NBC was sued for Libel by George Zimmerman. There was no question that NBC radically altered the 911 recording of Zimmerman to deceive the public into falsely thinking Zimmerman was a racist. NBC fired people over this and admitted the evidence was tampered with. So why did the judge let NBC get away with it.
The Judge determined that a year before the shooting Zimmerman was an established anti-racism activist and thus a public figure. So that made it OK for NBC to alter evidence presented to the public in a way that could have led to Zimmerman’s murder or imprisonment?
Jack Cashill has written an analysis of the ruling on American Thinker:
Life in modern America does not get more cruelly perverse than this: one major reason Judge Debra Nelson threw out George Zimmerman’s libel suit against NBC on Monday was because of Zimmerman’s public pursuit of racial justice. Yes, that George Zimmerman, the same “child killer” who shot black teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012.
In the way of background, Zimmerman had sued NBC for manipulating the substance of his famous call to a police dispatcher to make him sound like a racist. In firing two employees and apologizing publicly, NBC all but admitted its guilt. What saved NBC a major payout was Nelson’s ruling that Zimmerman was a “public figure.”
According to Nelson, Zimmerman made himself a public figure by “voluntarily injecting his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford.” He did this a year before the shooting. At the time, Zimmerman worked with the NAACP to launch a public protest over the failure of the Sanford Police Department to arrest the son of a white officer who had beaten a homeless black man
Unfortunately for Zimmerman, his work on behalf of the homeless man, Sherman Ware, was not nearly “public” enough. I could find no mention of this character-defining event in any NBC report, not even in the book NBC’s legal analyst Lisa Bloom wrote about the case, Suspicion Nation.
As NBC’s go-to source on the Zimmerman trial, a case she covered gavel-to-gavel, Bloom embodies the network ethos, and her book reflects its bias. An attorney, she has been covering murder trials for the major networks for nearly twenty years. In the way of pedigree, her mother is the notorious feminist attorney Gloria Allred.
Bloom’s thesis is that the State of Florida blew a winnable case. The evidence that the state overlooked, she writes, was “nothing short of astonishing.” Worse, the state failed to present a comprehensive “theory” about the sequence of events. This Bloom considers its “biggest blunder.”
In Bloom’s imaginative counter-theory, Zimmerman “feared” black men and profiled the seventeen year-old Martin for no reason other than his race. Only by fully ignoring the Ware case does Bloom make this claim seem remotely plausible.
As Bloom tells the story, Zimmerman follows Martin after the officer tells him not to. He confronts Martin. He “grabs or shoves him.” A “frightened” Martin punches Zimmerman. A “tussle” ensues. It is “not particularly significant” who is on top. Zimmerman pulls the gun, points it at Martin, and continues his “profane insulting rant” for forty seconds during which time Martin screams “aaah” in fear. An angry, panicky Zimmerman shoots and kills Martin.
To make this fantastic theory work, Bloom overlooks major chunks of evidence and makes stunning mistakes on the evidence she does present. Her treatment of the most important eyewitness, Witness #6, Jonathan Good, is a case in point. On the night of the shooting, Good told Sanford PD investigator Chris Serino:
So I open my door. It was a black man with a black hoodie on top of the other, either a white guy or now I found out I think it was a Hispanic guy with a red sweatshirt on the ground yelling out help! And I tried to tell them, get out of here, you know, stop or whatever, and then one guy on top in the black hoodie was pretty much just throwing down blows on the guy kind of MMA [mixed martial arts]-style.
Investigator Serino reviewed the various 9-1-1 calls the morning after the shooting. On one call, he noted, a male’s voice could be heard yelling “help” or “help me” fourteen times in roughly forty seconds. “The voice was determined to be that of George Zimmerman who was apparently yelling for help as he was being battered by Trayvon Martin,” Serino reported at the time.
Timothy Smith, the first cop on the scene, noted that Zimmerman’s back was wet and covered with grass and that he was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head. He reported Zimmerman as saying, “I was yelling for help but no one would help me.” Zimmerman said this well before he knew a 9-1-1 call had picked up his screams.
Astonishingly, however, Bloom claims that all evidence “pointed to Trayvon Martin as the screamer.” To make this case Bloom ignores the testimony of Good, of Zimmerman, of Serino, and of Smith.