My respect for Juan Williams just ticked up a few points…

Juan Williams: Media guilty of fanning flames of racial division for better ratings

  He writes today at FoxNews.com (emphasis mine):

Martin, the 17-year-old, is dead. But he has not escaped the racial slander attached to this case. Zimmerman’s backers note that Martin had smoked marijuana – as if that is unusual among American teenagers. They seem delighted to find online messages in which he took on a rapper, street-thug persona and posed as a tough guy…

But Martin is dead. He can’t speak for himself and get beyond the box of racial stereotypes the media built for him.

Zimmerman is alive. He has chosen not to speak at his trial, and although the prosecution played an interview he did with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, it is still no match for skipping an ideal chance to tell his story when everyone is listening in the courtroom and on television.

Now, no matter what the verdict, [George Zimmerman] is going to carry his box of racial stereotypes around until his death. His identity will always be as a want-to-be cop who trailed a black kid who was not doing anything wrong, got in a fight with him, pulled out a gun and killed him.

Ultimately, it is the job of the media to give straight, objective coverage of any story.

Whatever the final verdict on Zimmerman, the media is clearly guilty of playing on the most primitive racial divisions in our society to fuel racial animosity and boost ratings.

There are no winners here.

Read Williams’ whole column, The Sorry Truth About Race and the Zimmerman Trial, here.