Chauvin trial: Another false media narrative collapses

By Sean Harshey

Having previously written about the collapse of American laws and their replacement with the personal opinions of government officials who pick and choose what laws to enforce and against whom, we are also seeing the collapse of our criminal justice system, which is being replaced by major media narratives and pop culture trends.

The trial of Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis is simply the latest example of the rush to prosecute a case based more on media narrative rather than thorough investigation or thoughtful charging decisions.

We have seen this several times in the recent past.

In 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin during a confrontation between the neighborhood watch member and the visiting Martin on a dark night while Zimmerman was on the phone to 911 and Martin was on the phone to his girlfriend. Evidence in the criminal trial showed a dramatically different version of events – Zimmerman fired his gun while lying on his back on the ground being beaten by Martin – than the premeditated stalking and murder of a small child as portrayed by activists and corporate media. The national shock and media outrage at Zimmerman’s acquittal were the result of the dramatic difference between the actual facts that came out during the jury trial and the media narrative created and stoked for more than a year leading up to the trial.

The national rioting and media fury surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 subjected Officer Darren Wilson to months of investigations from several sources, including by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Rather than remain silent, as virtually any defense counsel would advise, Wilson waived his rights and fully cooperated with every investigation, telling and retelling the events surrounding his encounter with Brown. His testimony matched up with physical and forensic evidence collected in the case. The same evidence also completely contradicted the rumors and media narratives promoted by athletes, activists and celebrities and was eagerly embraced by corporate media as facts. “Hands up, don’t shoot!” Wilson was fully exonerated by every charging authority, despite intense pressure by media and activist groups to find some crime with which to charge him. That pressure was largely based on media narratives that, under scrutiny, turned out to be completely false. Like the Zimmerman case, the shock and outrage were due to the stark contrast between the widespread acceptance of the rumors, innuendo and assumptions that made up the media narrative and the facts determined by local, state and federal investigators from actual evidence.

Chauvin’s criminal case in Minnesota appears to be largely shaping up in an eerily similar manner to the Zimmerman case in Florida. The government has been reduced to impeaching their own evidence (the autopsy report not only failed to attribute the cause of death to a murderous knee, but revealed serious health problems combined with extraordinarily fatal levels of illegal drugs), and now police body cam footage has come into evidence showing Chauvin’s knee appeared to be on Floyd’s shoulder blades and not on his neck as it appeared from the famous cellphone video taken by bystanders and as claimed by activists.

Instead of waiting for a full investigation and trial, Chauvin was presumed guilty, convicted in the media, immediately fired, and the city rushed to pay the Floyd family $27 million, described as the largest pre-trial civil rights lawsuit settlement in American history – a fact that jurors told the court (in the criminal trial) influenced their opinion of the case, forcing their dismissal.

There is no way of knowing what verdict a jury will return in any trial or what specific item of evidence will be seen by them as particularly important. The Derek Chauvin murder trial in the death of George Floyd, though, is another example of an intense media narrative collapsing under the weight of expectations for an open-and-shut case versus actual facts and evidence.

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