Sean Hannity hasn’t forgotten his pal George Zimmerman, victim of reverse racial prejudice. Yesterday, a Florida judge denied Zimmerman’s request to delay his trial for the murder of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin – and Hannity didn’t need defense attorney Mark O’Mara to know that a miscarriage of racial justice had taken place! So before bringing on O’Mara to talk about how badly Zimmerman needs donations – and to let viewers know where to go to donate – Hannity did his best to whip up his viewers into some racially righteous indignation at Zimmerman’s racial victimhood.
You may recall that Hannity has buddied up to Zimmerman as he has with previous white guys in racial trouble. In fact, Hannity was suspected to have offered to contribute to Zimmerman’s legal defense fund – which Fox News denied. Regardless, Hannity has certainly done his part for Zimmerman via the best PR he could offer.
Last night, Hannity repeated his efforts. He opened an interview with O’Mara by first playing videos of “the bullying by the liberal mainstream media and the Obama administration when it comes to this case.” And if anyone should know about bullying, it’s Hannity!
Hannity played a clip that he complained (legitimately) had been deceptively edited by MSNBC because it showed Zimmerman describing the suspect Martin as “black” to a 911 operator without revealing that he had been asked for that information. OK, fair enough, I suppose. But then Hannity sneered, “But the rush to judgment, based on race alone, went all the way up to the President of the United States.” As “proof,” he played a clip of Zimmerman’s brother telling Breitbart News (and don’t forget their record on race and deceptively edited videos) complaining that President Obama’s remark, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Robert Zimmerman said, “I think we felt bullied… I don’t think a white president would have been able to get away with the same thing.”
For one thing, President Obama’s point was not that Trayvon Martin was black but that his kid would have probably dressed in the same “menacing” way. But more importantly, playing a clip of Zimmerman’s brother expressing his family’s racial animosity toward President Obama is not exactly a way to convince people there was no racial chip on George Zimmerman’s shoulder when he shot the unarmed Martin.
Not that Hannity seemed to notice. And even O’Mara whined that Zimmerman had been wrongly painted as a racist. Hannity asked O’Mara to tell us about Zimmerman’s activities on behalf of children of color and the people of color in his own family. And about the lawsuit against NBC News for “rushing to judgment” and having “made this a racial event when it absolutely was not,” as O'Mara said.
Except that African Americans feel differently. Even if Zimmerman never had a prejudiced bone in his body, the case resonates with the African American community in ways that either Hannity and O'Mara didn't understand or else ignored. As the Tampa Bay Times put it, race plays a “complex role” in the Stand Your Ground law involved and the initial failure of the local police department to charge Zimmerman. Plus, there are still-unanswered questions about just how threatening was the unarmed teen’s behavior as he walked home after buying some Skittles and an iced tea.
As I’ve said many times, I think Zimmerman has been unfairly demonized in the media. But unless the jury is made up of Hannity and/or Breitbart fans (an unlikely possibility given the racially sensitive nature of the case), it’s hard for me to see how Hannity’s racial grandstanding is going to help.
Unless the point of this segment was really about getting viewers to pony up some dough. What Hannity didn't mention is that the Zimmerman prosecutors accused the defense of requesting the delay because of their dwindling funds. In fact, O’Mara seemed to confirm that when he appealed to the Hannity viewers for more money: “The defense fund which is really just hopeful on the support of his supporters out there in the country, is now at its absolute low. So the money that we need to hire defense experts and to continue with depositions is simply not there… I know that I talked to you about, sort of, the need for increasing donations.” Then he named the site where viewers could go because “It’s the way that we sort of need to deal because it’s either we get that type of information, that type of support from the community or we have to look towards an indigency finding to have the state support him.”
Well, take heart Zimmerman defense team. If any group of people would be likely to dig in their pockets on behalf of Zimmerman, it’s the overhwelmingly white, racially resentful group of people who would be Hannity fans.