On July 18, 2012, Sean Hannity released an exclusive interview with George Zimmerman and his attorney Mark O’Mara. I originally intended to produce a transcript of the interview with appropriate analysis, but quickly realized that would not be helpful in understanding this case (for anyone desperate to see the transcript, here’s the rush version from Fox). Why not?
(1) While Hannity asked a variety of questions, including about the alleged “molestation” and “racism” outlined in non-descriptive and murky terms by “witness 9,” he generally did not follow up those quick initial questions, and it was obvious that many answers and questions had been edited out (common in TV interviews).
(2) There was nothing of real substance added to an informed understanding of the case, particularly for those who have actually been following the case outside the Lamestream Media.
(3) Early in the interview, Hannity said he would be asking O’Mara about specific legal issues. He never got around to it, or if he did, those questions and answers were left on the editing room floor. O’Mara said relatively little, and nothing of illuminating substance apart from a brief description of the law relating to the use of deadly force and the virtual certainty that Witness 9’s assertions will never be allowed in court.
(4) For those who have never seen or heard George Zimmerman, he presented himself reasonably well. He is not, by any means, a large, imposing or aggressive man. He is soft spoken, and consistently addressed Hannity as “sir.” That said, I had the sense that he was nervous and constantly and obviously thinking about what he could or couldn’t say (imagine that!). He was obviously aware that no matter what he said, some would misuse and mischaracterize it.
(5) A TV interview is a very poor format for revealing minute details about any incident. There is simply not sufficient time, and any good TV interviewer knows most viewers don’t want or need that kind of detail. Dramatic Perry Mason confessions only occur on Perry Mason.
(6) After the interview, the essential facts of the case remain as they were before the interview. As the special prosecutor’s investigator Dale Gilbreath said at the original bond hearing, the prosecution had no information to refute Zimmerman’s account. They still don’t.
(7) If I did a complete transcript, anyone reading it would know far, far less than if they had been following my articles on this case here at SMM. I don’t write this out of arrogance, but merely to reiterate the essential difference between a brief TV interview that can only skim the surface of a complex case and a multi-part investigative series written over many months. I simply have the time, the experience and the format Hannity does not.
Trying to leap on something Zimmerman might have said or implied in this interview, or something he didn’t say or imply, is an exercise in futility. There is not sufficient continuity or depth of questioning to allow that, and Hannity primarily touched only on the major points already commonly known. Again, such is the nature of the TV interview.
Investigators with many years of experience become pretty good human lie detectors. But that ability is dependent on a variety of factors such as being able to control the circumstances of any interview, and having the time to adequately prepare for an interview. Lacking those and other advantages, it would be useless to try to pronounce on Zimmerman’s character or truthfulness, and I certainly won’t do that. It is clear that he is not a glib and confident public speaker. Surveys consistently indicate that the number one fear shared by most people is public speaking, and George Zimmerman’s semi-deer-in-the-headlights demeanor would seem to bear that out. Please keep in mind, however, I also have no doubt that Zimmerman was sincere. He strikes me as a relatively guileless young man not used to the incredible public exposure he has had thrust upon him, and not naturally comfortable with talking about himself, particularly in public.
Perhaps the only thing of interest to me was to learn that Spanish was Zimmerman’s first language, and he considers himself to be Hispanic. Apparently his father was in the military and often gone for much of his adolescence. Zimmerman was raised primarily by his Hispanic mother and grandmother. Zimmerman also noted that in the calls he made to the Sanford police in his role as neighborhood watch captain, he reported black, Hispanic and white suspects, and identified their races—as he did in his phone call to the police dispatcher when he saw Trayvon Martin—only in response to specific police questions. This is normal police procedure and precisely what I would expect to hear.
