ABC selectively edited George Zimmerman trial Juror B29's statements

The news agency is facing harsh criticism for its selective edits. Photo: George Zimmerman/Associated Press

FLORIDA, July 30, 2013 — The impact of Juror B29’s interview with ABC News last week is still making waves.

B29, a black Puerto Rican woman, was the lone minority juror in the trial of multiracial neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. He was ultimately acquitted of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black seventeen-year-old.

The racial impact of this case is still generating a great deal of controversy across the country. So many were interested in B29’s interview as she remarked that Zimmerman got “away with murder”.

Now, ABC is being called into question for its selective editing of her statements.

William Saletan of Slate reports that many leading media organizations have portrayed B29 “as the woman who was bullied out of voting to convict Zimmerman. But that’s not true. She stands by the verdict. She yielded to the evidence and the law, not to bullying. She thinks Zimmerman was morally culpable but not legally guilty. And she wants us to distinguish between this trial and larger questions of race and justice.”

“ABC News hasn’t posted a full unedited video or transcript of the interview. The video that has been broadcast — on World News Tonight, Nightline, and Good Morning America — has been cut and spliced in different ways, often so artfully that the transitions appear continuous. So beware what you’re seeing. But the video that’s available already shows, on closer inspection, that Maddy has been manipulated and misrepresented.”


SEE RELATED: Juror B29’s lawyer, David Chico, prosecuted George Zimmerman


Delving into a lengthy analysis of the situation, Saletan notes that “(t)he phrase ‘got away with murder’ was put in [B29‘s] mouth,” “(s)he stands by the verdict,”  “(t)he jury was not ethnically divided on Zimmerman’s culpability,” “(r)ace wasn’t discussed, and she didn’t focus on it,”,“(s)he was no pushover in the jury room,” “(t)o the extent she feels racial or ethnic pressure, it’s against Zimmerman,” and more.

“I agree with Saletan’s take on this,” says John Sexton of Breitbart. “Maddy appears to be offering a response to a statement that was presented to her.”

He goes on to write that “(a)t the very least, her answer comes across very differently in the edited vs. unedited versions of the interview. Elsewhere in the interview, Maddy says Zimmerman is responsible for ‘killing’ of Martin; however, she also says she does not regret her decision as a matter of law.”

Sundance, who writes for The Conservative Tree House, a blog which hasprovided detailed coverage of the Martin shooting’s aftermath, states that “ABC has been shown time and time again to be biased in their use of new stories to highlight political agendas. Some of the most famous recent examples come from their coverage of the George Zimmerman case.

“Remember it was ABC’s Matt Gutman, and his counterpart, Candace Smith, a Howard University Alum, who captured so many of the Zimmerman case “exclusives.””

Sundance goes on to highlight many instances of flawed, if not grossly inaccurate, reporting from the duo.

Chief among these examples is, in Sundance’s words, “the “exclusive” phone interview, 3/19/12 set up by Martin Family Attorney, Benjamin Crump, with Witness #8, Rachel Jeantel…where the witness states under oath she was not told the interview was being recorded or attended by the media. The interview where she was sold to the media as 16 years old, Trayvon’s puppy love, his girlfriend, life long friend, who was devastated and hospitalized.

“It was only when depositions were literally hours away that all of a sudden Witness #8, aka ‘Dee Dee,’ aka Rachel Jeantel,  evolved into a non-girlfriend, who was actually 18 yearsold, and who never went to the hospital.  [Later it was determined that Rachel only met Trayvon two weeks earlier, on 2/1/12 at her birthday party, and only talked to him twice before he was kicked out of school again and his Dad put him on a Greyhound bus to Sanford].

“Matt Gutman claimed he was the only one with the actual audio from that interview. Yet during the pre-trial discovery, mysteriously, the  ‘full’ audio disappeared. Well, that is, according to the ABC production and legal department. Gutman conveniently lost his tongue once it became a matter of legal interest in the trial.”

ABC News has yet to issue a statement about its editing practices with regard to B29.


Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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