Zimmerman lawsuit against NBC “to start in earnest ASAP”

posted at 9:26 am on July 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Apart from what the Department of Justice might decide to do with George Zimmerman, there remains one piece of unfinished legal business from the sensationalized case — what to do with the sensationalizer.  The death of Trayvon Martin might have fallen under the media spotlight over what it meant for the definition of self-defense and the limits of community-watch programs even without the overtones of race.  After NBC selectively edited Zimmerman’s call to police, though, that angle overtook all other aspects of the case, and many other unrelated crime stories with a little more national significance.

With the acquittal behind them, Zimmerman and his legal team plan to push their lawsuit against NBC “ASAP”:

According to Zimmerman attorney James Beasley, the case against NBC News was stayed pending the outcome of the criminal case. Now that’s out of the way, and Beasley is ready to proceed. “We’re going to start in earnest asap, we just have to get the stay lifted which is a ministerial act,” says Beasley, a Philadelphia lawyer, via e-mail.

When asked how the not-guilty verdict affects the civil case against NBC News, Beasley responded, “This verdict of not guilty is just that, and shows that at least this jury didn’t believe that George was a racist, profiling, or anything that the press accused George of being. That probably doesn’t get you that much but it’s simply time for us to start the case and hold accountable anyone who was irresponsible in their journalism.”

NBC had earlier declared that a jury verdict in the case would vindicate their journalism:

The company also noted the pivotal nature of the second-degree murder case: “[I]f Zimmerman is convicted, that fact alone will constitute substantial evidence that the destruction of his reputation is the result of his own criminal conduct, and not of the broadcasts at issue which, like countless other news reports disseminated by media entities throughout the country, reported on the underlying events.”

D’oh! As Erik Wemple dryly notes, “That formulation is now null.”  It’s a curious defense anyway.  Surely an objective news report should stand on its own without relying on a criminal trial’s jury to rescue it, no?

Variety’s analyst thinks that Zimmerman’s status as a public figure will protect NBC in court, as well as a lack of ability to show malice:

In December, Zimmerman sued NBC, reporter Ron Allen and two other news personnel on claims that the network’s edits of his 911 call to police were manipulated to make it sound like he was a racist. The Florida judge in Zimmerman’s case, Debra Nelson, put the defamation case on hold pending the result of the criminal trial.

Jody Armour, professor at USC’s Gould School of Law, said that although it is “possible” that Zimmerman’s claim against the network will be strengthened, it “may not have a big impact because he has to prove actual malice if he is trying to prove defamation.”

He believes that Zimmerman “is almost certainly going to fall into the classification” of a public figure, raising the bar for plaintiffs, in that they have to prove knowledge that they knew that the information was false or had reckless disregard for the truth.

In a defamation trial, however, NBC can say that the not guilty verdict “has limited probative value as far as establishing a claim that they acted with actual malice toward him, that they acted with actual indifference to the truth,” Armour said. The point is that a defamation trial would have to do with the circumstances at the time the story aired.

There are a couple of problems with this defense.  First, the media doesn’t get protection when their libelous reporting creates a “public figure.” Zimmerman did not set out to make himself a public figure — he holds no elective office, and didn’t publicize his efforts at neighborhood-watch security.  He was entirely obscure before the shooting, and only NBC’s false report made him into a national figure.

Second, if the Zimmerman team wants to show malice at NBC News, all they have to do is play MSNBC’s coverage of the trial and especially the acquittal.  The anger and malice (and even more misinformation) didn’t just come from guest panelists on their coverage, it came from MSNBC’s hosts, paid by NBC News.  The phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” comes to mind when proving this particular aspect of the case.

If Zimmerman’s legal team is moving ASAP to get the case to trial, NBC’s lawyers should be moving ASAP to get the check cut for the settlement.  Don’t expect that to take very long, either.


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There is a very good argument that you can infer malice from the act itself, in this case, the edit. It’s blatant. There is no other rational explanation for it.

