Slanted hype inexcusable in shooting case
It has been more than a month since George Zimmerman allegedly killed Trayvon Martin, but the media still has no idea how to objectively cover the circumstances.
Issues of objectivity often crop up in national situations that involve race, and Martin’s killing certainly suffices that definition. Zimmerman, for some reason, viewed Martin as “suspicious,” saying “they always get away,” and allegedly used a racial slur. The possible presence of racial bias only heightens the scrutiny and extreme behavior — for both sides.
Racial issues can be divisive, plain and simple. As such, there is an enormous grey area involving the line of questioning for the Zimmerman family and friends who will speak publicly on his behalf.
Fox News contributor Liz Trotta has accused those at MSNBC of pandering.
“Watching the coverage this past week has been like watching sausage made,” Trotta said. “The old line about that you’d never want to eat it if you did see it. We watched the covering of a story unfold and it was ugly to watch for its latent bias and practical conviction of George Zimmerman.”
She added that New York Times columnist George Blow is the “worst offender.” Blow was very emotional during an interview of John Oliver — a family friend of George Zimmerman — on “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell.
For Blow, an African-American with a young son, this case must be difficult to talk about. Blow may have faced racial profiling during his lifetime, as many people of color have.
However, the line between ethics and morals is tested when emotions rise. The battle of impartiality is tough when you can see yourself or your kin in Trayvon Martin.
One of the most highly contentious points of the interview involved Oliver’s assertion that the alleged use of the words “coon ass” is a term of endearment in certain parts of Louisiana. Logic would dictate that Zimmerman was not complementing Martin while gearing to approach him with a loaded gun.
CNN’s Piers Morgan was accused via Twitter by prominent journalist, Touré of not challenging Zimmerman’s brother strongly enough during an interview. Touré joined Morgan on his nightly show and continued his criticism.
“This is a major moment in American history,” he said.
“And you became part of the problem by allowing Robert Zimmerman to come on your show and spread misinformation,” Touré said.
Many have also accused Fox News pundits of being indifferent to the Trayvon Martin case. Fox News host, Sean Hannity and Bill Kristol have both ripped the coverage by the so-called “liberal media,” stating that MSNBC is trying the case in the public forum. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter concurred with the statement in a recent post on her Web site.
All three of the major cable news networks have inherent disagreements about the way the Martin case should be handled. Fox News believes that the media should exercise caution.
To a certain extent, they are correct. The cable news media is the driver of the national conversation. They hold a responsibility to remain impartial when a man’s life is at stake; however, those at Fox also need to look in the proverbial mirror.
To ignore the racial components is a slap in the face to African Americans. To compare this to the Duke Rape Case is misleading. The fact that Zimmerman called the police 46 times during this calendar year — many of those times to report suspicious black males — indicates bias. The fact that Zimmerman’s father is a former judge entices the appearance of judicial bias.
A recently released and ambiguous, black and white CCTV tape showed Zimmerman walking into the police station not long after the shooting. He had no visible injuries on his face or body that support his claim of self defense. All responsible journalists should question the Sanford Police Department about this tape.
We need to stop worrying about the semantics and stick to the tenets of journalistic integrity. In not doing so, the media destroys the public narrative of the Martin case.
Christopher Shelton is a journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected].