Posted on | July 21, 2013 | 204 Comments
‘Civil rights’ or lynch-mob mentality? Poster at
St. Louis rally Saturday (via Gateway Pundit)
“It’s likely that Martin’s death . . . would never have crowded into the national consciousness had it not been for Martin’s family, its lawyers and an enterprising PR man.
“A pivotal, if little-known, figure in the Martin story’s development was Ryan Julison, an Orlando public relations executive . . .
“With the story fading, Julison began trying to revive interest in it, emphasizing a storyline of an unarmed teenager, a neighborhood watchman with a gun and the lack of an arrest.”
— Paul Farhi, “Trayvon Martin story found the media,” Washington Post, April 12, 2012
“Let’s be honest: The George Zimmerman trial is ‘news’ because it’s what TV producers have decided is news.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, July 13, 2013
There is other news I’d rather write about than the continued parade of idiotic What It Means remarks about Trayvon Martin, including those by the Idiot in Chief. I flash back to an early spring day — March 21, 2012 — when this useless public “debate” had just begun. On my way to Louisiana to cover the Republican primary where Rick Santorum’s victory would eventually crush what little hope remained in “Newt 2012,” I stopped by to visit with Ali Akbar over lunch at Cracker Barrel.
My mind was on the primary, but Ali wanted to talk about Trayvon and Zimmerman, subjects about which I knew little and cared less.
This is the important thing to understand. A newsman during the course of a long career writes about a lot of people he really doesn’t care anything about. Unlike a commentator, a working reporter — or a sports editor, or an assistant national editor, or any other of the titles appended as my job description over the years — doesn’t get to choose his assignments. You cover the school-board meeting or the parade or the blizzard or the basketball game because that’s your job, and if you don’t hit your deadline . . . Well, why do you think they call it a “deadline”?
One lives or dies in the news business by one’s ability to turn events into words in a hurry, and if some of the subjects of your assigned beat are more interesting or admirable than others, your sympathies or opinions are really irrelevant: Just hit that deadline. This is what “objectivity” really means: I don’t give a damn about these people.
Telling the story is your job. Deciding how the story ends is not.
If there were anything I could have done, as a journalist, to help Fairmount High win the state championship the year they had Richie Parker at point guard and Timmy Starr at forward, certainly I would have done it, if only because it’s more fun to report victory than defeat. But the sports writers in the press box don’t get to decide the outcomes of games, they just report the final score.
The distinction between what is and what should be, between reality and our own fond wishes, is something that a lot of people who write about politics don’t seem to make, knowing that politics is more subject to journalistic influence than is basketball. And the way this “political cheerleader” attitude got transposed onto the death of Trayvon Martin is basically what I talked about with Ali Akbar over lunch that spring day in 2012 at Cracker Barrel.
People had quickly chosen sides. Nearly all conservatives were of the opinion that Second Amendment rights were threatened by the left-wing protests being ginned up by Al Sharpton & Co., and conservatives were sick and tired of being lectured about racism, too.
Ali Akbar felt conservatives had chosen sides too quickly, without considering the extent to which George Zimmerman was at fault for the fatal encounter of Feb. 26, 2012, and Ali expressed his view that there ought to be more sympathy for Trayvon on the Right. So he was trying to draw me into a discussion of the details, which I resisted because it had nothing to do with the Louisiana Republican primary, and finally I said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
Nine times out of 10 with a story like this — the crime that gets turned into a media sensation — the first rush of information is at best half the story, where the sensationalists have extracted from a mountain of confusing truth those few cherry-picked facts that support their view of the case, omitting other (perhaps more important) facts that do not fit the pre-fabricated Narrative of the thing.
“Everybody wants to play Internet detective,” I told Ali, describing this ridiculous habit of the New Media age: People who had never set foot in Sanford, Florida, and who had never talked to anyone involved in the case, were attempting to “solve” the crime based on what they found online, as if every fact was on the Internet and the Fundamental Truth could be discovered by anyone with a laptop.
It would be bad enough if only stupid people made this mistake. But this mistake, which we might call the Error of Online Ontology, is commonplace among intelligent and articulate people who presume knowledge about people they don’t know in places they’ve never been, based entirely on what they gather from the Web. And on the basis of that pretended knowledge, these articulate and intelligent fools then add to our collective ignorance by endlessly repeating what they think they “know,” but actually don’t know at all.
