CNN Inadvertently Shows George Zimmerman’s Social Security Number During Trial Coverage

By Alex Weprin 

CNN broadcast George Zimmerman‘s personal information to the world, as it appeared onscreen in a document during live trial coverage this afternoon. At 12:16 PM ET, the document was presented in the courtroom, with Zimmerman’s address, date of birth, phone number and social security number clearly visible.

While CNN was carrying the trial live, Fox News was covering the protests in Egypt, and MSNBC and HLN were in commercial breaks. When both of those channels came back from commercial, they had skipped over the document revealing Zimmerman’s personal information. HLN went to commercial just a few seconds before the document in question was put on screen.

Update from CNN: “Routinely the evidence is first given to the Court Clerk for redaction, and that didn’t happen in this instance.  The Court is circling back to attorneys on both sides to make sure they give the Clerk’s office the opportunity to redact the necessary information.”

As noted by Twitchy, many people on social networks like Twitter and Facebook started sharing Zimmerman’s details, including his social security number.

Even a producer remaining vigilant to the language could overlook the content of a written document appearing onscreen. That said, the reveal is yet another example of how live trial coverage can be hard to manage from a content standpoint for networks. Twice now multiple networks were caught airing unbleeped curse words. HLN has been airing the trial on a delay, so that every minute would air, however it has been going live when a particularly important or dramatic moment was unfolding. This time, however, that delay may have helped the network avoid hot water.