When media-amplified stampedes begin!

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012

The history of orgies: We’re off on a mission of national import. We don’t expect to post again until Monday morning.

In the meantime, we’ll recommend Gene Lyon’s column on the subject of Trayvon Martin’s death.

For our money, the most striking part of Lyons’ column involves his experience with orgies. Lyons isn’t a big George Zimmerman fan. But then too, he knows orgies:
LYONS (3/28/12): Untrained individuals like Zimmerman have no business packing heat, nor confronting strangers they deem suspicious. Trouble didn’t come to George Zimmerman; he went looking for it. At minimum, he acted like a damn fool.

However, I’ve also had the experience of writing a book about a media-amplified murder case that took place in my home state of Arkansas. What I learned was that when reporters and pundits set themselves up as amateur homicide detectives, not to mention as prosecutor, judge and jury, the odds against justice being served grow longer.

I can still remember where I was sitting and what the weather was like when I realized that a ballyhooed front page account of a murder trial in Little Rock’s dominant morning newspaper bore almost no relationship to the actual testimony and crime scene photos. It was that shocking to me. All the errors ran in one direction, casting suspicion on an innocent man for murdering his wife. He was eventually exonerated, but only after a harrowing ordeal.

Meanwhile, a veritable orgy of gossip, speculation and self-righteous moralizing swept the state. “You could ask the ladies under every hair dryer in every beauty shop in Arkansas if McArthur was involved, and they’d say yes,” one beleaguered police official told me. “They didn’t have to know the first thing about the case. They just knew.”
Later, Lyons wrote the book on the Whitewater pseudo-scandal, Fools for Scandal. That destructive episode also involved a long orgy of media-amplified speculation and gossip. Much of that national orgy occurred in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Should George Zimmerman be charged with a crime? That question lies outside our area of semi-competence. But “media-amplified” orgies aren’t good—and they have been increasingly prevalent over the past twenty years.

52 comments:

  1. The rube running in this story is unprecedented. Last night CNN dug up Marcia Clark who was rapid firing non facts into the camera. There is no injury on that video. The fact that Trayvon Martin was face down is proof it was Zimmerman who was the attacker and Zimmerman who initiated the fight." The lynch mob responded OH MY GOD HE SHOT THAT BOY IN THE BACK. Their tiny brains can accommodate only what is yelled to them by Marcia Clark and MSNBC so they couldn't grasp the simple idea that Anderson Cooper had suggested in the form of a question up moments earlier, that Zimmerman had to move from under Trayvon Martin leaving him face down.

    Now we have the rubes changing their story about the size discrepancy. The 6 inches shorter Zimmerman looks "in shape" so even if he isn't "100 lbs" heavier than Trayvon Martin, he was an even bigger threat!

    According to the police report Zimmerman told police at the scene "I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me."

    Zimmerman's brother appeared on Piers Morgan's show and said his brother cannot understand the fact that no one responded to his calls for help and that this would have ended the attack and prevented a shooting.

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    1. Wow. Now we are down to saying that anyone who doesn't believe Zimmerman's story, "corroborated" first by his not-so-close friend Joe Oliver, then his daddy, and now his brother, is a "rube" led astray by the media and incapable of looking at the undisputed facts of this care and arriving at a different conclusion than the Zimmerman clan.

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  2. I love Gene Lyons and his warnings about a media orgy are noted.

    But let us also remember that unlike the frenzy he described in Arkansas, even MSNBC has given anyone speaking on Zimmerman's behalf ample opportunity to tell their story.

    What Somerby seems to object to is when journalists actually do their jobs and match that story against undisputed evidence -- something he once demanded that journalists do.
    And so far, the undisputed evidence isn't adding up in George Zimmerman's favor.

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  3. And may I quickly add that Lyons is also a veteran enough reporter to know the classic tactic of when you've got nothing else to argue with, portray the defendant as the victim and put the dead guy on trial.

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    1. Meanwhile, very little of what we've been told about this tragedy apart from the barest outlines has turned out to be accurate.

      The "facts" change daily, but never the conclusion. To wit, Zimmerman's nowhere close to twice Martin's size.

      The police did too take him into custody, grilling him for several hours.

      They did too collect his gun and clothing as evidence.

      They did canvass the crime scene and question witnesses.

      The lead investigator did recommend charging him with manslaughter.

