“All the News That Fits Their Agenda”


Unarmed and Gunned Down by Homeowner in His ‘Castle’
New York Times, 2012-10-24

[This article is primarily about
a self-defense defense in a shooting death in Montana.
the NYT article does bring up the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman situation,
in a way that damages fair play:]

The shooting raises similar questions
about armed citizens and their right to self-defense
to those raised after the February shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Florida,
with the critical difference that Mr. Martin was shot outside.

[Wait a minute.
According to the article, in the Montana shooting
the shooter suffered no injuries from the man who was shot.
In the Martin/Zimmerman situation,
Zimmerman suffered well-documented injuries at the hands of Martin.
Is this not a critical difference?

The NYT, along with much of the rest of the media, shoves
the real, physical, documented injuries suffered by Zimmerman at the hands of Martin
right down George Orwell’s memory hole.
(For several other examples of ignoring that crucial part of the story,
see several 2013 articles by Lizette Alvarez discussed on this page below.)
Big Brother would be proud of the Sulzberger/Abramson ignore-the-crucial-fact gang.]


Settlement Is Reached With Family in Slaying
New York Times, 2013-04-06

[I am reproducing this item in full from the NYT web page
because I want to make a point about what information was and was not mentioned in this story.]


The parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was shot by George Zimmerman last year,
have settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against the homeowners’ association in the gated community where he was killed.

At the time of the shooting, Mr. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain at the development, the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla., where he lived with his wife. A homeowners’ association newsletter sent to residents in February 2012, the same month as the shooting, cited Mr. Zimmerman as the person to contact for neighborhood watch issues. The newsletter suggested that if concerns arose, they first call the police and then alert Mr. Zimmerman.

After Mr. Martin’s death, his parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, sued the association for wrongful death. The amount of the settlement was not revealed. As is customary in such settlements, the association admitted no guilt in Mr. Martin’s death and all parties are bound to confidentiality. The Orlando Sentinel obtained the portion of the settlement that was made public Friday at the Seminole County courthouse.

The Martin family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, has said he planned to file a separate lawsuit against Mr. Zimmerman at a later date.

The Martin family and the association tried to settle the lawsuit through mediation earlier in the year but talks fell apart after Mr. Martin’s parents rejected a $1 million offer, said Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s criminal lawyer. Negotiations later resumed and the two sides ultimately reached an agreement. The Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America is the association’s insurer.

Mr. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mr. Martin, is scheduled to go on trial in June. Mr. Zimmerman has said that he shot Mr. Martin, 17, in self-defense.

On Feb. 26, 2012,
Mr. Zimmerman saw Mr. Martin walking
inside the Retreat at Twin Lakes,
with a hoodie pulled over his head to ward off rain.
Mr. Zimmerman called the police and described Mr. Martin as suspicious,
adding that it looked like “he was up to no good.”
The police told him to stay put,
but Mr. Zimmerman got out of his S.U.V.
and followed Mr. Martin as the teenager
walked toward his father’s girlfriend’s house,
where he was staying.

Soon after, Mr. Martin tackled him and started to punch him
and slam his head against the sidewalk, Mr. Zimmerman told the police.
Mr. Zimmerman reached for his gun and shot Mr. Martin in the chest,
killing him with one bullet.
Mr. Martin did not have a gun.

[How can it be relevant to tell readers that Mr. Martin did not have a gun,
which is factually true,
but not tell readers that Mr. Zimmerman indeed suffered wounds
to both his face and the back of his head,
while Mr. Martin suffered no wounds other than the fatal (and ultimate) bullet,
which is also factually true and corroborates Mr. Zimmerman's story,
making it more than just a "he said" item?
It seems to me that this selectivity, disclosing really irrelevant information
(how many people have been beaten to death with bare hands?
A highly nontrivial number.
Not having a gun is no guarantee of innocence.),
while withholding information which proves that
Mr. Martin indeed had injured Mr. Zimmerman,
is all too typical of the effort of the media to demonize Mr. Zimmerman.
Give Ms. Alvarez and the New York Times the "Master of Irrelevant Detail" award.

