Hearne: The Pillorying of George Zimmerman & The Judicial System


Jeneé Osterheldt

For reasons that include that I’m usually not in lock step with the more conservative opinion writers and commenters on KC Confidential I tend to avoid weighing in on topics like the George Zimmerman trial.

That doesn’t mean I don’t follow many of these stories or have no opinion. Of course I do.

However, I’d like to think those opinions are less predictable than merely coming down on the stereotypical side of being either ultra conservative or wildly liberal. It’s funny. Most people at the Star seemed to think I was a card carrying Republican, most readers the opposite

The truth lies somewhere in between.

Now – gulp – let’s talk about George Zimmerman.

Predictably the mostly white male editors at the Kansas City Star trotted out a column about the Zimmerman trial by FYI columnist Jeneé Osterheldt and served it up as a rare (for Jeneé) front page story.

I can tell you exactly why they did this, although I suspect you already know.

They did it because Osterheldt is one of the newspaper’s token, high profile black writers. That despite the fact that Osterheldt has yet to distinguish herself as a columnist of any import. She’s been dismissed as inconsequential by the best of ’em (The Pitch) and the worst (Tony).

I know Jeneé pretty well, and she’s a very nice person.

She was hired by my former editor to fill a void at the Star and provide the answers to questions precious few readers were asking; especially the older, white males that make up the lion’s share of the newspaper’s readership.

And frankly, to the extent that Pitch-loving hipsters, women and people of color have been exposed to Jeneé, she’s done little to distinguish herself in that crowd either.


Steve Penn

If Jason Whitlock was still at the Star – or even ousted columnist Steve Penn – you can bet one or both of them would have been doing the front page honors instead of Jeneé.

All of which is my way of saying that Jeneé’s column was served up as being front page important, aside from the fact that she evidently didn’t follow the trial closely, if at all. That or her built-in biases from being a black woman were too easily won over by a largely successful media campaign that turned a criminal proceeding into a race issue.

Because of the efforts of influential black leaders and a more-than-willing media, people like Jeneé were able to take a pass on learning the details revealed in the trial and end up exactly where they began prior to those details being coming to light.

Let’s talk about what Jeneé was spot on about first.

“The laws are flawed. And so are our race relations.”


Look at what a jury of clued out Kansans did to poor Joe-College owner Larry Sinks five years back. The jurors didn’t have a clue about copyright law, so when left to decipher what slick talking lawyers from Atlanta told them, they came down largely on Sinks side. Unfortunately that still exposed Sinks to a several hundred thousand dollar settlement liability and legal bills that knocked his moral victory completely out the box, ruined his business and cost him his marriage and family.

What’s more KU sealed his lips for all time, in letting Sinks off the bankruptcy hook.

Life is not always fair, we all know that. So while Jeneé is correct on the above count, that’s hardly a front page proposition.

trayvon-martin-photos.jpg.pagespeed.ce.098emgSf2kShe’s also correct that blacks – black youth in particular – are viewed suspiciously by many whites. You don’t have to look any further than the Plaza, Ward Parkway Center, Crown Center and any number of other largely white, local hotspots to see evidence of that.

But using the Zimmerman verdict as an excuse to point that out was lame, because had Jeneé followed the trial halfway closely – like I did and the jurors obviously did – she’d know that this case was first and foremost about crime where the verdict was concerned.

Not stupidity or race.

One juror on CNN’s Anderson Cooper show Monday spoke to the race angle and chastised Zimmerman for poor judgement for following Martin. However that wasn’t what the verdict was about, she stated.

Notice the bogus "little boy" pic of Martin selected by People to help drive the storyline

Notice the bogus “little boy” pic of Martin selected by People to help drive the storyline

George Zimmerman wasn’t on trial for race crimes, he was on trial for murder.

And Jeneé didn’t quite get that.

There was no verdict the jury could have rendered that would have punished Zimmerman for not hanging back as he should have. Should they have ignored the evidence and convicted him for something he wasn’t guilty of, just to make a point about race?

