don't need you to do that," there would not have been the confrontation that ended in Trayvon's death. Guilty of manslaughter.

    1. gcwall,

      Very few people, including Trayvon Martin, need killing.

      There is no law against following another person in public, even at night.

      There is no law in stupidly thinking that a gun will make things better.

      I think you're right that murder 2 was an overcharge, but violent stupidity is not an element of manslaughter.

      There's no evidence that Zimmerman failed to heed the dispatcher. In fact, he claims he did.

      Do you think you can form a valid judgment on this case without resorting to narrative? Why not give it a try?

    2. "No evidence that Zimmerman failed to heed the dispatcher"? Well, none other than the fact that Z admitted that he did, while lying to describe it as walking in the same direction Martin had taken.

    3. Anon 12:32: What happened on the night, you don't know, and what happened in the courtroom you ignore.

      And we're supposed to listen to you?

  21. My Florida newspaper this morning has the story of a day care employee in jail accused of and to be charged with manslaughter because a child drowned in a kiddie pool in the brief time she ducked into the bathroom. I wonder if she relieved herself in a depraved, malicious, or bigoted way? Yet we were constantly told that Zimmerman had to have acted with elements of depravity to be guilty of anything.

  22. Anonymous @ 12:32P,

    Zimmerman claimed that he was returning to his vehicle when he received the warning that the police "didn't need" him to follow Martin. Is this true? I have no idea; others have ideas but the same evidence that I do -- none.

    In any case, Zimmerman was under no legal duty to heed the dispatcher.

  23. Anonymous @ 12:42P,

    Manslaughter doesn't require a depraved mind; it requires culpable negligence.

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