CNN media critic Howard Kurtz worried on Sunday that cable news was already spending too much time covering George Zimmerman’s trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and that the “racially inflammatory” coverage was causing people to question whether African-Americans could get a fair trial in the U.S.
In an interview on Reliable Sources, Kurtz pointed out to CNN’s new morning show host, Chris Cuomo, that the jury selection had not even been complete and the coverage already seemed to be “media overload.”
“This case unfortunately really checks all the boxes of urgency,” Cuomo explained. “Race looms large here. Some will take issue with that. But I think, objectively, it just does. And when that’s the case, it really makes people even more tuned in.”
Kurtz, however, insisted that “if it hadn’t been for the racial aspect, if these were two white people or two black people involved, this wouldn’t be getting any national attention.”
“But race is involved anyway you want to look at it,” Cuomo replied. “Here’s a bet you and I can make: I do not think this story will resonate from a ratings perspective the way that Jodi Arias did. Why? Because this one is about real things beyond the satisfaction of the victim’s family and the call for justice.”
“But as the media choose up sides here, in my view, some people saying, ‘Trayvon Martin, obviously unarmed teenager ends up dead,’ others thinking that George Zimmerman got railroaded, there was pressure to indict him,” Kurtz opined. “I fear — and I think we saw signs of this when the story was red hot the first time — that the media might play a racially inflammatory role.”
“Racially inflammatory, meaning, playing to the fact that Trayvon is African-American?” Cuomo wondered. “What do you mean?”
“Meaning portraying this as kind of a Rorschach test of whether or not somebody or not can get justice in this system when the victim, sadly, tragically, is a black teenager. And of course as you know, George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert, thinks the media are already showing signs of bias against his brother.”
Cuomo noted that some people held the opinion that “if this were a white who had been victimized” then Zimmerman would have already been brought to justice.
“I don’t know that either is 100 percent true,” he added. “But I do believe the issues involved make this worthy of coverage.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast June 16, 2013.