      Now we learn there's unmistakable video evidence of a lump and an abrasion on his head, as MSNBC stalwarts have continued to assure us there was not.

      Assuming Zimmerman's charged and tried, we'll all get to see whether or not the "classic tactic" makes any sense. Not that people appear very likely to agree.

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    2. The lynch mob will default back to claiming that following someone for a short distance on foot and asking them a question represent an "attack" justifying a physical beat down even if no law in the United States supports that fantasy.

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    3. And other than Zimmerman's Fantastic Tale did you arrive at the conclusion he followed Martin a sort distance on foot and then just asked him a question?

      What we do know that is undisputed is that Zimmerman saw Martin walking down the street from his truck, followed him while he called 911, told the dispatcher he was getting out of his truck to confront the kid, the dispatcher clearly told him not to, and Zimmerman took the gun with him which he then used to shoot Trayvon Martin just a few moments later, seconds before the police whom Zimmerman himself called, had arrived.

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  4. Those new photos of deep lacerations on Zimmerman's head seem like something to "argue with" to me, and support the defendant as victim.

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    1. Oh, obviously. The guy who got out of his truck with a loaded gun is obviously the victim here, and the kid walking down the street is obviously the perp.

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    2. You're right. We have the right to attack people with loaded guns if they piss us off, and if they shoot us, we're the victim because they had a loaded gun.

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    3. Yep, "Stand Your Ground" only applies to the guy who got out of his truck with a loaded gun, not the dead kid who was walking down the street.

      After all, how dare even think he had a right to fight for his life -- if indeed that happened, and we still only have Zimmerman's word that it did.

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    4. Not to blow your mind but maybe stand your ground did apply to the dead kid at an earlier point in the course of events and then straightforward self defense applied to Zimmerman at a later point.

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    5. If the kid killed Zimmerman during the attack and could convince police he acted within the bounds of reason in thinking he was in danger of death or injury because Zimmerman followed him for a short time, they or a jury could agree with him. They or a jury could also easily find Zimmerman acted reasonably when confronted and knocked to the ground and beaten when he screamed for help, then shot when no help arrived.

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    6. You might try googling up those "close-ups."

      Counting the version that Bob once embarrassingly claimed that MSNBC ignored, I've seen at least three.

      The version MSNBC showed had two marks pretty much in the center of his head and somewhat low. The second version had one round wound up much higher and off to the right. A third has a long gash again beginning high but on the right side of the head.

      Three photos, four "wounds" all in different places.

      And none of them covered by so much as a Band-Aid after treatment from professional paramedics.

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    7. my correction. the "long gash" photo has the wound on the LEFT side of Zimmerman's skull.

      Ah, the wonders of photoshop.

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    8. Sorry, 12:04, but the law doesn't work like that, even in "Stand Your Ground" states.

      The guy who initiates the confrontation is liable for everything that happens during the confrontation. And Zimmerman clearly initiated the confrontation by first following a kid walking down the street, then getting out of his truck. With a loaded weapon, no less.

      By the way, do you also buy the latest version of the Zimmerman story in which he wasn't on "neighborhood watch patrol," but was simply headed to the grocery store when he spied the highly suspicious Martin walking down the street?

      I always pack when I go to the grocery store. Never know when the meat manager is going to violently confront me when I gripe about the price of steaks.

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    9. i'll take my chances with the official police video, showing no obvious wounds of any kind, anywhere on mr. zimmerman's head. odd, when you consider the viciousness of the beating he sustained (his description, per the police report). odder still is the lack of any dressings on the wounds, and no trip to the ER, for purposes of determining if mr. zimmerman had sustained a concussion, the probable result of having your head violently bashed against concrete several times.

      possibly, mr. zimmerman heals remarkably fast, or the police, who treated him in their cruiser did such a phenomanal job no bandages were required. we'll have to wait and see all the reports, from all parties at the scene. it just seems odd that, roughly 30-45 minutes after the events, mr.zimmerman appears as though nothing had happened.

      just..............odd.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. by the way bob, i hope your mission goes well. we'll be expecting a full and detailed report on monday. double-spaced, in triplicate.

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  7. "The guy who initiates the confrontation is liable for everything that happens during the confrontation. And Zimmerman clearly initiated the confrontation by first following a kid walking down the street, then getting out of his truck. With a loaded weapon, no less."

