Talking Points

Bill O'Reilly: The battle of two network news division over Trayvon Martin

Talking Points 4/20


By Bill O'Reilly

The killing of the 17-year-old in Sanford, Florida is now a national story in a number of areas not just a crime situation. As you remember President Obama weighed in on the case.

And now we have two competing news agencies, ABC and NBC News covering the story in completely different ways. ABC News has done 42 stories on the Martin/Zimmerman situation since March 10th. That's a lot.

The latest today on "Good Morning America" when ABC News reporter Matt Gutman discussed some very important evidence.


MATT GUTMAN, ABC NEWS REPORTER: This photograph obtained exclusively by ABC News appears to show the bloody back of George Zimmerman's head and was apparently taken just moments after the neighborhood watch volunteer shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26th. The photograph appears to be the first publicly-disclosed evidence supporting Zimmerman's account that the shooting was in self-defense and that during their scuffle that night, Martin repeatedly bashed his head on the concrete sidewalk.


O'REILLY: Now, ABC News has basically been reporting the Martin Zimmerman case as a hard news story with little commentary attached to it.

NBC News has been doing the exact opposite. That operation is now invested in convicting George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon.


MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: What possible explanation is there for why this young man was shot at?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The guy is armed. He knows he has the stand your ground law on his side. Is he acting like some kind of pseudo policeman. He has no authority whatever. And yet he's on some kind of neighborhood watch thing. It is a toxic mix.

ED SHULTZ, MSNBC HOST: Trayvon Martin is quickly turning into the civil rights figure of our time. Because he was gunned down while doing the simplest of acts -- just walking home from a 7-Eleven store and talking to his girlfriend on a cell phone.

LAWERENCE O'DONNEL, MSNBC HOST: You live in a country where your teenage son can get A's and B's in high school, be well-liked by his teachers, never get in trouble with the law and run out to buy a snack during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game and never come home. Because someone decides he has the right to execute your son.


O'REILLY: So, it is striking the difference between ABC News and NBC News in this case. More on that in a moment.

But first what happened today. Florida Judge Kenneth Lester granted George Zimmerman bail of $150,000. Zimmerman will not be allowed to drink, use drugs, or have any firearms. Also, he has to wear an electronic monitoring device.

In court, Zimmerman apologized to the Martin family.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.


O'REILLY: But the lawyer for the Martins was unmoved by Zimmerman's statement.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: All throughout the hearing, Tracy Martin had tears in his eyes as he watched the killer of his son. And it was devastating that he got to give a self-serving apology to help him get a bond.


O'REILLY: Obviously feelings continue to run very high.

But back to ABC and NBC News. As "Talking Points" has stated, it is very dangerous for any news operation to try a criminal case on television. But that is what NBC has chosen to do through its cable arm MSNBC.

In the process a heavy racial component has been introduced into the case and if Mr. Zimmerman is not convicted, violence is certainly possible. In fact, there are some who believe the only reason Zimmerman was arrested in the first place was because of the racial component of the case. Now, that's pure speculation and again, we believe the Florida authorities are competent and are running a fair case.

However, it is now up to the jury to decide whether George Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder. That being said, the ABC News exclusive this morning is news worthy. Obviously Zimmerman's defense will be that he was attacked by Mr. Martin and had the right to stand his ground.

But it is troubling that evidence like blood on Mr. Zimmerman's head is delivered to the public on TV. In Great Britain the court can prevent the press from reporting on criminal cases that go to trial if authorities believe that justice could be tainted by media expositions. It's worth noting that Great Britain also gives judges the power to make those who file frivolous lawsuits pay the entire cost of the case thereby making it more difficult to game the legal system.

"Talking Points" believes there is merit in the British hard line against criminal justice abuse. The fact that we now have two major television news operations covering a very important story in opposite directions, says a lot about where we are as a nation.

"The Factor" believes that the media should use restraint in its coverage of the Martin/Zimmerman case. We don't believe that commentators who have already convicted Mr. Zimmerman are responsible. In fact, we believe they have hurt this country. And we will continue to cover the case without prejudice.

And that's "The Memo."

Pinheads & Patriots.

CNN anchor Erin Burnett last night reported on Marijuana Day in Colorado.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Now we go to the University of Boulder, Colorado, in Boulder. Sorry, it's almost as if I was, you know, on some sort of drug. The campus is all but shut down in preparation for tomorrow's annual 4/20 Marijuana Smoke-out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one thing we know, it's not going to be the usual 4/20 tomorrow, Erin.

BURNETT: That's kind of a tragedy for a whole lot of people, for sure. All right. Well, thanks so much, Jim Sullivan.

All right. Still "OUTFRONT," how many mistresses are too many? Really.


O'REILLY: Far be it from me to call Ms. Burnett a "Pinhead." You will have to make that call.

Do you think I should wear those glasses? Yes. They're voting yes, because they want my career to be ruined.