ABC News Accused of Dishonestly Editing Zimmerman Juror to Take 'Got Away With Murder' Out of Context

July 27th, 2013 6:20 AM

According to all reports, Juror B29, the sole nonwhite juror on the George Zimmerman trial, said the neighborhood watch volunteer got away with murder. But Slate's William Saletan says not so fast, and accused the network on Friday of deceptive editing and manipulation to get the answers they wanted.

According to Saletan, the juror -- identified only by her first name, Maddy -- has "been framed as the woman who was bullied out of voting to convict Zimmerman."

But, he said, that's simply not true.

Saletan said she stands by the not guilty verdict.

"She yielded to the evidence and the law, not to bullying. She thinks Zimmerman was morally culpable but not legally guilty. And she wants us to distinguish between this trial and larger questions of race and justice," he wrote.

He went on to say the interview that ABC aired "has been cut and spliced in different ways, often so artfully that the transitions appear continuous."

The full, unedited video of the interview was not available when Saletan published his article.

But, he added, "the video that’s available already shows, on closer inspection, that Maddy has been manipulated and misrepresented."

For starters, he said the phrase "got away with murder" was put in her mouth.

“Some people have said, ‘George Zimmerman got away with murder. How do you respond to those people who say that?’" Robin Roberts asked.

"George Zimmerman got away with murder. But you can’t get away from God,” the juror responded.

But Saletan said that’s not quite how the exchange took place.

"In the unedited video, Roberts’ question is longer, with words that have been trimmed from the Nightline version, and Maddy pauses twice, for several seconds, as she struggles to answer it," he said.

Saletan said one has to watch the juror, not just listen to her words. According to Saletan, Maddy is trying to reconcile the premise of the question with her own sentiment, and repeats the quote, adding her own words to indicate that while Zimmerman was found not guilty, he would eventually have to answer to a higher authority.

"She thinks he’s morally culpable, not legally guilty," he added.

Saletan also said that while she stands by her verdict, ABC edited her response to make it appear as though she intended to say something else.

"I felt like I let a lot of people down, and I'm thinking to myself, 'Did I go the right way? Did I go the wrong way?'" she said in the online story published by ABC.

"But that's not the whole quote," Saletan said.

According to Saletan, she continued: “I know I went the right way, because by the law and the way it was followed is the way I went. But if I would have used my heart, I probably would have [gone for] a hung jury.”

He said she also made the same distinction in another clip.

“I stand by the decision because of the law. If I stand by the decision because of my heart, he would have been guilty,” she said.

Maddy also said she thought the trial was a publicity stunt and race was not an issue in the jury's deliberations.

“When the verdict was announced and she was released from sequestration, she was dismayed to discover the national outrage. ‘I didn’t know how much importance’ was attached to the trial, she says, ‘because I never looked at color. And I still don’t look at color,’” Saletan added.