Skip to content

Trayvon Martin Anniversary Video Sparks Controversy Over Misleading Editing

New York Times accused of slandering and stirring racial tensions with deceptive editing in Trayvon Martin video.

On the 10th anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, the New York Times has published a video about this tragedy that slanders individuals, sows racial resentments, and impugns the people of the United States en masse. 

George Zimmerman, the acquitted shooter in the death of Trayvon Martin, faces a Seminole circuit judge during a first-appearance hearing on charges including aggravated assault stemming from a fight with his girlfriend November 19, 2013, in Sanford, Florida. (JOE BURBANK/GETTY IMAGES) 

In addition to employing a series of highly deceptive half-truths, the video edits a police recording to make it seem like Martin was murdered and that his killer got away with it because Martin was black. 

The events underlying the video unfolded on a rainy night in Sanford, Florida in February 2012 when Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black teen, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman. 

Often labeled by the media as “white Hispanic,” Zimmerman is half-white, half-Hispanic, and partially black. Shortly before the shooting, Zimmerman called the police, and the conversation was recorded.

According to the Times’ edited audio, Zimmerman told the police, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. He looks black.”

In reality, however, the following discussion took place, with the words in bold removed by the Times: 

  • Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
  • Police Dispatcher: “OK, and this guy—is he white, black, Hispanic?”
  • Zimmerman: “He looks black.”

Moreover, the Times knows this edit is deceitful because when NBC News made the very same edit in 2012, the Times reported that NBC News has fired a producer who was involved in the production of a misleading segment about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated.

The segment in question was shown on the ‘Today’ show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

Inside NBC, there was shock that the segment had been broadcast.

On April 4, the network news division said in a statement that it deeply regretted the “error made in the production process.”

“We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers,” the network said.

The Times’ video and an accompanying commentary were written and created by Times staffers Charles Blow, Jonah Kessel, and Adam Ellick, along with filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter. 

Under that barrage of racially charged political pressure and media misinformation, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter six weeks after the incident.

 More than a year later, a jury found him not guilty of all charges on grounds that he shot Martin in self-defense. Still, Zimmermann and his parents were forced into hiding by an “enormous amount of death threats.” 

The Obama administration’s Department of Justice conducted a separate investigation and announced three years after the incident that it found “insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges” against Zimmerman. 

So in reality, the death of Trayvon Martin was nothing like the Times, Obama, and Sharpton portray it. 

Far from an archetype of American racism, it is an archetype of how the media, politicians, and activists systematically mislead Americans and stir up racial strife. 

The Times, CBS News, and the Washington Post all identify the Trayvon Martin case as the launching point of “Black Lives Matter.” 


Produced in association with JustFacts

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Newsdesk Manager

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners