“Not guilty.” And “Not guilty” again. With four short words, the Zimmerman travesty ended.
But there were plenty of guilty verdicts to hand around to the media, whose orgy of coverage consumed all before it, absorbing eventually all the cable networks, most of talk radio and endless column inches of ink when every serious student of the case had been predicting “not guilty” for weeks.
There is nothing the average network executive, show runner, segment producer or host can do to stop a travesty of justice from happening, but there is much that they can do to prevent their shows from being consumed by the idiocy.
On the July 15 radio show, I’ll be spending a couple of hours with the remarkable Daniel Silva, whose 13 Gabriel Allon novels have both entertained and informed tens of millions of readers about the realities of world in which we live more than any other writer over the past decade. (His late friend Vince Flynn did much the same dual service, and Brad Thor writes with the same double mission.)
Silva’s newest novel, “The English Girl,” concerns primarily England and Russia and the operations of Mossad agent Allon in both countries, and, as usual, it is the best writing on espionage available. You won’t see coming what comes your way, and along the way, you will be immersed in the world of the new Russia and its grasping oligarchs and neo-KGB rulers, as well as with the intricacies of British politics.
You will read the book in at most a couple of sittings, and like all Silva novels, it will soar to the top of the New York Times’ list.
What does this have to do with the Zimmerman fiasco? Only this. At one point in a complex operation, a safe house is home to a dozen Israeli operatives for Mossad — the “Office” — working out the intricacies of the execution of the plan. Days and weeks are required, so communal living requires communal eating, and the rule is that operation could not be discussed over good food and wine.
“They did not speak his name at dinner. Instead, they talked about the ‘matsav,’ the situation. Yossi, deeply read in the classics and history, served as their guide. He saw a world spinning dangerously out of control. The promises of the great Arab awakening had been exposed as lies, he said, and soon there would be a crescent of radical Islam stretching from North Africa to Central Asia.
“America was bankrupt, tired and no longer able to lead. It was possible this turbulent new world disorder would produce a 21t century axis led by China, Iran, and of course, Russia. And standing alone, surrounded by a sea of enemies, would be Israel and the Office.”
There is the problem, the crisis really of the news business: At a moment of cascading crises — think Egypt if nothing else, and the genuinely brave journalists like New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick covering the counter-coup, massacre and aftermath — the dumbed-down media, old and new, allowed the Zimmerman circus to consume hundreds and hundreds of hours of what are ordinarily the best shows on the tube and over the radio.
“Ratings” provide the excuse, but professional wrestling sells more tickets than tennis but viewership doesn’t make the former a sport, and that’s why it isn’t on ESPN. The news business should cover the news, not the reality shows that are sometimes thrown up out of a nation of 330 million souls.