Via Twitchy and Mediaite, the excuse will be that it was an accident, that they were caught by surprise when unredacted personal information was shown in court. Maybe. They know not to air images of the jurors, they know not to air grisly photos of the crime scene, but apparently they don’t know that sometimes police reports with people’s vital info are shown onscreen in court during trials.
Here’s the thing: Even if this shot is accidental, the only reason the proceedings are on TV to begin with is because the media’s obsessed with the idea that Zimmerman committed a racial atrocity and must be punished for it. Trials typically don’t get saturation coverage because the facts are interesting and tragic and there’s a legit dispute as to whether the prosecution’s or defense’s story of what happened is true. They get saturation coverage because there’s an obvious innocent victim/diabolical defendant dynamic that the media’s interested in. From the beginning, with the Times pushing its “white Hispanic” description of Zimmerman, the press has strained hard to make the Trayvon Martin shooting a passion play about whites treating black life cheaply in modern, post-civil rights America. As terrible as the prosecution’s witnesses have been thus far, there is no scenario — zero — in which most of the press concludes that acquittal on the murder charge is just rather than unjust. Zimmerman must be guilty, morally if not legally. Progress demands it. Against that backdrop, why be surprised that CNN would show his social security number onscreen? The cameras are there because the press has issued its verdict. Intentional or not, this is part of the sentencing phase.