After the not-guilty verdict was handed down, George Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara strongly criticized the media’s role in getting his client charged in the case. He compared the media to “mad scientists” who had turned Zimmerman into a “monster.” He said the media “took a story that was fed to you and you ran with it and you ran right over him and that was horrid to him.”
But the false story line—that Zimmerman was a racist who shot a black man for no reason—continued during the trial, especially in the reckless and wild CNN commentaries of Asunción “Sunny” Hostin.
Hostin boosted the prosecutors throughout and wanted viewers to believe a guilty verdict was a slam-dunk. “I think that they [the prosecutors] put the pieces of the puzzle together for this jury extremely well,” she told Anderson Cooper on Thursday night, July 11.
What was astonishing about Hostin’s commentary during the trial was her inability to find much of anything wrong in how the prosecutors presented it. She was sometimes in the courtroom and pretending to pay attention to what was going on, with a focus on jury reactions. She claimed to have somehow divined what some of the jurors were thinking.
She said of the prosecution’s closing argument, “It was passionate. It was convincing. The jury was watching everything he was doing. And what was terrific, I think, about this closing argument is that they brought the focus back to Trayvon Martin, the victim here. They brought the commonsense argument to this jury.”
Fortunately, another CNN commentator, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, was usually on hand, taking strong issue with what Hostin was saying. “There’s reality and then there’s Sunny-ville,” he said. Mocking her rosy view of the prosecution’s extremely weak case, he said, “So I’m going to start believing what Sunny tells me and I’m going to start ignoring everything that I watch on TV.”
Earlier, he told her, “Sunny, you have been bringing your own stuff to the table in this case and you know it.”
Whatever she was bringing to the table, it was not an objective analysis of what was taking place in front of her own eyes. Yet, she carried the title of “CNN Legal Analyst.”
An attorney, she calls herself a “multi-platform journalist” who serves as both a CNN legal analyst and anchor for ABC News. “Before joining CNN, Sunny could be seen on the Fox News Channel, where she was seen weekly on The O’Reilly Factor’s ‘Is It Legal?’ segment, sparring with Megan [sic] Kelly and Bill O’Reilly on various provocative issues and high-profile cases,” her bio says.
Regarding prosecutor John Guy’s rebuttal to the closing argument of defense attorney O’Mara, Hostin said on CNN, “John Guy hit it out of the park, he did great.”
She added, “If people were calling him ‘McDreamy’ before…they’re calling him ‘McBrilliant’ now. It was one of the best closing rebuttal arguments I have seen. The jury was riveted, they did not take their eyes off of this man. And what was so important about it, Anderson [Cooper], is that now I understand why the state was okay with having those six women on the jury, because he specifically just sort of homed-in on what every mother’s nightmare is—her child walking alone in the dark, in the rain being followed by a stranger and being afraid. That resonated with every single mother in the room and it was so effective. It was excellent.”
Geragos countered, “…you’ve got a school-girl crush on this guy?”
Now that the not-guilty verdict is in, CNN has an opportunity to evaluate their stable of commentators and analyze how misleading and inaccurate she really was. But Hostin wasn’t just wrong on how she thought the trial was going, she ignored certain facts that are known to the public in order to make the prosecution’s case against Zimmerman appear better than it was.
Hostin said, “How is it that a young boy, a teenager who was simply on a snack run, did not get back home where he was lawfully allowed to be safely? How is that? That is because George Zimmerman profiled him. He profiled him as a criminal. He made all these assumptions about Trayvon Martin that, by the way, were wrong. And he acted on those assumptions and in doing so, he killed him.”
Of course, much of this commentary is false. Martin was on drugs, as Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, suspected. And Martin had allegedly been involved in burglaries before, since a burglary tool and women’s jewelry had been found in his backpack. In addition, police found a burglary tool discarded in the bushes the night of the confrontation. The judge kept out of the trial the evidence of Martin’s involvement in fighting and violence.
What’s more, the overwhelming evidence in the trial demonstrated that Martin confronted Zimmerman and threw the first punch, that Zimmerman cried for help, and fired his gun in self-defense.
Nevertheless, Hostin said the prosecutors made “such a wonderful commonsense argument that distilled what this case is about. This case is about whether or not someone who is not doing anything, who is acting completely unlawfully, should be able to be gunned down on a dark, rainy night. I think that really came across.”
At one point during their exchanges, before the jury deliberated the case, Geragos put his finger on it, saying,”…frankly Sunny, I guess the only way we will ever know, the only way we’ll ever know, when I will stand corrected and, you know, worship at your psychic…feats of wonder…is when we get a verdict.”