Monday, September 24, 2012

Missed Opportunities In Robert Zimmerman's Apology...

He had a message and he chose to come to Fox 11's Good Day LA to give it.   The message was an apology written months ago, tweaked over the course of time, but delivered succinctly today.  “Less is more,” laser focus, and cause no damage were apparent tenants to the PR strategy.  His written apology and even his interview seemed to echo the philosophy that less said, less damage. But in his efforts to do no harm did he miss opportunities to influence the court of public opinion?

The George Zimmerman case (or Trayvon Martin case depending on your vantage point) has become the quintessential race case of the century.  The divisiveness of race is not just amongst the public but the players as well.   Prosecutor Angela Corey articulated from the beginning that this was a killing that was motivated by race.  On the flip side, others believe that it’s the media that made this case of race—a theory seemingly supported by the news organization that edited the tapes of the 911 call.

The Zimmerman family has their view as expressed by RobertZimmerman on Good Day LA -- George Zimmerman is not a racist, not a murderer and acted in self defense.  Robert Zimmerman says he believes in the “system” and no wonder why—his brother is enjoying freedom out of on bail, the defense was able to get a judge recused, and he has a legal team working around the clock both virtually and in realtime. But if you really believe that the justice system is about exposing the truth does today’s apology illuminate what actually happened on Feb 27, 2011?  Are we any closer to the truth? Or have we just witnessed the Zimmerman family attempting to gauge the temperature of the public with a little toe dip in the LA Court of public opinion?   Here is the missed opportunity: when the facts are hot and you deliver cool you miss an opportunity to change the temperature.

What today did do was offer us a glimpse of what may be yet to come.  Robert, who is a near double of George, was as poised as George was during bail hearing number one.  He was mild mannered, spoke in a low tone, and didn’t so much as flinch, blink, or utter one “ummm.”  If I was a betting woman, I’d put money that the Robert Zimmerman we say today on Good Day LA will be a very similar George Zimmerman come the Stand Your Ground hearing in 2013.  While a little bizarre, he will be tough to move, difficult to hate, and will remain as calm, cool and collected as his older bro.  But remember, there are no read statements and controlling parameters of an interview in the court of law.  There is cross examination, impeachment, and bad acts that will come to play.

But did Robert Zimmerman seem truthful?  Will George?  Truth matters.  It’s what this case will rise and fall on.  And ultimately decisions will be based on the version of the truth presented by GeorgeZimmerman and whether his rendition is deemed credible.  There is no other he to the “he said” as he Trayvon is dead.  So in order to reach conclusions we are looking to things far outside of the case to determine credibility.  We look at what is said in court, representations made to lawyers about funds from a website, and now we can include his brother Robert’s apology. This interview, though may seem unmoving, says well scripted, well poised answers don’t enhance credibility. Blunt honesty, admissions of error, and humanness do. Another missed opportunity.

And finally I felt like something was missing? How can you be calm, cool, and collected if you believe you were acting in self defense and are accused of murder?  Wouldn’t you be a little irate?  You heard Robert Zimmerman say that George had the crap beaten out of him to the point where his ears were bleeding for a day after the alleged attack yet his brother still can offer an apology.  On the flip side, if the Zimmermans are truly apologizing where was the telltale sign of remorse--empathy?  Where was the acknowledgement of the one undisputed reality—that Trayvon Martin died at the hands of George Zimmerman .  This was not a case of “passing away” like Robert stated.   Either way got neither adamant self defense nor heartfelt apology.  For a case that is all about emotion, it was the one ingredient that was absent here today.  Robert Zimmerman missed the opportunity to show us the behind the curtain, give us the real deal, and make us want to accept his apology.

I have not heard one person say that they were swayed or moved by Robert Zimmerman and his apology.  I supposed if “cause no harm” was the only goal (which I doubt it was) maybe just that and only that was accomplished.