Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly lambasted the media Friday night, singling out MSNBC and CNN, saying the media "is exploiting the terrible death of 17-year-old Trayvon by convicting the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, of wrongdoing on television."
O'Reilly said that in his more than 30 years in journalism he had not seen such reprehensible press coverage, and singled out MSNBC and parent network NBC for drumming up racial tensions for ratings. O'Reilly such media malfeasance could lead to serious violence.
"It was pathetic watching the prime-time cable programs whip up the Trayvon Martin case to dangerous levels," O'Reilly said in his Talking Points Memo. "The media exploiting the terrible death of 17-year-old Trayvon by convicting the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, of wrongdoing on television."
O'Reilly speculated on what would happen if the Florida special prosecutor decided there is not enough evidence to prosecute Zimmerman.
"What if that happens? It could, because Florida's complicated stand your ground law has muddled the case. MSNBC, and CNN to some extent, have a vested interest in seeing Zimmerman punished because they have already found him guilty on the air. So they are not going to respect any verdict but guilty.
"Therefore, those entities tell the American public that racial injustice has been done if there is not a conviction, and that could very well lead to violence as we saw in the Rodney King case."
O'Reilly, who said he covered the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, reported that 58 people were killed and $1 billion worth of damage was done. "That absolutely could happen in the Trayvon Martin case.
"Leading the charge to convict Zimmerman is Al Sharpton."
O'Reilly then cut to a video of the civil rights activist's speech earlier in the week. "This is not about self-defense. This is about a man deciding somebody, based on who he was, was a suspect and that he would take matters in his own hands," Sharpton said.
Sharpton said that if Zimmerman is not arrested in Trayvon's killing, he will call for an escalation in peaceful civil disobedience and economic sanctions, the Orlando Sentinel
Sharpton would not say what would be done against the city of Sanford, Fla., specifically, the Sentinel reported. A march at 11 a.m. Saturday is scheduled in Sanford, where the killing occurred, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson is expected to join Sharpton at the event.
"Sharpton has, you know, a daily one-hour program on MSNBC and as I said has already found Zimmerman guilty on the air. Same thing with CNN commentator Roland Martin."
In a video on CNN, Martin says: "They gave George Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt because of who he is and they simply saw Trayvon Martin and I guarantee you in their minds they probably said, oh, young black kid, wearing a hoodie, George has got to be right. "
O'Reilly made a prediction, based on Martin's comments. "So you can see the racial animous is already being stirred up on MSNBC and that is flat-out dangerous.
"Pundits who have no blanken idea what happened that night are putting innocent people in danger by commentary based on emotion, not facts."
O'Reilly's commentary Friday night built on the theme of his Thursday night Talking Points Memo, where he said journalists are continuing to try the Trayvon murder case on television, regardless of the possibility that the coverage could spark racial violence.
“No media observer knows exactly what happened the night Trayvon Martin was killed,” O’Reilly said on Fox News. “Yet there they are, bloviating all over the place, exploiting the death of a young man, inciting violence against the system. Awful!”
O'Reilly said “many pundits” are demanding that Zimmerman, 28, be arrested for shooting the 17-year-old to death. “And we can now add Oprah Winfrey to that list,” O’Reilly began the Talking Points Memo.
O’Reilly cut to a short video, recorded earlier, of Winfrey comments.
“It is a tragedy and it is a shame. That we’re sitting here 33 days later and there hasn’t been an arrest or questioning of actually what happened. And it’s a tragedy and it is a shame and we all know it,” Winfrey said. “Black people, white people, yellow people and brown people all over this country and all over the world are saying the same thing: It’s a tragedy and it’s a shame and justice needs to be served.”
O’Reilly agreed that the case is a tragedy, but “Ms. Winfrey saying that there hasn’t been a questioning of what happened is simply absurd, and I’m surprised at her.
“Oprah is usually responsible and fair in her assessment and while you may not agree with her politics, her intentions are mostly good. But not on this one. The Florida special prosecutor is investigating this case and knows far more about it than Oprah or any other TV analyst who are demanding so-called justice.”
O’Reilly said Florida authorities will determine what happened, and take the appropriate legal action. “That could mean arrest and prosecution, or not. I don’t believe anybody’s corrupt here. When it comes to the pundits, I’m angry about the rush to judgment.”
But while he’s angry at the media, O’Reilly says Trayvon’s parents “should be cut some slack” and that they’re entitled to say what they believe.
Trayvon’s dad, Tracy Martin, pointed to racial profiling.
“I do know that my son was racially profiled,” Martin said, also in an interview recorded earlier. “I know that and the whole world knows that.”
O’Reilly said he respects Martin’s opinion and “the circumstantial evidence does point to racial profiling by Mr. Zimmerman, but that is not — not — a proven fact.
“And that’s what’s wrong with the media in this country. No longer do the facts matter. Accusations are enough to condemn folks. Press wants the story and doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. Allegations become front page news no matter how flimsy they are."
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