For the last week, I have not been able to escape the media coverage of the Travon Martin case. Every news source has cast their opinion and generally told its viewers not only what happened, but how they should respond to it. Civil rights leaders have been coming out of the woodwork to state their opinions about what should be done and radical groups have demanded vigilante justice and put a price on the head of George Zimmerman. Even the President has chimed in with his opinion, which was immediately politicized by both parties. This whole case has become a story of smoke and mirrors. Each day, some new bit of information is leaked to the press which is then presented in a way to stir up more controversy.
I have a problem with all of this national media attention being given to a story that is truly a local issue in my opinion. Now I know there are those that will say that this is a story that the country wants to know about, but I will argue differently. The only reason this is now a national story is because the media has presented it that way.
If we take a moment, step back and look at the facts of this story for what they are, most reasonable people will see that what happened is not at all unusual. The facts are simple: 1) Travon Martin is dead, 2) He (Martin) was shot by George Zimmerman, and 3) George Zimmerman claimed self defense and the police seemed to agree with him because he has neither been arrested nor charged with a crime.
These three events are not at all uncommon. You can replace the names of the parties involved, insert any race and this same event takes place at the very least once per week somewhere in the United States. We hear about it, but it neither captures our interest like this story has nor does it garner such media attention.
The real story is not Travon Martin and George Zimmerman, the real story is the people around this event and how they are clamoring for attention which the media so happily provides. We watch while Al Sharpton demands justice for the victim and the arrest of Zimmerman. We listen while Jesse Jackson proclaims “Black people are under attack” and “killing black people has become big business”. (This one I disagree with on so many levels, I don’t want to get into it right now) We’ve listened to leaders of the NAACP as they condemn the actions of the two previously mentioned above and we’ve been told how The New Black Panther Party has put a bounty on George Zimmerman’s head. All of this has been fed to us as we listen to news commentators share their personal opinions and present them as facts.
All of this is given to us by design purposely to whip the country into frenzy so we will pay attention. That part of the equation has been accomplished. With so many people talking about this, now the politicians are getting involved.
President Obama, members of Congress as well as members of other bodies of government at the local, state and federal level are giving their two cents worth. Most of them are making fools of themselves, the only exception being President Obama. Whether you like him or not, he is the leader of this country and when an issue grips the whole of the country as this story has, he has every right to, and should say something. I watched his comments and in my opinion, he was not politicizing the story, he was merely being empathetic. But with the rest of the politicians and public figures, it appears candor, rule of law and just plain common sense have left the building.
The Justice Department is now involved. From what I have read, Justice is performing its own investigation of the case. Why? It’s a local issue, at most a state issue. Why is the Fed involved? I don’t get it. But you can bet it’s for somebody’s political gain. Who’s? At this point we don’t know.
I saw a statistic today that reported 76% of the population believed that George Zimmerman should be arrested and charged with murder. With the media reporting the story in the way that it has, could you expect anything different? I don’t think so.
Going forward, you are going to hear the media and various leaders report about things we can learn from this tragedy, most of them useless lessons. I think there’s only one thing we can learn from this; The media should act more responsibly. Under our law, Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty.
Regardless of what the facts have shown or not shown, the media has painted a picture of George Zimmerman that will do irrevocable harm to him and his family. They have placed him on trial in the court of public opinion and offered distorted evidence to prove their case. They did the same thing in the way they portrayed Martin except they painted him as the “All American Kid”. Was he? I don’t know. Was Zimmerman the gun happy aggressive “wanna be cop” we have been lead to believe? Again, I don’t know. The one thing I do know is that certain people and the media have used this tragedy for their own gain. Whether Zimmerman is guilty of murder, or he’s a victim who fought back really doesn’t matter to any of the media or any of the countless others who seem to have a voice it this. In the end, all they care about is the fact you’re tuned in and listening.