Business Insider fooled by neo-Nazi site purporting to have photos of Trayvon Martin

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Why Lots Of People Think The Media Is Getting the Trayvon Martin Story Wrong,” read a Business Insider headline yesterday. It then presented photos taken from a white-supremacist website — how could that go wrong? — one of which purported to show Trayvon Martin extending both middle fingers at a camera.

“Maybe Zimmerman had a reason to fear for his life,” wrote Michael Brendan Dougherty in the post, which fritters around various half-baked speculations about Martin and brings up the Duke lacrosse case, which, Dougherty writes, “was a textbook example of how a crime seemed to fit a pre-determined narrative. The nation was put through an enormous drama, and urged to do deep soul-searching … over nothing.”

Trayvon Martin is dead, which certainly isn’t nothing. And also, those photos: One was not of Martin, and as Dougherty wrote, “now there is also question as to whether the other image is of Trayvon.” Business Insider removed both of them. “Oh, hey—oops! Guess you shouldn’t have sourced material from neonazis on the Internets about an inflamed racial controversy,” Ryan Chittum writes.

Except, Chittum notes, there’s another, even more bizarre post on Business Insider, this time by Nicholas Carson, and it still features both photos. “People are wondering if either of the second two pictures are actually of Trayvon. It actually doesn’t matter or change the point of this post,” Carson writes, though the point of the post is that the pictures — which, again, Business Insider got from a neo-Nazi website —  shouldn’t change the way you look at Trayvon Martin.

Eric Deggans writes that, “When Martin’s death first blossomed into a nationwide story, supporters wondered how the news of his killing would have been treated if the teen was a less sympathetic figure.”

Now we may have an answer, as the same social media tools which spread word about his death are now turned to try and present a rougher image of his life.

And we are all left with an uncomfortable question: Even if Martin dabbled in drugs, carried himself like a gangsta and wore tattoos, did Zimmerman have the legal right to kill him that night?

Related: Spike Lee tweets incorrect address for George Zimmerman (The Washington Times/Twitchy)

Clarification: This post originally said that neither of these photos are of Trayvon Martin; in an update to his original blog post, Deggans writes that a spokesperson for the Daily Caller, which is running the photo of Martin with gold teeth, told him “they got the photo from his Twitter account and are sure it is Martin.”

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  • http://twitter.com/aoscruggs Afi Scruggs

    Although I understand why journalists are going to Twitter, I wonder whether non-African American journalists know that Trayvon Martin is not an unusual name for an African American youth. I’m concerned that lack of knowledge can lead to all sorts of errors. #whyweneeddiversity

  • http://twitter.com/aoscruggs Afi Scruggs
  • http://www.thekillingmoon.com/ Warren Jason Street

    Really, people. This is not that difficult.

    If you find yourself on a web site called “Stormfront,” and if you don’t know what it is, go back to writing about Kim Kardashian and putting up wacky videos.

  • http://twitter.com/truthhurts666 truthywood

    What about the bias of police ? They had to use this tectic to get the sympathy of people and they are right in doing that, because there was no other way for parents to get the case reopened and prosecuted. on one side whole police department was support retired judge and his murderer son and on other side there was no body to support them.

  • Anonymous

    “On certain issues the press does largely think alike – ie The Tea Party
    is a bunch of gun-toting racist, abortion is great, etc.”

    Translated: “I believe the press is biased because it stereotypes certain groups, which I will prove by stereotyping the press.”

    Look, keep cowering in fear of liberal bogeymen if you want, but one only wonders about where these photos came from if one has
    absolutely no clue how photos are generally obtained for stories like
    this. Families and police provide photos to the media all the time. And there’s no need for Crump to point the media to Zimmerman’s mugshot when arrest records and booking photos are public record.

  • Anonymous

    “On certain issues the press does largely think alike – ie The Tea Party
    is a bunch of gun-toting racist, abortion is great, etc.”

    Translated: “I believe the press is biased because it stereotypes certain groups, which I will prove by stereotyping the press.”

    Look, keep cowering in fear of liberal bogeymen if you want, but one only wonders about where these photos came from if one has
    absolutely no clue how photos are generally obtained for stories like
    this. Families and police provide photos to the media all the time. And there’s no need for Crump to point the media to Zimmerman’s mugshot when arrest records and booking photos are public record.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rp509855 Rod Paul

    Written like someone who has never spent a moment in a newsroom – or even had a beer with a reporter.

    As for the rest: I’ve been a gun-toting Second Amendment supporter and weapons instructor for decades; got my first concealed carry papers back in the ’70s. And everything I’ve read so far indicates to me that Zimmerman should have been charged at a minimum with voluntary manslaughter for initiating the contact with Martin after being advised to stand down by the 911 dispatcher.

    The first rule of packin’ heat is, “Avoid situations where you might need to pull it.”

  • http://twitter.com/HotCornerBlues Gary

    On certain issues the press does largely think alike – ie The Tea Party is a bunch of gun-toting racist, abortion is great, etc.

    Disagreeing about pizza hardly disproves the very obvious bias here. They used, and continue to use, two photos that are highly prejudicial to Zimmerman. Martin’s photo came from Martin’s family – perhaps at the behest of Crump. One wonders if Crump also pointed the media to Zimmerman’s mug shot.

  • Anonymous

    Right. Because every member of the media has the exact same beliefs about everything, and those beliefs are all exactly what you listed here. Congratulations, Gary. You’ve cracked the grand conspiracy.

    (In case you missed the sarcasm — and I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you did — if you think there’s some sort of mind meld among all members of the media, you’ve never seen two editors, three reporters and a photographer try to order pizza.)

  • Anonymous

     Or it was the use of photos that were available, but why go for the simple, logical explanation when it’s so much more fun to throw around accusations of bias?

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the old hazards of a Google image search.

    Or maybe said journos frequent this sort of sites regularly…

  • http://twitter.com/HotCornerBlues Gary

     Why post any photo at all? And why use a years old photo of Martin that is misleading? The answer is that the media in the initial stages of this story were nothing more than puppets manipulated by Crump. They were willing accomplices because the narrative fit their world view – “gun-toting white racist (who probably listens to Rush Limbaugh and likes the Tea Party) kills cute, cuddly and completely innocent black kid.”

  • Anonymous

    Lots of racists coming out of the closet on this one.

  • Anonymous

    “This American Life” got punked;  now the Business Insider blog…both for lack of a background check of the purported sources.  I regularly read the Business Insider, but I passed on this story because of the headline.  The site DOES go overboard with its headlines.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rp509855 Rod Paul

    Or maybe it was simply the only photos they could get on deadline.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicholas-Carlson/14700889 Nicholas Carlson

    What’s bizarre about my post?

  • http://twitter.com/HotCornerBlues Gary

    This does excuse the media bias present in the early reporting of this matter – notably the use of a years old photo of a very young Martin while using a mugshot photo of Zimmerman. That was obviously designed to make Zimmerman appear menacing and guilty while making Martin look like an innocent child.

    When will Poynter address that obvious bias?

  • http://twitter.com/HotCornerBlues Gary

    This does excuse the media bias present in the early reporting of this matter – notably the use of a years old photo of a very young Martin while using a mugshot photo of Zimmerman. That was obviously designed to make Zimmerman appear menacing and guilty while making Martin look like an innocent child.

    When will Poynter address that obvious bias?