CNN media critic Howard Kurtz called it "blatant distortion."
Caught and called out, three NBC employees were cashiered.
With this wind at her back, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Translation: Zimmerman murdered Trayvon in a "depraved" state of mind.
If convicted, he could get life.
Last week came a more ominous report. Federal investigators are looking into hate crime charges that could bring the death penalty. The feds would have to prove Zimmerman stalked and murdered Trayvon because he was black.
Yet, last week also, evidence from the investigation spilled out into the national media and seemed to contradict and swamp the prosecution's case.
A medical report the day after the shooting revealed that Zimmerman had suffered a broken nose, two black eyes and lacerations on the back of his head. Photographs from the night of the shooting confirmed it.
A police report that same night said Zimmerman's sweatshirt had "grass stains and was wet on the back," consistent with his being flat on his back.
The lead investigator on the scene, Officer Christopher Serino, wrote that Zimmerman could be heard "yelling for help as he was being battered by Trayvon Martin." One witness said he heard 14 separate cries for help. Trayvon's father initially told police the cries were not those of his son, then recanted.
One responder at the scene said he saw wounds on the knuckles of one of Trayvon's hands, suggesting he had connected with a punch. The coroner found both the knuckle wounds and traces of the drug found in marijuana in Trayvon's blood and urine.
Trayvon's hoodie had powder stains indicating he was shot in the chest from 1 to 18 inches away, consistent again with what Zimmerman said.
Another eyewitness said the guy in the hoodie was on top beating the guy on the bottom "MMA style" -- mixed martial arts style.
With this evidence, how can a jury convict Zimmerman of murder?
Yet the public mind has been so poisoned that an acquittal of George Zimmerman could ignite a reaction similar to that, 20 years ago, when the Simi Valley jury acquitted the LAPD cops in the Rodney King beating case.
Should that happen, those who fanned the flames, and those who did nothing to douse them, should themselves go on trial in the public arena.
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