Press Perpetuates 'Iced Tea' Myth in Coverage of Zimmerman Verdict and Trayvon Martin Demonstrations

Update, July 24: In audio found here at my home blog, Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara, in a Tuesday discussion with New York talk show host Steve Malzberg, confirmed the accuracy of the "iced tea myth"-related details in this post and in Bill Whittle's video.

Among the more outrageous aspects of the press's negligent coverage of the circumstances surrounding the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman confrontation is its insistence on describing Martin as having bought "Skittles and iced tea" at a convenience store roughly 40 minutes before Zimmerman, as a neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him.

The drink was not "iced tea." It has been known that the drink wasn't iced tea for well over a year. Yet at least seven press reports since the verdict, up to and including coverage of this past weekend's demonstrations (examples here and here, at the Associated Press the day after the verdict; here; here; here; here; and here), identified "iced tea" as what Martin purchased. The actual identity of the non-caffeinated drink, AriZona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail -- which appears not to contain a single drop of tea, and which the company has in its "juice drinks" category -- is extremely significant, as will be explained after the jump.


PJTV's Bill Whittle explained the drink's relevance in a must-see video posted on Friday:

... And then there's the issue of the candy and the iced tea.

Now we were told that Trayvon -- again, an innocent child, simply went to the store to buy some candy and some iced tea. But it wasn't just any candy, and it wasn't iced tea. It was Skittles candy, and a drink called Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail.

... The prosecution continued to keep up this deception by referring to this drink as "iced tea," and some have speculated that they did so to avoid the racial sterotype of black people and iced tea. But there's a much better explanation.

Because if you take Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail, a bag of Skittles, and add simple cough syrup, you get a cheap, codeine-based drink called "lean."

Now there's an entire online subculture devoted to the use of "lean," which Trayvon was familiar with.

We have screen grabs of him trying to score some codeine online, and instead being told he could make some "fire-ass lean" using cough syrup, skittles, and Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. Seems a bit of a coincidence to me that the only two items he picked up out of the entire 7-11 were two-thirds of the ingredients needed to make "lean."

Now additionally, we have a report from his autopsy that revealed a form of liver damage in this otherwise healthy young man just a few days short of 18 that are consistent with the kind of trauma that excessive "lean" usage does to an otherwise healthy liver.

And most importantly, the online subculture refers to a number of psychological symptoms associated with the use of "lean," the two most prominent being extreme physical aggression and paranoia.

We could do this for hours.

We could, but we don't have to.

The fact that the prosecution engaged in deception over the drink Martin purchased doesn't excuse the press from perpetuating that deception. Yet it has, which is why Whittle's final question is so deeply troubling:

... if all of this political power and journalistic malfeasance can be depoloyed to sell a tortured lie as in the case of this little story, then what political power and journalistic malfeasance do you think might be deployed in making us buy a much larger one?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.