Alright. Just watched O’Donnell this evening (Apr 10.) And first, the caveat: I'm a liberal. Somewhere to the left of Al Gore, somewhere JUST to the right of Leon Trotsky. Liberal. A Democrat. Currently in a relationship with a woman who once served in the Red Chinese Army--before she starred with Beijing Opera. You get the picture.
My day job involves determining what happened when things go bad, and then explaining it to a jury. I'll leave it at that.
So, I have a real problem with the media circus surrounding the Zimmerman/Martin case. At the heart, this is about an event with two eyewitnesses--and one of them is no longer with us. The other, apparently, is on the run. That is all we know.
Despite that, we have the likes of Lawrence O'Donnell (whom I generally watch) claiming that Mr. Zimmerman is clearly in the wrong. For support he has enlisted NYT writers Charles M. Blow (whom I also read) and Jonathan Capehart (whom I don't read.) And Al Sharpton. And anyone else who will appear on his show. All going after Mr. Zimmerman in absentia. And, in one particularly blatant display of naked bias, after one of Mr. Zimmerman's friends, who was informed that he really didn't know Mr. Zimmerman at all.
In O'Donnell's most recent broadcast we learn that George Zimmerman is no longer being represented by his attorneys, and has apparently fled Florida. Again, Charles Blow and Jonathan Capehart came on board to demand that Zimmerman be arrested and called to account for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Another guest was the attorney for the Martin family who expressed concern that the killer (Zimmerman) was running free. The subtext: this guy is dangerous. Round him up.
Amazingly, O’Donnell then characterized the attorneys as “incompetent.”
Strong stuff—-in fact, stupid stuff. If O'Donnell is a lawyer (he may be--he acts like one) he should know better. But if he isn't, he just displayed his ignorance for everyone to see. With his national megaphone, he just hammered two lawyers who were apparently working for free. Pro Bono. Love em or hate em, this is what GOOD defense lawyers do. To call them incompetent showed a howling ignorance of how the presumption of innocence works.
If that was all the damage that Lawrence O’Donnell caused himself, then it may not amount to much. But underneath it all, there is this hard and scary fact: George Zimmerman is on the run, and he has a network (MSNBC) who wants his head. And presumably, thanks to the media (MSNBC again) he has a good chunk of 12% of the population who ALSO wants his head.
Presumption of innocence? Forget it. Unbiased reporting? Forget that as well. The closest we’ve gotten to unbiased reporting is the reliably rightwing Sean Hannity who weakly suggests that Zimmerman needs a fair shake. And as someone who cringes when I hear the words "Sean Hannity" I can tell you this: Zimmerman needs an unbiased review of the facts. And, thanks to Lawrence O'Donnell, he may not get it.
Because George Zimmerman has left the building, and probably the state.
He may have even left the country. There is no way of knowing what his state of mind is right now, but I can imagine what MINE would be if I had a national network and major New York Times writers down on my case. I wouldn’t be happy at all, and I’d be looking for a way out. For me it would be someplace who doesn’t pay any attention to Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton or Charles M. Blow. Some place like Tallinn, Estonia. Okay, maybe Lima, Peru.
George Zimmerman is probably desperate for that way out right now. And if he makes the WRONG choice (as a lot of people do) he might decide it’s easier to—once and for all—end it all. Then, the media circus would make a sharp turn, lamenting all of the missteps (and the stupid Stand Your Ground Law) that got us to this point.
It is ALREADY a terrible, senseless tragedy. But it would be one that had its root cause in the behavior of people like Lawrence O’Donnell and the executives and producers at MSNBC that let him get away with this sort of irresponsible behavior.
What this country needs. . .what cable news needs-- are fewer Lawrence O'Donnells and Sean Hannitys who have already made up their minds about every damn event on the planet. We need fewer personalities that mirror our politics and give opinions on every possible event so we won't have to.
It could be that George Zimmerman will eventually be found guilty; it may be that he will be found innocent. But those findings should have nothing to do with the rants of those who weren't there at the scene, who didn't collect the evidence, and who didn't evaluate the situation as best the could. No more rushes to judgement.
We should have outgrown that already.