Media Takes Sides on Zimmerman Decision

After continual media coverage of the George Zimmerman trial in the shooting of Trayvon Martin and more than 16 hours of deliberation by the jury, Zimmerman was acquitted of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter over the weekend.

Since the shooting occurred last year, the case has been heavily followed by the media, with some outlets taking clear, strong stances. Now that the not-guilty verdict has been announced, some publications are being even more outspoken on the matter. We looked at a wide array of news organizations to analyze each publication’s own verdict of the case.

Publication: National Review

Article: “A Just Verdict” by National Review editors

Verdict: By the headline, it’s fairly obvious that National Review agrees with the jury’s verdict of Zimmerman being not guilty. It doesn’t take long for the article to confirm that. In the lede, the editors write “of this we are glad: People in America are still tried in the courts rather than by left-wing protesters or by the media.”

Other National Review headlines on the trial:

“Injudicious Criminal Justice in Florida” by John Fund

“Holder Revives Bogus Civil-Rights Investigation Against Zimmerman” by Andrew C. McCarthy

“Defense Witnesses: Zimmerman is the One Screaming on 9-1-1 Call” by Dimitrios Halikias


Publication: The Atlantic

Article: “Trayvon Martin And The Irony Of American Justice” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Verdict: Though it takes a while for Coates to make his point, after quoting Florida’s self-defense statute and instructions to the jury, the senior editor takes the side of Martin supporters who disagree with the jury’s decision. Coates cites the “criminalization of Martin across the country,” slavery white leagues and a number of other things as evidence that “American policy has placed black people outside of the law.” Instead of blaming the jury, however, Coates argues that the legal system is unbalanced and that based on the evidence presented in court, the jury made a fair decision.

Other Atlantic headlines:

“Stay Classy Robert Zimmerman” by Coates

“The Zimmerman Trial and the Meaning of Verdicts” by Andrew Guthrie Ferguson

“Law and Justice and George Zimmerman” by Andrew Cohen


Publication: Slate

Article: “Zimmerman’s Not Guilty. But Florida Sure Is.” by Emily Bazelon

Verdict: Similar to Coates, Bazelon paints Zimmerman as guilty, but says it was the fault of Florida laws that he was found not guilty. Bazelon starts her story with “It feels wrong, this verdict of not guilty for George Zimmerman” before moving into an explanation of Florida law that states a person “who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked” has no duty to retreat. That, Bazelon argues, was a key part of the not-guilty decision by the verdict. Bazelon also says she had hoped Zimmerman would be found guilty on charges of manslaughter.

Other Slate headlines:

“The Newest Trayvon Martin Race-Baiting Theory from the Right” by David Weigle

“George Zimmerman Is Probably Going To Walk, and That’s Not a Bad Thing” by Justin Peters

“NAACP Calls on Department of Justice to File Civil Rights Charges Against Zimmerman” by Daniel Politi

“Demonstrations Erupt Across the Country to Protest Zimmerman Acquittal”

Publication: The Daily Caller

Article: “Zimmerman acquitted, locals react” by Chuck Ross

Verdict: Ross manages to refrain from taking an obvious stance on the not-guilty decision, but by the quotes and details used, it becomes apparent that he agrees with the jury’s decision. For instance he includes the fact that “[special prosecutor Angela] Corey stared down The Daily Caller as she was asked why she charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder” while including quotes from defense counsel Don West saying that “the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful.”