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article imageNBC fires producer for unethical edit of George Zimmerman tape

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 7, 2012 in Crime
NBC has reacted to widespread condemnation for its edit of the transcript of the 911 call made by George Zimmerman, firing the producer responsible. Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin and before the shooting he had called 911.
The report of the firing comes from New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, who said neither of his two sources were willing to reveal the name of the fired producer who edited the tape for NBC's 'Today' show on March 27. Zimmerman had made that call after seeing Martin in the townhouse complex he lives in; Martin's father also lives there and the 17-year-old youth was staying with his father when he was killed on Feb. 26.
NBC edits out 911 question to Zimmerman
The producer edited out a question from the 911 operator and then edited together Zimmerman's response to the missing question with a segment of his previous statement. By leaving out the question, Zimmerman was made to appear to be racially profiling Martin. The way it was edited made the conversation more sensationalistic.
Here is how NBC transcribed the conversation in its story: "This guy looks like he's up to no good," they have Zimmerman say. "He looks black."
And this is how the conversation actually occurred: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something," Zimmerman tells the 911 operator. "It's raining, and he's just walking around, looking about."
"OK, and this guy -- is he black, white or Hispanic?" the operator asks.
"He looks black." Not only did Zimmerman not bring up the issue of race, his response seems to suggest he wasn't even willing to be certain about the race of the person he was watching. NBC has not addressed the question of whether that edit was done purposely or through some major gaffe.
NewsBusters breaks NBC story
The producer fired was based in Miami. Following the discovery of the edit by NewsBusters, a conservative media research center, NBC said there was an "error made in the production process" and that they would be "taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers."
The network appears now to have acted upon that promise, though there is no indication if more staff will lose their jobs due to the edit. Other staff would have worked upon the segment broadcast, including staff from NBC's legal department.
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