Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh had some harsh words Wednesday for the media's coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial.
As it becomes clearer and clearer the prosecution really didn't have any case, Limbaugh told his audience, "The media is totally invested in George Zimmerman being convicted as a racist 'white Hispanic'...and, as such, there's panic now. So much so, ladies and gentlemen, so much so that there is now talk and agitating for race riots" (video follows courtesy DailyRushbo with fuller transcript courtesy RushLimbaugh.com):
RUSH LIMBAUGH: The media is sorta unbalanced today. They are panicking that the prosecution of George Zimmerman is imploding.
The media is totally invested in George Zimmerman being convicted as a racist "white Hispanic." They are totally invested, and it looks like the prosecution's case is just imploding -- and, as such, there's panic now. So much so, ladies and gentlemen, so much so that there is now talk and agitating for race riots. Grab audio sound bite number 12. This is last night on ABC News Nightline. The anchor, Dan Abrams, is interviewing Sanford, Florida, police chief Cecil Smith. The question from Dan Abrams: "If Zimmerman is found not guilty, is your office ready for that?"
SMITH: I believe we have plans that will be able to deal with issues as they arise.
ABRAMS: I assume the worst-case scenario, then, would be riots?
SMITH: Yeah, and I will say it again: You know, we are not talking about riots. We're talking about rallies. If people choose to come to Sanford and voice their opinions or if they want to come and rally, we welcome that. We want people to have the opportunity to express themselves.
RUSH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, come on in!
The media guy says (summarized exchange), "Well, obviously you're talking about riots then?" and the police chief said, "No, no! We're not talking about riots. We're talking about rallies. If you want to come in and rally here in Sanford, Florida, why, we'd love to have you! Come on in for the rallies if Zimmerman's acquitted." Dan Abrams said, "Well, I mean, worst-case scenario is riots, right?" "Ah, we're not talking about riots. We're talking about rallies." They're agitating for riots already. The media sees it imploding. So they're looking for any positive news they can and they're finding it in Obama delaying the implementation of the best piece of legislation the world has ever known.
RUSH: You know, folks, I'm sitting here, once again, I have been so dumb. I've been so gullible and just too trusting. I really thought that one of the reasons that we elected and then reelected Barack Obama was so that there would not be anymore race riots. I thought the election of the first black president would end racial strife, and so did millions of Americans who voted for Obama on that basis. I mean, millions of Americans voted for Barack Obama because they hoped that it meant the end of racism. That if enough people voted for Obama, the conclusion would be there are no racists in America anymore. We have cleansed our souls and we have been absolved of our sins that stem from slavery. And, by golly, you know, it just seems to have gotten worse out there. Isn't it a shame?
Now we actually have media people agitating for race riots in regard to the George Zimmerman trial because the prosecution in this trial is imploding. We have a media that is totally invested in Zimmerman being found guilty and handing and then electrocuted and then drowned and then shot and then cremated for whatever happened to Trayvon Martin who, if Obama had a son, that's what he would look like. But I thought that electing Obama and reelecting Obama, none of this was gonna happen anymore. I'm kind of sad, a little letdown. Major disappointment. Such high hopes. I really thought it was gonna be the end to all this.
Let's go to the audio sound bites. We have montage here of media and others sort of realizing that they're gonna lose the Zimmerman case. So in addition to agitating for riots, the media is suggesting here that maybe get a conviction on a lesser charge. This guy's gonna get convicted of something, by God, if it's jaywalking with a racial intent.
PIERS MORGAN: What about manslaughter? What about the possibility that they could convict on a lesser charge?
JUDGE ALEX FERRER: If he gets convicted of manslaughter, it's actually as bad for him as second degree murder.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: They have a lesser charge there. Manslaughter.
J. CHENEY MASON: A compromise verdict for manslaughter.
TUCKER CARLSON: Why not manslaughter?
CHRISTOPHER DARDEN: Manslaughter. A compromise verdict.
ANDERSON COOPER: Is it possible for the jury to on their own say, "Well we don't think it's second degree murder, but manslaughter"?
