Juror B29 was framed... sort of

Allahpundit took a first look at the big Juror B29 Breaking News on Thursday, and like many of us, was left scratching his head. The headlines which showed up all across the media all focused on one money line from ABC’s big interview with “Maddy” because it was just so gosh darned irresistible. “George Zimmerman Got Away With Murder.”

Another person who jumped on that headline, albeit from a different angle, was Dr. James Joyner. That’s not surprising given the number of others who reported the “news” pretty much as presented by ABC. But now he’s had time to look over the situation and found that there was a lot more (or perhaps less) to the truncated interview clips than met the eye. Joyner points us to William Saletan, who takes a look at the unedited interview and determines, “The media are reporting that a juror says Zimmerman is guilty of murder. That’s not true.“

The reports are based on an ABC News interview with Juror B29, the sole nonwhite juror. She has identified herself only by her first name, Maddy. She’s been framed as the woman who was bullied out of voting to convict Zimmerman. But that’s not true. She stands by the verdict. She yielded to the evidence and the law, not to bullying. She thinks Zimmerman was morally culpable but not legally guilty. And she wants us to distinguish between this trial and larger questions of race and justice.

ABC News hasn’t posted a full unedited video or transcript of the interview. The video that has been broadcast—on World News Tonight, Nightline, and Good Morning America—has been cut and spliced in different ways, often so artfully that the transitions appear continuous. So beware what you’re seeing. But the video that’s available already shows, on closer inspection, that Maddy has been manipulated and misrepresented.

From Joyner:

The bottom line is that ABC News exploited “the only minority of the Zimmerman jury,” attempted to take advantage of someone not accustomed to being on television or otherwise expressing herself publicly, and then selectively edited the tape when they were unsuccessful in getting the story they wanted. Other outlets, including “the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other newspapers” were duped along with me.

This is truly shameful conduct on the part of a news division once home to giants like John Cameron Swayze, Frank Reynolds, Harry Reasoner, David Brinkley, and Peter Jennings.

Saletan makes a number of pretty much unassailable points on this, so read that entire piece. One of the chief ones is that the top, link baiting quote from the interview – that Zimmerman “got away with murder” – was, as the author puts it, “put in her mouth.” If you saw the highlights from the interview playing endlessly on ABC, CNN and NBC – to name only a few – you saw Maddy reciting that line as if it was her heartfelt conclusion in a moment of juror’s remorse. But when you watch the full interview, (which I’ll include below for your own judgement) you’ll see what really happened. The “journalist” in question fed her that line word for word, prefaced with the ubiquitous, “some people are saying…” for good measure, and then asking B29 to respond. She pauses for quite a while, starts, stops, and then repeats the line the interviewer had said, as if judging how it sat on her tongue. Only then does she add in her own thoughts about how the verdict was legal and that she stands by it, but morally she feels that Zimmerman may have to answer to God for the incident. And even there she clearly seems to allow that none of us know what really happened and aren’t in a position to judge.

I agree with Dr. Joyner that this was some pretty shameful editing on the part of ABC for the many instances where they used the footage, and the rest of the networks are equally culpable for lapping it up. Anyway, as I indicated above, here’s the full clip. Decide for yourself.