Friday, April 27, 2012

Musical Interlude

Enough with politics. It's time for some beauty.

The Late John Denver was a gifted singer and songwriter. He was also a master of the acoustic 12-string guitar, as he demonstrates in this version of "The Bells of Rhymney."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Journalistic Malpractice

The thing that has struck me most about the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman shooting is the media’s incredible incompetence covering this story. Among the inaccuracies: physical descriptions of the two. The media published a photo of Martin in middle school rather than a recent photo. Initial reports were that Zimmerman outweighed Martin by 100 pounds. Actually, the difference was closer to 20 pounds and Martin was taller than Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was repeatedly described as white when he’s actually Hispanic. Some media outlets chose to use the phrase “white Hispanic” for the first time in their editorial history.

It was reported on CNN that Zimmerman was heard describing Martin as a “f***ing coon.” But later enhancement of the audio showed that Zimmerman was actually commenting on the unseasonably cold Florida weather, saying “f***ing cold.” CNN has since retracted their allegation of a racial slur.

Zimmerman’s claim that he was assaulted and injured by Martin, a claim supported by an eyewitness, was dismissed by media as false following the release of video of Zimmerman being taken to police HQ. However, the enhanced versions of the video clearly show lacerations on the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Most recently, the left-wing blogosphere and other media are reporting that armed neo-Nazis are patrolling the town of Sanford, Fla., in case of racial violence against whites. The Sanford police department flatly denies that this is the case.

Martin’s background has been largely ignored. For example, the non-resident was in Sanford because he was under a 10-day suspension from his high school. What does a student have to do to earn a 10-day suspension? He was also known to police for drug offenses and possession of stolen property.

All this can be explained, if not excused, as nothing more sinister than incompetence and badly trained journalists operating under deadline pressure who failed to double source.

Then there is the case of NBC airing an edited version of Zimmerman’s phone call to police concerning Martin. According the version aired on the “Today Show,” here’s what Zimmerman told the police dispatcher:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Pretty cut and dried; Zimmerman was racially profiling Martin.

The problem is that that’s not what Zimmerman actually said, as the unedited tape shows:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

After the discrepancy was revealed on and, NBC launched an internal investigation. NBC News President Steve Capus told the British wire service Reuters that the selective editing was,  "a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call," on the part of a “seasoned” producer. NBC apologized and fired the “seasoned” producer responsible.

Capus claimed that the editing was simply made to fit time constraints, not change the context.


I spent too many years in editing bays to believe that. It was not an accident; it was not sloppy editing. The editor had to have known what he was doing and recognized that he was changing the entire tone of the audio. It was done to fit the narrative that George Zimmerman was a racist profiling African-American kids to gun down.

I see no other rational explanation.

The facts of the case are still largely unknown. A grand jury is investigating and federal agencies are looking into the case. It may well turn out that Zimmerman is a rabid racist as guilty as Cain of killing Able. It may also turn out that Martin was a thug who assaulted Zimmerman. We just don’t know at this point.

What is known is that Zimmerman shot Martin dead. We also know that the media’s handling of the story is disgraceful.