IndieDogg on July 15, 2013 at 1:25 PM

What, you’ve never tripped and fallen and accidentally spliced a tape that slandered a person as being racist? Happens all the time in this liberal land of PATHOLOGICAL LIARS. Just like the IRS folks didn’t have enough tax money to avoid inadvertently putting all the conservative applications for 503C status is the “F&ck Off” bin. I’ll accept their excuses so long as they accept my “I accidentally slept with your wife” excuses.

stout77 on July 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Personally, I want this defamation suit to go to trial and have NBC execs on the stand defending the way they edited that tape.

Happy Nomad on July 15, 2013 at 9:37 AM

There is no way NBC will let themselves be put on the spot in open court.

Which will be less satisfying for George Zimmerman, but better in other ways. I believe they would pay millions to keep it out of court. And Zimmerman may need those millions to keep himself safe after all this.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM

I feel for both the families. I feel for Trayvon and his young life. I feel for George and his young life. neither was old. They both had a future. It is my opinion that both made mistakes that night. It ended in one dead and one reputation ruined. No one went in that community to kill anyone.

Portia on July 15, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Zimmerman’s mistake was not illegal; assault is illegal and can be deadly without a weapon, which is why it is generally treated very seriously. So this is what justice looks like when you resort to violence first and foremost.

stout77 on July 15, 2013 at 1:42 PM

“As a historian of American and African-American religion, I know that the Trayvon Martin moment is just one moment in a history of racism in America that, in large part, has its underpinnings in Christianity and its history.”

Akzed on July 15, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Apologies in advance if this has already been discussed:

Does Zimmerman really need to win or is a bruised and bloodied NBC with credibility severely damaged serve as “mission accomplished”?

mad scientist on July 15, 2013 at 1:43 PM

NBC didn’t only defame GZ. It has helped to make GZ a marked man.

Resist We Much on July 15, 2013 at 9:45 AM

“Marked man” is exactly right. Zimmerman needs to have enough money to hire bodyguard(s) for the rest of his life. NBC wasn’t the only one that created this situation, but they may have played the biggest part.

Benjamin Crump, though, will get off completely scot-free, no matter how much he smeared Zimmerman. I suppose that’s inevitable given the way our justice system works, but I don’t have to like it.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 15, 2013 at 1:48 PM

as to the old mac 12 years old…I hope to upgrade at the end of the summer when I’m paid for a job I’m doing in Colorado.

The old mac won’t even allow for basic browser upgrades…cause it’s old.

I never claimed to be a software engineer or an IT techie…just an old school artist.

All my stuff is made by hand sorta thingy.

workingclass artist on July 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM
I don’t know what kind of upgrade you are hoping for, but Craigslist is a great place to consider if you don’t mind a used computer!

Anti-Control on July 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Or e-bay. I’ve gotten fantastic computers, printers, etc. Look for free shipping and their ratings.Don’t buy from a private individual.

katy the mean old lady on July 15, 2013 at 1:48 PM

bayam

I see you’re making up for lost time in the stupid comment department.

xblade on July 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

The way this media outlet worked so hard to criminalize Zimmerman & make him out to be a hate-filled racist murderer by editing audio & etc I hope they completely drive NBC to their flippin’ knees! Get all the money you can AND demand a public apology on TV during Prime Time by every Anchor, reporter, & Editor, & the owner!

easyt65 on July 15, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Which will be less satisfying for George Zimmerman, but better in other ways. I believe they would pay millions to keep it out of court. And Zimmerman may need those millions to keep himself safe after all this.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Apparently it’s racist to think that Zimmerman wouldn’t be safe.

oldroy on July 15, 2013 at 1:51 PM

From last night’s QotD thread

Why have I never heard it reported that Trayvon Martin’s uncle/step-uncle Ronald Fulton was Executive Director on the Community Relations Board of Miami-Dade County???

That’s why this all got ginned up. What’s the chain of command or relationship between the Community Relations Board of Miami-Dade Coumty and the Community Relations Board of the Department of Justice?

That’s the crux of this story and why it was easy to get the attention of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Erik Holder, the National Media, and finally, the President. You can decide the order between Holder/President and NBC.

This country is corrupt as any we’ve ever fought — thank the Lord that the jurors are still real people who haven’t been completely fooled.

