Robert Zimmerman on media bias and the Trayvon Martin shooting

Part two of a candid discussion with the brother of the man who fatally shot Trayvon Martin. Photo: Photo used with permission of Robert Zimmerman; photographer's name not provided

FLORIDA, June 7, 2013 — It seems that certain members of the national media made up their minds about the Trayvon Martin shooting soon after it took place. What impact has this has had on public perception of the matter?

In one case, NBC deceptively edited an audiotape of George Zimmerman’s conversation with police. The result was that he sounded like a bigot. What can be said about this event? Has political correctness played in the Martin shooting’s aftermath?

Certain social action groups responded to the Martin shooting in a very strong fashion. Did this have to do more with reactions to the facts or personal biases? Has America’s debate over media ethics changed significantly as a result of the Martin shooting?

Since George was arrested, his brother Robert has become one of his strongest defenders. In this second part of our discussion, Robert answers the questions listed above.

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Joseph F. Cotto: It seems that certain members of the national media made up their minds about the Martin shooting soon after it took place. What impact would you say that this has had on public perception of the matter?

Robert Zimmerman: I remember the day after I first spoke out in March of 2012 I was accused of fabricating [and] obfuscation the next day. An MSNBC contributor accused Piers Morgan of abdicating journalistic integrity by not “pressing” me enough. Piers got the contributor to admit that he believed a murder had taken place, while Piers took the position that he’d wait for more facts to come forth. 

It was apparent to me that certain journalists [and] by extension the media generally pretends to reflect public opinion rather than doing their best to inform the public of facts. Their financial interest is in shaping opinion. The media deliberately makes up their mind about how they will portray any event-In short, they portray events based on profitability first, and accuracy second.

Cotto: In one case, NBC deceptively edited an audiotape of your brother’s conversation with police. The result was that he sounded like a bigot. What are your opinions about this event, specifically?

Zimmerman: NBC fired people who were responsible and soon after Steve Capus, the former president, was replaced. I think those were appropriate responses but the damage to George’s reputation had already been done. I learned that the media places bets on how profitable their version of what may have transpired will be, and then, under the guise of “informing” proceeds to deliberately misinform the public. 

The sad part is much of the public doesn’t understand how badly misinformed they are, and won’t because the media isn’t in the business of correcting their mistakes.

Cotto: From your point of view, what role has political correctness played in the Martin shooting’s aftermath? 

Zimmerman: I think political correctness combined with deceptive portrayals of Trayvon Martin facilitated sidestepping an uncomfortable question: Could Martin actually be capable of doing what he did to Zimmerman? If one were inclined to believe he was, they would be subjected to accusations of insensitivity or racism. The equation would [later] evolve to suggesting that if one believed George had defended his life, the reason is because the person had no compassion for loss of life.

Cotto: Certain social action groups responded to the Martin shooting in a very strong fashion. Judging from your experience, did this have to do more with reactions to the facts or personal biases? 

Zimmerman: Absolutely 100% bias. The polite word for “agenda” is “bias”. In the midst of an investigation it is normal for few facts to be known because it is essential that the integrity of the investigation is maintained. There are many who profit from perpetuating the idea of racism and are clearly willing to sidestep facts and insert racial narratives because it is in their organization’s interest not to become obsolete.

Cotto: Do you think that our country’s debate over media ethics has been changed significantly as a result of the Martin shooting?

Zimmerman: I think the public will be very cautious about ever again accepting a narrative that relies on injecting an element of racism to perpetuate. I think in the age of social media our society was wholly unprepared to have a straightforward and honest conversation about race because media depends on social media feedback to gauge the effectiveness of their messaging. 

The media better serves the public by simply informing the public and by steering clear of fabrications asserted-as-fact from persons with financial interests in the outcome of tainting public opinion. Sources who stand to gain financially should not have their fabrications reported as fact just because they inserted race. 

I sincerely hope after the truth is revealed that the public will say to the media “never again” after the incompetence the media as a whole displayed in this case.


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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