No matter how the Trayvon Martin case turns out in the courts, it has left a permanent stain on the media, which hardly needed any more blemishes.
George Zimmerman was tried, convicted and figuratively executed by the media before it was even determined whether a crime had occurred.
Pundits piled on when the only solid fact was that Martin was dead.
Martin was black. Even though Zimmerman is Hispanic, the media made it a racist white vs. innocent black crime. To do this, they had to make up a racial designation: white Hispanic.
This served the purpose of depicting it as a “hate” crime -- another peculiarity. When a white person kills a black person, some automatically seek to label it a hate crime, leaving others to wonder: Do black killers always love their victims, white or black? Is it somehow more comforting to the victim's family if the slaying victim was not also a victim of a hate crime?
Also questionable is the choice of photos of the two principals chosen for display by the media.
Then Al Sharpton chimed in, with his race-baiting and incitement to violence. Instead of ignoring him, the media spilled gallons of ink and hours of air time over his comments and those of Jesse Jackson, another provocateur.
Predictably, violence against whites followed, and it was linked to the Martin case.
Sharpton's M.O. is reminiscent of H. “Rap” Brown of the 1960s. I was there when Brown visited Jacksonville – along with the late Gov. Claude Kirk. Brown did his “burn, baby, burn” routine with limited success, possibly because the local media did not hype his visit as the media did Sharpton's.
In the Martin case, the media then wove in the Florida law known as “stand your ground.” Gun control advocates don't like the law, so they blamed it for Martin's death and began demanding its repeal.
Oddly enough, a Jacksonville newspaper reported that a local black woman used that defense to a charge of aggravated assault on her abusive black husband. She was convicted, so apparently the law is not the “get out of jail free” card some imagine it to be.
Noted Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and others have been critical of the second-degree murder charge filed by State Attorney Angela Corey. Dershowitz called Corey's affidavit thin and “irresponsible.”
The same might be said of the media’s rush to judgment.
The time for pontificating will come after the facts are revealed in court and the jury has rendered a verdict. Let us hope the verdict will be more fair and impartial than the media coverage.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
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