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Bryan Preston

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April 2, 2012 - 10:46 am

The story that is fast becoming America’s second O.J. trial has taken more twists and turns. Via Mental Recession:

ABC News has re-digitized video of George Zimmerman taken shortly after Trayvon Martin’s shooting.

The video was unveiled as an exclusive this morning on “Good Morning America.” ABC was the first news organization to show the original tape.

Reporter Matt Gutman said the clearer video shows “what appear to be a pair of gashes or welts on George Zimmerman’s head.”

Neighborhood Watch volunteer Zimmerman has said he shot 17-year-old Trayvon in self-defense. The video shows Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police Department within an hour after the shooting.

Gutman said the video had been “clarified” by Forensic Protection Inc. Former FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett told ABC that the clearer video shows “marks on the back of Mr. Zimmerman’s head.”

Here is the new video from ABC. And here are two relevant frames. The first is from the new video. The second is from the original video that ABC released last week.

             

So many questions arise from those frames, most of them directed at ABC News. There are two distinct and bloody gashes visible in the frame on the left, even though my capture of it is the smaller of the two, that were not visible in the frame on the right, taken from the version first posted by ABC. That version ratcheted up the tensions in Sanford, and Martin’s parents even claimed that it was the “smoking gun” proving that Zimmerman’s and the police report’s accounts of that night were false. This new version of the video undercuts all of that. The differences come down to color and video compression. The original version appears “lossier,” meaning it is more heavily compressed for display online, and as a result much of its detail has been lost. That lost detail, however, was the entire point of posting the video, and ABC centered its story on the lack of detail seen in the original posted video.

Moreover, those within ABC News who compressed and posted the original video surely had seen the details in the master version that they compressed to post on the Internet. Having seen that detail and knowing it had been lost in the compression, there should never have been an ABC News story about the lack of wounds on Zimmerman’s head. That story was dishonest from stem to stern. It is the video equivalent of a Dowdified quote, an act that MSNBC has apparently committed in the Zimmerman/Martin story. NBC is investigating that instance of evident media malpractice.

Just so we’re clear on my qualifications for discussing video compression, I produced and compressed video for online use both at NASA as well as Hot Air and here at PJ Media and PJTV, so I have spent well over a decade compressing and analyzing video. Having seen both videos, it’s clear to me now that ABC released a version that did not show the truth because it did not show detail that was available to them in the master video file. The Daily Caller and Big Journalism were first to question ABC’s original version, and they were right. ABC must follow NBC’s lead and investigate how this story came to be.

The clearer version of the video is consistent with a piece pulled up by Tom Maguire, in which a neighbor says he saw Zimmerman the day after the Martin shooting. Guess what the neighbor saw:

“I saw George. He was banged up. His head had two big bandages, that weren’t flat, had a bump on them,” the neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said.

He described where the injuries were.

“I seen him have a big bandage on his nose and his nose swollen. On the side, where his eyes were at, it was swollen,” he said.

He points out exactly where on a picture.

“I seen the bandage right here, and this side of his nose and this side of his nose was swollen.

That’s consistent with the police report, and it’s now consistent with the re-digitized video. So Zimmerman did suffer wounds as a result of his altercation with Martin on that deadly night. The second version of the ABC video, at least, doesn’t lie.

But how could a slightly built “innocent little boy,” as Shepard Smith and other media types have described him, take on the supposedly huskier Zimmerman? Well, back to Tom Maguire and the New York Times. It turns out Zimmerman was heftier in the past, but is now a slimmer man.

Trayvon Martin is consistently described as 140 lbs, although the police report had him at 160.  The Sanford PD initial police report listed a weight for Martin but not Zimmerman; in retrospect, that will rank as one of the biggest blunders of their investigation.

I am serious – if the Times is correctly telling us that Zimmerman was roughly Martin’s size, that changes the whole theme of the scary large man stalking the overmatched boy.  Do I need links to document how widespread that meme is?  If the Times doesn’t correct this I’ll link up [See below].

And needless to say, there has been a certain puzzlement about why a 140 pounder would initiate an assault on a 240 pounder.  Somehow, a surprise attack by a 150 pounder on a 170 pounder seems a lot more plausible.  Similarly, there has been skepticism abut how such a large man could really have feared for his life in a scuffle with the much smaller Martin.  Again, one has a newfound sympathy for the notion that Zimmerman may really have been in trouble.

Recall that a witness who saw the altercation puts Martin on top of Zimmerman and beating him prior to the shooting. The details, from that witness to the new video to the neighbor and relative sizes of the two men, now all stack up in favor of Martin jumping Zimmerman and unfortunately paying for it with his life. The emerging details also explain why there was no arrest that night: The police knew Zimmerman from his neighborhood watch work and earlier reports, and the evidence that they saw that night painted a picture of a man who may have made a grave mistake by following Martin, but who did end up killing in self-defense. I’m not say that that is definitively what happened. We don’t know. I am saying that the evidence available that night and much of what has emerged since paint that picture. The media, however, has consistently run with a narrative that just as consistently falls apart as more facts come to light.

Update: ABC should probably start its investigation with reporter Matt Gutman.

(Click here for PJ Media’s Coverage of Martin Shooting)

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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