In a segment discussing the start of the trial of George Zimmerman for the 2012 murder of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall noted that many are concerned that the trial has the potential to exacerbate racial tensions in the United States. Hall and her guests fretted about the “firestorm” that the Martin trial could set off. After making this appropriate and responsible observation, Hall politicized the trial noting that President Barack Obama appears to be on the side of the prosecution while conservatives and Fox News Channel are seemingly supportive of the Defense.
“The emotions involved in this are tremendous,” Hall observed in a question to The Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart. “You’ve written about it. You’ve even been, if you will, attacked by the attorneys representing George Zimmerman.”
“You have people who have that pit in their stomach. The worry that the outcome of this trial could set off a firestorm, quite honestly,” she continued. “And folks are worried about that, honestly.”
Capehart said that the Martin family, which has called for calm and asked for the public to abide by the decision ultimately reached by a Florida jury, is concerned about unrest.
“Even though the national outrage has died down, the sort of red hot passions that this case has embroiled, for lack of a better word, are still there,” Capehart noted. “The level of vitriol and also passion that attends to this case is very, very real.”
Capehart said that the calls for calm from all the parties involved were helpful to quell the racial tension that the Zimmerman case naturally evokes. After that bit of responsible reporting, Hall proceeded to politicize the Martin case by observing that Republicans support an accused murderer while Obama would have loved Trayvon like a son. Fortunately, she was only observing how “others” have inflamed the nation with their coverage of the case.
“You have others, I mean, who have tried to turn this into a political story, Jonathan,” Hall noted. “We know that the president gave his heartfelt words that, if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, but we also know that George Zimmerman went on Fox News a lot because he felt that he had a sympathetic ear from conservatives.”
In March of last year, MSNBC brass defended the actions of their anchor, Rev. Al Sharpton, who traveled to Florida in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in February, to hold political rallies with the stated aim of forcing local police to charge and arrest Zimmerman. “We didn’t hire Al to become a neutered kind of news presenter,” said MSNBC president Phil Griffin.
MSNBC prime time anchor Lawrence O’Donnell spent one memorable segment last year angrily interrogating an empty chair after his scheduled guest, Zimmerman’s attorney, cancelled last minute. “He literally ran away,” O’Donnell said, “he is in our car right now taking him away from the studio.”
Zimmerman is suing NBC/Universal, a fact that every MSNBC anchor has been forced to disclose amid their hourly coverage of the trial, after the network aired a misleading edit of his 911 call which made it appear as though he told the operator that Trayvon Martin was black unsolicited. In fact, he was asked to describe Martin’s appearance.
When Hall says that “others” have politicized this case, one would have to assume that she is not only referring to Fox News and the President of the United States. Hopefully, she is also talking thinking her fellow MSNBC colleagues.
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