For another example of this selectivity,
the Washington Express, a publication of the Washington Post,
published its year-end roundup of the newsworthy events of 2012,
it had a brief item on the black protests concerning
the lack of charges against Zimmerman,
which in its few words found room to mention that
Martin had been carrying a bag of candy when the incident happened,
but did not mention that Zimmerman had been wounded.
Do you see a media pattern here?]

Zimmerman Forgoes Pretrial Hearing, Taking Issue of Immunity to a Jury
New York Times, 2013-05-01

[I am reproducing this item in full from the NYT web page
because I want to make a point about what information was and was not mentioned in this story.]


With a softly spoken, “Yes, Your Honor,” George Zimmerman officially waived his right to a pretrial “Stand Your Ground” immunity hearing on Tuesday, choosing instead to lay out his self-defense case before a jury.

But Mr. Zimmerman, and Judge Debra S. Nelson of the Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla., left open the possibility of conducting the hearing during the trial, a rare occurrence. The case is set to start with jury selection on June 10 in Sanford, where Mr. Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17.

Mr. Zimmerman’s decision to skip a pretrial hearing was made for strategic and practical reasons, legal experts said. During a self-defense immunity hearing, the defendant, not the prosecutor, bears the burden of proof. A pretrial hearing also would provide prosecutors with a preview of how Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, plans to present his case.

Because a judge, not a jury, decides whether to dismiss a case in an immunity hearing, a dismissal — a finding that Mr. Zimmerman acted lawfully and in self-defense — would most likely provoke a strong public reaction in the highly charged case.

“Criminal immunity is going to be granted to George by the jury, and that is what we are looking towards,” Mr. O’Mara said at a news conference. “So in that context, talking about immunity when we know we’re going to have a jury trial is irrelevant. It truly is.”

[The next paragraph seems to be the reporter’s summary of the back-story.]

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, a neighborhood watch volunteer,
is accused of the February 2012 killing of Mr. Martin,
an unarmed high school student from Miami Gardens.
Mr. Zimmerman told the police that
he shot Mr. Martin after the teenager attacked him.
The shooting provoked outrage
from those who believed that Mr. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic,
was guilty of racial profiling in pursuing Mr. Martin, who was black.
The police and the prosecutor
initially did not bring charges against Mr. Zimmerman,
further inflaming the situation.

[First, a question.
What is the criteria the media uses for reporting that
the victim of a shooting was unarmed?
In particular,
I have seen a number of newspaper accounts of wives who have shot their husband,
and when put on trial claim that they were acting in self-defense.
I do not recall them mentioning that the slain husband was unarmed.
If that is indeed the customary newspaper reporting standard,
why is there one standard for
reporting the slaying of husbands by wives who claim self-defense as the justification,
but a different one in the slaying of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman,
where again self-defense is claimed as the justification?

Secondly, and far more importantly,
note once again how America’s “newspaper of record” omits
the salient fact buttressing Zimmerman’s self-defense argument, namely that
Zimmerman actually was injured by Martin,
whereas Martin suffered no evident wounds other than the final, fatal bullet.

The NYT notes that “the shooting provoked outrage”.
I would point out that a key reason for that outrage is
the itself outrageous failure of the media
to report systematically the key fact of the injuries to Zimmerman.

Let’s switch gears.
Suppose a wife was battered by her husband,
suffering bloody facial injury and bloody wounds to the back of her head,
and then shot and killed her husband.
Do you think for a minute that every time the media reported this story,
they would not describe the wife as a battered wife?
Well, Zimmerman was battered.
That’s what caused the scalp wounds on the back of his head,
being battered by Martin against the concrete pavement.

The NYT, in systematically failing to note that Zimmerman was injured in the attack,
is playing the Orwellian role of a “Ministry of Truth”,
sending the facts that do not support its desired conclusion
down the memory hole.
(See the article on a Montana slaying for another example.)
If Zimmerman is acquitted (possibly by a hung jury)
and protests from the black community erupt,
I think a large part of the responsibility for those protests will be
the systematic failure of the media to report
the real, physical, documented injuries to Zimmerman.]

