Tag Archive: George Zimmerman

Edward Snowden

Dear Edward:

Something tells me the Sheremetyevo Airport Transit Zone room service menu is getting old.

How many different ways can one prepare bowls of borscht and/or cucumber sandwiches?

Think of it this way, a prison cell with room service and a view of the parking lot with birch trees is still a prison cell without the iron bars. There is a bar in the hotel lobby with plenty of Stoli, but are you allowed to go there?

For the record, it has been 18 days since your arrival in Russia and counting…and counting…and counting…

Pretty soon, you will forget what day of the week it is. You may satisfy yourself by sending out media statements from the WikiLeaks folks, but soon you will have nothing new to say and the media will cover the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial instead.

One Latin America government after another (e.g., Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia) has extended a welcome to you, but how will you get there? Will Scotty “beam” you up? You can imagine the tropical drinks with umbrellas and the wind-swept beaches (okay not in Bolivia), but you are still stuck Back in the USSR.

Napoleon and Hitler were stranded in Russia as well with winter approaching. It’s amazing how history repeats itself…not that I am comparing you with Bonaparte or der Führer. Maybe you can visit the Stalingrad Museum? Strike that, your passport is not valid.


Another bowl of borscht?

To some in America, you are a whistle-blower and a hero including a collection of voices who together make for very strange bedfellows indeed (e.g., Michael Moore, Glenn Beck, Oliver Stone, Michael Savage).

Maybe one or all of them or the WikiLeaks gang can shell out a few shekels to arrange for a private jet to transport you to a socialist paradise? The sponsoring country could issue you a passport, once you renounce your U.S. citizenship of course. Are you willing to take this step with the knowledge you will never see your native North Carolina or adopted State of Hawaii ever again?

Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, conceivably could welcome you to their island gulag with palm trees, but is that where you want to spend the rest of your life? Keep in mind; you are only 30 years young. Venezuela may be more inviting, but what happens if there is a government coup d’ ‘etat and the new management honors an extradition agreement with the United States? Ditto for fun-in-the-desert Bolivia?

You may end up Back in the USSA anyway.

Maybe you should think out of the proverbial box, and follow in the footsteps of Martha Stewart?

What if you accept Vice President Joe Biden’s offer of a one-way, fully escorted trip home?

Okay you don’t want to go to prison, but aren’t you effectively eating prison food right now? And how long is Putin going to allow you to stay in Russia anyway?


Do you think that you couldn’t receive a fair trial back the states? Didn’t O.J. receive a fair trial? Maybe we could fit you with a bloody glove, forcing the jury to acquit? Or maybe not.

One thing I can guarantee you, there will be lawyers galore clamoring to represent you before the glare of the television lights. Greta is always in need of a new trial to micro-analyze. You will set in a motion a nationwide debate about what is the proper amount of government surveillance in this era of global terrorism.

If you head off to Bolivia never to be heard from, let alone ever seeing your homeland again, what have you accomplished? Aldrich Ames is serving out his life in prison. No one cares about him. Who will care about you in Venezuela? Isn’t publicity and attention what you ultimately crave?

Reportedly, you are facing up to 30-years in the slam. Do you really think that is going to be the outcome? Maybe you can strike a deal, preserving your rights to your autobiography and upcoming made-for-television movie?

And just as one Clinton in the White House pardoned the dearly departed tax-evader-rogue-trader Marc Rich, maybe a future Clinton in the White House could pardon you too?

Anything is possible. Come home Edward to the land of hot dogs, college football and apple pie…before you are forced to endure yet another cucumber sandwich.

P.S. You may want to contemplate saying you are sorry for your actions instead of being self-righteous. Americans are a forgiving people.







Consider the following equation:

A fast-breaking highly charged emotional story.

Plus mistaken identity.

Plus a news media determined to be the first to break the story.

Plus the unprecedented speed and reach of the Internet.

Plus the potential of vigilantes willing to take “justice” into their own hands.

All that equals the potential of some innocent person(s) being seriously hurt or worse.


It could have been Ryan Lanza as a result of the horrific Newtown, Ct. school shootings last Friday. Or it could have been David and Elaine McClain in the Treyvon Martin case this past spring.

For Ryan Lanza, (not to be confused yet again with his killer brother, Adam) Friday was a very bad day.

He found out that his mother is dead. His estranged brother killed 26 innocents, including 20 in a suburban Connecticut kindergarten. And to top it off,  law enforcement fingered the wrong Lanza…Ryan, not Adam.

And that meant the media, including the Associated Press with its international reach, had the wrong Lanza as well. The word spread like bonfire across cyberspace and the airwaves that Ryan Lanza had horrifically killed 27 innocents. In reality, Ryan Lanza was working in the Manhattan office of accounting firm, Ernst & Young, approximately 60 miles from Newtown, Connecticut. He was just doing his job.

Lanza’s social media sites turned ugly, real threatening ugly, real fast. He was forced to leave work out of fear for his well being.

“The Associated Press, relying on a law enforcement official who turned out to be mistaken, initially reported Ryan Lanza was the shooter,” MSN News reported. “Many other media outlets also reported as such, citing law enforcement officials…A friend of Lanza’s, former Jersey Journal newspaper staff writer Brett Wilshe, told the AP he ‘got really scared’ when he began hearing the media reports about Ryan Lanza, and sent him a message on Facebook asking what was going on and if he was OK.”

In defense of the media, it is only as good as the information they are provided. Not being as charitable, the media is always in such a bowels-in-an-uproar tizzy to be the first to break the news. In a fast breaking high-import, emotional story media types, particularly television networks, are often guilty of breaking the wrong news and having to correct the record.

And when that happens in the 21st Century the mistake is instantaneously compounded on social media with its global reach? Are we are running the risk that someone or a modern-day lynch mob will take justice into their own hands, even if the mistake is quickly corrected? Is any innocent person truly safe? Have you ever Googled your own name to check out the affairs of others who have the same name?


Earlier this year, film director/producer Spike Lee tweeted the address of the McClains, a law-abiding couple in their 70s, to his almost 240,000 Twitter followers. He was “relaying” the word that alleged Martin shooter George Zimmerman lived at that address. Wrong. The vigilantes went there seeking “justice.” The McClains were forced into hiding.

Some other questions come to mind: What if the address was correct? What if Zimmerman really lived there? What did Lee want the recipients of his tweets to do with this information?

Lee subsequently apologized to the McClains and he wrote them a big check. He asked everyone to leave this poor couple alone in peace.

For the media, the words of the Wizard of Westwood John Wooden come to mind: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Certainly, the lawyers for big media with deep pockets (e.g., ABC-Disney; NBC-Comcast/GE; CBS-Viacom; CNN-Time-Warner; Fox-News Corporation) must be concerned about their potential liability in mistaken identity cases. Even though it is difficult to successfully sue these major corporations, juries may not be so accommodating when someone loses their life as a result of the frantic rush to be first with the wrong information.

For public relations professionals, it means that brands and reputations can be quickly besmirched in a case of mistaken identity. Vigilance is now a 24/7/365 undertaking in our digital world.

Maybe, the networks and wire services should be a little less braggadocio when it comes to being first. The reality is that a media outlet will not always be first; some other organization will be first from time-to-time. How about being right? How about being accurate? How about double checking? Heck, how about triple checking?

“Are you sure it was Ryan Lanza?”

“Does George Zimmerman really live here?” (Yes, Spike Lee is not media, but the point about checking still applies)

Just asking an extra question or two or three may preclude someone from going into hiding, from being harassed at work, or even some other unfortunate event that triggers big-time headlines…and even a big-time legal judgment.









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