Greyledge Gal on July 15, 2013 at 6:46 AM

Schadenfreude on July 15, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Zimmerman needs to win because he needs the money for protection. They have basically excited a lynch mob to kill him and they should be held liable. Now if winning is settling out of court for a big payday that is fine…but he needs compensation for all the lies and crap they have made up about him. It is one thing to report on a story and give an opinion, it is another to just make up stories like they have.

William Eaton on July 15, 2013 at 1:58 PM

“Get all the money you can AND demand a public apology on TV during Prime Time by every Anchor, reporter, & Editor, & the owner!”

What a wonderful idea!

wyntre on July 15, 2013 at 1:59 PM

“Why have I never heard it reported that Trayvon Martin’s uncle/step-uncle Ronald Fulton was Executive Director on the Community Relations Board of Miami-Dade County???”

Wow.

wyntre on July 15, 2013 at 2:01 PM

I’m still waiting for the Latino community to holler racism!

Don L on July 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Racial profiling- hell no!

bayam on July 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Oh, look! It’s bayam…with his indepth analysis……

of his rectum.

You stay smart, bam-bam.

Solaratov on July 15, 2013 at 2:06 PM

I am angry that George Zimmerman could chase a teenager through his neighborhood, ignore a dispatcher’s pleas, make racially charged statements, provoke a confrontation with a young man

Woah, none of that happened…

Wagthatdog on July 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

RZ has many potential targets and so does his mother and relatives if Zimmerman id whacked some night by a vigilante inspired by our racial agitating DOJ.These targets would, of course, include NBC, CBS, CNN but also the DOJ, City of Sanford and the state of Florida.In fact the DOJ may be potentially guilty of multiple hate crimes.
Sorry put this on wrong-Nidal-thread)

In 2012, running for re-election, Barack Obama knew not only would the State of Florida be a crucial state but that the vote there would be critically close. There is strong evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder, either on his own volition, or at the behest of his boss, Obama, sent employees of the Community Relations Divisions (CRD) of the DOJ to Sanford, Florida with the sole purpose of agitating racial unrest to increase the black turnout in Florida for the 2012 election. CRD employees were heavily involved with the local black community in Sanford and neighboring areas, among other things leading and financing a ‘Defenders of the Dream’ pro-Trayvon Martin (anti-Zimmerman) march from Daytona to Sanford.The CRD, far from smoothing racial relations, which was its original intent, instead poisoned the racial waters not only for Florida but the entire nation by leaning on local black Baptist leaders to push for the forced resignation of Sanford Police Chief Lee, who determined there was no probable cause to charge GZ with any crime.

As a direct result of CRD meddling, Police Chief Lee resigned and was replaced by a stooge who immediately had GZ arrested. A Special Prosecutor was appointed and now you have hatred, tension and riots all over the country and GZ and his relatives and six brave jurors are in continual fear of their lives.

MaiDee on July 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

We better get a bunch of money because he’ll never work again and will need to best security money can buy.

Wagthatdog on July 15, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Request every .msdnc show must apologize at the beginning of their show

cmsinaz on July 15, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Zimmermanns’ dollar figure should be very very painful for NBC. To the point where NBC has to debate paying it or go to trial. The trial should be entertaining as he!! for lame stream media hating types (i.e. me). As NBC can’t really afford to go this route, stick ‘em hard on the “make it go away” check.

parke on July 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

NBC is the Obama Administration propagandist. This Administration wanted to make it a racist incident. People to need to wise up and realize who is running this country and how they are interfering in everything.

Portia on July 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Ok, now I’m confused. What does this make Zimmerman? A White Blackspanic?

Oldnuke on July 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

The old ‘one-drop rule’ only applies when the Left wants it to.

Halle Berry? Black.

Barack Obama? Black.

Charlie Sheen? White.

Emilio Estevez? Hispanic. (Yes, he and Charlie are full brothers with the same parents. lol)

Marco Rubio? White.

Ted Cruz? White.

George Zimmerman? White.

Resist We Much on July 15, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Racial profiling- hell no!

bayam on July 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

‘Cuz, your feelings make it so.

Resist We Much on July 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

racial profiling is not illegal. And you can’t convict someone for murder just because you think he is a racist.

I don’t happen to think Zim did either of these things, but even if he did, it wouldn’t matter one bit.

alwaysfiredup on July 15, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Racial profiling- hell no!

bayam on July 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

‘Cuz, your feelings make it so.

