The broadcast news divisions and cable news channels had been waiting all day for a verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. It finally came just before 10pmET, leading the broadcast networks to produce rare, live, primetime special reports for the not guilty verdict. But one network, ABC News, began their special report too late and missed the verdict. ABC joined as the jurors were being polled. The network was showing the canceled “666 Park Avenue,” and even promoted the live verdict in a crawl.
On NBC, Lester Holt anchored a special report, interrupting the final seconds of a made-for-TV movie based on the American Girl doll Saige. Holt took viewers to the verdict, seconds before it was being read. NBC’s report lasted until 10:08.
CBS was first on the air at 9:58, joining during the closing credits of “48 Hours” in the Eastern and Central time zones. The Jim Axelrod-anchored special also went off the air at 10:08.
Despite missing the verdict live, the timing for ABC could not have been better. The network already had “20/20” on the schedule. The live special report anchored by David Muir began with the verdict then recounted the 16-month long case through the 10pm hour.
The cable news channels had been on verdict watch all day, following 15 hours of deliberation by the six female jurors. By the time the verdict came Don Lemon anchored for CNN, Harris Faulkner on Fox News, Chris Jansing anchored on MSNBC and Nancy Grace was on HLN. “It’s a stunner, Nancy!” said a breathless Jane Velez-Mitchell. “Shock and awe… It’s just…uh.”
Coverage continues on the cablers with news conferences, live chopper shots and other remote cameras on the lookout for verdict reaction.
> More: CNN’s Martin Savidge, who was in the courtroom, said the notice of a verdict came less than 10 minutes before it was read. “It was a race to get to the elevators. Probably 36 reporters and on top of that the legal teams and family members that had to get into place. We barely got into the courtroom.”
Will we hear from the jurors? Here’s what the judge said to them following the verdict:
The law gives you a unique privilege not to speak about the jury’s work. Although you are at liberty to speak with anyone about your deliberations, you are also at liberty to refuse to speak to anyone. A request to discuss either your verdict or your deliberations may come from those who are simply curious from those who might seek to find fault with you, from the media, from the attorneys or elsewhere. It will be up to you to decide whether to preserve your privacy as a juror.