A Scandal in the Media

Republished on invitation from http://ex-army.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/scandal-in-media.html

A Scandal in the Media

It was in the late April of ’12, and Holmes and I were sitting, as it were, in the sitting room. I was relaxing after a long day of making my rounds, while Holmes continued his perusal and study of the “Internet” on his “laptop,” a device that he was positively obsessed with at the time, puffing dreamily away at a pipeful of his egregious shag tobacco, seemingly indifferent to my very presence. As he was clearly in no mood for idle banter, I picked up my copy of the Times, and proceeded to lose myself in its shocking accounts of crime, political scandal, and the interminable war in Afghanistan in which I myself had participated several decades ago.

“It is a shame, is it not, Watson, such a miscarriage of justice?”

“Indeed it is, Holmes, and a sad commentary on the state of the legal mechanisms in the colonies—”, I started, blinking in bewilderment at Holmes’ smarmy countenance. “Now, this is too much, Holmes, confound it! How on earth could you possibly know what I was thinking, or even thinking about?”

“It is simplicity itself, my dear Watson. Without fail you first read the national news in the newspaper, as I could clearly detect from the ironic shaking of your head that always accompanies your thoughts about the ludicrous political situation in the United Kingdom. After that, you ordinarily turn the page to the international section, as you did this evening.” He paused to tamp at his smoldering tobacco. “At that point, your indignant frown informed me that you were contemplating the curious case of the killing in America of one Trayvon Martin.”

I shook my head in resignation. “It is perfectly clear, even elementary, now that you have explained it, Holmes. But why, did you think, would I be indignant about such an incident?”

“Elementary indeed,” the detective smiled. “The world press has been preoccupied with this one crime — if it is a crime — above all others for several days now. And the media consensus is that Mr. Martin was brutally murdered by a race-obsessed maniac, and that the police have been remiss in their failure to arrest the putative culprit, a Mr. Zimmerman. A situation so contrary to English ideas of fair play that it is bound to incite indignation in any decent Englishman. And you are certainly one of those.”

“And you as well,” I replied.

“Not so, Watson — oh, I fancy myself a decent Englishman, but I cannot accept the version of events that the media have foisted upon us,” he smiled again as I goggled at him in disbelief. “The facts of the case have not all been revealed, but already the yellow press has held a tribunal and condemned Mr. Zimmerman. More than that, they’ve twisted and added bias to the facts that they have reported.”

“Pray continue. I’ve been following this case rather carefully, and Mr. Zimmerman’s guilt seems apparent to me.”

“Ah, Watson. You read the reports, but you fail to interpret the

reports. The most salient fact in all this is that the American police, having arrived on the scene, found no reason at all to arrest Mr. Zimmerman. And my long experience with police authorities, here and abroad, has taught me that policemen always prefer to err on the side of prudence, and make arrests if they have any excuses at all to do so. And even in the face of voluminous public outcry, the local authorities have found no reason to arrest Mr. Zimmerman or charge him with anything whatsoever.”

“But he has admitted to shooting Mr. Martin, and Mr. Martin was unarmed.”

“So he has, but in America, or at least the State of Florida, the law states that any person may defend himself with a firearm when threatened with bodily harm, and while not conclusive, the condition of Mr. Zimmerman, and the account of at least one eyewitness indicate that Mr. Martin had knocked him to the ground and was bashing his head against the pavement.”

“If that is the case,” I queried, “why would the press suggest that Mr. Zimmerman was the perpetrator?”

“Ah, there we enter the realm of politics and propaganda, which are unfortunately interfering with the carrying out of justice. In America, there’s a concept called ‘political correctness,’ which, baldly stated, asserts that all persons belonging to the White race are intrinsically hostile to those of other races, most particularly those of African descent. So in a case like this, where an African person is harmed by a White person, the presumption must be that the former is innocent, and the latter guilty.”

“Ah! There I have you, Holmes! While it is true that Mr. Martin was of African heritage, I remember reading that Mr. Zimmerman, despite his name, is indeed of mixed descent, having a White father and a Peruvian, most probably therefore American Indian, mother. So he is not a White man and doesn’t fit your paradigm.”

“Yes and no, Watson. Mr. Zimmerman, despite his actual descent, has been made, so to speak, an honorary White person by the press. Even such a reputable newspaper as the New York Times persists

in referring to him as a ‘White Hispanic,” a quite inaccurate term, in order to protect their politically correct agenda.”

“But it could still be quite true that he confronted Mr. Martin solely because of Mr. Martin’s race. Indeed, I read a transcript of the 911 call to the police,” I thumbed through the newspaper. “Here it is — listen:

‘This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.’”

“Quite, Watson. That would indeed seem to indicate that Mr. Zimmerman was suspicious, at least, of Mr. Martin for racialist reasons. But here I have the unedited transcript, and it is your turn to listen:

Zimmerman: ‘We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy. It’s Retreat View Circle. The best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 Dispatcher: ‘Okay. And this guy, is he White, Black, or Hispanic?’

Zimmerman: ‘He looks Black.’”

“This is outrageous, Holmes!” I felt my cheeks turning red. “How can a journalist dare such a distortion of the facts! When this is found out, the public will be enraged! The dispatcher asked for a racial description. Mr. Zimmerman didn’t volunteer it at all!”

“You are quite right, Watson. This is not journalism in any sense, but pure advocacy. I have criticized the police many times throughout my career, but this would seem to be an instance where they have done their duty properly, while the journalists have failed miserably at theirs. And it goes deeper. While more current photographs of both Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman are available, the press continues to use older photographs of them both. The one you’ve seen of Mr. Martin was taken several years ago, when he was a mere child, and the one of Mr. Zimmerman was taken when he was much heavier than he is now and rather sullen and loutish-looking.”

“Moreover,” he added, “the press invariably describes Mr. Martin as ‘unarmed,’ which is evidently true, but their emphasis on this point tends to make him sound feeble and defenseless to the public, while he was tall and well-built and a player of American football. On the other hand, Mr. Zimmerman is never mentioned without the adjective ‘overzealous,’ as if there was any way the press could determine if he was overzealous, sufficiently zealous, or even underzealous.”

“The New York Times has even gone so far as to publish an article that not only suggests, without evidence, that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of racist motives, but that, as a ‘Hispanic,’ his motives are not his own, but he somehow absorbed them from the White people of America, who are ultimately to blame, it would seem, for the bad behavior of any and all minority groups.”

“And,” he continued, knocking the dottle out of his pipe, “I hope you are correct about public outrage when the truth is known. But as it is the responsibility of the media to tell us the truth, who can say whether it will ever be known at all? They are far more interested in furthering their social and political agendas than in disseminating the truth.”

“Then why,” I asked, “do you persist in reading the newspapers and listening to news broadcasts if there is no truth in them?”

“There is some truth in them, Watson, and a trained and skeptical mind can learn to discount obvious prevarications and even detect hidden truths in their reports. It’s hard to lie consistently, as any criminologist can tell you. And careful ratiocination can detect and interpret the contradictions. But for you, my dear Watson,” he tapped at the computer on his knees, “I recommend that you broaden your sources, as I have done, and consult dissenting views on the Internet before you make decisions about the truth of anything you read. When you have eliminated the impossible lies and the obvious propaganda, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

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2 responses to “A Scandal in the Media

  1. Some has to say this; Elementary my dear Watson!

  2. Pingback: Randoms « Foseti