Martin Bashir Brushes Off Seriousness of New Black Panthers' Bounty on George Zimmerman

On the April 5 episode of his show, liberal MSNBC host and self-proclaimed ‘journalist’ Bashir excused the bounty placed on George Zimmerman by the New Black Panthers because there are only "five or six of them."  This comment came in a segment with TheGrio.com’s Joy-Ann Reid wherein the two mocked conservatives’ objections to the media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case. 

Bashir claimed that, "the one thing conservatives do seem to enjoy about this story is that it lets them talk about how it’s the president they say who’s taken political advantage. Even as they beat the war drum over their favorite target, the New Black Panthers, all five or six of them, I guess." 

Apparently to Reid and Bashir, the $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman is no big deal becausethere's only a handful of them mugging for the cameras in Florida.  In Joy-Ann’s words, they are "completely irrelevant."

Yet the Southern Poverty Law Center, which MSNBC frequently brings on to talk about white racism, disagrees with such petty statements.  According to their website, "The New Black Panther Party is a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers."


To ignore the very real threats by this racist organization as Bashir and Reid do flames the already contentious situation in Florida.  It only takes one extremist from the New Black Panther Party to kill Zimmerman, and for Bashir or Reid to not condemn their comments is disgraceful. 

On a side note, during this same interview the following interesting exchange happened:
 

REID: Now of course, there are other witnesses. There was one who appeared on another network who said that they saw the bigger man, the Hispanic man on top and get up quickly. So these are contradictory witnesses that can really only be sorted out by the state attorney.


BASHIR: Right. So it’s not quite as clear cut as they would have us believe
 

Suddenly, Bashir asserts we should not rush to judgment on this case.  This is a stark contrast to the public conviction of Zimmerman many on his own network, most notably colleague Al Sharpton, have done. 

See the relevant transcript below.


Martin Bashir
April 5, 2012
3:45 p.m. EDT

MARTIN BASHIR:: For more, we go to Joy-Ann Reid who is in Sanford, Florida reporting on the story for Thegrio.com where she’s also the managing editor.  And Joy-Ann I understand you've literally just run from a plane so thank you for joining us. I wanted to talk about this supposed eyewitness that Zimmerman's lawyer Hal Eurig kept talking about last night on FOX and on CNN. He claims this witness saw Trayvon on top of George, beating him. Supposedly blowing a hole in what we all know is true. Now please could you separate the fact from the fiction for us?

JOY-ANN REID: Sure, Martin. Well this is a witness. This isn't actually anything new. The side, the Zimmerman camp has been saying that there is a witness that would corroborate his story. Pretty much from the beginning. I know NBC News would love to talk to this guy. He has not, we have not actually interviewed him as yet. But this is a guy who supposedly says that he saw Trayvon Martin on the top of this scrum that took place before the shooting. Now of course, there are other witnesses. There was one who appeared on another network who said that they saw the bigger man, the Hispanic man on top and get up quickly. So these are contradictory witnesses that can really only be sorted out by the state attorney.

BASHIR: Right. So it’s not quite as clear cut as they would have us believe. They all talk about how awful the court of public opinion is. And then they allow George Zimmerman's father to take the stand and testify with what is essentially hearsay. I mean, you can call it testimony, I guess. But about Trayvon's pounding Zimmerman's head into the sidewalk which, you know contracts a woman who said this happened on the grass.

REID: Well, I mean what you've really seen from George Zimmerman's side is an attempt to get his story out there. And there have been various permutations of it.  It shifted slightly. The initial story that was reportedly told by the police detective to Trayvon's father was that Trayvon actually confronted him at his car. And then he lost him and then he caught up with him and they had this confrontation. And then you just have these various sort of escalating versions of the story that even include sound bites. Things supposedly Trayvon Martin said. And I guess while it is, as you said, it’s hearsay that sort of muddled the message here, what it has done is it has put Zimmerman's narrative out without him having to come forward. And I think if you're his defense, isn't that what you want to do? You want to get his side of the story out and try to modify his image.

BASHIR: There doing it brilliantly.  The one thing conservative’s do seem to enjoy about this story is that it lets them talk about how it’s the president they say who’s taken political advantage. Even as they beat the war drum over their favorite target, the New Black Panthers, all five or six of them, I guess.

REID: Yeah, there are about six New Black Panthers. They are completely irrelevant. They're not even from Florida. I think they came from Georgia and their huge protest was all of a half dozen people. But no what was interesting Martin is there was a Pew Research study that actually has shown that this case has actually begun to break down along partisan lines. Since the president has come out and then got attacked for speaking by Newt Gingrich first and then by the right.  You’ve had Republicans literally say there has been too much coverage of the Trayvon Martin case and Democrats say the opposite. Where, yeah that it has actually become a partisan issue.

BASHIR: Joy-Ann Reid thank you very much. And I should remind our viewers, the only thing the president actually said was offering his condolences to the family. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.