FL Judge Throws Out George Zimmerman Lawsuit Against NBC

30 comments
July 3, 2014 ‐ By
Source: CNN

Source: CNN

A Sanford, FL judge has tossed out George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC Universal over charges of libel associated with news broadcasts from two years ago that he says were “falsely portraying him as a racist” after he killed 17-year-old  Trayvon Martin.

“Editors shortened audio from a 911 call Zimmerman made to a police dispatcher the night of the shooting, making it sound as if Zimmerman volunteered that Trayvon was black and that he racially profiled the Miami Gardens teenager,” writes the Orlando Sentinel. The clips aired four times in 2012.

The judge rules that Zimmerman isn’t entitled to any money from the media giant, effectively closing the case unless an appeals court reopens it. According to Judge Debra S. Nelson, Zimmerman is a public figure and couldn’t prove that the network knew what they were reporting was false. Nor could they have reasonably been expected to have any “misgivings” about the reports. In other words, NBC wasn’t found to be reckless in its reporting. Moreover, in the recording, Zimmerman points out Trayvon’s race a second time without any reason to, an important point to the judge.

“The edits, the judge wrote, were not material changes,” write the Sentinel.

NBC has already fired two staffers over the news report and issued an apology over the matter. The network released a single sentence in response to the judge’s decision, stating simply that they are “gratified by the court’s dismissal of this lawsuit, which we have always believed to be without merit.”

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  • Anna Sun

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that the media was definitely guilty of unfairly portraying this case. There was no logical reason to believe that Zimmerman was a racist. He was half-hispanic and a registered Democrat at the time. I personally believe he pulled his gun out on Trayvon, and that’s what led to the fight, which would make him guilty of manslaughter. But race played no part in the incident whatsoever.

    • KT

      Let’s play devil’s advocate…. if Billy had been walking home in the rain late at night… He probably would have not been confronted by Zimmerman. Let alone killed. I will always say this about Trayvon, I bet he was utterly alone and scared when he was confronted by a stranger on the way Home….home, a place he never made it too. I believe race played a part of this.

      • Anna Sun

        There had been a lot of break-ins the neighborhood lately. It’s not like the neighborhood was completely safe and he just decided to confront a a random black guy. Given the history of the neighborhood, chances are he would’ve confronted any unfamiliar person in the neighborhood, regardless of race. I am in no way defending his actions. I just think people need to remember that the media immediately implied he was racist, even before photos of his injuries from the altercation surfaced.

        • FromUR2UB

          …because, given what we knew of the case and Zimmerman’s own words, no one could have arrived at that conclusion on our own
          Riiiiight.

          • Anna Sun

            Actually, the facts of the case alone in no way indicate racist motives. If the media had reported that a Hispanic, Democrat neighborhood watch coordinator shot a teenager during an altercation, I doubt the case would’ve become the sensation that it did. Believe it or not, news sites and tv stations do make money from ratings and views. Automatically assuming that everything they tell you is fact is unwise.

            • FromUR2UB

              Ok. You’ve mentioned hispanic and democrat twice, as if the possibility that either can be racist is nonexistent. People can be racist against their own race Therefore, suggesting that he couldn’t be racist against someone of a different race sounds like pure fantasy. Some people seem to think racism is only defined by the use of epithets, which is extremely naive. George Zimmerman indicted himself by expressing his true thoughts over a 911 call. Ignoring the man’s own words is not only unwise, but an attempt to smokescreen what he presented.

              • Anna Sun

                I’m aware that Hispanics and Democrats can be racist, but I mentioned those traits because if they had been reported from the start and emphasized as much as Trayvon’s race was, the case would probably not have been as controversial. What exactly are the words from Zimmerman that you’re referring to? If it’s the part of the call where he mentions Trayvon’s race, that’s not evidence of racism. He reportedly had a hero complex and wanted to be a policeman, so he was probably trying to describe the person in question because he knew that was the sort of information the police would want. His preoccupation with law enforcement was likely the reason he pursued Trayvon in the first place.

                Furthermore, if he was racially profiling Trayvon, does that necessarily mean he’s racist? I believe that during the trial, a woman in the neighborhood testified that a black man had broken into her apartment shortly before the incident with Zimmerman. And I think the police had reason to believe that the perpetrators of the other break-ins might have been black as well. I’m sure that even if you yourself were walking down the street at night in a certain community and saw a strange black man, you’d get a little nervous. Does that make you racist?

                • FromUR2UB

                  Haha! It’s actually funny that you think I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable by ANY man I encountered, if I were walking the streets at night…some women, too. Apparently, you think black men are the epitome of frightening. I guess if you want to convey something that people should fear, you only need say, “Black man!”. Hmm? But, to your point about what Zimmerman said, of course he would name the race of a person while giving a description on a 911 call. Don’t be thick. But how can you racially profile, without being racist? You have to bring racial stereotypes into play, to “racially profile” someone. Do you get that? He thought the kid looked suspicious because he was looking at houses as he passed them?? What does it mean to look at houses as you pass them? He thought he looked like he was on drugs? Specifically, why? Then, there’s this idea that Zimmerman and his supporters share, that a kid who is being followed as he’s walking along, minding his own business, should be respectful to the person pursuing him. He shouldn’t have stared at him like “What the h*ll are you looking at and why are you following me?” And once Zimmerman provoked a fight with him, he wasn’t supposed to fight back. Really?? In a state where ‘Stand Your Ground’ is the law?