As the juror clearly stated – and was evident to anyone who followed the trial testimony – the evidence pointed to Martin having been the aggressor, throwing the first punch and having been in a position where, banging Zimmerman’s head repeatedly against a concrete sidewalk could easily have resulted in his death.

The jurors ruled  Zimmerman had every reason to fear for his life, thus the ruling of self-defence.

This case was never about a little boy with a bag of Skittles.

Nor was it about Jeneé’s bible thumping husband going jogging in a peaceful, suburban realm such as Prairie Village. This was about a fully developed teenager – who would have been tried as an adult had he prevailed in the fight – in a bad neighborhood where lots of bad things had been happening.

It was also about a Hispanic guy who volunteer works with black kids, who took a black girl to prom in high school and who made some poor decisions but had every reason to fear for his life when those poor decisions came back to bite him in the butt.

What would have been significant is if Jeneé had stepped outside the box, done some research and brought something to the table less predictable than a rehash of what many in the national media had already made up their minds on BEFORE the facts came out in the trial.


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48 Responses to Hearne: The Pillorying of George Zimmerman & The Judicial System

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    The media and the activists on both sides shaped and whittled this case to fit their own agendas.

    As in war, the first casualty in the reporting was the truth. Doctored recordings, using out-of-date photos, trying to say a Hispanic couldn’t be racist because he wasn’t white (though as a blonde friend said, he’s whiter than my cracker arse) and more.

    “His death wasn’t about race, guns, or your pet issue. It was about misjudgment and overreaction—exactly what we’re doing now to the verdict,” wrote William Saletan.

    Not guilty doesn’t mean Zimmerman is innocent. It means there was a reasonable doubt he was gunning for Martin.

    This case is as FUBARed as the incident which triggered Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.


    Had the dispatcher’s response been less ambiguous, maybe this out-of-shape, wanna-be cop would not have killed a young man. Ir had Martin taken his friend’s advice to run away, he may have lived. If the dog had stopped to take a dump, the rabbit wouldn’t have got away.

    When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

  2. smartman says:

    Penn and Whitlock would be spouting the same inflammatory rhetoric as their left wing black bretheren. I don’t think either would have conjured a unique POV from inside the racist echo chamber.

    The Star has no interest in the facts of the case, only the emotion.

    Hoops POV was extremely naïve. She has no cred as a serious, thoughtful writer. If Hoops were a boy and not a girl, she’d be JoPo-lite.

    Between Jenee and Diuguid the Star is doing a tremendous disservice to the urban community. They are both steeped in the tradition of whitey being evil.

    As long as the Star continues the same old song and dance with the “community” we will not see any major improvement in their state of being and hence the city of KCMO as well.

  3. harley says:

    please…please hearne….Wilson….get your facts straight!
    You are going by information that is not correct and making
    a false conclusion based on information that was not even
    put into evidence.
    From the supposed head banging on the concrete to the
    actual confrontation to the literal translation of the
    actual law and even to the incompetence of the state attorneys
    you two need to stick to concert reviews and stories about
    movie restaurants.
    thanks…wish I had more time!

    • admin says:

      Why don’t you try following the trial testimony next time, H Man.

      And stick to commenting on stories about concerts, movies and restaurants – stuff you know a little something about.

      • Super Dave says:

        Please don’t feed the troll

      • cheech lifting Harley's dead body says:

        Admin, Harley is a brilliant writer. He writes for national blogs, don’t you know? He said his last one got 250 comments. Thats why he berates everyone here, hes bigger, hes national.
        We’ve ask for weeks and he said he’d deliver a link where we could see just one. He can’t even deliver that.
        He doesn’t even know where he blogs, he’s lost the link!
        He promised he’d never come back here. What he hasn’t lied about is limited to what he hasn’t thought up yet to lie about.
        Listen to Super Dave, don’t feed the douche. I mean troll.