Resist We Much on July 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Bumper sticker trolling. That, and calling George Zimmerman/Mesa’s “white” half racist is about all the bigots on the Left have.

farsighted on July 15, 2013 at 2:51 PM

re those above suggestions for statements/apology from ‘every NBC anchor’ … might we consider –
each day (and repeating until hell freezes over), at the beginning of a (rotating) prime-time program, the talking-head should, along with the aforementioned scripted statement, display a bank-check, payable to GZ & heirs in the amount of — oh, $100,000 or so

It’s not like they’d need to spend more than a half-mil a week anyway, right ??

Wouldn’t want to let NBC/CNN/et.al. off the hook TOO quickly, would we?
/.

CaveatEmpty on July 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Racial profiling- hell no!

bayam on July 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Argue that nonsense with the FBI, who said there was nothing racial in what happened.

I know you desperately want the incident to be Zimmerman’s fault, but face up to reality. That racist, crazed, pot smoking punk Martin profiled the “crazy azzed crakka,” and put an “MMA style” beat down on an innocent man, simply trying to look after his neighborhood.

Wow, what a beast.

dogsoldier on July 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM

all the bigots on the Left have.

farsighted on July 15, 2013 at 2:51 PM

They have to resort to lies and deceit, which is why the case against Zimmerman crumbled. The original law enforcement team saw that. This is why Zimmerman’s lawsuit against Florida will succeed. The persecution was deliberate AND malicious.

dogsoldier on July 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM

On a related note, Asiana Airlines plans to sue a Frisco TV station for sullying the airline’s reputation and using ‘racial’ and false names for the four aircrew.

Liam on July 15, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Was that according to Asiana’s lawyers, Wi Soo Yoo and Yoo Gon Pae?

James on July 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM

In fact, when Zimmerman referred to those a**holes during the 911 call, there was no racial profiling at play…
 
Racial profiling- hell no!
 
bayam on July 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

 
Clearly he didn’t think of Trayvon as a physical threat. That means he assumed not-the-best but far from the worst about an unknown black man.
 
Which, if you think about it, is a fairly decent thing to think about a black guy that someone sees while they’re alone, in the rain, at night.
 
Right up until Martin proved him 100% wrong, of course.

rogerb on July 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM

As Andrew Breitbart used to say, just about the worst thing you can call someone in America today is a racist. And they knowingly, and yes I’m sure gleefully, planned to destroy someone’s life by smearing him as a racist.

I want these NBC thugs’ heads on a platter. (For the morons out there, yes I’m speaking metaphorically.) They are evil, pure and simple.

Eviva on July 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM

If Zimmerman’s legal team is moving ASAP to get the case to trial, NBC’s lawyers should be moving ASAP to get the check cut for the settlement.

Ever see Monty Python’s “Blackmail” sketch? Zimmerman’s attorneys are now the masters of ceremony and NBC is the desperate “John”.

I laughed when Python did it. I’m laughing now. GZ will laugh all the way to the bank.

AnonymousDrivel on July 15, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Was that according to Asiana’s lawyers, Wi Soo Yoo and Yoo Gon Pae?

James on July 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Has anyone seen James and the mystery intern at the same time?

talkingpoints on July 15, 2013 at 5:50 PM

This Zimmerman trial makes be sick. It shows a manipulative news media and a government more interested in voting polls then in justice. I believe that the make up of the Jury had nothing to do with the outcome. The prosecutor “OVER charged” him for political reasons not for justice. If the communities wish to be outraged then they should be up set with the State of Florida and the Prosecutor for over charging Zimmerman with murder knowing full well from that he would be found NOT GUILTY.

These are some quotes from a New York Times article. It shows the news and political motives in this case, not the concern for justice.

“the police initially decided not to arrest Mr. Zimmerman, who is half-Peruvian”.
NOTE: Does this mean we can now refer to Obama as half a white man when he does bad things?
“Six weeks later, Mr. Zimmerman was arrested, but only after civil rights leaders championed the case and demonstrators, many wearing hoodies, marched in Sanford, Miami and elsewhere to demand action”.
“The tumult also led to the firing of the Sanford police chief”.
NOTE: Does the Police Chief now get to sue for wrongful termination?

jpcpt03 on July 15, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Which will be less satisfying for George Zimmerman, but better in other ways. I believe they would pay millions to keep it out of court. And Zimmerman may need those millions to keep himself safe after all this.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM

In re the possibility of Martin’s family pushing a civil suit, a commenter on another thread suggested they wouldn’t bother because Zimmerman had no money.
Would the Martin’s attorney “game the system” by waiting until GZ collected from NBC, and then file?

