The Times presented an exhaustive review of the Trayvon Martin killing on Monday and has ignored notable developments since. Walk back or walk away, and why?
Last Monday the NY Times front-paged a deeply detailed look at the Trayvon Martin killing and ran not one but two columns on the topic. As a hint that they were going to expose their readership to a bit of a narrative shift, they even mentioned for the first time the mob menace created by Spike Lee's re-tweeting of an erroneous address for George Zimmerman. Long time readers (OK, yours truly) imagined that the Times was preparing to 'flood the zone', in the classic phrase of long-departed editor Howell Raines.
But maybe their big walkback was also their walk away, the way the crescendo concludes a fireworks display. Since then the Dead Tree Times has been blank on developments in the Trayvon Martin case; the website has picked up a few Reuters stories.
Might this be for lack of news? Hardly. Reuters reports the NBC walk-back of their smear of George Zimmerman, credits some evil right-wing media, and even notes that ESPN fired Jeremy Lin for less. Bold stuff!
Down in Florida Al Sharpton Ben Crump is alleging and others are denying. Surely the Times knows this script.
And ABC News has walked back their 'no injuries' video. Their April 2 headline: "George Zimmerman - Enhanced Video Shows Injury".
For the Times to fail to report on the ABC development is especially problematic since they noted the original ABC story in their big wrap-up:
In a grainy police video that shows a handcuffed Mr. Zimmerman being led out of a police car and through the police station, he does not appear to be badly injured; nor is there noticeable blood on his clothing. To many who have been following the case, the video presents a crucial rebuttal of Mr. Zimmerman’s account.
And to anyone naive enough to rely on the Times for their news, it still presents a crucial rebuttal of Mr. Zimmerman's account.
Is the Times flooding the zone? It now appears that instead of walkbacks they are walking away. In that case, the Paper of Record is still on the hook for a couple of items:
First, Times reporter Lizette Alvarez reported on March 16 and again on March 20 that Mr. Zimmerman "placed 46 calls to 911 in 14 months"; even NPR eventually noted that those 46 phone calls ran from January 2004 to the present, so "46 calls to 911 in eight years" is the phrase they seek. Yet no correction is appended to either story, nor was the error addressed in their big walkback/walk away piece. Is it relevant to the story? The Times thought so when they reported it, and some might find that it reveals a bit about Mr. Zimmerman's paranoia, or lack thereof.
And on a weightier matter, the Times broke some news relating to the plausibility of Mr. Zimmerman's self-defense claim. Let's cut to Times columnist Charles Blow for perspective, from his March 25 column:
To believe Zimmerman’s [self-defense] scenario, you have to believe that Trayvon, an unarmed boy, a boy so thin that people called him Slimm, a boy whose mother said that he had not had a fight since he was a preschooler, chose that night and that man to attack. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds...
However it started, witnesses described to the 911 dispatcher what resulted: the neighborhood watch coordinator, 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, and the visitor, 6-foot-1 and 150, wrestling on the ground.
I understand that in the Times organization chart the opinion columnists are not bound by the rulings of the news editors, or even by reality. Still, before the Times walks away they ought to correct the record they have created.
IF YOU ARE KEEPING SCORE AT HOME: The Ties waded into the Trayvon Martin story with the March 16 piece by Ms. Alvarez. In it Ms. Alzvarez defied the witnesses and credulously backed the Martin family attorneys in reporting two gunshots; the Times has since walked back to one, without noting a correction in the original story (pretty normal for them).
Ms. Alvarez quoted the father as saying Trayvon was outweighed by one hundred pounds; I assume the quote was accurate and the facts were subsequently updated, so no correction.
And we are still holding our breath on the 46 phone calls. No we're not.
I KNOW THEY'RE KIDDING: When I load the ABC News video about Zimmerman's newly enhanced head injuries, the lead-in ad is for a headache remedy. Who among us doesn't love targeted ads?
BUCKING THE POLLS: Per Pew, Democrats are following the Trayvon Martin case and don't want coverage cut back.