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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

 

Bending the Trayvon Martin Tragedy To Fit

Jonah Goldberg:

I never thought the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case deserved nearly the attention it got. But reasonable people can disagree about that. What strikes me as unconscionable, however, is the way the supposedly objective media have not only sensationalized a tragedy but at times appear to deliberately bend the facts to fit a desired story line. Maybe it started with the use of pictures of a younger Martin or with the sudden embrace of the term "white Hispanic" to describe Zimmerman in order to more easily paint him as a racist.
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Any hope that the editorializing would end with the trial was naive. National Public Radio recently profiled Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother. In response to the tragedy and the trial, Fulton has become a civil rights activist, NPR reported.

It was a deferential piece, and understandably so. Who wants to add to the woman's pain? But there's a difference between deference and advocacy. In a speech to the National Urban League, Fulton said her son was killed "all because of a law, a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for this awful crime."

And how did NPR's Greg Allen put that statement in context? He told listeners: "Fulton is one of many pushing for a repeal of Florida's 'stand your ground' law." He noted that sit-ins have been staged but that the Florida governor remains "unmoved." And that was it.
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But that is an airy justification for the media to treat the law as if it were central to the whole controversy. Is it conceivable that NPR would let, say, a gun rights activist's wildly tendentious interpretation of a law stand without some explanation or context? Why should opponents of "stand your ground" laws get different treatment?

I think part of the answer is that the media and civil rights groups want a consolation prize. They didn't get the verdict -- or the story line -- they wanted. But they need to get something positive out of this. I certainly understand why Trayvon Martin's family feels that way. I fail to see why the media should so eagerly oblige.

Read the whole thing.

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