A Florida judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed against NBC News by amateur patrolman George Zimmerman, citing the utter lack of malice in their reporting.
In Judge Nelson’s opinion (read here), she writes that Zimmerman spoke the words attributed to him, and that the “excerpt from the non-emergency call quoted in NBC’s broadcasts accurately captured the ‘gist’ and ‘sting’ of what Zimmerman actually said and were not false in any material sense.”
The judge adds that an edited quotation can’t be held as being published with actual malice unless the alteration has a different effect on the mind of the reader than what was actually said. The judge concludes that “because Zimmerman is unable to demonstrate that the editing choices at issue resulted in a materially false change in the meaning of what he actually said, he cannot pursue his defamation claims arising from those choices as a matter of law.”
As for the disputed use of a “racial epithet,” the judge notes that the “tape recording itself is, at best, ambiguous,” and thus, NBC’s interpretation of that portion of the recording can’t support a finding of actual malice either.
This outcome is not surprising, as Zimmerman seems to lack any understanding of what malice is. For instance, he says that he had no malice towards Trayvon Martin when he pursued the younger man on foot, contrary to a 911 dispatcher’s instruction not to do so; he also denies any malice in his confrontation with Martin, or in shooting him dead as a result of that confrontation. Last November, when Zimmerman smashed a table and pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend’s face, he once again claimed that no malice was involved in his actions.
Just to give you some idea of how trustworthy he is on these matters of integrity, Zimmerman is spending over $3,300 a month without any income.