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June 24, 2013

Media Deliberately Misreported George Zimmermann Case from Earliest Moments

Interesting piece from John Hayward, building on an argument made by Jacob Sullum at Reason.

The media often defends itself from charges of bias by confessing to other sins -- sensationalism, laziness, simple lack of expertise, etc.

Let's focus on laziness. I believe the press is extremely lazy -- but I also believe this laziness has a strong ideological edge to it.

I divide in my mind reportage into Hard and Easy reporting. Hard reporting consists of ferreting out a story from those who don't wish to divulge it. Easy reporting consists of accepting the spoon-fed claims of lobbying organizations, pressure groups, who hand-deliver all the difficult parts of a story right into a reporter's hand.

It's difficult to know who to ask questions of. But if a pressure group has a list of "experts" or "witnesses" for the reporter to contact, all the reporter has to do is make a couple of phone calls and then type it all up.

There's an ideological edge to this laziness, though: Reporters get their pre-fabricated stories from lobbying groups, politicians, and pressure groups they are predisposed to trusting, and all of these groups lean to the left (or are outright self-identifying as progressive).

The easiest story for a reporter to write is the one that is basically dropped on his desk. To work to get "the other side" of the story, and truly vet claims, would take, well, work.

Consider: Groups aligned with Justice4Trayvon can tip a reporter that there is video showing George Zimmermann looking reasonably healthy as he enters the police station after the attack. These groups probably already have the tape themselves.

It's the easiest thing in the world for ABCNews to now run that tape.

What would take work is to determine Zimmerman's appearance immediately after the beating -- that's not hand-delivered to them by a Justice4Trayvon pressure group, so it would take some work to get the pictures of a battered and bloody Zimmermann from the prosecutors' office. You'd have to do a lot of source-chiseling and favor-trading to get those.

And work is hard. So they don't bother. They have the easy story. Why bother with the full, accurate story?

In addition, it's always the case that agreeing with the herd is the safest position to take. Political correctness is always a good safe harbor for the stupid or uninformed, and every reporter knew that in this case that they would not be challenged nor would they be subject to the scorn of fellow members of their class if they simply went along with the script and demonized George Zimmerman. If they were wrong, they would all be wrong together, and hence they could not suffer, in relative terms, compared to any other member of their class.

On the other hand, pushing back against the demonization of George Zimmerman entailed risks.

Yes, as the media often claims when defending itself, it is indeed incompetent, ignorant, and lazy. Yet if there were not any underlying political bias we'd expect them to be wrong to the benefit of either "side" more or less equally.

But that's not the case at all; their errors run to the benefit of a single "side," consistently. And that's because ideology tells you what to think when you don't quite no what to think; the more unsure of the facts someone is, the more he relies on his basic worldview and ideology as a first approximation for the truth.

And in the case of the media, that first approximation (and the second and third approximations, oftentimes) is the liberal ideology.

Incidentally, the prosecutors today led the case by quoting George Zimmerman as having said, on his cell phone call to the police, "F***in' punks."

Which is what skeptics had said he'd said.

But that's not what the media claimed he said.

And where did they get this story from? From leftwing bloggers and podcasters.



How could they make such an enormous error? And more importantly, how could they possibly feel comfortable making such an enormous error, without any caution at all?

Because they all knew that if they were wrong on George Zimmerman's claim of saying "f***in' coons," not a one of them would ever be called to account for the error by those who matter, other members of the press, other members of the Media-Government Complex, other members of the dominant aristocratic/liberal culture. They could afford to be wrong without any consequences.

The only consequences would fall to George Zimmerman, and their viewers. And they're of a lesser class and racist to boot, so who cares about that?

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posted by Ace at 01:10 PM

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