Reasonable Doubt, Irrational Suspicion
What actually transpired between Trayvon and Zimmerman that drizzly night on Retreat View Circle? What were their motives? Why did Zimmerman tell the 911 dispatcher that Trayvon looked “suspicious”? Why did Trayvon, rather than running to his father’s girlfriend’s townhouse a few hundred feet away, instead decide to confront Zimmerman with a little “whoop-ass”?
We don’t know. We don’t know. We don’t know.
Our ignorance is not our fault, because some things are ultimately unknowable. Zimmerman may have lied to the police and Rachel Jeantel is an unreliable narrator. Of course, Trayvon is not here to tell his side of the story, but if he were, he might lie about it, too.
Here we are, nearly 19 months after the night that Trayvon Martin was shot dead, and we still don’t really know enough to be able to render a final judgment. What we do know is that a Seminole County jury had enough “reasonable doubt” that they could not convict Zimmerman of either second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Prosecutor Angela Corey got an indictment, but couldn’t prove her case.
Case closed — except the fucking media won’t shut up about it, which is why The President of the United States had to chime in:
You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.
(Must resist temptation to say rude things . . .) This presumption to speak of other people’s pain and to invoke hypothetical scenarios of Obama walking home from the store in a hoodie, is fortunately a fault I do not have, but if I gave voice to such notions, I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to take seriously anything I said.
My mind flashes back to that lunchtime conversation at Cracker Barrel last year, and what probably was a sort of a mini-lecture I gave as my reply to Ali: Let the cops and courts handle the case (I’m sure I said in almost those exact words) and stop trying to solve the case in the media. Just report the story and stop arguing about it and — while we’re at it — why the hell is this shooting the topic of nationwide discussion?
It’s like Natalee Holloway, really: Girls go missing every day, so why did that one teenager’s disappearance require that Greta van Susteren repeatedly fly down to Aruba and report on it?
Relevant facts: There are more than 15,000 homicides in the United States every year, of which about two-thirds are committed with firearms. Why did this one case become Homicide of the Year?
The Media Victimhood Sweepstakes
Well, there was a black victim and a half-Peruvian shooter who, because his Hispanic ancestry was maternal, had a “white” surname, and therefore George Zimmerman became a political symbol in a way he never could have been if his name were Jorge Gonzalez.
And if we had known then what we seem to know now, that Trayvon took off running because his idiot friend Rachel Jeantel warned him that the “creepy-ass cracker” might be a homosexual pedophile — hey, that’s what she told Piers Morgan, and nobody is calling Rachel Jeantel a liar, are they? — how different might our perceptions of this case have been in the spring of 2012?
Think about it: George Zimmerman, victim of an anti-gay hate crime, beaten bloody by an angry young homophobe — well, if he hadn’t had a pistol, George might have been Matthew Shepard!
Silly as that analogy may seem, is it really a more far-fetched hypothetical than half-white Obama walking back from the store in his hoodie with his Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea getting shot to death by a half-Peruvian neighborhood watch captain in a crime-plagued townhouse community? Maybe that kind of stuff happened 35 years ago and it just didn’t make the headlines in 1978 or something.
Like Casey Stengel always said, you could look it up.
How it was Trayvon Martin won the Media Victimhood Sweepstakes in 2012 is a story unto itself, but I was busy trying to cover the presidential election campaign at the time and simply didn’t give a damn. I never would have written a word about it if it weren’t for the fact that (a) the media seems to require us to have an opinion about it, and (b) I hope to persuade sane people they shouldn’t give a damn, either.
“Your TV is making you crazy!” I shouted on the day of the verdict. “Stop watching so goddamned much TV!”
Why is it so difficult for people to understand this? About 30 people get shot to death every day in America — more than 200 a week, nearly 1,000 a month — and most of those shootings are just local news. If you exclude mass-murder sprees, shooting deaths very seldom become national news, and very rarely does this kind of one-on-one shooting become the sort of story that gets nationwide coverage for more than a day or two. So . . . why?
You care about this case because TV producers decided you should care about the case, and I seem to be the only person who wonders why America has decided to outsource to TV producers the decision about which homicides are truly important. Are TV producers really wiser, more virtuous, more intelligent than everybody else in America?