    You couldn't be more wrong. In no state is legally carrying a loaded gun make someone liable unless it is brandished. In no state is a person who is attacked after being asked the question "What are you doing around here" not permitted to defend himself with force, deadly force if reasonable.

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    1. Umm, dude? Unless I am mistaken, Zimmerman not only "brandished" the gun, he actually used it.

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    2. No, he didn't brandish the gun. Is every assertion from the mob an invention?

      Invented facts only support that if Zimmerman's account is accurate, even the lynch mob agrees he acted properly.

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    3. How the hell do you shoot a guy in the chest without "brandishing" the gun first? Does it aim and shoot by remote control or voice command?

      I guess now you'll quibble about what "brandishing" really means?

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    4. Is it funny that the last Anon didn't even look up the word first?

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  8. Q. What if someone uses threatening language to me so that I am afraid for my life or safety?

    A. Verbal threats are not enough to justify the use of deadly force. There must be an overt act by the person which indicates that he immediately intends to carry out the threat. The person threatened must reasonably believe that he will be killed or suffer serious bodily harm if he does not immediately take the life of his adversary.

    http://licgweb.doacs.state.fl.us/weapons/self_defense.html

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    1. Q. What if I see someone who I think is suspicious? Can I get out of my truck with a loaded gun, chase him, and if he fights back, shoot him?

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    2. You may follow him on foot as you call 911, lose track of him and inform the dispatcher of this fact, when he finds you and asks "why are you following me," you may respond "what are you doing around here," and if he attacks you physically and your reasonably fear death or serious injury, you may defend yourself with lethal force.

      The fact that you had to grapple for inaccurate and dishonest terms like "chase" and "fight back" to dramatize the scenario reveals that you believe if Zimmerman's account is accurate, he did nothing wrong. I agree.

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    3. Zimmerman's story. And I guess if that's what the live guy told the cops what happened between him and the dead guy, it must be true.

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  9. If you're looking for some effed up journalism recently on one of these particular cases (not like this, I just mean about a case about one person), google "dharun ravi" and "tyler clementi." Then google "anderson cooper" to see some pretty terrible behavior there. Cooper still hasn't retracted some of the false statements he made.

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    1. So what are you saying here? That the jury reached its verdict because they are all Anderson Cooper fans?

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    2. What are you saying? That the jury reached a verdict that confirmed Anderson Cooper's version of events?

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  10. I'm saying whatever Anderson Cooper said, in the grand scheme of things, it didn't amount to a bean, let alone a hill of them.

    Do you guys really lie awake at night like Somerby does worrying about what people say on cable TV?

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    1. When I can, otherwise I'm glad Somerby does it for us. It is important.

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    2. That's actually the attitude that Cooper takes to what he does as well: Who cares, it's not important, it's not like anyone should believe what I say anyway. Shit, I'm just a journalist, am I really obligated to tell the truth?

      And then we wonder why our democracy is dysfunctional.

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    3. No, if our democracy is dysfunctional, it's because there are a significant number of Alex Blazes and now Bob Somerbys following around that says if there are two different stories, then they are both equally possible.

      And of course, only one "side" is held to standards of perfection and precision as we parse every little word they say and especially how they say it.

      And if that side says one thing, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant to the grand scheme of things, that was embellished, not perfectly accurate, or the least bit exaggerated, that means the other side, against whom no standard of truth is applied, must be telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.

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  11. Breaking: Two audio experts determine it was not Zimmerman's voice screaming for help in 9-11 call: http://bit.ly/HtgwSx

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    1. I'm surprised any reader of this blog would be anything but deeply embarrassed to cite that article. Especially since the "science" is questionable, the number 48% is meaningless without further information even if the "science" were reliable, and in light of the fact that Trayvon Martin's father told police it was not Trayvon Martin's voice crying for help.

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    2. You are lying about Trayvon's father saying it wasn't Trayvon's voice in the tape. Trayvon's father did not say that.

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    3. Again, Anonymous is repeating what the Sanford Police (lol) said that Trayvon's father said, with no direct source to Trayvon. The same police that claimed Zimmerman was beaten bloody.

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    4. I meant "no direct source to Trayvon's father," not "Trayvon," im y previous post.

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    5. Isn't it amazing, A. Perez? Just a few days ago, the Orlando Sentinel was one of the few newspapers who could be trusted to tell the truth about this case. Now that trust is no longer operative to the right wing echo chamber.