SUNNY HOSTIN: A lesser included charge which would be manslaughter.
WOLF BLITZER: Maybe better off with manslaughter.
LIS WIEHL: Negligence, a negligent homicide, manslaughter, assault. Something!
RUSH: Isn't it amazing? Here comes the media begging, "Can we at least do manslaughter? Oh, my God, we're not gonna get murder one, can we get manslaughter?" This guy's gotta get convicted of something. We're too invested in this. And short of a conviction, the media is saying, "Oh, it would be so, so sad if we had riots." You can see what's being stoked out there.
Here is Mark Geragos. You may remember the name. He's been a lawyer on TV for a long time. He's represented a lot of TMZ type people. He's represented a lot of people low-information voters follow and know who they are. I don't remember him. Was Geragos involved in the Michael Jackson trial? You know, I get Geragos confused with Gloria Allred and that whole LA legal bunch out there. Anyway, it's last night on CNN, self-defense or murder, the George Zimmerman trial. Yes, a CNN special, because the prosecution is imploding. And the legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, during a panel discussion about the prosecution strategy, Jeffrey Toobin says, "Why, as a prosecutor, would you call the defendant's best friend? Why would you do this? Why give the defendant's best friend a forum to say what a great guy George Zimmerman is? Why would the prosecution do that?"
GERAGOS: They're throwing the case!
TOOBIN: The interview - Mark, Mark. Oh, stop.
GERAGOS: They're throwing the case!
TOOBIN: Mark, stop it.
GERAGOS: I know you don’t believe this. (crosstalk)
COOPER: Why would they be throwing the case?
GERAGOS: I honestly believe at this point, after watching the cops do payback and everything else, I really think, and watching the prosecution sit there when Mark O’Mara asks questions that are beyond a reasonable doubt objectionable and they don't object, they wait until the following day, I think they've just decided they're just going to phone this in. They're going to lose this and say, "Okay, you guys wanted us to file this case; we filed it."
RUSH: Can I translate that for you? What Mark Geragos is saying is there never has been a case. Mark Geragos is saying that the prosecution was forced into this by the media, national media, local media, societal pressures, even local media, local law enforcement -- well, not so much local law enforcement. But the first state attorney on this case. And Geragos is saying these prosecutors, they don't have a case, they don't have a case, so what they're doing here, they're phoning it in. They're gonna lose it, and they're gonna say, "Look, we didn't have a case. You wanted us to file a case. There wasn't a case. We didn't have a guilty plea here, but you people demanded it, so we're giving it to you." And he's sincere.
Because what's happening in this case -- this witness is just one example. There have been two prosecution witnesses who have been better for Zimmerman than any of the defense witnesses that have been called. It really has been remarkable. There have been two witnesses called by the prosecution which destroyed the prosecution's case. I'm having a mental block -- I can't remember off the top of my head. So Geragos is saying, look, these guys are not this bad, you know, even small-town prosecutors in Florida are not this bad. They're phoning it in, they're doing the best they have because they don't have a case. They just did this because of the societal pressure and the media pressure. And when it's all over they're gonna say, "Hey, look, you wanted us to file it, we filed it. You wanted us to prosecute it, we prosecuted it. But that's the best we had."
It certainly does seem feasible the district attorney's office in question felt pressured to bring charges against Zimmerman given the media's reaction to the murder.
Any objective observer would have to conclude that the prosecution's case has been laughable with some witnesses actually proving the defense's case.
As this has transpired, it's been fascinating watching the looks on media members' faces as they've been forced to report what they clearly believe to be bad news.
Even Martin-supporting commentators on MSNBC Tuesday admitted that a conviction now seems unlikely.
With this in mind, it seems the media's job right now should be to prepare the public for the possibility that Zimmerman is going to be acquitted, and that maybe they rushed to judgment to convict him before the trial.
If riots realy do break out as a result of a not guilty verdict, the media are largely to blame.
As such, if they really want to prevent after verdict violence, they should be preparing the public for what at this point seems likely, and helping to abate the anger they caused.
Will they do the right thing?