Outspoken former NBA superstar Charles Barkley said he agrees with the verdict in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, but blasted the media for giving platforms to racists to “vent” their ignorance.
Barkley, 50, gave his assessment on the high-profile Florida murder trial to CNBC on Thursday, saying jurors simply did not have enough evidence to convict the former neighborhood watch volunteer in the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“Well I agree with the verdict,” Barkley said. “I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Something clearly went wrong that night — clearly something went wrong — and I feel bad for anybody who loses a kid, but if you looked at the case and you don’t make it — there was some racial profiling, no question about it — but something happened that changed the dynamic of that night.”
“I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him."
Barkley recognized his take is “probably not a popular opinion among most people,” but said the evidence pointed to an acquittal.
“I just feel bad because I don’t like when race gets out in the media ‘cuz I don’t think the media has a ‘pure heart,’ as I call it,” Barkley continued. “There are very few people who have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any shape [or] form — there are a lot of black people who are racist, too. I think sometimes when people talk about race, they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. And I don’t like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.”
Barkley, originally of Alabama, was named one of the NBA’s all-time 50 greatest players in 1993, the same year he won the league’s Most Valuable Player award. The 11-time All-Star retired after the 1999-2000 season and then began a successful career as a basketball analyst for Turner Network Television. He has also flirted with the idea of entering politics, announcing in 2008 that he intended to run for governor of Alabama before later changing his mind.
“Like I said, I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but just judging by the evidence, I don’t think that guy should’ve went to jail for the rest of his life,” Barkley continued. “Mr. Zimmerman was wrong to pursue, he was racial profiling, but I think Trayvon Martin — God rest his soul — I think he did flip the switch and started beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. But it was just a bad situation.”
Barkley then took aim at unnamed media personalities who allegedly allowed their own biases to show throughout coverage of the murder trial.
“The main thing I feel bad for is it gives every white person and black person who’s racist a platform to vent their ignorance,” he said. “That’s the thing that bothered me the most. I watched this trial closely and I watched these people on television talking about it. A lot of these people have a hidden agenda. They want to have their racist views, whether they are white or black … Their biases definitely come out. It was a bad situation. We all lost.”
Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com and political director to Russell Simmons, disagreed with Barkley’s take, he told FoxNews.com in a statement.
“I think Mr. Barkley certainly has a right to his opinion of what he perceives the evidence to be,” Skolnik said. “However, there is absolutely no medical evidence that Trayvon was ‘beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman,’ as he received minor and insignificant injuries. With regards to race, as a member of the media, I encourage him to facilitate a dialogue about the effects that racial profiling have on young, black and brown teenagers, striving towards a future where we no longer profile someone to be a potential burglar because of the color of their skin, but instead profile them to be a potential president.”