In July, to mark the fifth anniversary of George Zimmerman’s trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the Paramount network will air “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.”
Produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, the six-part docuseries promises to retell the lies that launched the Black Lives Matter movement after Zimmerman’s acquittal.
One expects dishonesty given that Jay-Z based the series on two dishonest books, “Rest in Power” by Martin’s parents and “Suspicion Nation” by Lisa Bloom.
One can forgive the parents, but Bloom’s book is so conspicuously wrong in so many critical ways it should have ended her career.
In 2013, NBC and MSNBC brought Bloom in to cover the Zimmerman trial, “gavel-to-gavel.” She watched every minute of the trial and has no excuse for the nonsense she produced.
As Bloom reported, Zimmerman “fear[s]” black men. He profiles 17-year-old Trayvon Martin for no reason other than his race.
He follows him after the officer tells him not to. He confronts Martin. He “grabs or shoves him.” A “frightened” Martin punches Zimmerman. For the record, Martin was nearly half a foot taller than Zimmerman.
A “tussle” ensues. It is “not particularly significant” who is on top. Zimmerman pulls the gun, points it at Martin, and continues his “profane insulting rant” for 40 seconds during which time Martin screams “aaah” in fear. An angry, panicky Zimmerman shoots and kills Martin.
To make this theory work, Bloom overlooks major chunks of evidence and makes crucial mistakes on the evidence she does present.
Her treatment of the most important eyewitness, Witness No. 6, Jonathan Good, is a case in point.
On the night of the shooting, Good told Sanford PD investigator Chris Serino that the “one guy on top in the black hoodie was pretty much just throwing down blows on the guy kind of MMA [mixed martial arts]-style.”
The next day, Good told a local TV reporter, “The guy on bottom who I believe had a red sweater on was yelling to me, ‘help, help.’ I told them to stop and I was calling 9-1-1.”
Independently on that same day, Zimmerman confirmed Good’s story. As he told the Sanford PD, when Good offered to call 9-1-1, he answered, “No, help me. I need help.”
Investigator Serino reviewed the various 9-1-1 calls the morning after the shooting. On one call, he noted, a male’s voice could be heard yelling “help” or “help me” 14 times in roughly 40 seconds.
“The voice was determined to be that of George Zimmerman who was apparently yelling for help as he was being battered by Trayvon Martin,” Serino reported at the time.
Astonishingly, however, Bloom claims that all evidence “pointed to Trayvon Martin as the screamer.”
To make this case Bloom ignores the testimony of Good, of Zimmerman and of Serino.
Of all the witnesses to testify at the trial, Good was the most succinct and coherent, but Bloom spends only one sentence on him and gets everything wrong.
It reads as follows: “Trayvon remained a threat after the shooting, according to Zimmerman, which is why he asked John Good, the first to come outside after the gunshot, ‘to help me.'” (italics mine)
To make her theory work, Bloom must make other key evidence go away as well, including the well-documented timeline.
Martin had four minutes to run the hundred or so yards to the townhouse he was visiting after he first saw Zimmerman.
No viable “theory” could explain away those four minutes. Bloom doesn’t even try. She makes no mention of the four-minute gap, which was a major part of the trial.
Bloom also ignores the contents of Martin’s cellphone that showed him to be an aspiring mixed martial artist with an unhealthy taste for blood, drugs and guns.
Martin was a troubled kid. His mother had recently kicked him out of the house for fighting. And he had been suspended from school three times in the past semester.
On the subject of the second suspension Bloom weds her dishonest reporting with bogus sociology to arrive at a conclusion that is both false and destructive.
As she tells the story, Martin was suspended for writing three letters on a locker, and the school suspended him as part of an “overly punitive ‘pushout’ cycle” that seemingly targeted African-Americans.
The exact opposite is true. Like Nikolas Cruz in neighboring Broward County, Martin was spared the criminal justice system because of his minority status.
He was left instead to wander the streets of Sanford, Florida, high, angry and likely looking for a house to rob.
Yes, Martin did write “WTF” on a locker, but when the police officer rifled through Martin’s book bag, he found 12 pieces of women’s jewelry, a watch and a large flathead screwdriver that he described as a “burglary tool.” Bloom makes no mention of this.
When the police arrived at the scene after Martin’s shooting, they found a burglary tool lying in the grass nearby.
As their depositions prove, Martin’s parents knew months before the trial how totally their son’s life had collapsed in large part because of their own neglect. That was not a story they or Bloom wanted to share.
Bloom’s most unforgivable sin is to portray Zimmerman—an Obama supporter, civil rights activist and mentor to two black teens– as an angry, mean-spirited racist. Amazingly, Bloom never identifies Zimmerman as an Hispanic, not even a “white Hispanic.”
Jay-Z might surprise. He might present Trayvon’s life as a cautionary tale about the effects of parental neglect and abandonment.
Don’t count on it.