What We Need a Real National Conversation On
For reasons, not particularly relevant, I was forced yesterday to watch 6 hours straight of CNN coverage of the news. It was almost exclusively about the Zimmerman trial. As I continued to listen, I continued to get more annoyed. How could a story – as tragic as it was – dominate the news when so many real news stories are happening. It is similar to all of the many stories we see followed about local crime that become national news going back to at least the Lindbergh baby and perhaps the sensationalized stories of Old West violence between idiots shooting each other over nothing.
This is local news or at best regional news. Nationally we have a continuing failing economy with an unprecedented unemployment rate this far into a recovery. We have national debt issues. We have a spying scandal. We have issues with the IRS. We have decisions to make about foreign policy.
What is worse is that the coverage is simply weird. Conversations about Stand Your Ground laws when that law was never part of the case. No analysis that shows that Stand Your Ground exonerates black defendants disproportionately. Expressions by many that Zimmerman was guilty of following the kid when following someone is not a crime. This odd logic was never even questioned. Or that he was guilty of “profiling” when he is not law enforcement and profiling is not illegal or even illogical given the recent circumstances in his neighborhood and the experience of his neighbor and wife in recent weeks beforehand. Or that gun control is an issue. Well maybe it is. But he is not guilty for legally carrying a weapon.
Not to mention that the case was clearly not proven beyond a reasonable doubt and it should never have been brought in the first place. There was no evidence this was not self defense and at least some evidence it was. The original actions by the police were correct.
Then the media throws in the race factor with gusto. Why? Well remember it was just names at the beginning and an assumption that Zimmerman was simply white. The narrative started then. As the nuances came there was no change in the narrative. Zimmerman became “White Hispanic”. There is zero evidence that Zimmerman is a racist in any form and yet there are endless discussions about it. Worst of all is that the Justice department opened an investigation when there is no evidence that has ever come forth to warrant opening one. This is the same justice department that has not been investigating things that are politically problematic for the President. They somehow have time to chase a guy who exhibited no racist tendencies at any point. If this was black on black, the media would never have noticed.
Facts don’t matter to most people. This simple case has been politicized and changed into something it never was. That is a shame. The conversation we need to be having is on how much we value journalistic honesty, balance, and integrity. Simply put, it would be nice to see some intelligence in journalism, but I guess we are back in the dark days of Yellow Journalism again.