‘Common Sense Has Become Quite Rare’
We actually know — that is to say, anyone who cares to check it out can know — how the Trayvon Martin case became a national story. The Conservative Treehouse a.k.a. The Last Refuge has written all about Rod Vereen, Patricia Jones, Tyrone Williams, Benjamin Crump and the origin of this Narrative. And there was Ryan Julison:
Natalie Jackson and Benjamin Crump hire Media Communications expert Ryan Julison . . .
While Julison went about pitching the racist white George Zimmerman murdering the innocent Trayvon Martin to the media, which he did very effectively, Benjamin Crump got in touch with his former cohorts from the Martin Lee Anderson case; namely Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and National NAACP President Ben Jealous. . . .
The facts about this political propaganda campaign are knowable, as I say, by anyone interested in knowing the truth, but nobody in the national media seems to give a damn about the truth. For crying out loud, in April 2012 the Washington Post did an entire article about Julison’s role in publicizing the Trayvon Martin story — a fact that anyone with common sense might think would be kind of relevant now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted after the media did so much to have Zimmerman charged and put on trial for murder, despite the fact that investigators were proven correct in their initial assessment of the case, i.e., that Zimmerman could not be convicted.
Wait — I used the phrase “common sense” in that last sentence, and this phrase is now clearly obsolete: Common sense has become quite rare, because most people nowadays let TV producers do their thinking for them, rather than exercising their own judgment. The ordinary sort of logic that we used to call “common sense” has atrophied because almost nobody uses it anymore. Instead, people turn on the TV. They only know what TV wants them to know, they only believe what TV tells them to believe, and they only feel what TV makes them feel.
When you cut through all the noise and hype and politics, what you discover is a simple reality: There was never enough evidence to convict George Zimmerman of murder. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense, however implausible it might seem to you or me or anyone else watching TV, was not clearly contradicted by any evidence or testimony.
Under the circumstances, then, the local police and prosecutors were correct in not charging Zimmerman with a crime for which, as subsequent events showed, he could not be convicted. But the media firestorm created the kind of political pressure that led to Zimmerman’s prosecution anyway and now that he has been acquitted — as the local law-enforcement authorities most familiar with the case had said all along would be the result — the media-generated political pressure continues, without any real purpose or tangible goal.
People who believe things TV wants them to believe and feel what TV makes them feel are full of anxiety and rage over a shooting that happened more than a year and a half ago. There have been roughly 16,000 fatal shootings in America since Feb. 26, 2012, and nobody is holding up posters with pictures of those victims at televised protests — yes, isn’t that ironic? TV turns a Florida shooting into a nationwide sensation that leads to a trial that leads to a verdict, and then there are protests about the verdict, and TV covers the protests, too.
It’s all just a made-for-TV drama, isn’t it?
This Week’s Episode of ‘The Obama Show’
The President of the United States is the star of the show, and the rest of us are just spectators watching the show on TV. If the producers of the show decide that this week’s episode is about George the half-Peruvian neighborhood watch captain, we watch the episode as if it mattered to own lives, which it wouldn’t, except for the fact that millions of other people are watching the same show.
Why do we let TV producers decide these things for us? Are there no other crime stories in America worth reporting? For example, this story: FBI arrests pervert on child pornography charges. Federal judge decides to release the pervert without even requiring him to post bond. Pervert goes to the mall, follows a 10-year-old girl and her mother to their car, violently rapes the girl and stabs the mother to death.
David Renz yearbook photo (left), mug shot (center); Lori Bresnahan (right)
Why have you never heard of Lori Bresnahan, or David Renz, the pervert who killed her and raped her daughter, or federal judge Andrew Baxter, who inexplicably decided to release David Renz?
Why doesn’t that crime deserve national media attention, other than the fact that it doesn’t fit President Obama’s political agenda?
That agenda apparently doesn’t involve doing anything about judges who turn loose perverts to rape children and kill their mothers, because those victims don’t have “civil rights” or something. “Sorry about your mom, little girl. Tough luck about you getting raped.”
TV news doesn’t produce itself. The people who produce TV make decisions about what is “news” and what isn’t “news,” and if Ryan Julison calls up his buddies in the media to tell them that the Trayvon Martin shooting is news, that story is going to become news, and remain news for more than a year, even a week after Zimmerman is acquitted, even while 30 other people are shot to death every day.
