By Alex Seitz-Wald
It seemed stranger than fiction, as even his lawyer acknowledged, that George Zimmerman’s first appearance just days after he was acquitted for the killing of Trayvon Martin would be to rescue a nice family of four from their overturned SUV. But that’s what reportedly happened on July 17, leading his defenders to call him a hero and some critics to claim the event was a hoax aimed at boosting his popularity.
It does seem like an odd coincidence: Zimmerman just happened to be on the scene of the crash at the right moment, and happened to have a fire extinguisher with him to put out the flaming car. And now the family he saved abruptly canceled the press conference they had planned to thank Zimmerman. It’s all too much to believe for the Zimmerman Rescue Truthers, who emerged immediately after the news broke.
“Even if we had a videotape of the accident, they would still say it was made up. So you can’t really respond to people who just don’t want to listen to the truth,” Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara told CNN. “The idea that this was made up — it’s just the same people who refuse to accept the jury’s verdict, just want to be angry, just want to hate George Zimmerman, are still going to hate him.”
He’s probably right. As we’ve noted, conspiracy theories are basically impossible to stamp out. And in this case, the circumstances are just too weird, and the potential public relations benefit for Zimmerman — and thus the perceived incentive to stage the scene — too obvious to explain away for those who are upset about the verdict. Fox News, whose opinion hosts have pretty openly sided with Zimmerman, reported that at an NAACP meeting, “there was a lot — a lot — of skepticism, people saying they don’t believe a word of this.”