                  • Anna Sun

                    The harsh reality is that in predominantly black cities, like the one in which I live, crime rates tend to be higher. So since I live here, I do tense up whenever I’m waiting in the car at a gas station and a black man shows up dressed a certain way. I could see a white man dressed the exact same way, and not feel as fearful because they’re not the ones on the news here every night committing robberies and murders and catching innocent people in the cross fire of their gang wars. These statements may come off as offensive, but I myself am a young black female, and I’m only stating the truth. Racial profiling is forming an opinion about someone based on his/her race or taking the person’s race into consideration when forming an opinion about him/her, which sounds bad, but isn’t always. In my case, it’s perfectly logical and understandable to be wary of black men at night when it’s very likely that one will rob you in my community. It’s also technically racial profiling, but does that make me racist? Hell no. If anything, it makes me street-smart. Don’t insult me by implying I’m racist just because I’m mindful of my safety and know the demographics of my area and others. And if you weren’t referring to the portion of the 911 call where he was describing Trayvon, what “words” were you talking about that supposedly expressed his true thoughts? You didn’t answer the question……..

                    • FromUR2UB

                      If you are a young black woman, then you have a lot to learn, especially about racism and how it’s applied. Your description of racial profiling is what you say when making statements to the public, not the sentiments expressed privately. And I find it interesting that the same media you think was so biased in reporting the Zimmerman case is credible and doesn’t slant stories involving blacks and crime. Yes, there are black people who commit crimes, so that’s not the point. The point is that if you’re out walking around at night, you have reason to fear for your safety with any stranger you encounter. Furthermore, I did answer your question. I used the wording of Zimmerman directly from his 911 tape; I just didn’t use quotation marks.

                    • Anna Sun

                      I have a lot to learn? I know how to use my own judgment and not just believe something because it’s the popular opinion, or assume I’m getting the whole truth about a story just because I saw it on the news. Judging from this conversation, you don’t posess that ability. So I would say that you’re the one with a lot to learn. When I mentioned the black criminals that I hear about on the news every night, I meant my local news, which is not even the type of outlet that I was referring to in my original post. So no, it’s not the same media. Did you read the part in my last post where I stated that I actually live in a city plagued with black crime? It’s not like I need the news to tell me about it. I’ve experienced it myself and know other people who have. The two aren’t comparable anyway. You can’t compare collective coverage of different individual criminals to the constant, year-long coverage of the Zimmerman case. The man was promoted as a bigot on an almost daily basis, because the networks knew America couldn’t get enough of the scandal and it was ratings gold. Don’t get me wrong, I think they were right to vilify him, I just think they did it for the wrong reasons.

                      The quotes you gave do not indicate racism at all. If there have been a lot of break-ins lately, how is it racist to be suspicious of someone that you’ve never seen before who is walking by looking at houses? And his statement that he looked like he was on drugs? Why do you think that comment was racially motivated? We don’t know what Trayvon was doing or how he was behaving as he was walking, so to Zimmerman, he may very well have appeared to be on drugs. If this is all the evidence you have, then you should really stop claiming that his racism is so obvious. You’re basing that opinion on what you THINK he meant by two inconspicuous comments that are really not alarming when you consider the fact that he was reporting him to the police.

                      It’s funny that you think I am uneducated about racism, when I once felt the exact same way as you did about this case. Now, I think I have learned better. Anyway, it doesn’t matter how you define racial profiling. I think that if he did in fact racially profile Trayvon, it was the same kind of profiling I and many other decent people have done. The real mistake he made was trying to take the law into his own hands. Also, evidence of the media’s unfair portrayal of this case can be found in the article on this very page.

                    • Regina Taylor

                      I’m a little late to the convo, but I do think you know exactly what he said.” These a- holes, they always get away, and later in the call, almost under his breath,” f…… c…s”. Which was changed to “punks”, by the defense team. Remember?

                    • Anna Sun

                      CNN determined that he said “It’s f…… cold.”

                    • Regina Taylor

                      CNN,was wrong just as the defense was. No one had the guts to deal with the elephant in the room. Including the judge, and the prosecution. The killer racially and criminally profiled Trayvon that night. Whether this makes him a racist is debatable.

                    • Anna Sun

                      “Whether this makes him a racist is debatable.”

