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Hannity contacted by shooter in Martin case
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity has become the second cable news host whose involvement in the Trayvon Martin shooting case has gone beyond merely talking about it on the air.
Hannity acknowledged having a conversation with a man he believed to be George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the black Florida teenager Feb. 26 in a case that has ignited racial tensions. Zimmerman’s former lawyers, in quitting the case Tuesday, noted that their client had talked to Hannity more recently than with them.
Over on MSNBC, Al Sharpton has participated in marches and demonstrations in support of Martin while continuing to discuss the case on his evening talk show. There have been stark differences in the attention and focus on the case at the two networks.
Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday. He turned himself in and arrived at jail in Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place. Cable networks ramped up their coverage to make note of the news.
Hannity’s involvement in the case came to light Tuesday at a news conference held by Zimmerman’s former lawyers, Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner. Hannity, who said on his show Tuesday night that he’s been pursuing a Zimmerman interview for weeks, said he was contacted Monday by a man he believes was Zimmerman.
“He reached out to me, we spoke on the phone about his case and I agreed not to report on the contents of that conversation,” Hannity said.
During the interview, Hannity told Zimmerman that “I would argue there has been a rush to judgment.” He cited statements made by political and civil rights leaders about the shooting being racially motivated _ George Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother Hispanic _ and mentioned President Barack Obama’s comment that if he had a son, he would likely look like Trayvon.
Zimmerman’s father said he agreed. “I just believe it’s very sad that so many people are not telling the truth for their own agenda,” he said.
Cable news networks had sharply different appetites for the case, according to research by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. From March 19 to 28, MSNBC _ where the prime-time hosts are liberal _ the network devoted 49 percent of its on-air time to the Martin story. During the same period at Fox, where the prime-time hosts are conservative, 15 percent of the news hole was spent on the case. It was 40 percent at CNN.
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