July 15, 2013

The Washington Post | USA Today | The Huffington Post | Journal-isms

George Zimmerman plans to move quickly against NBC now that he’s been found not guilty, The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reports. Zimmerman attorney James Beasley told Wemple:

“We’re going to start in earnest asap, we just have to get the stay lifted which is a ministerial act.”

Following Saturday night’s verdict, Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara answered questions from reporters. While talking with them, O’Mara blamed the media for turning Zimmerman into a “monster.”

He was like a patient in an operating table where mad scientists were committing experiments on him and he had no anesthesia. He didn’t know why he was turned into this monster but quit honestly, you guys had a lot to do with it. You took a story that was fed to you and you ran with it, and you ran right over him.

USA Today’s Rem Rieder said the media got the Zimmerman story wrong from the beginning:

Life is packed with nuances and subtleties and shades of gray.

But the news media are often uncomfortable in such murky terrain. They prefer straightforward narratives, with good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. Those tales are much easier for readers and viewers to relate to.

Commentators Melissa Harris-Perry and Tavis Smiley were vocal about their reactions to the verdict. “I think this is for many Americans, George, just another piece of evidence of the incontrovertible contempt that this nation often shows and displays for black men,” Smiley said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

Harris-Perry, meanwhile, said that after hearing the verdict, she thought: “I live in a country that makes me wish my sons away, wish that they don’t exist, because it’s not safe.”

Washington Post reporter Robert Samuels wrote a personal essay about his reaction to the verdict, saying “I was shocked by my shock.”

I found myself with a line from “Strange Fruit,” the Abel Meeropol poem about black men being lynched. The description of the trees from which they hung was immortalized when Billie Holiday sang the line: “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.”

I was haunted by how profound the metaphor was. There was the gruesomeness of overt racism that anyone could see. And beneath, there’s this systemic problem that prevents fully flowered equality. This is the dualism that compels black moms and dads to teach their boys that American justice, for them, comes with an asterisk…

Monday morning, many journalists reacted to The New York Daily News’ provocative front page:

The Orlando Sentinel has a good roundup of other front pages.

Related: Victorious Zimmerman team blasts news media | From serious to sensationalism: Zimmerman trial shows where journalism has gone since OJ| Social media, technology, drove Zimmerman trial

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Mallary Jean Tenore

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