AesopFan on July 15, 2013 at 8:12 PM

NOTE: Does the Police Chief now get to sue for wrongful termination?

jpcpt03 on July 15, 2013 at 7:27 PM

He should.
And the original prosecutor.
And the IT guy as well.
And vote out the governor.

AesopFan on July 15, 2013 at 8:13 PM

bayam on July 15, 2013

…just change your name to jackass…already!

KOOLAID2 on July 15, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Apologies in advance if this has already been discussed:

Does Zimmerman really need to win or is a bruised and bloodied NBC with credibility severely damaged serve as “mission accomplished”?

mad scientist on July 15, 2013 at 1:43 PM

No.

Burn it down.
Scatter the stones.
Salt the earth where it once stood.

Bruised and Bloodied as NBC might be… it needs to be bled to death and the corpse burnt to ash.

NOTE: Does the Police Chief now get to sue for wrongful termination?

jpcpt03 on July 15, 2013 at 7:27 PM

He should.
And the original prosecutor.
And the IT guy as well.
And vote out the governor.

AesopFan on July 15, 2013 at 8:13 PM

The entire system needs to burn.

The State government is at fault. They’re the ones who sic’d Angela Corey against George Zimmerman in the first place. Whoever did this needs to be removed from power.

Those who were wronged should be repaid for the damages dealt against them.

Neither of you also failed to mention the crooked judge in this case, who also needs to be removed from power.

Chaz706 on July 15, 2013 at 8:55 PM

The list is long and will get longer before the 2014 elections. In the mean time it drives everything the Democrates do not want to talk about off the sheets.

jpcpt03 on July 15, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Anderson Cooper just interviewed juror B37. Fascinating. Despite what HLN or CNN has been charging, GZ was a very sympathetic character who wasn’t so much a wanna-be cop but someone trying to help out his neighbors.3 of the jurors voted not guilty immediately, 2 manslaughter and 1 murder 2 when they first went in to deliberate on Friday afternoon.

gracie on July 15, 2013 at 9:09 PM

3 of the jurors voted not guilty immediately, 2 manslaughter and 1 murder 2 when they first went in to deliberate on Friday afternoon.

gracie on July 15, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Actually, I’m surprised that any juror would even consider murder 2 after that farcical prosecution. She must have been heavily influenced by the prosecution’s blatant appeal to emotion.

The manslaughter charge was confusing to many, even to the pundits on TV, so I can somewhat understand that.

I hope we find out how quickly how they were able to persuade the three who wanted to find him guilty of something, and how they did it.

Also, sometimes several jurors write books and they disagree about how some things happened in the jury room.

farsighted on July 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM

I believe they would pay millions to keep it out of court.

Man I hope it’s enough that they go broke..or better yet….have to fire scarborough, sharpton, schultz, O’Donnell and Madcow. Wouldn’t that be great that they couldn’t afford their salaries after paying Zimmerman about 150 million?

Twana on July 16, 2013 at 1:05 AM

About $250 million should take care of it…and full ownership of NBC…

coldwarrior on July 16, 2013 at 8:05 AM

It’s time the media collectively feared screwing up and trying to infect the public with the agenda of its editorial staff.

I want a press that is free to report. I also want them to question what they report from the inside out.

I hope GZ sues and wins big. It will send a message to all media outlets to be sure about what they try to make us believe.

princetrumpet on July 16, 2013 at 8:22 AM

stout77 on July 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Excellent post.

avagreen on July 16, 2013 at 9:30 AM

ZIMMERMAN NEEDS TO SUE NANCY GRACE AND HLN FOR HER USING THE NOW PROVEN LIE, “F]<°®$ING COON" IN HER RANT THE OTHER DAY|

janicelwest on July 16, 2013 at 10:25 AM

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