                      That’s one of the main points I was trying to make. Although, if you really think he used that slur, then I don’t get why you think it’s debatable that he’s racist. If I heard someone use that word, I would believe without a shadow of a doubt that he/she is racist. So it’s weird to me that you believe he used that word, yet still may not be racist. As for whether or not he actually used it, you can’t say for certain that he did. In fact, no one should really be discussing it, as it was debunked long before the trial even began, by some of Zimmerman’s biggest critcizers. Why are you stating your opinion that CNN was wrong as if it is fact, even though there’s plenty of evidence that suggests he didn’t say it? I don’t mean to keep bringing up his ethnicity and political affiliation, but how many Hispanic Democrats do you know that use that word? And do you really think he would say it while on the phone with the operator, who would potentially hear it? Plus, who even uses that word in this day and age? Zimmerman wasn’t an elderly man, so if he was going to use a racial slur, it would most likely be the n-word. Also, I don’t recall the defense team making reference to that portion of the 911 call. Zimmerman himself did claim he said “punks” though and the prosecutor (of all people) re-quoted him as saying that. But whether he said “punks” or not, no one can say with absolute certainty that he said the slur.

                    • Regina Taylor

                      I say that it is debatable because it is still being debated. I listened to that call many times, and I stand by what heard. It was not the words, ” cold, or punks”. As far the dispatcher hearing, this did not matter to killer at that point. Also if you google Sanford, Fl, and the baseball player, Jackie Robinson, as one example, you will see that this town is steeped in racism, from long before I and you were probably born. And also, I really do not think anyone’s political affilation has a thing to do with whether or not they are a racist. You are basing this conclusion, I think on the President’s race. Also, whether this is even true, or damage control, is also debatable. The elephant in the room was ignored, along with many other pieces of evidence, and plain common sense, and a disinterested prosecution.

                    • Anna Sun

                      If that’s what you want to believe, fine. We’re all entitled to our opinions. I stand by my original post that the media was way too quick to portray him as a racist. Read the article above.

                    • Regina Taylor

                      I read it, and I agree, that we are all entitled to our opinions. I stand by mine, and the fact the break-ins the killer was so obsessed with, were alledged to be AA, and many of the 911 calls he made, were about AA males that were 9 times out of 10 nothing calls, so portraying him as a racist was not a stretch.

                    • Anna Sun

                      It was a stretch because a lot of the break-ins were committed by black males.

                    • Regina Taylor

                      No they were not. The complex that he resided in, only had a population of about 20% AA. So no way was a lot of the crimes commited by AA. The main one that the killer was focused on, was a day time home invasion, 6 months prior to Trayvon’s death. This is the reason that he started the neighborhood watch. The only other arrest of an AA male was 2 weeks prior, and it was for a the burglary of a laptop. Notice, I said arrest. There were no other arrests of any AA males, besides this one. The killer made many 911 calls, for kids playing in a driveway, a garage open, and other frivilous calls on AA males, because of his paranoia. Nothing ever criminal came from those calls. He has a problem with black males.

                    • Anna Sun

                      Yes, they probably were. There may have only been two arrests, but you should take note of the fact that they were both black. And according to the neighbors, several of the burglaries in which there were no arrests also involved young black men. With statistics like that, I don’t think we have enough information to know whether Zimmerman had a problem with black males. I agree that he was obsessive. He wanted to be a police officer and that might be the reason he was so obsessed with protecting the neighborhood. That obsession led to Trayvon’s death, sure, but I don’t see how race was a factor.

                    • Regina Taylor

                      Race was absolutely the reason that he profiled Trayvon. He called the non- emergent number, and that was where it should have ended. He had no reason to follow that teen, excelt for the fact that he wanted to be the bkg wannabe hero. He was not a cop. He will never be a cop. And that is why every thing went wrong. He tried to detain him, and he fought back. If Trayvon was a white kid, or an asian kid, he would not have bothered to do a thing. This is exactly what his biggest supporter, Frank Taaffe said about a month ago. He profile because of his race.

                    • Anna Sun

                      Maybe he did racially profile him and maybe he didn’t. As I said before, racial profiling doesn’t automatically make someone a racist. But Zimmerman may be a racist for all I know, I don’t know him personally. None of us do, so none of us can say for certain whether he is or not. The only point I was really trying to make is that many reports on this case were biased. Even if he turned out to be racist in the end, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the media portrayed him as a racist way before many of the facts that suggest that were known. It may not matter to you because you believe he really is racist. But what if he turned out not to be? What if it had turned out that Trayvon was the aggressor? How would you feel about those initial reports then?

                    • Regina Taylor

                      Trayvon would never have been seen as the aggressor, whether his killer was racist or not. He did not seek him out nor follow him, the one with the gun, did this.

                    • Anna Sun

                      I said “what if.” Again, my point is that the media labeled Zimmerman a racist before enough of the facts were known. At one point, many people didn’t even know that there was a fight before Trayvon was killed. That photo that was released showing Zimmerman’s injuries could just as easily have been a surveillance tape showing that Trayvon had jumped out of the bushes and attacked him, like Zimmerman claimed. Of course, that’s not what happened, but the media didn’t know that before they depicted Zimmerman as racist. Do you get what I’m saying? I’m not on Zimmerman’s side, I just noticed that the media was careless and unprofessional in the way they reported the case. If you don’t agree about that, that’s fine. We can agree to disagree. But the article above contains at least one example of this.

                    • Regina Taylor

                      Yes, we can agree to disagree. I think the media got it right.

  • Aaliyah Noelle

    He’s still not dead ?!

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