      • harley says:

        i’m going to school you on the real facts behind this
        case. Watching nancy grace scream on tv or watching
        your buddy Hannity or Rachel maddow doesn’t mean
        you have any idea WHAT REALLY HAPPENED on this
        This entire case from the start was doomed and was
        profoundly unfair to Zimmerman. Rick Scott and the
        fat lady set this whole fiasco in motion..something you
        wouldn’t see as you channel switched from Lizard Lick
        towing to greta von sustern.
        Hold on….luv ya hearne but you’re off track on this
        And I do thank you for all your previous mentions.
        If you check google analytics you’d probably see that
        Harley is the most read commentator and the most
        mentioned name on kcc and tkc right behind your
        buddy glaze.
        stay tuned.

        • Markus Aurelius says:

          If you didn’t watch the trial, which clearly you did not, then don’t even pretend to comment about what constituted the facts that the jury was charged with considering. Listening to what MSNBC, FOX NEWS, CNN or anyone else reported as the facts is garbage – they ALL misrepresented facts to fit their individual corporate and political agendas. Hearne obviously watched the trial because he got his facts right. Whether or not the factual testimony correctly and completely reflected the reality is not the issue. The jury was charged with evaluating the facts in evidence and applying what was there to the charges brought by the prosecution. Everyone wants to act like the result was some injustice but if you watched the trial and saw the factual testimony anything other than a not guilty verdict would have been injustice. The death of a young man was a tragedy but the decision to not find the man who shot him guilty of murder or manslaughter was not. It was the logical and natural consequence of the facts in evidence.

    • expat says:

      Don’t worry Harley you’re also a creepy ass cracker, I’m sure if you wander around the east side at night looking shady someone will gay bash you too. That’s your fetish right.

  4. expat says:

    Why is it always Zimmerman’s responsibility to stay in the car? It was Trayvon’s responsibility not to wander around people’s backyards generally acting like a burglar in an unknown neighborhood, and not to go back and attack Zimmerman.

  5. chuck says:

    This front page article was a topic of conversation with customers and workers today all over the city. I heard from friends and listened to customers mention it without prompting all day long.

    The KC Star’s liberal bias has never been more apparent. Top of the FRONT PAGE for an anecdotal take on local Florida tragedy that by way of a biased 4th Estate campaign, disgraceful US Dept. Of Justice involvement in conjunction with the expected militant race hustling bigots and an astonishing abrogation of responsibility by the POTUS, became a national tragedy, not only for the players in the actual drama, but the nation as a whole.

    Osterheldt’s offering in our local fish wrap on today’s front page is a metaphor for the decreasing standards that now pass for competence in a politically correct America paralyzed by fear of being called a racist. The 1st person content of the article concerning Mrs. Osterheldt’s fear for her husband, based on the threat of violence by the “Next George Zimmerman” is preposterous. Mrs. Osterheldt’s inability to prioritize real and present danger from the most likely attackers is disingenuous at best, or more probably medacious and infalmatory with a purpose. 8 to 10 thousand young black men are killed every year in this country by other black men and she damn well knows it. If her husband sees possible threats while jogging, they are 999 to 1 NOT going to be a WHITE/Hispanic with mush for muscles and poor decision making skills, they are going to be black, armed and filled with eroneous misleading, information similar to the type of information Mrs. Osterheldt, Lewis Diuguid and thousands of other apologists in Newpapers all across the nation print every day.

    Mrs. Osterheldt’s take on the dangers from the “Next Geroge Zimmerman” are either designed fabrication to promote an agenda or stupidity, or both.

    Here is a quote from Mrs. Osterheldt’s column today.

    “Do Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell or Oscar Grant come to mind? These are just a few names in a very long and tragic history of unarmed black men being gunned down. Have you heard of the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, which is little more than thinly veiled racial profiling? What did Mayor Michael Bloomberg just say about the controversial policy he pushes: “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”

    Gwen Grant on Ruckus mentioned obliquely the necessity of profiling in Kansas City and it would seem the mayor is on board in KC. We will see. Bloomberg’s profiling of African Americans and other minorites have dramatically reduced crime in New York because minorities commit so much crime. It is what it is.