After this interview, those predisposed to think Zimmerman a “white-hispanic” racially profiling, predetermined murderer of an innocent and helpless, tea and Skittles eating black child scholar will be unlikely to find themselves moved to question their assumptions. Those who have taken the time to dispassionately consider the facts and the law will likewise have no reason to challenge their conclusions. Those watching with an open mind may have seen a young man caught up in horrific circumstances struggling to deal with it, and perhaps—perhaps—have an inkling that the narrative is not the whole or true story.
UPDATE, 07-19-12, 2130 CST:
Sean Hannity once again approached the Martin case on his program this evening. Noting that the Special Prosecutor announced that she would use the interview with Zimmerman against him at trial, Hannity interviewed Daryl Parks, one of the lawyers for the Martin family.
Parks was predictable, sticking closely to the narrative. A sampling of his themes and quotations:
It’s all Zimmerman’s fault because if he stayed in his car nothing would have happened.
“In terms of making Trayvon a perpetrator, we don’t buy it.”
Zimmerman called Martin a “punk.”
“Trayvon was doing nothing wrong.”
“Trayvon was provoked.”
Trayvon was unarmed and “this guy had a nine millimeter.”
Later in the program, Hannity interviewed Fox legal commentators and lawyers, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Peter Johnson Jr.
Johnson felt the Zimmerman interview was a “net positive” for Zimmerman and suggested that Angela Corey was trying to intimidate the defense by threatening to use the interview in court. However, Johnson was not at all certain the interview would be admissible.
Guilfoyle felt the prosecution would have a hard time proving its case and the interview with Hannity was essentially just like a trial would be.
I must take exception with Ms. Guilfoyle. Hannity’s questioning was not at all like a competent direct or cross-examination in effect, depth or revelation of fact. I don’t say this with any animosity toward Hannity, but merely in recognition of the two very different requirements and needs of a TV show versus a trial.
Mr. Parks presented himself reasonably well and did not descend to the kind of emotional raving that has become common in this case. However, as I noted, he stuck to the narrative and like Zimmerman, revealed nothing new or surprising.
One revealing issue was discussed however. Hannity showed a brief clip of Martin’s parents dismissing Zimmerman’s feeling that what happened was “God’s plan,” and refusing to acknowledge Zimmerman’s statement that he prayed for them every day. The Lamestream media has latched onto the Hannity interview and mentioned these statements of faith only in order to ridicule them. In so doing, they reveal a very common and broad gap between every day Americans and the self-identified elite.
This attitude, dismissive of faith and those who profess it, is common on the left, and was best exemplified by Mr. Obama’s behind closed doors explanation of the people in flyover country during his 2008 campaign. Speaking to donors, he said that Americans not like them cling to God and guns, and hate and fear those not like them. This is what passes for enlightened thinking and tolerance among some.
I suspect that most Americans viewing George Zimmerman last night understood what he was saying, and perhaps, even appreciated it. The idea that God has a plan for each of us, a plan that is often mysterious and unknowable and that often shapes us through adversity in ways we can’t easily imagine is familiar to them and not at all controversial. They also understood Zimmerman’s praying for the Martin family, and while not regretting what he did—it kept him alive after all—he very much regrets the fact that Martin died. For most Americans, none of this is hard to understand, and Zimmerman expressed these thoughts with apparent sincerity.
However, the self-identified elite often refuse to acknowledge the good will and sincerity of people expressing deeply-held faith. Combine this with the necessity of maintaining a narrative that portrays Zimmerman as evil incarnate, and they are unable and unwilling to express any charity or to allow that Zimmerman could have sincere empathy toward Martin’s family.
The Lamestream Media, of course, tend to see those with a sincere belief in God, particularly those so uncouth as to be willing to actually speak about it, as barely sentient Bible thumpers with dangerous political and social ideas. Among those dangerous ideas would be not adhering to the narrative in the Martin case.
On Wednesday, 07-25-12, I will post Update 14, which will outline and analyze the developments of note occurring since Update 13, including the second bond hearing, the motion to replace Judge Lester and more. I hope to see you there!