Several news outlets have been pilloried — often rightfully so — for disseminating misleading judgments and outright falsehoods about the Trayvon Martin killing. And now, a new poll from Pew finds that 56 percent of Republicans think there has been too much coverage of the case altogether. The poll reveals a sharp partisan divide — only 25 percent of Democrats say the media has gone overboard. And the gap is even deeper along racial lines, with 58 percent of African Americans saying the death of the black teen is their top story, compared to 24 percent of whites. Has the coverage been excessive, or has the story just become a political litmus test?
The press needs to back off: We've had way "too much hyperbolic coverage" of this tragedy, says Sheila Liaugminas at MercatorNet. The overkill only fuels the "dangerously escalating reaction to [the case], without restraint or recourse to facts." The competition for scoops has created a "carnival-like atmosphere" and muddied the truth. It's time the media stopped using Trayvon to whip "up a public frenzy" to push its own agenda.
"The Trayvon Martin tragedy"
Huh? The case isn't getting enough coverage: The poll shows "an interesting, but obvious divide," says Kyle Munzenreider in Miami New Times. You could theorize that "Republicans are more likely to play down the story because it shines a light at Republican-authored gun rights and self-defense laws." Meanwhile, 30 percent of surveyed Americans believe the Trayvon shooting is the country's top story, but it's only receiving 18 percent of overall news coverage. "If anything the case isn't getting enough attention."
"Survey: Republicans are sick of hearing about Trayvon Martin"
Either way, the media shouldn't play jury: Journalists who hope the wall-to-wall coverage will lead to the arrest of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who says he shot Martin in self defense, ought to rethink their strategy, says Charisse Van Horn at Examiner.com. O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony were both "tried in the media before they made it to the courtroom," and both "walked free." Real justice takes time. All the hype from the media and their for-hire forensics experts is "not evidence, but speculation."
"Should media step back in the Trayvon Martin case?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- What if The Purge was real?
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
Subscribe to the Week