    Her mention of Diallo, Bell and Grant is noteworthy for the years it took to record these crimes of black on white. I would mention Christopher Newsome, the Witchita Massacre and the literally thousands of hate crimes committed by blacks on whites which are either not reported or underreported. Colin Flaherty (“White Girl Bleed A Lot”) is one of the few writers of note who has taken notice of this phenomnon. The state fairs in Iowa and Wisconsin were scenes of “Beat Whitey Night’ last year and new games in the street called “The Knockout Game” and “Polar Bear Hunting” are sweeping the nation (Mayor Sly’s son took some photos published recently aluding to the fun to be had with Polar Bear hunting). You do not need to be an investigative reporter to find out in just minutes with the help of Google and You Tube the avalance of violence perpetrated against whites in hate crimes all over the country.

    Hate crimes, that will NOT be prosecuted by Eric holder and his Justice Dept.


    Once again, look for yourself, the hate crimes committed today, are OVERWHELMINGLY black on white.

    Mrs. Osterheldt’s premise and purpose are just as disgraceful as the Zimmerman trial itself was.

    • harley says:

      chuck…I didn’t think anyone read the star anymore.
      Looks like more people are reading it than we give them credit for.
      “everyone”….”all over the city”….they must have tons of readers if
      this one article got them all wound up.
      I think the star still carries some serious clout in this town…
      even though the number of pages keeps going down…people
      still love to read it.

      • chuck says:

        I don’t know Harley, you may be right. I receved a call from Tom who DOES get the paper in his driveway and he was apoplectic about Jenee’s article. He is going to USA today (I guess the same company delivers it???). Not much difference.

        I clicked on the article, read it and you can see what I thought of it if you are interested.

        Later I received more calls from people I knew who basically laughed at the sophmoric take and lack of perspective from a “Journalist” who is obviously in deep water when discussing anything with anyone other than a cycle sister.

        Indeed, it was a topic of conversation at 3 different houses from midtown all the way out south to 135th. The reviews were unfavorable. Since then the article has been cussed and discussed several more times with people I know. That means very little, since most folks I know are as Independent as I am politically. Still, I noticed that there was a comment from the editor (?) today in the Star with regard to Jenee’s article being opinion or news, I think…

        The Star obviously received a lot of feed back also.

        Hearne is no doubt privy to info on actual numbers of Star readers and how they break down.

  6. chuck says:

    “Her mention of Diallo, Bell and Grant is noteworthy for the years it took to record these crimes of black on white”

    White on black, my apologies.

  7. Super Dave says:

    The niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says she is not a fan of the viral image of her uncle wearing a hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin. The image, created by artist Nikkolas Smith and spread widely by activist Van Jones on Twitter, shows a contemplative King wearing the garment, which has become a symbol of support for the slain 17-year-old.

    “I can almost promise you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not wear a hoodie,” said Alveda King on the Andrea Tantaros radio show Tuesday when asked about the image. Alveda King is a former state representative in Georgia and a right-wing anti-abortion activist and minister.

    King said she and two of her cousins are calling on Americans not to “fight or debate” about the case, which she thinks did not raise any significant racial issues. The 29-year-old neighborhood watchman who shot the unarmed Martin, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of all charges against him on Saturday. Zimmerman is half Hispanic, Martin was black. “You’ve got two grieving and hurting families,” King said, before quoting her uncle. “We all need to live together as brothers.”

    Tantaros asked King if she had seen the hoodie photo. “What do you think of this image? And what would your uncle think?” she asked.

    “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would very likely not wear a hoodie,” she said. “I can assure you he would not wear sagging pants. I don’t even think I’ve ever even seen his sons with sagging pants.” King then said the verdict had been reached and that Americans must accept it, before adding again, seemingly agitated, “I can almost promise you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not wear a hoodie.“

  8. Mysterious J says:

    Wow, Jeneé gets it from you two days in a row. Give her a day off tomorrow…surely you can find someone else to take out your anti-Star aggression upon.

  9. admin says:

    Hey, I like Jeneé.

    I needed to clear the air and tout Standees yesterday and the front page story today was the straw that broke the camel’s back on breaking down and doing something on Zimmerman.

    Jeneé is far from alone in not bothering to familiarize herself with the facts and streeetching the truth to fit a predetermined narrative.

