Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grossly Inaccurate Reporting about Zimmerman Verdict Rioting - more inaccurate than usual

Police officers in riot gear patrol the streets
following a prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin on July 16, 2013,
in Los Angeles. More than 3,000 people were arrested
 in LA during the Watts Riots.
And Tuesday night? Thirteen people.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
There have been multiple reports which are in turn being widely circulated by the right wing fact-averse media (including the blogosphere) that there were violent riots as a result of the George Zimmerman verdict.  Other sources, like Dave Weigel over at Slate for example, also repeated the rumor as fact.

Apparently when people have been disappointed in the lack of violence, they’ve just made stuff up instead, and too many people don't check it to see if it passes a fact check.

We had the claim, reported by NBC and other news media, attributing the statement to the LAPD,  that there was $15,000 dollars worth of damage done to the luxury W Hotel.  I called the W Hotel after reading a couple of reports that said this was factually inaccurate, including the Brad Blog.  After it was circulated by NBC, other news sources picked up the story, and republished it, apparently without fact checking it.  Presumably they simply assumed that if NBC or the LAPD said it, it was true.  I made the phone calls, because after such contradictory reporting, I didn’t trust anyone’s fact checking except my own.  Then I fact checked some other, different accounts of Zimmerman verdict violence.

The Brad Blog was correct.  In fact, the Brad Blog did a superb job of looking at similar sensational and inaccurate reporting by this NBC station previously.  It is worth a read.  Then read about the OTHER claims of riots relating to the Zimmerman verdict that aren’t true EITHER.

For the most part, protests in the wake of the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman in Florida, have been peaceful here in L.A., though, at times, it seems as if NBC’s local affiliate, NBC4 hoped they might not be.
has confirmed with a spokesman at the W Hotel in Hollywood that “no protestors ever entered” the facility, even as NBC4′s NewsChopper4 reporter Megan Reyes told both the studio and viewers watching their live web stream of protests on Sunday night that protesters were “getting very rowdy” and had “broken glass” at the hotel. She cited no source for her reporting, and NBC4 did not respond to The BRAD BLOG’s request last night via Twitter for details on Reyes’ sourcing.
By Monday on NBC4, false reports of “broken glass” had turned into false reports of “$15,000 worth of damage” at the hotel, after reporter Tony Guinyard informed viewers that protesters “stormed” the hotel and, as an LAPD Commander, on camera, confirmed that report.
All of that, however, was completely disputed by two W Hotel officials we contacted on Monday…

“In Hollywood, a large group [of protesters] stormed the W hotel,” Guinyard reported, before LAPD Commander Andrew Smith offered official confirmation.
“At one point,” Smith says in the report (see beginning at appx 1:10 in the video here), “a group broke of them broke off and went into the W Hotel, committed what I’m told is about $15,000 worth of damage. Spray-paint, graffiti, that type of thing, and then they left.”
“Those were some of the individuals we arrested later that were part of that group,” Smith continued. “We have a total of 5 people that were arrested in Hollywood for failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly. And now I’m getting reports that one more person was arrested for throwing bottles at our officers in Hollywood as well.”
The account from the W Hotel’s PR and Communication Director Lauren Travis and its General Manager Leon Young, were quite different from NBC4 reporters Guinyard and Reyes, as well as that of LAPD’s Commander Smith.
“The safety and security of our guests and associates remains our paramount priority,” Young told The BRAD BLOG in an emailed statement forwarded to us by Travis today, “and we are thankful to the local authorities for their assistance.”
Young went on to make clear that “No protestors ever entered W Hollywood nor were any of our guests ever in danger.”
In our follow-up, specifically asking about the reports of broken glass on Sunday, as reported several times late Sunday night by NewsChopper4 reporter Reyes, Travis replied directly: “Regarding the broken glass – those reports are false.”
We sought comment from NBC4, asking if they intended to correct the record, given the response from the hotel. After sending an email query, we received a phone call almost immediately in return Monday evening from Andy Davis of NBC4. He requested our conversation stay off record, but he pointed us towards the video posted on their website of Commander Smith claiming the major damage at the W Hotel.
We then sought comment from the LAPD’s Media Relations Section and spoke with Detective Gus Villanueva. When we asked about the discrepancy between Smith’s comments on NBC4 and that from the W Hotel officials, he said, “I would go by what the hotel says.”
Villanueva confirmed, in fact, that “Initially, we heard it was $15,000. I know that’s what I have as of 3pm. I haven’t heard anything different since then.”
But when we asked who the source was for that report, he said, “Obviously, the hotel would be the source for that.”
“I know we did give a property damage estimate,” he added, “but I would go with what the hotel says.”
“Will you be correcting the record on that then?,” we asked.
“No, but you will,” Villanueva responded.

Meanwhile, the Inquisitor, an online news site, reported on the twitter accounts, which noted there were NO riots, just some petty vandalism by people who were not in fact part of the protest.

Then we have the face book account that black teens chased and beat up an Hispanic man yelling “This is for Trayvon” in Baltimore.  Except that neither the police investigation, nor the account from the victim back up that claim, which in turn was reported by Salon.  The Baltimore Sun did a pretty good job of debunking the story.
After interviewing Garcia twice Sunday, police didn’t believe that either Trayvon Martin’s or Zimmerman’s name had been invoked in the assault.
I’ve already written about the fake video that purported to be of a Zimmerman verdict in Miami, that was old footage of a sports riot in Vancouver several years ago.


  1. Numerous protests here in Chicago on Monday and yesterday. No arrests. Just peaceful protests.

  2. Black people being unhappy with the verdict = no news.

    Black people "wilding" on white folks = Rodney King Redux, lotta news.