How the Gun Lobby, Conservatives, and Right-Wing Media Are Defending George Zimmerman

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
May 22 2012 1:08 PM

In Defense of George Zimmerman

How the gun lobby, conservatives, and right-wing media have rallied to defend the man who killed Trayvon Martin.

(Continued from Page 1)

After the arrest, and as the police work’s come out, it’s gotten easier to defend Zimmerman. Shortly before he turned himself in, Zimmerman created a rudimentary website to raise money for his defense. He showed up for his bail hearing on April 20. Three days later, he made the $150,000 bail. The defense fund had filled up with more than $200,000. It was the least Zimmerman’s supporters could do, to stop the railroading. Among his angels were the founders of Legal Boom, a local gun rights group, who’d been running their own fundraising drive.

“We spoke with George personally, for about 30 minutes,” Legal Boom’s Chris Kossmann told me.* They ended their campaign so he could focus on his, but they proved that there was sympathy and solidarity outside of the court of public opinion. “If we hadn’t done what we did, George wouldn’t have raised that $200,000.”

After the first fundraising burst, the official defense fund has been taking in around $1,000 per day. That’s a steady clip, considering how public interest in the story has faded. The new updates on the case—the new bits of information from the investigation—have so far bolstered Zimmerman’s version of the story. On Friday, Harvard Law professor and incorrigible legal commentator Alan Dershowitz started writing op-eds about how the media and the special prosecutor were “biased against Zimmerman,” and how the charge of second-degree murder would never hold up. On Saturday, he appeared on Fox News’ Huckabee to expand on the theory. Where did the press get off, implying that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin?


“It was the prosecutor who talked about profiling, in the affidavit itself!” said Dershowitz. “He didn’t have any basis. It was just made up.”

The host was flabbergasted. “White Hispanic?” asked Huckabee. “I’m not even sure what that means.”

Finally, after a public thrashing that made him infamous, Zimmerman was getting his story told. Few people were defending the way that the media had portrayed him—“white Hispanic,” the selectively edited 911 call. If the left thought it was going to turn this into a debate about gun laws, it picked the wrong villain and the wrong victim.

But this could have gone another way. There was one scenario that would have provided some swift justice for the Martin family without making Zimmerman infamous. That option: a timely arrest, and a police investigation. And that’s what the “hustlers” said they wanted in the first place.

Correction, May 22, 2012: This article originally misspelled Chris Kossmann's last name. (Return to corrected sentence.)



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.