In a move that appeared to take Mr. O’Mara by surprise, Judge Nelson said she needed to question Mr. Zimmerman to make sure he understood that no pretrial hearing would take place. Mr. O’Mara balked, but once he learned that there would be no substantive questions about the case, he allowed Mr. Zimmerman to assure the judge that he was waiving his right to the hearing.

“After consultation with my counsel, yes, Your Honor,” Mr. Zimmerman said, in answer to her question about his rights.

Tuesday’s three-hour hearing also served to spotlight the tension between the prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, and Mr. Zimmerman’s defense team. The two sides have been battling over requests for documents and the pace of discovery.

The atmosphere grew so heated that the judge scolded both sides, saying the court would not tolerate their sniping.

The bitterness spilled over into legal documents recently, when Mr. de la Rionda called Mr. O’Mara guilty of “craven conduct” and said that he showboated in front of the news media.

Mr. O’Mara has long wrangled with Mr. de la Rionda over information, including a statement from a key witness, that Mr. O’Mara said had been withheld from the defense and turned over only after a protracted fight. In March, Mr. O’Mara filed a motion, which was heard on Tuesday, accusing the state of “discovery violations.” He also requested $4,555 in financial sanctions, stemming from lost time.

“When do we start playing fair?” Mr. O’Mara asked the court.

Judge Nelson ruled Tuesday that prosecutors did not violate discovery rules, but she said she would take up any possible financial compensation after the trial.

During the hearing, Mr. de la Rionda acknowledged that he learned in August that so-called Witness 8, a young woman who was speaking with Mr. Martin on the phone shortly before he was killed, had lied to law enforcement officials. Earlier last year, the young woman said she had skipped Mr. Martin’s funeral because stress had sent her to the hospital. After no hospital records turned up, she told Mr. de la Rionda that she had lied.

Despite requests over several months for information about the hospital visit, Mr. O’Mara said, prosecutors did not tell him about the lie until March, one day before a scheduled hearing to discuss the issue. Mr. O’Mara said the lie spoke to the witness’s credibility.

“She did say she had lied about that,” Mr. de la Rionda told the court. “I did not inform them because I forgot about it.”

Mr. O’Mara said that prosecutors also stalled on handing over images of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries and that they enhanced audio files of the conversation between Witness 8 and the Martin family lawyer. In addition, he pointed out that Mr. Martin’s mother was sitting next to Witness 8 as the young woman recounted her final phone conversation with Mr. Martin.

In court, Mr. de la Rionda said that he had done nothing wrong and that the information had been turned over, as requested.

Defense in Trayvon Martin Case Raises Questions About the Victim’s Character
New York Times, 2013-05-24

Judge in Trayvon Martin Case Puts Limits on Defense
New York Times, 2013-05-29

Lawyers for George Zimmerman,
who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin,
will be barred from mentioning
Mr. Martin’s marijuana use, history of fights or high school suspension
during opening statements in Mr. Zimmerman’s trial, which begins June 10.

At a hearing Tuesday in a Seminole County court,
Circuit Judge Debra Steinberg Nelson denied a string of defense motions
concerning evidence that was intended to portray Mr. Martin as a troubled teenager
with a propensity for fighting and an interest in guns.
Prosecutors argued that such evidence had nothing to do with Mr. Martin’s death.

Mr. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was killed in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012,
by Mr. Zimmerman, who said he shot him in self-defense.

Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer,
argued that Mr. Martin’s drug use could have made him aggressive and paranoid,
which the defense said might have prompted him to attack Mr. Zimmerman, 29,
a neighborhood watch volunteer.

“All of that fits in squarely to what the defense is going to present:
that George Zimmerman was put in the position that he had to act in self-defense,”
Mr. O’Mara said.
“How could you keep us from arguing that?”

Judge Nelson replied, “The rules of evidence keep you from doing it.”

The judge left open the possibility that
some of the information, including Facebook postings and text messages,
might come up at trial,
but she set a high hurdle for the defense.
Mr. O’Mara called the decision a victory, saying that
it would force prosecutors to be careful in how they portray Mr. Zimmerman.

