Jeff Burnside of Miami NBC affiliate WTVJ has a brief story accessible on MSNBC.com in which a fellow neighborhood watch volunteer defended George Zimmerman, who claims to have shot teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense late last month. While the MSNBC network has been keenly following the Martin shooting -- Politics Nation anchor Al Sharpton is even planning to host a protest rally tomorrow at a Baptist church in Sanford, Florida -- it appears the network has not yet aired Burnside's minute-and-a-half long story this morning. [see video after page break]
Burnside's report focused on the perspective of one Frank Taaffe, a neighbor and friend of George Zimmerman's. Taaffe noted that there had been eight burglaries in 15 months, most committed by young African-American males.
"The stage was already set. It was a perfect storm," Taaffe said, explaining that Zimmerman was suspicious of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in light of that rash of burglaries in the racially-diverse Twin Lakes neighborhood. For his part, however, Taaffe didn't fully excuse his fellow security patrol member, admitting that Zimmerman was unwise to carry a weapon on his security patrols and that he was overzealous on that fateful rainy night.
"Taaffe says he splits the blame between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman," Burnside noted, "Trayvon should have just explained who he was, he says, and Zimmerman shouldn't have had a gun."
Given how there's a rush to paint Zimmerman as motivated by racial animus, Taaffe's perspective is an important one for news consumers to hear. It's a shame if MSNBC opts to not air it in order to give its viewers a different, less judgmental perspective on Zimmerman.