After one of the most controversial trial rulings since the O.J. Simpson verdict, the Zimmerman team is not done with the courtroom just yet. After filing a defamation suit against NBC in December, and subsequently suspending it for the duration of the criminal case, George Zimmerman and his attorneys are now ready to take on the network.
Zimmerman alleges that NBC unlawfully doctored a 911 tape recorded just before his altercation with Trayvon Martin in order to portray him as a "racist and predatory villain." There is no doubt that Zimmerman is taking a risk with this suit; public opinion is stark and he has even received death threats. However, Zimmerman is benefiting from solid evidence of NBC's tampering with the recording, his attorneys are probably seeing dollar signs from a suit against corporate NBC, and public outcry has little standing in a court of law (as the Martin trial ascertained).
Zimmerman is claiming that NBC engaged in "yellow journalism" by painting him as a racist and manipulating public opinion against him for ratings. According to NPR, NBC released the following transcript of Zimmerman's call to 911 on March 29:
Zimmerman: There is a real suspicious guy. Ah, this guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something. He looks black.
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Dispatcher: Ok we don't need you to do that.
However, Zimmerman and his attorneys are claiming that the original tape read as following:
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.
Dispatcher: OK and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
NBC omitted the dispatcher's question about the Martin's race, and instead made the statement appear as racial profiling. Everyone has taken a side in the outcome of the Martin trial, but it is hard to dispute NBC's blatant editing. NBC apologized, but without avail.
No one mourns the wicked, they say, but Zimmerman is highlighting the fact that he has been chastised by the media. Claiming that as a result of NBC's defamation he is now afraid for his life, and suffered "reputation damage," Zimmerman is likely to squeeze the network for quite a bit of cash. Nevertheless, NBC will defend themselves staunchly if the case does go to court. It is very likely that Martin is being represented by attorneys paid on a contingency fee, and if they settle the case for Zimmerman they will get a generous percentage of any winnings. If they fail, the attorneys (and Zimmerman) will get nothing.
George Zimmerman prevailed in the Trayvon Martin trial with no help from "Zimmerman supporters." Those who made their mind that Zimmerman was guilty before any of the evidence was released had as little impact on the events in the courtroom as those who believed in his innocence. Accordingly, the suit against NBC is unlikely to be impacted by protests or tweets. Given the obvious manipulation of the 911 tapes, NBC is likely to try to settle the case with Zimmerman for a gargantuan amount of money and hope to avoid further denigration.