Bloom explains the buzz: Who broke Samantha Scheibe’s coffee table? The question has been in the news.
Should this question have been in the news? Like President Johnson before us, we can argue it flat or round.
That said, Howard Kurtz seems to think the constellation of topics surrounding George Zimmerman has been in the news too much. Last Sunday, on his new Fox News Channel show, he asked Lisa Bloom why that is.
To watch the full segment, click here:
KURTZ (11/24/13): The Trayvon Martin murder trial was a racially divisive clash and a giant media spectacle. But since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of the teenager, he keeps popping up on the media radar, especially this week.Last week, Zimmerman was charged with domestic aggravated assault, domestic battery and criminal mischief in connection with an altercation with Scheibe. The aggravated assault charge is a felony.
Lisa, Zimmerman gets into another altercation, this one with a new girlfriend. Why the enormous coverage of this guy?
Unfortunately, such matters are common in our courts. Why is this case being covered and discussed so widely?
This was Bloom’s first attempt at an answer:
BLOOM (continuing directly): Well, he's a fascinating guy. And you're right. The trial absolutely divided America. It's amazing to me that George Zimmerman finds himself right in the middle of searing, hot-button issues in America. First it was race, racial profiling, "Stand Your Ground" and guns. And now, domestic violence.“He’s a fascinating guy!” That may be the accurate answer—somewhat cleaned up, of course.
That said, Kurtz wanted more. Of all the people who get charged with such crimes, why the attention on Zimmerman?
KURTZ (continuing directly): But who cares? He's obviously a loser. The Trayvon case is over. Why did all three cable news networks, for instance, carry his—the hearing of his arrest live?It’s a fascinating story. It’s more newsworthy than the Casey Anthony case.
BLOOM: Well, I think it is a fascinating story, Howie. And I think this is very different from some of the other high-profile cases that frankly were not as newsworthy, like Jodi Arias or Casey Anthony...
Should this case be generating so much continued discussion? For our money, Bloom never quite made the case for yes. That said, the case does involve a lot of societal issues, several of which Bloom named.
She omitted one other such issue. This case involves the ongoing conduct of the post-journalistic press corps.
Consider two discussions we watched last week. On the November 19 Chris Hayes program, Goldie Taylor adopted a somewhat unusual stance.
“I think I might be the only person who ever says this on television,” Taylor said. “I think that we failed George Zimmerman by not getting him the help that he needs.”
By the end of the program, Hayes was praising Taylor for her “compassion.”
We generally agree with what Taylor said. Still, we couldn’t help noting what she withheld. This is the way we would have rewritten her comment:
TAYLOR REWRITTEN: I think I might be the only person who ever says this on television. I think that we failed George Zimmerman by not getting him the help that he needs. And Chris, we pundits spread a large assortment of inaccurate claims about Zimmerman’s conduct that night. We did that for over a year. Based on current reporting, it sounds like we helped create a very difficult situation, in which he may badly need help.As a general matter, we agree. To us, it sounds like Zimmerman does need some help. Similarly, Cheryl Mangum needed and deserved some help, and it looks like she never got it.
We especially spread those inaccurate claims right here, on this very network.
In this case, people like Taylor spent over a year creating a highly fraught situation. We couldn’t help thinking of all those deceptions as she took her high-minded new stance.
What situation did these “journalists” help create? In the New York Times, Alan Blinder reported the recent court hearing:
BLINDER (11/20/13): Prosecutors asked Judge Schott to order bail at $50,000 with an array of restrictions for Mr. Zimmerman, who was wearing a jail-issued jumpsuit and handcuffs during his brief court appearance. Judge Schott refused and set bail at $9,000, higher than the $4,900 that Mr. Zimmerman's public defenders had sought. Mr. Zimmerman posted bail about 4:30 and was released.According to other reports, Zimmerman has no money. Does he have a place to live? Any chance of employment? Cable pundits are unlikely to ask.
Ms. Scheibe, who has denied Mr. Zimmerman's assertion that she is pregnant with his child, also told the authorities that Mr. Zimmerman had recently shown signs of suicidal behavior.
The prosecutor, discussing Ms. Scheibe's account in open court, said that Mr. Zimmerman had believed ''he had nothing to lose.''
On Anderson Cooper, Zimmerman’s former lawyer said he is worried about Zimmerman’s current behavior. This was the first full exchange:
COOPER (11/21/13): It's obviously been a difficult week for George Zimmerman, first arrested on domestic violence charges after his girlfriend called 911. He spent Monday night in jail and while sitting in a cell, he was served with divorce papers. Shellie Zimmerman gave her take. Here is what she told Katie Couric on her talk show, "Katie."Like you, we don’t know what happened that night in Sanford. But in fact, Zimmerman was routinely described as the most hated man in America over that next year.
SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN (videotape): I don't know who George is anymore. I would like to think I married a person who was a good person and, going through the past year and a half, I don't know how that changes a person or how a person's spirit breaks, but it certainly seems like that's what happened to him. I found out that he was lying about a lot of things, and he became like a pacing lion, very unpredictable. Every single day it was like adrenaline going through my body, constantly not knowing what it was going to be like from day to day.
COOPER: Shellie Zimmerman of course stood by her husband during his murder trial. Couric asked her if she had any regrets about that. She said part of her does. She said she doesn't think George Zimmerman is racist.
For the first time since Zimmerman's latest legal troubles, his former attorney is speaking out. Mark O'Mara helped get Zimmerman acquitted on murder back in July. He joins me now.
Good to have you here. Obviously, you did not know George Zimmerman before Trayvon Martin was killed. She said she saw a change in him during the course of the trial. Did you see that?
O'MARA: Well, I think she's right. I think that the George Zimmerman that existed before February 2012 was a kind and gentle person and one that she described and his friends described. When the FBI did their investigation to see if he was racist, they talked to 40 people and not one said he was or violent or dangerous or anything, but peaceful and mellow. So that's who he seemed to have been before the event that happened on the—I'm sorry, February of 2012.
So, now if you look forward, to see what happened to George Zimmerman, and I know every time I say that, people say, “Well, what about Trayvon Martin?” and we understand he passed away that night and with all respect for what he went through, we know that George Zimmerman went through a trauma, both that night, the trauma of getting beat up, which it happens isn’t all that traumatic. But police officers who have to shoot somebody in justified self-defense, they go through an enormous amount of counseling. They are treated very carefully.
So that wasn't done with George. Rather, he was turned into one of, as was labeled, one of the most hated men in America for having to defend his life. So I'm not sure what happens to a 28-year-old and put him in hiding for 16 or 18 months, but maybe this is fallout.
A large amount of that hatred was generated by a year of misstatements by people like Taylor. The behavior on MSNBC was egregious. That said, our “journalists” never discuss the things they have done in the past.
Bloom is certainly right on one point. A lot of major societal issues are involved in the ongoing Zimmerman incidents. But one such issue involves the gross dishonesty and misconduct of the people we still call the “press corps.”
We humans have always treasured our hatred of The Other. So it is in the hatred of Zimmerman. Cheryl Mangum deserved some help; it looks like she never got it. If Taylor wants to start helping Zimmerman, as we think she should, she could start by telling the truth about the misstatements and lies of the past.
Brother Hayes, a good team man, praised Taylor for her compassion. We thought she left something out.