Zimmerman Verdict Spurs Mixed Reactions From Broadcast Nets

George Zimmerman Trial

CBS, NBC stick to brief special reports, while ABC uses '20/20' to bolster initial break

CBS, NBC and ABC all broke into regularly scheduled programming Saturday to deliver special news reports on the “not guiltyverdict in the closely watched George Zimmerman trial.

In a sign that the sensational court case played better in the never-ending cycle of cable news, however, CBS and NBC stayed on the air less than 15 minutes, while ABC broadcast news coverage until about 10:16 p.m. on the East Coast, and then threw to a broadcast of  “20/20” analyzing the decision.

In no case did any of the three networks bring out the “big guns,” as it were.  Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer and Scott Pelley did not appear on air. Instead, stalwarts like Lester Holt and David Muir held forth for NBC and ABC, respectively.

Fox’s New York flagship station WNYW left a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates untouched, although anchors on Fox News Channel made it clear the cabler’s coverage was being distributed via the Fox broadcast network in various regions.

CBS and NBC broke into “48 Hours” and an “American Girl” special just before the top of the hour on the East Coast, while ABC came in just at 10 p.m. seconds before the verdict was read.

The cable-news networks broke into other programs before the top of the hour and continued broadcasting from Sanford, Fla., the site of the trial for much longer.

The trial, centered on a  a 29-year-old one-time volunteer for a neighborhood watch in Sanford, had been charged with the shooting death of a teenager, Trayvon Martin, has been closely followed. The trial played upon a multitude of issues, including gun control and racial profiling, according to news executives.

There was some speculation among pundits that a decision in the trial could set off controversy, although Bob Longo, a news director at WESH, an Orlando NBC affiliate that has been following the case intensely, said in an interview Thursday that protesting at the courthouse had been minimal.

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  1. Chris J. Breisch says:

    This was a case that should never have been brought to trial. This was the only possible verdict.

  2. Rita Montgomery says:

    I believe justice was not served. An innocent young man was killed! What if it was your family member?

    • Joe says:

      What “if” you or your family member was attacked and your on the ground? Self defense is what the jury found to be true.

  3. luanammama says:

    America you have truly broken my heart.

    • Jake says:

      America? A verdict was rendered. That’s how America works. The jurors werent charged with rendering a verdict that was supposed to be liked by anyone. The jurors gave the witnesses and the evidence the weight they felt they deserved then rendered a decision. They did their job. Chicago breaks my heart daily with its ridiculous homicide and crime rates. People are killed in all kinds of horrific manners daily.

    • Jake says:

      How so? The jurors rendered a verdict. How the world reacts or thinks about it is irrelevant. They were the deciders of the events that night. How they came about it and their thought process is their business. I personally hope they would never say a word about their deliberations but I know they will, unfortunately. They were charged with delivering a verdict and they did. I didn’t know it to be based on public opinion. I applaud the jurors for doing their job, regardless of how I feel about the verdict. Peace.

    • Joe says:

      It is a shame for anybody to be harmed, self defense is a right.

    • Justice4Trayvon says:

      Right. Just seen verdict and the first thing that came to my mind was the scene in the movie “Ray” when the state of Georgia wanted him to play in Georgia during segregation and a young man in the crowd yelled to Ray that he could change history if he refused to sing for segregated audience. What a stance it would make if the top two players for Miami Heat (Lebron and Dwayne left the Heat and retired). They millionaires, they can retire early. In the beginning they were supporters for justice for Trayvon so now after this unjust verdict what would they do? Stand for something or fall for anything! I trust in God’s justice system so although I don’t like or agree with this verdict, I trust in God’s time, Trayvon will get justice. May the Creator send peace and comfort to the Martin family! I can only imagine what they’re going through.

      • Jake says:

        I pray for all involved. The jurors felt it was self defense. It was their call. They did their job. I don’t know what happened that night, I wasn’t there. The jurors had a difficult job and they reached a verdict. That’s what they were instructed to do.

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