MSNBC's Convenient Ellipses Make Zimmerman Look Racist

MSNBC's Convenient Ellipses Make Zimmerman Look Racist

In a published report bylined “msnbc.com Staff and NBC News,” a quote attributed to Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman, appears to be purposefully distorted by the left to read as though Zimmerman is a racist. A full reading of the transcript of the quoted 911 call suggests nothing of the kind. Here’s what MSNBC staff and NBC News published.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black,” Zimmerman told a police dispatcher from his car. His father has said that Zimmerman is Hispanic, grew up in a multiracial family, and is not racist.

The quote gives the impression Zimmer was somehow equating the fact that Martin was black with his looking suspicious, or “up to no good.” Here is what MSNBC/NBC News left out thanks to a convenient ellipsis.

ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, [begin ellipsis] or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 DISPATCHER: Okay, is this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic? [end ellipsis]

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

Not only did Zimmerman not equate Martin’s skin color with his looking suspicious; he didn’t even initiate the comment. It was simply a response to the police dispatcher. What the full quote does seem to make certain is that at that period in time, Zimmerman wasn’t even positive as to what race Martin was. He was speculating based upon what he could determine at night in the rain to answer the police dispatcher.

From the full quote, we don’t know if race was even on Zimmerman’s mind before the dispatcher brought it up. There are often cases when it makes sense to shorten a quote with an ellipsis. This isn’t one of them.

The only intent of MSNBC’s omission appears to be to cast George Zimmerman in the harshest light possible as regards issues of race. MSNBC and NBC should not be using editing devices to lead people to a specific conclusion – a conclusion that appears to be unrelated to the text they are citing. 

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