    The interesting thing tonight was the Florida prosecutor lady fending off Anderson Cooper and a panel of Trayvon Martin apologists in stating – even though she lost – that the case was about crime not race. Which was the same thing the woman juror told Cooper last night.

    Race continues to be an important issue in this country, but African Americans using this trial to score points unrelated to the issues being tried were about as nonsensical as black people cheering when O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

    Let’s stop mixing apples and oranges and tackle the real race issues and stop playing all these games.

  10. cu_member says:

    First, I haven’t hardly read any of Jenee’s stuff–its sits on the FYI page, for God’s sake. Second, she had a whopper recently where she chastised people for making fun of “North West”. What a waste of column inches. Third, Derek Donovan himself stated in the past week or say that the Star didn’t think the Martin/Zimmerman trial was newsworthy enough for KC (paraphasing, of course). So that brings us to the editors decision to put this lady’s column on page one. It’s not Jenee’s failure it’s a management of the Star failure.

    • the dude says:

      Yep, the real problem here is the Star sets the bar so low for what passes as credibility to write an article about this subject. She met the low criteria of being black and able to mostly write in compete sentences. This is what journalism in this country has come to folks.

  11. gerald bostock says:

    One thing that most people with experience in court will tell you is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to have an informed judgment on a trial unless you are there for the whole thing–every witness, every objection and statement. Even then, it’s hard to put yourself in the role of a juror because of the numerous hearings and arguments that take place outside the jury’s presence. So I would be careful saying that the jury made a wrong decision in any case (how much of the College Joe case did you actually see, Hearne?). Acquitting Zimmerman based on the evidence and law presented to the jury may have been the proper decision, but one doesn’t need to have seen or followed any of the trial to conclude that Zimmerman’s cowboyish, possibly racist mentality led to the death of an unarmed African-American teenager.

    • admin says:

      I was one of only three reporters who was at the Joe College trial fro gavel-to-gavel – and the only one from the Star. Topeka and Lawrence newspapers had reporters.

    • Veronica Hornsby says:

      I’ve always wondered who the real Gerald Bostock was. Would the real Gerald Bostock please stand up? I liked your well-put conclusion. It’s always easy to stand outside of a case and pontificate as to what decision should have been made. In this case, true facts considered, a tragedy is what occurred, based on the profiling of both men by both men of one another… And not without what each considered urgent, reliable reasons. And a youth lost his life in the struggle that ensued. Considering all of that and the result, the profiling and the way these details comment on our society would be a valuable exercise in finding ways to keep these kinds of accidents from happening. Furthermore, real honest looks at the staggering, realistic, although racially uncomfortable statistics on racial crimes – who’s killing who- these days mistaken as politically incorrectness, would do some great help in decreasing crime and proactively dealing with the factors that contribute to today’s violent acts, in my humble opinion.

  12. Sargent Shriver Stedenko says:

    It is an interesting footnote that for all the talk of Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law it was never invoked in this case. Zimmerman asserted his common law right of self defense of person.

  13. mark smith says:

    Even handed and insightful post hearne. Put the fiat in the garage tonight lest the Lawrence aged hippies egg your car for not singing the typical leftist white apologists tune. Those would be free range antibiotic free eggs, btw.

  14. Join the club, Hearne. To a leftist or a right-winger, if you are not one of them, then there’s little else you can possibly be except necessarily a part of the other extreme. It’s a group-thinking, wolfpack sort of mentality that I will never understand nor embrace.

  15. Markus Aurelius says:

    The repeated and ongoing attempts from those on the left to make this a racial issue is flat out disgusting and wrong on any number of levels. We see this same kind of crap from some of those on the right as well (current debate about Glass-Steagall being an example) Basically the tactic is we can’t win with the truth so let’s just spin and lie and misrepresent. That, my friends, is why Congress has an approval rating of 11%?

