Another Cop Slain, Another Notch on CNNís Belt
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To celebrate the 4th of July Alexander Bonds coolly walked up to NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia’s police vehicle and shot her dead.
Prodding CNN into action was the profane, upstart Current TV show, The Young Turks. On the night of March 19, 2012, host Cenk Uygur played the unedited Zimmerman call to the police dispatcher.
No network had played the unedited tape, in part because Zimmerman used the word “f***ing” at one point and “a**holes” at another. On an unenhanced tape, the word “f***ing” is difficult to hear. The word that follows it is impossible to hear.
Yet like those zealots who see images of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich, some in the Young Turks viewing audience found racism in empty static and convinced themselves that Zimmerman said, “f***ing coons.”
The next evening Uygur thanked his audience for their perceptiveness. “No one picked up what you guys picked up,” he congratulated them. He then played the unedited tape again, the key words of which were utterly incomprehensible and declared, “That’s unbelievable.”
Uygur continued, “It’s possible he said ‘goons.’ It’s possible he said something else.” That much conceded, Uygur concluded, “but it certainly sounds like ‘coons.’” He then explained how relevant was Zimmerman’s use of that word given that it elevated the shooting to a hate crime.
The next day, March 21, on Anderson Cooper’s AC360, CNN reporter Gary Tuchman worked with audio design specialist Rick Sierra to isolate and enhance the audio from Zimmerman’s call to the dispatcher.
Even cleaned up, the audio was unintelligible, save, of course, to the true believers. Tuchman was one of them. “It certainly sounds like that word to me,” said Tuchman, that word, of course, being “coons.”
Media critic Tommy Christopher agreed. Said he, voicing the media consensus,"The result is, at the very least, more convincing than the raw audio.”
At the time, no one at CNN was asking the most fundamental questions about Zimmerman’s use of this word. Why, for instance, in 2012, would a young Hispanic civil rights activist and Obama supporter think to use an archaic throwback word like “coons?”
More basically, why would Zimmerman begin a sentence with the pronoun “it” if he were to complete his thought with a plural noun, as in, “It’s fucking coons.”
Not everyone was on board for this nonsense. Liberal media pundit Jon Stewart said on his show what many ordinary citizens were thinking, "That doesn't sound like a word at all!"
In the blogosphere, almost everyone agreed with Stewart. One suspects that there were those within CNN’s legal department who did as well.
Tuchman was sent back to the studio. This time, allegedly using an “even higher tech method” with the help of audio specialist Brian Stone, Tuchman admitted to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on April 4, “It does sound less like that racial slur.”
In fact, the word in question sounded a whole lot like “cold.” Again, though, Tuchman failed to mention the role that “it’s” should have played in interpreting what was said. “It’s f***ing cold” makes sense, especially on a cool, damp Florida evening.
“It’s f***ing coons” never made any sense either as a linguistic construct or as a reflection of Zimmerman’s character. Still, the damage had been done.
Despite what should have been a complete exoneration of Zimmerman, Blitzer concluded his broadcast saying, “But it’s readily apparent there will still be controversy over what he said.”
The stable members of the CNN audience moved on. The suggestible members of that audience never let go.
Jack Cashill’s newest book, TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover up, the Conspiracy can now be ordered at Amazon.
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