Tuesday, July 30, 2013

About that 'fiery car crash' and George Zimmerman riding to the rescue...

I'm fascinated with how false or grossly inaccurate stories make the national media, and how and when the blogosphere does such a good job of fact checking them, as an alternative and adjunct to the established print and broadcast media.

For example, both print and broadcast media promoted the idea that George Zimmerman showed up at a car crash in or near Sanford, Florida, with his fire extinguisher and put out a flaming vehicle that had crashed, rescuing the driver, his wife, and two children. It was a non-story; no major damage, no injuries, and absolutely no fire.  It did not even make the local media. 

National media promoted it a week later as George Zimmerman being a hero, JUST ahead of the jurors from his trial coming on national television to claim he got away with murder.

That was the version I saw on a national news broadcast, and that was the story promoted in a number of national print media outlets - Zimmerman saves family from burning SUV.

Hot Air in their coverage noted the routinely and notoriously factually inaccurate site Breitbart had suggested this was a burning vehicle, and that NBC reported it that way.  And noted the correction, without any attending notice that there had been a significant change.
Update: NBC reports that the car was on fire, as suggested by the Breitbart report, so there was some danger here to Zimmerman and the other rescuer.
Update: NBC’s now updated its piece to remove the claims that the car was on fire.
It wasn't only NBC making the correction.

The initial claim of fire, or even someone getting out of a vehicle with a fire extinguisher, absent any sign of fire, surprise me, because very few vehicle crashes result in fires, specifically 0.1 % -- and they are rarely the type of accident where Zimmerman allegedly showed up to help.

The image of someone who has risked life and limb to save others is materially different from helping another person helping someone climb out of a car lying on its side, where there are no apparent injuries.
According to the public information specialist for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the 911 call, they did not post it on their website where it lists the daily dept. activity because it was so unimportant, and they held no press conference nor did they issue any press releases; rather they answered media inquiries a week later, coincidentally (or not) on the day JUST BEFORE the jurors talked.  The SCSO did not see this as media attention worthy, in explaining why they did not make any press notice prior to the media inquiry.

Reports of such an heroic effort of course boosts the image of Zimmerman as a helpful good Samaritan; his image needed some serious help after jurors stated he got away with murder for shooting an unarmed black teen whom, as a guest of residents in the neighborhood, he should have been helping to get home safely instead of killing him.

The notion that Zimmerman is heroic can reasonably be taken to encourage those donors who give him money to give him more, like the group which recently gave him $12,000 to buy more guns. Zimmerman is reportedly broke, or nearly so. Therefore, receiving more than less in the way of donations affects he and his wife very directly and significantly.

Checking the actual Seminole County Sheriff's original press information, there was no mention of fire. The accident report makes no mention of fire. The local press, which I find to be the most reliable reporting on incidents, because of their proximity in the community is very clear there was no fire involved, and that they didn't know anything about it at the time -- in effect, after the national media ran with it.

The notion that there was a fire appears to hinge on Zimmerman having an unnecessary fire extinguisher, AND appears to have been added to the story around the same time that appeared on the Breitbart site.

Most of the sources which originally reported that there was a fiery crash of the SUV involved have now quietly updated their stories - without noting that the update contains a correction or significant change. I have yet to catch an instance where the error or correction was noted on a news broadcast.

The Gerstle family whom Zimmerman helped out of their vehicle isn't saying anything either, having canceled a press conference.  Some attribute this to their having received threats, but this has not been documented, and given the false reports of violence and threats associated with the Zimmerman verdict, is highly suspect. But a better question is why was Mr. Gerstle going to call a national press event for a non-news-worthy story, praising Zimmerman but not the other guy, or the 911 callers? That is strange behavior, and it appears that as the jurors stories about Zimmerman committing murder got attention, lacking any real basis for praising and thanking Zimmerman, the Gerstle press conference was canceled.

The question to be asking here is who benefited from George Zimmerman inaccurately being promoted as a hero on national television, and how did that lead to a non-news story headlining the national news.


  1. The extreme right often have their facts wrong. Someone on my blog just sent me a link to the CDC study ordered by President Obama after Sandy Hook. He said that the report stated that there were hundreds of thousands of defensive gun use. The problem is, the CDC hasn't even begun it's report. It asked another group of researchers to suggest areas for study. That group has reported to the CDC. It will take 3-5 years for the CDC to complete it's study. When I checked on this, I saw a bunch of right wing media yelling that President Obama ordered a study that proved he was wrong about guns. Breitbart was among them.

  2. japete:

    You're talking about a group of idiotz that still rely on the Kleck and Lott "studies" to support their "arguments". If teh Bathit KKKrazzee Burnin' Stoopit was a viable energy source, the ReiKKKwing could be carbon neutral in a heartbeat.