Does the truth even matter?

This particular lie has been going around throughout the left, but I’ll take The New Republic for the canonical version:

[George] Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called 911 46 times in 15 months, once to report the suspicious activities of a seven year old black boy.

Every single statement in this sentence, other than Zimmerman owning a gun, is a lie. He did not call 911 46 times; most of his calls were to the non-emergency number. His calls were over the course of nearly a decade, not 15 months. And, most libelously, he never called to report a seven-year-old boy. In regards to the last, the record of his call reads (original document here):

Advsd is walking alone & is not supervised on busy street compl concerned for well-being.

Zimmerman wasn’t reporting the boy for suspicious activities, quite the opposite; he was concerned for the boy’s well-being.

ASIDE: As I said, this lie is popular on the left. Here’s the Daily Beast’s version:

April 22, 2011 – 7:09 p.m.
Type: TEL
Subject: Suspicious activity
Report: Juvenile black male “apprx 7–9” years old, four feet tall “skinny build short blk hair” last seen wearing a blue t-shirt and blue shorts

Again, the reference to “suspicious activity” is a fabrication.

When made aware of their error, the New Republic was loathe to correct it. Here’s their first semi-correction:

Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the polics [sic] 46 times in 15 months, once to report on a seven year old black boy.

They corrected the least significant of the falsehoods (911 vs. non-emergency call) — replacing it with a typo — but left the substantive lies in place. Yes, they did remove the explicit reference to “suspicious activities” but replaced it with a phrase (“report on”) that implies the same thing.

As Michelle Meyer comments:

It’s one thing to make a mistake about facts. It’s quite another to double down on damaging falsehoods after having your mistake pointed out. In that respect, TNR’s cure here is worse than the disease.

TNR’s next version finally removed the seven-year-old-boy lie, and the typo, but left the 15 months lie:

Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the police 46 times in 15 months.

They also failed to note the seven-year-old-boy correction in the editor’s note.

Finally, today, they got the last of the correction out, finally writing:

Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the police 46 times in about eight years.

They also recognized all three error in an editor’s note at the end. However, they did not mark the correction at the top where it might be noticed. Moreover, by stalling the correction for ten days, they ensured that almost no one would see it, other than those drawn to the article by the controversy itself. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Now, what about the “edgy basket case”? Wendy Dorival, who coordinated Neighborhood Watch Programs for the Sanford Police didn’t think so. She had high praise for Zimmerman’s work, and even tried to recruit him into Sanford’s “Citizen on Patrol” program, but Zimmerman declined.

And what about those 46 calls? Here’s the first five calls, just to get the flavor:

8/12/04: Reports male driving pick-up without car seat
9/20/04: Neighbor’s garage door open
8/20/04: Reports white male walking in the road carrying a paper bag, presumably drinking
3/17/05: Pothole
4/27/05: Neighbor’s garage door open

If he hadn’t been a Neighborhood Watch member, it might be safe to call him a busybody.

(Previous post.)

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