“You get ready for whatever battle they may throw at you,
with the hope that most of your weapons stay in your quiver,”
Mr. O’Mara said at a news conference after the hearing.

Mr. O’Mara, as he has in the past, asked that Judge Nelson delay the trial
because the defense is still taking depositions and reviewing material
that was turned over by prosecutors only recently.
That request was denied.

Judge Nelson denied a request
that jurors be allowed to visit the gated townhouse complex
where Mr. Martin was shot,
calling it a “logistical nightmare.”

Mr. O’Mara said he wanted jurors to get a feel
for the shadowy path between two rows of town houses where Mr. Martin was shot.

[According to Google maps, from the Sanford County Courthouse to the location of the shooting is 5.6 miles and about 13 minutes.
One might estimate that the party needing to see the site of the shooting
might consist of around 20 in the jury pool and about 10 others, lawyers and security.
How hard can it be to transport around 30 people 6 miles?
A key issue will be what the actual sight lines and distances were
between the witnesses and the site of the shooting.
There is no better way to understand that than to see the site itself.
The fact that the judge will not allow that on-site inspection to take place is, I think,
prima facie evidence of his bias against the defense.]

The judge also denied a request that defense lawyers and prosecutors
be prevented from talking publicly about the case,
and she refused to sequester the jury pool, which could number 500 people,
during the selection process.
Prosecutors said it would be too expensive and unwieldy to sequester that many people.
The judge has not ruled on whether the jurors who are selected should be sequestered.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors both said they would agree to the jury’s being sequestered,
given the trial’s high-profile nature.

Mr. O’Mara said the Zimmerman case
was so weighed down by “social and community pressure”
that a jury could fear the consequences of acquitting Mr. Zimmerman.

“We have to do everything possible to keep this jury from infection,”
Mr. O’Mara said in court.

There is little other agreement between defense lawyers and prosecutors.
Mr. O’Mara has repeatedly accused prosecutors
of dragging their feet in turning over evidence,
a charge that they have disputed.

Mr. O’Mara took that accusation one step further on Tuesday
and told the judge he had evidence that prosecutors had concealed information.
He said that Wesley White, a lawyer who worked for Angela Corey,
the state attorney in Jacksonville, Fla., whose office is prosecuting the case,
had told him that prosecutors had received a report
with information about photos taken on Mr. Martin’s cellphone.
Mr. O’Mara said he never received the report or information about the photos,
which were said to have included images of drugs and a gun in someone’s hand.

The photos’ content is not as important
as the charge that Bernie de la Rionda, the lead prosecutor,
did not turn them over to the defense.
Mr. O’Mara wants the court to penalize the state,
and Judge Nelson will conduct a hearing on the matter a week from Thursday.

After the hearing, Benjamin Crump, the Martin family’s lawyer,
said that Mr. O’Mara was wrong to portray Mr. Martin
as a drug-using, brawl-happy, gun-loving teenager.
He said the judge was justified in ruling that
another set of photos and text messages were inadmissible.
He also accused Mr. O’Mara of releasing information about the photos and messages last week
to “sway and pollute and influence the jury.”

“Trayvon Martin did not have a gun,” Mr. Crump said,
as Mr. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, stood next to him.
“Trayvon Martin did not get out of the car to chase anybody.
Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody.
Trayvon Martin is not on trial.”

Trayvon Martin Murder Trial Starts
Zimmerman’s lawyers will have to walk a tight line of defense
attributed to Mike Schneider (AP)
Washington Express (a product of the Washington Post Company), 2013-06-10

[I have typed this, in its entirety, directly from
the Washington Express hardcopy,
which seems to be the first few paragraphs of the original AP story.
The emphasis is added.]

Santiago, Fla.

George Zimmerman’s lead attorney will be walking a fine line
as he tries to convince jurors that his client didn’t murder Trayvon Martin.
He needs to show why Zimmerman felt threatened by the African-American teenager
while avoiding the appearance that either he or his client is racist.