      And you are absolutely correct. NOBODY, including Martin's father, has said those screams were NOT Trayvon.

      We have three "ear" witnesses, two of whom say they couldn't tell who was screaming and one certain it more childlike and not the screams of a grown man, all describing screams, gunshot, utter silence.

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    6. Anonymous, I didn't say the Orlando Sentinel cannot be trusted regarding what the father said. Did i even mention the Orlando Sentinel in this discussion? Your source is the Sanford Police, which is such a ridiculous source that you didn't want to tell our readers that they're the source.

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    7. Ok let me embarass you one final time, Anonymous: Here is a video of Trayvon's father telling Anderson Cooper that those cries for help were Trayvon's words: http://bit.ly/H9abb6
      Cooper asked him if he was sure that was his son's voice and he replied "I'm sure that was his voice."

      Stop spreading police department BS and be skeptical of people in power. You will never in your life show Daily Howler readers audio or video of trayvon's father telling you what the police claimed he said. I, on the other hand, showed you video/audio.

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    8. Woah, cool your jets, A. Perez. This "anonymous" (the author the 11:45 a.m. post) is agreeing with you 100 percent.

      And although you didn't mention the Orlando Sentinel, your link was to the Orlando Sentinel. At least, that is where it sent me.

      I still find it ironic that the previous
      "anonymous", after the right wing echo chamber was so quick to hail the Orlando Sentinel's reporting when they typed up the anonymous "law enforcement" version of what Zimmerman allegedly told them, cavalierly dismissed this report and the "science" behind it, as if he were in any way qualified to do so.

      And you don't have to tell me that Trayvon's father never said those cries for help didn't come from his son. My memory isn't as short as some people like it to be, and I clearly remember him saying several times that the cries for help were his son's.

      Now against that, we had the "ear" witnesses who don't know either person saying they couldn't tell which one was screaming for help (except for the one lady who said it sounded more like a child than a grown man), and who all agree that the cries for help stopped immediately after the gunshot.

      Now we have a voice analyst expert saying whoever was screaming, it wasn't Zimmerman. He can't say it was Trayvon since he doesn't have a sample of Trayvon's voice to compare it to.

      Which means we should stay tuned for the latest version of Zimmerman's story to explain away how it wasn't either guy screaming for heop.

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    9. Trayvon had not entered puberty at 17 and those were the screams of "a child"

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  12. 'HE LOOKS BLACK': NBC LAUNCHES INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO SELECTIVE EDITING OF ZIMMERMAN POLICE TAPE

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/he-looks-black-nbc-launches-internal-investigation-into-selective-editing-of-zimmerman-police-tape/

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  13. Let's say for the sake of argument the quack science behind the voice analysis of a comparison between a 911 call from within a home recording distant screams and a voice spoken directly into a cell phone is reliable.

    How do you get from the software pusher's online demonstration saying that an "85% or higher means there is a very, very high probability of a match" to the assertion that "48% shows to a scientific certainty it is not a match."

    Let's not even worry about the fact that there is no measure of Trayvon Martin's voice to compare it with, that Martin's father said he wasn't sure it was his son's voice but one of the "experts" in the article who has never heard Trayvon Martin's voice, or seemed to notice that Zimmerman has a high, almost effeminate voice, judged that it was a "teen" voice.

    Unfortunately this is the type of bullshit reporting that gullible rubes swallow whole without any skepticism.

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  14. Yeah, sure. Every piece of evidence that comes out different than Zimmerman's story is "bullshit."

    Why do I get the feeling that if the voice analysis reached the opposite conclusion, your post would have been much different'

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    1. I think it DID reach the opposite conclusion AND it's still bullshit.

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  15. Yahoo News is now strongly criticizing the media. Perhaps this indicates a change in the wind:

    The Trayvon Martin case has exposed some of the media's worst tendencies--selective editing, rushing to judgment, stoking anger for ratings and page views--and it's taken more than fake photos, the incendiary stumbles of Geraldo Rivera and Spike Lee and verbal clashes between Piers Morgan and Toure to shine a light on them.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/cutline/trayvon-martin-case-exposes-worst-media-210020839.html

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    1. Brawley, Duke LaCrosse, now this. Al Sharpton is Lucy with the football and the racist race baiters are Charlie Brown.

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