Why Did the Miami Herald Abandon Journalism?

For nearly a year now I have been consulting with filmmaker Joel Gilbert on his book and film project, each called The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America. From the beginning, I have been impressed by Gilbert’s diligence in exposing the fraud at the heart of America’s most publicized and racially charged trial since O.J.’s. I refer here to the 2013 murder trial of George Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Not having any financial stake in the success of either the book or the film, I thought I might serve as a useful go-between in reaching out to the media. Joel and I both understood from the outset that the national media, for all the wrong reasons, would want no part of this story. The Miami Herald, I insisted, was the one publication that would step up to the plate.

During the time between the shooting in February 2012 and the Zimmerman trial in 2013, the Miami Herald was the only mainstream media outlet in the country to report honestly on the proceedings. That was then.

This is now. I selected the three or four of the most likely reporters on the staff and sent them the following email:

In 2013, I wrote a book on the George Zimmerman case, "If I Had A Son." I have been following with interest Joel Gilbert's research into the case, which culminated with his book and documentary "The Trayvon Hoax," just released.

What Gilbert proves beyond doubt is that the state's star witness, Rachel Jeantel, was an imposter. Gilbert finds Trayvon's real girlfriend, Brittany Diamond Eugene by name. At some point, Eugene refused to go along with the testimony concocted for her by attorney Benjamin Crump and backed out. Jeantel's April 2, 2012, deposition was the basis for the affidavit to arrest Zimmerman. Jeantel was not on the phone with Trayvon. She may not have ever met him.

Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, provably knew about the switch and said nothing. She is now running for County Commissioner in Miami-Dade. Andrew Gillum based his career on the false narrative. BLM was formed as a result of GZ's acquittal. There is a Pulitzer waiting for whoever follows up here. The state attorneys had to know. I would love to hear what Angela Corey or Bernie de la Rionda have to say, but they are not going to answer my phone calls.

I can put you in touch with Gilbert. The national media will not touch this until the local media do.

I sent comparable emails to several reporters at the Tampa Bay Times and at the Orlando Sentinel. The Sentinel covered the case extensively as the shooting and trial happened in nearby Sanford, but its reporting was not as forthright as the Herald’s.

Finally, one Herald reporter called me back. I will spare his name as he at least called me. No one else did from any other publication. On the phone, I gave him my best pitch: Trayvon’s mother was one person that knew both Diamond, the real girlfriend, and Rachel Jeantel, the imposter. Gilbert proved this beyond any doubt. Fulton is now running for Miami-Dade county commissioner. Hillary Clinton tweeted her endorsement of Fulton to her millions of followers requesting donations for Fulton’s campaign, and Corey Booker endorsed her too.

In a spirit of bipartisanship, I dangled to the Herald reporters the fact that the prosecutors in the Zimmerman case were Republicans. I would love to learn how they could not have known Jeantel was an imposter if Gilbert were able to figure it out on his own.

The one Herald reporter to call me seemed openminded and promised to watch the film. I sent him a private link. “Thanks for calling back.” I emailed him. “I am totally impressed by the work Gilbert did on this project, and I am 100 percent confident he got it right. If you are interested, I can put you in touch with George Zimmerman as well. Here is the official web site

The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America.”

The reporter soon got back to me. He claimed he watched the film but decided to pass. When I asked why, he said something to the effect that it was an old case, that Zimmerman was “odious,” and that he did not see the point of bringing this story back up again. (I don’t record my calls)

Gilbert reached out to him one last time: “What is your constraint or reason to avoid this blockbuster story of a proven witness switch in this monumental case?” he asked. “I remind you Sybrina Fulton, Travyon’s mother who is running for office, is proven to have known about it if you got that far into the film.”

Gilbert added as something of a dig, “Could you kindly recommend a reporter at Miami Herald whom I could approach? Perhaps a younger reporter looking to make a name for themselves? Have them call me!” When Gilbert checked the private film link that I had provided, he discovered that the reporter with whom we communicated had not watched the film at all.

Undaunted, Gilbert reached out to Pete Weitzel, a former managing editor of the Miami Herald. Now retired, Weitzel established the Florida First Amendment Foundation to serve as a government transparency watchdog. Weitzel told Gilbert his organization was in transition and recommended he speak to the current managing editor of the Miami Herald, Rick Hirsch.

“Dear Mr. Hirsch,” Gilbert wrote in an email, “Pete Weitzel suggested to me that you were an excellent newsman and would take a good look at the breaking news story I have revealed in my new film/book. Please watch the trailer on the official website here.”

Twelve minutes later, Gilbert received the following email from Hirsch: “Thanks for reaching out. We are going to pass.”

I decided to word-search my 2013 Trayvon book, If I Had A Son, for “Miami Herald” to see whose reporting it was that I admired. The reporter’s name was Frances Robles. After a few minutes of research, I discovered that Robles now works for the New York Times, but Miami is at the heart of her beat.

On Saturday, I sent her an email under the server heading, “A legit story only you can report.”

I will let you know when I hear back.

Correction: I contended that an unnamed reporter did not watch Gilbert’s film as he claimed. Not being able to prove or disprove my contention through Vimeo analytics, I take him at his word that he watched at least the beginning of the film. He would also like it known that he is not just a reporter but the “investigations editor,” a fact I concealed for the same reason I did not name him, to protect his identity.

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