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Why George Zimmerman is the new O.J.

George Zimmerman.
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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.

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Someone tell Bill O’Reilly, Piers Morgan, Ann Coulter and all the other don’t-rush-to-judgment, innocent-until-proven-guilty George Zimmerman defenders that the original TV media lynch mob hunted O.J. Simpson and birthed their million-dollar cable-news platforms.

Yeah, long before Geraldo Rivera preached to Trayvon Martin’s parents about the evils of hoodies, he sat on CNBC during the mid-1990s and led the media prosecution of O.J. Simpson. Geraldo was so good at it and the American public so enamored by it that smart TV executives quickly launched MSNBC (July 15, 1996) and FOX News (Oct. 7, 1996) to capitalize on the ratings gold Geraldo discovered.

So forgive me for pointing out the obvious: At best, the whining about the left-wing media’s passionate belief that Zimmerman should be arrested and charged with a crime in the death of Martin is embarrassingly hypocritical and delusional. At worst, it reveals an appalling racial bias.

There is significantly more evidence that Zimmerman committed a crime on Feb. 26, 2012 than there ever was that Simpson committed one on June 12, 1994. The Trayvon Martin case isn’t a who-done-it. We don’t have to speculate about motives or opportunity. We know who was carrying the gun and who was carrying the Skittles. We know who a police dispatcher advised to abandon pursuit. We know who was the 28-year-old wannabe cop complaining about “f---ing ‘oons” and who was the 17-year-old boy talking to his girlfriend.

It took five days for the police to arrest and charge O.J. Simpson. Thirty-six days after police listed Martin as John Doe, George Zimmerman is a free man and apparently being elevated to martyrdom in some influential circles.

Let me pause here and offer a few of my resume highlights as a way to clarify and authenticate my perspective. I always thought O.J. was guilty of murder and stated that opinion in writing at the time. I don’t choose the positions I take or the people I support and defend based on race. Despite the nonsense you might read in the anonymous comments at the bottom of this or any column I write, I have a long, documented history of independent thought, especially when it comes to race. I supported the falsely accused white Duke lacrosse players before anyone else in the media. I traveled to Jena, La., and wrote columns that properly framed the media-exploited “Jena Six” story. I stood on an island calling BS on the overreaction to Don Imus’ inflammatory comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. My critics think I’m a contrarian for attention. The truth is I abhor group think, pack journalism and unfairness no matter the victim. I also believe the most effective way to fight unfairness is by maintaining consistency in logic and deed. I’m far from perfect. My sense of humor oftentimes reveals my own struggle to be fair.

There’s little humor in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. There’s a great deal of hypocrisy.

I don’t remember hearing any cries for patience and a full review of the facts when it came to deciding O.J.’s public fate. The mainstream media on TV, radio and print had one unified voice — guilty. And when a jury justifiably acquitted Simpson because of the gross incompetence of prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden and the repugnant bigotry of detective Mark Fuhrman, the mainstream media on TV, radio and print uniformly vilified the predominantly black jury.

STAND AND DELIVER

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and their Miami Heat teammates band together in a show of support for fallen teen Trayvon Martin.

Murder-she-wrote, lynch-mob cable TV news was invented to satiate the desires of people predisposed to support and/or financially benefit from the National Rifle Association. It’s bizarre watching this same group whine because the lynch mob has turned on one of its own — Zimmerman and Florida’s insane Stand Your Ground Law.

So, please, quit emailing and tweeting me snarky comments saying that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat need to make a statement against black-on-black violence or some horrific crime in another state.

I get it.

Many of you are bothered that Martin’s murder has struck a strident cord with African Americans in a similar way Nicole Brown-Simpson’s murder hit white Americans. You’re bothered by the Heat’s symbolic hoodie photo. You’re upset Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are back in the spotlight. You don’t understand that in many American cities minorities — even with a “mountain of evidence” stronger than the O.J. case — are routinely forced to protest for justice in the streets to get their constitutionally promised day in court. You’re tired of the story being shoved down your eyes by seemingly every TV network.

Privilege has made you ignore the consequences of the 18-month-long, O.J. marathon that created this style of TV “journalism.”

Not me. The chickens have come home to roost.

That is not gloating. That is not satisfaction.

I agree that George Zimmerman needs to be treated fairly. But so do Trayvon Martin’s family, friends and loved ones. They need Zimmerman’s account of events heard before a judge and jury, not a group of overworked, Zimmerman-sympathetic police officers late at night. If your child never returned home from a trip to get candy and iced tea because a 250-pound grown man suspected he was a burglar, you would want some very difficult questions answered in a court of law, not on a street corner or inside a police interrogation room.

According to the polls, the majority of Americans of all races get this. They believe Zimmerman should be arrested and charged. This is not a racially divisive issue.

But, the TV talking heads, sensing they might be onto their next “Simpson trial of the century,” are stirring the pot of division.

Don’t blame Al and Jesse. I’ve strongly disagreed with them in the past. This isn’t Tawana Brawley or the Duke lacrosse stripper. This is a dead child with a known killer. In their calls for Zimmerman’s arrest and prosecution — which are different from calls for conviction — Sharpton and Jackson are on the right side of this issue. A grown man allegedly losing a fight he pursued with a child does not justify murder. Martin’s family deserves a better explanation, or Zimmerman deserves a long prison sentence.

No, the race-baiters are the talk-show hosts and panelists who are allowing their hatred of Sharpton and Jackson to color their commentary on Zimmerman and Martin.

Black-on-black gang and drug violence is a scourge on society. Jackson and Sharpton — all rational people — are not in denial of that fact.

However, the Trayvon Martin case strikes at one of the critical root causes of that plague — the societal and institutionalized bias that caused a police force to view a Skittles-packing child as the criminal and a gun-toting, vigilante with a sketchy background as the victim.

You don’t want to hear that. Just like Bill O’Reilly and Piers Morgan don’t want to hear the vigilante-style media coverage of O.J. Simpson begat the George Zimmerman media lynch mob.

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