ONTD Political

News media: You're not helping by 'helping'. (NBC fires producer over edited 911 call)

9:43 am - 04/08/2012

(first time posting to ONTD_Political; not sure how best to title/cut/tag)

NBC fires producer over edited Zimmerman 911 call

A producer for NBC News has been fired for editing a recording of George Zimmerman's call to police the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.

The New York Times is reporting that "the person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters."

The dismissal of the Miami-based producer, whose name has not been publicized, followed an internal investigation by NBC, which led to the network apologizing earlier this week for having aired the deceptive audio.

The recording aired on NBC's "Today" show on March 27, when the audio viewers heard suggested that Zimmerman volunteered to police, without provocation, that Martin was black: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."

But the tape had been edited, and the portion where the 911 dispatcher specifically asks Zimmerman if the person in question was "black, white or Hispanic," was deleted.

The conversation that actually occurred between the dispatcher and Zimmerman is as follows:

"This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about." Then the dispatcher asked, "O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?" To which Zimmerman replied, "He looks black."

After that phone call on the night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin. The 17-year-old Martin was unarmed, and Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., told police he fired in self-defense after Martin attacked him.

[Related: Did Zimmerman say 'punks' or racial slur in 911 recording? ]

Since then, it has been debated if Zimmerman was racially profiling the teenager, a notion the edited version of the tape reinforces.

The Times reports that NewsBusters, a conservative media monitoring group, first reported NBC's discrepancy on March 30. The following day, NBC told The Washington Post that it would investigate. On Tuesday, NBC said in a statement that its investigation turned up "an error made in the production process that we deeply regret." The network promised that "necessary steps" would be taken "to prevent this from happening in the future" and NBC apologized to viewers.

No steps were specified, but the New York Times reports that the next day "a Miami-based producer who had worked at NBC for several years" was fired, and "people with direct knowledge of the firing characterized the misleading edit as a mistake, not a purposeful act."

[Related: George Zimmerman video shows injury to back of his head ]

On Thursday, Reuters cited an unnamed NBC executive saying "The "Today" show's editorial control policies -- which include a script editor, senior producer oversight, and in most cases legal and standards department reviews of material to be broadcast -- missed the selective editing of the call."

Staff members at NBC News, who had been working on the Trayvon Martin story for weeks in Florida, were initially "in shock" over the altered tape, and later furious, another source told Reuters.

Reuters also reports that "NBC News executives interviewed more than half a dozen employees during their investigation."

On Saturday, the "Today" portion of MSNBC's Web site posted a Reuter's story on the producer's firing.

Heard about this on the radio yesterday, and was surprised to hear from my cousin that everything other than the firing had been all over the news for a week.  Pretty sure it hasn't showed up here, and I think it's important, both because the edited call has had a lot of influence over the narrative and because it coming to light that it was edited makes it easy for people to dismiss any discussion about profiling as manufactured.   

awfulbliss 8th-Apr-2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
lol @ anyone who actually believes that somehow the audio was "mistakenly" edited. Get real.
effervescent 8th-Apr-2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
I'm so angry that this producer did that. It's like, congratulations, you just gave a lot of people a really good excuse to believe that hate crimes are just ~manufactured~.

Also, it is so frustrating when I try to watch videos like the one linked in the article and I find out I can't because I'm in Canada. This is NEWS, why is it limited?
ascendings 8th-Apr-2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
yeah i dunno. :( but there's an program you can get for pc/mac called tunnelbear and it'll let you surf the net like you're in the US. it has a monthly bandwidth limit, but you can just turn it on to watch the video and then turn it off.
effervescent 9th-Apr-2012 04:15 am (UTC)
Oh, thanks for the tip!
ascendings 9th-Apr-2012 04:37 am (UTC)
yeah and it's free! i'm so thankful for it after moving to canada from the us, lol
astridmyrna 8th-Apr-2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
God damn it.

Oh, and there's a 'not helping' tag you should add. *nodnod*
lickbrains 8th-Apr-2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
No, fuck everything and fuck racial profiling gdi
myrrhmade 8th-Apr-2012 06:43 pm (UTC)
A "mistake" huh? Really? And seriously, at this point I don't think this can get any more horrible.
livinghope 8th-Apr-2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
People have been gloating about this all over my facebook as though this proves that Zimmerman doesn't have a racist bone in his body.

People were suspecting that Zimmerman was racist long before NBC even picked up this story. That one line saying "he looks black" out of context was only one thing out of MANY that made people believe Trayvon's stalking and murder were racially motivated. This doesn't change anything, but you can bet all these white folks are going to be flailing and saying "SEE! This proves that the media has been twisting this story to make it about race! Because nothing is ever racist EVER!" Ugh.
vvalkyri 9th-Apr-2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
I would think that stories like Zimmerman having handed out fliers protesting police treatment of a black homeless guy back a year ago would have been a better choice for that particular assertion. (Someone posted that link in my FB post with the article from this post.)
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