Never mind the girls raped and mothers stabbed and so forth — those are strictly local news, of no national importance. And speaking of crime victims whose suffering is not newsworthy because it is irrelevant to Obama’s agenda:
A married father of two and another fiend raped a 16-year-old prostitute and tossed her from the roof of a three-story Brooklyn apartment building after she tried to back out of a deal for sex, law-enforcement sources said.
The teen . . . was in serious condition at Brookdale University Hospital on Friday, days after the savage attack that nearly left her dead. . . .
Cops were still hunting Friday for one of the suspects, 26-year-old Antonio Owensford — the man investigators believe threw the girl off the roof after the brutal encounter, sources said.
Anwar Desouza, 24, connected with the teen through Backpage.com, a classified advertising website often used to peddle sex, and had her come early Sunday to his East New York home — which he shares with his wife and two young sons, law enforcement sources said.
The pair went to the roof of the Miller Ave. building, where they ran into Owensford shortly after 3 a.m., sources said.
Desouza, while negotiating the terms of their $100 tryst, told the teen that he refused to wear a condom, sources said. The teen began to argue, but Desouza and Owensford suddenly attacked and began choking the girl as they raped her, sources said.
Owensford then allegedly threw the girl over the ledge of the building, where she plummeted three stories before landing in the rear courtyard, sources said.
So, why isn’t Ryan Julison interested in promoting this crime story to the national media? Who is this monster Antonio Owensford?
If Obama had a son, would he throw a teenage prostitute off a roof?
Some victims of crime are more equal than others. Some crimes are ignored by the national media and some crimes are not. These decisions are made by TV producers, and by political activists whose agendas have very little to do with justice (or with peace).
Ho-hum, say the media. Just another 16-year-old Internet call girl thrown off the top of a three-story building in Brooklyn.
Ho-hum, say the media. Just another pervert raping a 10-year-girl and stabbing her mother to death at a mall near Syracuse.
Let’s just ignore those stories, say Piers Morgan and Martin Bashir and Anderson Cooper and George Stephanopoulos, because stories like that aren’t really important in the way that a 17-year-old getting shot by a half-Peruvian in Florida is important.
Terrorists kill a U.S. ambassador? Trayvon Martin!
IRS targets the president’s opposition? Trayvon Martin!
Detroit goes bankrupt? Trayvon Martin!
The Phony Crisis and the Real Problem
No matter what story you might consider to be genuinely newsworthy, TV producers decide Trayvon Martin is more important.
We don’t have a race problem in America.
We have a liberal problem in America.
The blame-shifting, guilt-tripping, grievance-mongering Victimhood Sweepstakes mentality, which paralyzes individual initiative and invites us to rationalize our problems as resulting from indomitable historic trends over which we have no control — that’s the problem.
Pointing the finger at demonized scapegoats — “Corporate America” or whatever — as the all-powerful villains in a horror story, where we are like teenagers fleeing the bloody slasher, is neither accurate nor helpful. Honest hard-working people succeed every day in America, yet the liberal gloom-and-doom vision rewards failure with the consolation of self-pity: “It’s not your fault. You’re a victim.”
Pity is a poor substitute for success.
Honest and resourceful people who encounter disadvantage or misfortune do not surrender to feelings of helplessness, nor do they let their resentment of others’ advantages fester into an excuse. Where there is life, there is hope, and with hope there should be a determination to work harder, to ignore the advantage denied and seek the opportunity offered. Excuses are for losers, and self-pity is a trap.
What else is liberalism but a series of excuses and blame-games? And the very worst liberals are those children of privilege who, having never suffered any real hardship in their own lives, grab hold of the suffering of others as a cloak of pharisaical self-righteousness — “Look at me! See how much I care about these poor helpless downtrodden people!” — as if, being discontented with the mere comforts of wealth, they crave also a reputation for moral virtue.
Zillionaire rock stars throwing concerts for Africa, etc.
Fuck you, rich liberals. I reject your pity, just as I imagine every self-respecting African is sick and damned tired of Bono by now.
If you want to read something thoughtful about race and the Trayvon Martin story, you should read Ali Akbar’s essay, “Tough Truths Are Tough,” and I also encourage you to sign up for his newsletter: “I Don’t Want to Have a Conversation About Race,” he says, and instead seeks to create an actual understanding.
You know what I like about Ali? He has never had any pity for me.
God bless his unmerciful soul.
And I still don’t give a damn about these people, because I am a professional journalist. I don’t get paid enough to care.