The Cutline

Trayvon Martin case exposes worst in media

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Cutline

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Martin, Zimmerman (AP/File, Miami Herald)

The Trayvon Martin case has exposed some of the media's worst tendencies--selective editing, rushing to judgment, stoking anger for ratings and page views--and it's taken more than fake photos, the incendiary stumbles of Geraldo Rivera and Spike Lee and verbal clashes between Piers Morgan and Toure to shine a light on them.

Here are three recent, troubling examples:

1. After ABC News aired surveillance video of George Zimmerman, Martin's shooter, entering a police precinct without any apparent injuries, the Daily Caller treated the tape like a Zapruder film, enhancing still images from the video and concluding that it found "what may be an injury to the back of his head." The site's photo "analysis" of the back of Zimmerman's head--replete with yellow Photoshopped arrows--"indicates what appears to be a vertical laceration or scar several inches long."

[Related: Video of Zimmerman arriving at police station]

Keep in mind, this is the same Daily Caller that published 152 pages of what the conservative site claims were Martin's tweets--which, if they were, prove that Martin was a pretty typical high school male, preoccupied with girls, sex and getting out of class early.

2. NBC told the Washington Post that it has launched an internal investigation of the "Today" show's editorial process after its morning show aired an edited conversation between George Zimmerman and a 911 dispatcher recorded moments before the shooting. The investigation came after Fox News and others pointed out that the network spliced two parts of the call together, making it appear as if Zimmerman had said, "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black." In reality, Zimmerman was answering a dispatcher's question:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy--is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

3. In an flailing effort to break news in a month-old shooting, CBS News aired an interview with Richard Kurtz, the funeral director who handled Trayvon Martin's burial.

[Related: Geraldo Rivera finds the "real culprit"]

"There were no physical signs like there had been a scuffle," Kurtz declared, which the network said proves Zimmerman's claims of a violent encounter with Martin before the shooting are false. "The hands--I didn't see any knuckles, bruises or what have you, and that is something we would have covered up if it would have been there. He looked perfectly normal to me when he came in and the story just does not make sense that he was in this type of scuffle or fight in anything that we could see."

Except, he said, the gunshot wound.

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