Because there is no dispute
that Zimmerman shot Martin, 17, during a fight Feb. 26, 2012,
Mark O’Mara must convince the jury
that Zimmerman pulled his 9 mm handgun
and fired a bullet into the Miami-area high school student’s chest
because he feared for his life
and that the fear was caused by Martin’s actions, not his race.

Jury selection begins Monday in the second-degree murder trial,
which is expected to last about six weeks.
Martin’s killing drew world-wide attention
as it sparked a national debate
about race, equal justice under the law and gun control.
If convicted,
Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, could get a life sentence.

Under Florida law,
Zimmerman, 29, could lawfully shoot Martin in self-defense
if it was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

O’Mara has to be careful how he characterizes Martin,
said Randy McClean, an Orlando-area defense attorney.
“Mr. O’Mara’s challenge is to show Trayvon wasn’t profiled.”

The challenge for prosecutors trying to get a second-degree murder conviction,
meanwhile, is that
they must prove that while Zimmerman’s actions weren’t premeditated,
they demonstrated a “depraved mind”
that didn’t consider the threat his actions had toward human life.

McClean and another Orlando defense attorney, David Hill,
predicted that prosecutors will attack Zimmerman,
who was employed at a mortgage risk management firm,
as a frustrated, would-be police officer who had a chip on his shoulder.
Zimmerman had studied criminal justice at a community college
and had volunteered to run his community’s neighborhood watch program.

“The state’s narrative is going to be …
Zimmerman was a powerful neighborhood watchman,
a wannabe officer who liked to use his authority,”
McClean said.

Prosecutors have refused to comment about the case.

“We want to make sure this trial is tried in a courtroom and not outside a courtroom,”
said lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

[There are two important things to note about this story:

1. It continues the media's pattern of totally omitting the second most important fact about the story,
second to the fact that Zimmerman shot Martin,
namely that Zimmerman suffered real, physical, documented injury at the hands of Martin.
This is the fulcrum of the self-defense claim,
as it shows that the fatal shot was only fired after Martin had battered Zimmerman.
Note also that this article continues the (mis-)characterization of the incident as "a fight."
If a fight had occurred, how is that Martin's body showed no signs of injury?

2. The strong effort to make race and racial profiling crucial factors,
rather than just whether Zimmerman had a justified reason to feel his life was in danger.
If Zimmerman's life was in danger,
what difference does potential racial profiling make?]

Zimmerman trial begins with curses and a joke
By Mike Schneider and Kyle Hightower
Washington Post, 2013-06-24


Showing the jury photos of a bloodied and bruised Zimmerman,
[defense attorney Don West] said,
“He had just taken tremendous blows to his face, tremendous blows to his head.”


[I am currently looking at the version of this AP story which appeared in the print edition of the Washington Post on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 on page A3.
It spans four of the six print columns,
and features a photo spanning three columns, half of the page, captioned
“Prosecutor John Guy gestures Monday during his opening statement in George Zimmerman’s trial.”
Photo credit Joe Burbank/Associated Press)
There is NO photo of the wounds to Zimmerman,
even thought those were obviously a crucial element of the case.]

Zimmerman Case Goes to Jury
New York Times, 2013-07-13


In his three-hour closing argument on Friday before jurors began deliberating,
George Zimmerman’s lawyer said that his client
was guilty only of protecting his own life when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin,
and he chastised the prosecution for filling jurors’ heads
with guesswork, not evidence.

Mark O’Mara, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, told the jury
the prosecution had provided so little evidence of second-degree murder,
the main charge,
that he wished the verdict form contained three choices:
“guilty, not guilty, and completely innocent,
because I would ask you to check that one.”

To back up that claim,
Mr. O’Mara held up his strongest piece of evidence:
photographs of Mr. Zimmerman’s injured head and nose.

He zeroed in on testimony and physical evidence
suggesting that Mr. Martin was on top during the struggle,
which is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account to the police.


[What is striking about the statement of Ms. Alvarez emphasized just above is that
this "strongest piece of evidence" was never mentioned
in the stories of this same Ms. Alvarez quoted above in this post,
and indeed in most, if not all, of the other stories that appeared in the Times
and indeed in much of the media
in the months after the initial flurry of reporting.
How's that for biased reporting?]

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