This image released by ABC shows host Robin Roberts, left, with Juror B29 from the George Zimmerman trial, center, and attorney David Chico on "Good Morning America," in New York on Thursday, July 25, 2013. Credit: AP
ABC News is being accused of deceptively editing, or at least misrepresenting (intentionally or not), some of the comments made by Juror B29, the lone "nonwhite" juror in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Further, the media as a whole are being accused of manipulating some of her statements.
These allegations come not from a conservative news source, but rather from Slate.com.
The key phrase latched onto by most media outlets, due to its sensational nature, was "George Zimmerman got away with murder" -- words that were, in fact, said by Juror B29. But the full unedited video of the comment, in context, tells a different story, claims Slate's William Saletan.
Here's his case (emphasis added):
ABC News hasn’t posted a full unedited video or transcript of the interview. The video that has been broadcast—on World News Tonight, Nightline, and Good Morning America—has been cut and spliced in different ways, often so artfully that the transitions appear continuous. So beware what you’re seeing. But the video that’s available already shows, on closer inspection, that Maddy has been manipulated and misrepresented. Here are the key points.
The phrase “got away with murder” was put in her mouth. Nightline shows ABC interviewer Robin Roberts asking Maddy: “Some people have said, ‘George Zimmerman got away with murder. How do you respond to those people who say that?’ ” Maddy appears to reply promptly and confidently: “George Zimmerman got away with murder. But you can’t get away from God.” But that’s not quite how the exchange happened. 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. “… George Zimmerman … That’s—George Zimmerman got away with murder. But you can’t get away from God.”
You have to watch her, not just read her words, to pick up her meaning. As she struggles to answer, she looks as though she’s trying to reconcile the sentiment that’s been quoted to her—that Zimmerman “got away with murder”—with her own perspective. So she repeats the quote and adds words of her own, to convey what she thinks: that there’s a justice higher than the law, which Zimmerman will have to face. She thinks he’s morally culpable, not legally guilty.
Anti-Zimmerman media personalities, like Al Sharpton and essentially anyone else at MSNBC, have pointed to the interview as proof that Zimmerman actually got away with murder -- even the juror is admitting it! One MSNBC guest even personally attacked the juror, yelling "shame on you!" while reacting to the ABC interview.
Saletan goes on to note a number of other key portions of Juror B29's much-talked about sit-down with ABC. His points include:
• She stands by the verdict: "ABC’s online story about the interview ends with Maddy asking, “Did I go the right way? Did I go the wrong way?” But that’s not the whole quote. In the unedited video, she continues: “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."
Saletan also explains that the juror making the distinction that Zimmerman was guilty of "killing" Trayvon Martin, but that's not the same thing as murder or manslaughter, which requires evidence proving it was malicious and/or intentional.
• She thinks the case should have never gone to trial: At one point, Roberts asked the juror “whether the case should have gone to trial,” she replied, "I don't think so. … I felt like this was a publicity stunt.”
• Race wasn't discussed, and she didn't focus on it: "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 goes on to debate the "value of colorblindness," but correctly concludes that the juror stayed focused on the evidence in the case, not on what race and other factors meant to the general public.
Saletan makes several other interesting points on why he feels "Juror B29 is being framed." To be clear, the Slate writer does not appear to take a position defending Zimmerman or supporting the anti-Zimmerman position in his analysis.
The full, unedited video or transcript of the Juror B29 interview had yet to be released on Friday afternoon, Slate notes. Here is the most complete version available.
To read Saletan's entire report (and we recommend you do), click here.
Editor's note: This story has been updated after the report was briefly attributed to Salon.com instead of Slate.com.