    Both sides have no integrity and have adopted an “ends justifies the means” philosophy. The problem is they assume the American public is too stupid to see through it. We’re not too stupid, because we do see through the BS, but we are too lazy to do anything about it. We’re soft. And the administration and media likes us to constantly be told that if the other side actually gets “as mad as hell and [is] not going to take it any more” that we should view such people as extremists — tea party crackers or flaming liberals or anarchists or just plain goofy which is what the media tried to do with Ron Paul during the primary debates when he was the only one actually making sense if you ignored all of the party platform nonsense.

    Eventually it all has to blow up somehow. I read somewhere that Mark Zuckerberg said that the 24 hours after the Zimmerman verdict Facebook had the highest number of un-friending in its history, second only to the Casey Anthony incident. I’m not surprised — people’s unwillingness to listen to, let alone respect, opinions contrary to their own has got to be at an all-time low in the history of our country.

  16. admin says:


  17. Drew formerly of Quality Hill says:

    Good stuff Hearne. I’m glad to see someone in the KC media has a measured and correct take on Jenee. Her writing has always been myspace quality. Keep up the good work – miss your Star column.

  18. chuck says:

    Hey Jenee, here is the stat on Black on Whte crime in a video, you understand how to watch a video, right? This video is not a cursive video.


    • chuck says:

      BTW, that is NOT per capita.

      It is not good folks and the lies out there with regard to hate crimes are legion.

      Of course, legions of idiots buy right into it and grab another glass of Koolaide.

  19. Sargent Shriver Stedenko says:

    I wonder if this racial narrative (white man shoots black boy) started because of hubris or laziness?

    I remember social media and reddit being all over this case demanding ‘justice’.

    But did the networks and cable companies actually think that they could pull their stunts like putting up a 6 year old picture of the victim and characterizing a clearly Hispanic man as White?

    I think sometimes the national media seizes on something because they want to be activists and create change. I remember lots of early stories being obsessed with Stand Your Ground law

    I think with this and Sandy Hook they actually thought they were influential enough to change public policy and opinions with their reporting. All they had to do was construct an emotional narrative.

    • admin says:

      They didn’t even argue the Stand Your Ground law. BTW, saw a chart on CNN today that showed Kansas and Missouri having Stand Your Ground laws.

      • chuck says:

        Eric Holder today said that people have “An obligation to retreat” when attacked.

        I think he would like a Stand Your Ground And Pound Law, enforced arbitrarily at the whim and caprice of selected members of minority communities.

        That is just my opinion.

        • admin says:

          How can you retreat when someone is sitting on top of you, pounding your head against the sidewalk?

          He was screaming for help for like 40 seconds.

          That’s about as close to a retreat as Zimmerman could muster

          • mike says:

            It’s the age old thing of fight or flight. If the option for flight is removed and you are losing the fight, you will do what you have to.

  20. PB says:

    I’ll stay out of the whole Zimmerman-Martin trial debate as Jenee probably should have. She needs to stay in her “journalistic” wheelhouse where appletinis and spin classes rule. That said, she’s kind of hot.

  21. admin says:

    I think was Mike is saying is, kind of the drowning man syndrome.

    Should Zimmerman have gotten out of his car to investigate Martin further? Obviously not. Did he take the first punch to the nose? Was it a sucker punch? That would appear to be the case and I haven’t seen any evidence being trumped that Martin was any worse for the wear in the fight until the shot was fired.

    And while there is no “proof,” it certainly appears to be the case that Zimmerman was getting his ass handed to him and had every reason to fear for his life when the shot was discharged.

    And that was what the verdict addressed. Not whether anybody was being profiled, did something really dumb or whatever.

    Unfortunately for Martin’s family, Zimmerman wasn’t charged with any number of lesser crimes that could probably have resulted in a conviction. Maybe not the conviction they were hoping for, but probably a jail-able offense of some kind.

    However, the rush to judgment in the media and the African American community pressured prosecutors into going after a verdict that could not win.

    And that poor judgment is why Zimmerman walked.

    Now the same forces are at play again trying to finagle the justice system once again.

    It’s time for everyone to take a chill pill, try and learn from all this and hope we’re all the wiser for it in the end.

    • the dude says:

      If the charge does not fit you must get the feds to bully people around!!
      That is the racebaiter’s forte.

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