Big city print journalists, who run about 95 percent left-liberal, were caught on the hop Saturday evening when the Zimmerman verdict came down. Most of what readers saw in their newspaper Sunday morning was already set up for printing, if not actually printed.
The journos at the New York Post did their best, running with their instincts. TRAYVESTY was the front page headline on Sunday’s Post.
The Post covered the story on pages 4 and 5 of Sunday’s edition. First item on page 4 was a short (240 words) opinion column by black guy Leonard Greene. In its entirety, with my comments in brackets:
In his final, now unsuccessful argument to the jury deciding the fate of Trayvon Martin’s killer, the prosecutor expressed what he thought was a simple assessment.
“This case is not about race,” said John Guy. “It is about right and wrong. It’s just that simple.”
It’s not that simple. It never is.
This case became a racial incident the moment George Zimmerman left his car with his gun and stalked an unarmed black teenager. [“Stalked”? He wanted to stay aware of Martin’s location till the police arrived.]
But it’s not that this kind of thing happens to blacks and people of color all the time that makes this about race.
What makes this about race is that it never happens to anyone else. [Utterly wrong. Of all single-offender acts of violence involving a black and a nonblack, the black is the offender five times out of six, on Department of Justice statistics.]
Who else in The Bronx gets shot at 41 times by cops for reaching for a wallet, like Amadou Diallo did in 1998? [See here for the facts of the Diallo case.]
Who else gets gunned down behind the wheel of his car in Queens on his wedding day like Sean Bell did in 2006? [By a black officer whom Bell had tried to run down with his car.]
And who else gets racially profiled every day when they are stopped and frisked all over New York City? [Not enough black and Hispanic suspects, according to New York City’s impeccably liberal Mayor.]
White immigrants don’t come to America to get killed by cops.
White grooms don’t get gunned down by detectives on their way home from their bachelor parties.
[I don’t have crime stats for white immigrants, but white citizens commit violent crime at far lower rates than nonwhites—see the Department of Justice statistics as above. That’s why cops and detectives, including black ones (see above), are exceptionally nervous and wary when around nonwhite suspects.]
And white teens don’t buy Skittles and walk toward home and end up dead. [As the defense demonstrated to great effect, Martin had plenty of time to get home. Instead of doing so, he waited to confront Zimmerman.]
Today, George Zimmerman is as free as you or me. Actually, a jury said he’s “not guilty.” [Actually the jury said he’s not guilty, without sarcasm quotes.]
He’ll probably never be free. [Not so long as Leonard Greene has anything to say about it.]
The rest of page 4 was taken up with a report on the opening stages of the Grievance Theater we shall all have played to us across the next few days. NO! SUPPORTERS SHOCKED was the headline in my print edition, with, prominently paced beneath it, the death threat to Zimmerman tweeted by footballer Victor Cruz.
The main story filled page 5, headline (in my print edition) ‘NOT GUILTY’ IN TRAYVON SLAY. Sunday’s print edition decorated page 5 with a courtroom photograph of Zimmerman smiling in relief, and next to it the familiar winsome-teen picture of Martin. These pictures have been changed for the online edition.
That page 5 main story was journalistically quite honest. They called the verdict “stunning,” which it really wasn’t, but that may just be the tabloid-sensationalist impulse.
Monday’s coverage is more balanced. There is a brief but very sensible editorial (emphases mine):
When all was said and done, the Sanford jury reached a modest conclusion: The state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman was guilty of a crime in the tragic killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Not that the state didn’t try. When local police and a local prosecutor found little evidence against Zimmerman, Florida’s governor appointed a state attorney who ultimately charged him with second-degree murder. And when prosecutors saw their case collapsing, they desperately sought other, lesser charges: anything for a conviction.
If some are now outraged by the jury’s acquittal, perhaps it’s because they were fed a steady political narrative about race when the evidence did not support it. One press outlet coined the term “white Hispanic” to describe Zimmerman. Another doctored a tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call, making him sound racist when he wasn’t. And now this city’s mayoral candidates are chiming in to second-guess the jury and fan the flames.
The six jurors who heard all the evidence did not call George Zimmerman a hero. All they did was conclude he is not a criminal. How much better we—and the heartbroken family of Trayvon Martin—would have been if this case had not from the start been drafted into the service of other, more political agendas.
How much better indeed.
You have to wonder, though, how much of the change of tone between Sunday’s edition of the paper and Monday’s was inspired by mail from angry readers.