In a Tuesday interview, actor and comedian Bill Cosby said that it was impossible to prove George Zimmerman was a racist and that as a result, he was uninterested in trying to discuss the killing of Trayvon Martin in that context.
“Let’s not go into a racial discussion unless we really have something there,” he told radio hosts Domenick Nati and Nate Foutz.
Cosby also blasted the news media and said that he had stopped paying attention to “high-profile” court cases after the Casey Anthony murder trial because journalists were so convinced she would be found guilty and yet she was not.
“I found that media were chomping and had this woman guilty,” Cosby said. “But they were just on and on and on and then when the verdict came out, I said ‘Whoah, how could people miss that? How could that happen?’”
Regarding the Zimmerman trial, Cosby said that he did not think the state of Florida was able to prove its case against him. “I found that the prosecution did not tell the story well. And they lost,” Cosby said.
The veteran comedian also seemed to think the charge of second-degree murder against Zimmerman was unprovable based on the evidence.
“This racial stuff goes into a whole bunch of discussion which has stuff that you can’t prove,” Cosby said. “You can’t prove somebody is a racist unless they really come out and do the act and is found to be that.”
While stating that he believed Zimmerman had a right to defend himself under the law, Cosby implied that he believed Martin attacked first because he saw Zimmerman flash his gun at him and became afraid.
“I mean this is getting out of line,” Cosby said, presumably referring to laws of self-defense.
A full transcript of the interview follows:
HOST: Three days ago, we got the news that George Zimmerman was found not guilty. Now, as the African-American icon, we just talked about before, I would love to hear your opinion about the Trayvon Martin case.
COSBY: It is something that I found–I stopped–what was it, Tracy, something or other or Casey, was in the trunk of the car found dead. Do you remember what I’m talking about?
HOST: Yes, sir.
COSBY: And I watched that. And I found that media were jumping and had this woman guilty and I didn’t think she was ‘not guilty’ but media had it that way [sic]. But they were just on and on and on and then when the verdict came out, I said ‘Whoa, how could people miss that? How could that happen?’
And I will, quote unquote according to myself, my iconic self, never pay attention to information given to me by TV, radio, or whatever about a high-profile case until the jury says what it says. Because these people and their opinions were moneymaking things. They were just having a ball drawing this up.
So in the Trayvon Martin case, I, after hearing some of the things from the radio, I found that the prosecution did not tell the story well. And they lost.
HOST: Can you elaborate like what you mean when you say they didn’t tell the story well?
COSBY: What are you asking me?
HOST: Like, what do you mean by they didn’t tell the story well?
COSBY: OK, if you’re a lawyer and I’m a lawyer, and I’m going up against you, we both have to talk to the jury, agreed?
COSBY: We present our story. And I think if I don’t present the story well enough that you will win.
Host: Yep, makes sense. So that’s what happened in this case? So in your personal opinion, maybe you feel like it was racial profiling?
COSBY: Let me just tell you this, man. See this racial stuff goes into a whole bunch of discussion which has stuff that you can’t prove. You can’t prove if somebody is a racist unless they really come out and do the act and is found to be that.
Am I making sense?
COSBY: All right. But I do know this, I do know this: I heard a person say ‘don’t go there.’ You understand?
COSBY: OK. Don’t do that. I know that if you have a gun, it changes your whole feeling about what you can tell people, about how people better do what you say. Your mind can turn in such a way that you have a sense of control and power. I see a thing and so forth and so on [unintelligible] OK just stay where you are and don’t, but I got a gun.
Let’s not go into a racial discussion unless we really have something there. But we do know that he had a gun. And we do know that the Florida state law says you have a right to defend yourself, that means both people. So you have a gun and you come up to me and I don’t have a gun, but then you show me your gun and I become frightened and according to the State of Florida, I have a right to defend myself. According to the State of Florida, the person with the gun has the right to defend him or herself. I mean this is getting out of line.
Matthew Sheffield is president of Dialog New Media, a techno-marketing company headquarted in the Washington, DC area. Working with the Media Research Center, he created NewsBusters in 2005 as the first-ever collaboration between a major Washington policy group and the blogosphere.