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Originally published July 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM | Page modified July 16, 2013 at 7:30 AM

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Zimmerman verdict drew millions to cable TV

More than 10 million viewers turned to cable TV networks to watch the verdict, broadcast 10-11 p.m. Saturday. Fox News topped the list at 3.68 million, with CNN following at 3.4 million.

The New York Times

Juror speaks out

MIAMI — The female juror in the George Zimmerman trial known as Juror B37 said Monday that she believed Zimmerman, who she referred to as “George,” had a right to defend himself. She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the actions of the neighborhood-watch volunteer and Trayvon Martin both led to the teenager’s fatal shooting, but that Zimmerman didn’t actually break the law. The juror, who is planning to write a book about the trial, said Sanford Police Detective Chris Serino’s testimony that he believed Zimmerman made a strong impression since he dealt with similar cases and would know when someone was lying. The juror was not impressed by the testimony of Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel, who talked to him on the cellphone moments before he was fatally shot by Zimmerman in February, 2012. “I felt very sorry for her,” the juror said. “She didn’t want to be there.” The juror also said defense attorney Don West’s knock-knock joke about knowing who Zimmerman was during opening statements “was horrible.” She said three jurors were initially in favor of acquittal, two wanted manslaughter and one wanted second-degree murder. After reviewing the evidence and the law, some jurors wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something, but couldn’t based on the law.

The Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
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My reaction was the opposite. The TV coverage got tiring for me, and I began to change... MORE
Not on in my household. I figured I would see the result in the paper the next day. MORE
Zimmer-who? MORE

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Despite breaking late on a weekend evening, the verdict in the murder trial of George Zimmerman attracted an audience of more than 10 million viewers to cable news networks, a huge total for a Saturday night.

Preliminary ratings showed that for the hour from 10 to 11 p.m. when the verdict came in, Fox News and CNN both attracted more than 3 million viewers, while MSNBC trailed badly with only about 1.3 million.

Fox had the highest number, 3.68 million viewers, just ahead of CNN with 3.4 million. But CNN outpaced Fox News among the viewers that television advertisers pay most to reach, those between the ages of 25 and 54. In that category, CNN had 1.72 million viewers to 1.11 million for Fox News. MSNBC had only 510,000.

MSNBC actually finished in fourth place overall, also coming in behind CNN’s sister network HLN, which is known for covering criminal trials. HLN had 2.2 million total viewers for third in that category and 980,000 in the 25-54 group, which also placed it third.

The viewership total of 10 million represented a massive increase from the Saturday night audience a week earlier, when only about 1.6 million viewers watched the same four cable news channels.

The Pew Research Center released a study Monday on public interest in the Zimmerman trial, labeling the level of national interest only modest, despite the near wall-to-wall coverage that the trial received over the past several weeks on the cable news channels.

In the survey, 26 percent of respondents said they had watched news about the trial closely. Interest was much higher last March when news of the shooting of Martin was heavily covered. At that time, 35 percent said they were following the event closely.

Pew also found that interest broke sharply along racial lines, with 56 percent of blacks saying they were following the trial closely as opposed to only 20 percent of white respondents.

Pew reported that some other racially charged news events it had studied showed higher national percentages of close interest, including the arrest of O.J. Simpson in 1994 (48 percent) and the riots that followed the acquittal of police officers accused of assaulting Rodney King in 1992 (70 percent).

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