Notes on propaganda and tribal disinformation: The Zimmerman trial continues today. In her news report in the New York Times, Lizette Alvarez includes this maddening passage:
ALVAREZ (7/1/13): The prosecution is also expected to call Chris Serino, the Sanford police officer who was the lead investigator in the case. Mr. Serino, who said Mr. Zimmerman had a “little hero complex” and felt his statements sounded “scripted,” recommended a manslaughter charge.In our view, Alvarez’s reporting has been sensible and fair. But do you understand that passage about an important future witness?
But that testimony could get complicated. Mr. Serino later told the F.B.I. that he had been pressured to make an arrest. He told the federal agents that he did not think there was enough evidence for a manslaughter charge.
According to that passage, Serino told the FBI “that he did not think there was enough evidence for a manslaughter charge.” Earlier, Serino had “recommended a manslaughter charge,” that passage also says.
No direct contradiction has been presented. But as it stands, that passage strikes us as maddeningly unclear.
In our view, Alvarez has been sensible and fair in her reporting, but many citizens have prejudged many aspects of this case. This brings us back to Charles Blow’s recent column—and it invites us to take a look at the evolving liberal world.
On Saturday, we said that Blow’s column struck us as basically fair. That said, he could have done more to issue a warning to his liberal readers. That warning would have gone like this: Many of you have been disinformed about some basic facts of this case.
Consider one extremely basic question about what Zimmerman did. In Saturday’s column, Blow included this passage as he listed “some crucial questions” about the case, “some of which we may never completely know the answers to:”
BLOW (6/29/13): Why did Zimmerman leave his car, armed with his gun, and follow Martin? When the dispatcher realized that Zimmerman was in pursuit and told him, “We don’t need you to do that,” did Zimmerman stop?In that passage, Blow seems to make a large concession, given his previous role in this case. He seems to concede that we still don’t know what Zimmerman did when the police dispatcher said, “We don’t need you to do that.”
Did Zimmerman keep following Martin at that point? Or did he turn back toward his truck, as he has always said?
In that passage, Blow seems to acknowledge that he doesn’t know what Zimmerman did at that point. But many of his readers do know! Or at least, they think they know what happened at that point.
If you have some extra time, read through the many comments to Blow's column. We liberals were heavily propagandized last year, in part by Blow himself. As a result, many liberals feel quite sure that they know what Zimmerman did when the dispatcher made that statement.
What follows is the very first paragraph from Blow’s very first commenter. The commenter is a regular commenter at the Times:
COMMENTER FROM CALIFORNIA (6/29/13): Charles,The full comment is much longer. Later, the commenter adds to her account, suggesting that Zimmerman may have inflicted his injuries on himself after shooting Martin.
We absolutely know that Trayvon Martin's intent that night was to get home from the store with his tea and Skittles. We know that Zimmerman had, in previous calls to 911 dispatch, made disparaging remarks about people he found suspicious. Did they all look more or less like Trayvon? We know, via the 911 recording, that Zimmerman was ordered to end his pursuit. He didn't. Whatever Zimmerman's goal was that night, it should have been foiled then.
Please note what this commenter seems to say “we know” about the events of that night. She seems to say “we know” that Zimmerman didn’t end his pursuit after the dispatcher’s comment.
Blow had just said that we don't know that, though he did so rather obliquely. Did this heavily propagandized reader even realize that Blow had said that?
The 436 comments to Blow’s column ought to be sobering. They are full of aggressive factual claims by heavily propagandized readers. Among other claims, many commenters are quite sure that Zimmerman didn’t end his pursuit at that point. Very few commenters seem to realize that Blow has just said that we don’t know what Zimmerman did at that point.
Here’s why this matters:
Last year, some liberal news organs spewed disinformation about the events of that night. In particular, MSNBC’s conduct was disgraceful, egregious. Blow played an active role in that channel’s month of misconduct.
Today, the nation is full of liberals who think they know all kinds of facts which haven’t been established. In perhaps the most significant instance, they think they know that Zimmerman continued his pursuit after the dispatcher spoke.
Last weekend, Blow seemed to acknowledge that this hasn’t been established. But the people he helped propagandize last year continue their dogged pursuit of their man.
In the 1990s, we liberals laughed at the dittoheads who swallowed every word which fell from Rush Limbaugh’s lips. Last year, our tribe became the dittoheads, as you can see from the hundreds of disinformed comments appearing beneath Blow’s column.
Did Zimmerman continue his pursuit? According to Blow, we still don’t know. As far as we know, that assessment is correct.
We look forward to seeing the evidence as it emerges at trial.