Skip to main content

Study: Republicans, whites more tired of Trayvon Martin coverage

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Thu April 5, 2012
  • Report: 56% of Republicans and 25% of Democrats say there is too much Martin coverage
  • Considerably more whites than blacks say the same thing, according to the study
  • A friend of George Zimmerman defends the neighborhood watch volunteer
  • Rallies nationwide have called for Zimmerman's arrest

"AC360°" teams up with a child psychologist to see what factors contribute to children's opinions on race. Could these same factors have shaped how you view race? The special report, "Kids on Race: The Hidden Truth," continues at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday on CNN.

Sanford, Florida (CNN) -- While the story behind Trayvon Martin's shooting death continues to grab headlines, interest in the case is sharply divided along partisan and racial lines, according to a new study by Pew Research Center.

Far more Republicans (56%) than Democrats (25%) say there has been too much coverage of Martin's death, according to Pew, which surveyed a "nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults" last Thursday through Sunday about top new stories.

In addition, 43% of whites said the story has garnered too much coverage, compared with just 16% of blacks, Pew said.

Martin's death fractured not just public interest opinions; it also continues to divide supporters of the slain Florida teen and those of George Zimmerman, the man who admitted killing the 17-year-old but claims he did so in self-defense.

Zimmerman attorneys say media unfair
Trayvon Martin's last minutes
Taaffe: Zimmerman welts 'clear' on tape
Taaffe: Martin shooting 'a perfect storm'

Rallies nationwide have called for Zimmerman's arrest, decrying the Sanford Police Department's handling of the case.

On Tuesday, Martin family attorney Jasmine Rand insisted again that a former prosecutor in the case, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, met with the now sidelined Sanford police Chief Bill Lee the night of the killing and overruled a police detective urging that Zimmerman be arrested.

Rand said the family's legal team has multiple, credible sources who say Wolfinger and Lee met that night. She declined to elaborate.

FBI agents were in Sanford on Tuesday, continuing their interviews in a civil rights investigation. Martin family supporters say the situation is a clear-cut case of racial profiling leading to an unjust killing.

On Monday, agents interviewed Martin's girlfriend, the 16-year-old girl who, phone records show, was on the line with him shortly before the fatal confrontation, Martin family attorney Daryl Parks confirmed Tuesday.

Martin's family and supporters say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, profiled Martin, who was black, as "suspicious" and ignored a police dispatcher's request that he not follow him. Martin had a bag of Skittles and an iced tea at the time of his death.

The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer has said Martin punched him and slammed his head into a sidewalk before the shooting, according to family members and police.

Zimmerman's legal adviser, Craig Sonner, said Tuesday that criminal defense lawyer Hal Uhrig would represent Zimmerman and that Sonner would serve as co-counsel if the case were to proceed. Uhrig spent more than six years with the Gainesville Police Department in Florida before graduating from law school in 1974.

Meanwhile, a friend of Zimmerman's said video of the neighborhood watch volunteer in police custody does seem to show injuries consistent with Zimmerman's report that Martin slammed his head to the concrete after the two exchanged words.

An enhanced copy of the video appears to show a bump, mark or injury on Zimmerman's head more clearly than does another copy of the video previously reviewed by CNN. That video had a grainy quality.

While the video does not appear to show major wounds, Frank Taaffe, Zimmerman's neighbor and friend, said Seminole County paramedics cared for Zimmerman before they released him to police.

"That's why you don't see him like he came out of a 12-round fight like Rocky Balboa against Apollo Creed," Taaffe said.

But Rand, the Martin family attorney, said Tuesday that it doesn't matter what the videotape shows.

"That does not change our position," she said. "Once again, George Zimmerman was the aggressor. He pursued Trayvon in this instance. If he did have any medical injuries, that did not give him the right to use deadly force and shoot and kill Trayvon."

Also Tuesday, Taaffe told CNN that the neighborhood had experienced a spate of burglaries over 15 months, which he said were committed by black men. But Taaffe said Zimmerman was not a racist.

"Young black men were never the topic of discussion," he said. It was that neighborhood homes had been repeatedly burglarized, he said.

Police records didn't appear to support Taaffe's assertion, describing four incidents involving black men. Taaffe declined further comment to CNN.

CNN's Vivian Kuo, Holly Yan, Tracy Sabo and Natisha Lance contributed to this report.

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

Part of complete coverage on
George Zimmerman
updated 8:50 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Let's get ready to ... mumble.
updated 8:35 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
updated 2:41 PM EDT, Sun September 29, 2013
George Zimmerman's estranged wife said that while she respects the jury's not guilty verdict in his second-degree murder trial, she now has doubts about his innocence.
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
George Zimmerman's defense team says people should delve into the "substance" of other comments made by a juror who claimed the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 1:12 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Four days after he was acquitted of murder, George Zimmerman stepped out of seclusion to help a family.
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
Florida law kept George Zimmerman from being held accountable in last year's shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen's mom said.
updated 10:10 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Sat July 20, 2013
The nation has a long history of self-defense laws. Almost every state allows some version of the "castle" defense, as in "a man's home is his castle."
updated 12:43 AM EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN pushing for new laws.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had "no doubt" he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
updated 1:04 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with Zimmerman said she is upset at his acquittal on murder charges.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
His trial's over. And now it turns out that George Zimmerman might need the same thing millions of Americans are looking for: a job.
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
An employee of the Florida State Attorney's Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman's defense team has been fired.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
This might sound like a legal conundrum.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Suspected racism in the justice system, deep-seated, secretive and historic, was the crux of the case for millions, writes Tom Foreman.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Fri March 30, 2012
Just like most any other teenager, Trayvon Martin enjoyed listening to music and going to the movies, friends and family said.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
With a single phrase, Rachel Jeantel, that friend of Trayvon Martin's, may have lit a fuse in the trial of his accused killer.