Lawyers who “continue to make irresponsible statements to the media”

by Walter Olson on April 12, 2012

When two lawyers who initially represented George Zimmerman bailed out at a much criticized press conference, a Martin family lawyer reacted as follows:

Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Martin’s family, said these lawyers “continue to make irresponsible statements to the media.” In a statement obtained by NBC News she said, “Not only have they spoken recklessly about racial issues, enflaming passions and reinforcing stereotypes,” now they’ve thrown “their own client, George Zimmerman, under the bus by [alluding] to his possible flight from justice.”

Yes, it would be nice if attorneys involved with the case refrained from making irresponsible statements to the media, speaking recklessly about racial issues and inflaming passions. It should be noted that this is the same attorney Natalie Jackson who, with colleague Benjamin Crump, promoted the “cold blood” or “two shots” account of the case that was influentially picked up by the New York Times’s Lizette Alvarez on March 17 and then by much of the rest of the press:

On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.

“It is so clear that this was a 17-year-old boy pleading for his life, and someone shot him in cold blood,” said Natalie Jackson, one of the Martin family lawyers.

Soon thereafter, the Orlando Sentinel found that only one bullet had been fired from Zimmerman’s gun. While indirectly acknowledging the problems with the audio — put more bluntly, the first “shot” was imaginary — the Times has appended no correction regarding the “two shots” account, though it has corrected an unrelated error in the Lizette Alvarez story.

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute has been all over media misreporting of the Martin/Zimmerman case, including the two-shots account. He points out that a large number of memes unfavorable to Zimmerman, and which turned out to need revision or correction in later coverage, originated with the Martin family’s lawyers, particularly Benjamin Crump. That would include Zimmerman’s allegedly huge weight advantage over Martin, the supposed “racial slur” that dominated coverage for a few days, and the negligence of the Sanford police department in still (“unbelievably,” says Emily Bazelon) not having interviewed Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend, who allegedly “heard him get pushed” over a cellphone (when in fact the family’s lawyers had instructed her not to cooperate). Related here (on civil suit against homeowners’ association).

I would not place any bets that with Zimmerman’s original lawyers out of the case we will now be spared irresponsible or racially inflammatory lawyering.

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Misleading audio clips and media transparency
04.13.12 at 10:32 am

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1 VMS 04.12.12 at 10:29 am

Once upon a time, there was a paper called the New York Times that was the gold standard of journalism. A long time ago, the articles were accurate, the journalists used collegiate vocabulary, and even the op-ed pages were well written and compelling (although I did not necessarily agree with their options). Most importantly, opinions remained on the op-ed pages, and the news pages were mostly unbiased.

The New York Times of today is garbage, and not fit to line the bird cages of this state. They should change their name to the Liberal Entertainment Daily.

2 Ed 04.12.12 at 11:14 am

NBC News has no room to talk. The just fired the producer that edited the 911 call to make it look racist. Search for: nbc edits 911 call

3 Ed 04.12.12 at 11:15 am

NBC News has no room to talk. They just fired the producer that edited the 911 call to make it look racist. Search for: nbc edits 911 call

4 Flemur 04.12.12 at 12:00 pm

The Martin & Zimmerman Show might be the death-rattle of the legacy media.

5 Walter Duranty 04.12.12 at 12:17 pm

Once upon a time, there was a paper called the New York Times that was the gold standard of journalism.

Those were the days, alright.

6 Patrick 04.12.12 at 12:26 pm

Comment of the year, #5, comment of the year.

7 John Burgess 04.12.12 at 1:49 pm

Can we get the attorneys working at Headlline News to STFU?

8 Birdcage_owner 04.12.12 at 2:14 pm

I confess to making use of the NYT for exactly the “wrong” purpose stated here, to line the bird cage. The Sunday version is voluminous and has many page I can safely repurpose without bothering to read.

9 Ron Miler 04.12.12 at 2:53 pm

Is this a liberal/conservative issue? If so, why?

10 Yeaah 04.12.12 at 3:29 pm

@Ron Miler: Yes, it is liberal/conservative issue. Everything including recommended toothpaste is liberal/conservative issue last years.

I do not know why. I think that it would be much better, if it would be possible to go through issues without making them part of us vs them war.

Thinking about it again, I have some tips:
* It is easier to gain political capital if you make everything liberal/conservative issue.
* It is easier to crash opponents, if you make it liberal vs conservative.
* It is easier to force your party to care about your pet issue (even if nobody else really cares), if you make it liberal vs conservative.
* It is easier to force primary selection candidates to take your stance, if you make it liberal vs conservative.
* Is is easier to manipulate people, if you make it liberal vs conservative.
* More people will watch your news channel, if you make them confrontational liberal vs conservative.

11 great unknown 04.12.12 at 3:53 pm

When, exactly, was the NYT a “gold standard of journalism.” Walter Duranty was their Moscow bureau chief in the twenties and thirties and a straight-out mouthpiece for Stalin . For which he was awarded the Pulitzer.

12 Richard Nieporent 04.12.12 at 4:12 pm

I would explain it to you Ron, but if you have to ask you wouldn’t understand. However, I will give you a hint. Which side of the political spectrum goes out of its way to cast every incident in racial terms.

13 marco73 04.13.12 at 7:36 am

The local media have been beating the drum on this case for weeks, with really not a whole lot going on. There is now an arrest, and there should be a trial, although it will take herculean efforts to seat a jury.

At the same time, in Central Florida there are daily murders by white killer on white victim, black on black, and black on white, that get a minor mention and are then forgotten.

Honestly, what is the attorney for the Martin family actually going to get, besides some headlines? There aren’t any apparent deep pockets for the inevitable civil lawsuit. Zimmerman doesn’t have any money, and the homeowner’s association will have a pretty minor insurance policy. Who are they going to sue, skittles?

14 Jack Olson 04.13.12 at 8:23 am

Marco73, what they hope to gain is not a slice of the settlement of any lawsuit but free advertising. They want to get their business cards into the Rolodex of every reporter and editor looking for comments which reliably fit the newspaper’s or TV show’s preferred narrative and are quickly, easily available.

15 Ron Miler 04.13.12 at 10:49 am

Right, Richard. I get it. This is only a story because liberals are making it about race. Otherwise, it would be a non story.

I think I know exactly where you are coming from.

16 Richard Nieporent 04.13.12 at 12:57 pm

Right, Richard. I get it.

Unfortunately you still don’t get it (and yes I know your comment was sarcasm). Read your own words in your previous comment: “Is this a liberal/conservative issue? If so, why?” I simply answered your question of why it has become a liberal//conservative issue. I did not address the issue you just raised in your new comment. If this was supposed to be a “lawyer trick” on your part to change the subject because you didn’t like my answer, it didn’t work. Next time try the Chewbaca defense or was that what you were trying to do?

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